Landscape Lover, Pt 2

Where the hell is she going? He was thirsty, but he didn’t want to take her lemonade. She would linger. Try to talk to him. He made a great show of ignoring her and annoyance as she approached and interrupted them.

“Thought you guys might be thirsty.” she said chirpily.

Maddie is pretty in a way that was hard not to notice. A skinny, pale skinned, blue eyed, ginger girl who was a model and full-time college student with loads of personality. The sun gleamed on her riot of red curls and she smiled a knowing smile as she offered Mark a glass, then him. She was always whispering with her friend, Kerri. They looked at him and giggled all the time and he made a point to stay away from them.

Especially, Kerri. Kerri isn’t just pretty, she’s beautiful and oozes sex appeal. She’s lanky, all legs and breasts, and tall like Maddie, at least 5’11. He’d never known skin could be that dark before he met her. He hadn’t even been sure that she was real until she had spoken. She had a round, pretty face, large eyes, a mouth that looked too small, high cheekbones and a pointy chin. When she moved it looked like liquid pouring from a cup. Teeth that appeared unnaturally white in contrast to her unusually dark skin.

Suddenly, as if he had conjured her with his thoughts, she appeared, walking out to them. She had the nerve to smile at him. Christ! Didn’t this girl have any sense? She couldn’t be more than 21 or 22, a college student, model and best friend to his current client’s daughter. He wondered about their friendship briefly. They looked quite the pair walking around giggling and turned more than a few heads. Though they appeared to be complete opposites in looks, they really only appeared to be different colours of each other.

“Hey, Ian.”

Her milky voice pierced his thoughts and he nodded in her directed with a passive “Hmm”, willing everything within him not to look at her. This girl is a kid, he’s 36, a widower and not about to ruin the business relationship he had with Chris Cage by getting too friendly with his daughter or her friend.

Chris’s projects are always large, complex, challenging and gratifying. He would contact Ian’s company at least once a year, and with that contract came the guarantee of a year’s salary at least, whether the project lasted three months or nine. He also got tonnes of referral business, from Chris’s friends and business associates loving the work Ian did on Chris’s yard. He had clients waiting for months to have him do their landscaping. Kerri, whatever her last name was and her goddess of a body needed to leave him the hell alone.

He drained the glass and offered it back to Maddie without looking at Kerri, mumbling his thanks.

“So Ian, are you single?” Maddie asked as he turned away.

What? Mark choked on the lemonade he was still drinking, coughing profusely. Ian looked at her pointedly, just in time to see the horrified look on Kerri’s face at the question.

“What?” Maddie asked Kerri in a show of innocence. “How else are we going to find out?”

“Discretion? Ever heard of it?” Kerri answered, seemingly annoyed.

“You should have inquired yourself if you wanted discretion” Maddie replied.

She immediately returned her impatient gaze to Ian, clearly expecting an answer.

“That’s none of your business, Madelline.” Ian’s voice took on a note of authoritarianism as he shot daggers at her with his eyes.

“I’m making it my business. How else will a woman know whether you will be open to advances?” Maddie pushed back standing her ground

What the fuck? What is going on here?! He could hardly put his thoughts together as Mark began howling.

“I don’t want your advances!”

“I never offered them. I asked whether you are fair game if someone wanted to.”

This girl was clearly expecting him to answer her. Had she ever been told no her entire life? Before he could reply, Kerri threw up her hands, turned on her heels and hurried back into the house. He watched her go a little longer than he intended to.

Mark laughed so loud that Ian considered flooring him. With nowhere else to direct his anger, Ian turned it on Mark.

Be quiet! Or I will make you!” he thundered.

“Ian, there isn’t enough money on earth to make me stop laughing right now!” Mark informed him.

He knew it was true. When Mark got to laughing, nothing could stop him before he was ready to. As he considered what to say to Madelline Cage, She reminded him she was waiting.

“Well?” Maddie prompted.

“Who wants to know?” Ian asked, wondering if it was Kerri, or if they were having some teenage squabble over him.

“I do.” she said innocently.” I am asking, right?”


“Yes, I’m the one asking, or ‘yes’ you’re single?”

“Yes, Maddie, I am single.”

He braced himself for her response with a steadying breath, but all she said was thanks. Then she turned on her heel and left.

As she left, thunder clapped across the sky and the heavens burst open from a dark cloud. The sun was gone and Ian held his face up to it, welcoming the feel of the water against his bronzed skin. For a brief moment, while his eyes were closed, he imagined that she joined him in the rain.


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