“Are you the prince or something?” I asked.
“Do you like gardens?” he asked.
“Yes, I suppose,” I said confused.
“I am interested in this drawing of a garden,” he said, holding my journal. I jumped from the chair and reached to grab my journal.
He sprung from the chair.
“Wait, wait.” He chuckled.
“I think I should at the very least hear the story of a princess that sneaks on my balcony and draws my gardens,” he said.
While I batted for my journal, he won. He was a little taller than me and held the book too far above my head.
“Our guests usually eat dinner, dance and go home,” he said. “I have no use for parties,” I said, “I only come for the view of the sea, the chair and my thoughts.”
“And the garden… is your thoughts?” he asked, pulling a dinning chair for me to sit next to him.
“Private thoughts,” I said sitting.
“Please, can I offer you breakfast?” he said.
I nodded. After all I was starving. Par, a tubby older gentleman with long floppy grey hair and a perfectly groomed mustache, entered and poured my tea. Somehow I had been fooled, but was still too tired to care.
“Thank you, Par,” I said as I bit into the strawberry pancakes dolloped with whipped cream. “Oh, and thank you for the blanket.”
Par looked at me oddly.
“That will be all, Par,” the young man said, clearing his throat. “So… last night I couldn’t sleep. I have this pressing dilemma. See – I need a large mystical garden built—right now. And when I stumbled on your drawing, this morning, I admit I’ve never seen anything so creative with fairies and fountains. Rose buds imprinted on the pavers in various circles. Are these weeping willows with roses?” he said.
I couldn’t help but smile at him. He beamed with happiness when he talked about my drawing.
“I know those don’t exist, but I had an idea of how interesting it would be to have weeping willow trees with rose tips. So when the sea air blows their branches, the rose petals would float in this area. Some could collect here, in a three-tiered fountain and trickle down its streams. Silly and ridiculous, I know,” I said.
“Hmm… I think it’s possible with Quinn’s help, of course. We will use dirt from the Graries. Yes, it’s doable,” he said, talking to himself.
“Who is Quinn?” I asked.
“My brother, he is more of … let’s say, mystical gardener than me,” he said.
“Are you serious? You are actually thinking about building it?” I asked.
“You can’t build these gardens. It’s impossible, ” I said.
His spiked blonde hair and amazing smile seemed to make me even angrier. The rumors were true. He was supposedly gorgeous.
“I need a mystical garden, just like this… today. And this summer it must be built. The time to start is now!” he said.
“These are my crazy scribbles that are more for fun to keep me out of those stuffy parties. I don’t know why anyone would even want to actually make something of it. And I don’t know why I am telling you this!” I said, picking up my flip-flops.
“This is why I don’t attend parties. To stay away from princes like you,” I said throwing my flip-flops in his general direction.
And then I ran to the grand hall only to find an obstacle course of maids, mops and chairs.
He yelled, “Nona, please wait.”
My name echoed through the grand hall to the tops of the gold chandeliers, around the four elevated stone throne chairs, down to the grey and green marble floor. He knew my name? No prince had known my name.
I turned and saw him holding my flip flops – one in each hand. He looked rather ridiculous. I giggled, under my breath, of course and slowly walked to the balcony. I tried to act like an adult and politely sit into my lounge chair.
“And how do you know my name?” I asked.
He laid my journal on my lap.
“Par and I can have secrets too, right?” he asked. “I may have known last fall that you were drawing this garden, since you sleep with the journal open.”
I threw the blanket over my head. He’d seen me sleeping. Me – the frizzy haired, Nona.
“Par told me your name is Princess Nona Asher. This morning I was awake very early, worrying about this garden, but hoping your drawing would be finished. I thought you might be here, and I wanted a chance to speak with you,” he said.
“You told Par to let me sleep so when I was finished, you could meet me? Didn’t you? And the blanket was you, I suppose?” I said, uncovering my head.
He shrugged his shoulders and slid his hands in his pockets.
“The blanket- that was very kind,” I said. “And all artists need time to think, right? So, the more time you had to enjoy the balcony, the more time you had to create – even dream about it. Right?” he asked as he handed me my flip-flops.
“Hmmm… I do love the Serenity Sea,” I said.
“I need a garden with….” he said. “Inspiration,” I said.
“Well, you named it Where Love Ends,” he said.
I giggled. “Yes, I did.” “I suppose you thought our castle needed that.”
He smiled, again. “And you are right.”
“Why Love… I mean, why now?” I asked.
“We have a special treasure… a jewel that is coming to our castle and I need a way to welcome it. I know it sounds a little odd. But I need a garden, not just any garden, one that makes people feel…” “Serene?” I said.
“Yes, and in a different place, almost magic-like,” he said.
“Ah, mystical.” I joked.
“Yes, exactly. Everything mystical. And your drawing is it. My brother, Quinn can build it, even your trees. I have several sea journeys this summer and I need you to help make it come to life. Can I not convince you to stay and help Quinn make it exactly how you imagine?” he asked.
“Oh, no, I don’t do favors for princes or whatever you two are. I don’t do romantic dinners and dancing. No, thank you, I stay right here on my balcony away from awkward conversations, sweaty hands and bad breadth,” I said, and as the words came out, I couldn’t believe I spoke them.
“Okay,” he said, walking to the railing.
And there was a long awkward pause.
“Besides, last night was it. I am done with this dreary castle. Thank you for noticing my drawings. Whatever your name is… Wait I don’t even know your name,” I said. “Roy Argos,” he said eagerly.
“Roy, thank you. You have been very understanding, letting me enjoy your balcony and all, but I really must go,” I said, collecting my purse.
“No, wait,” he said. “I understand. You need privacy. And you will have it. Many rooms of your own overlooking the new gardens. No dinner or dancing will even be mentioned.”
He waved his hands as to enact some kind of edict.
I giggled. “You’re really serious?” “I will ask your parent’s permission,” he said kneeling by my chair.
“No one says anything about whether they are a prince or princess. Simply Nona’s garden project with Roy and Quinn as her humble attendants.”
“That’s too much. You actually want me to stay for the entire summer? Just to make sure my fairy garden is ready for this secret jewel?” I asked. He nodded.
“And at the end of the summer, you will be given a very special gift to thank you for making a special exception for us,” he said.
I looked at his clear blue eyes grinning at me. His suit did fit him quite well… Probably anything fit him well. But why would he ask me, Nona, a frizzy haired want-a-be artist to build a make-believe garden? And dirt from the Graries? What’s a Grarie, anyway?
Should I accept such a wild invitation from a supposedly gorgeous prince? ???? Why did they need a mystical garden – my mystical garden? I think I’m in one of those interesting situations. Well, mother and father – I sure did “make the most of it”. [Insert freakish girlie giggle here.]
Lesson #1: Never underestimate your creations – there’s always a purpose in there somewhere.