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The Christmas Bouquet

The Christmas Bouquet

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I'm running away!

Yes, Isabella knows everyone says adults shouldn't do that. Her rebuttal would be: if your 2-year relationship said he didn't know you and your mother gently reminded you over coffee that you should be giving her grandchildren so she would have a reason to live, her plan to runaway doesn't look so bad.

The only kitten he wants in his life is his cat named Cat!

Steven Burgess, genius problem solver just wants to be left alone this Christmas. For eleven months out of the year people try to maintain some commonsense. Then Christmas comes. Now everyone is looking for the one! A jolly fat man decides to get back on the grid so he can giveaway gifts, and everything is a sign. Nope, he's not participating even if the madness knocks on his door as a petite woman with bouncy black hair and a smile to take his breath away

It's not happening...he thinks.

"The Christmas Bouquet" is a heartwarming tale of community, tradition, and love that will warm your heart. Join Isabella and Steven on a journey you won't want to miss. Grab your copy today!

Main Tropes

  • Grumpy Hero
  • Forgiveness
  • Women Friendship

Synopsis

Was it fated love or just Bad luck?
Steven Wilson, a freelance engineer leading a peaceful life, never imagined a bouquet could disrupt his world. But when Isabella Smith, a podcaster on a journey of self-discovery, delivers the Christmas bouquet from the mystical "Lost Love Bench," Steven's life takes an unexpected turn.
Isabella, reeling from a breakup that left her questioning her true self, escapes to Holly for a reset. Her good intentions lead her to a stray cat and an abandoned bouquet, setting off a chain of events that neither she nor Steven anticipated.
Steven, determined to defy Holly's superstitious beliefs, finds himself entangled in a town that fervently believes the bouquet signifies true love. Despite their striking differences, Isabella and Steven's lives become further complicated when a photo of them reaches Isabella's mom, who wants to meet her new man to avoid past mistakes.
For one weekend, they agree to masquerade as a couple for Isabella's mom, planning a dramatic breakup afterward to appease the town. Little do they know, the sparks between them ignite something genuine and irresistible.
As Steven discovers the kind-hearted, loving Isabella behind the gruff exterior, Isabella can't resist the compassionate genius hidden within the hermit. Will they succumb to the enchanting power of the Christmas Bouquet and find their own happily ever after?
"The Christmas Bouquet" is a heartwarming tale of community, tradition, and love that will warm your heart. Join Isabella and Steven on a journey you won't want to miss. Order your copy now and immerse yourself in the magic of romance this holiday season!

Intro into Chapter One

 Chapter One

“Alarm
Off!” Isabella Smith said but like everything else in her life, it wasn’t
listening.

Isabella
appeared from under her covers, looking at the offensive item. She gave it a
second more thought before she took her second pillow on the bed and whacked
the alarm onto the floor.

“Ahh,
I just need – “she mumbled as she snuggled back underneath the cover to be
interrupted by her phone, which was with her beneath the covers.

“Noooo!”
She knew who it was from the ring tone, lean on me. She grabbed the phone and
hit the speaker button.

“I’m
not happy, is someone dying? And mean like about to meet their maker not
indecisively lingering.”

Sofia
Gonzalez her best friend laughed.

“Well,
I can hang up, but I want you to know. I was just invited to go to lunch by
your mother. I had work plans, so she said she was going to spend quality time
with her daughter.”

Isabella
jerked up into a sitting position, as the same time pulling back her dark mop
of curls that seemed to become more unruly as she tried to get ready.

“Why
didn’t you start with she’s coming!” Isabella said as she pulled back the
covers and then held her hand up to block the light coming into her bedroom.

“I
love you but more important she loves you. Now get up and get decent. Talk to
you later bestie.”

Isabella
Smith, her mother told her that was proof that love could be found anywhere and
with anyone as long as you were ready.

The
cool air from the AC chilled her and she wrapped her hands around her
shoulders. That was when she noticed what she was wearing. Isabella loved the
two-piece night outfits that came with a Cami top and some boy shorts to go to
bed. This was not appropriate wear for her mother. Her mother, Theresa
Francisca Colon knew about being appropriate. She was determined to get her
daughter married to a good man.

Isabella
loved her mother and that was the only reason she had an emergency floral,
long-sleeved nightgown in her closet.

If
she didn't want to put that nightgown on, she was going to have to get dressed
in 15 minutes or less. Her best friend Sophia lived in the same apartment
complex with her mother. They lived 6 bus stops away and Isabella knew with her
luck all the lights on the Queens Streets would align and her mother would just
appear on her doorstep.

Running
into the bathroom, she poured mouthwash into the small paper cup and then
tossed it into her mouth swishing the alcohol-mint-flavored liquid around
hoping it would be enough to hide the fast food she had just ate seven hours
ago. If her mother got a whiff of that burger she’d stay in Isabella’s
apartment to make a couple of “good” meals for her to heat up later.

Then
it came to Isabella. It was Monday! She had already put her laundry out last
night. Her alarm had gone off, so she knew it was 9.30 a.m. The laundry bags
were picked up from the front of her door by 7 a.m. She finished rinsing her
mouth and then ran into her sparse closet. What could she wear? She grabbed a
pair of jeans and a then looked on the floor in her closet. She picked up a
peasant top and gave it a sniff. It was stale but wearable.

Isabella
went to the bathroom and sprayed it with her deodorant and then put it under
the cool of the hair dryer. She gave it another sniff and she was pulling on
her outfit. Isabella wet her brush and then put some conditioner in her hair
after a couple of strokes it looked great on the top.

Looking
at the clock on the floor she had five more minutes. She looked at her bed and
then spread the bedspread over the crumpled sheets and ran to the kitchen.
Isabella opened the dishwasher and put in all of the plates, wiped the counters
into the sink and then did a clean swipe of the table.

She
looked for the remote and set her little robo vacuum to work on clearing up the
crumbs. Isabella made a last dash to the curtains to open them and crack a
window. Just as she was doing her last look over the doorbell rang. Taking a
deep breath, she went to the door and opened it.

“Momma
what a surprise,” Isabella said as she pulled her mother into her arms and into
her apartment.

“I
doubt that. However, I did let a bus go by before I came to give you time to
tidy up,” her mother said as she kissed her cheek.

Isabella
let the breath go and watched her mother walk in.

“I
came by hoping we could go to lunch. I figured if I came now you would need an
hour or two to get ready and we could make lunch or brunch,” Her mother said in
an upbeat voice as she brushed off the chair and took a seat at her dining room
table.

“Momma
today is a workday for me and – “

Her
mother waved off her concerns.

“You
work from home, Bee.”

Isabella
closed her eyes and let out a breath.

“Oh,
there you go breathing again. You know sometimes you have to talk it out rather
than breathing. Not that I’m making any judgements Cada maestrilla tiene su
librillo.

“You
know this is not about me having my own way. You make it sound like I am the
only person on the planet who breathes when I need to find my center.”

“Oh,
and me calling you by your middle name requires you to recenter?”

“Momma
I know you think my middle name is dignified. The name Beatriz has a long
history. However, when you are going to school and your initial spell IBS it
can be fodder for kids to tease you.” Isabella held up her hand as her mother
began to reply. “Yes I am an adult but so many years of teasing I have just
taking a dislike to it.”

“Fine
we won’t speak about it.”

“Good.
Would you like something to drink?”

“Do
you have any sweets? “Her mother asked.

“Yes
I have some ensaimadas,” Isabella said waiting. When her mother graced her with
a smile Isabella shook her head.

“Look
at how good a hostess you are. Any man would be proud to have a woman like you
by his side,” Her mother lauded.

Isabella
shook her head and went to make the coffee and prepare her mother’s plate.
Maybe if they ate here she wouldn’t have to go out with her. It wasn’t that
Isabella didn’t love her mother in fact it was the opposite, but they were just
two different women.

“You
know momma I make my living telling people how to embrace being a single woman
in the city,” she said matter of factly.

Her
mother waved it off.

“We
all have to do something to make a living. I don’t hold that against you. What
else could you do with an English degree. An understanding man won’t hold it
against you either.”

Isabella
wanted to tell her mother that she was super modern and believed in the
messages she sent out on her channels. Then she looked at her standing over the
stove stirring in coffee grounds in a saucepan to make her mother coffee. The
Keurig on the counter scowled at her.

“Momma
there are all kinds of women.”

“There
are.”

“Some
women marry early and have tons of kids.”

“Bless
them all and how happy their mothers must be to be able to hold the next
generation in their arms,” her mother said.

“The
point is that some women will never have a child,”

Her
mother smiled and waited until the coffee was brought to the table.

“My
love you are right some women will never have a child. Some women don’t want
one and others can’t. However, we are not talking about other women. I’m
talking about my daughter. My little girl who would get several Barbies and
they would all marry one Ken doll. You had five Barbies and five Kens.”

Isabella
smiled as she remembered those dolls. Isabella blinked back tears as she
remembered the little girl who once upon a time believed in marriage.

“I
see you remember that girl, too,” her mother said softly.

Isabella
reached out and covered her mother’s hand.

“I
was a little girl then and I didn’t know how the world was. I’m grown up now
and I write about single women.”

“Wait!
Did you know that before I married your father my name was Theresa Francisca
Colon? Then this tall white American came, and I became Theresa Smith. The fact
that we found each other, and I gave up my good Catholic name for Smith should
be proof enough for you that all things are possible when it comes to love.”

Isabella
couldn’t help but laugh at her mother's sincerity.

“Momma
– “

“Listen
when you got a degree in English I thought she was surely going to marry.
She’ll be a teacher and a good man will find her. Or she’ll take the cloth and
marry God and be a good wife to the best of men.”

Isabella
hung her head and laughed.

“I
know you believe in love, because you are so loving yourself,” her mother said.

Isabella
took her hand back and sipped her coffee. This wasn’t a new discussion. In
fact, it was becoming a quarterly discussion.

“Why
is this so important? If it’s to be it will happen,” Isabella said.

“How
can it happen when my daughter hides herself?”

“Hides
myself. Momma I run a blog and a podcast. I’m out there people see me and there
are even some people who have signed pictures of me and them, Isabella
defended.

“Then
they have nothing, and I feel sorry for them that they were fooled. This is not
my daughter. You have always helped others, but the Urban Woman is not you. The
man who thinks he loves you doesn’t really know you.”

Isabella
sat back in her chair.

“No,
momma let’s not.”

“I’m
not saying anything, but you and that boy have been together for two years and
here we are. Him in his world and you in yours.”

“People
my age aren’t rushing to marry. We want to be sure.”

Her
mother harrumphed.

“If
you had more time together you would know each other. However, his work is so
important he has no time for you. So, you stay home, and you don’t see anyone,
and he puts you on a shelf until he comes back.”

“Momma
you are so dramatic.”

“Really,
so you think the way you are now is true to yourself?”

“Of
course!”

“Have
the two of you gone to church together?”

Isabella
looked at her mother as if she had just yelled at her.

“No
mama,” Isabella whispered.

“Have
you cooked for him?”

“Momma!
He likes to eat out.”

“Hmm
so that would be a no.”

“Momma
who makes up those rules?  They are from
a time long gone.”

“Yes
because now we record our lives, so we don’t have to live them. You have no
privacy and somehow the opinion of a stranger has more weight than the family
around you.”

“Momma,
you make too much of it.”

“How
about this one, have you told each other your dreams?”

Isabella
smiled.

“I
know his dreams momma. He wants to be an associate partner at the investment
firm he works at. See there.”

Her
mother tsked.

“No
child, his dreams for you and him. Does he say how he sees the both of you
together in future?”

Isabella
said nothing. Her mother was gifted at finding that small crack and making it
into a crater. The problem was tonight she thought that maybe her mother had a
point. Isabella couldn’t respond because they were both interrupted by her
phone.  Isabella didn’t have to the
ringtone You belong to me said it all.

“It’s
Carl.”

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