With tweezers poised above the glass sample dish, Marly slowly lowered the new pollen onto the already-harvested grains. She held her breath and tapped down ever so slightly–
The door to the greenhouse swung open and slammed shut behind her son. Marly gritted her teeth and suppressed a sigh.
“Hey, Mom.” Wandering among the tables covered with tiny seedlings, Michael absently fingered a leaf.
“Hi, sweetie.” Marly slipped off the glasses she wore only for precision work. “How was school?”
“Ahh–what? Oh, yeah, it was good.” He leaned gingerly against one of the less-populated tables, stuck his hands into the front pockets of his faded jeans and faced his mother. “Yeah, it was. . .good.”
Marly studied her son. He needed a haircut, she noted absently, but it was the expression in his eyes that caught her attention. She had gotten a vibe that something was wrong, but now, looking at him. . .she realized that he wasn’t brooding or mad. Instead, his eyes were bright with banked excitement.
His mouth tilted into a familiar half-grin, Michael raised his eyebrows and feigned ignorance. Marly shook her head and fixed him with a steady gaze. “Not gonna fly with me, bud. Something good happened, and you’re going to tell me. Now.”
He never could hide anything from her. A grin broke across his face. “Mom, I met her.”
If she had any doubt about his meaning, the joy in his voice erased it. “Her? You met. . .a girl?”
“Not a girl, Mom. Her.”
Marly caught her breath. “Are you sure?”
“It was just like Dad said. And Poppy. I saw her standing outside a classroom. . .just in the walkway. Nell was going after her about something–you know how Nell is. And I–”
“Nell?” Uneasiness shot through Marly. “What was Nell doing?”
Michael shrugged impatiently. “What does Nell always do? She was getting in her face about their chemistry class, how Tasmyn shouldn’t be in it–I don’t know. I just broke it up, and Nell walked away mad. And then Tasmyn–”
“Tasmyn.” Marly tested it. “Pretty name. Different.”
“Not just pretty. Gorgeous. I mean, Mom–absolutely drop dead beautiful. I can’t wait for you and Dad to meet her.”
“Whoa there, buddy. You’re moving kind of fast on this. You meet her today and you already want to introduce us to her?”
Michael ran a hand through his hair, a gesture of impatience Marly knew well. His dad did the same thing.
“I’m telling you, Mom. It’s her. It is. Today I met the girl I’m going to love for the rest of my life.”