Where the Wild Roses Grow, Page 2Willow Rose
Once again, Bridget blushed at his kind words. It had been many years since anyone had called her beautiful. She knew she had always been one of the more attractive girls in the small town, but still. It wasn’t something people told you. At least not where she came from. Her own mother had always thought of it as Bridget’s curse…that her beauty was why she hadn’t found a husband yet.
“You scare them away,” she told her. “Men are terrified of beautiful women.”
Over the years, Bridget had begun to think her mother was right. She had been known to scare a man or two away. Maybe it was because of her looks. Maybe it was something else.
Michael grabbed her hand in his. He looked at her pinky, then caressed it. The pinky was crooked and turning inward. The one thing that wasn’t perfect about Bridget.
“I was born with it,” Bridget said. “The doctor said it happens sometimes.”
He laughed heartily.
“So, what do you want to do next?” Bridget asked when they exited the pub after finishing their dinner.
“Let’s go back to Enniskerry,” he said.
Bridget looked disappointed. Michael smiled, then leaned over and kissed her gently. He tasted of beer and shepherd’s pie. She closed her eyes. Then she looked at him.
“Not to go home, silly,” he said. “I want to take you to a special place. To my favorite place in the world.”
As I had expected, it was raining when we drove towards the hotel we had booked in a small town called Enniskerry, just outside of Dublin. The sun set just before we arrived, so it was both dark and rainy.
“It’s over there,” I said, and pointed out the window at a building with a sign saying Hotel Enniskerry.
Morten parked the car in front and we got out. I was soaking wet by the time we reached the entrance. A woman came out from the back.
“Yes?” she said with the cutest Irish accent.
That was the part I knew I was going to enjoy about vacationing here. I had told Morten I didn’t want to stay in Dublin or any other big city. I wanted the countryside and all the Irish charm I could get. I wanted pints of Guinness and to eat in pubs with the locals.
“We booked a room,” Morten said and showed her our reservations in print. The papers were soaked.
The lady smiled and nodded. She handed Morten a key. “Breakfast is at seven.”
We took the key, walked up the stairs, and found our room after dragging our suitcases down a long hallway with old pictures of people I assumed to be dead. They seemed to be staring at us.
Morten fumbled with the key in the door.
“Hurry up,” I said. “This place creeps me out a little.”
Morten laughed. “You’re kidding me, right? The big well-known mystery-author, Emma Frost, is frightened by a few old paintings in a dark hallway? You can write details about people getting brutally slaughtered, but you can’t have a few old people look at you from a painting. You do realize they’re probably dead many years ago, right?”
“That’s the freaky part,” I said. “Laugh all you want, just get us into the room. I have to pee.”
Morten opened the door and I burst inside. The room was small, but very charming. In a tasteless kind of way. Flowered wallpaper all over and plastic flowers in vases, along with old porcelain figurines that I was terrified of accidentally knocking over.
I rushed to the bathroom and finished my business. The toilet was small, the sink made for midgets, and I don’t think I could determine the color of the carpet in the bedroom, but still it had all the charm I was looking for. I had specifically asked to not stay in some big hotel chain somewhere. I wanted to be out among the locals, and so I had come here.
“So, what do you say?” Morten asked. He was the one who had booked the place, whereas I had taken care of the car.
I smiled. “It’s not bad.”
“You can do better than that,” he said and threw himself on the bed. The springs creaked loudly.
“Guess we could do it on the floor, then,” Morten said, and put his foot on the carpet. Was it green? I was inclined to say it was. But it had a little brown to it as well. And, in some places, it looked almost blue.
The floor underneath creaked too. I smiled and threw my suitcase on a small desk and opened it.
“The bath it is then,” Morten said, and came up behind me. He grabbed me around the waist and tried to lift me, but I was too heavy. He kissed my neck and ears.
“You know we have to do it every day now that we’re on vacation, right?” he asked. “I mean, it’s our only chance.”
I let him hold me tight. I really enjoyed making love to Morten, but lately I had been feeling really insecure about my body. I had gained a lot of weight and it made me feel awkward when I was with him, since he was very skinny. He kept reassuring me that it didn’t matter to him, but I wasn’t so sure. In my everyday life, I could joke about my weight and feel good, but when it came to being naked, it was harder for me. I hadn’t quite gotten used to being this big and kept telling myself I was going to lose it soon. I just really liked eating.
His hands were on my breasts and I closed my eyes.
“Are you up for a little action?” he asked.
“Mmm…maybe a little later,” I said. “I am starving.”
He made a disappointed groan and let go of me. I closed my eyes and bowed my head. I hated to disappoint him.
“Sure,” he said, still with the disappointment of rejection in his voice. “Where do you want to go? I saw a list over here somewhere of places to eat in this town.”
“Where are you taking me?”
Bridget’s voice was shivering with delight. Michael had stopped the car outside of town and they got out. Soon, they were walking in the darkness. He was holding her hand, leading her through the trees and the high grass. She knew this area, but hadn’t been down to the riverbank since she was a child. It had stopped raining, but the high grass was wet and her legs and feet were soaked. She hadn’t felt this excited for many, many years.
Michael laughed and pulled her hand. He turned his head with a huge smile and looked at her. “I’m taking you where the wild roses grow!”
“I know where that is,” she said, and walked faster to keep up with him. “I used to come here as a child. We would jump in the river and play on the banks. I haven’t been down here in many years.”
“Wait a minute,” Bridget said, as they reached the banks.
Red wild roses were growing as far as the eye could see. The clouds had parted and the full moon was shining above, making all the roses clearly visible. Michael stopped. He drew in a deep breath.
“I thought you were from out of town?” she asked. “How do you know about this place?”
“I just recently discovered it. A friend told me about it when I got here a few weeks ago. I went down here and thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. I knew I wanted to take someone special here someday.”
He smiled and looked at Bridget. Then he leaned over and kissed her gently. “I know how much you love roses. These are the most beautiful ones around here. Except for you, of course.”
“You are smooth,” she said with a giggle. She was stunned by this place’s beauty, but also a little anxious. Being here at night was a little creepy. But also exciting. Everything with Michael was just like that. A little strange, but very exciting at the same time.
He grabbed her hand and held it in his. He squeezed it so tight it hurt a little. She didn’t say anything, but looked at him instead. He turned and looked at her.
“Isn’t this wonderful?” he asked. “Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?”
Bridget had to admit it was extremely beautiful. And very very romantic. Never in her life had Bridget encountered a man similar to Michael. So interesting, so sweet, such a gentleman, and yet so strangely odd at the same time. She couldn’t put her finger on it,
but something was so different about him. She had a feeling she liked it. She had a feeling she was beginning to like him a lot. She even had a feeling she might be able to love him. Just thinking the word scared her. She never knew love very well. Her own mother had probably loved her, but never showed it. The boyfriends she had told her they loved her, but always turned their back on her or were deceitful behind her back. She found it hard to trust anyone, after all she had been through. Her brain told her not to trust this guy, this strange man who had just recently come to town, of whom she knew almost nothing. Meanwhile, her heart felt differently. Her heart told her they had a connection. Her heart told her she could trust him. For once, she thought she had actually found someone worthy of her love.
Was she fooling herself again? Would he end up hurting her like all the others?
No. Not Michael. Not him.
He didn’t seem like he was capable of even hurting a fly.
As she was wondering, pondering whether to trust him or not, Michael put his arms around her, pulled her into him, and passionately kissed her. It wasn’t like any kiss Bridget had ever experienced. She closed her eyes and took it all in: the atmosphere of this romantic place, the full moon, the man of her dreams. And then she let go. She let him kiss her and caress her face. She let him inside the deepest protected area of her body.
She let him into her heart.
Their eyes met and she couldn’t stop smiling. So it was true, after all. He was the perfect man. Even his kiss was perfect.
Bridget stood, gazing over the river and to the other side, which was also covered in hundreds of roses. She couldn’t help herself. She couldn’t stop smiling. Finally, she had proven her mother wrong. All men weren’t pigs. All men weren’t just out to hurt you. Many were, maybe. Lord knew she had met her share of men that had hurt her. But not all of them. Especially not Michael.
Michael is different. Michael is special.
Bridget knew people would think she was crazy for falling for a guy on the first date and only after seeing him three times, but when it was right, it was right. They all said that. All the experts in the magazines. You knew it when you found the right one. You just knew.
Bridget turned her head, still smiling from ear to ear, and looked into the eyes of the man she had been waiting for her entire life, then opened her mouth to speak the words she had never said to anyone. Those three little words that she knew were too early to say, but she felt so compelled to say anyway, since she had never really loved anyone before.
“I…it’s strange…but I think…I lo…”
That was when she spotted the rock in Michael’s hand and her smile froze. Whispering the words all beauty must die, Michael swung the rock and slammed it into the back of her head. It felt like an inferno of fire. Bridget didn’t even scream. Instead, she fell to the ground face first, her nose solidly planted in the roses, and as she drew her last breath and blood ran into her mouth, she cursed the smell of the flower that she had once loved so dearly.
“He’s coming!” Violet yelled, as she spotted the car on the horizon. Her brother Brian was standing next to her while holding the fence they were repairing. He shrugged and put a nail in while Violet swung the hammer and knocked it in. Brian grabbed the fence and shook it to make sure it was steady. It hardly moved.
“That should do it,” he said with a sniffle.
But Violet didn’t listen. She stared at the car on the main road that she had longed to see again for all of the dark and long winter. Her stomach tickled with anticipation.
Finally, he was here.
When summer came, so did Conan. Violet loved when Conan arrived in his fancy blue car. Conan was an old friend of the family who had been very fond of Violet’s mother. Every summer, he would come down to the farm and stay with them for four whole weeks. He had done that ever since Violet’s mother died. Over the years, Violet’s father had sunken into more and more of his religious babbling and left Violet with only her stupid older brothers to talk to.
Conan lived in Dublin; he had an education in literature and loved to read and talk about books and tell Violet stories that he had read. He was the one who had opened up an entire new world for her and given her books to read during the winter. She would finish them all by the fall, and then anxiously await his return in the summer.
Conan worked at a real university where he taught young people about literature. Once he arrived at the farm, Violet wouldn’t leave his side. She wanted him to tell her everything about his world. His world that she dreamt of one day being a part of. She had started to dream about one day going to university herself. Her father believed girls had no place in a university, and none of her brothers dreamed of studying, or even thought about becoming anything other than farmers, so she felt very alone with her dreams and hopes for the future. Meanwhile, her father refused to even talk to her about it and told her she was fooling herself for dreaming like that, and then he would get all mad at Conan for putting these ideas in her mind. But Violet didn’t care. Conan had showed her pictures of the university, and every day she dreamt of changing the dirty old farm out with the exquisite buildings of the university. Her biggest wish was to enter the library building and spend hours upon hours pulling books off the shelves and reading them.
Violet threw the hammer on the ground and ran towards the car. Conan blew the horn a few times, then started spinning around in the gravel, making Violet laugh.
Conan was always so silly. He was fun to be with. He smelled exotic and made food for them unlike anything she had ever tasted. He made her laugh. He made her forget about the old farm and the animals and the bad smells that she loathed. He played the piano and sang songs she had never heard of. He talked about foreign countries and cultures and used words that none of them had any chance of knowing what they meant. He was full of wonder and joy.
He was everything her father wasn’t.
Conan jumped out of the car and grabbed her in his arms. He lifted her into the air and swung her around. “Violet, my dear Violet. How big you have grown. I could hardly recognize you. How have you been?”
“Good,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “Especially now that you’re here.”
He hugged her tight. “Boy, have I missed you.”
She closed her eyes and enjoyed his embrace. Finally, a little happiness.
Conan then handed her something. It looked like a book. It had a blue cover. Blue was her favorite color. “What is this?” she asked.
“It can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a diary, a book for you to write your poems or little stories in. Whatever you’d like it to be.”
“Thank you, Conan.”
He looked into her eyes. “You have grown into quite the young lady, I see,” he said. “How old are you now?”
Violet blushed. “I am fourteen.”
“Fourteen. Why, how marvelous that is. And how is school?”
Violet shrugged and looked down. “Guess it’s alright.”
“Too boring for you, huh?”
She looked up. “It’s so easy, Conan.”
Conan burst into laughter while tilting his head back. “Ha. I knew it. You’re too smart for them, my wee dear.”
Violet smiled again. No one understood her like Conan. No one.
I couldn’t believe the beauty of the view we woke up to. The bed was terrible and my back hurt badly when I opened my eyes, but as soon as I went to the window and pulled the curtains aside, I had to simply gasp in awe. I had no words. This was spectacular. We were in an area called Wicklow County, and according to Morten, the village that we were staying in had a population of less than two thousand people. Morten had found the place, so I had no idea what we were getting into.
He crept up behind me and put his arms around my shoulders.
“So, I’m taking it you approve of th
e place?” he said.
“It’s…yeah…don’t be smug, though. What are those mountains over there?”
“These are The Wicklow Mountains. Wicklow County is known as the Garden of Ireland. Online, they boast of having some of the best landscapes in Ireland. The Wicklow Mountains are the largest upland area in the country and a refuge for plant and animal life.”
“Did you memorize the tourist brochure or something?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Something like it. I have been so excited to show it to you. I looked for a hotel with this exact view. Do you like it?”
“I have to give it to you,” I said, as I turned around and kissed him. “You have outdone yourself.”
I heard him make a triumphant sound as I went to turn on the shower. I got dressed afterwards and we went to eat breakfast downstairs. There was another couple already at one of the tables in the small breakfast room. We greeted them politely, then found a table in the corner. I, for one, was starving. The night before, it had been late and we only found a small pub to buy some fish and chips. Fried food never kept me full for very long. I still loved it, though.
“Yum, eggs,” I said, and grabbed two soft-boiled eggs from the basket. I took three slices of toasted bread and buttered them, a couple of sausages, some bacon, black and white pudding, some vegetable and potatoes fried in what looked like creamy butter, then ate it with Irish brown bread and washed it down with a strong cup of tea and orange juice.
“Good?” asked Morten with his mouth full.
“It’s excellent,” I exclaimed. “I had not expected it to be. I am very impressed.”
“Well, Irish breakfast is known to last all day,” he laughed. “It is a meal that was traditionally concocted to prepare one for a full day’s heavy duty work on the farm on a cold winter morning, and was comprised of the best local and homemade farm produce, all cooked in butter in a frying pan.”