Emerald Marks the Spot

 


An Emerald Marks the Spot
© Copyright 2005 Kimberly J. Fish

Chapter One

Kali Cavanaugh patted Queenie’s brown hind quarters as the goat climbed up the shallow steps and through the window frame following a short line of other milking goats ambling toward the pasture. Dusting her hands, Kali leaned through the sill reaching for the glass paned window, but her nose caught scents of rosemary and lemongrass weaving through the currents in the air. Serendipitous moments of fragrance and sunshine always derailed her. But the cool air in the milking room wrapped around her neck reminding Kali of labor still to be done. As Joaquin poured Queenie’s gallon and a half offering into the pasteurizer, Kali walked around the milking station, ducking her head under the large wooden beam dividing the pre- and post-Spanish American War sections of her rambling barn. 

She saw her sister ladling yesterday’s curds into the cylinder molds Kali had bought from a retiring Provencal farmer on her last trip to the ‘old country’. Although, truth be told, it wasn’t her ‘old country’ it was her aunt’s. But since she’d been raised by the woman with a lilting French accent she’d adopted ‘ze leetle corner of heaven’ as her own. 

“Okay, Lacy, want to tell me what you’re doing getting your hands dirty?” Kali looked at her sister’s blouse and tailored jeans. “You once told me going behind the manufacturing door was not in vice-president’s job description.”

“Well that was before I found out working for you included wearing four different hats. The only time I get to have any fun throwing around my vice-president clout is when you need to me to schmooze clients.” Lacy removed her apron, looping it over Kali’s shoulders instead.

Kali took the ladle from her sister’s inept hands and measured even spoonfuls into the molds. “Yes, but you do it so well.”

Lacy wiped her hands on a terry cloth. “Experience didn’t get me very far today. There’s some guy waiting for you and he wasn’t at all interested in my charms.”

Kali looked at her sister’s long blonde hair before smiling into the familiar bright blue eyes. “He did see you, didn’t he?”

“I made darn sure of it because he’s what Aunt Annalise would call a ‘male equivalent of a 1954 Bordeaux’.”

“That good looking, huh? Was he selling something?”

“I was too surprised to ask. He asked for you and I came running.”

Kali felt a tendril of hair fall from the clip holding her sandy blonde hair off her neck and made a corporate decision. “Tell our mystery man we’re busy today, but if he wants to come back tomorrow I should have time to talk. If I don’t get this week’s supply of cheese ready, I’ll have unhappy chefs berating me.”

“Don’t get off schedule because I need to call in a dinner favor at The Blue Door Saturday night.”

“The Blue Door? You must have found a friend with deep pockets.”

Lacy drew an imaginary line across her lips. “I’m not saying a word. I don’t want to jinx this special guy.”

“Oh, so this one is ‘more special’ than the last six or seven?” Kali ladled more homemade farm cheese, tasting a drop that fell onto finger. 

“Hey, don’t knock my methods. At least I get out there and date. You’ve been holed up on the farm for so long I can’t remember the last guy who took you out.”

Kali chuckled. “Me either.”

“So take a break. Meet someone besides the cheese distributor and the folks at church. Go on a real vacation for Pete’s sake.”

“Maybe when Joaquin and Maria get a little more experience.”

“Hello, Kali, they’ve been here for two years. How much more on the job training does it take to milk the goats and curdle the cheese?” Lacy turned on the fine point of her Prada heel and crashed right into the chest of a tall man standing in the doorway. “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

The man shrugged. “Don’t worry about my toe. I’ve got nine others.”

Kali looked at the face which had often haunted her dreams. “Brad?”

The man wearing a white polo shirt tucked into starched jeans stepped away from Lacy. Angling toward the woman with goat curds dripping down her apron, he smiled with one hundred watts of good ole’ boy charm. “Hello, Kali, nice to see you again.”

Lacy looked from the tanned man to her star-struck sister. “Kali, you know this guy?”

Her college years flashed through Kali’s memory spun in golden-hued scenes like a Nicholas Sparks movie. She had to lean against the stainless steel table so no one could see her knees weaken. “We knew each other a long time ago,” she said glancing at her sister’s stunned expression. “Brad Williams meet my sister, Lacy Cavanaugh.”

Brad held his hand out toward Lacy. “Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself in the office. I wasn’t even sure Kali would be here.”

Lacey slid her hand into his warm grip. “That’s okay. I just assumed you were a salesman or a chef since we don’t get social calls this far from of town.”

“The farm is two streets away from the edge of nowhere,” he said as he glanced around the rustic work space. “But the views from the drive were stunning. And in case it becomes an issue later, I may have nicked a turtle in the parking area.”

Lacey sighed. “Ralph. He just won’t stay in the pond.”
Nervous tension gripped Kali’s soul in a vice. Perspiration beaded the skin under her t-shirt. “Brad, I can’t imagine why you’re here. It’s been, what, ten years since we last saw each other?”

“Nine years, eight months and five days, but who’s counting,” he said with a wry smile.

Lacy glanced at her wrist watch. “Oh, look at the time. I’ve got an on-line meeting with the Cheese Society Chairman,” she winked at Kali, “but I’ll be back later for all the details.”

Kali had never told her sister about her brush with ‘true love’ because the adventure had left her with a broken heart. And an antique emerald ring. But watching Lacy disappear into the office, she regretted never sharing the story because maybe then she’d be better prepared, and better dressed, to deal with her nemesis’ return.

To be continued……

 Go Now to...  Chapter 2

© Copyright 2005 Kimberly J. Fish
This is a work of fiction.

A Listing of All Chapters of "An Emerald Marks the Spot"

Table of Contents

Following in the tradition of the old radio broadcasts, an up and coming author is supplying readers with a serial story detailing a mysterious ring and a rekindled romance. Tune in weekly to read brief chapters chronicling the ongoing joys and frustrations of a thirty-something entrepreneur trying to keep her goat cheese farm from spoiling while she chases down a lost keepsake box hiding a secret engagement ring and the fortune necessary to save a dying man’s mother. Will making the hard choices bring closure to broken hearts or a second chance for love? You’ll have to click on weekly to find out. . . 

Kimberly Fish, author of An Emerald Marks the Spot, lives in East Texas. When not popping chocolate kisses and Dr. Pepper chasers while she writes novels, Kimberly enjoys her family and friends and the occasional dinner out.

To contact Mrs. Fish, click <here...>

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