• Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 13

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 13

    (Chapter 6 continued) Robert laughed as he held out a chair to her, the one facing the door. “My mother’s idea. The women usually expect the grand dining room with the mile long table, extravagant foods, and servers at five foot intervals. This is her way of bringing them down a notch.” Elaina raised a brow as he sat across from her. “If you ask me, that sounds smart. After all, we’re here to keep you company, not bask in the throes of luxury.” He paused as he unfolded the simple paper napkin. “You and my mother might have more in common than we think.” He gave her a wry…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 12

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 12

    Chapter Six Abigail was another older woman. This time, there wasn’t such a huge age difference. She was only ten years older. She was a teacher who had just been laid off, very sweet and very obviously a Kindergarten teacher. Sometimes she treated me like a child, and now I understand why she was single. But she was nice and a lot of fun. Painting was her thing, so we spent a lot of time with paints and easels. I can’t say any of my works were masterpieces, but she was good for the soul, always encouraging. I was sad when she left, but her soul was too fragile for…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 11

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 11

    (Chapter Five continued) A sudden banging at the door made them jump. “Who could that be?” Poppy asked as James went to answer the door. “A jealous girl?” Lily ventured, shrugging. “No one was happy when only Elaina was chosen. You should have seen the murderous looks!” Loud, and rapid, footsteps thudded towards them. James could be heard demanding the person turn around and leave his home. His voice was angry, and Poppy had a sinking feeling that she knew who had just invaded their home. Bradley’s angry face appeared, James standing behind the slightly taller man, threatening to call the police. But Bradley was focused on Lily and Camille,…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 10

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 10

    Chapter Five Jane was much older than me. You could say I was going through a phase. Older women were simply much more appealing. My mother wasn’t happy, and that only further encouraged me. Jane was two decades older, quite matronly. She doted on me as though I were a favorite nephew. We passed many evenings with wonderful conversation. Sadly, she had word that her long estranged husband, who suffered from fugue, had turned up and wanted her back. I never heard from her again. I planted the Peace Rose in her honor. And I still hope to hear of her one day. When Elaina failed to exit Roderick Hall, Lily and Camille went…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 9

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 9

    (Chapter Four continued) “So, what would you like to talk about?” she asked. Robert took a moment to slowly stir some sugar into his tea. From the way his forehead creased, she was content to stay quiet and let him mull his words over. It was oddly refreshing to be in the company of a thoughtful and transparent man. “I had hoped you could help me,” he said at last. She jerked in surprise, nearly sloshing her tea all over her book. “Me? How could I help you?” “The short story is that marriage will free me from this prison.” He quickly held up a hand as a look, something…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 8

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 8

    Chapter Four Elizabeth. So mature. Well, she was ten years older than me. I could tell she didn’t really like me. But she did love the finer things in life. She held out as long as she could, the longest at four months, but even she cracked. She loved stilettos, so I planted the Stiletto rose for her. “May I ask why?” Robert’s voice was surprisingly melodic, a beautiful tenor with a dark silky thread. It was a voice she’d only ever heard in her head, while reading a novel during which she fell head over heels for the hero. Turning him down was going to be harder than Elaina…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 7

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 7

    (Chapter Three continued) Robert stood watching from his study. He saw Elaina’s fright, the gathering of girls, and the long minutes of words being exchanged. He tapped his foot impatiently, wondering what was going on down there. It had never taken a girl so long to run into the Hall and throw herself at him. It was then that he knew he’d chosen correctly for the first time in eight years. This girl, the one with the book, the one arguing with Nigel, was the one. He watched with interest as the girl declined Nigel’s hand and instead walked beside him. As she neared, he wished there was more lighting…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 6 - a story inspired by Beauty and the Beast

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 6

    (Chapter Three continued) A ripple of excitement flashed through the gathered girls as soon as the French doors opened and the butler emerged. Eyes of blue, brown, black, green, and hazel followed his every cool move. They brightened in hope as he approached before darkening in jealousy and thoughts of, “Why not me?” Whispers floated around the early evening air heavily scented with the aroma of invisible roses. Gowns rustled as girls moved to follow the seemingly oblivious butler who was, in fact, paying close attention to each and every one of them. Five years before, a young woman had screamed with rage when he walked past her and had…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 5 - a story inspired by Beauty and the Beast

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 5

    Chapter Three Olivia was beautiful and poised. Almost like a China doll. She was five years older than me and college educated. She was a wealth of knowledge I drank up. Unfortunately, she proved to be about as delicate as she looked. Fortunately, she helped convince my mother a college education would greatly benefit me if I was to inherit my father’s empire. The Blue Moon rose was planted in her honor. There was a reason why the house staff called it the Brown Room. It was always in hushed whispers or low mutters to each other. “The Brown Room needs a scrub.” “The young master is in the Brown…

  • Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 4 - a story inspired by Beauty and the Beast

    Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 4

    (Chapter Two continued) Two days later, Elaina found herself wrapped in an ice blue evening gown, her feet jammed into four inch high heels, her hair pulled back into a low chignon, and her favorite paperback pressed possessively to her chest. She stumbled along behind her friends as they and dozens of other women made their way up the long driveway of Roderick Hall. Her constant mutters and the uneven clicks of her heels assured Camille and Lily she was right behind them, so neither complained about her lagging behind. “Stop, Elaina.” Lily’s amused tone had her looking up sharply a step before she would have walked right into Camille,…