Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 19

(Chapter 8 continued)

“I may have lost my wife three years ago, but I remember how we came to be together. Ah, what a beautiful woman. She was my best friend for years before I ever kissed her. I had always thought love at first sight was a powerful thing. She showed me how love from friendship can be just as or more powerful.”

“I don’t remember how to make friends,” Robert said softly, his eyes lowering so he only saw dirt. Brown. More brown. A reminder of how dull his life was, perhaps? Maybe it was time to repaint his study. “I haven’t had to worry about making friends for eight years. I was a teenager the last time I made, or even had, a friend.”

Nigel shrugged. “You’ll be rusty, but I’m sure you’ll remember in time. Start off by finding something you have in common with her. I’m sure it’ll provide a great springboard.”

“Something in common,” Robert mused, turning over ideas in his head and just as quickly discarding them. He shook his head. “I just met her last night. All I know is she likes books.”

“Start with what you enjoy and see if she enjoys them as well,” Nigel said mildly, his hands lightly resting on his knees, his finger tapping a slow rhythm. It was a tic Robert knew well, one that told him to focus. Nigel wasn’t there to give him all the answers, but to guide him. “But perhaps you have been known to enjoy a tale from time to time?”

Understanding dawned on him. “I loved the fairy tales my mother used to tell me. They’re not books, but they are stories. Perhaps I should see if she enjoys such stories as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood as well.”

“Perhaps you should change your clothes before marching off to find her,” Nigel said as Robert rose, determination in his eyes. “Your mother would not appreciate it if you track dirt into the Hall. She only tolerates your garden so far.”

Robert looked down at himself. He caught sight of the dirt ground into the knees of his trousers and the mud caking his boots. There were smudges of brown and green on his shirt and a thorn had torn a diagonal in one sleeve.

“I suppose you’re right.” He looked out over the garden, refusing to think of how many rose plants there were. “I don’t want Elaina to know about the Garden of Girls just yet. No need to scare her off on day two.”

Robert heard Nigel pat his knees and stand before saying, “That’s the spirit, my young master.”

Catch up with the story here.

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