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She Was Feisty
Seven Years Later
Thomas had just been told to walk to the backroom of the Blossoms storefront. That all three sisters were there. He’d been looking for Lily, but it was best to get them all together. More so, he’d get to see Rose.
Rose Bloom was a tough nut to crack. Something he’d been trying to do for years with little to no success. Whenever he crossed paths with her she was always polite but never warm. Never rude, but not friendly either. Or overly friendly.
If he’d been secretly hoping to ask her out for years, he didn’t tell a soul. It’s not that he hadn’t dated in all that time. He had. But they weren’t Rose. Or maybe his mind just kept going back to Rose so much that he couldn’t give anyone else a chance.
Her light brown hair was pulled back now like it always seemed to be. She had tan pants on and a blue shirt. She was never as feminine as her sisters in her attire, but she wasn’t boyish either.
Poppy was doing some version of a dance in place and he felt his lips start to tug. “Talk about a great day for the Bloom sisters,” Poppy said.
“It is,” Lily said, then turned her head to see him standing there.
“What are you doing here, Thomas?” Rose asked before he could even say hi.
“Don’t be nasty,” Poppy said. “I know you’re not here for the new contract, Thomas. Lily just told us. It has to do with Taylor, doesn’t it?”
He held back his sigh over the words out of Rose’s mouth. He hadn’t thought she was purposely being nasty to him as much as Rose must have sensed the reason for his visit.
Not long ago the girls’ long lost father who had abandoned them reached out saying his other daughter from another woman was dying from cancer. The guy wanted money from the Bloom sisters. Thomas knew it right away and was going to do his best to protect them.
It might not be exactly what he was hired for as their attorney, but he felt he had to do it personally for the three girls who’d had a rough start in their life.
It wasn’t the first time either that he’d stepped up and gone above and beyond for them. Last year Mary Blossoms, Carl’s sister that no one knew existed, did the same thing. She came looking to start trouble and try to blackmail Lily in regards to her marriage to Carl. He wasn’t going to let that happen and not only dug up any dirt he could on Mary, but he’d also subtly threatened her with a countersuit of defamation. The older woman left town fast, but he’d kept that little bit to himself.
One thing he learned about the Bloom sisters was they only had each other. When he’d come back to work with his father, Carl had passed away, leaving the three sisters alone again. They were adults, but they were still alone in his eyes. His father had filled him in on the history of the situation and the will. And that the will to leave everything to the girl’s mother, Holly Bloom, had been in place before Holly had died.
It seemed to him Carl might have been the only family they’d had. And that meant knowing Logan Price was back in town trying to take advantage of Rose—no, the Bloom sisters—then he was going to put a stop to it.
If he’d thought the marriage between Carl and Lily was odd, it wasn’t his place to judge.
His parents didn’t have the best marriage. He’d witnessed it for years and listened to it long after it’d ended when his mother bitched about his father nonstop. He was in middle school and would have preferred to stay in Mystic and not move to Greenwich where his mother’s family was from.
He didn’t have a choice. His father wasn’t the best husband or father at times. He was detached and Thomas knew that, but he would have still preferred to live here.
He was looking at the three girls now. “New contract?” he asked to them all.
“I’ll fill you in later,” Lily said. “But does your visit have to do with Taylor?”
“It does,” Thomas said. “Can we go to your office to talk? Jasmine sent me back here. Sorry I didn’t call ahead of time, but I was in the area and took a chance at stopping in.”
It was a white lie. He wasn’t in the area until he hopped in his car and drove over. News like this, he wanted to deliver in person. Not just to see Rose again, but to see how she’d react. These girls had been through enough in his eyes.
“I’ve got work to do,” Rose said and went to turn. So much for seeing Rose, he thought, but Lily grabbed her younger sister’s arm.
“No, Rose. You’re going to hear this,” Lily said.
He’d never seen Lily use that tone and he could see Rose was pissed.
He wanted to try to smooth things over if he could. “I won’t take up too much of your time,” Thomas said, his eyes never leaving Rose. His voice was softer too. He figured Rose knew he was always trying to extend himself more around her and though she’d never tried to get away or brush him off, she didn’t move forward either.
Rose nodded at him after she’d held his stare and the four of them went to Lily’s office.
“Tell us what you found out,” Poppy said.
“First off, Logan Price does appear to be your father short of the DNA test. All my checking verified a lot of what he said, timelines and so on. There doesn’t seem to be any other Logan Prices in Vermont around his age.”
“He’s not our father,” Rose said firmly. “He’s just the man who shot sperm into our mother.”
“Rose,” Lily said. “That’s crude even for you.”
“It’s the truth,” Rose said, crossing her arms.
Damn, she was feisty. And hot. Well, she was always hot to him, but like this, he just wanted to yank her in and plant his mouth on hers. He couldn’t keep the grin from his face. “Taylor, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be your half-sister. I’m not sure Logan even knew her twenty years ago.”
“Really?” Poppy asked.
“Yes. Taylor Michaels, age twenty, was born in Harrisburg, Virginia, to Patricia Michaels. The father listed on the birth certificate is Anthony Michaels and he’s in jail for armed robbery. He’s been there about five years. Patty and Taylor didn’t move to Vermont until about two years ago.”
He wasn’t going to come back to these girls until he had answers. He wasn’t surprised with the answers he found and hated to deliver the news, but someone had to and he’d rather it be him.
“Great. Lies on top of lies. That is what we come from,” Poppy said.
“We don’t come from that,” Lily said. “Continue, Thomas. I’m almost afraid to hear the rest, but I’m sure I know where this is going.”
This was the part that chapped his skin raw and made him thankful he was a lawyer on the right side. “Taylor isn’t dying of cancer. As far as I can tell, she isn’t even sick.”
“What?” Poppy asked. “We saw her.”
“We saw what they wanted us to see,” Lily said.
“I told you not to go,” Rose said. “You never listen to me.” He wanted to wink at Rose but knew she might not appreciate it so held it back. As always, she was saying the least of the three when he was around.
“How were you able to get medical records?” Lily asked, ignoring Rose.
“I didn’t. I couldn’t get that. But I was able to make some calls and if you call enough and get the right person they give you information innocently. Logan’s biggest mistake was giving you so much information that you could check into it. Not one oncology office in Vermont has a Taylor Michaels as a patient. I called as an attorney to the billing department that she incurred so much debt at and said we’d like to settle and they had no record of anything.”
“Shit,” Poppy said. “So it was a scam?”
“Seems it. Patty works for a bank. Their donation campaign is going into an account there labeled for Taylor Michaels Donations and Medical Expenses. Which of course works against them,” he said.
“How is that?” Poppy asked.
“You can’t defraud the public to solicit donations. There are a few things we can do. If we let the site know what we found, they will shut the campaign down.” To him that was the easy way, but he had to give them all the options.
“Do it,” Rose said.
“Agreed,” both Poppy and Lily said.
“The other thing you can do is turn this information over to the Vermont State Police. They will investigate and press charges. It will be out of your hands. They will contact the site to keep it tidy.”
“Do it,” Rose said again. “Dear old Dad can go to jail as far as I’m concerned.”
“Yes,” Poppy said, looking at Lily.
Before Lily could say anything else, Rose said, “It’s two to one. Majority rules. That is how we operate.” Rose stood up and walked out of the room. She lasted in his presence longer than he figured she might. He turned his head to watch her go. He’d love to follow after her and see if she was okay, but he couldn’t. She’d probably bite his head off on top of it for doing it in front of her sisters.
Lily sighed. “I’m sorry for Rose’s behavior. She is struggling with this.”
“No reason to apologize,” he said. It was exactly what he figured. He’d known all along Rose wanted no part of Logan being in town. He’d gotten to know the sisters fairly well over the past few years when he took over the practice after his father semi-retired. Lily was practical. Poppy was emotional. Rose was withdrawn. “I didn’t want to tell you this over the phone.”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” Poppy said.
“I agree with my sisters though. I can’t believe this is the second time in a year someone is trying to scam us out of money,” Lily said.
“The price of success,” he said.
“I know,” Poppy said. She started to sniffle.
“Thank you, Thomas,” Lily said. “You always seem to go above and beyond for us and I appreciate it. I’ll be in touch tomorrow if you’re around to talk about the new contracts we got.”
“I’m always around,” he said.
He left after that and went back to his office. He would have liked to say goodbye to Rose. Or at least see how she was doing, but she was nowhere to be found.
He finished up work, figured he’d go home and spend an exciting night looking for something to cook and doing his laundry.
Which reminded him he ran out of laundry pods and that was why it was building up so much.
He swung by the drugstore on the way home and was turning out of the aisle with the detergent in his hands when he noticed Rose standing in the women’s aisle. Oh crap. He wanted to talk to her, but would she be embarrassed?
Before he could turn around, she lifted her head, saw him and laughed when he felt the heat fill his face. “You don’t have to pretend you don’t see me here because of what is in my hands.”
Always upfront and to the point. “How are you doing?” he asked, moving forward. “I know today wasn’t the best day.”
“Actually, it was,” she said.
“How is that?”
“We got a lucrative contract that Lily will tell you about. One that I worked on and got for us. Or it’s my first big major contract. The news of Logan didn’t surprise me. I knew it all along. So all he did was sprinkle on my parade. The sun is out and he can go rot for all I care.”
Thomas grinned. “I’m glad,” he said. “And congrats. How about a celebration dinner then? On me?”
Her smile dropped and she stared at him. Here he’d been waiting for his chance and he threw it out there like a rotten fish in a bakery and now the whole store full of items had to be replaced.
“I suppose I should,” she said. “Then I can apologize for my behavior.”
“Geez, don’t sound so excited over it.”
Her grin was back in place. “See, that made me happy that I said yes.”
“What’s that?” he asked. He wanted to take note of it so he knew for future reference.
“That you can be sarcastic like me. That you aren’t always this nice guy.”
“Trust me, I’m not always nice.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” she said. “But at least I know you’ve got some sarcasm in your little toe.”
“And I think you’ve got some niceness in your little toe,” he said.
“Again, straight shooter too. Another thing I like.”
Now they were finally getting somewhere. He probably shouldn’t have been holding back for years, but there wasn’t much he could do about it now.
“Do you need to go home first or anything?” His eyes drifted back to the box of tampons in her hand.
She grinned. “Nope. These are for the office. Lots of women working there, you know, and someone was complaining that someone else took the last one.”
“Okay then,” he said. “Maybe more information than I needed to know.”
“Men,” she said. It really did seem to him she was in a much better place than she was when she stalked out of the backroom today. “Do you need to go home first and wash some clothes? Maybe change out of your suit. Bet it’s hot in that thing.”
“It is,” he said. “How about give me thirty minutes and we can meet somewhere if you want. I’d offer to pick you up, but I’m sure you’re going to say no.”
She smirked at him. “We can meet.”
“You pick,” he said. “As long as I’m not cooking, I don’t care where the food comes from.”
“Imagine that,” she said. “You took the words right out of my mouth.”
They decided on a restaurant on the water. Both of them paying for their things and then leaving. He had enough time to run home and put on jeans and a shirt, maybe shorts. She was putting shorts on, he was positive. They weren’t going anywhere fancy.
He drove faster than normal, was undressing as he was walking through the house and dropping clothes as he went in his rush. He wanted a fast shower and needed to get a move on to not be late.
Ten minutes later he was rushing back out the door and driving to the restaurant, pulling in the same time as Rose.
And just as he thought, she had on jean shorts and flip flops and he was all but drooling over her long thin legs that he hadn’t seen before. Damn it, he needed to get some brain cells back in his head or this night was going to be a massive flop for someone that had been waiting for the opportunity for years.