Samantha felt like her world had just collapsed on top of her, but tried to remain strong and not let on how devastated she really was when finding out that the small gleam of hope that Heath would have called her over to his home to tell her that he forgave her, was irrevocably extinguished by him straight out telling her that he no longer loved her, and even worse but also was dating Abigail’s mother Heather again.
So on top of losing him, she would lose sweet little Abby, who was the closest she had come to having her own child.
The wish for a baby of her own had not subsided, despite all the havoc it had caused between her and Heath, on the contrary, it had only magnified it even more. Instead of closer, she was now even further away from ever becoming a mother. The love of her life was gone, irrevocably.
Sam barely remembered how she had gotten home that night after seeing Heath, nor the next few days. Even at work, in the flower shop that had always been her pride and joy, something she thoroughly enjoyed, she was just passing time till she could go home and stare at walls there without trying to force a smile or interest in other people.
Then one day, at work, she was pretending to reorder supplies, when Mariah, one of her employees came to her, all excited, evidently about some celebrity who had come to her shop to buy flowers.
When Samantha turned around she now saw all three of her employees, plus customers and just random people from the street cluster around someone she could barely see for all the people. All this was really doing was blocking any potential customers from getting to all of her products. The shop wasn’t exactly a goldmine as is, no need to torpedo any potential sale any further.
Oh hell no! she thought, when she noticed that mysterious man, whom she could only see the back off, was signing autographs in her shop!
“Excuse me! If you are not looking to buy anything, I would ask you all to please move this outside so actual customers are not inconvenienced!”
“What actual customers?” Mariah asked, earning eye daggers from Sam.
“Oh, hello there! Did you want a photo with me?”
“WHAT, NO!!! I am the owner here and unless you want flowers or floral decor, you need to leave!”
“OK, if you tell me your name, gorgeous, I am going to buy this over there.”
“That is a bridal arrangement, and meant as an example.”
“So you are not actually selling it?”
“Sure. But those aren’t cheap. You know what, never mind. I’ll ring you up.”
“Beautiful and spunky, I like that in a woman. If you go out to dinner with me, I will buy the entire shop from you.”
“My shop is NOT for sale, but if you tell me what you are looking for, I’ll be happy to help you find or even create it for you. Same goes for dinner. Tell me what you are in the mood for and I can give you recommendations.”
“What are your favorite flowers, babe?”
“Couple things: not your babe, and I will arrange whatever you want for you, like I told you.”
He gave her that look, then gently rubbed her chin which made Sam weak in the knees, especially when he winked at her, too.
Then kissed her.
Right there for all the world to see!
When she then noticed all the jealous stares of all the women whom he paid no attention to now, it went down like honey after her bad breakup and the resulting numbness.
They spoke some more, he bought the most expensive arrangement she offered and they would meet for dinner in Newcrest at 8 PM that night.
Getting ready at home, Samantha was nervous, like her life depended on this one date. Strange. She was normally not one to get star-struck at all.
The dinner ended up being amazing.
Never in her life had she gotten this level of attentive service and no other man, not even Heath had made her feel so much like a queen. Between this and the wine, she felt on top of the world. A little tipsy, a little dizzy but great and she could not stop smiling.
Not even when she realized they were at her home, on her couch, making out. It was not hard to tell that he wanted more, and she had already decided he was going to get it. He wanted it and she needed physical love, since her real love was gone.
The next morning she awake, hungover and embarrassed, but despite the headache and nausea she smiled, until she noticed she was in bed alone. When she got up, she noticed the door to the bathroom was shut and there were noises inside, so she knocked.
“Mind if I join you, handsome?”
No answer, so she just opened the door, was immediately met by disgruntled hissing and an angry cat shooting past her. Otherwise the room was empty. Her heart sank even more when the rest of the house and even the yard were just as empty.
Standing in the kitchen she noticed a piece of paper on her desk, her heart began to race and she smiled. So he did leave his number – maybe a romantic note – for her after all.
When she got closer though, she could see that all it was, was a generic portrait shot of him grinning into the camera and his autograph like they were handed out to any random fan who asked for one. Not even as much as a dedication.
“I am such an idiot!” Sam sobbed, collapsing to the floor.
Pale and nervous, she dialed the number again, finally she heard the arrogant, nasal voice of the young woman on the other end and immediately pleaded with her
“Please do NOT hang up on me again. I am not just a fan. I really need to get in touch with Mr. – umm – Bailey-Moon.” Sam pressed, thinking to herself what an idiotic name ‘Orange Bailey-Moon’ really was. Matched the idiotic owner though.
“Ma’am, look, ‘OBM’ gets hundreds of calls like this every day. Every hour, even. If I were to …”
“I am expecting his child!”
“I am pregnant. By him. There are no other possible fathers. It’s his. Please tell him to call Samantha. ASAP!” Sam repeated her number twice, even though she was not convinced the other woman was actually writing anything down.
The nasal voice promised she would give the message to ‘OBM’ then just hung up.
His call never came.
Not anything by him came.
But when she was about 4 months along a letter from a law office arrived, formally informing her that upon receiving proof of paternity, monthly payments would be set up automatically until the completion of the child’s 18th birthday, followed by threats to sign the attached confidentiality agreement prohibiting her to ever go public with the information about his relation to her baby or else.
She needed to throw up again, and after cleaning up she stared at her reflection in the mirror until she could no longer bear it.
How had her life gotten like this?
She used to laugh at people like herself.
Oh well, she would have a baby, at long last. Not at all how she had wanted it, imagined it, but a baby nonetheless. Not for one second had she pictured herself as a single mother with an unwilling and absent father to her child. After a one-night-stand! In all her fantasies it had been Heath and he had been by her side the entire way through, just like he had always been with Abby.
Evidently not all men were like him, and she could not even truly blame Orange – oh, that name! – for not wanting to be the daddy to a product of a drunk one-night-stand with an emotional wreck of a woman who not for even a split-second had considered that she had stopped all birth control to force a baby on Heath before she jumped into bed with a guy she just met!
Either way, somehow she would make it work, with the shop. It was her business, so who was to tell her no if she brought her baby to work with her, and later have a little area where her toddler could safely play in while she ran the shop.
She had barely been able to dodge running into Evey, but her baby bump was undeniable now and she had to come clean to avoid potentially embarrassing moments. In a fit of anger she had deleted not only Heath’s entire contact info, but also Evey’s and all her cousins’, so instead of calling the main line, she walked across to the big building to see Evey.
The closer she got to the tall building, the more her knees started shaking.
“Welcome to EC Architectural Designs, do you have an appointment?” the polite voice of the receptionist inquired smiling, while looking up and down Sam’s apron with the logo of her flower shop on it.
“No appointment, but I am here to see Everleigh Cameron please.” Sam said.
“Mrs. McCoy is currently in a meeting. Would you like to leave a message with me? Or maybe one of the other architects can assist you? Or I could connect you to her voicemail if you prefer.” the receptionist over-enunciated Evey’s correct last name, making this even more uncomfortable for Sam.
To think she could be Mrs. Grainger now … and the child growing inside her could be his … she swallowed away the tears that wanted to come.
“Voicemail is fine.” Sam forced out, the receptionist dialed and handed her the phone, then turned away.
She left a message with her number, suggesting to meet in the small cafe between her shop and Evey’s office at 3 PM the next day.
“Uh – wow. You look … great. And congratulations?” Everleigh could not fool anyone, she saw the baby bump and was shocked, as they hugged.
“Yeah, thanks.” Sam felt humiliated by the sheer fact of her pregnancy. They walked up to the counter, ordered, then sat down at a quiet table.
They spoke for a bit and Sam quickly realized that Evey did not hold a grudge, it felt good to be able to speak to someone, and before her coffee was half way empty, Sam had spilled her heart out to Everleigh, who looked surprised and taken aback.
“Wow, what a douchebag, that guy! I can talk to my grandpa or uncle Rhys or even Cameron to see if they know that dude and can light a fire under his butt! They know most of Del Sol Valley’s celebrities, so pretty sure they can help! I think that guy might even be a neighbor of uncle Rhys and Isabelle’s … I remembered reading that name on a sign visiting them.”
“No, thanks. Honestly, I think this is the best case scenario, all things considered. I do not want THAT man in my son’s life.”
“Aww, a little boy, huh? Did you pick out names yet?”
“As tempting as picking anything from the produce aisle is to commemorate his father’s odd name, I think I will stay traditional and use a real name. Just not sure which. Keep flip-flopping. A part of me wants to name him ‘Heath’ so at least I have one Heath in my life who is all mine.” Sam started crying, immediately consoled by Everleigh.
“Sorry Evey, the hormones!” Samantha sobbed. A lie. It was 100% the pain of unrequited love, a love lost because of her radical reaction at the worst possible time. Luckily she was able to regain her composure quickly.
“You know Heath would be your friend. At least that. I can vouch that he is a great friend. My bestie, as you know.”
“I know, but … think of me what you will, I just could not bear seeing him with Heather and Abigail, as a little family.”
“They are still only dating. Both still have their own homes, and according to Heath, that won’t change anytime soon. But I am here for you, if you ever need anything. I’ll even babysit for ya. Why not? KC and I have been watching lil Miss Abby for years now.”
“Oh no, not that now too!” Sam whined. Flora, her cat and in the meantime now mother of two adorable, but exhausting kittens, was definitely sick. Dammit! When it rains, ….
She called Mariah to open the shop today, and went to the vet with poor Flora.
Sitting in the waiting area, noticeably tense, a woman next to her struck up a conversation.
Reluctantly but politely Sam replied.
The more the woman talked, the more Sam enjoyed the soft voice that seemed to calm Sam’s very soul.
Before she knew it, she was spilling out her guts to the woman, the entire mess she was in, losing Heath, her pool of regrets, absolutely everything she told.
To an utter stranger.
In a vet’s waiting room.
In her defense, the woman’s eyes were beautiful. Wait, what?
Sam couldn’t help but feel funny all over.
By the time she was called into the exam room after a long wait, which now suddenly did not seem long enough, she regretted not asking for the name and contact. Only knew that her cat was named ‘Humphrey Bogart’.
After leaving the treatment room with Flora the waiting area was empty. Including the woman and ‘Humphrey Bogart’.
Disappointed, she went to pay at the counter, where she was handed an envelope. In it, on a small piece of paper was a handwritten phone number, a tiny hand drawn heart and only three words.
When she turned the little card over, she saw it was a business card for a small antiques shop somewhere downtown in Windenburg. The name of it was “From Paris, With Love”.
Apparently Paris was also the name of the woman and proprietor of the store. Paris McCormack. On the card also a picture of her cat.
For the first time in a long time, Sam genuinely smiled.