sweet potato pie

Chapter 1 - the jessicas

"Dear Savannah,

As you know your great aunt Emmaline loved you very much. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but as the executor of her will, it's my responsibility to both inform you of her passing, and that she left Belle Rive to you.

I understand you haven't been to South Carolina or visited her for many years, so if you would like to sell the property, I'm more than happy to assist.

The will shall be read next Tuesday June 3, at 5:30 pm at Belle Rive. Please let me know if you will be attending.

Condolences,
James Devereaux"

What an odd letter. Short, but heartbreaking. I read the censure between the lines. No, I hadn't been to see Great Aunt Emmaline in a long time. I spent my childhood summers and winter vacation with my mother's family at Belle Rive, the former rice plantation bordering the Cooper River, but a move from the midwest to Los Angeles at 17 had stopped my visits.

The neighboring girls were all carbon copies of each other. High-voiced, high energy cheerleaders, and those they tormented, they were mostly named Britney or Jessica, spending their 13 year old lives obsessed with two things: Jesus and boys, not necessarily in that order. I hadn't had much interest in either at the time.

As much as I adored Belle Rive, I didn't particularly like some of the company my Great Aunt had felt the need to provide. I had been happiest as a child keeping my own company. With my toes sunk into the river mud, chasing around her old graying yellow Lab, Gentleman, and sleeping under the stars at night. It had been a very long time since I'd thought about Belle Rive, but when I read this letter, I could smell Great Aunt Emmaline's prize jasmine and the sweet potato pie her maid, cook, and best friend Gabby used to make.

I had been going to go back. I said it to myself a couple of times a year. This coming Christmas. Next Easter. For her next birthday. In the summer. But it never happened. And now that great lady had gone and left without letting me say good-bye. The censure was earned, and I was ashamed as tears slipped down my cheeks.

She was gone. The last thing on earth any of the buzzards flying around her will (and I knew they'd be there) would plan on, is me coming to town. And that's the moment I decided to do just that. I'm sure no one understood why she left it to me. I had cousins right there in South Carolina. I had aunts who paid her weekly visits.

I didn't know who this James Devereaux was, but apparently he knew my great aunt enough to take me to task in the most subtle, southern way ever.

But how in the world I could I manage to go....I had finally, finally had a potential option on my screenplay. I might have to take a meeting, finally, thankfully, at any moment. Could I really leave town right now? I couldn't blow that chance for anything.

I had to trust that the universe had a hand in all this. After emailing my cell phone number, and instructions to call the instant he got any news, to my pitiful agent, I looked up delta airlines online and got myself a round trip ticket.

NEXT DAY

I was used to taking care of myself, not much scared me anymore. But when the wheels of that plane hit the Palmetto state, my heart started racing.

Everything was different. The people were different, the pace was different, it even smelled different.

The tough part had been finding a taxi willing to go all the way out to Belle Rive, because I hadn't told anyone I was coming. Surprise in itself is a weapon.

I closed my eyes and heard the familiar sound of tires on gravel as the taxi drove back the fourth of a mile drive way to take me to the house.

Around the corner, a line of live oaks showed off the big house coming into view - Belle Rive with its huge majestic columns. It had survived two wars and countless generations. Would it survive me? I suddenly felt small.

The taxi stopped, and the driver got my bags. I gave him a big tip.

There were several people standing outside the house and they all stopped cold.

We were all about the same age - late 30's. But these ladies looked South Carolina late 30's - short, shellacked "mom" haircuts, pink Ann Taylor suits, matching hats, sensible pumps, summery straw bags under the arms, pearls around their necks. I looked Los Angeles late 30's - blonde hair down to my waist, Rock n' Republic jeans, and a tight black Nirvana tshirt. They stared. Hard.

One of the girls whose face looked like an older "Jessica" I had known came forward, after giving me a jealous glare. "Honey, this is private property."

"Well I know that, sugar", I smiled, "it's actually MY property. Savannah Thompson..." I held out my hand... "You're...Jessica Hicks right?"

Her mouth hung open. She cleared her throat. Her mouth hung open again. "Knightly. Jessica Knightly now." She offered a weak hand back. "This is my husband...Fletcher Knightly."

"I remember you, Fletcher", I said, shaking his hand.

"Savannah!?" he laughed loud. "Savannah Thompson? Well...you look..."

Jessica pinched him.

"Different", he said. Yeah. I had hardly been a glamour queen when I'd hung out here as a child. Things had changed.

I looked them over. Jessica Cartwright. Britney Wilson. Jessica Daniels. And their husbands I presumed.

Suddenly the front door opened and a man came out, also about our age. The entire group turned and looked at him. Women breathed sighs of relief. Apparently this was the guy who would fix their sudden problem. Me.

"James Devereaux..." he said, coming forward, holding out his hand.

"Savannah Thompson", I answered. "I received your letter. I had my lawyer look it over (not exactly true, but it sounded good) I've come for the reading of my great aunt Emmaline's will."

"Well we were just about to get started", he said. He also stared.

The others had parted like the Red Sea for him not only because he was the executor of the will, but because he had physical presence. He was a big guy. Tall, and overweight both. He was the type of guy people moved for. But he was used to southern girls, he wasn't used to me. I gritted my teeth for battle.

"Then I'm right on time", I answered.

"You are, Miss Thompson."

I looked him up and down too. I had a thing for big blue eyes, and his were a stunning cornflower blue. Dimples appeared in his chubby cheeks when he smiled. He drew a hand through his dark hair. If he weren't my enemy...he would be cute. While no one there was likely to believe me or appreciate it if they did, James Devereaux was exactly my type.

"I remember you, you know", he said, a sudden hint of challenge in his voice.

I raised my eyebrows. "Really? I don't remember you."

"Yep, you used to come here every summer and terrorize your aunt's old Labrador, what was that old dog's name..."

"Gentleman."
&qu ot;That's right, Gentleman. And tell everybody you were better than they were."

"I distinctly don't remember THAT." I snapped. "I left that behavior to the cheerleading brigade."

He laughed, but made sure the old cheerleading brigade didn't hear. I stooped to pick up my suitcase.

"I'll get that", he said.

I guffawed at him. "I've been carrying this suitcase for 6 hours, thanks, but I can handle it."

He shook his head. "I'm sure you can, but my momma wouldn't speak to me for a week if I let a lady carry her suitcase. Please? For my sake?"

Charming, funny, cute. The enemy, I reminded myself.

"That's not necessary", I said. When I lifted the suitcase again, my aching arm felt all 6 hours.

"Come on in, but I don't know how you're going to carry something that heavy."

"It's not that heavy", I answered.

He took it from me and carried it. There was no way to take it back without looking silly.

"I meant that chip your shoulder", he said.
7 chapters, created 9 years , updated 8 years
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Comments

Built4com4t 7 years
As always, a pleasure to revisit
Junepearl 8 years
Thank you!
Fatrnfatr 8 years
This story is one of my favorites. The new chapter is itself like sweet potato pie - southern, sweet and so delicious it's hard to not want more and more. Like Mr. Devereux, the readers are well fed to a blissful rotundity.
Juicy 8 years
What a wonderful, delicious, romantic story! I love it, and I hope you keep adding to it! I will thoroughly enjoy reading every instalment smiley
Junepearl 8 years
Thank you!
Littleextra 8 years
Brilliant new additions! smiley
Built4com4t 8 years
finger lickin' good junepearl
Fatrnfatr 9 years
Can't wait for more. Bet Mr. Devereaux gets nice and BIG.
Built4com4t 9 years
two chubby thumbs up...again. love to play sometime?
Dragorat 9 years
Looking forward to more...I can truly enjoy these stories more now that I no longer have to be so critical as a Mod...please continue
Asi 9 years
perfect more please .. can she rub his full belly?
Pd500 9 years
Loving this!
Junepearl 9 years
Wow, thanks, there's more to come.
Fatrnfatr 9 years
This story is so romantic and sweet, I started tearing up. Boy, you're good!
Jazzman 9 years
This is the most artistic writing I have enjoyed in ages. The style, pacing, imagery,and character development are just marvelous.Of course I hope that Savannah could blossom as well. If not I'm still going to enjoy every chapter.
Built4com4t 9 years
yum
Littleextra 9 years
*Thumbs up* smiley
Fatrnfatr 9 years
Oh my. A wonderfully spun tale... So good, you just feel the summer heat and smell and hear everything.
Asi 9 years
I loved it .. would you please continue it
Junepearl 9 years
It probably was. Thanks.
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