Elly in Love (The Elly Series)

 

Praise for
Elly in Love

 

“Elly is so endearing that you can’t help falling in love with her. I thoroughly enjoyed being on her journey as she dealt with love, loyalty, friendship, and following her dreams.
Elly in Love
is a delightful story and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this character!”

Susie Orman Schnall, author of
On Grace

 

Praise for Colleen Oakes

 

“Colleen Oakes is a crisp, intelligent new voice in chick lit fiction, adept at handling both a character’s inner and outer world. Her dialogue is brisk and clever, and her plotting is a smooth invitation to keep turning pages.”

—Andrea Waggener, author of
Alternate Beauty

 

“I really loved
Elly in Bloom
. Despite her insecurities, Elly forges ahead to make a nice little life for herself after her divorce. It is a refreshing change of pace from the formulaic chick lit novels.”

—Emily Kiebel, author of
Serenade

 

“I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a delightful story that flows beautifully.”

—Peggy Strack, author of
A Stop in the Park

 

“Elly herself is a delight. You want to root for her, as clumsy and socially awkward as she sometimes is, even though she makes choices that make you want to look away from the train wreck.”

—5 Minutes for Mom

 

“There will be times you’ll laugh with [Elly] and others you’ll want to cry with her. I enjoyed this novel so much, Elly became a fast friend and I look forward to many more adventures.”

—Bookworm Babblings

 

“Have you ever read a book and the main character is so much like yourself that you just knew that if they were to become a real person that they would totally be your new best friend? That is how I feel about Elly.”

—Book Cover Justice

 

“This is a book series you’ll be sharing with your friends and family for many months once you start reading it! Kudos, Colleen!”

—Bless Their Hearts Mom

Also by Colleen Oakes

Elly in Bloom

Queen of Hearts, Volume One: The Crown

 

Coming Soon from Colleen Oakes

 

Elly Inspired

Queen of Hearts, Volume Two: The Wonder

Queen of Hearts, Volume Three: The Fury

Wendy Darling

Elly In Love

 

 

 

By
Colleen Oakes

 

SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint

A division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC

 

SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint

A division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC

 

Copyright © 2014 by Colleen Oakes

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

 

Published by SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint,

A division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC

Tempe, Arizona, USA, 85281

 

First American Edition, 2014

Printed in the United States of America.

 

ISBN: 978-1-940716-19-0 (pbk)

ISBN: 978-1-940716-18-3 (ebk)

 

Cover design © Julie Metz, Ltd./metzdesign.com

Formatting by Polgarus Studio at
polgarusstudio.com

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Table of Contents

 
For Cynthia:

Every cloudy morning reminds me how in love

I am with being your sister.

 
Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Prologue

February 17, 1979

 

Sarah Jordan tightened the straps on Elly’s stroller, making sure her chubby, darling daughter was secure before taking the giant contraption out the front door and down the rickety stairs that led from their dingy apartment door. With a loud breath, she set the stroller down on the sidewalk and pushed her tangled hair off her face. Elly, oblivious to any effort on her mother’s part, cooed happily and waved her hands toward the tiny plotted garden that ran on the south side of the complex. With a grin, Sarah Jordan pushed her daughter toward the flowers, leaving the shadow of the apartments behind. Once they reached the small plot of spring colors, she helped her reach out and grab a white daisy, pulling it from its long stalk. Elly looked at it for a moment, taking in the bright petals—and then promptly shoved it in her mouth.

“Elly!” Sarah laughed and pulled the flower out of her daughter’s mouth, brushing off her tongue with her fingers, making Elly shriek with hysterical laughter. “Oh, you are hilarious. I know. Silly Momma.” She kissed her daughter on the forehead and began pushing her down the sidewalk, past the apartment buildings that she vowed to escape one day, past the school where she volunteered on a regular basis, and around the corner, to some of the nicer houses in Peachtree. As she pushed, she admired the lush gardens—the hydrangea that burst out in blues and antique pinks, the climbing garden roses, the manicured lawns, perfectly mowed as if laid there by God himself. Someday, she mouthed. Someday.
Someday I’ll give Elly a garden to run in, a place where she can pick all the flowers that she can carry. I’ll teach her not to eat them first.
She looked down at her blond toddler, her golden curls bouncing around her round face in the warm breeze. It was hard to be cynical while gazing upon Elly’s perpetually happy nature, even when they had a pretty-bare pantry and an even-emptier bank account. Elly flung her hands out in front of her, as if she were flying. Sarah jogged with the stroller for a few paces, leaving Elly giggly and adorable. It was a good morning for a walk.

She stopped short when she saw the mailbox on the corner. In the shadow of a hackberry tree, it loomed cold and metallic on a street that seemed to be bursting with life. Sarah reached into her bag and fingered the letter inside of it, the envelope rough on her fingertips
. I could just not mail it,
she thought
. I could just not do anything. What if he finds us? Maybe the right decision is to just let things lie, and go about our lives.
The thought of him finding her was terrifying. She bit her lip and ran her fingers nervously over the stamp.
If that was true, why are you here?
Sarah bent her head and muttered a quick prayer, the answer the same as it had been that morning.
It was decided then. Perhaps some good might come of this. Someday.
Then, moving swiftly so that she couldn’t change her mind, Sarah closed the gap between herself and the post box, and flung the letter inside, walking away before the little metal door had even slammed shut with a ring of finality. Elly smiled up at her as she walked back toward the stroller, and Sarah felt a wave of relief wash over her.
She had done the right thing—it was up to someone else now.
Her daughter’s chubby cheeks were begging for kisses, and as she pulled Elly up out of the stroller, all the nervousness brought on by the letter dissipated into the warm air as she cradled her close, smelling her daughter’s skin, an intoxicating mix of soap and salt. The mailbox was left behind, standing with all its finality in the Georgia sun.

Chapter One

Present Day

 

Elly Jordan, the owner of Posies Florist in Clayton, Missouri—a swank St. Louis suburb—wondered if she had just broken a very large and expensive-looking piece of erotic art. She looked down at the rusty metal arch, now laid out before her on the ground, and made a small circle with her foot in the dark soil.
Well, this is crap
. The hot sun beat down on her neck, warming her blond curls while a cold panic rushed through her body. It was March, middle of the day, in Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis. Elly would rather be anywhere than here. This was turning into the
worst wedding ever
. Then she thought about that for a minute.
Nope. Not even close
. There had definitely been worse weddings. That had been last October, when her ex-husband Aaron had married his redheaded mistress Lucia, the woman who had broken apart their marriage.
That had definitely been the worst wedding ever.
This wedding didn’t really compare. She looked down at the metal twisted on the ground.
It still wasn’t great though, that was for sure
. Elly heard the echo of footsteps on gravel behind her and arranged her mouth into a grimace. She could hear her clipped voice now….

“Oh. My. GOD. What did you do?” Snarky Teenager, her adolescent assistant, sauntered up next to her, a pink potted azalea balanced on her bony hip. “How did you manage to knock this over? Is it broken?” She paused. “Did your butt hit it?”

Elly ignored her rapid-fire questions and took a deep breath, taking her mind somewhere else, instead of standing in the middle of a park next to a broken art piece. Instead of sweating to death in a park, she was with Keith, her handsome boyfriend. Maybe on a beach somewhere. Like in Antigua.
Antigua had beaches right? Or was that land-bound? Never mind, it didn’t matter.
Keith walked up to her and stared intensely at her face, his eyes a deep, riveting blue. His hand rested gently on her cheek for a split second and then forcibly struck her face.
Wait, what?
Again and again.
Worst fantasy ever.
Elly opened her eyes to see Snarky Teenager staring down at her, patting her face gently. “Um, yeah, hello? Elly, now is not the time to fantasize about a ganache waterfall or whatever it is you are thinking about. We have this god-awful broken arch, a ton of flowers hanging out in buckets, and a very pissed off mother of the bride that is bearing down on us at twelve o’clock.”

Elly’s bright-blue eyes focused. “Sorry. I was on a beach—okay, never mind, you’re right. Help me get this up.” Snarky Teenager gave an exaggerated sigh as they grabbed at the outlying rims of the arch. Elly’s clients for this particular wedding were artists, wildly in love, and totally unattached to reality. They had hired her immediately on one condition: that she decorate and set up their original art piece that symbolized their life together. At the time, it seemed devastatingly romantic. Now Elly had her face mashed up against some sort of metal faun and her hand wrapped around….
Oh dear
. Yup—that was definitely a metal expression of male virility. The sculpture had turned out to be more of an expression of their bedroom life then their impending marriage.

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