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Seducing the Gardener

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“GET OUT!” I yelled.

“Daphne, be reasonable,” he pleaded. “It was nothing!”

“Nothing, huh? Nothing? Plastering your body up against some no-nothing in a bar?”

“It was just a night out — she doesn’t mean anything!”

“It means something to me — you’re just a waste of space! Get out of my life!”

“I didn’t do anything!”

“I saw you! I walked in the bar! I saw it with my own eyes!”

“Daphne!”

“SHUT UP! I’ve had it with this! I can’t live with you any more! I can’t deal with the snide comments, the gaslighting, the constant belittling, the put-downs, the ‘oh-I’m-so-much-better-than-you’ constant one-upping! GET OUT!”

Raymond grew angry. “Listen, woman! I won’t take any more of this! If you -“

I pushed against him, so that he staggered down the front door step and onto the garden path. “Get out, get out, get out! I can’t stand the sight of you any more! Get lost!” I saw Eddie with the lawnmower out by the garden gate. He looked astonished.

Raymond shook his fist at me. “How dare you treat me like this!”

“Treat YOU?”

“I’m warning you — now you’ve pushed me, I’ll be back — and I’ll do a lot more than push you!”

“You dare lay a finger on me, I’ll call the police! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” In a furious temper, I grabbed the front door and slammed it shut in his face.

Raymond continued to yell at me as I walked down the hallway of my own home towards the kitchen. Placing my head in my hands, I burst into tears. Raymond starting banging his fist against the door, again and again.

“Go away!” I wailed, hoping he couldn’t hear me from this distance.

The banging continued for another thirty seconds or so. I sat down at the kitchen table and looked back at the front door. There was silence. The kitchen window was open and I could hear birds singing in the back garden. It was another sunny day in June, in pretty Summerville, South Carolina.

My family had lived here for generations, just like Raymond’s, although his family were a lot more well-to-do than mine. Yet this house was new for me. My family’s ancestral home was downtown but those houses were small and belonged to the historic area. After Granny died, Mom and Dad took over the ‘main house’ (as we called it, despite it being the smallest any of us owned). Granny Everson had left me part of her inheritance, which was double-sized since Grandpa died seven years earlier. She had given Grandpa’s larger inheritance to the eldest and youngest of her three children, since they had relatively normal-sized homes but small families, with one child each, while she had given the house to Dad, her middle child, as his inheritance, but no money, figuring the house was worth more than any money she had (which was correct), because he had three kids. As for her own money, she shared it equally among her five grandchildren, of which I was the eldest of Mom and Dad’s children. That money, together with the money I had earned in my twenties as a real estate manager in Charleston after I finished uni, meant that I could afford a mortgage on this place. With house prices on the up in Summerville and a new job closer to the family that paid well, I figured I would make a down-payment on this larger place in the ‘burbs as an investment in the future.

However, my boss’s contact at another firm had wanted me to meet Raymond, one of his employees at another real estate firm. I hadn’t been too interested at first, yet he had been insistent, charming me and offering coffee dates. Feeling new in an area where I didn’t know anyone, I guess I had been feeling overwhelmed, as we had quickly become an item. The sex was average but things had been OK until he lost his job, when he had started frequenting bars. We had often gone to bars earlier in our relationship, so I didn’t think much of it at first. Then he started drinking too much, then I had heard rumors from people at work that they had seen Raymond with other women.

Last night I had shown up at the bar where he usually went and seen him making out with some blonde, and that had been the last straw. He had slept on the couch last night, but now this row. I don’t know what to do any more, but what I do know is that I don’t need this in my life. Everything had been great until I had met Raymond, and as far as I was concerned, he needed to leave my life now. I’m thirty-three and not a kid any more. I don’t need this junk. He can find some other woman to be a loser to.

There was a tap on the back door. “Miss Everson?”

It was Eddie, the gardener. Bummer, I didn’t want him to see me like this. “What is it, Eddie?” I called out.

Eddie poked his head around the open door. “I’m done for today — but do you need to mow the back lawn on Wednesday?” He noticed my tear-streaked face. “Are you OK?”

I stood up from the kitchen table, and rubbed my forearm over my face. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, not believing my own words 100%, but hoping they would be able to live up to reality in a short time. I don’t believe in telling lies; but I do believe in future truths. “That would be great, thanks, bonus veren siteler Eddie. Same time, yeah?”

“Yeah, 8:30.”

“Great.” Eddie Dalton stood in the doorway, obviously wondering whether to intervene. His short mop of dirty-blond hair, sweat-stained green T-shirt filled out by a masculine, hard chest that had obviously seen some work in the gym, faded blue jeans ripped at the knees and scruffy, white sneakers emphasized a moderately handsome face, with slightly full lips, a strong jawline, aquiline nose and dark eyes set below a wide, wrinkle-free forehead that revealed his twenty-two years walking the face of the earth. Right now, though, that face looked concerned. “Is there anything else I can do to help?” he asked, gingerly.

“Not really, ” I smiled, weakly. “Thanks for asking. I guess I’m old enough to handle my own junk. I don’t need anyone else getting involved.”

Eddie hesitated, fidgeted slightly, then spoke. “I think I need to tell you — I saw your boyfriend Raymond banging on the front door. He kept it up for quite a while, so I came over to tell him to cool it.”

“What!”

“He chewed me out with some choice words, but I told him to knock it off and get his backside moving out of here, or else I would call the cops.”

“Oh, Eddie! You needn’t -‘

Eddie put up a hand. “It’s OK, no sweat. He stomped up the path, headed for his car and drove off in a huff.”

“I don’t want you getting involved; you don’t have to -“

“It’s totally OK, Miss Everson; but he can’t behave like that — that’s crazy behavior. You’ve got a right, and I figured he was stepping over the line. If he does it again, I think you should call the police. That’s abusive.”

“Well, I know that, but — you didn’t have to go to that trouble!”

“Don’t worry about it — it’s no problem, like I said. I’m just concerned about what he might have done if I hadn’t been here.”

“I hadn’t -“

“He might have come around the back through this door, and if you weren’t in the kitchen…”

“Well, when you’re not here, I keep the side gate locked,” I explained.

“Still, if he was determined, he could try to climb over it — I know it’s a big heavy, wooden thing, and tall, but it’s not impossible to get over it.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to be careful to lock the back door when I’m upstairs or at the front of the house,” I thought, aloud.

“Right,” agreed Eddie. He stood there, thinking for a moment, a worried expression. “Listen,” he said. “I’ve noticed what time he usually shows up — kind of 9:30 or mid-morning — it would be no problem if you need me to swing by for an hour tomorrow, say, nine until ten, just in case he causes trouble — it would be no charge — I could do two hours Wednesday instead of three, and we would be even. I’ve got the free time.”

I put up both hands, defensively. “Oh, well, I don’t want you to go to any trouble, I mean -” Then I stopped. Come to think of it — that would be handy. “Er, well, actually,” I continued, wondering just how much trouble Raymond might become, “That would be kind of helpful — not for a long time, maybe just a week or two or until this stuff dies down -“

“Yeah, sure, my pleasure,” smiled Eddie, his boyish grin lighting up the room. “Besides, I can rake the leaves and do a few small bits that I wouldn’t have time for usually — it’ll be good for the garden.”

I crossed my arms and smiled at him. “Well, I guess you would be the expert on that.”

He smiled. “All right, Miss Everson. I’ll see you tomorrow at nine, then. I hope you keep well and safe in the meantime. Here’s the gate key.” He handed me the keys to the side gate.

“Yeah, sure, you likewise,” I replied, with a grin.

“See ya.” Eddie turned and went out.

I watched him walk around to the side gate through the kitchen window. Opening the gate, the heavy wooden door closed noisily behind him with a loud click.

Well, hmm — what a day, I thought. Perhaps Eddie was right — better safe than sorry. Still, I’d better get on. Turning back, I walked out of the kitchen and along the hallway. I stopped at my long, vertical mirror on the wall. Somewhat scraggy blond hair, wavy and shoulder-length, framing a still line-free pale complexion looked back at me. A pink cotton blouse, slightly baggy, showed the outline of my 32C breasts — average-sized but shapely. Not that the shape was all that visible right this second, but I was proud of them, as they still looked youthful and perky, despite my being thirty-three years old. The blouse led to some white, tight jodhpur pants, accentuating my long legs; and these led to some cute, black velvet ankle boots.

I dried my tears and went upstairs.

The next day at breakfast, I was enjoying a mug of coffee. I had taken a week off work, figuring I could use up some of my two-week vacation time to enjoy the hot, June weather. I had hoped Raymond and I would spend some quality time together. We had both been busy in the last six weeks or so, working flat out at our respective jobs; we had arranged a concomitant week bedava bahis off, figuring we could go out fir picnics, go shopping downtown, maybe do some home improvement, or anything where we could basically hang out; yet Sunday’s big flare-up about the bar had already killed all my plans for this week, so now I had endless hours of nothing to do.

It was another sunny day outside and everything felt like summer in Summerville. I suppose I could still go out to picnics, for shopping and all the other things I had planned. Maybe I could call a friend – we could meet up someplace and go into town, or else grab a bite to eat, or maybe just hit the supermarket for some groceries, then come home to cook together and reminisce over some white wine. Hmm! Yet — bummer! I had wanted to do this with RAYMOND, not some long-time girl friend, and I really didn’t fancy just doing it all alone, despite how I considered myself a free woman, fully able to enjoy my life on my own terms.

Now I had to worry about Raymond showing up and causing scenes, and I grimaced as I considered how that was highly likely to wreck all my vacation plans. Would I need to stay indoors the whole week, just in case he comes around when I’m out and does something reckless or dangerous? My heart sank at this.

Sighing, I got up, then washed the dishes, bringing my cereal bowl over to the sink. Whatever. Just lie low for a while and see how things pan out.

About half an hour later, the phone rang. “New phone, who dis?” I began, when I saw Raymond’s number.

“What? Is that Daphne?”

“I dunno.”

“Look, it must be you — I recognize your voice! Quit playing around. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry about what happened yesterday. I lost my cool and I said some things I regret. I wanna start over. Can we possibly, you know -“

“Listen, Raymond, I don’t need this in my life. I took a week’s vacation to spend time with you – and only you – and you blew it. This isn’t the first girl I’ve heard about — word gets around, and I’ve been informed that you’ve been hanging out with maybe two or three more.”

“Oh, yeah? Who told you that?”

“Real estate in Summerville’s kind of a small industry, Ray — everyone knows everyone, you know that. All it takes is a coffee with a few of the women contacts I know, and I can keep up with all the gossip.”

“What! Honestly, you women can’t be trusted with anything. Women!”

“I won’t put up with your sexist garbage, either, Ray. You can SHUT UP talking like that!” I retorted, heated.

“I’ll say what I like, woman,” replied Raymond.

“Ugh, you disgust me,” I said. “Misogynist trash!”

“Right, that’s it, it’s over between us,” announced Raymond.

“It’s already over, Raymond — I ended it yesterday, remember?”

“I’LL SEE TO IT YOU REGRET THIS!”

“I’ve regretted knowing you for some time already, Ray,” I countered, calmly.

“You’ll regret it even more by the time I’m finished with you,” he threatened.

I became deadly serious. “You set foot near my house, I’ll call the police on you!”

“We’ll see about that!” cried Raymond. He hung up.

I put down my cellphone. I was worried about what he would do, even though outwardly, I felt calm.

There was a tap at the window that startled me. I turned suddenly to see Eddie’s kind face outside in the back garden. He was wearing the same jeans and sneakers, but this time he had a tight, white T-shirt, with short sleeves that showed off his toned biceps.

“Oh, come in, Eddie,” I said, moving forward to unlock the back door. I let him in and he stood there.

“Any news?” he asked.

So I filled him in on the phone call that had just taken place.

Eddie frowned. ‘Well, it just happened right?”

“Just seconds before you came in,” I replied.

“Well, he won’t be here just yet,” remarked Eddie. “If he’s planning to come over, he’ll either show up in a hurry by himself or else make a plan and come later.”

“What kind of plan?” I asked, alarmed.

“Oh, not much, I expect — he’ll just need time to get his thoughts together and decide what to say, I imagine. In which case, he’ll come over a little later, if he’s planning to at all.”

“Hmm, I see,” I said, not quite understanding him. “I hope you know what you’re talking about.”

Eddie looked at me. “Frankly, I don’t know what he’ll do. It’s just that if he actually comes over super-fast, that just tells me he’s more out of control than I expected.”

“Uh-huh.”

Eddie raised his eyebrows at me. “Right, Miss Everson. I guess I’ll head back outside to the garden to do a few bits and odd jobs. I’m happy to be here for an hour or so, to make sure you’re OK.”

I smiled at him. “Thanks, Eddie. You’re a good man.”

He grinned. “I hope so.” He turned and went out into the back garden.

I watched him as he headed off towards the wooden shed at the end of the garden, that had all the tools inside. I busied myself organizing the kitchen.

After about ten minutes, he popped his head around the door. “Keys?” he asked.

“Oh, deneme bonus yeah,” I responded. “Here.” I gave him the keys for the side gate.

“Thanks.” He went back out. I looked out of the side window of the kitchen and saw Eddie jerk his thumb towards the front garden.

“Right!” I yelled.

He unlocked the gate, carrying a shovel, fork, trowel and other implements out to the front garden.

With him out of my range of sight, I figured I would finish up in the kitchen. Ten minutes later, I was done. What now? I felt a frisson of anger. Stuff Raymond and his nonsense! I wanted to go out to enjoy my vacation! Yet here I was, moping around the house like some middle-aged housewife, dusting the mantelpieces in the living room and washes the dishes in the kitchen — and all this with all that glorious sunshine outside — and I can’t go out!

Annoyed, I made a halfhearted attempt to clean the living room.

Some minutes later, the doorbell rang. Oh, no. With the vain hope that it might be an innocuous postal worker, I sneaked a peak through the net curtains. BUMMER! It was Raymond!

With a deep breath, I considered my options. Eddie was right — Raymond WAS our of control. Sucking air between gritted teeth, I girded myself as I headed for the front door. Come on, let’s get it over with.

I arrived at the front door and opened it. “Hi, Raymond,” I began, without enthusiasm.

“Hear this, woman,” threatened Raymond, wagging his finger at me. “Let me in, I want to speak with you.”

I held the door close to, poking my head out. “You can speak to me here,” I replied.

“Open the door!”

“I don’t need to.”

“Do as I say!”

I frowned in anger. “You can’t order me! I’m not your slave!”

Raymond used his hand to push against the door and hissed, “Open the door I said, woman, or I’ll knock your brains out!”

“RAYMOND!” yelled a voice.

I saw Raymond look startled. He turned and suddenly, I saw Eddie hove into view.

“Get away from her!” shouted Eddie.

“What are you doing here?” demanded Raymond.

“Minding my own business, until you showed up,” retorted Eddie, sharply. “I suggest you do the same.”

“What on earth?” Raymond walked away from the door and across the grass towards Eddie, who was standing there with the shovel. “I don’t take orders from the gardener. I believe you take orders from me.”

Eddie raised his eyebrows. “I don’t recall ever being paid for my services by you.”

Raymond stood over him. He was taller than Eddie, maybe six feet two inches, but was thinner, with a lighter build. He was wearing a gray suit and pants, with a white shirt and a checked tie, and had short, dark hair with a side parting. He pointed at Eddie. “You can shut your mouth! I don’t wanna hear any more lip from you!”

“You’ve got no right hanging around here, harassing Daphne!”

“Since when is this your business?”

“She’s my boss and I hope she remains so,” Eddie responded.

“So you take orders from a woman, do you? I should have thought, coming from a overgrown brat like you! What is this, anyway, extra cash for college? Get yourself a proper job!”

“Get lost and get out!”

“Oh, yeah?” cried Raymond, shoving Eddie back. “Oh, yeah? Gonna make me, huh?”

“Stop it, Raymond!” I wailed, yelling out from the front door. “All the neighbors can see!”

Raymond turned back to me. “That’s why I wanted to come inside, stupid! Open the door!” He ran towards me suddenly, swiftly increasing speed to barge down the door.

I saw Eddie sprint towards Raymond. The younger man grabbed Raymond’s shoulder.

Raymond furiously turned around and tussled with Eddie. “Get off me!”

“Get away from the door!” cried Eddie.

Raymond aimed a weak punch at Eddie’s abdomen. Eddie pushed back, his hands on Raymond’s shoulders.

“Don’t tell me what to do!” managed Raymond. This time he swung a punch at the side of Eddie’s face. It made contact, and Eddie staggered back. He grabbed Raymond’s waist with one hand, then delivered a punch to Raymond’s stomach. The taller man fell back, almost on the ground, but managed to right himself, punching Eddie back harder in the stomach. Astonished, Eddie landed a right-hander across Raymond’s face, then Raymond returned to punch back at Eddie’s face. He then rained a series of blows against Eddie’s chest, yet Eddie withstood this, shoving forward with brute bodyweight to overbalance Raymond’s lighter frame. He delivered a sudden uppercut to Raymond’s chin, knocking Ray flat on the ground. Ray hastily got up, but then another sucker-punch to the stomach from Eddie folded his body. A further upper cut launched him towards the front gate, before Eddie took three steps forward to deliver a final right-hander to deck out Raymond onto the gravel near his car.

“GET OUT!” shouted Eddie. He turned back to me. “Daphne, call the police!”

Well, huh, I thought, as I made the call, feeling dazed.

Some twenty-five minutes later, with a police car outside, a police officer was interviewing Eddie out in the garden. I stood near him, helping to answer the officer’s queries. Raymond was totally beat, winded and gasping, leaned up against his own car, with another police officer standing over him, asking forceful questions, which Raymond struggled to answer. I turned to watch Eddie.

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