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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: How Does Your Garden Grow?
By Jacquelyn Horne
04/22/07


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Mary woke up groggy-eyed and weary from the workout in her garden yesterday afternoon. But the first thing on her mind was not roses and irises; it was her new neighbor and his advice on her gardening. Who did he think he was? She’d been working in that garden for at least three years, planting, weeding and watering. How could he find fault with just one glance across the fence?

The phone rang just as she was getting out of the shower. Annoyed, she answered a little too brusquely. “Hello, contrary Mary here.”

“Had your coffee yet,” giggled Sarah. “Sounds like you need it.” Sarah was not her best friend, but was fast becoming a very close second.

“Sorry, Sarah. I’m just having a bad morning. You’re right. I need my coffee.”

Although curious, Sarah stuck to the purpose of the call. “I just wanted to tell you that the mimosa plant I gave you yesterday will need a lot of sunshine. Don’t plant it in the shade.”

“Thanks,” mumbled Mary. “I’ve already been told.” Visions of the ogre next door crowded her mind. Well, maybe ogre was a little strong, but certainly tyrant would fit.

“Well, get your coffee, and we’ll talk later,” bubbled Sarah. “I want you to meet my cousin Greg tomorrow at church. He’s new in town and hasn’t met many people yet. Bye.”

“Wonderful, Sarah is matchmaking again,” thought Mary. Well, anything would be better than the blonde tyrant next door; who is probably already married anyway.

After her eye-opener coffee, Mary went to the garden to replant the offending mimosa in a more favorable habitat. She felt rather than saw his presence, and reluctantly raised her eyes to the top of the fence.

She saw him grinning above the fence. He really was good looking in a sarcastic sort of way. His gray eyes sparkled and his blonde hair showed signs of moisture, from a recent shower? She wondered if he was married, then chided herself. “What do I care anyway?” She didn’t like blondes.

She felt uncomfortable under his gaze. She must have a dirt smudge on her chin. She knew she was sweating, even though there was a cool breeze wafting around the garden. Her hands were dirty, so she tried to blow away the wispy dark hairs that kept falling in her eyes. Embarrassed, she turned her eyes and her attention back to the problem at hand, the disturbing mimosa plant. She adjusted her small frame so that her back was to him.

But her brain kept running even though she willed it to stop. She blushed as she realized her thoughts were not on the plant she was replanting, but, rather, on the nosy neighbor, and the strength that he probably had in those strong arms resting nonchalantly on the wooden fence.

“I’m glad to see you took my advice,” he gloated.

Intimidated, Mary could only come up with, “Yes, thank you.”

“How smug,” she thought. Then, “Mary Andrews, you’re a Christian. You can do better than that!” But she couldn’t. His very masculine form leaning on the fence kept her tongue-tied.

The mimosa replanted, Mary excused herself and went back into the house. She hibernated the rest of the day. Ashamed of her mixed feelings; astonished at her thoughts.

I’ve done fine thus far, Mary concluded. I’m 26, have a good job, I’m buying my own home and have many friends and a wonderful church to go to. What else do I need? Her subconscious wanted to inform her of the small emptiness in her life, but Mary refused to entertain it.

The next morning, Mary made her way to church. She stepped inside the dim, cool sanctuary and let it wrap its peace around her. She always felt better in the presence of God. And right now she felt a tranquility that only comes from him.

Looking across the pews, she spotted Sarah and was about to wave to her, when she saw a tall, blonde, very masculine, young man greet Sarah with a bear hug. The cousin? Oh, no!

Just then, Sarah discovered Mary and waved for her to come over. Mary left her refuge in the shadows and walked toward Sarah. The eyes of her new neighbor twinkled with recognition as the corners of his mouth lifted.

“This should be very interesting,” thought Mary, as she moved toward them and melted into the gaze that, in spite of her resistance, held mystery for her.


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This article has been read 902 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Christine Dunn04/27/07
I had a feeling that Sarah's cousin would be the guy next door! This was well written, though I did notice a few punctuation mistakes. Also, when writing the character's thoughts, it may be useful to use italics rather than speech marks.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/07
I enjoyed your story from the title to the end! Well done!
Sheri Gordon04/28/07
Very good romance story -- fits the genre perfectly. And the title is perfect. Nice job.
Julie Arduini04/29/07
What a nice romance here! I enjoyed reading this.
Cheri Hardaway 05/01/07
Great foreshadowing of "the cousin" being "the neighbor." I enjoyed reading this story. Nice job. Cheri
Rita Garcia05/02/07
You do know how to spin a good romance! Great job!
Esther Gellert05/02/07
I like a story that leaves you with a big grin on your face. This did exactly that for me.
Loren T. Lowery05/02/07
Interesting how the things we first reject can become what we end up cherishing most. I guess some might call it kismet. Enjoyed the way you tied everything together using the garden scene and the neighbor.
Laisa Jones05/02/07
Good one! It has all the elements of a romance.
Myrna Noyes05/02/07
Charming piece! It shows how first impressions can change! :) I did suspect that Sarah's cousin Greg would turn out to be Mary's nosy neighbor, but I very much enjoyed the unfolding of this story. Good job!
Sara Harricharan 05/02/07
Cousin=next door neighbor! Very nice. I like how you showed the conflicting emotions in Mary and especially how you wrote it all to such a smooth ending.
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/02/07
Absolutely wonderful story. Good job.
Pat Guy 05/02/07
This was really good - you made me feel the same about this guy - I would have retorted back that it was my FRIEND who told me about the mimosa. Hrmph! At least - that's the way I felt and that was good! You spun a really good romantic tale. Kudos girl!
Sara Harricharan 05/03/07
***Congratulations on your Highly Commended!***
Rita Garcia05/03/07
Congratulations on a much deserved win!!!
Cheri Hardaway 05/03/07
Hey Jacquelyn! Congratulations on being highly commended! Great job! Blessings, Cheri
Mo 05/03/07
Very nice! Congrats on your Highly Commended.
Edy T Johnson 05/11/07
I came calling, to thank you for commenting on my "Sparrow" story, and found this delightful entry to read. Congratulations on the "Highly Commended" award, too. Now, I want to know, What happens next?!