An amicable silence hovered between Abbey and

Brady as they walked toward the restaurant hand in

hand. They knew they’d just crossed a major

milestone. The quiet was broken by Abbey’s cell

 phone. Annoyed at the interruption, she sighed and

answered. It was one of her employees. “Come quick,

Abbey. It’s the nursery. There’s a fire. It’s spreading

like wildfire. Things look bad. Get here soon.”


When Abbey and Brady reached the nursery, it

was a burning inferno. The glass walls had collapsed

and it was going up in a snarling hiss of smoke and

flames. Firefighters struggled to get the blaze under

control. Police and paramedics had arrived and Eye

Witness News was on the scene, snapping photos.

“Oh my!” Abbey was out of the car the minute it

came to a screeching halt. Her face was as ashen as

the thick clouds of smoke billowing up into the night

sky. Tripping over the gravel and cinders as she

rushed toward the fire chief, she screamed. “What

happened? I’m Abigail Jordan and I own this

nursery. What happened? When I left, everything

was fine. Please tell me nobody was in there!”

“No one was in there,” the fire chief placed a

hand on her shoulder. “Things could be a lot worse.

Dead plants can be replaced. People can’t.”

Riveted with shock as reality filtered through

her, Abbey screamed, “My roses! All my precious

roses. All those hanging baskets of lavender. My

exotic orchids and Easter lilies. Gone, all gone!”

“It’s all right,” Brady folded her into his arms.


“What started it?” Abbey stared at the fire chief.

“How did it start?”

“It’s being investigated. At this time, the cause

is unknown. Could be a gas leak. A neighbor

reported hearing an explosion, and in a few minutes,

your greenhouse went up like a house of cards.”

In less than an hour, the fire was under control,

but all that remained of Abbey’s nursery was a bed

of ash. The floral boutique across the covered bridge

was unharmed but the rest of the damage caused by

 the fire was insurmountable.

“Do you have any idea how long it took me to

choose and cultivate each of my prize roses?” Abbey

finally let the tears roll. Leaning on Brady, she

sobbed in between hysterics. “My Lasting Love rose,

demolished. And to think I’ll never smell the spicy

aroma of my Sentimental rose again. And at prom

time, I never had enough of the Falling in Love rose.

They all wanted a corsage made of the pink roses,

timeless and romantic. And not to forget the Arctic

Flame rose, popular for keeping the romance alive.

All my hard work, up in smoke.”

“Ms. Jordan,” the fire chief interrupted. “We

know the cause of the fire. It was caused by a

recently installed heating table. Some of the cable

wiring possibly touched each other due to improper


Abbey shoved Brady away and stared at him,

her eyes glinting with anger. “It was you. You said

you knew how to install the heating table and I

listened to you. You ruined my dream. Get away

from me.”

“Abbey,” he tried to reach her. “There’s gotta be

some mistake. Let me—”

“There was a mistake all right,” Abbey hissed.

“Hiring you and trusting you with my roses. Get out

of here and never come back. I never want to see you



On Easter morning, Abbey pulled up to her

floral shop, her heart heavy with grief. Feeling as if

she had the weight of the world on her shoulders,

she crossed the bridge to where her garden nursery

had been. Even before she got there, the thick scent

of smoke lingered, a pungent reminder of what had

happened the night before.

She wanted the world to stop spinning. How

could Brady have been so careless? How could she

 have been stupid enough to trust him? Somewhere

deep in her subconscious, she knew she should have

had an electrician install the heating table. So why

hadn’t she listened? Because she’d been attracted to

him and had been well on her way to falling in love

with him. She recalled how infatuated she’d been

only yesterday when she watched him touch the

roses with such tenderness. And the kiss they’d

shared last night. Tears spilled down her face at the


She kicked her foot in the rubble and screamed

at the top of her lungs. Sobs ripped through her until

she couldn’t breathe. On Easter morning of all

mornings, a time of rebirth and resurrection.

Hurling herself on the bed of ashes where her

nursery had been, she kicked and screamed, not

caring if the world came crashing down on top of her.

Hearing footsteps behind her, she looked up and


An old man with flowing white hair stood over

her, his gnarled body stiff and bent. He poked at her

with his walking stick. “Get up, girlie,” he

commanded. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Who are you?” Abbey stood up and backed

away. Other than the birds, there was no one

around. She reached for her cell phone, only to

remember it was in her purse in the car. Her heart

pounded with adrenaline. “Who are you and where

did you come from?”

“I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help.”

Abbey started across the bridge. She wanted to

get far away from this nut. Who was he?


His words had a jarring effect. She turned

around to see him rooting through the rubble with

his cane. What was he doing, digging around in her

dirt? Was he looking for money? Food? Was he


 He looked at her without expression. “I’ve come

to give you words of wisdom. When you find love,

hold on tight. Then find it in your heart to forgive.

It’s all about forgiveness.”

Curious, Abbey joined him. The sun was peeking

through the mountaintops and a shimmer of red

caught her eye where the old man was probing with

his cane. She got on her hands and knees and joined

him, shoving the dirt and cinders aside with

reverent fingers. There it was, the satiny red petals

of a Lasting Love rose, buried beneath the rubble.

Tears of joy trickled down her face. Preserved

beneath the ash and cinders was her favorite flower

in the whole world, her Lasting Love rose. She kept

digging, deeper and deeper, and before long, the

entire bush and its brilliant red blossoms had

resurrected. Not caring if the thorns cut her, she

clutched the plant to her heart. Then she turned

around to thank the old man, but he was gone. An

icy chill went through Abbey as reality struck. A

gaggle of bluebirds gathered on the railing, chirping

sweetly to the sound of nature. Abbey looked up at

the sky and smiled.


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