~ Thursday ~
Conner Barrett was not happy that Daisy elected not to sell the shop. He thought his offer was fair, more than fair actually, and he was positive that she would jump at the opportunity. She hoped she was making the right decision, she kept replaying what Chris had said, ‘you can’t make the wrong decision if you are making it for the right reason.’ He was referring to something else altogether, but she was applying it to this situation.
As Daisy flipped on the lights and got the store opened up, she dialed Kimberly’s number and asked if she had some free time to stop by and chat. Daisy was thrilled to hear that she had some time and could be at the shop in about thirty minutes. Now all Daisy had to do was to practice her speech and hope to convince Kimberly that her plan was brilliant and convince her to help make it work.
When Kimberly got there, she noticed that Daisy had rearranged a few things and was in the middle of rotating out the displays. She stopped working and ran over to greet Kimberly and offered her a seat at the counter. “Thank you so much for coming to see me, I know you are busy and I promise I won’t keep you long.”
“Not a problem, I actually have no plans today, and I actually wanted to talk to you anyway, so the timing worked out well.”
Daisy took a deep breath and then just rushed headlong into it, “Did you know that I had an offer from Conner Barrett? He wanted to purchase the store and my inventory so he could expand. Evidently we do enough business here that it causes him some concern for his boutiques, and he wants to corner the market.”
Kimberly could not hide the surprise, “I had no idea, when did he approach you?”
“He was the reason I was missing. I had a business meeting with him when the flash flood hit and I couldn’t get home. I’ve been mulling over his offer and trying to decide what to do.”
“You can’t sell, Daisy. This shop means so much to you.”
“Well, the reason the offer was being considered is due to Chris. I mean, since he came into my life I haven’t devoted much time to the shop, and I’ve had to rely on you quite a bit, and I’ve neglected my own business.”
“Honestly, I was going to talk to you about that. I missed working here and coming back to help has made me realize that. I wanted to see if I could put some of what I learned in business school to work and help you run the store?”
Daisy’s eyes grew wide, this is exactly what she was hoping for, “I was so hoping you would be open to that idea, Kimberly. Honestly, I wanted to bring it up but wasn’t sure if you would be open to it.”
“Well, I want to be more than just a worker. I’d like to be a manager or run your daily operations so you don’t have to. I want the responsibility, and it gives you the freedom to spend time with Chris and not worry about the store.”
“You have a deal, I’m willing to downsize or make the necessary changes. I want to keep the store and have you run it, but it allows me the ability to come in and work when I can.”
The ladies were busy ironing out the details, and Kimberly agreed to begin working right away. Daisy was unaware of the wedding, but Kimberly was not; so by Kimberly coming on board she knew she would be working on Saturday while Daisy was preparing for her big day. They were discussing the business plan and changes they could make when Thomas Proctor came walking in.
“Hi dad,” Daisy was somewhat confused to see him in the store, especially during the week, “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything is fine. I ran into town for a few things and thought I would stop in because I forgot to tell you something at dinner the other night. So, the winery is launching a new wine this Saturday, and we are having a reception and dinner to celebrate. I want you and Chris to be there; it is going to be a big event, and I can’t have my little girl missing it.”
“Ok, I don’t think it will be a problem. I’ve got to talk to Chris though, I have no idea when he is supposed to leave for his new project. I guess if he were to leave the day after tomorrow he would have told me by now, but you never know.”
“Okay, it is a fancy affair so you guys will have to dress up,” he began to walk away and then turned around suddenly, “Kimberly, I shouldn’t be so rude, you are welcome to join us. The festivities start at 5:30, okay?”
The ladies acknowledged the starting time and thanked him for stopping by. Daisy stared off into the distance, she hated going to these wine receptions. She wondered if she could get out of it. She knew that he dad just said he wanted her there but maybe if she could get Chris to agree to skip it, then she could be off the hook.
~ * ~
Daisy had left for work, and Chris took off to the Proctor’s to see how the wedding preparations were going. The barn had been cleared out of the small tables that were used for the wine tasting and had been replaced with the large tables for the reception and dinner. The guest list was sitting at 75; that encompassed Chris and Daisy’s immediate family as well as close friends. Chris had quietly invited several of his co-stars, but he was not making this a big Hollywood affair.
His family had arrived the day before, and they were getting to know the Proctors. His mom had hit it off immediately with Martha, and they spent the previous evening telling stories about their children. When Chris heard this, he cringed; figuring this would not bode well for either one of them. Most of the guys were down in the barn helping to hang the fabric; the design had called for pale yellow and white fabric to be placed over the center beam of the barn and then draped to the walls. Giving the illusion of tenting as you walked into the barn. The colors, of course, matching the colors of the daisy. The effect was already beautiful but to make it even more striking, glass chandeliers were rented and hung from the beam. The soft light against the fabric provided a truly romantic setting.
The round tables were set with tablecloths that matched the hanging fabric; pale yellow underskirts with a shorter while top cloth. The chairs were oak to match the interior of the barn and to keep it rustic. Chris was blown away; the barn had undergone a relatively minor change, but it had such a dramatic impact. Greg was there with Martha, they were discussing the flowers and the placement of the arrangements.
“Chris!” Martha exclaimed as she saw him approaching, “It is coming together beautifully, don’t you think? She will be so surprised.”
“It really is gorgeous, have you guy determined how you are going to get her out here?”
“Thomas is going to call her later today and tell her that he is having a launch party for a new wine this Saturday night. We are having a catered dinner and event and that the two of you are invited. He will tell her it is important to him that she is here, she won’t let her daddy down.”
“Ok, perfect. I’ll tell her that I’m coming out here to help him get set up and that she should go with Melody to be pampered and met me out here. That will allow us to get here separately.”
“She is going to be so surprised. By the way, how has she been feeling lately?”
“She is exhausted; gets tired quickly but I am guessing it is because she is working so much. She has been making some changes to the store and trying to find a new wedding dress.”
“Is she still getting sick?” Martha knew what the answer was, but she wanted to see if Chris was catching on.
“A few times, but the doctor gave her some medicine for her it; Daisy said she was diagnosed with a digestive issue and that it’s nothing serious.”
“Oh, I see,” Martha was a little worried that Daisy had not yet told Chris about the pregnancy. It wasn’t like she could keep this hidden for long. “Oh goodness, a dress? You mentioned a dress, has Daisy found one? That is one detail we didn’t think about.”
“Melody said to leave it up to her, she had it under control. I have no idea what that means, but I am taking her word for it.”
Chris gave Martha a peck on the cheek and thanked her for all the work she was doing and then went off to find his brother and friends.
~ * ~
Chris and Daisy had just sat down to eat dinner when there was a knock on the door. Chris, being the gentleman that he was, got up to answer and found Melody on the front porch. He didn’t invite her in, he actually said nothing to her, but she pushed right past him and walked in.
“By all means, Melody, please come in and join us,” the sarcasm dripping from every word as he moved to close the door.
“Daisy, did you talk to your dad today?” Melody approached the table and took a seat. It was then that she noticed the table setting and dinner on the plates, “Oh, were you two getting ready to eat?”
“Yeah, we had just sat down when you knocked,” Daisy replied sheepishly.
“Oh damn, I’ll come back,” she started to get up and turn toward the door, “No wonder you weren’t your charming self when you answered the door,” she said to Chris as she started to walk past.
“We have plenty, go ahead and join us,” he offered, causing her to stop and turn to face him. “Really, I’m not kidding, grab a plate,” he motioned toward the kitchen while he walked over and took his seat at the table. Daisy mouthed a ‘thank you’ and he returned a smile to her, figuring it earned him some brownie points that he would call in later.
“Thanks, I am hungry, and it is nice to eat food that I didn’t cook!” Melody replied as she loaded up her plate and joined them a moment later. “So, Daisy, did your dad talk to you about the reception and dinner on Saturday?”
“What dinner and reception?” Chris asked, acting as if this was all a shock to him.
Melody, of course, was in on it but her stopping by was not part of the plan. “Oh, you didn’t tell him yet? Ok, so Thomas is launching a new wine this weekend and he has a big shindig planned for Saturday night. Big catered dinner and wine reception and everyone is invited – it is a big fancy affair.”
Daisy put her fork down, sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest, “I hate these things, and he knows it. He throws these big elaborate parties, and everyone dresses up, and the launch of the wine gets lost in the whole affair. He ends up giving away too much product, everyone gets drunk, and no one can remember the name of the wine the next day. I don’t want to go.”
“Oh c’mon Daisy, this will be your opportunity to show Chris off, you need to go.”
He did a double take at her comment, “What? So I’ve been reduced to being a trophy now?”
“Oh hell yeah, you are definitely a trophy husband,” Melody said with a laugh, “She can dress you up and parade you around the room. It will be monumental!”
“I really don’t want to go, is there any way I can get out of going?”
“Princess, you don’t want to disappoint your dad. Besides, I think it might be kind of fun, I’ve never been married to the daughter of a winemaker before so I’ve never been invited to a wine launch.”
“Yeah, Princess, don’t want to disappoint daddy and your husband,” Melody said mockingly.
Daisy tossed her napkin at Melody and started to laugh, “Fine, I’ll go because I don’t want to disappoint my dad. And because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to show off my trophy husband!”
“Great! I was hoping you would say that, so I made our appointments at the day spa over in the city. I thought it would be fun to pamper ourselves. Since Kimberly is running the store for you, we could get our nails done and get a massage and then get our hair and makeup done. Figure we could take the day and then blow everyone away when we show up!”
“I don’t know, that sounds horribly selfish, I should either be at the store or at least offer to help mom and dad set up for the event.”
“I’ll help your father,” Chris chimed in, using this as the perfect opportunity to pave the way. “You go and pamper yourself and enjoy it. You and Melody haven’t had time together in a while, and I’m capable of helping your dad. It’ll be fine!”
“Great! It is all settled, and I will be here to pick you up around 10 on Saturday morning,” Melody then started in on her dinner and didn’t say anything else until her plate was empty.