Snow on Magnolias
A Bon Amie Novel – Book 2
Rose Fabre has just been dumped at the altar, and not by just any man but the star quarterback of San Antonio’s Wranglers. To make matters worse, the embarrassing event is spread all over the news, and her own mother blames her. Though that is nothing new, after all Rose is never right about anything, according to her mother. She has to get out of Texas. Somewhere where maybe the news hasn’t reached.
So she heads for Bon Amie Louisiana where her aunt Odelia has been a live-in housekeeper for some rice farmers for years. If she remembers right Bon Amie is so small she doubts it even has a newspaper. The last time she was there she was thirteen years old and remembers having a great time with the farmer’s five boys.
Arriving at the LeBlanc Manor after midnight was not in her plan, but her spur-of-the-moment trip didn’t allow for wretched traffic or the herd of cattle who refused to get off the road. She is met on the lawn by one of the brothers, Sam, who mistakes her for an intruder. Once she explains her reason for a visit and he puts away his shotgun, and shows her to a room.
What do you get when you have a city girl living in a house full of superstitious farmers? Chaos, and plenty of it. Add in two kids, several lazy dogs and her lovesick aunt and Rose has her hands full.
Sam doesn’t like Rose very much and neither do his two young daughters. Rose learns that his wife took off years ago leaving Sam to raise the two girls. And for someone wanting to find a place to regain her peace of mind and forget about men, Rose has walked into a mess of them. Five LeBlanc brothers, all grown up.
Rose has some changes to make. She can continue trying to please her mother and trying to be someone she’s not, or she can embrace this new life she’s discovered and settle in. Bon Amie might not have a Starbucks, but the friendly smiles and unique characters not to mention the slower lifestyle. With this change of pace will Rose finally trust herself and to fall in love, this time its forever. But which brother will win her heart?
Sam LeBlanc sat in the old rocker; it’s paint worn from daily use. He rocked gently in the familiar chair on the gallery outside his bedroom.
The smell of fresh rain lingered in the air; a ring around the moon gave promise of more to come. Was there anywhere on earth that smelled as great after a rain than Louisiana? He thought not. But along with the cooling rain came the heavy thick humidity. What did his mom say? Something about with every cup of good there’s a spoonful of bad. His feet rested on the banister as he swatted a mosquito whining around his ear.
His T-shirt clung to his body, cooled by a light breeze rustling through the mighty oaks. Oaks his ancestors had planted and made sure would withstand time. His family had held this land for generations, and with his help he expected it to be held for generations to come. Sam could imagine the hands of his kin reaching across the past to lend help when he was in need. He knew it deep in his soul and felt their presence as they watched over the plantation and the family it housed.
He released a heavy sigh. Harvest time was approaching and he had yet to find the help needed to cut the rice, and now, with Odelia’s broken arm, he would have to find someone to assist her.
As he listened to the rain frogs, his body relaxed. Late night, his favorite time, with everyone asleep and worries laid aside, all seemed right with the world. He knew he worried too much and should give credit to his brothers, but he just couldn’t let go of being in charge.
He stifled a yawn, and stretched out his arms. The sight of headlights as they snaked down the winding lane caught his eye. He leaned against the banister. Who could be calling at this hour, this far off the main road? Someone with bad news or someone up to no good.
Just last year, he would have hoped it was Lisa. But not now. His love for her died during the nights he’d held his daughters as they cried for her return. And the days when he comforted them and assured them they were not to blame. Never again would he allow a woman to enter their lives and cause them pain.
The car made a sharp right turn away from the main road, stopping at the small house where Odelia lived. She was so much more than a caregiver for his family. She’d come to them just before his mom had died and been more of a second mother to he and his brothers. Sam walked down the stairs and strolled across the covered walk leading to that side of his home. In the shadows of one of the oak trees, he picked up a large branch off the ground to serve as a weapon, just in case, moved a clump of Spanish moss out of his way, and waited.
Lights from the side of the house illuminated the area. The car stopped. The driver’s door opened and bare legs unfolded out of the small car. The legs of a woman.
Sam dropped the branch and stood ready to confront the trespasser when the rest of her body followed the legs out of the car.
He stared in disbelief as the redhead stood in the beam of the floodlights with hands on her hips and stared at the charred part of Odelia’s house. The smell of smoke from the fire that happened two weeks ago still clung to the thick air.
He looked at his watch. 1:16 in the morning. A redheaded woman. Everyone in Louisiana knew what that meant, especially Sam, and there she stood.
“Damn,” Sam said under his breath. His brothers would say he only had one oar in the water, just his luck. His superstitions all had an ounce of truth in them, and this one was no exception. A red-headed woman on his property on a Monday, he now knew his week was doomed.
I don’t need this now. He’d enough trouble finding workers to bring in the rice crop. And being able to keep his brothers motivated to work the fields was another nest of trouble. Nothing he did came easy now days, nothing at all. No, he didn’t need any bad luck this week. And he certainly didn’t need it coming from a woman. But there stood trouble right before his eyes, shapely legs and all.
He stepped out of the shadows into the light. “May I help you?” he asked.
“Mercy!” She spun around, her eyes wide with fear.
“Ma’am are you lost?” Sam watched as her eyes turned to liquid and her chin began to quiver.
Sam dug his shoe into the soft dirt. Aw hell. This was not going well.
“Look lady, if you’re in trouble or something?”
She stiffened her back and made a quick swipe with the back of her hand across her eyes. “No. I’m not in trouble, I’m here to see my Aunt Odelia. Does she still live here?” Her voice shook as she turned back towards the damaged house. “Is she all right?”
A lost memory tugged at his brain. His steps took him closer for him to study her features. A smile drifted across his lips. “Well, well, I remember you. You’re that girl that spent the summer with Odelia. You’re little Rose. All grown up.”
Remembering her shapely legs when they glided out of the car, he now took in the rest of her. Her arms wrapped around her small waist. Her full lips drew his focus to the tiny mole at the right of her top lip. Still there. “I remember you all right. You stayed in my pocket that whole summer. You were afraid of everything but brave enough not to show it.”
Beads of sweat popped up on Sam’s forehead. His throat tightened, he remembered something else, Rose was the first girl he’d ever kissed. How old had he been, twelve, maybe thirteen? He’d kissed many girls, but he couldn’t think of when.
Thunder rolled in the distance. The humidity wasn’t the only thing heavy in the air tonight. Trouble was brewing and it was coming fast.
Rose shifted her weight, her voice low and husky.
“You have a good memory. I remember that summer too. It seems like there were two or three rowdy boys that summer. Which one are you?”
His voice got hung in the back of his throat so he coughed. He was not a young boy with first kisses on his mind but a grown man with good southern manners.
“I’m Sam. Forgive my lack of hospitality, Rose. You must be dead on your feet. Odelia has long been in bed. She’s staying in the main house while her place is rebuilt. She had a kitchen fire a couple of weeks ago.”
He tugged on his ear and continued. Why was he so nervous, it had to be the red hair? “I’ll get your bag and show you to one of the bedrooms.”
Sam lifted a large suitcase out of her backseat and placed it on the ground. He glanced back inside the car to see if there was another bag. Yellow Post-its hung on the dashboard, and candy wrappers littered the floor. Several other bags and boxes were crammed inside the car. How long was she staying?
“Leave your car. Someone will bring it around in the morning. Your things will be safe.” Sam bent over to pick up the bag at the same time as Rose. Her hair brushed his face. Soft as a kitten’s belly. He inhaled – fresh peaches warmed by the sun. He coughed again, to clear his head.
He walked up the path. “Did you get lost? Is that why you’re so late?” he asked.
“No, I planned to start out sooner, but I kept finding one more thing to do. I’m inclined to do that. Some people might think I’m flighty.” Tucking a stray curl behind her ear, she added, “I like to consider myself a multi-tasker. I do agree that sometimes, like today, I underestimate my time.” She shifted her purse to the other shoulder. “I certainly didn’t mean to arrive at someone’s home this late, but I never saw one motel, not one that I would stay in, since I left New Orleans. I apologize.”
Sam guessed Rose’s height to be only about five feet, so he slowed his gait, but she kept up with the stride of his six foot two frame. And kept on talking. For a little woman, she sure could talk.
“Odelia didn’t say anything at dinner about you coming tonight. You know she talks about you all the time, I can’t believe she didn’t yell it from the rafters.”
“Oh, I didn’t tell her. I meant to. But things happened and I thought—well never mind what I thought. I should have called,” she said.
Opening the front door, he lowered his voice. “No need to get the whole house up. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow.” He led her up the large staircase, softly lit from sconces on the wall. The steps, covered with carpet in shades of pinks and grays, showed wear from the years of use, and they creaked ever so lightly as they walked. At the top of the stairs, he opened a door on his right and flipped on the light.
“I trust this will do.” He gestured his hand to encompass the whole room. A large grin spread across his face and pride lit his eyes.
“Yes. The room is lovely, thank you,” she said.
Sam was proud of his home. He knew he was fortunate to have inherited this grand plantation. Sam wished all his brothers held the same love for Annees Passees. The name on the Plantation, which meant ‘years gone by,’ fit it perfectly and had also been passed on including the rest of the housing and land.
“Sam, don’t tell Aunt Odelia I’m here. I have a habit of getting up early so I would like to surprise her,” she whispered.
“Okay, I know she will be happy to see you.” Sam placed his hand on the doorknob and turned back. “Will your husband be joining you? Odelia told us you were getting married last month.”
“No, I didn’t get married. In fact don’t ever plan to.” Rose eased the door shut, forcing Sam to back out of the room into the hall. “Ever.”