Larkspur Dreams - By Anita Higman


What a scene! Lark sat in her Hummer. The move-in day of her rich neighbor certainly had a sitcom quality to it. She leaned in to watch him. Mr. New Guy gestured to the movers about his leather furniture, but they held to their standard modus operandi—the heave-ho method. And Lark could tell her dear, old friend, Skelly Piper, had the new guy cornered with his zucchini brownies and the highlights of his hernia operation.

Is that truly a pair of boxers flying up in the breeze? Apparently they had blown out from an open carton and were doubling as a kite. The offending object finally landed in a tree and began flapping like a white flag. So how does a guy look manly while retrieving unmentionables from a blue spruce?

Just as Lark was about to find out, her eyes followed a new addition to the bedlam. Oh, no. Not Picasso! Her pet duck had yet to be approved by the planning commission, and he was waddling about on her new neighbor’s walkway being loose in more than one sense of the word.

I’d better go help Mr. New Guy out. She rolled the window down and let her Christian rock music soar free into the air. With her brightest smile, she waved to her new neighbor. Skelly Piper saluted back, but Mr. New Guy sported a croaking sort of smirk that seemed to be directed at her.

Lark cut the engine and strode over to the two men. “Hi.” She hugged Skelly as he said his good-byes.

“Oh, and see ya at the fall festival, kiddo.” Skelly shuffled off, bowlegged. His thick hair stuck up on his head like a clump of silver grass. But he had his usual warm smile as he glanced back at her.

Turning to her new neighbor, Lark couldn’t help but notice God had been quite charitable with his appearance. He had a striking presence with his hazel eyes, short brown locks, and a “surely he must lift weights” kind of build. Hmm. Early to mid-thirties, same as me. Same medium height. But who wears a suit to move in? And his tie looked like it would work equally well as a tourniquet. Lark also took note that Mr. New Guy held the bow on the sack of brownies as if he were holding the tail of a dead skunk.

Lark extended her hand to welcome him. “I’m Larkspur Wendell, your next-door neighbor.”

“I’m Everett Holden III,” he said like a maitre d’ with an attitude. He slipped his Palm Pilot into his suit pocket and shook her hand.

The word mannequin popped into Lark’s head, but his fingers and gaze lingered a moment longer than she expected.

One of the movers sneezed loudly, and all at once the assessing moment dissipated. They quickly freed each other’s hand.

Everett looked down at his ultra-polished wingtips.

Lark wondered if he could use them for rearview mirrors. Picasso toddled over to her. “And who let you out?” She shook her finger at the duck as he dipped his head in shame.

“You actually own that flying outhouse?” Everett asked without a speck of humor.

“I’m sorry he left a bunch of his. . .doodling artistry all over your walkway. But you know, he doesn’t usually get out. Perhaps someone let him out.”

Everett straightened his already immovable posture. “Well, I certainly didn’t do it.”

A belch reverberated out of one of the movers. She tucked her giggle away, folded her arms, and nodded in the direction of the two guys lugging a couch up the steep steps to the house. “I rest my case.”

“Okay,” Everett said. “Mutt and Jeff over there might have accidentally done it since our gates are next to each other, but generally you do keep that thing penned up, right?” His brows furrowed a bit.

“I assure you, Picasso’s not been trained as an attack duck.” Lark could barely hold back her mirth. She took a treat out of her pants pocket and tossed it to Picasso. He rewarded her with a few happy mutterings.

“So do you run a game preserve back there?” Everett asked.

“No. Just one sweet, little mallard that thinks I’m his momma.” His face grasped her attention. “And what do you do, Mr. Everett Holden III?” I can’t wait to see what this amazingly uptight guy is going to say next.

Everett smiled as if it were a new expression he was trying out. “I’m an accountant, and I’m going to work out of my home. I spend most of the day behind the computer, but it