Home > The Remake (Second Chance Flower Shop #4)(7)

The Remake (Second Chance Flower Shop #4)(7)
Author: Noelle Adams

“Thank you,” Belinda said, collapsing onto the floor without warning, the mop still in her hand. It was like she was so exhausted her legs could no longer hold her. “When they get back with the towels, we can get the last of this dampness off. I think they’re okay.”

“They’re fine,” Fitz said, easing down to sit beside her. “They’re going to be fine.”

Belinda stroked one plank of dark wood on the floor almost tenderly. “This is my parents’ house,” she said in a small voice he’d never heard from her before.

“I know,” he said gently. “I know it is.”

“I realize it’s not like they’re haunting this house or anything ridiculous like that. But I still feel them here. I’m not ready to let it go yet.”

“You don’t have to. The floors are fine. The house is in great condition. You’ve done a great job with it.”

She sniffed and shot him a sideways glance. Almost shy. “Me and Ria. They left it to me because they left her the flower shop, but I always considered it as belonging to both of us.”

“Yeah, but you’ve always been the one to take care of it, haven’t you?”

She nodded. “But only because I wanted to. Ria would have helped if I’d asked.” She was looking down at the floors again, as if she might be afraid to meet his eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t be so attached to it.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said gruffly. “Why shouldn’t you be attached?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a house.”

“It’s not just a house. It’s your family home. You shouldn’t give it up until you’re ready. Until you want to. And if you never do, then you shouldn’t.”

“You think so?” She was giving him that almost bashful sidelong look again.

“Yes. I think so.”

She nodded. “I think so too. Thanks for helping me.”

“Of course. What else did I have to do? And I’m sorry if I made it seem like...” He waved toward her makeup. “You look good.”

She gave a dry, breathy laugh, her eyes flashing in their normal manner. “It is kind of strange. Seeing myself this way. I’m not sure if I like it or not.”

“Then why do it if you don’t like it?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I just want to be...”

He waited for the last word. He was actually holding his breath as he did. Because he desperately wanted to know what it was she wanted, what would make her happy.

When she didn’t finish, he had to prompt, “You want to be what?”

“I don’t know. Noticed. Or something.” She gave her head a little shake. It was clear to Fitz that she couldn’t believe she’d actually shared that with him. “Oh, I think Madeline and Skye are here with the towels.” She hauled herself up and hurried to the front door to greet her friends.

Fitz got up more slowly. She might have tried to brush it off, but he’d heard what she’d said.

She wanted to be noticed.

Noticed.

She was afraid she was going through life without anyone recognizing how beautiful she was. How amazing. How clever and quick and articulate. How generous and warmhearted.

Fitz had noticed her.

Seven years ago, when he needed to figure out somewhere to go—somewhere to spend the rest of his life after he left his old one behind—he’d blocked off a section of a map in the middle of the eastern part of the country (since he didn’t want anywhere too hot or too cold). Then he’d literally stuck a pin in a map.

His pin had hit Azalea, so that was where he’d moved.

His second day in town, he’d been talking to Ken Harley, who was the sheriff and wanted to make sure the stranger in town wasn’t looking for trouble, when Belinda had pushed her way out of the storefront in downtown that she’d made her office. She’d been in a hurry. Her hair had been pulled back. She’d been walking like she had a mission, but she’d paused to say hello to one of the old ladies who hung out at the laundromat. Her smile hadn’t been for Fitz, but it had shaken his world all the same.

He’d noticed her then, like he’d noticed her every other day of his years there.

But she wouldn’t want to know that. Because one thing Fitz was absolutely sure of. His wasn’t the notice she was looking for.

 

 

Three

 


BELINDA HAD A FRAMED mirror in the dining room of her house, and every time she walked by that evening, she caught a glimpse of herself and gave a little jerk of surprise.

She looked pretty. Really pretty. And still like herself.

As of one o’clock that afternoon, she had her new water heater installed (thanks to Jacob’s and Fitz’s handyman skills) and her wood floors clean, dry, and polished. So to thank everyone who’d helped her today, she made chili and cornbread and invited them over for dinner.

Since no one was coming she needed to impress, she didn’t do the whole makeup routine the girls had taught her this morning. She’d just put on a little eye makeup and some lip gloss. But she’d left her hair loose and was wearing one of the new outfits she’d bought yesterday based on Ria and Skye’s instructions.

In truth, she wasn’t completely convinced about the outfit. She wasn’t a leggings person. They were comfortable but left her feeling half-dressed, despite the long length of her top. The sweater was soft and thin and draped in a flattering way. Plus it covered her butt, which was an absolute requirement if she was going to try out these leggings. Ria had assured her she looked gorgeous when she tried on the outfit for them this morning, and both Madeline and Skye had agreed. But it wasn’t what she normally wore, and she wondered if she could really pull it off.

Also, the sweater was red. Red. Belinda’s wardrobe primarily consisted of black, gray, tan, navy, and (if she was feeling particularly wild) dark green. She couldn’t remember the last time she wore red. It did make her skin look brighter and her eyes stand out. But she wasn’t used to drawing attention to herself, even with something as normal as a vivid color.

So far this evening, Ria and Jacob were here, as were Madeline with Ken and his two daughters. Ken’s youngest had tugged on the bottom of Belinda’s sweater and told her that she looked beautiful, which was about as sincere a compliment as Belinda could ever wish for.

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