The Gardener



"Okay, you smelly pup... time for a bath," Cat said to the little beagle. As the word bath left her lips the dog turned and ran for the pet door leading to the backyard.

"Not going to get away so easily today, my little friend," she chuckled as he attempted to push the locked pet door. Just as she bent down to pick him up the phone rang. "Well, I guess I should get that. I am on call this weekend, but you, my friend, still have a date with a bath," the blonde said.


"Hi Catherine, it's your Mother," she said in a chipper voice.

"Hello, Mother. How are you doing?" she said, knowing she was in for a long recount of her mother's social calendar.

"Oh, I'm fine. You know me busy with this and that."

Cat listened. True to her prediction, she heard all about the Ladies Auxiliary and the various other organizations her mother filled her days attending.

"And how is dad doing?" she asked, when her Mother finally slowed down enough for her to get a word in to the conversation.

"Oh he's fine, but enough about him. I have met the most fantastic gardener who did wonders at Mamie Elliot's house and I hired her to come over to your house to fix up that wreck of a backyard of yours."

"Mother, I told you I don't need a gardener!"

"Catherine, I have already paid her to come over next Saturday. So if you don't want her after that then I can't stop you."

"Okay mother I will give her a shot, but I still say my backyard isn't a wreck."

"I guess if you like the minimalist look, then it isn't a wreck," her mother said with a bit of exasperation in her voice. "Don't forget, you promised to attend the Ferguson's Anniversary party next Saturday night. I really do want you to come, there is someone I want you to meet."

"Oh Mother, I thought you had given up on trying to fix me up with the son of one of your friends."

"Catherine, darling, you know I have accepted that you are gay. But I don't want you to spend the rest of your life alone. It's not one of their's Lillian Ferguson's daughter. She is a very nice young lady. She was a Wall Street investment lawyer, but decided to cash in her investments, before the market dropped any lower, and come back home to start her own business."

"Now you've gone way too far. I don't need my mother fixing me up with dates. Besides, how do you even know her daughter is gay?"

"I know because Lillian told me."

"So the two of you have decided to just throw your lesbian daughters together?"

"That's not it at all. Besides, Lillian isn't as open minded as I am. She still thinks it's just a phase, and that Virginia will change once she meets the right man."

"Please Mother, just stay out of my love life! You can fix my backyard, but it just isn't right for you to try to fix me up with dates."

"We'll see dear. Just let me try to fix you up with a woman, this one time."

"Okay mother. If I agree this one time, will you please leave my love life alone?"

"Certainly dear, just do this as a favor for me."

After they said their good-byes, Cat hung up the phone. Yep, that's my mother, Amanda Sinclair. She's just like a steamroller, you can't stop her once she gets an idea in her head. But she has really gone too far now. There's just something weird about having your mother try to fix you up with another woman. She doesn't even know what kind of woman I like. Virginia Ferguson...even the name sounds like some snobby, spoiled bitch. An attorney...Yes, Mother, that's just what I need someone--who is trained to win arguments!

Cat was still recovering from the last four years she spent with Linda. When they broke up, she finally told her mother some of the things that Linda had put her through, especially during their last year together. Cat couldn't bring herself to discuss, with her mother, the physical abuse Linda had also inflected on her.

During their time together, Linda managed to alienate all of Cat's friends. Even her best friend Liz barely talked to her anymore. Cat turned to her Mother for comfort, and they had grown even closer. Now her mother was pushing Cat into redeveloping a social life. Having accepted that Cat was gay, she was concerned about her being alone all the time. She wanted her daughter to be happy, even if that meant she shared her life with another woman. Cat found it strange having her mother insist she go to places and events where she could meet a "proper young woman," as her mother put it.

Cat's attention returned to the matter in hand. "I see you," she said to the little beagle that was peeking out from under the couch. "Pepper, you are still getting that bath!"

As she grabbed the dog, she was still thinking of the discussion with her mother. The phone rang again. She snatched up the phone quickly and said jokingly, "Yes, Mother, I said I'd be what?"

"Miss Sinclair?" the voice on the other end of the phone asked. Oh shit...I forgot I was on call. Her professional demeanor returned and she answered, "This is Catherine Sinclair, how can I help you?"

"This is the Claims Service Center, and there has been a serious car accident..." The voice went on to explain the situation. Being the "on call" Adjuster this weekend, she knew she was going to be spending the next several hours at a local hospital. It was her job to meet with the injured person and their family and assist them in whatever way she could. She hated this part of her job. She knew she would immediately face hostility, and would have to try to make them understand that she really wanted to help. But mostly, she hated to feel the sadness and fear of the families. No matter how much she tried, she couldn't distance herself from their pain.

"You're off the hook for now, you little sneak," Cat yelled at Pepper. "But I promise you, you will be getting that bath very soon." Then she ran out the door, headed towards University Hospital.

Thank goodness it's finally Saturday. The week had been a very long one. The call on the previous Saturday, interrupting her plans to bathe Pepper, had been for the Jansen's. Their two teenage children had been seriously injured in the accident. Cat had spent many long hours with their parents at the hospital. Thankfully they would both make full recoveries.

She still had all her other Claims for the week, and had stayed late every night to work on them. Finally this morning, she would be able to give Pepper his bath. Pepper wasn't too happy about it. The dog heard the water running, and had gone into hiding. Poor Pepper, I've neglected you all week, I will have to make it up to you this weekend, I promise...but first, your bath. Cat, still wearing only her long tee shirt, was searching for the little dog when she heard the doorbell. Must be some sales person. She went to the door all set to tell whoever it was that she wasn't interested.

"Who is it?" She asked from behind the closed door.

"It's Gina," a deep, smoky voice said.

"I'm sorry, I'm not buying anything today."

"Uh, Catherine, I'm not selling anything. I'm Gina Wilson. Your mother hired me to work on your backyard today," she said through the closed door.

"Backyard? Oh shit, you must be the gardener. I'm sorry, I forgot. Mother said you were coming today." Cat hurriedly grabbed the dog, locked it in the bedroom, and opened the door. She found herself staring into the most captivating deep blue eyes she had ever seen.

"Can I come in, or do you want to just unlock the gate so I can take my crew around the side?" She asked, as her deep blue eyes slowly traveled the length of Cat's body. The eyes took in the long blonde hair, slowly moving down the beautiful face, and down over the tee shirt to the firm long legs. The eyes came back up, finally stopping at Cat's green eyes. A sly smile settled on the corner of the lips.

Cat realized that she should've put on a robe, and could feel the blood rising to her face. She hated the way she blushed so easily. But Cat knew it was more than just a blush causing her blood to rise. She was embarrassed at her meager clothing, and she felt something else, as she reacted to the woman. She looked over the gorgeous woman standing in front of her. A few inches taller than Cat, she had her shiny black hair, pulled back into a ponytail, shoved through the back of a Mets baseball cap. She was wearing a green tee shirt with a logo of a lawnmower and the words "Gina's Landscaping" stretching out across the round of her breasts. The tee shirt tucked into a pair of tight, worn blue jeans.

"Well?" the voice was getting impatient.

Cat, get a grip! Take a breath and let her in. Cat opened the door further to allow the gorgeous woman to enter her house.

"Would you like to review the plans your mother went over with me last week?"

"My mother? Plans, what plans?" Shit, did I miss some of the conversation? I just can't concentrate.

"Last Wednesday, your mother met me here to take a look at your backyard. We worked up some plans to make it look, well, shall we say, like a flower garden instead of a pasture. We can review the plans and you can make whatever changes you would like...or we can start fresh. What do you want to do?" Gina questioned the pretty blonde standing in front of her.

"If my mother has decided on plans for my backyard, there is no reason for me to look at them. I learned a long time ago to just let her have it her way."

"I know what you mean," the blue eyes looked into Cat's green eyes. "My mother is the same. You would think, at my age, I could run my own life, but my mother still tries to tell me what to do. Not that I listen to her, I just let her think I do." They shared an understanding look.

"Tell you what, I'll send my crew to the back to get started on the basics, and we can look at the plans and discuss some alternatives."

"Okay. And call me Cat, please. Only my mother calls me Catherine."

Gina took the key Cat gave her to unlock the gate and went outside to start her crew working. Cat ran in to her bedroom to throw on a red tee shirt, which she tied at the waist, and a pair khaki shorts. Did she shave her legs this morning? Yeah, we're okay there, Cat. Shave your legs? It's not like she's going to be stroking your legs or anything...well, a girl can dream can't she? Oh shut up!

It had been a long time since someone had reached her like this woman was doing. She couldn't concentrate, couldn't think...hell, she had trouble even making complete sentences in this woman's presence.

Cat went to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee. She grabbed an extra cup from the cupboard when she heard Gina knocking on the sliding glass door. Cat motioned for her to come in.

"I assume the second cup is for me." The sultry voice spoke just inches from her neck, causing Cat to jump, spilling coffee on the counter. Cat spun around, finding herself face to face with the goddess who had shaken her world this morning.

Cat saw a slight grin tugging at those soft lips. Cat couldn't stop staring at the lips, then up to those eyes. She could feel her face turning red again. Does she know what she is doing to me? Looking again at the grin that remained on those lips... Oh yeah, she knows...shit.

Gina grabbed some paper towels from the counter and handed them to Cat. As Cat turned around to wipe up the coffee, Gina reached from behind her to assist. Cat felt the electrical jolt go through her when Gina accidentally brushed against her.

Trying to restore her breathing to normal, Cat picked up both cups. Slowly turning away from Gina, she took the cups to the table. She then grabbed the creamer and sugar, along with a couple of spoons to take to the table. Cat sat down, and offered Gina a chair. She put as much distance between the chairs as possible. Gina pulled the chair close to Cat's and sat, placing the diagrams on the table in front of Cat.

With the diagram in front of her, Cat tried to concentrate on it. Gina's long, slim fingers pointed out different areas as she explained the different types of plants and where they would go. Cat's mind kept slipping over to watch the hand, trying not to think of where she would like that hand to be. Get a grip girl. You are acting like you haven't had sex in years. When did you become so horny? Cat looked over to find Gina staring at her; their faces just inches apart.

"Well, what do you think? Hyacinths?"

Cat could only stare, her mind blank. Seeing Cat's eyes move to her lips, Gina smiled a slow seductive smile. "You want to kiss me." A statement, not a question. Gina slowly moved forward until her lips brushed Cat's. Softly, slowly their lips met. Cat felt herself responding. Her lips pressing, opening slightly. Their tongues began a tentative dance, slowly circling. Cat could feel herself moving in towards Gina, as Gina's right hand reached to touch her back and help guide her. Catherine! Get a grip!

Cat suddenly pulled back. "I'm sorry, I'm not really like this. I uh...just...." Cat got up, taking her coffee cup with her. She started pouring herself a refill.

Gina came up to stand behind her. "My fault, I must have misread your signals."

"Well I,'s just that...oh shit! I haven't been interested in anyone, or anything since I broke up with my ex. She was well...she just wasn't a very nice person. I've kept myself involved with work and my dog since, and sworn off women. Hell, I've sworn off the whole human race! I don't know what got into me this morning." Cat just blurted it all out as she faced the coffee pot. "I'm sorry," she said, turning around. "And, very embarrassed," she finished.

Gina stood up, and walked over to stand in front of her. "Don't be. It's all right. I wasn't trying to push you into anything. I found myself instantly attracted to you and thought it was mutual.

"It was," Cat confessed. "But, I just, I'm not ready for anything. I've never been the kind of person who can casually go to bed with someone I just met. I don't really know what got into me." Go to bed? No one said anything about going to bed. It was only a kiss. Cat, you are such an idiot!

"Tell you what, let's just start over. Hi, I'm Gina Wilson and I am here to work my magic on your backyard." Holding out her hand to shake. "Why don't we just sit here and look at these diagrams. How about a cup of coffee? I hear the coffee here is great...if the waitress doesn't spill it all over the counter first."

Cat laughing, reaching out to shake the hand presented to her. "Hi, I'm Cat, and I've been meaning to do something about that waitress, but I think she's hopeless."

They both returned to their seats in front of the diagrams. Cat managed to refocus her thoughts on the plans sitting in front of her. They continued their gardening discussion and soon came up with a plan they agreed on.

Having come to a decision on what plants go where in the garden, Gina took the revised diagram outside to discuss it with her crew. Then she grabbed a shovel, and joined her crew working in the backyard.

Cat busied herself cleaning up the kitchen. With that done, she grabbed a book and sat in her favorite rocking chair. This chair just happened to have a great view of the backyard, through the sliding patio doors. From this vantage point, she had a good view of the dark-haired woman working in her backyard. Cat tried to concentrate on the book, but it was a lost cause. All she could think about was the woman tearing up her yard. Tearing up my yard, tearing up my mind, digging up long forgotten feelings.

What am I going to do? I really would like to see her again. No, she's probably the type who just goes around fucking anyone who strikes her fancy. She probably sleeps with half the women she works for. I certainly don't need anyone like that! Why is it the only ones who make me feel this way are trouble? Just once, I would like to meet someone who makes me feel this way who is also a nice, decent person. Still, Cat could not keep her eyes and her mind from straying to the gorgeous woman outside.

Pepper was yapping at the people who had invaded "his" backyard. Cat brought her attention back to Pepper. "Oh yes...bath time," she said as went to the bedroom to scoop up the little dog and headed towards the sink. "You are not getting away this time."

Having finished bathing and drying Pepper, Cat returned to her book, and the view outside. Pepper, no longer mad about the bath, jumped onto Cat's lap.

After managing to read a bit, Cat realized it was almost noon. She thought the group outside might be hungry. Yeah, I'm really concerned about "the group" outside! She put on some tea to brew and began making ham sandwiches, using the ham she had purchased for her lunches the following week.

As the tea brewed, she sliced up some lemon wedges. She poured the tea into a pitcher filled with ice. She grabbed tumblers from the cabinet, along with the sugar bowl, some spoons, paper plates, napkins and a bag of chips. Before opening the patio doors, she locked Pepper securely in her bedroom. It wouldn't do to have the freshly bathed dog near all that tempting freshly dug up dirt.

Cat took the tray containing all the necessary items and headed outside. Placing the tray on the patio table, she walked over to Gina, who had been watching her arrival.

"I thought you all might be hungry, so I made some sandwiches for everyone."

She was rewarded with a slow, sexy smile. "Thanks, I'll tell the guys."

Cat returned to the table. She poured herself a glass of tea and waited for everyone to join her. She surveyed the work that had been done on her yard. So far, it looked only like a major demolition crew had arrived.

Gina and the three men walked over to the table. Gina introduced the crew to Cat. Gina sat next to Cat as the three men grabbed other chairs. All four of them began devouring sandwiches and chips, washed down with liberal amounts of iced tea.

"Fresh brewed...nice." Gina said to Cat as she drank the tea.

"Thanks," Cat replied. She couldn't help but notice the sweat rolling down Gina's smooth biceps. Such nice arms. She looked back up, only to realize that Gina had been watching her admiring the arms. Gina graced her with another of her slow smiles. Cat could feel the blood rising to her face once again. What is it about this dark-haired woman? Whenever I am near her, my body keeps reacting to her. Then she always seems to catch me at it. This is so embarrassing.

The guys finished their meal, and returned to work. Gina remained where she was, looking at Cat.

"Thanks for the meal, it was very nice of you."

"It was the least I could do, after all the hard work you guys are doing on my yard. Although, I have to say it certainly looks even worse now than it did before." Cat said, as she looked at all the dirt piles and holes winding their way around her backyard.

"I know it looks bad now, but I promise you it will look great when we finish tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? I thought my mother just paid for Saturday."

"She did, but when I saw what could be done with this area, I thought it would make a great addition to my portfolio. I can call Sunday's work 'advertising expense', and just write it off. When I came over with your mother, I took some great 'before' pictures."

"Oh you really know how to sweet talk a girl... 'Hi, guess what? You have the honor of being the before picture!'." Cat said, laughing.

"It's not like's just the yard. I'm quite sure you have never been the 'before' picture in anything. And me...well, I'm still the 'work in progress' portion."

"I don't think so, you seem quite sure of yourself." Very sure of yourself. "I've never really had that confidence, and my ex sure didn't help me build any. I'm really sorry if I gave you the wrong impression this morning. I don't know what came over me, and you probably think I'm a total idiot."

"You won't believe this, but I'm usually not that forward either. I don't know, it just seemed so comfortable and natural. You make me feel comfortable." Gina smiled, almost shyly at Cat.

"Sure, you're not like that," Cat teased. "Sure you don't try to seduce a woman as soon as you walk into her house," she half joked. And I'm sure you're very successful at it.

"No, really I don't. Besides, your yard is only the fourth one I've worked on. The first my mother's; the second Mrs. Elliot, and the third was your mother's. I just moved here and started this business a few weeks ago."

" I'm practice now, is it? Don't expect pictures for your portfolio." Oh my God, did I say that? Cat laughed, as she blushed.

A dark eyebrow was raised, and a sly smile crossed Gina's face. "I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it..."

"Oh please, this has got to stop!" Cat continued laughing, as she blushed even brighter. "It's been so long since I just enjoyed talking and joking (flirting?) with anyone like this. But you are right about one thing...other than finding myself continually embarrassed; I feel comfortable with you too. And I haven't felt comfortable around anyone for a long time." How do you feel comfortable and embarrassed at the same time? I don't know how, but I do.

"So how long ago did you and your ex break up?"

"It's been over a year now. But I'm still trying to put my life back together. Linda was...well, like I said this morning, she wasn't a very nice person."

"So why did you stay with her?"

"Good question. I don't really know. I guess I didn't realize what she was, and what she was doing to me, until it was too late."

"And what was she doing?"

"Trying to take control of my entire life. Linda managed to push away all of my old friends. She even tried to keep me away from my family. She was very demanding, and if she didn't get her way...well, I paid for it. But she wasn't like that in the beginning. Why am I telling you all of this? But ok...I told you my tale of woe, how about you have a tale of woe to tell?"

"I thought you said I was the 'seducer of women.' If that's true, then I must not have a tale of woe." Gina smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

"So, you just go around breaking women's hearts then?" Cat followed the statement with a smile.

"I wish I was the person you think I am. No, I'm afraid you have the wrong picture of me. If you asked my ex, she would tell you that I am a very boring person. She enjoyed the nightlife, so we partied most of the weekend away, and often during the week too. I've never really enjoyed bars and such, preferring a movie and dinner, or better yet...a nice quiet evening at home reading a book or watching an old classic movie on TV. But, she had us out there every weekend. I tolerated it, because I thought I loved her. But when she started getting into drugs. I had to walk away."

"That's rough. I'm kind of a movie and dinner person myself. Hey, maybe we could take in a movie some time." Cat said, as a surprised look spread over her face. Did I just ask her out? I don't do that sort of thing.

"That would be nice." Gina smiled. "How about tomorrow after I finish your yard...and go home to clean up. I'd like to offer to take you out tonight, but I have this family function thing I have to go to."

"Actually, I'm doing a favor for my mother tonight, too. Tomorrow sounds great." Poor Miss Virginia Ferguson, you didn't have much of a chance before, now you don't have a chance in hell.

"Well, I should get back to work." Gina said, as she headed back to where the men were working. Cat smiled as she watched Gina walk away. I can't believe I have a date with this woman tomorrow! And I asked HER! What has gotten into you Catherine Sinclair?

As evening approached, Gina gathered her men and sent them to the truck. As she approached the patio door, Cat opened it.

"Well, we're off for tonight. I locked the gate. Is it okay if we leave the tools in your yard for tomorrow and can I keep the key until morning? Then we won't have to wake you up to let us in?"

"Sure, no problem. I'll probably already be up and have the coffee ready when you get here."

"Okay, well, I'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning."

As she watched Gina head for her truck, Cat started trying to figure what she would wear to the movie tomorrow night. Tomorrow night? Shit, I've got to figure out what to wear tonight! Something appropriate, but nothing that will attract any attention from this Ferguson woman. Mother, what on earth were you thinking?

After taking a shower, Cat started going through her closet, holding different outfits in front of her and checking the mirror. Many had already been discarded and were on the bed. No...too much skin. Leather? Definitely not! Okay, how about the basic black silk with spaghetti straps? It's short, but not too short. Add the pearl choker and you will look pretty decent kid. Just sexy enough to make Miss Ferguson sorry for what she will miss. Hey, when did I get my confidence back? Oh yeah...Miss Gina Wilson...Landscaping. A wide smile spread over her face.

Cat finished dressing. She added basic black pumps to compliment the dress and took one last look in the mirror. Cat, even I have to look pretty damn good. Feeling unusually happy, thinking about tomorrow, she drove to the Country Club. Turning the car over to the valet, she remembered Virginia Ferguson and realized this was going to be one very long evening. It will be over will be over soon, she kept mentally repeating the mantra.

Once inside, she began searching for her parents. Spotting them by the fireplace, talking to another couple, she went to greet them.

"Catherine, I'm so glad you're here. You know Lillian and Gerald Ferguson, you met them last year at my New Year's Eve party." Her mother smiled knowingly at Cat.

"Yes, I remember, how nice to see you again." She greeted both of them. They're alone, maybe she didn't come.

"Virginia should be back here in just a minute, she went to get her mother a drink." Catherine's mother said with a secretive smile. Oh, damn!

"Maybe I should go get myself one. I think I could use it." Cat told her mother, as she shot her a look that left no doubts as to what she was thinking. A good stiff drink! Maybe a shot, or two, or three of tequila--that should do the trick. She turned to head toward the bar.

As she turned, she saw the most incredible woman walking towards her, a drink in each hand. Tall, wearing a black pantsuit that was perfectly fitted to that gorgeous muscular body. Her eyes moving up, she saw a head of shiny black hair, and those same blue eyes that had so captivated her this morning.

Two sets of very surprised, but smiling eyes stared at each other as Gina walked toward the group.

"What are you doing here?" Gina asked first.

"Me? I'm here with my parents. What are you doing here?"

"This is the family function I told you about. It's my parent's 10th anniversary party."

Anniversary party??? Your parents??? The Ferguson's??? Cat's mind was trying to put it all together.

"You're Virginia Ferguson!" Cat stammered.

"No, I'm Virginia Wilson. Gerald's my stepfather. And don't ever call me Virginia again, or I'll just have to start calling you Catherine." Gina replied with, a teasing smile.

"What about that favor you were doing for your mother?"

Cat turned to look at her mother, with eyes that could kill. Her mother had watched and listened to the exchange between them. She couldn't have missed the chemistry they shared. Her mother returned Catherine's look with a smug "I told you so" smile. Mother, I don't know whether to kill you or to kiss you.

"Favor? Uh..." Cat just shook her head laughing. "Believe it or not, I am doing that favor right now, but I'll have to tell you all about it tomorrow, okay?"

The end?

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