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Authors: Elizabeth Rose

One Red Rose

BOOK: One Red Rose
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One Red Rose

 

By

 

Elizabeth Rose

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarities to actual organizations or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the author’s written permission.

 

Cover by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

Cover image provided by Dreamstime.

 

 

Dedicated to my sister, Julie!

 

Books in print by Elizabeth Rose:

 

Kyros’ Secret

The Oracle of Delphi

Thief of Olympus

The Pandora Curse

Eden’s Garden

 

Ebooks:

The Caretaker of Showman’s Hill

Familiar

Lord of the Blade

Doubting Thomas

  
Curse of the Condor

 

     
Elizabeth’s author page

Chapter 1

 

 

One red rose and her heart stood still.

Eva Dobbs blinked once, then twice, bewildered at the flower lying precariously atop her desk. She closed the door behind her softly, and made her way across the floor of the Tyme Travel Agency where she’d worked since her twins, John and Julie went away to college.

She reached out cautiously, fingers stretching to pick up the icon of love, but pulled away before she’d touched it. It wasn’t the first red rose she’d ever received. But it was the first in a very long time.

“Carol?” she called to her coworker, typing at the desk behind her.

“Yes, Eva?” the plump woman asked, without looking up. The keys clicked away at a 120 words per minute. Eva never could understand how woman over sixty could move so fast. Carol was a good twenty years older than herself, and yet the woman never seemed to tire.

“Do you know how this got here?”

Eva stood stiff and still, the memory of a happy time in her life brought to the surface by the sight of a mere red rose. Times long ago forgotten of a foolish young couple so much in love they’d eloped at the mere age of eighteen.

It’s not that she wasn’t happy being married to her high school sweetheart, Cooper Dobbs for close to twenty-five years now, but things changed. Complacency beguiles one’s need for romance after so long. They hadn’t thought they really needed the touch of intimacy, but truth won out in the end. It was one year ago today they’d separated. One long year of emptiness in her soul, wishing for those high school years where romance was all that mattered.

“How what got there, honey?” Carol typed off another fifty words before Eva was able to actually reach out and touch the precious flower. Being careful of the thorns, she pushed back the green tissue wrapping and gently lifted the rose in her fingertips, holding it up for Carol to see.

“This,” she mumbled, still bewildered. “This beautiful rose.”

“Hmmm?” Carol stopped her typing and looked over. “Oh, that!” she said, bright and cheery. “A delivery man dropped it off about an hour ago.” She picked up her mug of coffee and brought it to her mouth.

“Well, whose is it?” Eva asked carefully, thinking they’d been using her desk again for drop-offs and deliveries. She’d really have to make it clear that just because her desk was nearest to the door, it didn’t mean everything got dumped there.

Carol just about burned her mouth on her coffee and decided to blow on it instead.

“It’s yours, sweetie. Who else would be getting a rose around here?”

Eva pondered the thought and looked around the room. Her boss, Chadwick Tyme was a man in his fifties who had an office in the back. The only other person working there besides Carol and herself was Carol’s grandson, Leif, who’d just graduated high school and cleaned the office and refilled supplies. She looked over to him, surveying his spiked hair, black clothes and black painted nails, and decided right then and there he wasn’t the kind of guy who would have girls sending him flowers.

“Did you say this was delivered to me?” she asked, still not believing it.

“Sure I did,” said Carol dipping her finger into her mug and pulling it out quickly. “There’s a card there with your name on it if you don’t believe me.”

“Card?” Eva reached down inside the wrapper and brought forth a small white envelope. Putting the rose down on the desk she used both her trembling hands to open it.
Eva,
it read.
You are in my heart. Love, your secret admirer.

Who’s it from?” asked Carol, putting down her coffee and looking over.

“I…I’m not sure. It reads
your secret admirer
.”

“See what happens when you moonlight on the stage?” Carol laughed. “You can’t expect to play a chorus girl at the village theater every night this month and not have some man want a date.”

“Date?” Eva dropped her purse to the floor and slid into her chair. She hadn’t thought about dating anyone since she and Cooper split up. After all, they were still legally married.

“It’s been a long time, Eva. Maybe a date is just what you need.”

“Never.” She pushed the rose aside and pulled open a drawer to retrieve her work. “I don’t need a man in my life. I’m too busy.”

“You’re still in love with that no-good husband of yours, aren’t you?”

Eva spun around in her chair. “Don’t call him no-good.”

Startled, Carol spilled her coffee on the top of her desk. She grabbed at the tissue box to mop it up.

“But honey, he never even bought you a birthday or Christmas present in nearly the last twenty-five years.”

“It wasn’t always that way,” she relayed. “We used to exchange presents. We only stopped when we realized it was easier to go out and buy things for ourselves. It was better than hurting each other’s feelings when we exchanged presents we didn’t like. It was a mutual agreement. We didn’t need presents.”

“Presents?” Carol wadded up the wet tissues and deposited them in the trash can under the desk. “I’m not talking about just presents. I’m talking about romance.”

“Romance,” Eva repeated the word, turning slowly in her chair. Yes, there had been something missing in her life, and she wondered if Carol was right. Was the missing romance in their relationship what caused them to lose interest in each other and finally split up?

She picked up the rose and ran a soft petal across her cheek, her eyes squeezing closed in the process. If only she had thought of this years ago. Maybe things would be different now, if she had. Maybe Cooper would still be in her life. And maybe their splitting up wouldn’t still be so hard to handle.

She wiped the tear from her eye and tried to put the thought from her mind. How could one red rose bring all these emotions to the surface?

The phone on her desk rang, and she jumped in surprise. Rose still in hand, she picked up the receiver with the other.

“The Tyme Travel Agency. Eva speaking, may I help you?”

“Eva?” came a very familiar deep voice from the other end of the line. “Eva, this is Cooper.”

Her hand squeezed around the stem of the rose, pricking her fingers with the thorns in the process. Her heart beat rapidly, and her mouth went dry. He hadn’t contacted her once in the year after he’d moved from their hometown of Joliet, Illinois to Gary, Indiana. Why was he calling her now?

“Cooper,” she said and watched as Carol’s head popped up, but her hands stayed busy at the task of wiping off her desk. “It’s been a long time. What’s up?”

“I’m in town on a construction job,” he told her. “I’m going to need a place to live for awhile and I wondered….I wondered if I could stay at the house for a few weeks?”

Heart lodged in her throat, she didn’t know what to say. When they’d parted, it had not been on pleasant terms. Things were different now. She lived by herself. Accepting him back into the house might signal that she wanted to get back together. She didn’t know if she was ready for that.

“I don’t know, Cooper.” She looked to Carol for support, but since the woman had no idea what he was saying, she just shrugged her shoulders and raised her hands.

“Moving back into the house seems so…so final.”

Carol’s mouth opened in surprise at hearing those words. Her phone rang and she hurried to pick it up.

“Nothing’s final, Eva. I just thought maybe we could talk. I’m not asking you to make any kind of decisions about us.”

“All right,” she said, never being able to deny the man anything. “When will you be here?”

“I’m here now,” he said. “Look out in the hall.”

She looked up, peering through the glass door to the office, seeing Cooper, looking sexier than a body had the right to, leaning against the opposite wall, cell phone to his ear.

She placed the receiver back in the phone cradle. She watched him click off his phone, shoving the device back into the leather holder attached to his belt.

“Carol,” she whispered, looking out of the corner of her eye. “Carol, he’s here.”

Carol was busy talking to a client, and Eva knew she’d be of no help. She’d have to face Cooper on her own.

She sat clutching the rose like a lifeline as Cooper pushed through the door with that never-ending seductive stroll that had first gained her attention over twenty-five years ago. Dressed in tight faded jeans and a t-shirt, he looked every bit as lean as he did back in high school.

His skin tanned from the construction work that kept him in the hot summer sun, he looked like he’d spent his days surfing at the beach. His blue-gray eyes held that hint of mystery within them and his dark hair was trim and neat. She envied the fact after all these years he still hadn’t begun to gray, while she made her bi-monthly visits to the beauty shop just to keep her blond image.

“Nice rose,” he said, his eyes skimming over the flower. “Who’s it from?”

Before she could react, he’d scooped up the card, his eyes flitting over the inscription.

“I…don’t know,” she said nervously. When she’d first seen him in the hallway, the thought that he might have sent her the rose whisked through her brain. But she should have known better. He hadn’t given her flowers since their first anniversary. Actually, one flower. One red rose, so much like this one.

“Secret admirer?” he said looking first at the card and then at her. His eyebrow raised more in amusement than anger or jealousy. She wasn’t sure just what to think.

“Look, I’ll give you the key and you can just go over to the house.”

She put down the rose and dug through her purse for the spare key she kept in her wallet, not on the keychain. She’d gone to great extremes to change all the locks when he left, and now here she was just handing over the key. His presence had her mind muddled.

“Are you dating someone, Evie?” he asked softly, using the name she loved that only he had ever called her. It was special, and she never let anyone use it but him.

Her hand stilled and she looked up at him slowly.

“No, Cooper. Are you?” She stopped breathing, waiting for his answer.

“No.”

It was only a single word, but a word that made her sigh in relief. If he had been dating, she didn’t know if she’d be able to handle the rejection.

“I’ve stayed true to our marriage,” he told her. “Even though we split up.”

“I’ll see you at home, later,” she said. She handed the key to him, his fingers closing over hers in the process. A bolt of desire shot through her, and she wanted more than anything to be in his arms once again.

“Want me to cook up some dinner later?”

Eva’s mouth watered just thinking of some of the delicacies Cooper used to cook when they first married. He had always loved experimenting with new concoctions in the kitchen. But then when the kids came along, they’d opted for the easiness of macaroni and cheese.

BOOK: One Red Rose
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