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Bloom, a new standalone novel, from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Deborah Bladon.
Liam Wolf should come with a warning.
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My shop, Wild Lilac, seems to be the place all the hot guys in Manhattan come to when they’re looking to impress their certain someone with flowers.
Today is a perfect example of that. One of my first customers this morning was a hotshot hockey player. I only know that because I saw his face on a billboard in Times Square during the playoffs last season.
After he bought and paid for the perfect bouquet for his special lady, a looker in a suit strolled through the door.
It took him over an hour to choose the arrangement he wanted. I was happy to oblige since it cost a small fortune. The flowers will be delivered tomorrow before he goes to the yoga studio his girlfriend owns to drop to one knee to ask her to spend her life with him.
I look over at the man who walked in less than a minute ago.
His dark blond hair is pushed back from his face and skimming the collar of his black button-down shirt. The sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, so the black and gray tattoos that cover his muscular forearms are visible.
He’s giving off a semi-corporate vibe since he’s dressed in black pants and shoes.
I turn to the side to stop myself from staring at him.
If there ever was a perfect voice for phone sex, it belongs to this man.
I look over at his face. His jaw is covered with a trimmed beard. His blue eyes pierce through me as he stares at me.
The man is a gorgeous giant. He must be at least six-foot-five.
“Can I help you?” I ask cheerfully from behind my checkout counter because swooning over the clientele will not pay the rent on this place.
“I need some flowers.” He huffs out a laugh. “Nice flowers. I want something extra special for the woman I’m seeing.”
Something deflates inside of me. It’s not as though I was expecting him to be in my floral boutique to buy a bouquet for his mom. That mad rush happens in May. It’s late September. The bulk of my recent orders have been gestures of undying devotion, new baby arrivals, birthdays, or sadly, red rose heavy arrangements to honor the recently departed.
“Are you celebrating something?” I ask not only because that will help me determine what type of bouquet to suggest, but curiosity is a motivating factor too.
“I’m celebrating her.” His tone softens. “She’s an incredible woman.”
She’s a lucky woman.
His eyes skim the front of the black sweater I’m wearing. “What’s your name?”
That’s not a question I’m asked often since I usually have a nametag pinned to my chest, but this sweater and sharp objects don’t play well together.
“Nice.” He flashes me a smile. “I’m Wolf.”
“Wolf?” I question back because that has to be a nickname. “Your name is Wolf?”
His hand jumps to his chin. Smoothing his fingertips over his beard, he huffs out a laugh. “It is. I’m Liam Wolf.”
“Liam,” I repeat his first name because it suits him perfectly in some abstract, unexplainable way.
The breadth of his shoulders and his height make him intimidating to look at, but his eyes and the warmth in his voice tell a different story.
I’m running a business, so I go to the heart of the matter. “What kind of flowers are you thinking of?”
“Whatever takes your breath away,” he says.
Never mind the flowers; that statement did the trick.
Speechless, I stare at him.
He bows his chin. “I’m looking for an arrangement that will surprise the hell out of my girlfriend. It has to be unique. Do you think you can handle that, Athena?”
I can handle anything, even creating beautiful bouquets for men like him to give to other women.
“I’m up for the job.” I smile.
Sliding a credit card and a sealed envelope toward me, he takes a pause. “Her name and address are written on there. I need that and the flowers sent to her today.”
All of my deliveries have already gone out, and it’s nearing five o’clock.
“My delivery cut-off is at two.” I glance down at the large silver watch on his wrist. “I can have this in her hands tomorrow.”
“It has to be today.” He leans both of his palms on the counter. “I’ll pay extra if you can get it to her before eight.”
Who am I to stand in the way of true love? I have nothing planned for tonight, so I do my good deed for the day. “I can take it to her personally. No extra charge.”
His eyes scan my face. “If you can make that happen, I’ll be forever in your debt.”
I set to work writing out an invoice for an elaborate arrangement of the most expensive flowers I have in stock. If I’m going to do this tonight, I might as well do it right. I hope the woman on the receiving end of the bouquet and the note realizes just how lucky she is.