“I’m sorry.” The Amazing! Mart’s florist scratched the back of his head. “You need more vases?”
John nodded. “At least twenty more.”
“Make sure they’re nice.” Clarice chipped in.
“Twenty.” The florist’s gaze moved down to John’s shopping cart. “You sure you need twenty? You seem to have quite a bit.”
John smiled. “We have a lot of flowers.”
“Okay.” The florist scratched his head again. “I’ll go see what I can do.”
John looked over the vases pilled up in his cart. “Do you think twenty more will be enough?”
“Well. The ones that were meant for the reception came in their own vases. Then, there are the boutonnieres and the garland, which obviously don’t need vases.” She scrunched her eyes. “Then, there were those and those and those.” She opened her eyes again. “Yes. Twenty more will be perfect.”
“You’re perfect.” The words escaped his mouth before he could stop them. “Err. I mean—”
“Hey.” She gently covered his mouth with her fingers. “If you feel the need to compliment me, go whole hog wild. You don’t need to feel embarrassed or apologetic about it. It’s okay, John.” She uncovered his mouth.
“Could…could you say my name one more time?”
She smiled. “Of course, John.”
“Sorry. It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a woman in my life. I mean, a woman like you…like…like this.” He laughed softly. “I feel like I’m a clueless teenager all over again. I don’t know how you do it. How do you make it look so easy and natural?”
“Make what look easy and natural?”
“This. Being with someone else. Dating someone else. Letting someone else into that spot you had reserved for her. I mean, for him.”
She shook her head. “It isn’t easy, John. It’s hard. I just happen to be an amazing actress, except for when things really hurt me.”
“Do you like me? I mean it. Do you really like me?”
She kissed him. “I love you, John. And that is the simplest and best truth.”
The florist returned with a cart full of gold vases and silver vases and crystal vases of assorted shapes and sizes. “I hope this will do.”
John looked at Clarice. “Yes.”
Clarice insisted on them splitting the bill. John objected, which made her three times more insistent.
He gave in.
Getting all of the vases into the car took a lot of trial and error and careful placement. The gold and silver vases were pretty sturdy. So, there was no worries about them. The crystal ones, on the other hand, required some tender loving care.
John went back into the store and asked them for some sort of box. It took them a while to find a couple of boxes that were big enough for the crystal vases but small enough to fit in the back of the car.
But, soon enough, everything was all packed up.
John and Clarice got in the car and headed back to Father Landover’s rectory.
John glanced at her as he drove.
How did she sneak into my heart so easily? When did I let her in?
What was the moment?
The exact set of words?
Was it a touch?
Was it when we were hiding from the werewolves?
Or was it all of the way back when she talked me into going skinny dipping?
I don’t know.
It feels so easy to talk to her the way I do. It feels so right to hold her hand. I know it will get easier.
I know the awkwardness will go away as we get to know more and more about each other.
That’s how it was with us, Carolyn. Do you remember?