Bayou Christmas (Cypress Cove #2) - Suzanne Jenkins

Chapter 1

The crunch of fallen leaves under her wellington-clad feet, a hint of smoke in the air ushering in the beginning of winter. A fisherman waving to her as he motored back to the village dock, Maggie Angel had pulled a warm sweater around her slender body as she set off with her German shepherd pup, Brulee, on their daily walk.

Making a loop down to her dock first, then around the clearing at the front of the cottage to the trail through the woods, they passed by groups of wild horses munching at gnarled tree roots in the distance. The changing color of leaves delighted the eye as Maggie enjoyed the most beautiful time of the year in Louisiana. Cooler than ever, it was heaven on earth for a few short weeks.

The few months that she had lived in the cottage were turning out to be the most wonderful of her life, better than her first job after college, or her wedding, or even her first kiss. The cottage had invited magical properties into her realm, which included a new man and her beloved dog.

“Let’s pick up some speed, girl. I need the exercise,” she said, giving Brulee’s leash a shake.

They’d hike in one direction for thirty minutes and then circle around the perimeter of her property, which bordered on state land, passing more horses lazily grazing on the way. One mile northeast her boyfriend, Justin Chastain, ran one of the parish’s two veterinarian clinics.

Justin completed her list of must-haves in a man. The superficial were all accounted for: tall, built, dark and handsome. Just the sight of him, and her body sizzled. After what she’d gone through with her ex-husband, joy welled up in her heart just thinking of Justin, how totally different he was, trustworthy, honest and caring. The few setbacks they’d had were honest mistakes he’d made, trying to protect her.

She was consumed with autumn. After living in Florida all her life, even though the weather was similar in Louisiana, this property was packed with deciduous trees, and there were swaths of color everywhere she looked. Feeling melancholy, once she was close to the cottage so her cell phone would be in the range of the signal booster, she sent Justin a text.

If you’re available, come by for dinner tonight. I feel like cooking.

He answered right away. Are you okay?

Snickering, she replied, Haha, real funny. It’s fall out, and I want to roast a turkey and make a mini Thanksgiving dinner. Since I don’t feel like killing one of my wild turkeys, I think I’ll take the skiff into town and buy one.

Her phone rang.

“If you’re coming into town, I’ll meet you at the café for coffee at ten thirty. I have to pick up packages from the post office.”

“It’s a deal. I’m leaving in twenty minutes.”

“See you,” he said. “Love you.”

Smiling at the phone, she decided to cut him a break. She wasn’t big on expressions of affection over the phone. “Love you too, Justin.”

They were both laughing when the call ended.

“Come on, girl, you’re going into town with me today,” she told Brulee.

The whole village was dog friendly, including the grocery store, where you’d drop your dog off at the customer service counter, and the owner’s mother, an octogenarian in better physical shape than people half her age, would dog sit.

She went into the house to get her wallet and the boat keys and take a look in the mirror. Pleased with the face staring back at her, she’d lost that pinched, sad look that had become second nature to her when her jerk husband and best friend had betrayed her at their wedding. Giving herself a final smile, she left the cottage, locking it behind her. They jogged to the skiff, the boat her grandparents had used to get to the village dock, and she jumped in, followed by Brulee.

After untying the moorings, the motor started up at the first try, and she turned around in the bay to head out to open water. It took exactly five minutes to get to the dock. Dockmaster Gus Hebert came out of the shanty with his pipe clenched in between his teeth, happy to see her.

“Looky how big that pooch is getting! Miss Brulee, you eatin’ duck for every meal?”

Maggie threw him her rope, laughing. “She’s on a strictly monitored diet. No wild fowl because she’s never out of my sight.”

“Whatch you doin’ in town on a Monday, miss?”

“Lookin’, I mean looking for a fresh turkey to Copyright 2016 - 2024