Claire pressed the green button and the printer spat out another fistful of orders. She picked them up and headed into the blissful cool of the back room, close to the walk-in fridge. It was only eleven, and they had been busy since seven. No wonder her sister had asked her to come and help today. Even with three florists working full time, Valentine’s Day was a bear.
She pulled out a stack of trays, placing an order on each. Then she selected flowers, ribbon, oasis and wrapping paper, putting everything on the trays, so that the florists only had to work their magic.
It was not until she glanced at the delivery address on order eight (roses (12): colour mixed), that a chill ran up her spine. It was her address. It was her name. Quickly, her eye scanned downwards.
‘Greg Harlow.’ She knew that name. Claire closed her eyes briefly and a face swam into view. Disordered ginger hair, straight eyebrows under frameless glasses, freckles and an auburn three-day-growth… Unit 22. Her downstairs neighbour.
He was pretty cute. When she had moved in eight months earlier, she had noticed him alright. But she had been seeing Dave at the time. So even when they met at the bus stop or down by the bins, she had done her best to play it cool.
What was the instruction for the message? She looked again.
‘From your secret admirer.’
A smile played around her mouth. Two could play at that game.
She left at four thirty and stopped at Coles on the way home. She had seen enough meat lover’s pizza boxes go into his bin to know that he wasn’t vegetarian. When she got off the bus and dragged her shopping up the stairs, she made a quick stop outside his flat, carefully placing a sealed envelope and a single, long stemmed rose outside his door. Claire threw a couple of steaks into marinade and made a salad.
When it got to six-fifteen, Claire positioned herself in the corner of the landing so she could see his door. He trod up the stairwell, briefcase under his arm, as usual. Claire watched avidly. At his door, he put the key in the lock before he noticed anything, then bent and picked up the rose, breathing in its fragrance, stroking the soft petals. He sliced through the envelope with the edge of his house key and pulled out the single printed sheet.
Claire took in the look on his face and grinned to herself.
Fifteen minutes later, Claire carried her picnic hamper down to the communal garden and BBQ area. Greg rose and laughed, his face a picture of bashful pleasure.
‘I hoped the note was from you. How did you know?’
‘I’m psychic.’ She smiled at the look of shock. ‘Kidding. You sent your order to the florist where my sister works. I was helping out today while uni is still on vacation.’
‘Wow. Maybe fate is on my side then?’
‘Maybe.’ She pulled a bottle of Jacob’s Creek sparkling out of the hamper and handed it to him. The cork popped and she held up two champagne flutes. ‘Thank you for the roses. They are lovely.’
‘My pleasure.’ He clinked his glass to hers and met her eyes. ‘Here is to mutual admiration.’
‘Here’s to us.’