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.
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Garden of Delights
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2015 Alice Gaines
"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.'"
The area in question wasn't hard to find. A wall of bricks over six feet high enclosed most of the area behind the nursery. Odd Wendy had never noticed it, but she'd never had any reason to come back here and had always assumed the space was a parking lot. The barrier didn't appear particularly new, either, because ivy covered a great deal of it. That had to have taken some time to grow.
She searched until she found the gate. Made of metal, it appeared quite capable of keeping unwanted visitors out. When she knocked, the sound seemed to reverberate around her, as if someone had sounded a gong. As the noise faded, she stared at the sign. "Positively no admittance" was no kind of welcome, but she had no choice about turning back. She needed to win the garden competition to get her business back on track, and Mrs. Chance had assured her the vegetation on the other side of the wall would give her a victory.
Finally, the door opened with a creak that also seemed to echo around her. A man stood on the other side. Somehow, the name Sage fit him. He wore a flowing robe of earthy colors -- browns, greens, and yellow like sunlight. His hair hung around his shoulders in thick curls of a rich brown matching his eyes. His expression reflected peace and relaxation. Exactly what you'd expect from someone who worked with soil and plants -- at least if their business partner and love interest hadn't abandoned them. Before she'd fallen head-over-heels in love with Jeff and had forgotten her roots, she'd felt that way often. This man seemed to offer to allow her to experience those feelings again. If she wasn't overanalyzing the situation. She was certainly staring at him, rather rudely.
"I'm Wendy," she said.
"Mrs. Chance must have texted you."
"I would have recognized you anyway, Wendy." He stepped aside. "Come in."
Okay, a little strange but nothing to worry about. Maybe the guy thought he was psychic or something. Mrs. Chance wouldn't employ anyone dangerous, and she certainly wouldn't have sent a female customer into a secluded garden with someone who'd try something with her.
"You're Sage?" she said.
"That's how I'm known."
"Is it your name?"
"If you like," he said. "But you didn't come here to discuss names, did you?"
"Mrs. Chance says you have special plants back here. I have a garden show to win."
He smiled in the indulgent way you do to a child who's said something entertaining but not overly intelligent. "You can win whatever you want with my plants. The trick is figuring out what you really need."
"Sure thing, Sage. Maybe you can advise me." He seemed to have a cryptic sort of ancient wisdom thing going on. Maybe he communed with the plants and the extra attention made them grow well. If so, a few lessons from him might help. After the way Jeff had left, she was low in the good vibes department.
He turned and headed down a path between some shrubs, his footfalls crunching on gravel as he went. Everything was perfectly manicured back here, as you might expect from the finest part of a nursery as excellent as Mrs. Chance's.
Tree roses lined their path, giving off the most amazing perfume. For the first time in days, Wendy's shoulders went down to their normal position, and she could take even, deep breaths. She followed Sage without worrying where he was leading her or what he'd show her. In this garden, nothing mattered but the warmth of the sun, the call of birds, and the scent of fertile earth and flowers.
As her sense of time slipped away, so did her perception of distance, but honestly, they'd been walking for a while with no end in sight to the path.
Sage had moved ahead of her, and she had to increase her pace to keep up with him.
"Say, Sage," she said with a bit of breath to her voice. "Are we still at the garden center?"
"We're not at the center of the garden yet," he answered.
That didn't answer the question, so she put a hand on his arm to stop him for a minute.
"Where exactly is the center of the garden?" she said.
"Where is the center of anything?" he answered. "Right in the middle."