Daisy's childhood home was nestled at the base of the north Georgia mountains. The clapboard farmhouse with a wraparound porch was like something from a storybook. The rolling green land begged for horses—just as she'd done as a child, but her pleas had gone unheard. A fact she never let her mother forget.
"Knock-knock!" she called before slipping through the screen door. It slapped into place behind her as a delicious aroma mingled with the familiar smell of home. Thursday nights were for supper with her mama, and after a long day at the shop, Daisy was happy to skip out on cooking.
"Come on in, honey."
Daisy dropped the newspaper on the end table and entered the kitchen just as her mom was pulling a pot from the stove-top. Daisy grabbed the strainer and set it in the old farm sink just in time for her mom to empty the pasta and water into it.
Once the pasta was drained, Daisy kissed her mom's cheek. Karen Pendleton was still attractive at almost fifty-five and kept a tight rein on her figure. Her shoulder-length hair curled under the steam of the boiling water, and her green eyes, so like Daisy's, sparked whenever she got bent out of shape, which was often.
Daisy began setting out the silverware. "Deliveries go all right today?"
"Mostly. Mrs. Forsythe refused her flowers, though."
Daisy sighed, thinking of the lovely bouquet of blue and white hydrangeas. "He must've really blown it this time."
"No doubt. I put the arrangement in the case. Maybe it'll sell."
"I'll refund his credit card tomorrow."
"You shouldn't. It's not our fault his wife didn't want them."
"I know, but... he's a steady customer."
"Which only speaks to the man's poor behavior."
Daisy shrugged. Part of her didn't know why Mrs. Forsythe put up with her husband's shenanigans. The other part—the one who'd been on a dozen first dates in the past few months—understood perfectly well.
They finished putting the food on the table and sat down in front of the bay window facing the backyard. It was a beautiful view—the vegetable garden her mother lovingly tended, the copse of evergreens from Christmases past, and the white fence she'd helped her father put up when she was twelve.
Daisy looked over to realize her mom was ready for grace, had maybe even said her name a time or two.
"Sorry. Lost in thought. Go ahead."
After the prayer they tucked in. The food was healthy but a little bland. A chicken breast with a light lemon sauce and whole-wheat pasta topped with her mom's homemade marinara.
"How's Ava coming along with the apartment?" her mom asked. "Gram said she's been quite the busy bee the past couple weeks."
"She's up there cleaning every spare minute. But between school and her job she can't have many of those. The carpets were so disgusting. We worked until after midnight Tuesday and still didn't get finished."
"I hope this isn't a mistake. She's so young to be living on her own."
"She can take care of herself. She seems years older than most eighteen-year-olds."
"Isn't that the truth. Poor thing, her and those other girls. I'm glad you do that Spring Fling dress drive for them."
"We've gotten quite a few donations. I just picked them up from the cleaners today."
"Was the shop busy?"
"Pretty steady. The insurance forms came in the mail, and I worked on them between customers."
"Oh, don't worry about those," her mom said. "I can fill them out this weekend."
"That's all right. I've already got a good start."
"I don't mind, honey. I know how you struggle with—" Daisy gave her mom a look.
"I've got it, Mama."
A long pause ensued, then Karen gave a tiny nod, her mouth tightening.
"Of course you do. I was only trying to help."