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I quieted, settling in the chair and waiting for him to finish. He would answer if I talked to him—I knew that from previous attacks of unfiled paperwork—and so I didn’t need to verify it by bothering him. I’d have his undivided attention faster if I let him take care of work.

About five minutes slipped by in the sound of typing and the reassuring chill of the air conditioning. Finally, Nathan turned in his chair to face me across the desk, extending both hands in a palms-up “gimme” gesture.

“I beg you, be merciful, for I have just filed fifty-seven patient reports,” he said. “Let me see inside the bag of wonders.”

“I don’t know,” I began. “I mean, you did say that people kept interrupting you…”

“You are never an interruption, a distraction, or anything else of the sort,” he said, hands still outstretched. “Please. Be the most wonderful girlfriend in the world, and let me look inside the bag.”

“You’re lucky I’m soft-hearted,” I said, and passed the bag over to him.

Nathan placed the bag on his desk with proper reverence before reaching inside and pulling out the King Sundew. The light from his desk lamp glinted off the tiny beads of sticky sap coating its fronds, making them look like jewels. Nathan’s eyes lit up.

“You found a King Sundew,” he breathed. “Sal, it’s beautiful.”

“I bought a King Sundew,” I said. “Marya sold it to me.”

“You found Marya’s shop, something I hadn’t managed in eight years of working here. Ergo, you found the King Sundew, and you should get the credit. Let me give you the credit. Please.” Nathan stood, the sundew cradled lovingly in his hands. “This is an incredible plant. I mean, really remarkable.”

I smiled. “You like it?”

“I love it.” He paused. “And I’m being stupidly presumptuous again. Is this for me?”

My smile grew. I liked carnivorous plants as much as Nathan did—enough that I had a small terrarium filled with thriving flytraps and a few pitcher plants that were suitable for a gardener with more enthusiasm than actual skill. They were one of the things we’d bonded over. I’d come to meet him for lunch carrying a flytrap from Marya, and suddenly we had all these things to talk about. The walk we’d taken so I could show him Marya’s store was one of our first dates. He was a lot farther along in our mutual hobby than I was; there was no way I could keep a King Sundew alive. And yet the fact that he even felt the need to ask somehow made the gift all that much sweeter to give.

“All yours,” I said. “I figured you needed a new friend to make up for the night you’d had. There’s a care sheet in the bag, if you need it.”

“Best girlfriend.” He stepped around the desk, pausing to bend and kiss me quickly on the lips before he crossed the office to the terrarium where he kept the majority of his sundews—the ones pretty enough to pass muster for work. There were no pitcher plants, since the administration frowned on keeping dead bugs in your office, even if they were in the process of being digested. There were no flytraps, either. Thanks to hundreds of horror movies, everyone knew that flytraps ate meat. But the sundews, with their bright colors and glittering leaves, were just fine—never mind that they were, in some ways, the most vicious killers of them all. An insect that got stuck to a sundew could live for hours before it died, being slowly digested the whole time.

Carefully, so as not to jostle the plant in his hand, Nathan removed the lid from the terrarium and shifted the heating lamps to the side. Then he moved a few pots around, all one-handed, before lowering the King Sundew lovingly into the center of the display. Its fronds were still clumped together from their time in the bag. He picked up a long skewer—the kind people use for barbecues—and used it to gently tease the sticky leaves apart. Then he replaced the lid on the terrarium and stepped back, looking proudly at his modified display.

“Beautiful,” he said, and turned to walk back to me, bending to pull me to my feet.

“Me or the sundew?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, and kissed me.

Being kissed by Nathan was one of my favorite hobbies, and I was more than happy to stand, put my arms loosely around his neck, and kiss him enthusiastically back. We passed several pleasant minutes that way. Finally, Nathan pulled away, cheeks flushed and eyes a little overly bright behind his glasses.

“You are amazing, and I am starving,” he said. “Lunch?”

“Lunch,” I agreed. “Indian?”

Nathan grinned. “It’s like you read my mind. Let me get my coat.”

He left me in the office while he took care of the last few details required before he could leave the hospital. I walked over to the terrarium, bending to study the King Sundew. It was already relaxing into its new environment, fronds fully extending as it mapped out the limits of its space. It would have insects stuck to those leaves by the next morning, using the nutrients in their bodies to feed its own.

“You’re beautiful,” I murmured.

“Sal?” said Nathan, from the office doorway. “You ready?”

“I’m coming.” I straightened, smiling again. “Let’s eat.”

Nathan clicked the office lights off as he stepped out to the hall. The lights in the terrarium stayed on, casting a bloody red glow over everything. I grabbed my bag from the chair and followed him into the hall, leaving the silently growing plants behind.