“What is that god awful noise?” Jessica hid her head under her pillow, willing the sound to go away, but it didn’t. She peeked out and looked at the blue, digital numbers on her clock. Someone had the unmitigated gall to run a hedge trimmer at seven o’clock in the morning. It could only be one person. The next door neighbor who her mother couldn’t stop talking about.
She climbed out of bed, put on her slippers, and marched out of her room. She stopped in the bathroom long enough to only comb her fingers through her hair.
As she entered the kitchen, she saw her mother, Lorraine, standing at the kitchen window in her pink robe, one hand covering her stomach, one hand over her mouth.
“Oh dear. Oh dear. Look at what he’s doing to my honeysuckle,” Lorraine said.
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”
Not caring what she looked like, she went out the back door and stalked across the lawn. “What the hell are you doing to my mother’s bush?”
“Good morning to you too.” A tall man with chestnut colored hair, a cocky grin, and a dimple in his chin stood on the other side of the fence. She knew his name was Eric, thanks to her mother. “This bush is a honeysuckle and it was growing over the fence onto my property.”
“So you decided to hack it to death while everyone was asleep.”
“Aren’t you being a little overly dramatic? I didn’t hack it to death,” he said, throwing her words back at her. “I trimmed it.” He held the hedge trimmer high in the air, ready to slaughter what was left of the honeysuckle.
“Trimmed it? That’s not trimmed. You’ve destroyed its beauty.” The backside of the honeysuckle was a bunch of sticks. Gone were the leaves and flowers. It was merely a skeleton of a bush. “My father planted it for my mother who has been standing in that window, watching you cut it down.”
He waved to her mother. “Hi, Mrs. James.”
“Stop that. How can you smile and wave at my mother like you didn’t kill her bush?”
“I didn’t kill it. It will grow back in all its glory.”
“Will you take an ax to it then?”
Eric shook his head. “I didn’t realize how important this honeysuckle was to your mother. Aren’t your parents separated?”
“That is none of your business.” Jessica crossed her arms over her chest. Her parents’ relationship had nothing to do with what he had done.
“I thought the last time my daughter, Sophie, and I were at your house your mother told me that your dad was gone.”
Jessica nodded. “They might be separated. That doesn’t mean that my mother wants to see her honeysuckle annihilated.”
“You’re exaggerating. There’s still plenty here,” Eric said, grabbing one of the remaining leafy branches in his hand. “I didn’t completely chop it down.”
“You might as well have. It used to be full and beautiful.” She picked up an armful of branches that had fallen into her parents’ yard. “Look, at these. You’ve cut off all the blooms. It will take forever to grow back.”
“Good. That means it will take that long to come over into my yard.”
Jessica flung the branches at him. Eric spluttered and brushed them away.
“All my mother has done since I’ve been back is talk about how wonderful you are, but you’re a monster. What did this honeysuckle do to you?”
Eric picked some of the trimmings off his shirt. “All I was trying to do is get it off my side of the fence. I admit I’m not the greatest at pruning. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” He placed the hedge trimmer on the ground and put a hand over his heart.
“Yeah. Well, you . . .” Wait. He apologized.
“You were saying?” His blue eyes shone with amusement.
“Nothing. I’ll pass your apology along and I’ll tell her you promise not to touch it again.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Jessica arched her brow.
“I’ll try to restrain myself from taking my hedge trimmer to it.” He bowed his head, his dark hair flopping into his face.
“Thank you. Have a good day.” Jessica turned to walk back to the house.
“What is on your feet?”
Here we go. He was about to slam her footwear.
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