#1- Flower Girl

‘Okay my dears, now put a little bow on the string of your bouquets, if you need help with the bows raise your hand and I will come show you how to do the bunny ears but remember it does not have to be perfect okay.’

‘Yes Miss JJ.’ Twenty-five little voices say in unison.

Saturday afternoon bouquet making class for children that she runs to kick off the season of advent leading up to Christmas, her favourite time of year. She holds the class, thanks to Rocks, one of her dearest friends, who gave her the idea some three years ago. Her twins also attend the class. The workshop is held in the loft warehouse of her flower shop, aptly named Flower Girl and the children love it, their parents even more so. The irony is, her own children hardly attend the class because it always coincides with some activity on their schedule, as it does today; Bella is in ballet and Roma is having her horse riding lesson. Speaking of, JJ pops her head up to see the girls just walking through the door with their dad, Rocco.

Rocco Rossi, baseball legend on and off the field and her baby daddy; they are not married but have been together a while now.

Rocco winks at JJ, whilst Roma flexes her little muscles indicating she aced her jumps today. Bella is already on her way into the workshop, lesson be damned, to give her mother a hug.

‘Mummy, daddy aced his plié, Madame Gres was really pleased with him.’ Her hair is still in the top knot Rocco did for her this morning, complete with pink tutu, body suit and ballet shoes. She’d laid everything out the night before and he’d gotten them both ready this morning whilst she left home at the crack of dawn to set up for the day.

JJ scoops Bella up and plants a kiss on her sugar dusted lips, evidence of a donut as a reward for having a good class. With Bella in her arms, she wonders around the class to see the progress of the bouquet making from her students. Many bouquets wild with colours some wonky but no less lovely.

‘These look so beautiful. Good job.’ She is ever so proud of them. Peering towards the back of the class some parents have arrived, waiting with Rocco and Roma who is now on her father’s shoulders. ‘Now tidy up your work stations and I will see you next year.’

The children scurry to tidy up as they are told, chattering excitedly amongst themselves whilst putting scraps in the bins. Parents walk in to meet their even more excited charges, showing off their creations.

‘Hey babe.’ Rocco plants a soft kiss on JJ’s lips Roma still sitting on his shoulders leans forward to kiss her mum’s head before working her way down.

‘Heard you aced your plié.’

‘Highest score of the dads.’ Rocco says proudly.

Just then one of the flower students tugged on JJ’s sweater. Kamal. ‘Darling you alright?’

‘Miss JJ I would like to give Roma my flowers if I may.’

Rocco and JJ exchange a look and then look over at Naima, his mother who rolls her eyes with a laugh.

‘They start young.’ She says.

‘Kamal, don’t you want to give your mummy the flowers?’ JJ asks squatting to his level.

The little boy shakes his head vehemently and the adults laugh.

‘Here you go Roma, thank you for helping me in science class and sitting with me at lunch.’

‘Thank you.’ Roma gives him a hug

Kamal hurries to his mother who plants a kiss on his heads, and mouths, thank you, to JJ and Rocco before heading out.

Rocks and her twins make their way towards JJ and Rocco, the girls talking ten to a thousand about their bouquets. ‘Hello you two.’

‘Hello lady.’ JJ and Rocks exchange a fond hug before Rocco swoops in for his. He is so thankful for Rocks’ friendship with JJ. With the both of them, but with JJ especially.

Their girls immediately conference aside from their parents. It’s not as if they won’t see each other at school tomorrow. ‘Packed class, thank you for having them on a Saturday morning. They loved it and are going to give both their bouquets to Sebastian.’

‘Well, I have a bouquet for you.’ JJ presents Rocks with a bouquet she’d been working on earlier.’

Rocks laughs knowing she cannot refuse JJ’s floral creations; they don’t call her the Michelangelo of flowers for no reason. ‘They’re gorgeous. Thank you.’ They smell even more gorgeous. ‘Did you receive the email from the concierge team?’

‘Yes, and your Nonna, bless her, I spoke to her this morning, she is so sweet. I wish you could be there.’

Zéa Rose-Jones fondly known as Rocks, and JJ were friends in boarding school in England but lost touch after A-levels when they went their separate ways thanks to planned out life paths by their parents, but reconnected when JJ moved to New York. Rocks is one of those women whose name shakes the earth and is spoken with reverence, together with her husband, formula 1 legend, Sebastian Rose-Jones, they make possibly the most powerful couple on the planet but you’d never know it looking from the outside in.

‘You’re going to have a good time, Monte Madre is magical during the holidays.’

‘I keep telling her not to stress.’ Rocco pulls JJ close with a one-armed hug, kissing her quick on the head.

‘Easy for you to say, whose cockamamie idea was this anyway?’

‘I know, I know, but our families all in one place, Christmas lights, beautiful views, Italian Village. Papa is in heaven counting down the days.’

‘Your family is fine, I love your family-’

‘And yours are fine too.’ Rocks says offering JJ a little smile, her friend is nervous about the holidays, and she understands.

JJ stifles a sigh. She spent a few wonderful summers with the Rocksons, hence the nickname Rocks, when her father allowed and those were some of the best times of her life. Her parents were separated at the time, Cleo was the devil and life at home was no picnic. Their father was grieving his loss and did not know how to channel it other than be hard, very hard, in his raising of her, she was the last-born child and whilst he dotted on her, his expectations from her were heightened and she killed herself to make sure she never fell from favour. A trait that followed her into adulthood. Striking out on her own was both an act of rebellion and protection of her sanity. She’d been deliberate with her path, she loved learning about flowers from Mr Muwanga and eventually becoming a celebrated botanist. It was important that her success not be tethered to her father’s influence, but he is not happy with her.

And sometimes, still with their very hard history, she wants him to be.

Rocks was the first person to invest in Flower Girl only after five minutes of hearing her plans for it. It was a ballsy move considering everything she was giving up, but JJ was all in.

‘You’ll be in good hands and surrounded by family.’ Rocks squeezes JJ’s hand. ‘Thank you for having them again today.’ She looks over to where her twin girls are playing with JJ’s girls, more flowers. ‘Okay Roses, let’s go home, we’re having pizza for lunch.’

Her set of twins chorus, ‘yay!’ whilst JJ’s girls look imploringly at their mother.

‘Mama can we have pizza for dinner?’ Roma asks.

Rocks bites her lower lip nearly kicking herself for her faux pas. She mouths sorry to JJ who waves her away.

‘Bye-bye aunty JJ. Thank you for the lesson.’

‘You’re always welcome my darlings.’

Whilst JJ tidies up in the warehouse, Rocco gets the girls ready for home, she looks over at him twirling both girls around in the corner. He’d helped lock up the shop downstairs, making sure the team got away with good time, whilst she finished up here. Her little family, her loves. Roma fumbles on her turn and Rocco lifts her up into his arms for a kiss. Rocco Rossi, the best leftie third-baser in the history of baseball, he is a beast on the field, they call him the best to ever do it, recipient of a gold and platinum glove and the one who led the team to victory in the World series. He was the darling of baseball, women of all stripes line up to throw themselves at him, Rocco is handsome, the kind of handsome that sweeps you off your feet, slowly simmers beneath the skin, the Sunday morning kind, bedroom smiling eyes, that five o’clock shadow beard, full lips, fuller laugh that rumbles from deep within, the body of an exceptional athlete, tall at six-foot-five, built to perfection and endless charm laced in sex appeal. To see him now, with his daughters, fumbling ballet spins, you’d never know.