Read Deep Dixie Online

Authors: Annie Jones

Deep Dixie

Deep Dixie

 

By,
Annie Jones

 

Copyright 2012 by Luanne Jones

Published by PoutyGirl Productions

Cover by PoutyGirl Productions

Interior layout:
http://www.formatting4U.com

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from the author at [email protected] This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author

s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

For more information on the author and her works, please see
www.facebook.com/anniejones.author

 

Updated and re-edited from
the original published in 1999

rep
rinted 2006 by Multnomah Books

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

The first time he laid eyes on her, Riley Walker should have known he was in over his head.

He

d been taking a sort of self-guided inspection tour of the town of Fulton

s Dominion, Mississippi, in the company pickup, a fifteen-year-old faded blue junker with white lettering on the door: Walker and Son Sawmill. He had opened his collar and rubbed his neck where the unaccustomed tie had half-strangled him all morning. Riley hated all things constricting, which was probably why he

d never married and always busted his backside to stay in business by himself. Until now.

He still wanted to look over the records and reports but he had little doubt that he

d sign the papers to make him a partner in the town

s main source of income and employment. That he would become the town

s newest citizen.

So when the old truck had shuddered, but the engine growled in readiness to surge forward, it was Riley who hesitated as he rolled to a stop on the corner of the nearly deserted downtown street. Two empty parking spots in front of the doctor

s office had caught his eye. Just that quick, he had made up his mind to stop and get feel for the place. He flicked on his blinker, turned the wheel in a hard right, and gunned the motor.

The angry blare of a car horn tore through the stillness of the almost idyllic small-town scene.

Riley rammed his foot down on the pedal. His truck

s brakes squealed. His entire body tensed. The truck skidded to a halt, its back end fishtailing just enough to one side to have taken the door off another car had one been in the next lane.

The honking culprit—a sleek, red luxury car—went gliding through the intersection, pretty as you please. Had she even paused for the stop sign? He was sure she hadn

t. As for the dark-haired beauty in the driver

s seat, she never so much as turned her head to see what kind of havoc her recklessness had caused.

Riley leaned out the window.

Hey! There are other people using these streets lady!

As zingers went, it stunk. Had absolutely no effect, either.

Didn

t make the woman stop and realize the kind of problem her thoughtless, selfish actions might have caused. Nor did it make Riley feel any better about almost having crashed his truck or about having, for all intents and purposes, wrecked his positive impression of the town he needed to think so highly of.

He gritted his teeth. When he became a part of this community that lady had better look out. He was not going to put up with that kind of behavior in a town where he was raising his little girl. No way. No how.

In general, Riley made it a point to act on his beliefs and right now he believed someone ought to teach the careless woman a lesson.

Her brake lights flared.

Well, maybe that someone could be him.

The red car came to a halt, right there in the middle of the street. It just sat there for a full minute, not moving. In contrast, the three or four people inside the car had erupted in a commotion of hands waving, fingers pointing, and arms flailing. Riley even thought he heard a yappy little dog barking. The red car lunged forward, stopped again, then lurched into one of the
empty parking spots in front of a building with a brass sign listing the names of two doctors and a physician

s assistant.


Perfect.

Riley had her now.

With the flawless timing of a two-man saw operation—an exacting dance of give and take—the driver

s door flung open just as Riley made the turn into the spot. The driver leapt out, tossed her long, black hair back and used one hand to hold her skirt down. She never so much as wobbled on her high heels as she stepped, dead on, into his truck

s path.

Her eyes, the set of her chin, the very way she carried herself spoke a mix of fire and fine breeding that set off warning sirens in Riley

s head.

And yet there remained a vulnerability about her that made him lean forward to study her a moment. Maybe it was because her reaction seemed almost like a mother bear protecting a cub. Or because beneath the polish of the clothes, the look and the bravado, she had the face of an angel and the kind of figure that never showed up in women

s magazines unless it was as a

before

picture. She wasn

t fat, far from it, she looked healthy and strong. She was—


Oh, no you don

t!

She planted her feet firm and threw up her hands in a move he suspected she

d perfected as a kid, lip- synching to the song

Stop in the Name of Love.

She was
amazing
. Riley couldn

t hold in his grin. His anger now reduced to a mishmash of feelings that took on the chiseled clarity of a glob of cold grits.


Hold it right there, Bubba!

She had an accent rich as Mississippi top soil, with a full, cultivated quality that told anybody listening this lady was not somebody to be fooled with.

His grin broadened. He leaned out the truck window.

Name isn

t Bubba, ma

am, it

s—


Forgive my manners, but I don

t have time for introductions. Suffice it to say, sir, that unless your name is painted on this place along with a big ol


Reserved for

sign, it doesn

t really matter who you are. You
can

t
park here.

She stabbed her finger downward with a defiant flair worthy of one of her fore-mother

s protecting the homeland from marauding Yankees.


So just back up the Bubba-mobile and find another spot.


Bubba-mobile?

Suddenly she didn

t seem quite so charming.

A white-haired man in a rumpled business suit popped out of the front seat on the passenger side. He raised his hand in the air, one finger pointing heavenward like an old-time politician making a campaign promise, and announced,

I

ve got to get that wheelchair. Don

t nobody go nowhere

til I

m back.


Wheelchair?

Riley watched the poor old fellow toddle off and disappear into the doctor

s office. What kind of unthinking imbecile careens through town and runs a stop sign with an elderly gentleman in need of a wheelchair in tow?

Riley turned his attention back to the woman who had almost collided with his truck, his mind clear once again.

Listen, lady—


I thought I made it clear to you. I do not have time to listen. I apologize profusely for this little inconvenience, but I do think it

s the least you can do for me, considering you almost came hurtling through a stop sign back there and could have done who knows what kind of damage to me and my passengers.


I almost—? Hurtling?
Me
? Ran a stop sign?


No need for a confession of guilt, sir. I won

t take down your license plate and turn you in.

She

d been fiddling with her pocketbook and all of a sudden she whipped out a shiny black pen with gold fittings. She pulled off the cap to reveal the gold nib that looked more like a piece of art than a writing tool. She brandished the elegant thing with a flourish.

That is, I won

t take down your license unless it becomes absolutely necessary.


If anyone here needs to be taking names and kicking up a fuss with the law, it

s me.

He held his hand toward her.

In fact, if you

d loan me your pen a moment, I think I might do just that.

She looked at his hand as though he

d stuck out a three- day-old dead fish.

Though he had cleaned up for his business meeting, there was no hiding the calluses and scars on his working man

s hands.

She recapped the pen with a sharp click and gripped it in her fist.

I

d rather not.

He curled his fingers into a loose fist himself.

Yeah, well, maybe I shouldn

t have—


Apology accepted.

She dipped her head in a most gracious bow but kept her eyes riveted on him in an unmistakable warning not to confuse gentility with weakness.

Having been raised by a woman who could host luncheon

s for Ladies Bible Aid Society, complete with fingerbowls and fresh flowers, excuse herself to take him to the woodshed and tan his hide for acting up, then return in time to pour the tea, Riley was not likely to make that miscalculation. He clenched his teeth. He would never direct pure, unvarnished anger toward a woman unless she threatened the things he held most dear, but frustration? That he had no problem showing.

I wasn

t apologizing. I was—


Just leaving?

Frustration? He had the feeling this little gal handed it out by the bucketful.

Is this how you treat people in your town, lady? Almost run them down, pretend the near-death experience was their own doing then deny them access to public property on a high-handed whim?

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