The Reluctant BacheloretteBy: Rachael Anderson
Literally everywhere. Five vases spanned the wall of Pat’s diminutive, enclosed patio, another sat atop a small table, and a dozen more covered the brick floor. Roses, lilies, daisies, carnations—a floral menagerie of pink, yellow, purple, red, blue, and white. And if that wasn’t enough, rose petals dotted the ground. Thank goodness the patio wasn’t large, or Pat would have emptied his entire savings filling the space.
“Wow.” What else could Taycee say? As a florist, she loved flowers—breathed them in and used them in creations every day. But this display was something else. Something else entirely.
“Do you like it?” There was apprehension in Pat’s voice, the desire to please. “I know you love flowers, so I thought I’d get you some of everything.”
And he had. Even sunflowers. Yikes.
“It looks like my shop,” Taycee managed.
Pat grinned, showing his two dimples. “Exactly what I was going for. I’m glad you noticed. I wanted it to feel like home.”
But she didn’t live at her shop. She worked there. And at the end of the day, Taycee only brought home a small bouquet, and for good reason. There can be too much of a good thing. Way too much. The proof surrounded her.
Although it was sweet of Pat to go to all of this trouble, dates with him were becoming increasingly romantic and extravagant, which wasn’t okay. Taycee didn’t want him thinking they were serious or spending this kind of money on her. “Pat, I, uh . . . don’t know what to say.”
“Say you’ll marry me.” Pat knelt in front of her, mashing a few red rose petals under his knee.
Taycee froze. Oh no. Not this. Not now. How did she not see this coming? If she had, she’d have ended the relationship weeks ago—before Pat had gone to all this effort. Before she’d have to tell him no.
Taycee shook her head back and forth in slow motion. How could she tell such a nice guy that she didn’t feel the same way? That she never would. This was exactly why Taycee had always ended relationships before they reached this point. To avoid moments like this.
“Taycee, I love everything about you—from your love of flowers and the outdoors, to your kindness, your beauty, and your smile. You are everything I’ve wanted to find in a wife. Please say yes.”
Taycee bit her lip. She should have said something before he launched into the obviously prepared speech. Now it would be even worse.
“Pat.” Taycee pulled him to his feet. His hands tried to circle her waist, but she held on to them, keeping space between them. “Listen. I think you’re a great guy. One of the best, actually. But—“
“Don’t say but,” Pat said, freeing his hands so they could frame her face, with his thumb resting against her lips, shushing her. “Please don’t say but.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered against his thumb.
The light faded from blue eyes that always glowed with happiness. Because that’s who Pat was. Ever and always happy, with a ready smile and dimples that appeared often. But now only sorrow remained—a sorrow that bored a hole into Taycee’s heart and made her want to run away. “I’m so, so sorry.”
A slight nod and he took a step back, his eyes pleading with her to stop him. Another step and he was gone, leaving Taycee alone on his back patio. The front screen door slammed shut, and a car engine rumbled in his driveway. As the sound faded off down the street, Taycee sighed and located a pad and pen on his kitchen counter.
Pat, I hope you’ll find a girl sometime soon who’s worthy of you and these beautiful flowers. I’m so flattered that you thought that person was me, but it’s not. Trust me, there’s someone better for you out there. I will always think the world of you.
Leaving the note on the patio, Taycee walked through the empty apartment and out the front door to her white Toyota Camry. She would miss Pat and his quick, boyish smile—but not enough. It was never enough. Not when a vivid image of dark brown eyes still frequented her dreams.
For crying out loud, it’s been ten years! Forget him already! He’s gone and won’t be coming back. He lied to you. Broke his promise. Deal with it and move on.