“Are you sure that you’re good going alone?”
Rose Bloom turned and gave her older sister the look that she’d perfected years ago. The one that said, “Don’t ask me again or I’m going to walk away.”
Lily sighed and reached her hand toward Rose, but Rose stepped back. “I know you mean well, Lily,” she said. “But this is my line. Tom knows I’m coming. You told him everything. He’s going to talk to me and we are going to add it to the business and draw everything up. You went through this with Poppy.”
Lily had started selling candles and soaps years ago at craft fairs after she’d married Carl Blossoms, their boss. Their mother’s boss too. But their mother died suddenly, leaving the three girls orphans. Lily being eighteen stepped up to be the mother she was most times in their life and ended up marrying Carl, a man old enough to be their father.
It was an odd marriage Rose never understood. She tried not to question Lily’s motives either seven years ago. And when Carl passed away a few months ago, though she never really believed her sister had a traditional marriage, the three girls were all devastated.
Carl was about as close as a man had ever gotten to being a father to her in the past several years when they’d lived under his roof. He didn’t interfere too much, letting Lily care for and raise them. But at eighteen, sixteen and fifteen, the three girls had lived through more than most double their age.
“I had to go with Poppy though,” Lily said.
“Because you didn’t want her to mess it up. I’m not flighty like Poppy.”
The middle sister of the three of them, Poppy was known to be somewhat of an airhead and dramatic most times. They were used to her behavior and personality, but their lawyer, Tom Klein, normally only dealt with Lily personally. Or when Lily was with them.
But Rose was her own person. She didn’t need someone to hold her hand or guide her way. She knew what she wanted. The business that Lily started was thriving. It wasn’t just candles and soaps but lotions too. Poppy started her line of purses and accessories over a year ago and that was taking off.
Rose wanted something of her own. She’d known all along it’d be jewelry and now she just had to master her craft more. But having it in writing that she had her own line, she’d push herself more. It forced her to take that step and leave the area for a short period to get her specialized training.
“I know,” Lily said. “Call me if you need anything.”
“I’ll be fine. It’s not like I’m driving out of state. Just going ten minutes away. I’ll still be in Mystic. I could send up a flare and you’d see it.”
“And I’d come get you,” Lily said.
“I know. But you’re needed here. I’ll be back in an hour or less, I’m sure.”
Lily nodded her head. They were upstairs from the flower shop that Lily had inherited when Carl had passed. They’d lived here when their mother was alive, but when their business took off, they needed office space and Carl suggested they take the upstairs for storage and a place to work.
After a few years of hustling and getting massive wholesale orders, it was apparent that space wasn’t going to cut it and Lily took out a loan for a manufacturing plant. They weren’t utilizing nearly the space they had, but Lily had a vision and she was sure they’d grow into it. Already Poppy had an area there with two employees added to the other ten that ran the machines and packaged up the products.
“Okay,” Lily said. “Good luck.”
She rolled her eyes at her sister. Rose didn’t need luck. “I’ll be fine.”
She left and drove to Tom’s office. She’d been here before. There were two other attorneys that worked here and a few staff that she’d seen moving around when she’d been here.
“Can I help you?” the woman at the front desk asked.
“Rose Bloom here to see Tom Klein.”
“Just take a seat and I’ll let him know you’re here.”
She moved to one of the chairs and sat. It wasn’t even two minutes before Tom came out to see her. He was probably around sixty or so she was guessing. She wasn’t good at ages and never really cared all that much.
“Rose,” Tom said. “Come on back to my office. It’s so good to see you. And I’m sorry about Carl.”
“Thanks,” she said. “You knew him longer than me.”
“I did,” Tom said. “I’ve been his lawyer since he opened his flower shop years and years ago. Probably before you were born.”
She smiled. “Yes.”
“Lily told me why you’re here. I must say, you girls are just thriving.”
“It’s Lily,” she said.
“Poppy has a line and now you want one,” Tom said. “I think it’s wonderful. Carl was very proud of you three girls.”
“That’s nice to hear.”
She’d never had anyone tell her that before in her life. If Carl said it to Lily, it was never shared and Lily would have shared that, she was sure.
“Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you are looking to do,” Tom said. “Jewelry, right?”
“Yes,” she said. The two of them talked for a few minutes. She knew none of this had to do with the legal documents but more with having a conversation. Tom did like to know everything he could, but he wasn’t warm and fuzzy with it. Not mean or businesslike either. Somewhere in the middle.
Rose would probably be considered rude by some. Short and to the point. There wasn’t a warm or fuzzy bone in her body, but she was definitely businesslike. She was polite too, at least during working hours.
With family and friends…she said it like it was or just left the room. Most were used to her being that way. She didn’t like to talk and didn’t feel like she needed to open her heart up to people. Why, when it hurt way too much? It was better to keep it locked up so she didn’t feel anything.
There was a knock at the door and as she turned to look, Tom said, “Thomas, come in and meet Rose Bloom. Rose, this is my son, Thomas. He decided to return to the area and work with me.”
She reached her hand out to the tall man that was older than her, but she’d be shocked if he was thirty yet. No way.
“Nice to meet you,” Thomas said. “And sorry to interrupt, but can I steal you away for one minute, Dad? I’ve got Judge Williams on the phone.”
“Of course,” Tom said, standing up. “I’ll be right back, Rose.”
She nodded and pulled her phone out. Just like she figured, there was a text from Lily asking how she was doing. She wasn’t going to answer it. There was no reason to.
A minute turned to two and then Tom returned. “I’m sorry about that. I’m thrilled my son is back where I think he belongs. I’m sure you’ll see more of him. It was always my hope he’d take over the practice.”
“But he wasn’t working around here before?”
“No,” Tom said. “He was in California where he went to college. He’s been practicing there about four years, but I’m glad he’s back.”
Four years. So that would put him about six years older than her, making him around twenty-eight. “Then I’m sure we’ll cross paths again,” she said.
“Definitely. Now let’s get down to business.”
She was walking into Lily’s office thirty minutes later. “Well?” Lily asked. “How did it go?”
“Fine,” she said. “We talked for a few minutes. His son interrupted us and then we got back to work. He said he’d get you the papers in a week for us all to sign.”
“Great,” Lily said. “I didn’t know he had a son. I like Tom and all, but he never talks about anything personal. Of course I never did much either.”
Poppy was the only one that was an open book between the three of them.
“His name is Thomas. Very original,” she said, grinning. “Tom said he’s been in California practicing for four years. I peg him at late twenties. Tom said he was hoping Thomas would take over the practice when he retires.”
“I hope he doesn’t retire soon. Geez,” Lily said.
“If he does then he does. There are other lawyers out there. And now his son.”
“What was he like?” Lily said. “Tom is so professional and businesslike.”
“I only saw the guy for a minute when he popped his head in. He had a shirt and tie on if that helps any.”
She wasn’t about to tell her sister that Thomas had brown hair nice and trim. That he looked to be at least six feet with a sweet body to match. His clothes were fitted well to his body showing that he might have some muscle hidden there and his handshake was firm. Like he wasn’t going to go light because she was a woman.
Nor did her sister need to know that Thomas had a nice smile. A warm one. Something that she never got from Tom. Not that their current attorney needed to smile at her, but Thomas did. And it made her heart skip a beat and take notice of the man.
“I’m sure it’s fine,” Lily said. “Poppy is in the other room and I want to take you two out to dinner before we go home. We should celebrate.”
The three of them still lived in the house that Carl left to Lily. Poppy had graduated college last year and though they were all getting a decent paycheck for their work with the business, they tended to be frugal.
Not to mention with Carl’s passing not that long ago, she and Poppy didn’t want to leave Lily alone just yet.
“There isn’t anything to celebrate,” Rose said. “The paperwork isn’t done yet and it’s not like I’m ready to produce much. Just the few pieces I’ve been making and nothing that I want to put online yet. I’ll be gone about eight months to train and then I’ll be ready to roll.”
She’d had a few pieces listed. Sterling silver pieces with dried flowers under glass for earrings and necklaces, a few rings. But she was ready to start designing more. More than the few pieces in her collection in her room. She didn’t think she was quite ready yet no matter how much she wanted to run when she was still learning to crawl.
“But you’re getting there. You’ve got a talent and you will refine it when you’re training. We’re going to miss you, but you can come home at any time. Poppy says she’s going to go visit with you too. And there is a reason I want to celebrate. I have an idea.”
“I want to know the idea now,” Poppy yelled from the other room.
“She always did listen in on other people’s conversations,” Rose said.
“Get in here, Poppy,” Lily said.
Poppy was there in a flash. “What’s your idea?”
“I think we need a storefront. We’ve been using the flower shop for candles and lotions and putting some of Poppy’s things there, but people aren’t looking for that when they come in here.”
“No,” she said. “They aren’t going to look for rings in a flower shop either.”
“Exactly,” Lily said. “So I ran the numbers and think we should take the risk. The shop will be filled with our products. Lotions, soaps and candles, Poppy’s line and a line for you, Rose. You want to design unique pieces. People need to see them and try them on. You can still sell online, but a jeweler needs a jewelry store. You can have a section just for you.”
She’d been the least emotional of the three of them. The one that held it in even when Lily tried to get her to open up.
For once she felt her eyes fill up. “Really? You’d do that?”
Poppy moved over and hugged her and she wanted to wiggle out of her sister’s arms, but didn’t. Lily stood up and hugged her too. They didn’t do a group hug often but now seemed to call for it.
“We’ll always be there for each other,” Poppy said. And of course, Poppy was sniffling.
“Poppy is right. The business is in our three names. We’ve got our branches that we specialize in, but it’s one unit. Let’s go for it. What do you say?” Lily asked.
“I say yes. And I know you’re the business one of us though we all have a business degree, but we should each put cash in. Maybe the money Carl left us?”
Lily was left the most. The house, the flower shop, a decent life insurance policy. But Poppy and Rose each had a life insurance policy of fifty thousand left to them. They’d had no clue and when the cash was deposited in her account she’d felt rich beyond means.
“That is your money,” Lily said. “I figured you’d want to pay off your student loans.”
“I can do that easily enough,” Rose said. “None of us have that much. Maybe if we each put twenty-five thousand in? Unless Poppy spent all her money.”
“I didn’t,” Poppy said. “I haven’t decided what to do yet. But I think we should do it. It’d be less of a loan and feel more like ours individually. Or does that sound silly?”
“Not silly,” Rose said. “In an odd way I think Carl would love us doing this.”
“It’d make him feel like he was part of it too,” Lily said. “Then yes, we can do that if you want. Here’s to us expanding again.”
“To us,” she said.
“Rose has a tear in her eye,” Poppy said. “Look at that. For once she is showing some emotion without us badgering her. Miracles can happen.”
She squirmed out of their arms and walked out of the room to their laughter. Damn it, how had she let that tear fall?