Emerald Chapter 4

 

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

Chapter Four

Kali Cavanaugh walked through the pasture leading a quiet Brad Williams past the milking barn to the front parking lot of Provence Farms corporate office, a place most people referred to as ‘the barn’. If she had sold a two hundred thousand dollar engagement ring she could have turned the barn into a state of the art building and bought the equipment to produce twice as much cheese, twice as fast. Or hired an assistant, or bought a car. Or done any number of things other than eat a regular diet of macaroni. 

“Kali, I have to be honest,” Brad Williams said stopping beside his late model truck. “I need the ring for more than just a final comfort for Mom. Once she passes on I plan to sell the emeralds and make some critical improvements to the ranch. It’s either invest now or sell out to my neighbor.”

“But Brad, I don’t know how to help you.” Kali leaned against his sun-warmed hood. “I promise you I put the ring in a box with my graduation memorabilia, but all that got stored in Aunt Annalise’s attic after I moved to Washington. I haven’t seen the trunk in almost ten years.”

Brad took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow. “So, the ring’s not really lost, it’s just. . . misplaced?”

Kali thought of the round robin of cousins who’d lived in Annalise’s house over the last several years. “You could say that.”

“Well, what are we waiting for,” he asked, “let’s go to your aunt’s house and find that trunk.”

Kali shook Brad’s hand from her arm. “I can’t get in your truck and drive to the city. I’ve got cheese to produce, buyers to meet, and quite frankly, I need time to process. Seeing you after all these years is not the piece of cake you might have assumed.”

Brad slipped his fingers to circle around her left hand. Lifting her skin to the sunshine, he asked. “Are you married now and just too modern to wear a ring?”

“No, I never married,” she said wishing she could say otherwise. It would have been nice to suggest she’d not spent the last ten years pining for a dark haired man with eyes like melted chocolate.

Wiggling his eyebrows, his gaze lingered on her mouth. “So you missed me.”

She jerked her hand out his grasp. “I’ve been very busy. Romance was low on my priority list.”

“If that’s your story, I’ll buy it.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to start a business out of nothing more than a dream. It’s only been in the last two years that I could even afford to hire help, so don’t get the big head thinking I’ve wandered listlessly around with a broken heart. Because I haven’t. At all.”

Brad held his hands in self-defense. “I’m willing to admit I’ve always been more sentimental than you.”

Kali knew he was teasing her so she’d rise to heated debate with him. He used to play that game so they’d have a reason to kiss and make-up. “I’ll make a few phone calls. See if I can find someone who knows where my college trunk might be.”

Brad pocketed his keys. “I’ll go with you.”

“You don’t need to waste your precious time watching me. I’ll call you when I know something.” She turned walking toward the red painted door.

Brad fell into step beside her. “Watching you was always one of my favorite past times. This won’t be hard for me.”

“Don’t you have something better to do? Some cow to buy. A fence to mend.”

Brad shrugged. “As you pointed out, I’m a day’s drive from home. Might as well mix pleasure with business.”

“Then Lacy can keep you entertained.” Kali pulled on the barn door’s iron handle. “I’ve got work to do.”

Brad put his hand over hers stopping her hasty disappearance. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to keep a close eye on those phone calls. It’s not that I don’t trust you, entirely, but with this much money at stake I’d hate for you to forget to pass along an important detail.”

Kali felt the sun radiating into her eyes, but it proved little competition for the fire in her soul. “You don’t trust me?”

“We didn’t end on the best of terms and I’d hate to see you inflict a final act of revenge on a poor, dying woman.”

“Brad Williams, I can’t believe you think so little of me to suggest that not only would I sell an heirloom engagement ring, but that I’d hide it from you so I could pocket a fortune.”

The door pushed open from the other side and Lacy stepped into the sunshine. “Gosh, guys, ever hear of the term ‘discretion’?”

Kali shifted her gaze to her sister, but she still saw red. 

Lacy folded her arms over her chest. “And since the whole neighborhood heard your lover’s spat, care to tell me why you have a ring I’ve never heard about?”

Brad folded his arms too as he fixed his gaze on Kali’s colorful face. “You never told your sister about me?”

Kali had no where to look but at the welcome mat under her shoes. “It was complicated.”

“The tax code is complicated,” Brad said, “love stories are just sad.”

Kali sucked in her breath navigating the narrow opening left between her sister and doorway. “I’ve got cheese to make."

Brad stepped out of Kali’s path. Turning to Lacy he asked, “You wouldn’t happen to know where Kali stashed her college keepsake box, would you?”

“Kali had a keepsake box?”

Brad sighed. “Never mind. If I’m going to find what I need I’d better go learn how to make cheese.”

“Good luck, Kali’s the high priestess of demanding bosses.” Lacy chuckled. “On the other hand, we haven’t had this much excitement around the farm since. . . never.”

To be continued. . . . 

Go Now to...  Chapter 5


© 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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