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By Jacquelyn Galassini
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Jacquelyn Galassini
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe screech of my alarm at 7:20 am was enough to wake the dead. It was another Monday morning. Mondays were my least favorite days because they had an annoying habit of ruining my "sleep till noon" pattern I developed on the weekends. It was time to wake up early, drag myself to the coffee pot and join, once again, the world of responsibility and go to work.
"Good Morning London!" shouted my mother while barging into my room. She is a petite little red head with way too much energy. She's one of those people that is out of bed by 6:00 am no matter what day it is, walks two miles, has a pot of coffee, smokes about a pack of Marlboro Red's and is showered and ready by 9:00 am. I was living with my parents still while I looked for an apartment. The truth is, they had more than enough room and were happy to fill it and I was more than happy to live in "rent free" conditions. I raised up and looked at my spunky little mother as she buzzed around the room with a cup of coffee for me and quickly recited our list of things to do for the morning. "And we will have to call on the roses," was really all I heard as I peeled myself out of bed.
My mom and I own a flower shop. I could have gone to college and become something fancy like a Doctor, I certainly had the grades, but it wasn't my passion. I got really lucky to have a family that understands that. They never tried to push me into anything I didn't like. I learned at an early age my passion was flowers and my mom did what she could to make sure we had a flower shop by the time I graduated. I hurried into the bathroom to brush my teeth and my hair before jumping in the car to get to work on time. Being my own boss meant I didn't really have to answer to anyone for being late but I liked to be there by 9:00 am. I had to drive through rush hour and rush hour in Savannah could be brutal. Our shop was downtown on Broughton Street and with the highways being backed up and the downtown area being so congested, getting to work by 9:00 am seemed unlikely. A little silver car was busy trying to pass everyone on the right, a truck behind me was inching closer and closer to my bumper hoping it would move traffic along, and everyone else was honking and trying to will the line forward.
I flipped through my CD case and grabbed something with some screaming and heavy guitar. I turned up the volume, leaned back in the seat and let myself vibe out on the nice fall breeze coming through my windows. Savannah was perfect this time of year. The fall was still warm but not the usual sticky heat from the summer. The gnats had thinned out and the lighting was a beautiful, almost eerie glow. Finally, traffic slowly came to a steady roll. I came to my exit and was surprised to find downtown was not as congested as I anticipated. I pulled up to the flower shop at 9:13 am. Not too bad for city driving at rush hour.
Everything was business as usual. I loved this about Mondays because they were busy but not overwhelming, just a steady flow of mostly locals. The weekends were the scary part. The tourists piled in like crazy which was great for business but bad for my stress level considering my mom and I were the only workers with the exception of Monica, who was a student at the art school in town, and couldn't be there full time. It was almost 11:00 am and I had only helped about eight customers. I plopped down in the computer chair and looked around my green flower shop. It was painted dill green and dressed with white furniture and white fireplace. It was very Victorian but had a modern charm. I admired the details such as the mirrored soap table and crown molding. My shop had become an expression of me, an art project I could keep adding to and changing. I loved my job. I looked at the blank computer screen and wondered if I should check my email when the phone rang. "Apple Blossom Flower Shop, this is London," I answered. "Hi, I need to know your prices on wedding flowers," a raspy voice said. I shot off a list of prices and choices until she sounded satisfied and resolved to come into the shop to place the order.
The 2:00 pm wave of fatigue was about to take me over when the door finally chimed. I looked to see if my mom was getting it but she was nowhere to be found which meant she was out back smoking. I sighed annoyed with having to move and went up front. When I opened the door to step into the front of the shop, I looked up and completely lost my breath. I tried to pull myself together and not look like a total moron but I was frozen. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. He was dressed in dark lose jeans, a black t-shirt and a black zip up hoodie. He was built perfect, not too bulky but somewhat buff. He had chin length black hair and a five o' clock shadow. It wasn't sloppy though. It complemented the tall, dark and handsome thing he had going. His eyes were brown the way chocolate is, dark and rich. His lips were full and as I looked at them I ached to kiss them. He had a couple of tattoos peeking out of his clothes, one on his hand and the other was an extension of a back piece that was on the back of his neck.
I finally caught my breath enough to ask in a shaky voice, "May I help you?" He walked toward me looking like he was on a hurried mission. My heart was beating wild as he neared me. He slammed a piece of paper on the desk and said in a very cool tone, "I need a dozen roses to go to this address." I nearly cried. A dozen roses? Of course he had a girlfriend. He was way too hot not to. "Okay, and what color would you like?" I asked. "Red," he replied was a defiant look on his face daring me to challenge his request. Now feeling completely insignificant I was sure he came in just to torture me. Why else would he be so hateful? There was only one way to deal with guys like this. Let them know they aren't as hot as they think they are. But he was. He was probably hotter than he thought he was. I however, was a pretty girl but nervous I couldn't ever be pretty enough to catch his attention. I have long, dark auburn hair, bright Kelly green eyes, a petite figure and olive skin. Even knowing I took time to curl my hair today I felt extremely intimidated. How silly was I being, it's not like it mattered? He was in love with someone else. "Okay I'll get that out for you," I said. He threw cash on the counter and turned around and was gone before I could even register the whole thing. After he left I looked at the name on the piece of paper. "Crystal Jenkins" was written in very small but perfect cursive. So he was in love with a girl named Crystal.
I studied the rest of the paper. It had the address, a lawyer's office on Bull Street, and his card. It was a small floral card he had scooped off the table in the corner of my shop. He had quickly jotted down something on it and put it in the small envelope. Curiosity was killing me. I noticed he hadn't sealed the card, only tucked it in. I opened it without hesitation to find a card that said, "From Derik." No, "I love you" or anything romantic at all! This was getting so confusing. I knew what I had to do. I needed to take the delivery myself.
A dozen roses happened to be my specialty. I threw together possibly the most beautiful one I had ever done. As I made it I had the mentality that it had to be perfect so maybe she would be jealous of how great a designer I am. Had I completely lost it? She could care less how good I can design. All I was doing was making something from him all the more grand. I was the jealous one. I was jealous she was getting a dozen roses from the most beautiful man ever and all I got, was attitude.
I finished the arrangement as my mom finally appeared. "That's gorgeous!" she said. "Who's that for?"
"Some girl named Crystal, but I'm fixing to take it."
"Okay, be safe and hurry back for our wedding consultation."
Bull Street was only a couple streets over so getting there was no problem. Parking however, was. I finally shoved in between a station wagon and jeep wrangler. I have a mini cooper so I can usually fit in spots close to the door. I grabbed the roses and headed for the door. I walked through what seemed like a time portal. The inside lobby was painted a nasty mustard color and touches of sage green accented the 70's nightmare. The window to the receptionist's desk was partially covered by a thick glass that hadn't been cleaned anytime recently. I could see a very bland setting in her area. There was a hunter green mouse pad, a solid white coffee cup with pens and a pencil in it, one picture of a decent but not real pretty girl and some old woman, and a name plaque that read "Crystal." No one was at the desk. I rang a small bell and waited. As I was waiting I turned to have a look at the rest of the hideous office and noticed a wall size mirror. I looked at my reflection and regretted my day's choice for outfit. I was wearing ripped up faded jeans, a black tank, and black converse. My hair was at least down and curled but I hadn't taken time to do much else. I was sure she would be way prettier than me and seeing myself look so thrown together almost confirmed she would.
A few minutes had passed and impatience was taking me over. I walked up to the desk and slammed my hand down on the small bell. I heard a door shut down the little hall behind the copier. Around the corner came the girl from the picture. She had thin brown hair pulled back in a severe ponytail, no makeup, jeans and a sweater that screamed 'Grandma made it'. Surely it wasn't her. Crystal had to be in the back or at lunch. "Hi," she said with a sweet southern drawl. "Can I help you?"
"Yes," I said. "I need to give these to Crystal."
"I'm Crystal. Who are they from?" She said in genuine shock. I couldn't believe this. This was her? The woman who he loved? My shock was definitely more than hers. Before I could censor myself I blurted out, "I think your asshole of a boyfriend." I froze, knowing I should have just told her I didn't know. To my surprise she just giggled and said, "I get that a lot. He's not exactly a people person." I grunted a laugh still nervous she would be mad. "I never thought he would send me flowers!" She went on. "These are so beautiful!" I smiled and replied with a quick, "Thanks, you have a nice day."
"Wait! Do you like music?" she yelled
"Yeah, most of it. Why?"
"Well we always go to the bar and watch the bands on Fridays. You should come and I'll buy you a drink to make up for my boyfriend's nasty attitude."
Most of my friends had moved away for college and seeing him again wouldn't kill me so I said yes to the invite and made my way back to the shop. She said she would stop by the shop to look around, then gave me the time and address to meet at the bar and her cell number.
Chapter TwoThe week went by quick. Friday had come before I knew it and still no sign of Crystal in the shop. I figured she had forgotten and that I would probably never see either of them again. For some reason though, not seeing him again killed me. It was like asking me to never see my family again. I didn't even know him and I felt like he was part of me. I couldn't shake the feeling that we were meant to meet again. The week had led to this, a depressing end that meant it was over before it even began.
The morning had been uneventful. Only three customers and no Derik. Had I been dreaming? This whole thing felt like it hadn't even happened. My thoughts were consuming me, not in a good way. "Hello!!!" a voice yelled. "Are you okay?"
Monica. She was looking at me like I had lost an eye. "Yeah, I'm fine." I muttered knowing it was a lie. "Go water the plants and make sure the floors are clean up front please."
She grunted, "Fine," and walked away. Monica had become a very good friend of mine. She was a couple of years younger than me and I was her boss so it made our relationship weird. We were otherwise what would be best friends probably but maintained a professional relationship. She was a hard worker and I didn't want to lose her. Her boyfriend came in from time to time but was not nearly good enough for her in my opinion. He was a nice guy and all but a tad more interested in partying than his relationship with her. She was such a pretty girl too. She was tall and thin, with waist length blond and pink hair, and bright blue eyes. He was lucky to have her.
While I rolled off my chair to begin cleaning the shop, the door bell chimed. The UPS man must be here already I thought. I opened the door to go to the front and saw the thin brown ponytail once again. "Crystal!" I said, sounding more eager than I wanted to.
"Hi London!" She blurted out.
"So glad you could make it in. We just got a new shipment of the candles you asked about the other day."
"Wow! I'll take one," she said grabbing at them.
"So are we still on for tonight?" I asked definitely sounding more eager now than I wanted."
"Of course!" she said with a charming smile.
I walked over to the counter to ring her up and my heart nearly broke when I saw the ring. On her unpolished finger, was a diamond ring.
"Are you guys engaged?"
"Oh heavens no!" she laughed. "I got this from my grandma. He doesn't want to get married, or have kids."
"Oh, and neither do you?" I asked being too curious.
"I do but I'll have that fight when the time is right."
I rang her up and promised to be at the bar at eight.
It was almost 7 o'clock and I was still fighting with my wardrobe. Everything seemed to be too small or too big. When all else failed I threw on a band t-shirt and ripped jeans. I looked in the mirror and felt less than pretty. I felt downright grungy.
"Mom!" I called
"Yes?" She said after a few minutes, sounding out of breath. My parent's house is a big two story, old plantation house in the outskirts of Savannah. She had just run up the staircase and was definitely feeling it.
"How does this look?"
"Well, are you planning on impressing any guys?" She asked looking at me less than impressed.
"I was hoping to." I had one in particular. Unfortunately I was making quick friends with his girlfriend. I had to be losing it.
She walked to my closet and started rooting through my clothes. I sat on my bed next to my fat Rottweiler, Daisy, and waited. My mom was a lot like a best friend to me. She was always there for me when I needed her, especially when it came to fashion. I had virtually no fashion sense and her perky attitude showed in her clothes.
"How about this one?" She asked holding up a barely there sequined number I had worn to a New Year party last year.
"Um ... any other ideas?"
She went back to destroying my closet with an eye roll that said I was too picky. A minute later she pulled out a tight black long sleeve with shimmery angel wings on the back.
"Perfect!" I said hugging her and quickly throwing it on. Looking extremely proud of herself she leaned against my wall and initiated 'girl talk'.
"So? I haven't seen you go out in a while. Is there a guy involved in this sudden quest for the perfect outfit and excitement over a bar?"
"No! I just made friends with this girl named Crystal and she invited me out to make up for her boyfriend being a total ass."
"Okay, I'm not even going to ask. If you do happen to meet a nice guy though promise you'll bring him home to meet us?"
"After a few dates. I don't wanna scare him away." I kissed her on the cheek, grabbed my purse and was down the stairs and out the door.
It was a beautiful night. The full moon was one of my favorite things and tonight it was huge. The bar was downtown in the city market about thirty minutes at least from my parents house. I thought about taking the scenic route but considering the time decided to take the highway. My mind started racing. What would I say when I saw him? Should I say anything? Why did I even care? This guy had been ruder than any customer I've had in a long time. So why was he so intriguing? I took a deep breath and relaxed. I'll just go with the flow. He can't possibly be this intimidating.
At 8 o'clock on the dot I pulled in a very crowded parking lot about two blocks from the bar. I paid the five dollar toll and walked slowly. I didn't want to seem too eager and whether I wanted to admit it or not, I was nervous.
I got through the ID check at the front door and made my way up the stairs. I could hear the music getting louder and my heart seemed to be beating with the drums. It was shoulder to shoulder packed and Crystal was nowhere in sight. I made my way to the bar to order a drink and wait. Most of the stools were empty since everyone was up dancing to a cover band that sounded very punk rock. I ordered a wine cooler and pulled out my phone to check for missed calls or texts. Just as I closed my phone, a voice sounded in my ear making my heart stop. His voice had a melodic tone and melted my very core.
"Kind of a loner over here aren't you?" He asked.
A mixture of fury and infatuation welled up inside me. I turned to meet his chocolate eyes and was about to say something, anything, but lost myself in his eyes.
Excerpted from BLACK MAGIC by Jacquelyn Galassini Copyright © 2012 by Jacquelyn Galassini. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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