The moment Marshall walked into the staff room at recess break the following morning, Kelly O’Reilly from the classroom next to her’s waved a floral delivery in front of her nose.
“Marsh, Marsh! Who sent you these bee-oo-tiful flowers? I’ll bet they’re from Steve.”
“I haven’t a clue.” Marshall took the bouquet from Kelly. “Maybe they’re sympathy flowers from someone.” She unwrapped the triangular package and a card fell out. The writing on the envelope sent a jolt through her.
Kelly eyed the bouquet with interest. “They don’t look like sympathy flowers to me. To me, lovely coral roses spell ‘suitor’ with a capital S.”
Without opening it, Marshall tucked the envelope into the pocket of her skirt and went to get a vase from the cupboard above the sink. “No, they’re not from Steve. Or from any suitor, either, so you can stop weaving imaginary scenarios in your busy little mind.” She turned on the faucet and filled the vase.
Helpfully Kelly picked up a pair of primary scissors from the table and snipped a corner off the packet of cut flower food. She handed it to Marshall. “So, who’re they from?”
Marshall placed the vase on the long lunchroom table. “Oh, just an old friend. Someone you don’t know.” Kelly was right. It definitely did not look like a sympathy arrangement, but why else would Robert send her flowers? She was dying to read the card, but didn’t want her friend to witness any emotion the message might conjure up.
“How do you know it’s an old friend?” Kelly persisted. “You didn’t even open the envelope.”
“I recognize the handwriting. It’s a very old friend.”
In the bathroom, Marshall finally had a chance to look at the note. Robert’s strong handwriting, the way it used to be before it became scrawly and almost illegible.
“You looked a hundred times more beautiful than these flowers, when I saw you in church.”
No signature. It didn’t need one. But what was the man up to? They’d had no contact for fourteen years—except for a few moments in the divorce court—and here he was suddenly sending her flowers! Maybe he was out of money and after exhausting all other venues he was getting set to hit her for a loan? But why now? In all the years, with some of them probably spent living under bridges, he surely must have been out of money countless times. Yet he’d never approached her before.
And sending expensive flowers before hitting her for a loan didn’t seem logical. But then, why?
She left the flowers in the staff room, rather than taking them home. She didn’t want to have to face Olivia’s probing questions.
Because she didn’t have any answers.