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I sat underneath a tree, trying to hold in my tears as it rained.

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Stupid, stupid Maria. No one chose me. I was always the second choice, the one left behind. Richard had a beautiful woman waiting for him- he didn’t need a silly greenhouse owner. He had someone better.

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“There you are.” A voice said suddenly, and I looked up to see Richard standing there. I stood up quick, taking a breath.

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“Richard,” I said evenly.

“Maria- I’ve been looking for you for an hour now.” He sighed. I tried to smile, as I cried a bit, thankful for the rain.

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“Oh, I’m fine, um… so, are you here to tell me that you’re no longer working for me? Because-“

“Maria, I’m not here to quit,” Richard said, looking at me. I blinked, and then chuckled brokenly.

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“Oh, so Erica is moving here? Sure, I can-“ Richard moved faster than I expected, hoisting me up into his arms, staring at me.

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“You are without a doubt the most… the most frustrating woman I have ever met.” He growled. “I’m not going back to Erica, I’ve found something so much better.”

“…You chose me?” I asked, unable to stop myself. “You really… you chose me?”

“Yes, and I always will.”

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-0-

Dating my only employee was… strange. I tried to remain professional while we worked and usually managed.

… Just not all the time.

Dating your employee seems… weird.” Lisa told me over the phone. Our daily chats had dropped to biweekly talks until she learned I was dating Richard. They picked up again but seemed off.

“It’s not that weird- he’s more like my fellow owner anyway. We’re a good team.” I told her cheerfully. “We’re really happy together.”

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“Well, I hope you know what you’re doing.”

I didn’t, but I didn’t care. I loved being with him, and I loved how he made me feel.

Our dates rarely ended up at the movie theater, though we did go sometimes. We’d go hiking around town, discover new thinks, strange places.

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We had randomly discovered a small circle of standing stones once, and it was beautiful. We had a ball climbing them and laughing.

I felt like a kid, but… so much more.

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Of course, dating Richard also came with legal issues. It turned out that while he had signed the divorce papers, Erica never had pushed them through, so that was a long winded fight between the two.

She never took it out on me, though. She might have been petty and drove Richard batty, but she was always polite and respectful towards me, which I think was great.

Still, I would get times where I was convinced he was leaving me, choosing someone else and never coming back. I’d sit on the couch and not move, unable to think until Richard would come out of his room to sit with me.

That was another issue. Sex. I was a virgin, Richard wasn’t. He was completely fine with my ‘no sex’ rule until we were at least engaged, but I felt a bit bad for it.

Is he pressuring you?”

“No, it’s just… I guess I feel bad. He’s had sex, but I’ve never had it.”

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“If he’s fine with it, don’t sweat it, Maria.” Lisa soothed me as I chatted with her one night.

“I know.” I sighed to her. “But… he’s so sweet, I feel bad you know?”

Hmm, well, don’t sacrifice your beliefs girl.” I laughed and agreed, hanging up and heading back to work.

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Summer had started again, after braving a cold winter and we needed to get to work.

“You know, maybe you should get a fireplace,” Richard told me as we worked.

“…Why?” I asked.

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“Well, you added that firepit and the flowers out front, but haven’t gotten around to changing anything else,” Richard said. “And it got cold during the winter, right?”

“I guess… I’ll need to find the trapdoor to the attic to I guess.”

“Still haven’t found it?”

“Don’t rush me!” I whined a bit and he laughed, shaking his head. We shared a smile and went back to work, though I did think on the fireplace.

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Eventually the two of us managed to find the trapdoor, discovering a few things.

“A woodstove and a canning station… interesting.” Richard said, looking surprised.

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“At least I know the basement is just full of junk,” I said, studying the ovens.

“…You have a basement too?”

“…Another trapdoor to find, but seriously- nothing but junk is down there.” I pointed out.

“My ex is signing the papers soon,” Richard said, shrugging. “I have a winemaker if you don’t mind it in the basement.” I blinked, and then blushed nervously.

“Umm… sure. I uh…” Richard chuckled and smiled at me. I smiled back a bit, and the two of us spent the rest of the day searching for the trapdoor to the basement, then cleaning it out.

The two of us had a ball with it, laughing and giggling. It felt great, being with him.

“Hey… want to go to the stones?” Richard asked later. I agreed, and we headed over.

“This is so beautiful,” I said softly, as we stood there, looking over the ocean.

“Not as beautiful as you,” Richard told me before he smiled. “Maria… Erica is signing the papers.” He began.

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“Yeah…”

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“I’ve only known you for two years, I’ve only been dating you for about a year, but…” he dropped to one knee and pulled out a box. I gasped, taking a step back. “Would you marry me?”

“YES!”

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-0-

“You said yes!?” Lisa cried out in shock on the phone. I giggled.

“Of course!”

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“You’ve only been dating a year, and you… I…”

“It feels right… so, want to be my maid of honor?”

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I… of course.” I heard her say, picturing her smile. “I would love to be your maid of honor.”

“Thank you so much Lisa.”

We had to wait for Erica to sign the papers, but we plotted. We bought a wedding arch and a small table, planning on putting it in storage and using it for our children. I waited for Lisa so we could go shopping for my dress, and Richard debated about his hair.

It was amusing.

“Dreadlocks or curls…” he said one day, the two of us cuddling on the sofa. “What do you think.”

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“I think you look amazing either way.” He chuckled.

“Thanks, but… well, I like my hair short, but I’ve always liked having dreads when I had them.”

“Would they be grown out in time for the wedding?

“…Possibly, maybe I should wait a while.” He said thoughtfully. “Grow them before the honeymoon.” We’d agreed to wait until winter to have our honeymoon, and I was excited.

“Lisa has agreed to keep an eye on the greenhouse… now, where are we going?”

“Nice try.”

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“I know.” I giggled, smiling as I looked towards my future.

It was going to be amazing.