“Do you know how to prepare the soil?” John asked from behind me.
I nodded. “I think I do.”
“There are tools in those trays over there.”
“Great,” I said moving towards them.
“Have you done this before?”
“When I was a child.”
He arched a brow but I refused to give in to the doubt.
“Alright. Get what you need and get to work. And no yammering in my ear.”
“Got it. And thank you,” I said and got started.
Soon, the available trays were laid out on the platforms of the areas I was given so I began to prepare them. I cleaned the platforms which seemed to have been quite neglected for a while, as well as the potting trays that I would need. The next few hours were happy ones while I logged and cleaned all the pots, even the ones that I would not be using. I couldn’t remember having a better day in months. Then I began to sweep the whole area.
Midway through the job, I heard Mary Jane calling out to me. I almost wanted to hide from her so that I could keep going, but the thought of her brought to mind all the delicious food that I had indeed missed out on by choosing to slave away here instead of going for breakfast.
“You missed breakfast,” she said kindly. “You can’t miss lunch too.”
I stretched my stiff back and smiled at the glass of golden, iced tea she brought for me. The air outside was frigid, but the warmth in the greenhouse had made it feel anything but, so the refreshment from the cold iced tea was extremely welcomed.
I downed the whole glass before releasing a deep breath. “I won’t miss lunch. I could eat a horse,” I told her. “What are we having today?”
“Madam said since you have been working hard you will need something substantial so you are having rib-eye steak and crushed new potatoes.”
“Sounds delicious,” I murmured.
“It will be,” she said as she gazed around at the space. “Wow you’ve really cleaned it up.”
“You've been in here before?’ I asked, as I continued with my sweeping.
“Of course. I used to come here sometimes to collect vegetables for the Chef. There used to be a lot more variety growing in here, but since John…” she looked around to make sure he wasn’t in sight and whispered. “Lost his daughter earlier this year, he’s been quite grumpy and detached from all of us. He also lost a lot of interest in his plants. Nowadays the Chef buys most of the stuff he needs, and I don’t come around much.”
At the information, I looked towards the direction of the man and my heart softened as I thought of his loss. Losing a loved one was the most devastating thing in the world. I knew that first hand. The many, many nights I cried myself to sleep. Something I thought that I still hadn’t got over the loss of my mother. For the last couple of years I’d lived with the terror I would go to sleep one day and get a phone call the next morning telling me my father was no more.
“Let’s go,” Mary Jane said.
I put the broom away and followed her out.
“I can’t believe you're working in the greenhouse,” Mary Jane said. “I would have thought that you’d take this visit as a vacation and just lounge by the indoor pool.”
“Indoor pool?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s gorgeous. I’ll take you there after lunch.”
The idea sounded very promising because after my work at the greenhouse, stretching out my limbs and relaxing would surely be an incredibly rewarding event.
“That would be great, thank you,” I said.
Madam was waiting for us in the Orangery. “You’re going out to dinner with Don Messana tonight. Please be ready by 6.p.m.”Chapter 25LucaI took her to Boston’s harbor hotel with its sixty-foot stone archway and its panoramic views of the city’s skyline. It was also a personal favorite for other reasons. Security was easily monitored by my men, and my requests for privacy were always immediately fulfilled. As I mostly moved in the shadows and appreciated places that helped me maintain things that way.
Across the terrace, private and heated transparent igloo-like boxes had been erected to both tackle the frigid winter air, and to provide privacy. One of the things I liked the most about these encasements were how the glass made it possible for you to see out, but for no one to see within.
I sat at my usual enclosure with my customary glass of Dirty Martini and tried to imagine Skye working in the greenhouse… and couldn’t. I’d never even been inside it. I had to admit I’d never given the idea of gardening much thought, but I had formed the general impression gardeners were gardeners because they couldn’t find better jobs. The idea that Skye, who could have filled her time in a million other ways, chose to work hard in the greenhouse surprised and intrigued me.