Get to know Blossom Sun and Brock St. Clair
Here’s an excerpt from this epic love story. But keep in mind, there are 57 fast-moving chapters waiting for you inBlossom.
Brock made his way down the street and found the three-cornered yellow silk pennant next to The Golden Palace’s sign. He stumbled through the doorway when his boot heel caught on the raised threshold. The bell hanging above the shop’s door helped announce his graceless arrival. An enticing sweet aroma rode on the backs of several warm breezes as they escaped the open door a few feet from him. A tall, thin man with striking ebony-colored hair approached him while humming a tune that sounded strangely similar to a song Brock heard in a saloon recently about “Irish eyes a-smiling.”
The shopkeeper bowed and said in a choppy way, “Ni hao. How I help?”
Brock bowed in return. “Knee how,” he replied to the best of his ability, assuming that the phrase was a pleasant greeting. “Hello to you. My fiancée sent me to get a special dessert. She thought it was called a moon cake. But then she said it might be called a fortune cookie. She wasn’t sure. I was told you had fortune cookies here.”
“How she know of moon cake? Wrong time of year for moon cake. Need yokes of duck eggs. Make shape of full moon—”
The shopkeeper violently slipped, his arms swinging out in flailing and erratic ways as he reached for something to help break his fall. Brock was surprised not just by the fall, but the array of colorful glass marbles that ricocheted around the floor.Marbles, he thought, in a bakery?
Brock lunged forward, but his effort was not quick enough as the man who was just humming yelled out, “Damn. Damn. DAMN!” He knocked several metal trays off of the counter, making for a dramatic fall. Brock’s eyes darted to follow glimpses of baked goods as they took flight and sailed across the room in a chaotic airborne ballet.
Brock lowered himself to his knees just behind the shopkeeper’s shoulders to be in a sturdy position to lift him. He reassured the shopkeeper. “Please, let me help you. That was a nasty fall. Is there someone—”
Brock’s words stopped midstream as his eyes met those of a girl who emerged from the next room where the sweet-smelling breezes came from moments ago. She froze. She looked first at the man on the floor, and then at the one who was cradling him from behind.
His eyes locked with hers.
She allowed Brock’s eyes to pierce hers, peering much more deeply than was customary.
In spite of the shopkeeper’s growling and damning the marbles on the floor, Brock’s eyes remained locked on hers. His heart pounded. Breathe, make yourself breathe, Brock shouted in his head.
She extended her hands to the shopkeeper without breaking eye contact with Brock. Together, they helped the shopkeeper to his feet.
“Shay shay—I mean, thank you,” the shopkeeper said to Brock. He brushed off his clothes and kept his eyes lowered. The shopkeeper sent the girl to the workroom with a gentle nudge. She looked back at Brock as she passed through the doorway.
Brock’s gaze followed her like a shadow. He moved closer to the doorway to see where she went. He noticed how she appeared startled and hesitated before looking down at her work. He wasn’t in the habit of staring at strangers. He was raised with better manners. But this girl entranced him like no other. Brock saw that she needed to return her full attention to the task at hand because she’d suddenly burned a fingertip on the hot iron she was working with. She barely winced, however.
“Young man! Young man! Young man!” said the shopkeeper in what Brock noticed was a triple-repeat pattern. The shopkeeper picked up the metal trays and slammed them on the counter with a loud bang.
“What’s she making?” asked Brock, never looking back at the man and continuing to watch the girl.
“Fortune cookies, of course!”
“Then I’ll take one dozen, please. They will—”
“I give you happy price. Good value. Fifteen cent,” interrupted the shopkeeper. “Some say Japanese make first. I no agree. Fortune cookie as Chinese as…as…me!”
Brock dug into his pocket and retrieved a dime and a nickel. He now looked at the man to deliver the coins without dropping them.
The shopkeeper placed a bag on the counter.
Brock’s eyes darted back to the girl in the other room. She was looking at him even though her hands continued their work with graceful rhythm and movement.
“May I see how the cookies are made?” Brock asked. I really want to see the girl who’s making the cookies.
“Fine. Come, come, come. Follow me,” muttered the shopkeeper as he made a waving motion with his hand.
“This my daughter, Mei-Hua,” he said standing tall, his shoulders back and a grin on his face. Brock thought how in a sea of people with brown eyes and black hair, the girl’s deep brown hair and lavender eyes must make her stand out whether she wanted to or not.
“Her name mean beautiful flower. People call her Blossom . She beautiful, no?” He didn’t give Brock a chance to answer. “My name Sun Chang. You call me Chang. In old times, family name come first to honor ancestors. Given name next. Now many Chinatown people put given name first.”
Brock sensed someone else in the room. His feeling was confirmed as he spied two beguiling dark eyes peering around the corner of the wall behind Blossom .
“Well, hello to you,” Brock directed to the corner of the room.
“Ting Ting. Come out, Ting Ting,” ordered Chang.
The child, who Brock estimated was about six or seven years old, obeyed. She bowed and smoothed out her bright canary yellow shirt.
“This See Ting Ting. Her family live next door. Fireworks and tea, that their business. She spend time with us in afternoons, with orphaned…adopted…sister named Little Sunflower. She not here now. They sometime leave toy on floor, like marbles behind counter.” Chang gave Ting Ting a stern look.
“Blossom like sister to them. When Ting Ting good girl, we call her Rose Bud. Not so often, though. Her little lips red like rose, no?”
“No, I mean yes,” replied Brock.
Ting Ting scooted out and stood close to Blossom . The chubby girl’s eyes twinkled above cheeks that appeared to have a dumpling stashed in each one. She whispered in what sounded like Chinese to Brock. Blossom smiled at the girl and patted her on the shoulder, drawing her in even closer. Ting Ting bounced back a bit when the hand that held her music box collided with Blossom ’s body.
Ting Ting slipped her feet into Blossom ’s unoccupied shoes. Chang looked down and noticed. Blossom was working wearing her socks. The music-making “hurdy-gurdy” had a hand-held metal cylinder with a tiny crank that had a shiny red bead on the end. Ting Ting examined the bright-colored paper that was glued around the cylinder. Brock could see that it featured circus acts.
Ting Ting turned the crank to play the signature circus tune, Entrance of the Gladiators, as Blossom got back to work.
With great precision, Blossom took the thin circles of dough and laid them on the hot metal pedestal. Using two sticks—not with her fingers, as she did before—she inserted a strip of paper and folded the dough into a three-dimensional crescent shape. She didn’t look up once as Brock observed her work. He asked about the messages on the pieces of paper.
“Mostly happy messages put inside cookies. Some fortunes not so happy,” pointed out Chang. Was that just a warning?Brock thought.
Blossom took the risk of speaking freely to the stranger in the presence of her father. “Sometimes fortune favors the strong. Other times, fortune favors the delicate. But always, fortune favors the heart.”
Chang commanded Brock’s attention by instructing, “Only eat cookies you break open. Must be offered to you. You pick cookie. You pick your destiny. Must be whole when in your hand. A cracked one bring very bad, bad, bad luck. No take.”
Blossom smiled as she broke a cookie in two and looked up at Brock.
“Would you like a taste?” she asked. Her voice had a playful sing-song quality to it. She offered Brock the cookie as she slowly closed her eyes and opened them to again pierce his.
“If that broken one you’re offering me will bring bad luck, then no thank you. But I would like to try one of those next to you,” replied Brock, pointing to the pile of unbroken cookies to Blossom ’s right.
Brock couldn’t stop looking at Blossom . As politely as he could, he studied the loose-fitting, jade-green satiny blouse she was wearing. It had a high collar fastened together with gold-colored braiding shaped like a butterfly. Seems like too nice a shirt to be working in.
She had billowy pants, the color of purple iris. As he gazed further down, her white socks popped out not only because they were so starkly white, but because she had no shoes on.
She scanned the pile and selected three cookies. Blossom then offered them to Brock to choose from. He pointed to the one in the middle and she placed it onto Brock’s extended palm.
He noticed how she looked at his rough hand against his elegant clothes with a questioning expression. Not the first time someone’s given me that look.
Her studying gaze rose with the slowness of the bay breezes outside, from his hands to his necktie to his mouth and then to his eyes again.
“Well, go ahead. Break open!” insisted Chang. “Fate wait for no man!”
Brock blinked and shuddered. He clenched his fist and cracked the cookie.
“Open! Read paper aloud before you eat!”
Brock separated the halves of the cookie and pulled out the slip of paper. He sighed. He looked at Blossom and then at Chang.
“I guess this is my lucky day,” he said and smiled at Blossom . His eyes returned to the paper, and he read, “Confucius say, ‘Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.’”
“Anything else you need today before you go?” asked Chang. Ting Ting observed the entire exchange, not cranking her hurdy-gurdy at that moment.
“No, I don’t think there is—” Brock said in a voice that trailed off. His mind raced. He couldn’t stop staring at Blossom . He tried, but couldn’t. He didn’t care. He liked the way it felt, except how his face was hot and probably as red as the paper lanterns outside. Brock’s hand clutched the paper bag that contained the cookies, and the crackling sound brought his mind back into focus.
“Thank you for the cookies, Blossom . I mean, shay shay. And Chang, shay shay for showing me how they’re made.”
Blossom lowered her head in what Brock figured was a gesture of thanks, while maintaining eye contact. Her lavender eyes were thieves, stealing his breath and holding it captive.
Get a hold of yourself, man! He knelt down so that he was face to face with the little girl. “It was very nice to meet you, Ting Ting. Even though you say a lot with your eyes, perhaps sometime you’ll let me hear your voice in English.”
Ting Ting smiled and bowed. Then she waved. As Brock began to leave the room, she cranked the handle on her music box.
He put the fortune-telling slip of paper into his wallet and handed Chang a white rectangular card.
“Come again, come again, come again.” Chang bowed and then walked toward the front door in what Brock took as a not-so-subtle way of ending their conversation. “Good day, Meester Brock Saint Clair,” he said, reading Brock’s last name from the card in his hand.
Brock responded to the signal and soon found himself back out on the congested street.
“Blossom, Blossom , Blossom ,” he uttered in Chang’s triple-repeat pattern of speech. He looked back over his shoulder at the front of The Golden Palace as he headed back up to Nob Hill with a bag of fortune-telling cookies firmly in his grasp. Unlike the grip on the bag, his mind did not hold such a firm grasp on his fiancée.