“I don’t think so. They would be growing fine, then one day they would simply shrivel up and die. All of them at the same time. And it happened every time no matter what I tried to grow.”
He stopped and scratched his chin. “Hmmm… that’s strange. The only explanation I can think of is sabotage. It happened once to me while I was growing the biggest turnip ever recorded. One of my competitors came to visit, and after that my turnip plant started to die off. I was suspicious so I sent off samples of the turnip and soil to a lab and the results came back that the samples were poisoned.”
The first thought in my head was so unworthy and so unkind I immediately kicked it away and refused to even consider it any more.The rest of the morning was spent helping John. I actually loved working for him. He knew so much and it felt wonderful to work with someone so knowledgeable. Plus, I got the feeling he enjoyed having me around since I was quite happy to clean up after him.
It was nearly lunchtime when I flopped onto the tiled floor and laid flat on it. I felt exhausted, but in a good way. Then my gaze settled over to that place Luca and I had had sex and a sharp pang of arousal struck my core at the very vivid reminder. I shut my eyes and pulled my thoughts away from him. It was time to go back to the house, take a shower, and go visit my dad. I heard footsteps on the tiles and quickly opened my eyes.
“Refreshment for you,” Mary Jane said with a smile.
“Thank you,” I replied gratefully and rose to my feet.
I drained the tall glass of ice tea she had brought me and when I was done, relished the chill as it seeped into my bones. She’d already gone off to look at my rows of hard work, her words filled with compliments.
“You did all this,” she asked admiringly.
“Well, it’s all still soil” I laughed. “Nothing has germinated yet.”
“But the seeds are already planted right.”
“Yeah they are.”
She nodded, but her eyebrows furrowed at an unspoken thought.
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked, chewing her bottom lip.
“I’m not trying to be smart or anything, but why are you planting these when you’re only staying for a month? I mean, are you taking them with you, or are you staying for longer?”
Just a few days earlier, hearing that last part of her question would have made me shrug and tell her I was planting because I loved the feeling of soil between my fingers, but now I felt a great sadness at the reminder of my impermanence in Torrington Hall.
I loved that greenhouse, I loved working with John, I loved walking the cold landscape, and more than that I was falling for the owner of the estate. Even while I was working on the plants I missed him. He remained in my mind, his voice in my ears and his scent so poignant around me that I wondered if it had clung to me or if it was just the very deep recollection of it in my memory.
Either way, it brought a restlessness to my soul that made me feel sad and lost. And I hated it.
I looked at Mary Jane. “I know I will not be here to see them bloom, but I have loved planting flowers all my life and the joy for me is to grow something here on this fabulous estate that will go on flowering for long after I am gone, and hopefully John will find the same joy in them.”Chapter 37SkyeI went with Mary Jane to the house and ate my lunch. I was hungry and as ever it was absolutely delicious and I cleaned the plates of every last bit of food.
Afterwards I went up to my room to get ready to go visit my father, but while I was coming out of the shower Laura phoned to tell me not to come that day because her sister was coming to take them for a day out at the park. She asked me to postpone my visit until the next day. Then she passed the phone to my dad. He was in a grumpy mood. He hated Laura’s sister. I laughed and told him not to be so horrible. He grumbled some more then I blew him a kiss and laughingly told him I would see him the next day.
But once the call was over I stood in my towel in the middle of that beautiful room and felt sad all over again. I pulled on a warm jacket and went for a long walk. I ended my walk at the greenhouse. John was in his little office/storage room. He had a two-bar heater on and his feet were up on his desk. When he saw me through the glass he waved me over. He made tea and we had it together with one of Madam’s cakes in his warm cozy office. We talked about plants, and then he told me about his home country. He was born in Scotland and had come to the States when he was five. He was a good man. An honest and simple man. It felt good to talk to him. I would miss him. A lot.