She decided long ago to be called Susan, not exactly the name her parents had given her, but the one she’d chosen...
When she first opens her dream shop, Susie’s Flowers, on a cold February morning, a new chapter in her life begins. She doesn’t anticipate it will include meeting the most eligible bachelor in tiny Winton Springs.
Then Ben Turner, the new minister at North Point, walks into Susan’s shop to order flowers for the Easter service, and decides to ask her for help. He needs to find an apartment and a volunteer for the missions committee.
She assumes he wants friendship. He’ll take that, for now, but when he discovers her real name, things change...
Will their friendship be enough for her, too, or will she break her vow not give her heart away a second time?
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It was official! The day had finally arrived. On most February mornings, Susan Williams would bury under the covers, but she couldn’t sleep. Today was the grand opening of her florist shop. She jumped out of bed and planted her feet firmly on the circular braided rug, then shoved her icy toes into warm slippers and padded across the polished hardwood floor. She peered outside. The sun hadn’t yet risen over the snow-capped mountains to the east.
She’d graduated from the state university with a degree in business two years ago, but sitting in a stuffy office behind an oversized desk didn’t suit her. Even as a little girl, she loved her mother’s flower garden and picked roses, carnations, and sweet peas for her Nana. Susan would arrange them in a vase and carry them next door for her grandmother’s praise. Susan sighed. That was a very long time ago. Nana always told her she’d make a wonderful hostess, wife, and mother. She hadn’t met any of her grandmother’s expectations, not yet anyway.
Susan had her heart broken once—and once was enough. She’d dated Michael for four years. The week before graduation she discovered she would not be included in his plans to transfer to another state for his law degree. Michael gave her the usual speech that it would be better for both of them, and if they were meant to be together, then they’d find each other again. Susan said goodbye, vowed she wouldn’t give her heart away so easily a second time, and held little hope of finding anyone in such a small town. Winton Springs just didn’t have a thriving, unattached male population.
She pulled on jeans and a fresh, white polo shirt and grabbed the new green apron. “I’m living my dream, Nana,” she said, eyes looking heavenward. “I’ll find someone someday. Give my guardian angel a little nudge and tell him to send a nice, good-looking guy my way. Someone who will stick.” She scanned the room and the frilly pink curtains, the soft, white chenille bedspread tossed up against the pillows in a half-hearted attempt to make her bed. This had been her room for as long as she could remember. She bought the house from her mother when she moved across town to the retirement village. Susan’s Aunt Dorothy lived in Nana’s old place. “Maybe I need a change, Nana. Maybe this new business adventure will lead the way for other things to happen in my life. Wish me luck!”
Running down the stairs, Susan grabbed a toaster pastry right out of the box and nibbled at the edges. When the caterer delivers the food for the grand opening, I’ll grab something then. Coffee—that’s what I need. She headed for the car, scooping up the morning paper from the driveway.
Susan swung her car into the drive-through of the one and only coffee place in Winton Springs. She shook her head. Where would she find an eligible male in this town? Population 5,321, as the sign read. She knew everyone and no one fit her fantasy of a dream man. She’d have to broaden her horizons, but today wasn’t the day. She had other dreams to fill her schedule.
“Large caffé latte, nonfat milk, and a pump of sugar-free hazelnut,” she said as she leaned through the window and spoke to the ancient speaker.
“Hi, Susan,” said the voice in the box. “Why don’t you just say, ‘my usual’? You get it every morning.”
“Donna?” Susan laughed. “Hi. I thought you worked the counter.”
“No. Not today. Lydia and I traded spots to shake it up a bit.” Donna, the owner of the Coffee A Go Go, giggled with her deep, hoarse laugh.
“Well, don’t shake up the locals too much.” Susan looked into the rearview mirror and a moment of surprise caught her off guard. A most interesting, definitely nice-looking man stared right back. She lowered her eyes.
“See you at the window. That will be five dollars and twenty-five cents.” Donna lowered her voice to a whisper. “That’s the new minister at North Point.”
Susan waited until she reached the window. She didn’t want Donna’s voice booming over the parking lot and right into the car window to the rear. “That’s my church. When did he get here?”
“He’s been in here the last couple of weeks. You haven’t seen him?” Donna gave Susan her coffee with one hand and took the money with the other.
“He hasn’t been preaching. The elders must be breaking him in. He probably transferred from another town.” Susan held a dollar tip in her hand and waved it tauntingly at Donna. “What do you know about him?”
“You two order the same drink every morning.” Donna grinned as Susan handed over the dollar.