A Sweet Florist’s Thorny Ruse (Preview)

Chapter One

Monica came down the stairs from the apartment above the shop. She missed her uncle so much that it was hard to stop crying all of the time.

“Wish you were still here,” Uncle Bill,” she said out loud. “I will keep the place going and that will help me.” She had walked through the florist’s shop that her uncle had founded a few years before. Out of habit, she checked the various pots of flowers and grasses that were on display and looked to see which plants needed water. Her uncle had been her family since her mother and father had died. He had made sure she had an education and her childhood had been happy and secure.

She opened the rear doors to the shop and stepped out into the glasshouse that was erected behind the building. The area beyond the glass doors was a nursery garden that her uncle had built up over the years. It was surrounded by a high stone wall that matched the stone of the house.

“Mornin’ Jed,” she said to the older man in the workshop. “Everything Okay?”

“It is, Missy,” he said to her. “I will split those plants that have gone well this year and start the stock for next year.”

“I will come and plant up the seedling trees later on,” she said. “I can do that in the glasshouse and keep an eye on the shop.”

“Lotta work on your shoulders,” Jed remarked. He had seen this young woman grow up and felt like she was family. “My wife says to just ask if you need an extra pair of hands.”

“How is Elsa?” Monica asked. “I might take her upon the offer. I have to go and see the lawyer about the will.” She pulled a funny face.

“I know that he is not a likeable man but just be business like and treat it as part of the job.”

“I will. I am glad you are here, Jed. Thanks.”

“I will keep the nursery going. You deal with the legal stuff.”

“Have we roses to cut?” she asked and he pointed across the garden. “Missus De Costa would like twenty this afternoon.”

“I’ll cut them early and give them a good drink of water,” the man told her and they went their separate ways. Monica opened up the shop, tidied the counter and watered what needed to be watered. She dropped the awning over the front of the store and spoke to the passers by.

Customers started to arrive and most of them asked how she was and hoped things were being sorted out. Monica looked around the store that she had largely created. Her uncle had moved from being a nursery gardener to having the store and when people asked for flowers, Monica had added that side of the trade. She was proud of it and enjoyed the work.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” a female voice asked and Monica saw her friend Pattie come in bearing a box of some sort.

“I am all the better for seeing you, Pattie.”

“And in this box are two beautiful pastries that say you can stop work and enjoy.”

“Your mom and her magical cooking skills. I cannot wait.” The box was opened to display two decorated cakes with fresh raspberries on the top and they were nestled amongst a little bed of clotted cream. There were no customers and the two girls headed for the glasshouse, where there were seats and a jug of lemonade. Out of sight, they indulged in the cake and lemonade and talked about fashion. It was their favorite topic.

“You have cheered me up, Pats,” Monica said. “I am worried about visiting this lawyer.”

“I can come with you if it would help,” Pattie offered. “Surely it is a straightforward inheritance. Your uncle had no other family.”

“I hope I can keep the business,” Monica was still worried.

“Why would you not inherit it? Let me know what happens.” Th shop door jingled and Monica went through to the shop.smiled at the woman who was looking at her displays. Pattie waved goodbye and made the door jingle again as she left and Monica helped the lady choose a brass pot as a gift and the woman added a plant to complete the picture.

“That is one of my favorite pots,” Monica said as she wrapped some pretty paper around the pot and took the payment. Monica was a large part of the reason that the shop and the nursery were so successful She loved the work and loved dealing with customers and seeing them leave happy with what they bought. The shop always looked wonderful and smelt delicious as she was good at having other things to sell like scented soap and pretty candles.

Then she went to ask Jed if his wife would come when she went to see the lawyer. The man said that he would go home for lunch and bring Elsa back with him.

Monica ran up the stairs to her apartment and chose a smart but suitably dak colored dress and coat to visit the lawyer. She added a small hat and little laced up leather boots. They were all laid ready for when she needed to change.

All very well to make myself smart but it feels frightening. I wish Ollie was here He gives me confidence. 

Ollie Oakley was out in the wilderness hunting bison. The work took him away for long spells at a time. Monica knew that her best friend since childhood would be back whenever the work was finished. It was a dangerous way to earn a living and the worry about his work stopped her thinking about her own worries.

Elsa came back with Jed and listened to a few instructions. Monica went to change and looked at herself in the mirror.

“Hold your head up. You know your own business,” she said to her image in the glass and picked up her little bag.

“Very smart,” Elsa said.

“I had best get it over with,” Monica said and left.

The lawyer’s office was very plain and official looking.  Carlton Shobley himself echoed the official feeling of the place. The seats and desk were very plain. There were piles of official looking folders tied with leather thongs. The lawyer welcomed her inside without a smile but being very polite and formal. He ushered her to a seat and sat behind the desk.

It ran through Monica’s head that she really did not like sidewhiskers on a man. He was not an old man and the effect was to make him look much older than he was.

Maybe he wants to look older and impressive. Monica thought and waited as he opened up the papers in front of him. His clerk was a man called Louis and he sat to one side with a notepad and a pencil.

“In one way this is straightforward. You are the only living relative and would inherit the house and the business.”

Alarm bells started to ring in Monica’s head.

“One way?” she asked. The lawyer nodded.

“This will was written with the feeling that your uncle would live for many years.” He flicked a page over and perused the writing.

“So, what is stopping that?” Monica was suddenly annoyed as well as worried.

“I quote ‘the property and business will be left to my niece, Monica Nelson and her husband.”The lawyer stopped and looked up. “You do not have a husband.” He saw that there was a turmoil going on with his client and put forward his own opinion. “You may well be best advised to sell the property and start again elsewhere.

“Oh no, I couldn’t do that. It has taken Uncle years to build the nursery and the shop is my own part of the work.”

“You will lose everything if you are not either married by the end of the probate or you have sold everything and moved on.”

Monica shook her head.

“No nono. I will not part with it.” Then she had a flash of either inspiration or madness. “I will speak to my fiance. I am  already betrothed.Will that not be enough to inherit?”

“It may be. I would have to make enquiries about that.”

“How long is this probate?” she asked and stood up at the same time. Carlton Shobley liked to be the one to end an interview and he stood up as well.

“Three months would be about as long as it takes, I would imagine,” he said. Monica decided that she really disliked this pompous and overbearing man.

“Thank you for your time, Mister Shobley. I will talk to my fiancé.” She straightened her back and turned on her heel. Monica Nelson walked smartly away and managed to make the door slam rather satisfactorily behind her. Her smart boots clicked noisily on the tiled floor as she also slammed the outside door as well.

Monica held her head up high and looked neither left or right as she hurried back to the shop. She told Elsa that she was back and then ran up the stairs to the apartment, closed the door behind her and burst into tears. She stood with her back against the door for some time and when the surge of sobbing subsided, she splashed cold water on her face and went downstairs to let Elsa go home.

“Thank you Elsa,” she said.

“How was it?” the woman asked. Monica shook her head.

“Not straightforward. I will have to sort it out somehow.”

“Just ask if you need me for anything.”

Monica thanked the older woman and let Jed go home with his wife as well. She wanted to be by herself and she needed to think. At the end of the afternoon. She closed the door thankfully and sat down suddenly in the glasshouse.Looking around the place and the nursery that her uncle had tken years to build made her panic all over again and she was silently crying when there was a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” Monica queried.

“Me, Pattie,” her friend called and came inside when the door was opened.  “What on earth is wrong?” her friend put her arms around her and listened to a jumbled account of how she had reacted to the lawyer’s news.

“Come and sit down,” Pattie said and pulled her through to where they normally sat and talked.

“I was so horrified, that I just blurted out that I would talk to my fiancé. It did stop him in his tracks I think. I really do not like that Mister Shobley at all. Those sideburns of his are revolting.”

That made Pattie laugh and in the end, Monica had to smile as well.

“I know the sideburns are nothing to do with it but they are pretty ghastly to look at.”

“So, we have to find you this fiancé and make sure that the lawyer believes it. Surely we can do that in three months.” Pattie started to be practical. They talked about various men who were eligible and would perhaps be persuaded to play their part.

“You cannot trust men,” Monica said. “They would be on the deeds of this place and could take it away from me. It is so unfair when I have worked so hard to make the shop successful.”

“It should be yours. In the end, it might be better to sell the place and start another shop somewhere else. At least that would save you marrying some man who was prepared to help out.” Pattie was voicing the alternative but Monica shook her head.

“If it is the last day of the probate, I guess I would have to do that but they would know I was desperate and the price would be so cheap that I would have next to nothing.”

“Sleep on it and maybe we will think of what to do tomorrow,” Pattie advised. Monica closed the door behind her and sat on the bottom step to the apartment.

Chapter Two

Ollie Oakley was home from the bison hunt and quite weary. He had bathed and taken off the smell of the hunt and the cleaning of the skins. His party of hunters had divided up the spoils and were glad to be back in town.

“I needed that supper, Mom. It was good.”

“Glad to see you home, son. I do worry about you out there in the wilderness.”

“It makes money though and I don’t know what else I would do in place of it,” her son replied. He sat on the sofa and closed his eyes.

“Put your feet up and take a rest,” his mother said but Ollie shook his head.

“I will take a bit of a walk. I am a bit restless.” He did not add that something was wrong and he needed time to think.

“You need a good woman and some children in your life,” his mother said and patted his shoulder.

He smiled at her and put his Stetson on his head.

There is only the one woman that I could think about marrying and she has never seen me as that. Ollie let that thought pass through his head as he went out for his walk but his steps took him without thinking about it to the florist shop at the end of the main street. Something in his head was telling him that his best friend in the world was in trouble. He stopped at the shop door and lifted his hand to knock. Then he stopped it in mid air and listened. There was definitely somebody sniffling in there.

“Monica is that you? It’s me, Ollie. Are you okay?” There were a few indrawn breaths and a wavery voice said that she was alright. “Something is wrong. I knew it. Let me in and tell me.”

The door opened and he pushed it wide. Monica stood there with her hands by her sides, tears lying on her cheeks and she looked about to collapse.

“Monica” he said and held out his arms. She flung herself into them and the sobbing began all over again. He stepped inside with her clinging to him so tightly that he could barely move. Then kicked the door closed and carried her up the stairs. He sat on the sofa with Monica on his knee and stroked her hair.

“This is more than missing your uncle. Tell me about it. You know that we can always sort things out. This is me, Ollie. The friend that is always there.” He had his arms around her and thought to himself that having Monica in his arms was what he had always wanted but settled for best friend.

“Oh, Ollie. I am so glad you are back home and right here.”

“I could feel there was something wrong but I am not a mind reader. You will have to tell me what it is.”

That made her smile a little.

“My champion. You always were right from when we lived next door to each other. I had my parents and you looked after me in school. Life was normal then.”

“By the time I left to start work, you were more than capable of looking after yourself. So this is out of character.”

“My uncle looked after me all of these years after my folks were killed in that accident. He was a wonderful man and gave me a home and then a business to enjoy.”

“His death has been a great shock for you.”

“I could cope with that. I miss him so much and the place is empty without him but,” she paused.

“But?” he asked and turned her face towards him.

Monica looked into the eyes of the person she trusted most in the world. His handsome face was full of concern. He was tanned from working in the wild outdoors but there were traces of his African grandfather there in the dark brown eyes and black slightly curly hair. He had dropped his hat at the foot of the stairs and his hair was still slightly damp from the wash when he came home.

“But that awful Mister Shobley says that the will leaves the business and the house to me and my husband. How could uncle have done this? Did he not trust me? Did he want to force a marriage on me? Why why why? Is it a mistake? But if it is a mistake, I cannot put it right. It is all drawn up legally. Uncle never said anything about it.” This all came out in a jumble of words. The tears started again and she rested her head on his shoulder and just sobbed.

Ollie stroked her hair and said any soothing words he could think of until she stopped crying.

“Have you got a coffee pot going?” he asked in the end and when she nodded, he sat her on the sofa and went to pour two cups. He brought a cloth from the kitchen at the same time and held it to her to wipe her face.

“I must look dreadful,” she said but wiped her face dry and took the offered cup.

“You always look a million dollars,” he said and dropped beside her on the sofa.

“Thanks for coming around. It always feels better when you are here. How is your mom?”

“Wanting me to give up bison hunting.”

“She is right there. It is dangerous.”

“It pays well,” he said as he had said to his mother. “I don’t think people are keen to employ me when they know about my grandfather.”

“People are so stupid,” Monica said fiercely. He smiled at that and asked her to tell him everything properly and without crying.

She thought for a moment and then gave him the account of her visit to Mister Shobley. She added the bits about not liking the man or his sideburns and made him smile.

“Then I just blurted out that I had a fiancé and would have to talk to him. I stood up and left. The door slammed nicely behind me and I did the same to the outer door. Then I walked home as if everything was fine but burst into tears when I was on my own.”

He put an arm around her shoulders and held on.

“Then Pattie came around and I told her about it. She went through a list of men that could be asked to be a pretend fiancé and they were all awful.” She hesitated. “If I had to marry one of them, they would own the house and the business. That would be a stupid thing to do.”

“It would indeed, Monny.” It was his pet name for her and she looked at him.

“Shobley says I should sell the whole place up and just take the money.”

“But he is known for finding out things as a lawyer and using it to line his pockets.”

Monica gazed at him in amazement.

“I never knew that.” Ollie nodded and told her two or three stories about how the lawyer had profited from clients’ bad luck.”He had his clerk taking down what we said. I guess that means that he has a witness for himself.”

“Your uncle would have been better going to the next town and finding an honest lawyer.” He stopped and then went on. “In fact, I will do that tomorrow. I will ride into Tradertown and see Mister Bonamonty.”

“You know him?” Ollie nodded.

“When you are descended from a slave, it is good to know a lawyer who will be on your side.”

“Oh Lord. I always forget that.” She put her hand on his arm. “Your grandfather must have been a good man and went to live in Canada didn’t he?”

“He thought the family were safer without him.”

“And you have done okay. You had a few fights at school but you always won.” That made her smile as she remembered. He smiled in return.

“I warned that awful Jack Maggy that if he hurt you I would come back and beat him up.”

“It worked because he never did.”

“I know. I kept checking.”

“Oh, I always feel so much safer and settled when you are here. Thank you for coming around.”

“I will ride and see Mister Bonamonty tomorrow. There must be something we can do to sort it out. Stop worrying about it.”

“I will,” she told him and asked if he could eat something. “I never ate all day really,” she added.

“I never refuse food.”

“Just cold pie and pickle,” she said and went to the kitchen. He followed her in and sat at the table to watch as she found the plates and the food.

“You look good whatever you do,” he told her and she came to sit at the table.

“Would you like to do something other than bison hunting?” she asked. He looked thoughtful and told her the truth that was in his mind.

“I never lie to you, Monica. I tell other folk that I am happy with the work but it a dirty business and I would rather do something that is not killing and where I don’t get covered in blood all of the time.”

“I knew that really,” she said. “I think I always knew in my heart that you were not happy there.”

“Happy with the wilderness and the great outdoors. We have marvelous scenery, mountains, forests and rivers.”

“I can understand that feeling because I have always loved growing things. Even when I was little, I liked putting seeds in pots and waiting for them to grow. I have some tiny new trees that are growing from seed that came all the way from China. They turn into reds, yellows and oranges in the fall. I will keep some for myself and wait to see how they grow.” Then she stopped. He reached across and took her hand.

“And now you are thinking that you might not have the garden if you have to sell. It won’t happen. We can beat them.”

“You see you can mind read,” she said. “I hope you are home for a little while this time. I need someone to lean on here, Ollie. I guess you will have to put up with it.” She twined her fingers into his that were reaching out across the table.

“Please feel free to lean at any time. You know I will be there.”

“You always have, Ollie. Thank the Lord for that. You have made me feel much better.”

He stood up and so did she.

“I will ride to Tradertown in the morning and come and tell you what I find out when the shop closes.” He paused. “In the meantime, if the Shobley man appears, tell him that you are going to inherit and you are not selling out to anyone. Don’t give in to him. Right?”

She nodded and agreed. He told her that they would stick together and keep her business safe.”

She closed the door behind him and stood for a little time wondering if the feeling that she would have liked him to kiss her goodbye was just their longstanding friendship.

Concentrate on knowing that he will help you, Monica. He always has and he always will.

Then she managed to drift off to sleep in her bed although she had not expected to.

Thanks, Ollie. If you can read my mind. Thank you.

Chapter Three

In the morning, Monica made herself start the day as normal. She dressed in clothes that were smart enough to greet the customers but she covered it with a pinafore so that she could make up bouquets of flowers or do a little work in the glasshouse between times. She had a simple breakfast and went to open up the business for the day.

“Mornin,” Jed put his head around the door. “Need me to do anything?”

“Thanks. I am fine” Monica said. “These flowering plants are looking lovely. I might make up some pot-et-fleur with the non flowering ones that will last longer. Do you need anything?”

“I will just keep on going the same old way,” Jed told her. “If we ever find a youngster out of school that would like to make a little money for a few hours work, I could use that.”

“I’ll try and find out if anyone knows someone like that.” The door jingled and ended the conversation. It was a regular customer called Missus Jeremiah and she bought three of the flowering plants.

“How are you managing by yourself, my dear?” she asked.

“Not too badly but my uncle is a dreadful miss around the place and he was part of the working team as well. Jed is doing the work of both of them.” She paused and looked at the woman who she knew well as she came into the shop at least once every week. “I don’t suppose you know any youngsters leaving school who would like a few hours work in the garden?”

“I will ask around for you,” Jenny Jeremiah answered. “My brother has a son of fifteen that is doing nothing.”

Monica took the payment for the plants and said she appreciated the help. Jenny Jeremiah passed another customer as she left and said good morning. The next person was another longstanding visitor to the shop who was looking for plants for her tubs on the veranda and Monica took her through to the garden where Jed had a selection of small shrubs potted up and ready to go. It was easier to water them outside than in the shop and she left Caroline Mecalfe to browse. She knew Jed would help her if she needed it. The shop door bell tinkled again and Monica found the awful Mister Shobley and his ever present clerk waiting for her.

“Good morning, Mister Shobley,” she said as if she had not a care in the world.

“And good morning to you, Miss Nelson.” He looked around the store which was very pretty and smelt of scented soap and roses. “Business does not seem to be good for you at the moment.”

“What makes you say that” Monica asked. “There are no customers in here at the moment but we do very well and the bank balance is good.” She could feel herself taking offense at this man who was being very rude about the place that she loved. Monica held herself very still and refused to rise to the bait. “How can I assist you today?” she asked formally.

Shobley walked around the store and looked at the beautiful display with a slight sneer on his face. Monica waited.

“I think that you need someone professional to take over this place. You would be much happier if you had money in the bank and could lead a more leisurely life.”

“I have learned my profession,” she replied. “My customers like this effect and they are the ultimate judge. They would not come back if they did not like it.”

“Let me make you a good offer for the place and the nursery garden. It will solve your problem and give you peace of mind.” He named a price that was far below what she knew the place was worth and she shook her head.

Before she could reply, Caroline Metcalfe stepped through the door from the glasshouse and stood beside Monica.

“Mister Shobley, if you value my husband’s custom, you will leave Miss Nelson alone and take back your ludicrous offer.” For the first time the lawyer looked unsure of himself. He managed to pull himself together and wished the woman good morning.

“Never mind the good morning. I know how you operate and so does my husband.” She turned to Monica. “How do you feel about this offer?”

“I want to keep the business. I love the business and the shop. It is worth a lot more than his offer.” Caroline turned back to the lawyer.

“You heard that. She is not interested. I think you should take your dreadful comments about this beautiful shop and leave.” She paused. “I rather think that the lucrative steady work that has come your way from our ranching will be going elsewhere.”

The change in the man’s demeanour was noticeable and instant. He tried a smile on Missus Metcalfe that did not work and made him look even more ugly than before.

“I value your custom very much, Missus Metcalfe. I am sure your husband is happy with my services. I will leave Miss Nelson in peace as you say. She can think about her options and get in touch with me.”

“I will be in touch when I can inherit this place legally. If I have any other legal work it will go to Mister Bonamonty in Tradertown. Please do not come back here.” Monica faced the man out and was very glad that she had Missus Metcalfe right by her side and resting a gentle hand on her elbow.

“And take your performing monkey out with you,” Missus Metcalfe added and looked at the clerk who was scribbling in a notebook. “I hope you got all of that down because we will both witness what was said.” The clerk nodded and stuffed the notebook into a pocket. He held open the door and the bewhiskered Mister Shobley left with an outraged and furious look on his face.

Caroline Metcalf left go of Monica and went after them to lock the door. Then she came back and held out her arms.

“Tell me what this is all about.”

Monica was glad to feel the comfort of the woman’s arms around her and took her into the glasshouse to offer a seat.

“Thank you for being there. I hope that your husband’s business will not suffer.”

“Oh no. The one that will suffer will be that dreadful Mister Shobley. Why is he trying to buy your shop for next to nothing?”

Monica repeated the story of the will.

“It must have been a mistake on my uncle’s part. He knows I am not married and he wanted me to have the business we both loved.”

“And that crooked man is taking advantage as he has done so many times before. I am always telling Bert to take his legal work elsewhere.”

“I blurted out to Shobley that I had a fiancé and it would be fine but I haven’t and now he is pressing me to sell.”

“If you wanted to sell, you could get a good price on the open market,” Caroline told her. “My husband has bought and sold a lot of property and has made a decent amount of money. He would be happy to advise you and get you a good price.”

“Thank you but I will fight to keep the place.”

“Good girl. Why don’t you take a ride out to the ranch and talk about it to my husband?”

“That is so kind of you and I am so glad you were here. My friend, Ollie has ridden to Mister Bonamonty today to ask his legal opinion. He knows the man quite well and I am hoping for some good news when he returns.”

“Bring him over with you. We are not far out of town and I would like to hear what the lawyer says.”

For the first time Caroline saw a smile return to the face of this young woman that she liked so much.

“My daughter is still at home and would love to see you again.”

“Oh, how is Beryl?”

“Preparing to start her own guest house at the ranch when she marries. She enjoyed the cookery school and did really well.” Caroline smiled. “She will need lots of tubs of flowers and things to decorate the dining room. You have some pretty candelabras there I see.”

They opened up the shop again and Jed came to carry the tubs to the carriage. Monica refused payment and said it was a pleasure to be able to give them to her as a gift. The woman shook her head.

“Don’t eat before you come over tonight.” She flicked the light whip above the ears of the smart horse and he highstepped away down the street.

“Good woman to have as a friend,” Jed remarked.

“She saved the day there with that awful Shobley. Well worth three tubs of plants.”

The day was peaceful after that and Monica found time to plant up the little trees that were coming on from the seed from the orient. The nursery had orders that had to be delivered and she asked Jed to deliver them and then told him to go straight home.

“The cart can come back in the morning.”

He loaded up and went away. Monica closed the garden after he left. It had a high wall around it and a gate at the bottom that led to a small paddock and stable where they kept the horse and wagon for deliveries. There were two horses for riding and she went down to make sure they were okay.

“Taking you for an outing, Merry,” she said to the grey that she loved to ride. The other was a gelding that her uncle had used. She patted him and told him that she missed Uncle Bill as well. Monica came back through the gate and closed it. As she turned around she gasped. There was a man standing right on the other side of the gate and when she turned he was right against her. Monica screamed.

“Monica, it’s me, Cragg Smallman. You don’t need to scream.”

“Oh dear Lord, what a fright you gave me. What are you doing down here?”

“Well the shop was empty. I called for you and wondered where you were.”

“I thought that I had fastened the door. I came to see that the horses were okay.” She set off back towards the store and the man fell into step beside her.

“Haven’t seen you for a long time,” Cragg said conversationally

“You have been doing well, I hear,” she responded. The man had been a year or so older than herself at school and he had started a carrier business. She knew that he was always on the road. “Did you need to buy something?” He shook his head.

“Came to make you an offer.” She looked at him and heard the alarm bells ring in her head.


“This place. I could incorporate it into my carrier business and use it as a base. There is land at the back and I could employ someone to run the shop.” He said it with a matter of fact directness and seemed to think that she wanted to sell.

“It is not for sale. What made you think it was?” she asked. He looked surprised.

“With your uncle gone, what else would you do? I heard quite a few folk say that you might sell up.”

Monica was not worried about this visitor at that point and his tone was just one of enquiry.

“I love this business. I don’t want to sell. People maybe think I would do that but I want to keep it going.” Cragg stepped closer to her and grinned. She took a step back. He stepped forward and she found her back against the wall.

“Maybe we should step out and have a drink together. Selling would make sense when you thought about it and I would give you a fair price. We could enjoy ourselves at the same time.”

Suddenly it was not just a normal conversation anymore and she could feel his breath on her cheek. She put her hands on his chest and tried to find a way past the man but he put an arm on the wall and hemmed her in.

“Cragg,” she raised her voice. “Let me move out of here. You are being an idiot.” Instead of stepping back he gave her an uncomfortably close smile and pressed himself against her. Monica started to push him away but it only brought his body into closer contact and waves of panic started to rise in her chest.

“We could really enjoy getting to know each other,” he said into her ear. Then suddenly the pressure against her was lifted, the body of Cragg Smallman was propelled across the store and out of the door. As he was taken through the doorway and turned around, there was a very nasty crack and Smallman’s head snapped backwards from the force of the uppercut.

“Don’t even think about trying it again,” Ollie said and pushed the man away. He closed the door and locked it and came to help Monica up from where she had sunk to the floor.

“A Sweet Florist’s Thorny Ruse” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Monica Nelson simply adored working alongside her beloved uncle at his flower shop. So the day he dies, her whole world is thrown into turmoil. In his will, her uncle leaves everything to her… and her husband. The problem is that Monica is single. Desperate and bewildered she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Monica make a husband appear out of thin air or will she fall prey to those who wish to rob her of the business?

What if her salvation ends up being somebody who has been there her whole life?

As a bison hunter, Ollie Oakley is used to making a living from a dangerous job. Monica has been his best friend since childhood and they always watched out for each other fiercely. So when his soulmate is suddenly at risk of losing everything she ever cared about, he knows he has to find a way to help. Can he step in and make her a married woman in order for her to keep the shop though?

Will this strengthen their bond even more or put their precious friendship at risk?

Ollie’s proposal was the answer to Monica’s prayers. The two of them were always a team but could this ruse end up becoming more than just a convenient way to save the shop? Dangers seem to be all around them and they try to unravel the mystery together. Will they save each other, save the florist shop, and finally discover that friendship can bloom into true love?

“A Sweet Florist’s Thorny Ruse” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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6 thoughts on “A Sweet Florist’s Thorny Ruse (Preview)”

    1. Loved this preview and so on suspense to read further and find out how this story ends! Help, what can I do next?

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