|Wendy has to win the local garden show. Not only does she need to save her business, but she also wants revenge over her former lover and partner who absconded with the company assets.|
Her local nurserywoman and friend directs her to a special place that can supply erotic plants for Wendy's exhibit. Sex sells, so she can't lose, right? What she doesn't count on is encountering a mysterious man named Sage who claims he's her guide. He guides her, all right, to physical intimacy more sublime than she's thought possible.
When Wendy commits the unthinkable in her efforts to defeat her ex-lover, only Sage can guide her back to the right path.
Normally, the sight of a garden center, newly stocked for spring planting, would make Wendy Stewart’s spirits soar, but she’d never had to worry about how to pay the bill before. And she’d never have guessed she’d be flat broke right before the biggest show of the season. Hell, she’d probably have to break her piggy bank to buy the six-pack of Early Girl tomatoes on sale for $2.99.
Mrs. Chance emerged from the storage area in back and headed straight for Wendy. She wore her serene grandmotherly smile as usual. Working with plants all day could give you a sunny outlook on life. Working with people, on the other hand, could sour your stomach, and Wendy had the incipient ulcer to prove it. She steeled herself for the encounter. She adored Mrs. Chance -- sincerely -- but she’d never had to ask for credit before.
“I’ve been expecting you, Wendy,” Mrs. Chance said. “You’ll need plants for the big garden show.”
“Sure will, Mrs. C.” Wendy pasted a smile on her face. “Thing is… I was wondering… we’ve known each other a long time, no?”
Mrs. Chance’s sweet expression didn’t falter. It was her trademark, along with the potting soil smudges on her fingers. “Jeff was in here the other day.”
“Oh, yeah?” Wendy’s stomach did a flop. “Buying stuff for the show, no doubt.”
“Practically bought me out,” Mrs. Chance said. “But I held back some of the best merchandise for you.”
Interesting. She hadn’t told anyone that, along with ending their romantic relationship, Jeff had also walked away with the assets of their business. Unless Jeff had said something, Mrs. Chance would have assumed Jeff was buying for the both of them.
“Really good of you,” Wendy said. “There’s one little thing I should tell you…”
Mrs. Chance crossed her arms over her chest and waited for Wendy to continue. Her smile had faded a bit. Wendy struggled for words but couldn’t come up with anything to sugarcoat the reality that she’d been screwed over royally by her ex-partner, in business and in bed.
“Jeff’s never been in here alone before,” Mrs. Chance said after a moment. “And he had quite a bill. He even bought my prize cymbidium orchid.”
Damn it all. Wendy had lusted after that plant for months, but Jeff had insisted it was too expensive. Now he’d have it for the flower and garden show. The rat bastard.
“Did he, now?” Wendy said.
“Figures,” Wendy grumbled.
“Is there something I should know?” Mrs. Chance said.
Wendy might as well spill the whole sorry story. Over the years, Mrs. Chance had been more than a supplier and even more than a friend. She’d acted as a mentor, teaching Wendy all sorts of secrets of how to tend for plants and flowers so they could perform at their best and make Wendy’s business -- and Jeff’s -- look great and get landscaping jobs.
“We’re no longer business partners,” Wendy said.
“So I gathered. A woman was waiting for Jeff in the car.”
“Yvette.” More bustline than brains that one, which explained why the woman adored Jeff so much. Her adoration fed his ego, which really needed no enhancement.
“The whole thing made me wonder what he was up to,” Mrs. Chance said.
“We broke up.” Might as well blurt it out.
“Hmmm.” Even Mrs. Chance’s sunny expression soured.
“And… well… as a result, I seem to be short of funds.”
“He took your money, didn’t he?” Mrs. Chance said.
“I’m going to get it back.” And she would, even if she had to sue his ass $and the person at the bank who let him loot their joint business account. “But for right now, I’m having what you might call a cash flow problem.”
“I can imagine you are.” Mrs. Chance didn’t have to add all the cash had flowed to Jeff. The fact that Wendy was here admitting to be penniless said it for both of them.
“There’s only one thing for you to do, then,” Mrs. Chance said. “You’ll have to win the Grand Prize in the show.”
“I’m going to need plants to do it.”
“You’ve come to the right place,” Mrs. Chance said. “I have lots of plants. Some most people aren’t even aware of.”
“I can’t pay you now.” Wendy fairly held her breath as she waited for an answer.
“Oh, pooh.” Mrs. Chance waved a dismissive hand. “You’ll pay me well enough once you’ve won the trophy and you have more jobs -- and money -- than you know what to do with.”
“My intention, for sure.” Not just to win the trophy but to wave it under Jeff’s nose to taunt him. That’d teach him to try to sink her business.
“Well, then, let’s get you started,” Mrs. Chance said. “I have plenty more cymbidiums and lots of annuals. You’ll want some rolls of grass for a lawn. We can put together a pool and fountain.”
“Wow, you really are thinking ambitiously.” The display was already planning itself in Wendy’s imagination. An enchanted waterfall surrounded by flowers with a gravel path leading past a reflecting pool.
“I have a way to guarantee you’ll win the competition.” Mrs. Chance leaned toward Wendy and gave her a wicked smile -- the sort of woman-to-woman thing that said “the bastard will be sorry he crossed us.”
“I’ve been wanting to tell you about something for a while,” Mrs. Chance said. “But I didn’t trust your partner with the knowledge.”
“I’m all ears.”
“I have a special section of my nursery for only my best customers. I guarantee you’ll find what you need there,” Mrs. Chance said. “In every sense of the word ‘need,’ if you get my drift.”
Wendy had never thought of her favorite plant lady as having ‘needs,’ if she got Mrs. Chance’s drift correctly. But the woman wasn’t all that old, and Wendy had never met a Mr. Chance. Could she have something or someone around who provided sexual services?
No, too weird. She wouldn’t even consider it. Although Mrs. Chance’s grin had taken a seriously lecherous turn. This was just a plant nursery, right?
“You want to go around to the back. There’s a walled-in garden. Knock on the gate that says ‘positively no admittance.’ I’ll text Sage to let you in.”
“Sage?” Wendy repeated. “Like the herb?”
“More like the learned one -- a sage. Everything back there goes through him.” Mrs. Chance put her hand on Wendy’s shoulder. Conspirators again. “You’ll like Sage, and I’m sure he’ll like you.”
“All right, Mrs. C., and thanks.” Wendy turned to head off toward the back of the nursery, but Mrs. Chance held her for a moment.
“Remember,” Mrs. Chance said. “The gate marked ‘positively no admittance.’”
Thursday, May 21, 2015
New release: Garden of Delights from Changeling Press