Correction: tingles and shivers can lead to more, but they don’t have to. I’m only agreeing to a dance. Nothing wrong with that.
I think of Dean and Fitz, careening forward into the unknown together. That is frightening. This is just a dance.
Sam leads me to the floor by the hand, but there’s a fast song playing, which is perfect. It’s all fun and games and whirling and laughing. We get our groove on for two more songs before the DJ switches it up with a slower tune.
A couple’s tune.
I sense more than see Sam’s questioning look. No pressure, just wondering. I’m not sure I’m ready for his arms around me, even in public.
I adore flirting with him. So why balk at a slow dance? But the question isn’t so much can I trust him, but can I trust myself? I’m not sure so I say I’m ready for a drink.
Later, he takes me home, and he’s quite proper as he says goodbye.
A blip—more than a blip, if I’m honest—of disappointment surprises me. I wouldn’t have minded an improper goodbye.
A few days after the engagement party, a bouquet of flowers arrives for me at The Magpie.
I eye them curiously, and the note too.
Thank you for suffering through that with me. It might be the most fun I’ve ever had at a required social gathering.
How did he know about the sunflowers? It’s not as if I’ve broadcasted that they’re my favorite. How could he know that they remind me of summer days and fresh starts?
I text Dean immediately. He’s the only one I’ve told about my love of sunflowers—I gushed to him about getting them for the opening of The Magpie.
Maeve: Did you tell him?
Dean: Tell who what?
I bet I can imagine his face right now. Hell, I don’t need to imagine it. I FaceTime him, and immediately a satisfied-looking Dean shows up on my screen. Looks like he’s at his new bar—The Pub.
“You told him, didn’t you? About these?”
I flip the screen so he can see the sunflowers, and then I flip back to me. Dean dares to look innocent. Not just pretending-to-look-innocent either. Actually innocent.
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. But are those from a guy? Are you dating?”
“Sam sent these. As a thank you for going to his friend’s party.”
Dean laughs. “So you are dating.”
I roll my eyes. “Never mind. But you didn’t tell him about the flowers?”
“I swear I didn’t. I don’t have that much of a cupid in me. Plus, some men, you know, remember things about the people they like.”
I hum, kind of doubtful, then say goodbye.
I pace around The Magpie, then get out my phone, snap a picture, and send it to Sam.
Maeve: Thank you for these. How’d you know they’re my favorite?
Sam: Good! I was hoping that hadn’t changed. You mentioned it a while back. Something about the way they make everything seem just a little lighter, right?
The memory comes back to me all of a sudden. Sam, Naveen, Anya, Dean—all of us walking along the Thames last summer. We talked about our perfect Sunday, and I’d casually mentioned that every Sunday should start with fresh flowers.
Sunflowers, in particular.
For exactly the reason he’d said.
But that was almost a year ago. How in the world had he remembered?
Sam: It always stuck with me. Now, I can’t see a sunflower without thinking about you.
Maeve: That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.
Really, thank you. I don’t know how I’ll make it up to you after the charity event.
For a minute, the bouncing dots keep appearing and disappearing on my screen. Then, finally, a message pops up.
Sam: You could wear those yoga pants again.
Maeve: The yoga pants really do it for you, huh?
Sam: Or jeans. Or anything, actually. I’m not really
particular. You look good in everything, Maeve.
Maeve: You do too.
I want to keep flirting. But I’m still so wary.
What if we don’t like dating as much as we like being friends? There’s no reset button. I dwell on it for a day, and then two.
But surely if I can be friends with a gorgeous, sweet, kind man who somehow remembered my favorite flower, then being more than friends shouldn’t intimidate me.
Finally, I decide it’s time. If my best friend can move across an ocean, I can let go of my hurt.
And give a real date a real chance.
The Night of Lost Stars I twist my hair up into a chignon and choose some chandelier earrings that brush my neck. After some consideration, I pick out a violet dress with a slit up the side. I swipe on some lipstick, steeling myself for the emotions that inevitably come my way at this event each year.
I take in a breath just as my doorbell rings.
I pull on my heels and grab my clutch. On the way out, I glance at myself in the mirror. Tendrils of hair frame my face, and not even an eyelash is out of place.