When Vermont florist Abbey Jordan’s nursery manager quits a few days before Easter, she is left up the proverbial creek without a paddle. However, when she places it in God’s hands, she finds lasting love in a garden of roses. Brady Jones has a daughter to raise, is out of work, and knows a lot about cultivating roses. When Abbey meets him and hires him as the Horticultural Manager of her nursery, it seems like the answer to both of their prayers. Just on the brink of a budding romance, a fire destroys the nursery and buries all hope of love. Will their passion spark and resurrect or stay unlit beneath the burning bed of ashes?
Abbey Jordan’s floral shop resembled a dollhouse from a bygone era. Block after block of chiseled glass gave the illusion of glistening ice. Long, trailing vines of climbing roses meandered up the lattice on either side of the entrance door. As Abbey pulled into the parking lot, her heart swelled with pride. Bathed in the early morning sun, her floral boutique shimmered like a citrine jewel. Getting out of her car, she inhaled the sweet essence of Spring. Everything was so fresh—the fragrant green grass, the budding maples, and the cheery daffodils. From deep in the woods, a meadowlark whistled, followed by the chirping of songbirds. The hills were alive with the rebirth of the earth after a long, cold winter, and with Easter in a week, what better time for flowers and plants to resurrect.
The quiet serenity was broken by the jazzy jingle of the cell phone. It was Annie, who managed the garden nursery.
“Abbey, I hate to leave you high and dry the week before Easter, but something’s come up. My daughter was in an accident and needs me. I’m catching the next flight to San Diego. I can’t tell you how much I hate to do this, but you’d better hire someone else to take care of the nursery.”
“Of course,” Abbey said instinctively. “Your place is with her; don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll pray for her speedy recovery.”
As Abbey tossed her cell phone into her purse, a wild rush of adrenaline hurled through her, making the palms of her hands sweat. With Easter in a few days, where was she supposed to find someone to manage her garden nursery? She didn’t have the time to hire and train someone at the onslaught of one of their busiest seasons. Her jawline was stiff and rigid, her shoulders tight with tension. Without her nursery manager who checked the pH balance of the plants and roses, adjusted the drip irrigation system, and knew more about botanical insecticides than anyone in the state of Vermont, she was up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Staring up into the azure blue sky, Abbey sent up a prayer and placed it in God’s hands.
Walking across the covered bridge to the nursery, she took in the scenic landscape of the New England countryside. The green mountains of Vermont were emerging from their snow-capped peaks. As the last of the winter snow melted into the surrounding waters, the gushing streams were a sure sign of Spring.
Just as Abbey was about to unlock the door to the nursery, she heard a rustling in the clearing. Expecting to see a bushy-tailed squirrel scamper out of the woods, she was surprised to spot a little girl of about ten pedaling her bicycle toward her at full speed. When she reached Abbey, she grinned. “Do you own this flower shop, lady?”
Abbey gave the little girl a winning smile. “I sure do. My name’s Abigail, but my friends call me Abbey. What’s yours?”
“And where do you live, Kayla?”
“Over there,” she gestured across the meadow to a white cottage with red shutters. “With my dad.”
“And does your dad know where you are so early this morning?”
“No, he’s still sleeping. Besides, I’m here on business.”
Somewhat amused, Abbey raised an eyebrow. “Business, huh? Sounds pretty serious. What kind of business?”
Kayla swiped at a strand of hair that had come loose from the ponytail on top of her head. “My dad lost his job and we’re flat broke. Are you hiring?”
Abbey’s heart went out to the little girl. Although she was trying to be brave, her bottom lip quivered. She was dressed in a pair of jeans, tennis shoes, and a sweatshirt. With the sun just rising to meet the horizon, there was a definite chill in the air. Abbey reached into her purse for her phone. “First things first. Why don’t you call your dad and let him know where you are. While you’re doing that, I’ll go in and make us some hot cocoa I keep around for special occasions.”
With a resound sigh, Kayla shrugged her shoulders and took the phone. “I guess.”
Over hot cocoa and sugar cookies, Kayla told Abbey of her dilemma. “So that’s why I need a job. My ballet lessons cost a bundle and my recital’s coming up. If I don’t get some bucks for my costume, I can’t be in it.” She stared at Abbey. “And I really wanna be in it ‘cause when I grow up, I wanna be a prima ballerina.”
Abbey patted Kayla’s hand. “With Easter coming up, I really could use some extra help. Tell you what. My shop doesn’t open for another hour or so. How about we go to your house and talk to your dad. I need his permission before I hire you.”
Kayla’s face lit up. “Will I make enough money to get a ballet costume for the recital?”
Abbey winked. “Absolutely.”