THE RIGHT WOMAN by Amanda Bristol
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Copyright January 15, 1994
A Bristol Square Chapter 2 Contest - G-Rated Starter Story
Herbalist Jenny Sommers was sitting in her herb garden enjoying a cup of energizing tea. It was a beautiful sunny, fall day. A Monarch butterfly was enjoying the flowering herbs. Birds were singing and the cardinals were splashing in the birdbath. Suddenly all was quiet and Jenny looked around a saw the cat. She was stalking the Monarch. Silly little kitten! She stalked anything. Didn't she know the Monarch would soon fly away.
Times up, I should get to the shop. My customers will be waiting for me. Jenny owned a very quaint, little herb shop in the middle of several antique stores and flea markets. The shops were a big draw for each other.
When she was planning her business people advised her that three things were very important. Location, location, location. However, Jenny knew that people would seek her out wherever she opened her shop. People knew the value of herbs and wanted them.
As she unlocked the red door of 'Herbtique' a delightful fragrance filled her nostrils. The heady aroma was always a balm to her senses. First, she had to put on the water for tea. Customers delighted in sampling the herb teas.
Soon the front doorbell tinkled. She turned around expecting to see Carrie, her good friend who owned the shop next door. But instead, there stood a well-dressed woman. Her dark black hair was pulled back in a severe bun. Jenny guessed she was in her late fifties.
"May I help you?"
"Yes." She smiled and her face lit up. She was beautiful. It was instantly replaced by concern. "I need a love potion for my single son. It's time he got married and had children. I need grand babies."
Aha, the woman wanted grand babies, not a daughter-in-law. At least she wanted the son married first.
"I'm, I'm sorry, but I don't sell love potions, and I'm not a fortune teller."
She laughed. "I didn't think you did. But I know that certain herbs, when combined do make a love potion."
"I don't know what they are. I've never gotten into that area of herbs because I don't believe it works."
She handed Jenny a piece of paper. "Here, these are a list of the herbs that make into a love potion."
Jenny glanced over the list. "Where did you get this information?"
The reference librarian looked it up for me in an herbalist encyclopedia."
Jenny groaned. "What a combination. Don't you know you have to be careful in combining herbs?"
"No, I didn't know that. I'm not trying to hurt my son, I only wanted to give a helping hand. He comes to dinner once a week and I thought I could put something in his food."
"Why don't you let him find someone on his own?"
"Oh, he's too busy being a stockbroker. He's good at it and makes excellent money, but all he thinks about is business, nothing else."
"He hasn't met the right woman yet. Maybe you should introduce him to a few ladies, and forget the love potion."
The woman seemed to stare at Jenny. Then she held out her hand, "I'm Julia Pritchard."
Jenny shook her hand, "I'm Jenny Sommers owner of 'Herbtique'."
"Jenny, how would you like to come to dinner Wednesday evening?"
"Oh no, Mrs. Pritchard. I couldn't.
"After all Jenny, it was your idea. Besides, it will save Brad from The Dreaded Potion."
Jenny still hesitated.
"You know, I can go to another herb shop and get these ingredients."
"This is crazy." Jenny giggled, she was caught up in the scheme. "But Mrs. Pritchard, you don't know a thing about me."
"Call me Julia. Of course I know all I need to. I liked you the instant I saw you. You'd be perfect for Brad."
"Let's have a cup of tea and we'll see." Jenny liked the woman and wanted to get to know her better. She had a nutty scheme and that meant she had an interesting personality. Maybe her son would be blessed with the same wonderful humor.
"I'm glad I chose Blackberry Tea. This is delightful tea. Please wrap up a box. Now, back to the original question. Can I count on you being there Wednesday?"
Jenny hedged, "I can't this Wednesday."
"All right, what about next week?"
"I can make it then," she agreed with a sigh. "But I want you to understand I don't like it and I don't like you deceiving him."
Julia laughed, "That's one of the things I like about you, you have spunk!" They both laughed and Julia swept out.
I like the woman, but I might not like her son. I know what. I'll call on Mon. or Tues, and make up some excuse. Suddenly she realized she didn't have a phone number, or even their address. I can't show up if I don't know where to go.
The front door opened again, and Julia rushed in. "I'd gotten as far as my car and realized that I hadn't given you my address, or my phone number. I can't let you off the hook that easily, now can I?" Julia smiled as she handed her the address. She was gone again before Jenny could protest.
This day was taking a strange twist. The front doorbell tinkled again and Jenny was hoping it was a friend, as she came out of the stock room. "Hi Carrie, I was hoping you would come over. I need someone to talk too."
"I was going to come over sooner, but I've had several customers already this morning."
"What kind of tea would you like?"
"I'll take Cranberry Cove. Are you having a bad day?"
"Well, let me tell you about the lady who just left. She wanted me to concoct a love potion to give to her son because she wants him to get married and have grand babies. At first I thought she was joking, but she was dead serious."
"You didn't make it for her, did you?"
"Of course not. In the first place I don't know how, and the second, I wouldn't. Then she tricked me into coming to her house next Wednesday to meet her single son. Close your mouth Carrie, and don't you dare laugh. What would you do?"
Jenny started to pace. She was getting very uptight. She was normally quite laid back. The more she talked about it the more she realized she was in a very ridiculous situation.
"Well, I don't know. I'll have to think about it. It's very bazaar! Did you like her?"
"Yes, I did. Her name is Julia. I found myself thinking that if her son is anything like her, it would be okay."
"I've got an idea. You can drive by on the weekend and see what the house and the neighborhood are like. If it's not in a good area, you can call and cancel."
"That's a great idea."
"Also if you decide to go and you feel the least bit uncomfortable, you can always make up an excuse and leave right away. You can also tell them your friend is sick and you could call and check on me."
"Thanks Carrie, those are great options. I do feel better now and may go."
"Well, I always follow my gut instinct. I say since you liked the lady, it will probably be all right. I should get back to my shop and see what's going on. Thanks for the tea."
"You're a great friend Carrie. I'll let you know how it turns out."
"You can be sure I'll be asking all about it."
Jenny kept herself busy replacing herbs. She did a very good business and sometimes had to restock daily. I know what I'll do. I'll drive by this Wednesday instead and maybe I'll see Brad going into the house. That would help in my decision. I've never gone strictly on looks and I'm not going to start now. But if I can get a glimpse of him I'll feel more comfortable about the dinner.
Wednesday found Jenny parked across the street from a well-kept brownstone in an elegant neighborhood. She felt comfortable here, now if Brad checked out she would relax.
Jenny had been sitting there about ten minutes when a black BMW drove up and parked directly in front of the house. A tall man emerged from the car. He was about six feet, had an athletic build, and looked incredibly handsome in casual clothes. Now Jenny was feeling very apprehensive as she drove away. Such a handsome guy should be able to find dates, even a wife. Why did he need a mother to fix him up?
Jenny decided the only way to make it to next Wednesday was to put it all out of her mind. She was able to do that until the day before. The phone rang and Jenny hurried to answer it. "Hello."
"Hi Jenny. This is Julia. I'm calling to remind you about dinner tomorrow evening. I hope you're still planning to come?"
"I'll be there Mrs. Pritchard."
"Please call me Julia, or Brad will never believe that we are friends."
"Oh, all right. I'll see you tomorrow night, Julia."
Jenny was ready to ring the doorbell to the brownstone when she looked down at the outfit she was wearing. Was it too casual? She'd decided to allow her long brown hair to flow freely from the usual braid. Consequently it fell in waves and framed her heart shaped face. She rang the bell, and the door was opened by Julia. She was aware of her quick glance of approval.
"Come in, I'm so happy you really took me up on my offer. I was afraid you would cancel at the last minute."
"Are you psychic Julia? I almost did. You know how I feel about this. I still think it is an idiotic idea."
"I know, I know. I was wondering later why I ever thought of such a thing. I want you to know it's not my usual style."
Jenny relaxed knowing that Julia was nervous too. The doorbell rang and Julia went to answer it. Jenny could hear them talking in the foyer. The voices were growing louder and then the moment of truth was here. They were in the living room.
"Brad, I want you to meet Jenny. She's a new friend of mine."
Brad looked at Jenny's face and smiled. "I'm happy to finally meet you. I've heard a lot about."
"Yes, Mom told about going into your shop for some herbal tea that was recommended to her."
"I, see." Jenny looked pointedly at Julia. Then she couldn't help glancing at Brad. He was very handsome but didn't seem to be conscious of it. Jenny was drawn to him. She couldn't help it. However, she was going to fight the attraction every step of the way because she didn't like the way Julia had gotten them together. Besides, she had her principles.
As Julia left the room she called over her shoulder, "You two get acquainted while I see to dinner."
Brad didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable. "So, tell me about your business." He appeared genuinely interested.
Julia was back before Jenny finished her story, and she smiled approvingly. "Dinner is finally ready." She lead them into the dining room. Of course she was seated next to Brad. Jenny was surprised that she enjoyed herself and before she knew it dinner was over and it was getting late.
She pushed back her chair, "I'd better be going. I had a wonderful time and I thank you for the delicious dinner Julia."
"You're very welcome. Why don't you walk her to the door Brad?"
"Will do Mom."
"Brad, That's not necessary. I know my way out." He followed her to the door anyway.
"I enjoyed meeting you Jenny." Then she was out the door and he held it open for a few minutes. She was afraid he was going to come out too.
Jenny was happy to escape to her car. She didn't want Brad to get too close. She knew he was feeling the chemistry as well. She would need some soothing, relaxing herb tea tonight if she wanted to get any sleep.
She was a little late getting to her shop the next day because the tea did its job and she overslept. There was a lot of work that needed to be done so she got busy.
Mid morning the store bell tinkled and Brad walked in. He had a silly grin on his face.
"I've come to confess. I know my mother was matchmaking last night. She does it often. Mom and I are very close so after you left she confessed what really happened. I don't want to give Mom the satisfaction that her deception worked or encourage her in any way."
"I'm glad she told you. She knew I didn't like the deception."
"She said you didn't. So I've come to apologize for her and see if we can start over?"
"Start over! What do you mean?"
"Well, I would tike to pretend that we are meeting under normal circumstances. I'm attracted to you, and I can tell you feel the same. But now that we all know the truth, I would like to take you out to dinner and see where that leads us."
"I would like that too." I was right. He just needed the right woman.
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