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«The Accidental Florist», Jill Churchill

 

Chapter

ONE

 

J

ane pulled into her driveway. She'd just driven to Kansas City and back to drop off Katie at a culinary school at a junior college and get her set up in an apartment with two other girls. Jane had made a quick stop at a liquor store to buy a bottle of champagne on the way home.

She was mixing it with orange juice from the fridge when Shelley knocked at her kitchen door. As Jane opened the door, she said, "You carry the pitcher and I'll bring the glasses. We can sit out on the patio and catch up."

They settled in with Jane's favorite champagne flutes and Jane said, "The trip was easy and rather pretty. So much is blooming along the highways in late May."

 

"You didn't get lost?"

"Of course we got lost. Several times. But Katie's

 

turned out to be a pretty good map reader. I got her settled into a little apartment close to the junior college. She has two very nice roommates who are taking the same classes and it's within walking distance."

"She'll do well, I know. Is she still hoping to use the experience to apply to the CIA?"

"Don't call it that!" Jane said with a shudder. "It's the Culinary Institute of America in New York up the Hudson River from the city. And yes, she is. She felt that with the experience of taking summer classes, she'd be better qualified to apply there."

"But she'll miss her senior prom from high school," Shelley said with a laugh.

"She will. It will save me from having to attend another dreadful prom night."

"You've raised good kids," Shelley said, pouring herself a second glass of mimosa.

 

"So have you, Shelley. Denise is going to go far and so

is John. They're both good students and ambitious." "Ambitious to get out of the house, you mean?" "Aren't you anxious for that, too?"

 

"Sort of. But I have longer to wait than you do. My John is a year younger than your Todd. And what is Todd doing this summer?"

"He's looking into colleges on the Internet. He'll only be a junior this fall, but wants to go somewhere where they teach higher mathematics. He's also moved his bed and desk into Mike's room because it faces the street and has better light. He's still working on breaking the code on prime numbers."

"Prime numbers? I've heard of that. But what are they?" Shelley asked.

"The ones that aren't divisible by anything. One, five, seven, eleven, thirteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-three, and so forth. He has a fancy grid program and put in numbers up to twenty thousand; he left all the ones that can be divided by two in black, and highlighted the ones in red that can't be divided by three, five, seven, and so on."

 

"So what's his conclusion?"

 

Jane sighed. "He doesn't have one yet. But the higher the numbers the less frequent they are. He's trying them out on all sorts of different grids to see if he can find a pattern. So far he hasn't."

"He's a dogged kid, isn't he? I remember when he was obsessed with building the biggest thing possible with Legos."

"But, Shelley, that cost me the earth and created huge storage problems. This costs me nothing and if he ever finds out the secret to prime numbers, he'll become rich and famous,"Jane said with her fingers crossed and wearing a big grin.

"So Katie's gone, Todd's obsessed, and Mike's in graduate school in Indiana for the summer. It must be a lot quieter at your house. I envy you."

"Thank you. I can't remember you ever saying that," Jane said, still smiling. "I'm also a better driver than you, but you'd never admit that."

"You're just a slower driver," Shelley said, watching Jane's two now-elderly cats, Max and Meow, heading for

 

the field behind their two houses. "Do they ever catch anything back there anymore?"

 

"Not anymore. And you notice they clawed their way over the fence instead of bounding over it like jackrabbits the way they used to."

Shelley laughed. "Wouldn't we both do that if we were as old as they are in cat years?"

Jane had just taken a sip of her drink and had almost snorted it out her nose. "I hope we'd have a little more dignity than the cats though," she said when she quit coughing.

Jane poured herself a second mimosa. The goblets were tall but narrow and one wasn't enough. Besides, the pitcher would lose its bubbles if any were left over.

"We have to finish this pitcher," Jane said. "It won't keep fuzzy and tickle our noses."

"Might as well. Neither of us are going anywhere tonight, are we?"

By dusk, when the cats climbed back over the fence, Meow limping a little, both Jane and Shelley were tiddly. Jane stood up to call the cats in and almost lost her balance.

 

"Jane, you're drunk."


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