Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

Jack McReady had fallen in love with Daisy in one-hour increments. How many men could claim that? he thought as he swung his Mazda into the diagonal slot in front of her flower shop, his palms sweaty against the leather steering wheel.

This wasn't his ordinary way of seeing her. Usually she came into his office to talk—hence the one-hour increments. It was the reason he knew more about Daisy than most, even their mutual friends.

But today he was getting flowers for his secretary, Gloria, as tomorrow was Administrative Professionals' Day. Sure, he could've phoned the order in, but then he would have missed a prime opportunity to see Daisy.

Entering the shop was always a full sensory experience. The bells tinkled out a welcome as the cool, bright fragrance of flowers rose to his nostrils. The colorful array of flowers and knickknacks, so artfully arranged, begged the shopper to stop and touch and appreciate.

"Be with you in a minute!" Daisy called from the back.

The sweet sound of her voice made Jack's heart thump harder. He knew she'd be working alone because today was Tuesday. Her mom was out delivering flowers, and her grandma only worked half days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He knew—and retained—way too much about Daisy, he thought with a rueful shake of his head.

Jack stuffed his hands into his Docker pockets and perused the shop. When he was inside Oopsy Daisy he always felt as though he were meandering through the garden of Eden. Everything was arranged so perfectly, displayed so creatively. Who but Daisy would think to use an antique bicycle basket or a mailbox to display a lovely bouquet of flowers? Or an outdoor fountain to showcase a cascading arrangement of flowering vines? Everywhere he looked was another inspired idea.

"Pastor Jack!"

He'd given up on getting her to drop the title. Her appointments had started two years ago, rarely scheduled but always delightful. He loved that she was a little overly sensitive, and he knew no one more conscientious than she. It was one of her finest qualities.

His heart fluttered at the sight of her silky blond hair and the faint spray of freckles that dotted her nose.

"Hello, Daisy. How are you this afternoon?" His tongue felt thick and uncoordinated.

"Just fine. I'm working on an order for a Cinco de Mayo party, believe it or not."

"Sounds intriguing." Was it just him, or was it hot in here? He tugged at his collar.

"I can't believe we're almost to May," she said.

"Step out onto the sidewalk; you'll believe it soon enough."

Her laughter was like a melody that plucked the strings of his heart. "I hear you." He let his gaze drift around the shop. "It's beautiful in here, Daisy. Every time I come in I'm just astounded by your displays."

"Oh, it's nothing really." She waved a hand as she reached the glass counter that separated them.

She was the worst at accepting a compliment. He gave her a long, steady look, as he was in the habit of doing when she tried to sell herself short.

"What? Oh, right. I'm supposed to be working on that." She pasted on a sweet smile. "Thank you ever so much, Pastor Jack. That is so nice of you to say."

"There, was that so hard?"

"You'll never know." She tilted a smile up at him. "So let me guess— you're here for Secretaries' Day."

"Got it in one."

"I'll fix Gloria up with a nice bouquet. Maybe some roses and daisy poms, some asters and purple delphinium? I have a large blue mason jar she'd just love. I can tie a nice big bow around it."

He loved the way her green eyes sparkled when she talked flowers. He fought their magnetic pull and was grateful for the umpteenth time that his olive skin wasn't prone to blushing. "Whatever you come up with will be perfect."
...

What our readers think...