Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Love Amid the Azaleas - Issue # 2
Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-one years, my seventeen year old daughter, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, two dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info about me and contact links, check out the author bio tab up above.
Today we`re back to my M/M mini-series about new love blooming in a nursery. Just for a challenge for myself, I`m going to try to keep each issue under a thousand words, which should be daunting for Madame Wordy here.
Love Amid The Azaleas
Issue # 2
Ten minutes later I was scanning Bryan Mason`s job application.
“I see you took a Master Gardener`s class at the extension office,” I said, looking at the man. He nodded and remained silent, thick inked arms folded over his chest, legs planted solidly under him. I tore my gaze from his biceps and tried to focus on his references. “Also you worked at the Mega Mart in the garden department for five years. Why did you leave?”
I moved aside so Lydia could ring up a customer with a hanging basket filled with bright purple pansies.
“I wanted a job with possible growth potential,” Bryan said, reaching out to pluck a wilted pansy blossom as if deadheading was like breathing to him. Where the hell has this man been all my life?! I knew he was hired but ran my sight over his application again. Okay, he was twenty-eight. A couple years younger than my thirty-one but a three year difference is nothing when . . . I jerked on the reins to slow down the runaway lust pony I was riding.
“All you grow here is skinny and tanned,” Lydia commented over her lean shoulder then hip-checked me soundly.
“And flippant. Don`t forget flippant,” I countered, winking at the customer who then smiled. Bryan chuckled at the byplay. It was a very nice sound. I wanted to make him laugh again. “Well, if you work hard and show incentive and knowledge, you could be manager in a year or so.”
Lydia cleared her throat.
“Or co-manager,” I quickly amended. That seemed to appease the wild-haired woman. “To start you get a dollar an hour more than minimum wage. We`ll get into health insurance later. Right now, I need to know if you`re riding with me to Mrs. Miller`s or if you`re here to poke my hydrangea with familiarity again.”
“I`m riding,” Bryan said. We shook hands. I threw his application on the counter, tugged my leather gloves from my back pocket and clapped my new employee on his muscular back.
“Alright then, let`s unload the flowering crabs, find two dogwoods, and get the hell going before the woman calls to say she changed her mind again,” I smiled, leading the way back into the April sun.
We rode along in companionable silence for a mile or so, the warming air blowing in the windows of my old Dodge pickup. The AM radio was filled with static so I turned it off.
“So, Bryan,” I opened the dialog with, “Who taught you about the hydrangea color change trick?”
He pulled cobalt eyes from the rolling hills of our county to look at me. I glanced from the road to him. His eyes were soul-stealing, they really were. Deep blue flecked with green and gold and framed with long, dark lashes.
“My mother showed me that trick,” he said, his voice growing reflective, “She loved her flower gardens. Towards the end she was pretty weak so she spent most of her time fiddling in the flower beds.”
I nodded respectfully. “You speak as if she isn`t with us anymore.”
“She died two years ago. Breast cancer.” He tapped a large pink bow inked into his right bicep. “This is in her memory.”
I gave the tattoo the longest look I could given I was driving. “It`s a lovely tribute. How is your father handling her loss?”
The man shrugged then returned to staring out his side window. “Couldn`t say. Never knew the man.”
“Sorry,” I muttered, flicking the turn signal lever then making the left into the Miller`s long winding drive.
“Nothing for you to be sorry about,” Bryan said dropping his arm out the window where it hung lazily. “You didn`t make him leave.”
“Well, no, but I`m sorry he wasn`t there for you. What do you think of this estate?” I asked, hoping to move onto something less depressing.
“It`s nice,” my new employee said.
“You have a tendency to be understated I see,” I smiled. Saying that the Miller grounds were nice was like saying the Mona Lisa was an okay painting. The Miller`s are old money and own the foundry that employs over a thousand people from our area. Their family estate is two hundred acres. Every one of those acres landscaped. And guess who was lucky enough to have won that contract? Yep, Blooming Idiot`s. So now you see why I put up with so much shit from Mrs. Miller.
“They need a better lawn service,” Bryan noted. I had to concur.”We don`t mow grass do we?”
I shook my head.”Nope, we are strictly landscape artisans. She has the mowing done by someone else.”
“I like that. Landscape artisans,” he smiled then patted my thigh, “Sounds better than gardeners.”
A slight squeeze of my leg and then he moved his hand. Trying to catch his eye I was just a second too slow. Bryan had caught sight of the mansion and Mrs. Miller and her four yapping poodles waiting for us on the steps.
“Aw shit, little dogs,” Bryan moaned, “I`m not fond of little dogs.”
If he thought the dogs were bad, wait until he had to deal with the woman in the fuchsia jogging suit.