About Open House
Love can take root where you least expect it.
Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.
Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.
Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic town house and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.
Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.
Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…
Exclusive Open House Excerpt
Tyson Yang had not expected to see a woman in a prim skirt and neat blouse emerge out of a butterfly cloud at the entrance of the garden. Sure, New York had its fashionistas and oddballs—sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between the two—but even his own workplace was usually business casual, and accountancy was as stuffy as it came. Plus, it was summer.
They were in a garden.
She seemed too hot—temperaturewise, at least.
Mrs. Espinosa had already dusted off her knees and hopped up to talk to the stranger, her smooth brown face alight with curiosity. He decided to remain where he was, distributing little trowels of fertilizer to Mrs. Hadley’s plants while she was in Atlanta visiting her grandkids. She’d written out a feeding and watering schedule for him to follow. It was the opinion of many in the garden that Mrs. Hadley spoiled those plants, although how anyone could spoil a plant was a question that he had not yet had the courage to pose to the ladies of 136th Street Community Garden.
Plus, he was hardly dressed to impress in his dirt-smeared straw hat, holey T-shirt, old cargo pants with their many, many pockets for gloves, and gear.
Maybe she was trying to sell something to Mrs. Espinosa; Ty somehow doubted it was seed packets.
He stood up and moved closer, in case there was trouble.
Mrs. Espinosa was speaking with the woman in Spanish, Mrs. E rapid-fire, the woman more slowly.
The woman smiled, the corners of her liquid eyes crinkled and her rich brown skin glowed. Ty felt himself go very still inside. Maybe he’d stay kneeling and gaze at her forever. That would be nice. The garden needed a statue.
Sharp-eyed Mrs. Espinosa had spotted him. She waved him over. “Ty! Come over here! This single young lady wants to learn more about our community.”
Mrs. E wasn’t even trying to be subtle.
He brushed himself off, aware that his hands were dirty and his face, too, probably. He took off his hat and resisted the urge to run his hands through his hair.
“Magda, this handsome boy here is Ty. My knees aren’t what they used to be or I’d show you around.”
She twinkled and then skipped off merrily, bum knees and all.
“So, were you thinking of joining the wait list for a plot, or just general volunteering? Plenty of ways to get in the muck.”
Muck. Well, that was extremely suave. He suppressed a wince.
“I was curious about the garden itself, what kinds of things you do, how long it’s been around.”
“I think it was an empty lot for a long time and Mrs. Espinosa and Mrs. Freeman started planting some herbs and flowers, leaving buckets to collect rainwater, that kind of thing.” He glossed over the part where it had been overrun by rats, and the fact that they’d hauled nearly a hundred pounds of broken glass, cans, shoes, underwear, condoms, needles and other choice bits of city waste out. “And now it’s the clean, modern operation you see here.”
She laughed, glancing around at Mrs. Freeman and Mr. Serra squabbling over seeds, at Mrs. Espinosa, who was avidly watching Magda and Ty. She gave them a thumbs-up.
The laugh seemed to break up some of the tension around the woman’s eyes. “Does Mrs., uh,”
“Espinosa, Mrs. E.”
“Yes, does she get some sort of prize for setting you up? She seems really determined.”
“I’m beginning to wonder what she thinks will happen.”
“Maybe you’ll have to cart her around forever in a wheelbarrow decorated with flowers culled from the garden.”
“That’s part of my regular duties here.”
Magda laughed again.
Okay, maybe this could be good. Maybe he wouldn’t be so averse to making friends if pretty, vivid women with beautiful curls and overly formal suits kept wandering into Mrs. E’s clutches. “So, uh, a lot of people like to grow tomatoes here, peppers, squash. We have rainwater barrels, but also we’ve got an agreement with the co-op next door to use their hose to water the garden. Compost heap over there. That solar panel over there was built by the kids at the Jessie Fauset High School and they maintain their plot over there.
“We have a schedule on Google calendars. Nothing strict but we keep track of the plots now and someone has to lock up the storage shed at night and unlock it in the morning.”
“Where’s your plot?”
“Oh, well, I’m not an actual member. I just kind of help out with everyone else’s stuff sometimes—if I have time. Don’t want to be tied down to the land. Gotta keep my on-the-go lifestyle.”
Luckily, she hadn’t seemed to notice his babbling.
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About the Author:
Ruby Lang is the author of the acclaimed Practice Perfect series. She is pint-sized, prim, and bespectacled. Her alter ego, Mindy Hung, wrote about romance novels (among other things) for The Toast. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Walrus, Bitch, and other fine venues. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.
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