Bloom and DoomI sit across the table from the bridezilla and smile.

I’m Audrey Bloom, by the way, and smiling at bridezillas has become a habit of mine. You see, I’m the wedding coordinator at the Rose in Bloom, the florist shop that my cousin Liv and I own in the small town of Ramble, Virginia. And most brides who come in these days have two things in common: first, they’re extremely picky about getting exactly what they want, and second, they haven’t a clue what that is.

She leafs through our latest bridal book and scrunches up her nose at some of the loveliest bouquets. Then she glances at the table of contents and heads straight for the yellow and orange flowers.


Not that I have anything against the colors…but so many orange and yellow flowers have meanings that aren’t quite the best for marriage, at least to the Victorians. And call me a romantic or superstitious…or even eccentric if you must, but I tend to agree with them.

See, in the language of flowers, the yellow lily could mean I hate you. The yellow rose could signify the departure of love or jealousy. The yellow tulip means hopeless love, and the sunflower stands for haughtiness. Even the cute little buttercup, while sometimes symbolizing childhood, can also carry a meaning of childishness–not something most brides want to think of themselves on their wedding days.


Before the bridezilla’s finger can land on a lovely bouquet of yellow lilies (falsehood and lies), I rip the book from her hands.

“You know what I’d like to do,” I say. “I’d like to design a bouquet just for you. Custom.”

Her right eyebrow goes up. “Just for me? How much extra is this going to cost?”

“Just one of my special services. No extra charge.”

She looks unconvinced, so I lay it on. “One designed around you. And the added benefit is that it will be unique. No one else will have a bouquet like yours.”

In the end, we come up with a fun little arrangement of daisies (cheerfulness), some sunny ranunculus (you are radiant with charms), all focused around lovely cymbidium orchids. So she gets her yellow after all. She blushes when I tell her that orchids today symbolize rare and delicate beauty. We decide to circle the bouquet with ivy, which carries the meaning of faithfulness.

“He’d better be faithful,” she says. “Or I’ll kill him.”

She laughs, so I chuckle politely. Grandma Mae would have washed our mouths out with soap for casually using a threat, even though it was clearly a joke.

But then again, this was Ramble, Virginia. There had never been a murder in remembered history, although Kathleen Randolph, our local historian, said the town had boasted a few doozies back in the day.

But nothing like that ever happened in this sleepy little town. Not these days.

The bell about the door tinkles as the bridezilla goes on to terrorize some other local merchant. Liv comes up behind me. “You could save yourself a lot of work if you’d just sell them what’s in the book, you know.”

“I know. But now she’s happy. I’m happy.”

“Well, who am I to argue with happily-ever-after?”

A sound draws my attention. I glance out the large bay window just as a police car races down Main Street, sirens blaring…

You can read more about Audrey in Bloom and Doom, the first book in the “Bridal Bouquet Shop” mystery series. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by noon EST on April 4, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of BLOOM AND DOOM. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Beverly Allen is the author of Bloom and Doom, the first entry of the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery BeverlyAseries—and her first novel-length fiction–debuting this year from Berkley Prime Crime. She holds a degree in engineering, but her creative streak caused her to run screaming from the pocket-protector set. She resides in Western New York State and enjoys cooking, crafts, gardening, home-improvement projects and board games, as well as spending time with her ever-patient husband, grown daughter, and four naughty but adorable cats.

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