The Pickle Queen

The Pickle Queen

Deborah Smith

November 2013 $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-344-3

Book Two of The MacBrides


 

 
Our PriceUS$12.95
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Pickles are mentioned in the Bible. Cleopatra ate them as a beauty regimen. Shakespeare put them in his plays. Mason designed jars for bottling them. So did Ball. Did Mason and Ball fight over the King of the Pickle Jars title? I don’t know. I did know this much: I used pickles to keep fear, pride, and my love of Jay Wakefield behind a door I would not risk opening again. Even now.

Wakefields take what they want. MacBrides never surrender. For nearly a hundred years, a battle of wills between these two deeply-rooted Appalachian families has ended in defeat and heartache—most often, for MacBrides. Now the MacBride name is barely more than a legend, and it’s up to Gabby MacBride to deal with the pain of her childhood memories and also the challenge of a MacBride legacy she’s only beginning to understand.

That will mean coming to terms with her bittersweet love for Jay Wakefield, the lonely rich boy who became her soul mate when they were kids, before the dark demands of his own legacy forced him to betray her.

Gabby comes home to Asheville.

 


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Excerpt

 

Part One

Gabby

2012

Pickles are our friends, not just our food

PICKLES ARE mentioned in the Bible. Cleopatra ate them as a beauty regimen. Shakespeare put them in his plays. Mason designed jars for bottling them. So did Ball. Did Mason and Ball fight over the King of the Pickle Jarstitle? I don’t know. I did know this much: I used pickles to keep fear, pride, and my love of Jay Wakefield behind a door I would not risk opening again. Even now.

My pre-Christmas lecture from Tal

THEY CALLED ME the bossy one and Tal the sweet one, but in the past two weeks, since Tal left New York for cousin Delta’s cove high in the mountains above Asheville, North Carolina, my and Gus’s baby sister had transformed into an Appalachian hoodoo woman. For the first time in her life, thanks to Scottish veterinarian Dr. Douglas Firth, our biscuit witch was in love, with extra butter on top. She now claimed to have the all-seeing vision of a spirit bear, the earth-mother insights of a country-western singer, and the we-must-return-to-our-roots fervor of a trout swimming upstream to spawn.

I’m not certain mountain trout do that, but if they do, Tallulah Bankhead MacBride had become their honorary swimming instructor.

She emailed me before Christmas, not knowing I was in a Los Angeles courtroom fighting to prove I hadn’t stolen five million dollars from my movie-star partner.

Dear Big Sister,

There’s something going on between you and Jay Wakefield. Admit it. Not just from when we were kids. When he came to the Cove to make that cold-blooded offer about hiring us to work for him at Free Wheeler (when he knows we’re the rightful heirs!), my food angels couldn’t get a good grip on his secrets and pain. But now that Doug and I are lovers, my angels have expanded their menu! The same thing happened when Eve was born. I’m full of aromas and everyone around me is a glory-full meal of spiritual flavors!

It’s true what Mama always said: It tastes good to be alive!

So here’s what my foodie angels are telling me: Jay has turned into baking chocolate. He’s got barely enough sugar left to qualify as "bittersweet.” He’s desperate for more sugar. Just like when we were kids, only much, much worse. For love. Trust. Family. For you. You, Gabby. You. He needs you like cocoa butter needs vanilla.

I know I told you to let me and Doug handle him. I told you not to listen when Delta was egging you on with all that talk about, "Go after him, just remember you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, Pickle Queen.”

But I was wrong. You need to go after him. Come here. Come home.

Where we were born. Where we belong.

I came home. Now you and Gus come home, too.

Love, Tal

"THE HEARING’S about to start.” My lawyer laid her hand on my shoulder. You know things are bad when your attorney keeps patting you.

My senses filled with avocado and lemon. The lawyer’s safe place.

Tal’s foodie angels brought her visions of baked goods. Mine brought brine, peppers, spices, tastes that bit back. If my chances of walking away without being charged with embezzlement got any worse, my lawyer was going to turn into guacamole.

I closed the cover on my phone and stood.

I wasn’t going back to North Carolina. Or back to Jay. Not ever. The sweet boy I remembered was lost inside a bitter man. He’d become what he’d once hated most. A Wakefield.

Jay

Wakefield, MacBride, Nettie, Whittlespoon

Atop The Rock of Ages

1989

LOVE IS AN OPEN vein in a mountain of granite rock. Elemental. Gabby and I were bonded under pressure, sealed in the earth, surfaced by heat, crystalized by fire. Like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of the lies we survived. Our Wakefield-MacBride legacy started deep inside the rock of ages.

SAND. SILICA. SILICON Dioxide. SiO2. Known since ancient times. Quartz. The most common working-class rock on the planet. The bedrock under the mattress of the Blue Ridge Mountains that cover our part of North Carolina.

My great-grandfather Augustus didn’t know or care about the minerals under the surface of Free Wheeler when he bankrupted Arlo Claptraddle by buying his competition and driving bicycle prices into the ground; Augustus just wanted revenge for Arlo rescuing, hiding, and winning the heart of Augustus’s extraordinary cook, a young mountain beauty named Emma Nettie. Back in the 1940s, Emma was on Great-Grandfather’s short list for the next opening in his long list of mistresses. Her lack of interest in the position didn’t stop him from locking her in a room at his Asheville mansion until she came to her senses.

She escaped and headed back to her family near the Crossroads Cove, only to be tracked by Augustus’s hired security men. She found refuge in the strange world of inventor and bicycle maker Arlo, whose Clapper Motion Machines were built in the community he invented with all the whimsy of a cross between Walt Disney and a post-Victorian Mad Hatter.

For the next ten years, she lived with, worked with, loved and inspired Arlo, going under the name Rose Dooley. He designed a bike for her. He adored her. He would have married her, if he hadn’t been separated from a wife in his wealthy circles. Divorce wasn’t an option. The paperwork would have exposed Emma’s identity.

Eventually, in the 1950s, Great-Grandfather found her. You don’t take a woman from a Wakefield. You don’t take anything from a Wakefield. Not and live to talk about it.

So that, friends, is the short version of how Free Wheeler, an abandoned and haunted bicycle village near the cove, came to be the property, in perpetuum, of Wakefields, to serve as a warning to anyone who ever thought about crossing us again.

Like putting a head of your enemy on a stake outside your castle walls.

Now, that head had become surprisingly valuable.

Fifty feet beneath Dad’s Birkenstock sandals and Uncle E.W.’s tasseled loafers lay a vein of Carolina quartz so pure it could be pulverized into sand as white as bleached cotton. Wakefield Mining and Land Development considered quartz a throwaway. Scrape the valuable feldspar and mica out of the ground, separate the quartz that ran through it, sell the quartz sand to golf courses. It made those eye-popping sugar-white sand traps people saw on television at the Masters Tournament.

Until a little worldwide revolution called the silicon chip came along. North Carolina quartz became the gourmet truffle of silica, worth fortunes.

"I inherited the surface access, right?” E.W. said loudly, snapping his fingers in the thick summer air.

One of his attorneys stepped forward with a document, as if the mere appearance of a piece of paper was drama enough for the wild and isolated setting. "You know that. It’s a standard easement.”

Thick blue-green mountains rose around Free Wheeler’s weedy main street and sad, haunted buildings—all that remained of Arlo Claptraddle’s bicycle shops, his factory and the little town he built for the workers who became his family. A magical mountain village where people rode their Claptraddle bicycles on pretty paths to the cottages he built all through the valley, all the way to the fancy pavement of the Asheville Trace and into the Crossroads Cove, where the Jeffersons and Whittlespoons and Netties and other old families filled their bicycle baskets with fine corn whiskey; and where the friendly roadside farmhouse of Delta Whittlespoon’s grandmother would one day become Delta’s famous Crossroads Café Diner.

"I have the right to dig up as much of this God-forsaken piece of Nothing as need be,” my uncle insisted, as his private security men stepped forward with folded arms. Uncle E.W. was hated by a lot of people; nothing new for us Wakefields, but did he really believe I, Dad and Lawyer George were going to jump him? Behind him and his army of suits waited bulldozers and graders ridden by men in yellow hardhats. We’d be bulldozed before we got half a chance to attack.

"Go home, Elba,” Dad said. "We’re rich. We don’t need more money. We need to keep what’s left of our souls.”

"My soul wants progress, Baby Brother. Job creation. Tax money going to the coffers of our great state. And raw materials for the technology revolution that will keep our great nation at the forefront of...”

"Save your rhetoric for interviews and press releases. You want to own every mining property in this part of the state. You’ve put most of your investments in off-shore accounts, you’ve bribed regulators to look the other way and bought politicians and strong-armed activists. It’s a family tradition, I know. But this is one place where our family name is not going to be attached to the wholesale destruction and desecration of a historic site, not to mention a pristine natural environment.”

"I’ve been patient long enough, Tommy. There’s not a damned thing worth preserving here. It’s just a bunch of old buildings in the middle of the woods, full of junked bicycle parts and cobwebs.”

"It should be given to Arlo’s heirs.”

"There are none.”

"That’s debatable. Emma had a daughter...”

"No proof of paternity. And it wouldn’t matter anyway. Grandfather’s will says this property stays in our family. If you try to hand it off to strangers, you forfeit it to me.”

"I understand that, Brother. That’s why I’m going to protect it. I have no choice.”

"I’ll give you twenty percent of the net profit from the quarry I develop. You can’t legally stop me, Tommy.” He shook the document. "By God, I’ve got mining rights. Those include the access right. An easement to come onto this property and dig.”

I looked up at Dad with my fists clenched in the pockets of my khakis. Did even God know that E.W. Wakefield was the majority stockholder and CEO of one of the biggest mining companies in the southeast? That Wakefields had been gouging fortunes out of these mountains since the late eighteen hundreds?

Dad looked so tired. He’d inherited Free Wheeler from their father as a throwaway gift to a sickly second son. E.W. got the good stuff—the mining rights. Dad got the useless, pretty surface. Dad wanted it that way.

Dad leaned on his cane. A lifetime of type 1 diabetes had taken a toll on the nerve endings in his feet. He was a tall skinny pine tree pushed sideways by an ice storm. I stood as close beside him as I could without impugning his dignity by shoving a shoulder into his hip to hold him up. I was tall for eleven, but he was the size of the Olympian giants. In my eyes, at least.

"Elba,” he said in an elegant uplands drawl, "couldn’t you just once do the righteous thing?”

"Arlo Claptraddle nearly killed Grandfather. He assaulted him. The bastard died in prison. Rightfully so. I’ve got no qualms.”

"This place should be preserved, regardless,” Dad said.

"Sir?” Dad’s assistant whispered. He had been listening intently on a satellite phone he clutched to one ear.

"Yes, George?” Dad looked tired. I leaned into his shadow. I loved him more than breathing. Even more than he loved me. And he loved me even more than he loved old buildings, history, doing the right thing, comic books, and honesty.

Lawyer George—my nickname for George Avery—whispered to Dad, his thinning blond hair ruffled and sweaty, his open golf shirt showing a slight stain where his wife hadn’t quite smudged out the burp-up from their baby. Dad could afford an entourage; he just didn’t like the idea. "You’re better backup than ten lawyers and a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robot plus three Godzillas and a team of X-Men,” he always said to George and me.

George finished whispering. Dad looked at E.W. "Give me five minutes, Elba. I have proof that your access rights belong to someone else.”

Uncle E.W.’s lawyers did everything except roll their eyes and laugh. One of them stepped forward and handed E.W. a folder. He held it up triumphantly. "Court order,” he said. He waved the folder at the men behind him.

A bulldozer rumbled.

My stomach clenched. I looked up at Dad’s gaunt face. Unzipping the hip pack I always carried, I pulled out a small bottle of orange juice. "Cap’n, it’s time to re-fuel your jet pack.”

George gave me an approving thumbs-up. "Sir, Junior Commander Jay is making an excellent suggestion. Let’s conference in the shade of a tree and—”

Dad cut us off with a gently-raised hand. He tilted his head, listening. In the distance, along a rutted trail that ran back through the woods toward the place people called the Crossroads Cove, came the sound of a car engine. Dad smiled. "The Rebels are here early. I knew they’d make it.” He winked at me. "Darth Elba doesn’t stand a chance.”

A brown and white SUV rumbled into view. Muddy with big tires, fog lights and blue lights on top and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department seal on each side. A tall young deputy in khaki pants and a short-sleeve shirt stepped out; from the front passenger seat popped a sexy brown-haired woman in tight blue jeans and a tank top. She carried a big paper bag with twine handles. It bulged with mysterious contents. Her eyes crinkled when she saw the Us Against Them scene. She liked bad odds, I decided.

The deputy opened the SUV’s back door. A little old man in overalls climbed out, and the deputy helped him put on a dark formal coat over the overalls. Then the woman took his arm to steady him. With her acting as his prop, the three of them headed our way.

The warm June air brought a scent to me. Bread, buttery, rich. The woman smiled down at me as if she knew I was hypnotized. She reached inside the bag. "Here. You must be Jay.” Her mountain drawl was as soulful as the aroma around her.

I glanced from her to Dad. He nodded. I took the plastic-wrapped biscuit she offered. It was bigger than a grown man’s fist and still warm from the oven. The aroma went through the shield of my skin and up my arm. I’d been biscuitized.

"Delta, Deputy. I present Jayson Wakefield. Jay, this is Deputy Pike Whittlespoon and Mrs. Whittlespoon.”

"Very pleased to meet you,” I said. My hand felt heavy and happy, holding the magical biscuit.

Deputy Whittlespoon cupped my shoulder in a fatherly way, then stepped aside. "Thomas, this is Judge Rescule Solbert. Been retired a few decades but still sits on the bench once a month over in Turtleville—”

"See here, now, you conniving Wakefield horn-rimming rock hound!” the ancient Jefferson County judge said loudly, shuffling toward Uncle E.W. Delta set her bag of biscuits down and hustled along beside him, though his agitated quickstep seemed pretty secure. He dug a veined hand inside his coat and pulled out a piece of paper, which he held up between wizened fingers. "Nineteen sixty-nine! The Dog House. We called it a ‘private club’ to keep the preachers and the church ladies and the law of a damn dry county satisfied. Jack Farmer and his daughters ran it out of what had been the old Little Finn River Road Toll Store. Had a coupla TVs, a pool table, some card tables, a bar, a juke box, dart boards. Had a cooler full of good beer and a locker full of better liquor.” He shook the paper under E.W.’s nose. "Little Finn River Road. You Wakefields know that name. You murderin’ bunch of thieves. Wiped out all those MacBrides back in the thirties, turned that whole valley into a tomb... your devil granddaddy, rot in hell, Augustus Wakefield—”

The security men leapt forward. So did Delta. She planted herself between the judge and his goons, her hands on her hips.

Her husband called out, "Don’t hurt ’em, pussycat.”

E.W. sliced the air. "Old man, say what you’ve got to say.” Uncle E.W. drew himself up to his full six-four, disdaining the withered old mountain judge and his colorful details of the local road house. "Is there a point to this?”

Judge Solbert grinned at him from behind Delta’s freckled shoulder, showing a fake-perfect bottom denture but no upper teeth.

Judge Bulldog.

"The point, Elba Wyatt Wakefield, is that I was there the night your daddy wagered this property’s digging rights in a poker game. And he lost. I witnessed the transaction and signed it.”

Uncle E.W.’s mouth drew up in prune. "I assume you’re waving a copy of that so-called wager?”

"Tee hee, you bet, you greedy bastard. Go back to Asheville and figure out how to gouge fortunes out of these hills somewhere else.” He shoved the paper into my uncle’s hand. "Mary Eve Nettie won the easement in that game. Won it fair and square. I knew Wakefields can’t be trusted, so I got a lot more witnesses’ signatures besides my own, that night.”

E.W. glanced at the paper as if it repelled him, then flung it at his lawyers. They huddled over it like crows ganging up on a snake. One look at their combined stare of dismay said the snake was a big one.

E.W. shoved past Delta and the judge, thrusting his finger at Dad as he advanced. "That goddamned right is useless to whoever this Mary Eve Nettie is! I’ll buy it from her!”

"She’s my cousin,” Delta called, "and she knew what it was worth, and she didn’t want this place destroyed. She said so until her dying day.”

"Then she left the access right to an heir.”

"That would be me,” Delta said. "And you can go to hell. I’m keeping it.” She looked at Dad. "No offense, but it’s better off with me than with you, cause if I get ‘accidentally’ dead thanks to your brother, a whole of pack of hillbillies will wage war on him until the end of time. You can’t beat that.”

Dad smiled. "No, I can’t.” He nodded to George. "Explain the legal fine points to E.W. and his team, George.”

Lawyer George puffed out his chest in a way that said, Yes I got my degree at No Name U instead of Duke, while working as a waiter at a Red Lobster, so what? He rattled off a long explanation of the current status for a vague mining right passed down by inheritance from Augustus to William then parlayed out of William’s ownership via a poker game twenty years ago, now owned by Delta Whittlespoon.

When he finished, Judge Solbert cackled. "That, fellows, is ten-dollar lawyer talk for ‘Y’all are up shit creek on this one.’”

E.W. exploded. "That access right is mine, and I will regain it, Tommy, even if I have to twist your arm or break your neck or find your weak spot I will, and if you get in my way again—”

"You’ve never frightened me,” Dad said, which I didn’t doubt, because Dad believed in guardian spirits, in angels, and said that powers bigger than any of us had made the stars and the earth, the rocks of ages, the eternity of love. E.W. and all his minions couldn’t beat that. But Dad’s voice had a thready sound I recognized. Probably a drop in his blood sugar. "Don’t even try,” Dad started, then halted.

Lawyer George grabbed his arm. I tossed the shoulder pack and he unzipped it.

"Dad, drink some OJ!”

I got between Dad and E.W., who continued to head straight toward us, finger jabbing, face furious. A rush of things happened: security men running up, Deputy Whittlespoon jumping in the middle, but I focused on E.W.’s stomach. I was tall for my age, so when I drew back a fist it was level with my uncle’s breastbone. Because I went to an alternative education school (the courses included Spiritual Wealth, Leadership Ethics, and Community Living,) my sports were also alternative, meaning yoga and non-violent tai chi.

I opted for something out of Dad’s collection of Kung Fu movies.

I jabbed my uncle in the soft spot below the ribcage. Solar plexus. He clutched his chest and went down.

Behind me, so did Dad.

"HOLD HIS HAND, sweetie, hold his hand and pray,” Delta Whittlespoon whispered in my ear as Dad died. Her arms were around me from behind, her cheek was pressed close to mine, but we both sat there helplessly as Deputy Whittlespoon performed CPR and Lawyer George talked intensely to Dad’s cardiologist in Asheville. Dad’s big, thin hand was clenched so tight inside both of mine I thought he was holding on, but it was me doing all the holding. He seemed to be looking up at me but also at the trees and the mountains, the funny old buildings of Free Wheeler, loving me and all of that.

Take care of it for us, Jay.

I will. I swear.

He saw farther into the heart of the air, the Appalachians, the universe, until finally he got so far away he couldn’t hear me begging him to stay.

Uncle E.W. stood off to one side, holding his stomach, not even crying.

Watching me, the heir.

Gabby

Smoke got in their eyes

THE DAY I FIRST met Jay I was armed for trouble and in a mood to whack strangers. Again. Five sneaky neighbor kids, three street bums and two dogs had tried to steal food from the front-yard smokers. It wasn’t like they couldn’t get free handouts. A big sandwich board right by the front walkway said, If You Can’t Pay Today, You Can Pay Later. Right beside that sign hung a big iron cow bell. All a person had to do was clang it. Me or Gus would come around from the back yard, bringing take-out boxes, and we’d fill them up, no questions asked.

Only dogs and Daddy’s buddies in the police department got a pass on the clanging rule. Nobody else.

Mama—Jane Eve Nettie MacBride—said God gave her and her children—me, Tal and Gus—the gift of food magic as our special way to offer love to others. To feed the heartsick and needy, to soothe the dispirited. After all, who knew when we might be serving up a buffet to an angel, unawares?

Daddy—Stewart MacBride—however, said that God helped those who helped themselves, and that he and Mama were going to restore the Nettie-MacBride family names to their rightful place in mountain society. Make people stop whispering that they were cast-offs raised by kinfolk, both from histories rumored to be scandalous. Family was everything. Mama and Daddy’s merged pride would bring a golden glow back to the MacBride name. They would open a restaurant, like Mama’s cousin Delta Whittlespoon had done over at the Crossroads Cove, and it would be the best restaurant in Asheville.

Daddy couldn’t cook, but he could be a redheaded Rock of Gibraltar. His first calling: Family. Taking care of Mama and us. Second? Taking care of the good citizens of Asheville and his fellow police officers, just as he’d taken care of his brother soldiers in Vietnam. Third: Making our family so rich that we could hire people to whack people who stole from the front-yard smokers.

Family Family Family. Always Family. If you weren’t some kind of Family to us, you weren’t on the radar. Not in Daddy’s world. Or mine.

Jay

Jay becomes the landlord

"TURN THERE, PLEASE,” I said to Lawyer George.

He and his wife and their baby now shared the top floor of a 1910 piano manufacturing factory Dad had left me, just a block off the busy streets of Pack Square. Even after Dad renovated it, the high-ceiling, thick-beamed industrial loft was drafty and haunted; even when Dad was with me, it felt like we were floating on a forgotten cloud above the streets just one story below. I liked the feeling, still.

Lawyer George steered Dad’s vintage diesel Mercedes out of town and down a steep hill into the old river district, where the shells of forgotten mills and factories moldered along the French Broad. Dad (and now I) owned three properties the city kept threatening to firebomb, but he had been talking to local artists about turning them into studios. Lawyer George had all of Dad’s notes about that.

"Across the river?” Lawyer George said worriedly, as if we needed shots and a passport. He waved a hand against the summer wind. The Diesel Farter had no air conditioning. We puttered across the bridge above the French Broad and up the hill into the wilds of West Asheville. Kind of the ’burbs that time forgot. Some old brick store fronts lined the main drag that ran atop the ridge, forming a spine for steep, narrow streets that dropped down through thick forest and kudzu jungles. Most of the houses were little clapboard cottages from before the 1950s, and they weren’t in good condition.

"Delta said this is where they live.”

She said if I wanted to "do right,” I could at least make friends with Jane Eve—Emma’s daughter—and her family. Nobody would ever know if Arlo was Jane Eve’s father; he had been in prison for attacking Great-Grandfather when Jane Eve was born. The dates were vague; there had been another man in Emma’s life after Arlo went to prison. No one talked about the details, and Emma died when Jane Eve was just a few weeks old.

So Jane Eve MacBride—a Nettie on her mother’s side—was probably not the Claptraddle heir, and I couldn’t give her Free Wheeler anyway, if she was. I’d keep very quiet about all that history.

The less your uncle knows about the places and the people you love, the safer they’ll be, Dad had always told me.

"I hope these people have electricity,” Lawyer George said. "Plumbing. A roof. I should have asked my wife to pack my camping gear.”

We turned off down a lane where wisteria and trumpet creeper vine hung over the pavement in purple/orange chaos. We rattled past fallen mailboxes and overgrown foundations, skirting the fingers of cracked driveways that disappeared into the roots of trees that owned them now, and rounded a curve into what, by then, seemed to me to be a wonderland of nothing.

That’s when the sides of the lane opened up, having been bush-hogged enough to let cars park on the sides. A line of cars two dozen long filled both sides, stretching down the shady lane and around another curve. Pickups and old sedans, BMWs and junkers, minivans and Jaguars. Even a couple of small tour buses.

The hair rose on the back of my neck. Must be a funeral.

Lawyer George drove slowly, arrowing between the narrow space left in the middle. People strolled past, casually dressed, many carrying take-out boxes and containers. Beyond the bend, a huge oak tree shadowed a big new metal mailbox painted white with MACBRIDE on the side in fat red letters. Parked cars continued past the mailbox and down a wooded hill.

I gazed out my open window at an old cottage sporting fresh paint and lots of repairs, a sunny, mown lawn full of metal monsters I couldn’t quite describe, and a big side yard—over an acre—filled with picnic tables shaded by a couple of big trees plus tents and umbrellas. Every table was full of people, and every person was busy eating mounds of food off mismatched china plates.

I pointed at an Asheville police car parked far down the lane. "Mr. MacBride is a police officer. It must be all right to park on the street. I’ll take over from here. You go in and discuss the lease offer. I’ll park the car.”

After all, I tested at a learner’s permit level of maturity according to my teachers at Horizon. The Horizon Academy was that alternative-ed school. I had a feeling Officer MacBride wouldn’t be impressed by tests that included a section on psychic awareness. But I was a Wakefield and accustomed to certain privileges. Lawyer George hemmed and hawed, then shrugged and gave in.

I was determined to be the master of my lonely fate and to honor Dad’s devotion to doing good things for the people around him, the community, the less fortunate than us. Somehow, this web of the spirit would hold our islands together, would keep their foundations inside us.

 


 

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The Stone Flower Garden

Deborah Smith

$16.95 Reprint September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9802453-7-0

Darleen Union and Eli Wade are childhood friends torn apart by a murder that has never been solved. But now, years later, long-buried secrets are about to, literally, be dug up.

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Mossy Creek

Virginia Ellis, Debra Dixon, Sandra Chastain, Donna Ball, Deborah Smith and Nancy Knight

$14.95 June 2001
ISBN: 0-9673035-1-6


Welcome to the town whose motto is "Ain't goin' nowhere, and don't want to." Meet the handsome police chief, the beautiful mayor, a chihuahua who flies, and many, many more funny, warm-hearted characters.

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More Sweet Tea

Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Virginia Ellis, Debra Dixon, Sarah Addison Allen, Susan Alvis, Betty Cordell, Susan Goggins, Bert Goolsby, Maureen Hardegree, Lynda Holmes, Mike Roberts, Susan Sipal, Clara Wimberly

$14.95 April 2005
ISBN 0-9673035-9-1

Enjoy another sojourn on a comfortable veranda with the scent of jasmine around you and this anthology of nostalgic, funny stories in hand.

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Diary of a Radical Mermaid

Deborah Smith

$14.95 July 2004
ISBN 0-9673035-7-5

The sexy, raucous merfolk are back as one of their most tart-tongued socialites sets out to make over a frumpy children's book author who doesn't realize she's a mermaid at heart.

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Blessings of Mossy Creek

Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon, Virginia Ellis, Martha Shields, Susan Goggins, Berta Platas, Rita Herron, Martha Kirkland, Chloe Mitchell, Lillian Richey, Karen White, Gayle Trent and Missy Tippens

$14.95 June 2003
ISBN: 0-9673035-4-0

Everyone's counting their blessings in town, and a few are wondering if their troubles are blessings in disguise!

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At Home in Mossy Creek

Sandra Chastain, Martha Crockett, Debra Leigh Smith, Sabrina Jeffries, Maureen Hardegree, Debra Dixon, Susan Goggins, Carmen Green

$14.95 July 2007
ISBN 0-976-87608-3

Cupid never had to deal with a stranded European circus. The townsfolk of Mossy Creek get some unexpected lessons in life and love on Valentine's Day.

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Solomon's Seal

Leigh Bridger

$2.95 December 2008
ISBN 0-9673035-7-5

Special E-Book Only Novella! 

*Not available for Kindle.

He is larger than life.
She is his only hope.
Together, they will transform our world forever.
Because some tall tales are true.

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On Grandma's Porch

Sandra Chastain, Martha Crockett (formerly Martha Shields), Debra Leigh Smith, Susan Goggins, Maureen Hardegree, Julia Horst Schuster, Bert Goolsby, Clara Wimberly, Susan Sipal, Susan Alvis, Mike Roberts, Betty Cordell, Sarah Addison Allen, Lynda Holmes, Michelle Roper, and Ellen Birkett Morris

$14.95 June 2007
ISBN: 078-0-976-87602-1

Remember when? BelleBooks third collection of southern stories takes you back to childhood with tales about visiting grandma and grandpa on the farm.

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A Gentle Rain

Deborah Smith

$16.95 November 2007
ISBN 0-976-8760-7-8

A Connecticut heiress.
A Florida cowboy.
Her secret. His heart.
And the very special family she's come home to find.

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Solomon's Seal: Beginnings

Leigh Bridger

$2.95 July 2009

Second book in the Solomon's Seal Series

Special E-Book Only Novella!

*Not available for Kindle.

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Critters of Mossy Creek

Debra Dixon, Deborah Smith, Martha Crockett, Sandra Chastain, Susan Goggins, Maureen Hardegree, Michele Hauf, Pam Mantovani, Carolyn McSparren, Kathleen Watson-Hodges

$14.95 September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-09841258-2-1

Book 7 in the popular Mossy Creek Series!

Furry, fishy, four-footed and feathered. Peek inside the lives of the strange and wonderful pets of Mossy Creek and the people who love them.

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On Bear Mountain

Deborah Smith

$16.95 Reprint December 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9821756-6-8

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Just a Little Bit Guilty

Deborah Smith

$11.95 December 2009
ISBN 978-0-9843256-4-1

Classic Romance From New York Times Bestselling Author Deborah Smith

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Homecoming in Mossy Creek
Carolyn McSparren, Sandra Chastain, Martha Crockett, Debra Dixon, Nancy Knight, Brenna Crowder, Darcy Crowder, Susan Goggins, Maureen Hardegree, and Berta Platas

$14.95 November 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61194-040-4

#8 in the hilarious Mossy Creek Hometown series
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The Biscuit Witch

Deborah Smith

April 2013 $10.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-304-7

This time, the MacBrides are home to stay.

A Crossroads Cafe novella

Book One of The MacBridges


Our Price: US$10.95

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