Fans of S. Walden’s “Good (Too Good series)” I have some awesome news for us!! <—- There’s more where THAT came from! 😉 Of course, we knew it… considering that ending. Not a cliffhanger per se (kind of but not quite). More like the next phase in the story. And I can’t wait to finally figure them out. HIM out. And where it’s all going.
For those of you that haven’t read “Good” yet but are curious about it, skip this blurb and teaser below, and check out my review. —-> This is a more risqué look into the teacher-student romance taboo, so be prepared.
Release date: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013
Their relationship has been exposed, and now their lives are changed forever.
For Cadence Miller, the fast track to adulthood proves intimidating and frustrating. She’s a little girl lost—abandoned by her family and uncertain of her future. She doesn’t think she “fits” anywhere. She’s eighteen. She wants to be older. And the result is both comical and heartbreaking.
Mark Connelly will do anything to provide Cadence a stable, loving home—to be her protector. But he’s just as broken and lost, and his heart won’t let go of his past so easily. He knows he should share his secret with Cadence. He should trust that she’ll understand. But what if she doesn’t? What if their love doesn’t grow stronger?
What if it doesn’t get better?
Eeeeep! I can’ t wait!!!
Ready for that excerpt?
Mark visits Cadence at work
“Nice to see you, Mark,” Millie said. She stood at the counter writing in a large ledger.
“Hey, Millie,” Mark replied. “Do you mind if I hang with Cadence for a little bit?”
“Not at all, just as long as she keeps working.”
“I’ll make sure of it,” he said.
“She’s in the back.”
Mark walked through the door, the overpowering floral scents knocking him in the face. He wasn’t prepared for it, but he didn’t not like it. He found the smells instantly therapeutic, and thought this was the best working environment for his girlfriend. Not that she was an emotional mess, but he thought flower therapy could go a long way in soothing the pain she experienced yesterday in church.
Cadence glimpsed him from the back counter.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. Her surprise was evident—slightly higher-pitched tone, instant flush to the cheeks, silly grin. He made her unexpectedly happy.
“I wanted to see what your job’s all about,” he said. He approached her and kissed her cheek.
“Really?” She sported a full smile now.
“Yes, really,” he replied. He pulled himself up on the counter and sat, legs dangling, watching her snip the ends of a flower he couldn’t name.
“You’re just gonna hang out with me?” she asked.
“But don’t you have work to do?”
“It can wait.”
“And Millie said it was okay?” she asked.
“Yep. As long as I don’t distract you, which I think I already am. Get back to work,” he ordered.
She giggled and kept snipping.
“What are those?” he asked.
She laughed out loud. “Seriously, Mark? You’ve never seen a tulip?”
He shrugged. “How should I know?” He picked one up and carefully fingered the petals.
Cadence watched him from the corner of her eye. She wanted to tell him to put down the flower. Instinct told her he’d accidentally tear one of the fragile petals. But experience told her he’d be as gentle with the flower as he was last night when he made love to her.
“I’m including them in your mother’s bouquet,” she said.
Mark tricked her. The flowers he ordered weren’t for his mother. They were for Cadence. He ordered them with the intention of coming here to watch her arrange them for herself. He thought it’d be a fun little experiment to learn more about her—how she saw herself represented in the flowers she chose.
“Well, don’t base it on what you think my mom would like. Base it on what you like,” he said.
“Why would I do that?”
“Because I know my mom would like any arrangement you made, so imagine it’s for you,” he replied.
“Okay.” She shook her head, clearly confused, and set aside the tulips.
“Not a fan?” he asked.
“Oh, I like them a lot, but they’re not what I’d put in a bouquet for myself,” she said. She grinned. “They’re kind of old womanish.”
Marked laughed. “So you thought they’d be perfect for my mom.”
“Well, what can I say?” she asked.
She walked to a refrigerator on the far side of the room and rooted around until she found the container with all the roses. She carried it back to her work station.
“I’m a simple girl,” she said, pulling out the roses. “I’ll arrange a big fat bouquet with dozens of different flowers if you want, but I prefer smaller, tidier arrangements.”
Mark listened, fascinated.
“I’ve actually thought long and hard about that,” she went on, snipping a healthy chunk from each stem.
“Why do you cut them at an angle?” Mark asked.
She looked at her scissors and then at him. “Helps them drink the water more easily.”
He smiled. “So what conclusion did you come to?”
“I need order,” she said. “I think that’s what it is. I need something easy to digest. Easy to understand.” She waved her hand around. “You see all this? Ridiculous.”
Mark followed her hand as she waved it over dozens of bouquets lining the back of the counter. “Did you do those, too?”
“Yes, and they’re ridiculous. They’re like little kids who’ve had too much candy. All over the place. I really wanna calm them down by taking out half the flowers in each arrangement.”
“But your customers love them,” Mark pointed out.
“I know. And that’s why I make them like that,” she said. “But this—” She pointed to an arrangement to Mark’s right. “—this is a million times better than all those others. It’s calm. It makes sense. No flower is competing for attention because they’re all the same.”
They were quiet for a moment.
“Who are those for?” Mark asked softly.
Cadence shook her head. “I don’t know. A Mrs. Christensen, I think.”
“You mentioned order,” he said, “but you’re a mess at home.”
She giggled. “I know it. And maybe that’s why I crave order so much. I am dating you, after all.”
He chuckled. “True.”
She finished snipping the roses and tearing off the leaves before going to work arranging them in a squat, square vase.
“I like these roses because they remind me of sunshine,” she said.
“They definitely do,” Mark observed.
She picked orange, pink, yellow, and purple roses, packing them in snuggly so that there were no holes. That’s what she said. Holes. When she was through, the bouquet resembled a mushroom—flowers served as the cap and the vase served as the stem. It was certainly neat and tidy, but it was most certainly not controlled. The colors burst and popped, and he realized it made perfect sense. She was this arrangement: tiny, tucked, and bursting. A little ball of brightness and energy. He thought if they turned out all the lights, her bouquet would glow. Just like her.
She looked at Mark. “What do you think? It’s simple, I know, but do you think your mom will like it?”
“I think she’ll love it,” he replied. “Are roses your favorite flower?”
“Sounds clichéd, but yeah. And not because they’ve become the staple for birthdays and Valentine’s Day and ‘I’m sorry’ days. It’s not even about the actual flower so much as it’s the way you arrange it in a vase. They are, hands down, the prettiest flower in an arrangement because of their fullness and shape. Their texture, too. Hang on.”
She hurried to the same refrigerator and grabbed a bunch of long-stemmed flowers. She walked back to the counter.
“Look at these,” she said, cradling the calla lilies in the crook of her arm. There were five of them. “You see how these wouldn’t do in a vase? I mean, people will put them in a vase, but they don’t belong. They don’t belong in any arrangement. They belong just like this, in your arm, with maybe a ribbon tied around them.”
He watched her carefully, the way she cradled the flowers gently, talking about them as though they had feelings and rights. His eyes went wide when she repeated the word.
“They have a right to be like this. Free of a vase. On their own. Look at this flower, Mark. This flower shouldn’t have to share with anyone.”
“That flower’s Avery,” Mark said.
Cadence burst out laughing. “No kidding. Avery is totally a calla lily. I mean, look at this thing. Haughty. Elegant. Beautiful.”
“Well, you already know. I’m a stunted rose with too much color. I think I work better in a vase. I like to share.”
“I’ll take a stunted rose any day,” he said softly. “And I like all your color. My life was pretty dull until you came along.”
“What kind of flower am I?” he asked.
“Oh, you can’t be a flower. You’re not delicate,” she said. She walked back to the refrigerator and tucked the calla lilies in their bucket.
He smirked. “You’ve only done one arrangement. Will you get in trouble with Millie?”
“Nope. Last one for today,” she replied.
“I’ll pick it up tomorrow,” he said, pointing to the rose bouquet.
“Won’t see you. My day off.”
“But you’ll be home when I get home from work, right?” he asked. He’d have the bouquet with him, ready to give to her. Flowers, and then an explanation. Well, more like revelation.
“Okay flower girl,” he said, hopping down from the counter. He kissed her forehead. “I’ll see you at home.”
“I love you,” she said.
He looked at her for a half moment, wondering if she’d still feel that way after tomorrow night.
“I love you, Cadence.” And then he added “darling,” and she buried her face in her hands giggling.
That sound. He heard it long after he left the shop, echoing among the fragrant flowers, tricking him into believing that they were laughing with her. It was a sweet sound—a sound he knew he’d miss in the coming days. She wouldn’t forgive him so easily for keeping his secret, and he feared the absence of her laughter. That song set to perfect rhythm. His song. Her. How could he hold on to it? To her? He already made the decision. There was no changing his mind. He had to tell her, and he prayed she’d accept the secret, forgive him, and keep singing.
© S. Walden, 2013