***Giveaway: Everyone is a winner today! Read on and find out where you can pick up Summertime Dream for FREE! Offer good February 11-15, 2014. So don't delay!!
FIRST KISS from SUMMERTIME DREAM
by Babette James
Two blocks further, she turned right on Peach Street and another two blocks along led to the huge old mansion presiding over the neighborhood in all its boarded-up, moldering glory.
A tower with round windows topped the fancy curved slate roof of the three-story home and made the Falk house the tallest building in Falk’s Bend. She’d always wanted to climb the tower and see the view out those windows over the trees. Her favorite part, a broad porch with elegant paired columns, wrapped around the whole house. The disrepair the once-beautiful house had fallen into was heartbreaking.
“Aw, hell.” Christopher’s face was grim. “I hoped everyone was kidding.”
“Sorry about that. Honestly, most of the falling down started long before Mrs. Falk passed. The church ladies fussed about Mrs. Falk living all alone at her age, but she did her shopping and attended church and seemed like she’d never die. It was a shock when she finally passed. She lived in that house until the day she died at ninety-nine, did you know? The Sorensons and neighborhood did their best to look after the property. She was eccentric—well, to be frank, she was a crabby old lady, and she wouldn’t let people help her. She terrified me when I was little. She loved her roses, though.”
Her fear hadn’t kept her from walking home the long way from school, just to see the roses in bloom. Then came the day Mrs. Falk caught her stealing a rosebud that hung over the white picket fence and ordered her up to the porch, smacking her cane with fierce taps against the top step. When Margie stammered out how she stopped by to admire the roses, Mrs. Falk had then taken her around the yard and taught Margie the names of every single rosebush, mellow and sweet, as if she was someone else than the screechy witch of an old lady. She’d had green eyes, too, all faded with cataracts.
He snapped a picture with his phone. “Okay, lead on.”
Margie opened the peeling gate, wincing at the screeching hinges.
The men may have kept the front and side yards mowed, but dandelions and crabgrass had conquered the lawn and the abandoned garden beds had gone downright wild. Time and neglect had reduced Mrs. Falk’s prized roses to sucker-choked, unkempt tangles of sprawling canes with only a few scattered blooms hinting at their former beauty. Vines of trumpet creeper, bright with orange flowers, twined over the porch rails along with the shaggy brown remains of last year’s morning glories.
She led him up the cracked flagstone walk to the sweeping front porch steps. A porch like this called for rocking chairs, ice-cold lemonade, and a dog or cat or two sleeping in the sun.
As they stepped onto the porch, Christopher caught her arm. “Careful, some of the boards don’t look safe.”
Some boards were spongy, creaking under their steps, loud in the quiet afternoon, but on the whole, the porch was surprisingly solid.
Two panels of peeling plywood closed with a padlock hid the ancient screen doors and ornate arched double front entry. Oh, if he only had the keys. Would the leaded glass windows still be intact? They had once sparkled like cut glass jewelry and the screen doors had fanned out like butterfly wings on either side.
More plywood covered each window. Faded, cracked, and peeling pale yellow paint on the siding hinted at previous coats of white, green, and peach.
They reached the rear of the house. Christopher muttered a serious cuss under his breath. She didn’t blame him.
Vandals had paint-balled the boarded windows and doors. Beer cans, bottles, broken glass, and cigarette butts littered the flaking porch boards and trash lurked in every nook of the weedy, overgrown beds. Falk’s Bend was a nice town, but still had its share of bored kids looking for a little illicit thrill.
The crabgrass- and dandelion-choked drive led to the carriage house and small sagging barn, both structures boarded up, paint-splotched, and swathed with honeysuckle and trumpet creeper.
He finished his beer and looked around the littered porch with a clenched jaw, pacing sharply. “Hell, I suppose one more bottle here won’t matter at the moment. Might as well leave yours too.” He took her empty bottle and set the pair neatly by the back door. “Looks like chore one is trash bags and a shovel.” One more look around, and he shook his head. “I better make that a Dumpster.”
Margie touched his shoulder and had him turn away from the mess to focus on the view toward the river.
Here the picturesque natural beauty of the property began: the land sloped gently down past the ancient summer house and purple martin houses to the reedy pond where a duck flew in and landed with a quack, and stretched on through weedy tangles of wild blackberry and rogue saplings to the ancient apple and plum trees sagging with unripe fruit, and beyond to the river invisible in the distance, marking where the Engberg’s farm began on the far bank.
Appreciation softened his tense face.
“Beautiful, isn’t it? I fell so in love with this place when I was little and dreamed I’d live in a house like this someday.” Margie laughed. “Of course, in my dreams it was a bit less rundown.”
“I’d imagine so. Interested in buying?”
“Oh, if only I could, I would in an instant. I’m sure the property alone is worth far more than I can afford. It’s a huge piece of land. And the repairs and restoration...” Longing swelled. She sighed. Someone else would buy and live in her dream home.
Quiet fell between them for a while. Bees buzzed in the clover. Birds sang, chirped, and flitted. A hummingbird whizzed past. Two more ducks joined the first amid quiet bickering quacks. Dandelion fluff drifted by on an unfelt breeze.
A truck rattled down the lane, breaking the moment.
“Suppose we ought to head back...” Christopher turned, so close their arms brushed, but instead of retreating, he hesitated. Their eyes locked. Where dismay and frustration had filled his green eyes, want simmered. The heavy air electrified.
You need a change.
On a surge of bewildering crazy courage, she stretched up and kissed him. The brief brush of lips to lips left her shaken and her heart pounding, like she had just come up for air.
His eyes widened in his serious, craggy face.
No, oh, no. Blowing out an unsteady breath, she pressed a hand to her stomach. She’d carried her day’s adventure one impetuous step too far. Her heroines were the daring part of her. She’d never even kissed on a first date before, and this wasn’t even a date.
Before the apology fluttering in her mind could break free, he cupped her cheek and touched his mouth down on hers.
Thinking faded as feeling soared. His gentle touch sweet and fascinating, his lips warm and firm played over hers, unhurried in his caresses and enticing brushes. He laced his fingers into her hair, cradling her head in his hand. He tenderly nipped her lip and licked at her mouth, inviting her rather than taking.
She sighed, delighting in this lovely, reckless rush. Yes. Yes. Yes. Forget that they had just met. She could want again.
Gripping his shoulder, she accepted the heady invitation, and the kiss deepened into perfect.
The Fourth of July is over, but for these summer lovers the fireworks have just begun.
An unexpected inheritance brings business consultant Christopher Gordon from Los Angeles to quaint Falk’s Bend. He’s carved a week from his demanding schedule to list his great-grandparents’ house for sale and explore his roots. However, disturbing family secrets and the sweet temptation of writer Margie Olsson derail his plans, challenging him to seize the elusive dream missing from his hectic life— love.
A recent brush with death shook Margie’s life, but not her dreams and she’s ready to move forward. Only, standing up to her loving, over-protective family isn’t easy. Helping Christopher explore the derelict mansion and unravel his grandmother’s mysterious past should be a harmless fun taste of independence. But when her experimental summer fling ignites into unexpected love, how can her small town dreams work with his big city life?
Come fall in love at the river. Summertime Dream is available at:
TheWild Rose Press in Print
***Giveaway: Everyone is a winner today! You can pick up Summertime Dream for FREE on Amazon Kindle February 11-15, 2014: http://viewbook.at/SummertimeDream
About the Author:
Babette James writes sweetly scorching contemporary romance and loves reading nail-biting tales with a satisfying happily ever after. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys playing with new bread recipes and dabbling with paints. As a teacher, she loves encouraging new readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. Her class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! Born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California, she’s had a life-long love of the desert and going down the shore. Babette now lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and extremely spoiled cats.
You can find Babette at: