An Envious Woman Discovers the Terrible Secret her Neighbor is Hiding in Her Roses, Committing The Biggest Mistake Of Her Life –
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An Envious Woman Discovers the Terrible Secret her Neighbor is Hiding in Her Roses, Committing The Biggest Mistake Of Her Life

Millicent Harkness was confident she was the most skilled gardener in the county, so why did Tessa Rogers, with her sneaky ways, always win first prize for exotic hybrids at the State Country Fair?

It was unbearable. Millicent sensed that something fishy was going on. Tessa must be cheating somehow. Millicent was determined to uncover the truth behind Tessa’s marvelous roses.

With the same meticulous care she dedicated to her own flowers, Millicent devised a clever plan to reveal Tessa Rogers’ secrets. Unfortunately for Millicent, her plan backfired.


Millicent and Tessa had been neighbors for almost three decades, moving into their charming homes as young brides. Millicent, known as Millie to her friends, efficiently managed her life and her husband, while Tessa struggled in that regard.

Millie poured her heart into cultivating her flourishing roses, spending hours in the garden adorned with splendid picture hats. In contrast, Tessa spent her time covered in muck, crafting pots that she later fired in her kiln.

Millie’s late husband, Frank, was gentle, loving, and easygoing. However, Tessa’s husband, Hubert, was quite the opposite. For years, Millie and Frank endured the disturbances caused by Hubert’s tantrums.


Hubert’s outbursts included loud shouting, furniture throwing, and door slamming. Tessa remained silent throughout it all. Occasionally, Millie would catch a glimpse of her wearing long sleeves and dark glasses the next day…

Yet, Millie never took action. She never crossed the fence to offer Tessa assistance or sought help from the sheriff. In those days, one didn’t interfere in their neighbors’ affairs but rather minded their own business.

This continued for many years until one day, Hubert abandoned Tessa and ran off with a voluptuous blonde teller from a post office in a town two states away. The news became the talk of the town.


While the entire town buzzed with the scandal, Tessa remained unfazed. In fact, she seemed to blossom into a newfound attractiveness, catching the attention of some older singles in the area.

However, Tessa showed no interest. Three months after Hubert left, she embarked on a vacation to Italy. Upon her return, she had an impressive greenhouse constructed on her property, adjacent to her pottery kiln.

Tessa abandoned making vases and shifted her focus to cultivating roses, much to Millie’s dismay. Millie, who adored roses and considered herself the expert in the region, took it as a personal offense when Tessa, a novice, won the blue ribbon for a magnificent new hybrid named Goldy after just four years.


Millicent was convinced it was a stroke of luck. Yet the following year, Tessa triumphed again with a splendid salmon tea rose called the Hotdog, featuring fluted petals. Millie was relegated to a humiliating second place.

In the third year, Millie was determined to secure victory. Her own hybrid was spectacular, boasting large, perfectly formed blooms with velvety, vibrant orange petals. It may have been a tad showy, but Millicent aimed to capture the judges’ attention from the start.

To her eternal dismay, Tessa humbly presented her own creation: The Hubert Rose. The Hubert was breathtaking, with small yet exquisitely shaped blooms showcasing a soft shade of bluish lilac, fading to pale gold at the base.


Millicent spitefully thought the color resembled that of a fading bruise. At this point, Millie had had enough. Something was amiss. During the prize-giving ceremony, she approached the irritatingly modest Tessa and asked directly:

“How do you do it? The subtlety of color, the arrangement… What’s your secret?”

Tessa sweetly smiled and replied, “Oh, Millie, it’s just beginner’s luck, really!”


But Millie persisted, “No, seriously. Tell me.”

Tessa appeared flustered by Millie’s insistence and responded, “Composting. A special blend… You know, a bit of this, a bit of that… and my secret ingredient.”

“What’s the secret ingredient?”

Tessa vaguely waved her hand and smiled mysteriously, “Love, lots of love, and a sprinkle of ashes.”


Ashes and love! Tessa’s mannerisms were becoming more aggravating by the day. Millicent was determined to uncover her secret. She devised a cunning plan, with the first step being to become Tessa’s closest friend.

Millie showered Tessa with thoughtful gifts of freshly baked scones and jasmine tea, invited her to join the bridge club, and made sure not to mention roses. To Millie’s delight, the shy Tessa responded positively.

Soon, Millie had the freedom to visit Tessa’s house at any time of the day and roam around as she pleased, except for one area that remained off-limits: the enigmatic greenhouse situated next to the old pottery kiln.


Then one day, Tessa handed Millie an opportunity on a silver platter. She announced her plans to spend the day in Jacksonville with her sister, leaving Millie with the perfect chance to explore the mysterious greenhouse to her heart’s content.

As soon as Millie saw Tessa depart, she sneaked through their backyards and into Tessa’s property. To her annoyance, she discovered a sturdy padlock on the greenhouse door. However, a brilliant idea struck her.

“People with glasshouses, Tessa, shouldn’t throw stones,” Millie exclaimed.


She picked up smooth pebbles from one of Tessa’s flower beds and threw them at the greenhouse, shattering several adjacent glass panes. She then kicked the exposed aluminum strut until it buckled, creating a space for her slender frame to pass through and enter the mysterious greenhouse.

Millie surveyed her surroundings and couldn’t help but be impressed. The interior resembled a lush, green jungle, filled with the fragrant aroma of thousands of blossoms and teeming with life.

“I need a greenhouse too,” Millie mused. She had always enjoyed working on her roses in plain sight of her admiring neighbors. “I really do!”


She strolled to the center of the greenhouse, where a spacious worktable held a variety of plants in their respective pots. Among them, an orchid unlike any she had seen before and a small rose bush with its first delicate blooms, sporting an uncanny pale violet hue that verged on sky blue.

Millie gritted her teeth. Another prize-worthy discovery! Fueled by resentment, Millie forcefully knocked one of the pots off the table, relishing the sight of it shattering on the ground. “There! Problem solved!”

Her intention was to make Tessa believe that mischievous boys had broken in and destroyed her beloved greenhouse. Inspired, Millie continued to wander around, crushing any particularly appealing plants she encountered.


Suddenly, she noticed a bookshelf tucked away in a corner, holding three large ceramic pots. Each pot was neatly labeled with names: “Goldy,” “Hotdog,” and “Hubert.” The secret ingredient! This had to be it.

Excitedly, Millie reached up and grabbed the pot labeled “Hubert,” carelessly dropping it to the ground. Shards of pottery scattered, and the contents spilled out.

Ashes? It looked like finely powdered ashes. Intrigued, Millie crouched down and sifted through a small pile with her fingers. There was something mixed in with the ashes. Millie’s curiosity heightened as she discovered a hard, smooth object.


To her astonishment, she realized it was a tooth—a human tooth. Millie’s heart began to race with fear. Tessa had been using human teeth mixed with the ashes she used to fertilize her roses.

Trembling with terror, Millie heard an ominous sound—a door unlocking. Frozen with fear, she watched as the greenhouse door swung open, revealing Tessa entering the scene.


“Millie!” Tessa exclaimed, “What happened here?”

Millie surveyed the circle of destruction, the crushed plants oozing sap, and the shattered pot at her feet. “Tessa! I heard a noise… I came over… It seems like someone broke in…”

“Oh dear,” Tessa sighed, tenderly picking up the remnants of the violet rose, “I’ll have to start all over again.”

Millie feigned sympathy, then noticed she was still clutching the tooth. She carefully opened her hand, allowing the grim object to fall to the floor.


“I’m so sorry,” Millie said, her voice quivering, “Some rowdy boys… They ran away when they saw me coming.”

Tessa wiped her face, leaving a streak of rich, loamy dirt on her cheek. “Millie, I need some tea, and so do you.”

Millie squirmed in her seat. “Honestly, Tessa, I don’t want to intrude. I should be heading home…”


“Please, Millie. I need your support. Let’s have some tea and call the sheriff. You saw the boys; you’ll have to talk to him.”

Talk to the sheriff? Panic surged through Millie’s stomach. What would she say? Then it struck her—keep it simple. She heard glass breaking, came over, and saw some boys fleeing.


Millie followed Tessa into the house, settling at the kitchen table while her neighbor prepared tea. “There you go,” Tessa smiled, placing a fragrant, steaming cup of tea in front of Millie.

“The best remedy for nerves, my mother used to say,” Tessa remarked. “Hubert despised tea. He was more of a coffee and bourbon man.”

Millie took a gulp of her tea, her anxiety mounting. “Frank liked coffee too. And mint tea. But he never touched a drop of liquor.”


Tessa sighed. “You know, when I entered that greenhouse today, it brought back memories. Hubert smashing my pots…”

“He did that?” Millie stared at Tessa, sympathy enveloping her.

“Yes. When he couldn’t break me, he shattered the things I cherished. Hubert was a tormented man, very tormented.”


Millie was taken aback. “That’s remarkably forgiving of you, Tessa, considering how he treated you and left you…”

“We shouldn’t hold grudges against the departed, my dear Millie. It isn’t the Christian way.”

“Hubert is dead?” Millie gasped, “When? How did he die?”

“Why, it’s been ten years now,” Tessa replied, a sad smile gracing her face. “But he passed away peacefully.”


“But… I thought he ran away…”

“Well, of course! I wasn’t about to tell the sheriff I poisoned my husband, was I?” Tessa chuckled. “But I must say, it feels good to finally confess.”

Millie felt dizzy. “Poison?” she gasped. “You killed him? But what about the body? The blonde in Kingsland?”


“Hubert never strayed. I would have been thrilled if he had. No, Hubert was devoted in his own twisted way.”

“The body… You buried it?”

“Oh no, dear! Those things always resurface! Don’t you watch ‘CSI’? I cremated him in the kiln and put the ashes in a crock. The one you smashed.”


“Oh no,” Millie whimpered, “No! It wasn’t me… Those boys…”

“Of course not, dear. Drink your tea. You’re quite nervous.”

Millie obediently sipped her tea, her mind spinning. “The secret ingredient… It was Hubert?”


Tessa beamed with delight. “You’re clever! Yes and no. First, I used Goldy and Hotdog’s ashes.”

“Goldy? Hotdog?” Millie asked, puzzled.

“My dogs. Goldy passed away of old age twelve years ago, and Hotdog was tragically run over. I couldn’t bear to bury them, so I cremated them in the kiln. That’s where I got the idea for disposing of Hubert’s body.”


“And why ashes in the roses? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“I visited Italy after Hubert’s demise to clear my mind. There, I discovered that the people living near Pompeii had the most remarkable plants. They told me it’s the ashes in the soil.”


“Ashes…” Millie’s head swam, “Ashes?”

“Very special ashes—ashes of the ancient dead. I brought back a small bag, and when it ran out, I remembered Goldy, Hotdog, and Hubert…”

“You came back… You didn’t go to Jacksonville…”

Tessa grinned, her eyes sparkling. “I forgot my cellphone. Wasn’t that fortunate? Now don’t worry, Millicent, it won’t hurt a bit.”


Later that afternoon, Tessa returned from her trip to Jacksonville to find her greenhouse broken into and Millie’s cellphone lying on the floor. It seemed Millie had tried to call 911.

The sheriff concluded that Millie had stumbled upon the culprit responsible for the havoc in Tessa’s greenhouse, and that person had silenced poor Millie forever.


Despite the sheriff’s efforts, Millie’s body was never found, leaving Tessa devastated. The following year, Tessa secured her fourth consecutive first prize at the State Fair with a rose she named the Magnificent Millicent in honor of her departed friend.

Tessa stood among the ruins of her beloved greenhouse, her heart heavy with grief. She couldn’t believe that Millie, her trusted friend, had met such a tragic fate. The void left by Millie’s absence was immeasurable, and the guilt weighed heavily on Tessa’s conscience.


Although Tessa had resorted to drastic measures to protect herself from Hubert’s abuse, she never anticipated the consequences that would unfold. The greenhouse, once a sanctuary of beauty, now stood as a haunting reminder of the secrets hidden within its walls.

With a heavy sigh, Tessa resolved to rebuild her greenhouse and her life. She continued her passion for cultivating roses, pouring her love and care into each delicate bloom. The memory of Millie lingered in her heart, a constant reminder of the price she had paid for her secrets.

Years passed, and Tessa’s greenhouse regained its former splendor. Her roses thrived, displaying a brilliance and elegance that captivated all who beheld them. Tessa found solace in her garden, a place where her past intertwined with her present, reminding her of the strength she had found in the face of adversity.


As Tessa continued to participate in various flower exhibitions, her roses became renowned throughout the region. Each year, she would unveil a new masterpiece, honoring Millie’s memory by naming them after her departed friend.

Tessa’s reputation as a skilled gardener continued to grow, and her roses garnered admiration and accolades from experts and enthusiasts alike. However, the guilt of her actions and the burden of her secrets never left her. She yearned for redemption, for a chance to make amends.


One day, as Tessa tended to her roses, a familiar face appeared before her—a face she hadn’t seen in years. It was Millie, alive and well, standing at the entrance of the greenhouse.

Tessa’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Millie? Is it truly you?”

Millie smiled warmly, her gaze filled with forgiveness. “Yes, Tessa. I am here.”


Tears welled up in Tessa’s eyes as she reached out to embrace her dear friend. “I thought… I thought I had lost you forever.”

Millie held Tessa tightly, her voice filled with compassion. “I knew the truth, Tessa. I knew the depths of your despair and the weight of your secrets. It was not my place to judge but to understand.”


Tessa pulled back, her hands trembling. “How… how is this possible?”

Millie’s smile deepened. “The night I ventured into your greenhouse, I discovered your journal hidden among the wreckage. It revealed everything—the ashes, the tooth, your confession. I understood the pain you had endured, the lengths you went to protect yourself. But I also knew the burden you carried.”

Tessa bowed her head, unable to meet Millie’s gaze. “I never meant for any of this to happen. I never wanted to hurt you.”


Millie placed a gentle hand on Tessa’s cheek, lifting her head. “We are all flawed, my friend. We make mistakes, sometimes out of desperation, sometimes out of fear. But what matters is that we learn from them and find a way to make amends.”

Tessa nodded, her heart heavy with gratitude for Millie’s understanding. “I will spend the rest of my days honoring your memory, dear Millie. I will continue to tend to these roses, nurturing them with love and care.”

Millie smiled, her eyes sparkling with warmth. “I have no doubt that your roses will continue to bloom beautifully, Tessa. Your talent and dedication are undeniable. But remember, true redemption lies not in accolades or accomplishments but in the goodness of our hearts.”


Tessa took a deep breath, finding solace in Millie’s words. “Thank you, Millie, for forgiving me and showing me the path to redemption. I will strive to be a better person, to cherish the beauty of life and friendship.”

And so, Tessa Rogers and the Magnificent Millicent roses became intertwined in local folklore—a tale of friendship, secrets, and the redemptive power of love. The legacy of their bond lived on, inspiring generations to come to nurture the delicate blossoms of friendship and forgiveness.

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