Today’s clip comes from my WIP Flash Point. As a little background, Holt, the hero, saved Stella, our heroine, from a house fire a couple of weeks ago. She’s got a bit of a crush on him, and he’s just stopped by her gift shop.
Copyright 2007 me, subject to change, don’t steal, be nice, etc.
The stab of jealousy was instant and fierce. He was here in her shop to pick out a gift for another woman. Just as quickly Stella slapped the thought down. He had every right to buy a gift for anyone he damn well pleased. Just because he’d pulled her out of a burning building didn’t mean he was interested in her that way. You are an idiot, she told herself. You’ve just got some kind of weird hero worship thing going on. That’s the only reason you’re so attracted to him. Help the man find a gift and get him out of here.
“Okay, well, what does she like?”
“I don’t exactly know. She likes pretty little knick-knacks and girly things. I’m thinking maybe something I could put some flowers in?”
Fleetingly, Stella thought of steering him to the ugliest piece in the shop. There was a vase shaped like a hula girl that no woman would like. The only reason she had it was in case someone wanted to throw a party with a Hawaiian theme. Or for a gag gift. She cast her eyes toward it, even took a step in that direction before mentally slapping herself again. Selling the wrong gift to the wrong person was not the way to increase her business. Besides, that would just be wrong. With a soft sigh, she plastered a smile on her face and set about doing her job.
“Are you looking to have a florist do an arrangement or something you can do yourself? Just putting a bouquet in?”
“Something simple, I think. Nothing too fussy. She strikes me as an impulsive bouquet kinda girl rather than a big formal arrangement.”
Holt followed her as she wandered around the store pointing out various pieces. But nothing seemed to be just right. Resigned, she led him over to her favorite piece, a hand-blown Venetian glass vase in deep crimson, etched with twining vines. It was delicate but strong, with a lovely flared mouth. She’d nearly taken it off the floor half a dozen times but hadn’t been able to justify it. She ran one finger over the lip before picking it up and turning toward Holt.
“Any woman would love this one. It’s one of my favorites. Simple but sophisticated. It’s classic and a little sexy.”
“Perfect. I’ll take it.”
She was glad he was behind her as she walked to the register to ring up his purchase. She made a face, said a mental goodbye to the vase, and thought several uncharitable thoughts about its intended recipient.
“Would you like that wrapped?” she asked, after running his credit card.
“Maybe just a bow and a card if you’ve got one.”
Nodding, she knelt to retrieve some of her signature silver ribbon from the bottom shelf. “How’s the arm?” he asked, leaning against the counter.
“No scarring. I’m done with prescription pain-killers, which is a relief. I’m still moving slower than normal, but definitely on the mend. And I can wear sleeves again.”
“That’s a good thing given the temperatures. Might even need a coat here soon. It’s cool at night. Getting to be good chili weather.”
“Are you a credit to your profession? Do you have a secret firehouse recipe for chili?”
“Well, not to toot my own horn, but I do cook a mean pot of chili. Might make a batch tonight.”
“Chili does sound good.” Stella handed him the vase in a gift bag. “I hope your lady friend is appropriately impressed.”
“I should go get flowers. What kind do you think?”
Give me a break. I’m supposed to help you pick out flowers for her too? Stella reminded herself that he’d saved her life. Helping him give a thoughtful gift to someone was the least she could do to repay him.
“Tell me a bit about her.”
“Well she always seems to look a little sad. I’d like to give her something to make her smile.”
“In that case, I’d say sunflowers or gerbera daisies. They’re bright and happy. Bound to make anybody smile.”
“Okay great. Thanks for all your help, Stella. I’ll see you around.”
She said goodbye. After she saw his truck drive by, she indulged in a wail of frustration. Not only had he bought her favorite vase, he’d bought it for some other woman. It was not a good day.
Stella’s bad mood hadn’t dissipated by the time she got home. She let the door slam with a thud that shook the walls and stalked into the kitchen. Roxie was standing at the stove stirring spaghetti sauce. One perfect brow arched. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Stella groused, pacing to the fridge and grabbing a bottle of water.
“I know that face. That’s not nothing.”
Stella took a swig of water then threw up her hands, sloshing a little on the floor. “I just…I’m an idiot. Holt came in today.”
“Oh?” asked Roxie, interest piqued.
“He bought a gift for some other woman.”
“What’d he buy?”
“The Venetian glass vase.”
“The red one with all that gorgeous etching?”
“Yeah. My favorite.”
“You mean that Venetian glass vase?” Roxie asked, gesturing with her spoon toward the kitchen table.
Stella turned, bottle halfway to her lips. In the center of the table sat her favorite vase, bursting with sunflowers. She stared at it for a moment, uncomprehending.
“He dropped it off about an hour ago,” said Roxie. “You should read the card.”
Recapping the water, Stella walked over to the table and slid the card out of the tiny envelope.
Hope they made you smile. Dinner’s at 7. I’ll pick you up. Holt
“They were for me,” she murmured, a foolish grin spreading across her face. “I take back all the bad things I thought about him.”
Roxie chuckled. “So what are you gonna wear?”