Chapter Sixteen

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"Bloody weed," Em muttered, trying to wrestle the lettuce from the pot. She poked at the base with the spade, trying to dislodge it so she could put it in the bigger pot. It wasn't cooperating, and she was worried that she'd leave part of the root in the dirt-a big no-no according to Ben.

"Uh, Em?" Ben squatted down next to her, brow furrowed in concern. "That's chard."

"It's bloody stubborn chard." She grunted as she felt it loosen in the dirt. "Almost."

"No, Em, you're supposed to replant the baby lettuce."

She frowned at it. "Isn't that what this is?"

"No, this is chard."

"So you don't eat it?"

"Well, yes, you do."

She looked down at it. It was leafy, and you could eat it, but it wasn't lettuce? How did that make sense?

Ben cleared his throat as he lifted the chard away and set a different pot in front of her. "Your enthusiasm is nice though."

The new plant in front of her looked exactly the same as the last, but instead of pointing that out she just smiled sweetly.

He patted her shoulder and got up. She watched him walk over to where some teenagers were supposed to be raking and cajole them into getting back to work.

He was so good with kids. She poked at the plant in front of her, trying to picture him next to her as they brought their first child home. He held them in his strong arms, cuddled on their couch, smiling in wonder at what they'd created. She'd turn her head and look up into his face-

Only the face she saw was Joe's, and he looked at her and the baby adoringly. He also sat there bare-chested, and it was nice.

She shook her head, trying to change the channel in her mind to get back on track, but she couldn't get her mind to imagine Ben sitting next to her where he belonged.

A shadow fell over her, and she sighed as she grabbed the lettuce by the bottom of the stalk where it disappeared into the dirt. "I've got it this time."

"You've more than got it." Joe crouched in front of her. He wore jeans and a soft-looking sweater under his coat. "Fancy meeting you here."

She denied the zap of excitement that hit her right in the chest by frowning. "Are you following me?"

"Perhaps." He smiled winningly. "But it's charming as opposed to creepy, because you like me."

She couldn't stop the hint of a smile from curving her lips. "Do I?"

"Definitely. Come to lunch with me, and I'll prove to you how much you like me."

"I have lettuce," she said, wilting as she looked at all the plants waiting to be repotted.

"Carpe diem, darling. There will always be lettuce."

"Em." Ben towered over them, hands in his pocket as he frowned at Joe. "Is everything all right?"

"Why wouldn't everything be all right?" Why was he looking at her with disapproval? She had the right plant this time-he'd made sure of it.

Then he transferred his glare to Joe.

Was he jealous?

She mentally snorted. Couldn't be. More likely he was annoyed that Joe had interrupted her work. She yanked the plant out of the dirt, wincing because she swore she heard it screech, like how she always wanted to when she got her eyebrows waxed.

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