Sweet Blooms Excerpt – Dean Hodel

Sweet Blooms

She had waited long enough, it was time to go home.

The sun shone brightly on the empty local street.  Victoria Turner was done. Her neighbors wouldn’t know she had left her townhouse. It wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where you got a welcome basket when you arrived. People moved in. People moved out. There were no faces, no names, no relationships. It was cold and empty just like her life.

Her trunk door was slammed closed. The jarring noise brought her back to the moment at hand. She looked in the side mirror, and saw Lance, her best friend, walking on the side of the truck. Lance was a dream. Young, educated and he had a promising career.

He was her neighbor. He was a coworker. He had become her best friend when she moved to New York. She knew he was hoping they would have more than just friendship. Victoria couldn’t see the relationship progressing further than friendship. Now in the wake of all that happened, Lance was a reminder of all she had lost.

She needed time. She needed space. She needed to go home. The cool breeze played with her short bob. She’d cut her hair yesterday after she decided to go back. New hair, a new point of view and if she were lucky she’d find a new purpose in her life.

The death of her grandfather had been the final straw.  Victoria was tired of not being able to take people at face value. She needed to visit three little old ladies who could heal with a cup of tea and a cupcake.

Lance put his hands on the door and waited while the silence stretched between them with words unsaid and paths untraveled.

“You could stay,” he said.

“Who stays where they’re not wanted?”

“I want you to stay,” he said softly.

Victoria took off her aviator sunglasses. She saw concern crease his brow. Victoria knew what she looked like. After a four-hour crying jag, no sleep and no makeup, she wasn’t at her best. Sure the hair was new but putting lipstick on a pig didn’t change it was a pig.

“I came to New York with a dream. The dream has become a nightmare,” her voice unsteady with tears waiting to be shed.

“It’ll pass,” he assured her.

“Maybe it will but will my dream come back?”

“You have talent Victoria, and it will shine no matter what. Stay here, stay with me.”

Victoria covered Lance’s hand with her own on the car door.

“Right now I need a friend. I’m broken. I’m lost, and I need to return to the last place where I knew who I was. My grandfather’s death has just speeded up when I need to take that trip.”

“If this is what you need, then go, do what you think is right for you. Just remember, I’m here. If you need an ear, mine’s available,” Lance tapped the side of the truck and then stepped away.

“ No matter how you feel you’ve packed like a woman.” Lance joked as Victoria started the engine.

Victoria looked over her shoulder and saw the boxes in the back and the two suitcases.

“Those items? To think I just put in the necessities.” She quipped back.

“Off with you already, who drives to Florida from New York in the modern world, anyway? You have heard of airplanes, right?

She waved her hand in the air like royalty. “Airplanes, they are so full of the common folk. When I drive, I can be first class all the way.”  

“Off with you and be careful. I’ll watch your condo. We’ll both be here when you come back.”

Victoria nodded at him. She secured her glasses and pulled away. As Victoria drove down the street, she could still see him standing on the curb. She looked away from the mirror and focused on the road ahead.

Victoria knew the answers she needed weren’t anywhere in a bustling city. It was time. Victoria felt the spark of happiness in her soul. She was going home to Sweet Blooms.

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