Isa tugged off her purple gardening gloves and placed them on a shelf cluttered with clay pots, fertilizer, gardening tools, and seed packets. “Thanks for helping me de-weed. Most find it a loathsome job, but not me. I find it therapeutic in its repetition. Then again I do hate pulling up pretty weeds. Don’t you?”
Nate’s laugh filled the garden shed. “I’ve never given it much thought.”
“Look. What’s that?” Isa pointed to a shoe box on the top shelf.
“Looks like a shoe box.” Nate grinned.
“C’mon help me get it down.” Isa stood on her tiptoes and tried to nudge the box with the tips of her fingers.
Nate placed his hand on the small of her back and reached around her to grasp the box in his other hand.
He handed the box to Isa with a wink. “It’s cute when short people try to do tall people stuff.”
Isa stuck out her tongue at Nate. “Hush. I want to enjoy the suspense.”
Nate scrunched his eyebrows. “Suspense. It’s an old shoe box, probably full of old seed packets.”
“No, I have a feeling about this box.” The birds chirped outside as Isa swiped layers of dust with her hand.
Isa eyed the box as though it housed a grenade and carefully removed the lid. She gasped at the neatly stacked cream colored stationary. “It’s letters!”
She carried the box with two hands outside to the weeping willow behind the garden shed. She ducked the branches and sat at the tree’s base—a shroud of green gave Isa the privacy she desired. That is until Nate barreled through her curtain and sat beside her.
The letters had the same elegant cursive as the piece of paper she’d found in the basement. “I’ve been in the garden shed a million times, I’ve never seen this box before,” Isa whispered in awe.
“Well, it was on the top shelf. You probably just didn’t see it.”
Isa nudged Nate with her elbow. “I’m very particular about my garden supplies. Short or not. I would’ve seen it. Aunt Hazel must’ve moved it in here recently. But why?”
“Does it matter?” Nate reached for the box. “Let’s read them.”
Isa slapped his hand. “Wait. These might be private.”
“Are you serious, Isabelle? You’ve been driving me crazy with this quest to find your aunt’s long lost love and now that you’ve finally got a major clue, you don’t want to read them?”
Isa sighed. “You’re right. It’s for Aunt Hazel’s own good.” Isa settled against the tree and read:
I’ve missed you and I can’t seem to find the right words to express my love for you. I’ve thrown away at least a dozen letters before this one because I can’t seem to get it right. I’ve come to realize that I can’t express my feelings on paper. You’ll just have to take my word for it and imagine this filled with poetical phrases. The best I can do is simply say, I love you.
“Devoted sounds like you,” Nate whispered.
Isa turned to look at Nate. “What do you mean?”
“You’re the only one I’ve met that has ever used the term, poetical phrases.”
Isa shrugged. “I guess Aunt Hazel’s Devoted was the romantic type. I like him already.”
Nate smiled. “I like the romantic ones too.”