The flowers were lovely. But who sent them? And why?
I gazed at their beauty. It was December. Who could afford flowers like these at this time of year? Lilies in hot pink, yellow and orange. Red and pink roses? Certainly no one I could think of. And one white daisy. That flower always made me think of innocence. Purity. I looked heavenward. Okay, God. You have my attention. Thank you for the flowers. I shook my head as I placed the vase on the table. They reminded me of God’s expansive, beautiful, grace-love. A love I had been numb too since. . . Why did something beautiful have to stir up yuck?
With one last glance at the splash of color that made it look like spring had exploded in my kitchen, I grabbed my laundry basket and headed out into the cold snow. It was still coming down. I would be shoveling later. Sigh. Work, chores and church. My life.
Brad was already settled in at our usual table at the Laundromat. We had been friends for awhile now and he was my one safe person to talk to. Other than Saturday mornings, we saw each other at church and that was about it. He worked second shift with the police department. Me, I worked an administrative job at the hospital.
I forced a smile. “Hi, Brad.”
His left eyebrow lifted. “Did we get up on the wrong side of the bed today?” His lopsided grin showed the dimple on his right cheek.
I grunted as I slammed my clothes into the washing machines, added detergent and plugged in the requisite quarters.
“What’s the matter, Nicole?”
I swiped my eyes with my sweater before I turned to sit down at the table across from him. He placed a ceramic cup of hot chocolate in front of me. There were even tiny marshmallows. My fave.
He was watching me, but I pretended to be absorbed in the steamy chocolate. I closed my eyes and inhaled heaven. When I finally looked up across the table, I saw compassion in his dark bloodshot eyes. His face was unshaven. He still looked handsome though. I was suddenly jealous of his future wife.
“I got flowers.” I sounded whiny even to my own ears.
“Well if there’s a reason to be depressed I suppose flowers would top the list.” He rolled his eyes.
I fought back a grin, not willing to give up my funk quite yet. “I don’t know who they’re from.” I sipped the chocolate, savoring the comfort. I still felt a weight in my chest. “They reminded me of God’s love and how far I’ve wandered from Him.” Who else but Brad could I have shared this with? No one.
“Beauty, mystery and conviction.”
I shook my head and felt my ponytail wave in response. “He and Jennifer moved away. He’s in the past.”
“Wasn’t it about a six-months ago. . .”
“That he dumped me? Yeah, thanks for the reminder.”
“What are friends for? He was all you talked about for awhile. You haven’t mentioned him in a long time.”
“Flowers like that would never have come from him.”
“So, who? It obviously bothers you.”
“I get the impression you don’t feel you are worth that kind of gift.”
A sigh escaped my lips. He had me pegged. I sipped my chocolate and leaned back in my plastic chair and let the sounds of the whirring washing machines and the thunking items in the dryers distract me. I glanced around. White and grey. Blah. I looked outside through the steamy plate glass windows. More white and grey. Dirty. The world looked dirty. That’s the way I had been feeling deep inside since Andy’s betrayal and my subsequent anger at God. I didn’t like it. I just wanted to feel loved.
Brad rose and went to take his clothes out of the washer, and transfer them to the dryers across the aisle. He looked good in his jeans and sweatshirt. The casual clothes didn’t hide his fit physique. His dark curly hair must have been cut recently. It looked nice. He returned, stretched his legs and folded his arms across his broad chest. His eyelids lowered as he looked at me.
“You are worth those flowers, Nic.” His voice had deepened.
I was speechless.
He leaned his head back and sighed. “Why can’t you accept,” his head came back up and his eyes searched mine as he leaned forward, “that you are a beautiful and desirable woman?”
I blinked. “Brad?” He’d never talked to me like that before.
“I had noticed you while you were dating Andy. I heard why he left you. I knew then you were a woman of godly character. You mentioned at church that you came here. I decided I would too. So I could get to know you better.” He reached across the table and took my hands in his.
“I’m not as godly as you think.” I focused on our joined hands. My insides tingled.
“Are any of us? Look, Nic. I know Andy hurt you. But you are worthy of more respect and love than he could give.”
My mouth dropped open as my eyes met his.
He shook his head. “Did you know, I have laundry facilities in my condo? And I often, like last night, work a double shift on Fridays?”
My eyes got big. I blinked again. “But, really? Why?” I stuttered. He could not have been coming here to be with me. Could he? Calm down, Nic. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
“The flowers?” I whispered. His hands squeezed mine.
He nodded and smiled, flashing white teeth and two adorable dimples. “Today is the six month anniversary of when I started to fall in love with you.”
Beautiful, extravagant love, indeed.