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one day at a time

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Their story began with a crash. The moment that Dani opened the door of the Moonflower Shop, the sound startled Jamie enough so that she dropped the flower pot she was carrying. The young owner of the shop cursed and kneeled before the shattered pot and the scattered dirt. “You little shit,” she grumbled, shaking her head at the mess at her feet.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Dani said, her voice was careful and something inside her was yelling at her to just step back and out of there and pretend nothing happened. However, her feet barely hesitated before rushing her to the mess she felt a bit guilty of. “Can I help?” she ventured to ask, since she was already standing there.

“Huh?” Jamie looked up at her, her eyebrows scrunched in confusion that slowly smoothed over as she looked at Dani. “Hey there,” she said now, and cleared her throat, “Can I help you?” Jamie stood up, her head tilted, her hands on the back pockets of her denim overalls, and something about her eyes, so warm and intense that almost made Dani flinch away, well…

Dani opened her mouth to answer, but found that nothing came out. She hoped she wasn’t blushing already, and just waved her hand at the mess on the floor. “Sorry about that,” Dani finally said, the ghost of a laugh on her voice. Before Jamie could get to tell her not to worry about that, Dani added, “I just… I walked in here and… yeah.”

A breathy chuckle left Jamie’s mouth, and one of her hands flew to press against her lips. She wasn’t the type to give endeared laughs to her clients, but then again, her clients rarely were the most adorable blonde she’d ever seen. “You walked in, yeah, I noticed that,” Jamie nodded. If she was effortlessly smiling at the other woman well, that was a natural reflex, nothing else. However, she was aware that they were both staring at each other now, saying nothing else. “So… can I help you with something?” Jamie insisted, before it would be an inappropriately long time to stare at a client’s cute pink shirt and even cuter denim jack that was just a bit big on her.

“Yeah!” Dani nodded eagerly once and it was simply mesmerizing the way her smile took over her face, seemingly lighting up her entire body, the whole room even. “I saw the sign outside. Are you hiring?” she asked.

Oh, she looked so hopeful it pained Jamie a little bit. She swallowed thinking of the damned sign on her shop’s window. “Help wanted?” it read. She had begrudgingly put up the small sign, hoping nobody would show up. One too many incidents around the shop had made clear that she seriously needed another pair of hands around. But that didn’t mean she wanted someone else around. Someone else messing with her flowers, her shop, her personal space. “Sure,” Jamie finally, unpleasantly dragging out the word. She didn’t feel great about hoping this wouldn’t work but the least she could do now that they were here was go along with it. “Are you good with flowers?”

“No,” Dani replied, her voice was soft and just shy enough. Jamie lifted her eyebrows in surprise, but she gave her points for her honesty. “But, running a business is more than that, right?” Dani went on, “Surely you need help with other stuff. I mean, with clients or, the cash register, or…”

“Do you have experience with clients or cash registers?” Jamie inquired.

A beat of silence passed as Dani bit her lip, and when she released it she looked down again at the mess on the floor. “I could clean that,” was all she argued.

“Oh, God,” Jamie sighed, looked away from the stranger for a moment. She rubbed the back of her neck and although her mind emphatically insisted on just throwing this woman out of her shop, she felt a whole different urge to keep the conversation going. “Okay. My name is Jamie, I’m the owner of the place,” she started by properly introducing herself.

“Dani Clayton,” the other one grinned and offered her hand out.

Jamie’s lips were tingling with the effort to keep her smile at bay. “Nice meeting you,” she said, firmly stretching Dani’s hand, “Come, let’s sit.” After dropping Dani’s hand, taking quick notice of its softness and slight warmth, Jamie walked over to the couple of stools placed on one side of the counter of the shop. She perched herself on top of one, and this time she couldn’t hold back her smile as Dani tried her best to gracefully climb on the stool and keep up the professional appearance that she hadn’t even nailed from the beginning. “So, you wanna tell me what’s an American with no experience on the subject doing in my shop?” Jamie asked.

There was only the smallest bit of hesitation on Dani’s part, if only to find the best way to share her story on this particular scenario. “I arrived in London six months ago. I thought I’d gotten a job as an au pair but… it fell down at the last minute,” she shrugged.

“Did you fly all the way here like some Mary Poppins character and they turned you down?” Jamie wondered.

“Something like that.”

“It’s their loss, Poppins.”

Dani’s smile was back in its full splendor, but now she wasn’t trying to impress a potential employer, she was just smiling at Jamie. After a minute to gather her thoughts, Dani spoke up again, “Anyway, I am staying at a place nearby, and this is the most beautiful store I’ve seen around here so…”

“Is that flattery?” Jamie tilted her head, and when she expected the other woman to blush or back away, Dani surprised her by staying unperturbed and determined. “Right, well…” Jamie looked around her beloved shop and thought hard about it for a moment.

She only had a few months with the place, really. But it was already her entire world. One thing was making a living out of the thing she loved to do most in the world, but doing it in her own terms completely? It was a miracle. She didn’t want to risk it at all, but then, of course, having an employee didn’t have to change a thing, but maybe just make them a bit easier for her. It was true that she wasn’t the best at customer service, not when other people got on her nerves, thinking they knew the right way to handle flowers, thinking Jamie would let them be rude just because they would give her money, so what if she lost a couple of sales… so what if she needed a serious change if she wanted to keep her shop. She sighed gravely as her eyes moved past the broken pot on the ground, and then the one she broke when Dani came in. The place, the flowers needed someone else around so Jamie could properly take care of them.

“Listen, Dani, here’s the deal. I don’t want anybody else here. I have my way to do things, I have an understanding with my plants, and it works. But, I guess you’re right. I could use some help to keep up with the business side of things. Do you really want the job?” Jamie had to ask, presenting a last chance for both of them to back out. But Dani nodded with conviction, and Jamie ended up saying, “Then it’s yours. Let’s try it out for a week, see where that takes us, huh?”

“Sure thing, boss,” Dani answered, her eyes were sparkling with excitement.

“Oh,” Jamie laughed, shaking her head, “That’s unnecessary, Poppins.”