Ch. 1-Texas Wildflowers
Publisher, Barbour Books has made Chapter One of "Texas Wildflowers" by Anita Higman available to interested readers and reviewers. Texas Wildflowers is a 4-in-1 novel, set in Texas, with quirky characters and fun storylines. Take a peek! Contact publicist Kathy Carlton Willis (firstname.lastname@example.org) for inquiries. Book may be purchased at your favorite book source.
Introduction Everything’s Coming Up Rosy When Rosy McBride is left at the altar on her wedding day, she’s devastated. She heads back to her hometown of Galveston, thinking she’s going to collapse from sorrow. But her family has another plan: set her up with an old friend, Larson. As he reveals his feelings, Rosy pulls back, but he is determined to help her find her way again—in love, in life, and in all that matters most. Forget Me Not Lily Lily McBride opens a counseling business, but since she knows little about her chosen field, she breaks all the standard rules of therapy and instead relies on her quirky common sense and God’s wisdom to help her clients. From the beginning, though, she knows she’ll have to break the most solemn of counselor/patient vows—the one that says she cannot fall in love with Rubin McCall, her most eccentric and impossibly irresistible patient. For the Love of Violet Even though Violet McBride owns a business called Romantic Images, which teaches people how to live romantically, her own life has become colorless and lonely. That is, until Morgan Jones, a geek who’s maddeningly outspoken, suddenly shows up at her front door. In spite of Morgan’s ecentric ways, Violet discovers the real meaning of romance—and love. Dreaming of Heather After Heather McBride’s perfect life comes undone, she finds herself on an unexpected date with free-spirited Evan Finch, who not only reawakens her artistic passions, but gives her courage to fall in love without a day-planner. Texas WildfloWers four-in-one collecTion anita Higman © 2012 by Anita Higman Print ISBN 978-1-61626-595-3 eBook Editions: Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-550-2 Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-549-6 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. niv®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental. Cover design: Kirk DouPonce, DogEared Design Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683, www.barbourbooks.com Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses. (ECPA logo) Printed in the United States of America. Dedication To my son, Scott, and my daughter, Hillary. You were each a miracle when you were born, and you still are. Life has been made richer and more joyous because you’re both a part of it. Never forget how much you are loved. . . Acknowledgments Praise goes to my editor, Becky Germany, at Barbour Publishing, for her expertise and support. And to Ellen Tarver, for helping to make these stories a finer read. And much gratitude goes to my agent, Sandra Bishop, who believed in my work and who faithfully cheers me on. The course of true love never did run smooth. William Shakespeare everyTHing’s coming up rosy Chapter 1 I ’m going to kill Henry. I stood at the back of the church, trembling beneath my wedding gown, while the guests sat poised for that one moment—that storybook moment a girl dreams of her whole life. The ceremony was about to begin, and my groom was nowhere in sight. I crushed my gown between my fingers as my insides squeezed the life out of me. Henry, my love. Where are you? This sort of thing happened to other people. Right? Friends of friends. Strangers. I glanced at the front door of the church for the thousandth time. The door teased and tortured me with hints of light around the edges, giving me imaginings of frantic late arrivals and apologies. And yet the door might as well have been sealed shut with nails and tar. Henry wasn’t coming. God, help me not to hate him. He’d done the unthinkable. Henry had turned my storybook moment into make-believe. “Rosy, we can wait a little longer,” Mom whispered. “Maybe he just got delayed. You know how absentminded Henry can be.” She straightened my veil and smoothed my gown. Then she took a tissue and dabbed at the perspiration on her face. Poor Mom. 9 Texas WildfloWers Henry’s best man, Ken, made his way down one of the side aisles and walked toward me as if he were carrying a thousand pounds on his back. He leaned over and said in a low voice, “Henry texted me just now.” “Yes? What is it? Where is he?” Ken touched my shoulder. “He’s not coming.” Mom gasped. A few guests shot some nervous glances back at us. Ken’s three words, He’s not coming, poured over me like water over an umbrella. Even though I had guessed the truth, my spirit couldn’t fully absorb it. A strange hollow roar filled my head as if I were holding a seashell to my ears. A scary little dizziness buzzed around in my brain, but I refused to pass out. Henry was not coming. The door would never open now. Breathe, Rosy. “This is so. . .I’ve never seen. . .honestly, I don’t know what to say, Rosy, except I would never have agreed to be Henry’s best man had I known that he was capable of. . .that he could. . .” Ken lowered his gaze. “I’m so sorry.” “But why isn’t Henry coming?” I tugged on the sleeve of Ken’s tux as if I were a small child tugging on her mother’s apron. “Do you know? Did he say? Please tell me.” “He didn’t say. But you deserve to know.” Ken gave my hand a squeeze. “Listen, Henry’s down in his basement if you want to ask him.” So, Henry was in his basement on our wedding day— the same place he always hid out on a Saturday. Just another day to him. The harpist played my favorite song, “Amazing Grace,” but now it seemed absurd in light of my new reality. 10 everyTHing’s coming up rosy Mocking this holy day, this promise of forever love. Mocking the lyrics of “a life of joy and peace.” Why had Henry changed his mind? Did he no longer love me? I pulled myself out of the mess in my head and turned to Mom, who’d busied herself wringing her purse strap. “I’m sorry, Mom. Tell Daddy I’m sorry, too. There’ll be no wedding after all.” I fingered the seed pearls on my vintage gown one last time as a bride-to-be and sighed that sigh that comes when you know your life will now waft and wander like a helium balloon bobbing aimlessly in the breeze. I would never say the vows that would make us man and wife or know the whirling joy of our reception and honeymoon or live the happily-ever-after. It was over. I removed my cathedral train and handed it to Mom. “Have Matilda make the announcement. I’m leaving.” “But, darling, don’t you want to eat dinner with us? Have some of the cake, or. . . ” Mom’s voice faded into sad resignation. “I understand. I’ll tell your sisters, but they’ll be—” “Shocked, I know. And furious with Henry.” I kissed her cheek. “I love you, Mom.” “Love you, too.” I took one more glance back at the jittery guests and strode out of the church before anyone else found out what had happened. Feeling more angry than sad, I would now home in on Henry like a guided missile ready to detonate. I crammed myself and my meringue-like gown into my MINI Cooper and sped so fast through the streets of Houston I bumped a plastic trash can along the way. How apropos. After arriving at my fiancé’s house, I unstuffed 11 Texas WildfloWers myself from the car, picked up my bouquet from the car seat in case I needed something to throw at him, and then headed up the stone walkway. I opened a small side door—the one Henry always forgot to lock—and tromped down the steps into the musty basement. Dust rose, coating my finery, but I no longer cared. The hem of my gown caught on a nail, and when the material wouldn’t give way to my tugs I yanked it off, ripping the delicate fabric. “Henry?” My voice was just below a scream. “Henry!” “Yes,” came the weak reply of a mouse—maybe I should say rat. Standing on the last step, I could see Henry slumped over a vial of something blue and bubbly, surrounded by brick walls and two rectangular windows, which only allowed enough light in to keep him from going as blind as one of those albino cave salamanders. Henry looked up at me. He wore his laboratory coveralls, not his wedding tux. I took in enough extra breaths to make myself light- headed. “What do you think you’re doing? You missed our wedding! How could you do such—” “I know.” I calmed myself. “What happened, Henry. . .to us?” Except for the ticking of a clock, silence engulfed the cellar. I was drowning, and time was audacious enough to continue on. “I’ve never been smart enough for you, have I? I know I’m clever, but not in a brainy sort of way. My parents probably 12 everyTHing’s coming up rosy didn’t give me any stimulation in my crib. Or feed me enough blueberries. Or—” “Don’t be silly, Rose. You have a higher IQ than most women I know.” “What then?” I took the last step into the cellar and walked toward him. Henry set his vial down and backed away as if I might throttle him. It had crossed my mind. “I found the answer to the problem,” he said, pointing to some kind of diagram on his laptop. “Problem?” “I did it. I finally invented an odorless spray to make the photos last even longer in your mother’s scrapbooks. I’ll need a patent, of course, and a way to market it. But then I might sell the idea to—” “Henry. . .I appreciate the fact that you want to be a part of my scrapbooking family. But I needed your commitment of love today, not your odorless spray!” I lifted my bridal bouquet and smashed it against the wooden chair in front of me. The flowers fell to the floor, bruised and broken. The sight looked so pitiful I knelt down and tried to put some of the pieces back together. It was impossible, of course. A single teardrop trolled its way down my cheek. No more came out. I would save them for later, since crying in front of Henry would now seem like throwing pearls before swine. “I’m sorry, Rose.” Henry’s arms made a feeble attempt to reach out to me, then they drooped back to his side. “I just don’t love you enough.” 13