The young dog gamboled around her legs for an exhausting few minutes, nearly tripping her up. He was a rescue dog, of uncertain origins, and the love of her life. He seemed to be partly black Lab, but his ears were huge enough—and his energy level frantic enough—to make Paige suspect a crazy Chihuahua or two in his convoluted gene pool. Paige watched him run in circles for a few minutes and wondered if part of Evie’s decision to move on was connected to the realization that if Paige became a fixture in her life, Dante was part of the package. The two of them had never gotten along.

In a heartbeat, Paige went from feeling parentally indulgent of Dante’s show of energy to panicked when he took off toward the rows of lavender near the entrance to the farm and started digging with abandon. He flung an uprooted plant to the side and moved on to the next as she ran after him, conflicted between getting him to stop and returning the discarded plants to their now-empty holes.

After destroying a dozen or more plants, he stopped suddenly and stared toward the farmhouse. Paige breathed a sigh of gratitude and hastily shoved the bushes into the ground, doing her best to cover the roots, but her relief was short-lived because Dante took off, running away from her and down the lane toward the cottage.

Paige stood for a moment, staring after her dog with dirt clumping off her fingernails. She was tempted to cut her losses and go back to Portland right now. She already needed to apologize for insulting Kassidy’s food, and now she had to add Dante’s indiscretions to the list. She climbed in the car with weary resignation, wiping her muddy hands on some fast food napkins she had stashed in her glove compartment. The compartment door refused to shut completely when she was finished, and she drove slowly up Lavender Lane with it bumping noisily at every rut in the road.

Paige parked near the cottage and got out of her car again. She slowly turned in a circle and stared at the farm. There was no sign of Dante, but she saw seemingly endless rows of mounded lavender bushes, stretching out and away from her in tidy lines. Some were bright green and others had a silvery tinge to them. Most of the early buds on them were a deep purple, but some were pink or lighter shades of lavender. She hadn’t expected such a variety of colors. A smaller cottage—trimmed and painted to be a tiny replica of the main house—sat on the edge of the main farmhouse’s garden, which was as different from the exact rows of the fields as it could be. It was already a riot of color, even early in the spring, and it had the wild, crowded look of an English garden. All sorts of lavender shades were there, as she expected, but there were also splashes of red poppies and yellow daisies, and numerous other plants she couldn’t identify, massed together in one glorious tangle.

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