Today, I looked back at all the photos from the trips I’ve been so fortunate to take. I spent a birthday on Bourbon Street with the best group of friends and romance authors. Attended a formal ball and got to wear a beautiful gown in my favorite color. Rode the streetcar to the Garden District. Sipped mimosas and sat at Café Dumonde and devoured the most delectable of beignets.
I flew to Denver and rented a car. Got to visit my nephew and his little family. Saw the Rocky Mountains and antelope as I wove my way through Wyoming to have lunch at The Virginian. Backtracked through the nature preserve and used the men’s restroom at a truck stop because I learned the hard way that a Wyoming mile is more like ten miles long and there are no stops along the way. Saw the Black Hills after a rainstorm with its green beauty. Stayed in a turn of the century hotel and casino and had lunch at the #10 Saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back of the head. Met some more wonderful authors and got to see an exciting ten second ride at the PBR rodeo. Took a train ride through the Black Hills and visited some lovely wineries.
I got to go to California. Took a flight to Las Vegas and drove on the Las Vegas strip on a Friday night. Took a side road while driving through the Mojave Desert and found a busy little oasis that I am sure will be the site of a romance novel in the upcoming months. Spent some quality time with my youngest daughter eating a seafood lunch right on the Pacific Ocean. Saw the Top Gun house in Oceanside. Watched the moon set on the Pacific and felt the damp chill of the surf as it came over the rocks of the patio of the beach cottage where we stayed. Walked the street of Old Town San Diego.
I’ve lived. I’ve done things that I never thought I would do on my own. And I have memories that will be forever etched in my heart. And none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for the encouragement of those who are near and dear to me. God is good. I’m blessed. And this Christmas season, I wish all of you a wonderful time with family and friends. Cherish those moments and hold them close to you.
And for you, here is the next scene from Faith’s Hope…
Faith tentatively approached the magnificent Greek Revival home sitting back from the sidewalk that ran along Chestnut Street in the Garden District. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her since the stormy night she found the ghostly young woman crying in the attic. So curious that she spent her day off at the library doing research until she found the exact address of Magnolia House.
Unlike the unkempt neighborhood where her own apartment was, the homes here were immaculately tended with beautifully landscaped lawns and gardens. Four columns supported the double gallery of the mansion, and steps spanned the better portion of the lower gallery. Magnolia trees in full bloom flanked the sidewalk that led from the wrought iron gate. Massive ferns hung from both levels of the gallery between each of the columns, and she was intrigued by how in the world they may have gotten there, let alone how they were attended to.
When she’d set off this morning and hopped on the streetcar, it was to take a walk around the Garden District and casually stroll by the house. Faith had searched the chest for any other letters from the southern gentleman to his lady but had found none. Only delicately embroidered linens yellowed with age and crocheted doilies and tablecloths filled the chest. Those were carefully removed and soaked in mild detergent in her bathtub then dried in the sun on the patio out back. The round table cloths looked very nice on the accent tables in her living room and her thrift store dresser and nightstands held the matching set of doilies.
She tried to imagine the two young lovers standing on the steps of this beautiful home with the moon and stars twinkling in the night sky above them and the fragrance of magnolia blooms filling the air. Hope and Geoffrey. She couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the two of them after the war was over. Had he returned to her or had he perished in the war? Why was it she cried so heartbreakingly in the afterlife?
“Good afternoon. Beautiful house isn’t it?”
Faith jumped at the sound of the deep voice with a very pronounced accent that she had become to recognize as being prevalent in New Orleans. As she did, her feet tangled up and she found herself starting to fall. However, she was rescued by a pair of strong hands gripping her upper arms to right her. When she looked up, it was to stare into a familiar pair of dark eyes. Her mind told her there was no way it was him, but there was no mistaking the timeless face that looked back at her. The black hair much shorter than that in the photograph, but overall this man had to be Geoffrey Maillieux. Or a direct descendant.
“I’m sorry miss. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He held onto her arms for a moment longer, and the heat of his touch burned through the thin sleeves of the flowing summery blouse. A heat that was very disconcerting to her, especially after the traumatic events before she came to New Orleans. She tugged herself loose from his grip and looked down at the sidewalk where their feet were a mere few inches apart.
“It’s fine.” Faith managed to mumble before she started to walk away. And only because it would be too obvious for her to run.