Please help me Welcome Author Shanon Grey!!!
She has written us a wonderful story for Valentine's Day!
Thank you so much Shanon!
A RUTHORFORD VALENTINE
by Shanon Grey
It’s February and all thoughts turn to love. As it does all over, so it does in the quaint southern town of Ruthorford, Georgia, with one exception. In Ruthorford, the descendants are hoping for a match-mate connection that will result on a “blended” offspring. To encourage this, the townsfolk of Ruthorford hold an annual Valentine Day’s Dance out at the Davis farm, on the outskirts of Ruthorford. Everyone who is a descendant of the original Native Americans that surround and protect Ruthorford or the descendants of the Scots that came to settle and form the town is invited.
Not everyone will “match,” but generally one or two will find their mate and, hopefully, that union will produce a blend, who in turn will match with another blend and that couple will be trained as Gatekeepers. This is the story of one such Valentine’s Day Dance and how things are not always as they seem.
“Okay,” Brenda, the town’s long-lived postmistress, said, as she pulled the large box of invitations through the open grill, “is that everyone?”
“Of course it is,” Miss Alice intoned, sniffing indignantly. “I’ve been doing this for…forever,” she said careful never to give away her age.”
Brenda let the smile broaden as she flipped through the invitations, not looking up. She lifted one. “The Hamiltons? They never come.”
“I won’t be leaving anyone out. Just because they don’t come doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an invitation.” Alice stated firmly. No one knew for sure why, but the Hamiltons had broken away from the town, moving the farthest out. They married outside as well. It wouldn’t be long before they were all gone. Nevertheless, as one of the first Scottish families chosen by the Native Americans to settle in Ruthorford, they deserved the respect as such and an invitation went out.
The same with the Merciers. They came from a Canadian tribe and settled with the tribe surrounding the town. They also didn’t attend, which was just as well, since the longstanding
feud with the Hamiltons generally disrupted into a brawl whenever they attended the same functions. Brenda just shook her head and stamped the envelopes.
She gave a little smile. Miss Alice might be sending out the invitations but Brenda had managed to get on the decorating committee and she’d seen the huge barn transformed into a red, pink, white and silver fantasy. Of course, Abbott Bed and Breakfast was catering the affair and Brenda had managed to “taste test” several of Teresa’s creations. No one would go hungry, that’s for sure. They’d nixed the idea of a live band this year since so many of the young men where away at college. Even if they made it home for the party, they’d arrive late with little time to practice. Rowe Davis and Kateri Chance were in charge of music. They were young enough to be able to make sure everyone got something they liked.
Across town, Alice’s sister, Grace, was not making much headway with her visiting goddaughter.
“Aunt Gracie,” Alexanne, moaned, her voice pleading, “I really don’t want to go to that dance.”
“Now, Alex,” Miss Grace used her nickname, “it would mean so much to Miss Alice. She worked so hard on the invitations. Grace reached over and gave a loving tug to the sable brown hair that flowed about Alex’s shoulders. She hadn’t seen her since she was eleven and now, at twenty, she was stunning. “Teresa sure could use the help.”
Her light green eyes sparkled as she turned to her godmother. “I’m not sure what the emergency was—that it was all so important that I come now. It’s a good thing I’m on winter break.”
Miss Grace just smiled.
The crowd flowed out of the open barn doors of the transformed barn. The heavy rhythm poured from perfectly placed speakers, letting the music flood the entire area. Almost everyone was dancing. If they weren’t dancing, they were eating. Laughter drifted outside along with the music.
Grant Hamilton made his way through the throng. He’d just arrived that afternoon from Scotland. Having finished med school, he’d gone over to Scotland as a graduation present before starting his residency. Even though he’d never attended one of the Ruthorford functions, tonight he found himself delivering the Scottish pastries he’d sent ahead, per the request of Teresa
Abbott, owner of the Abbott Bed and Breakfast. He figured he could drop them off and be gone before he ran into a Mercier and they ruined the party.
He headed straight to the table, keeping his blue eyes forward, trying not to draw attention. Teresa saw him, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and ruffled his windswept blond hair, twisting away before he could hand her the box. “Take that on down to the end of the table for me, will you?” She turned him and gave him a gentle push toward the end of the long table. Ten feet of an already laden buffet table left little room to place the box. He moved a couple of plates around and lowered the box.
“Don’t you dare set that box down!” A heavily accented female voice came at him from the side.
He jerked the box back up and turned toward the voice. His response to the beauty in front of him was so visceral he almost dropped the box. Thick brown hair swept her face, a fringe of bangs offsetting the pale green of her eyes. Her lips were full and she tugged at her lower lip with perfect white teeth as she reached to catch the box.
Her hands closed over his at the same time her gaze lifted to meet his. A current coursed back and forth between them. Their eyes locked.
“Hey, Alex!” A young man came up and put his arm around her waist. “You haven’t danced with me yet.”
She gave Grant a quiet smile and turned, “I would love to dance with you, Jimmy.”
Her French accent washed over Grant like warm cognac, setting fire to his nerves.
Out of nowhere, Miss Grace appeared at his elbow. “Let’s put that right here,” she said, taking the box from his hands and setting it in the exact same spot he’d aimed for in the first place. “Now, would you offer an old lady a dance?”
“I’ll love to,” he flashed his blue eyes at her and followed her to the floor.
She let his arm slip around her and hit him with a flurry of questions--about his family, school, and Scotland--barely giving him a breath in between. She was also leading, or rather pushing, him around the floor. He stumbled slightly and bumped into a warm body.
The contact sent a spark through his back. An apology was on the tip of his tongue, when Grace stepped around him. “Jimmy. Just the man I was looking for. Will you excuse us a moment. Alex, Grant. Grant, Alex. Well…dance with her,” she said and pushed the two together.
His hands slid around her as though they were meant to encircle her waist. The curves of her body melted into his as if welcoming him home after a long absence. The current ran from one to the other and back, pulsing—until two hearts began to beat as one.
Grace directed Jimmy out to the parking lot on some trumped up errand and stopped next to Teresa. She turned and watched as the two young people swayed to the music, oblivious to the world around them.
“There’s going to be some upset families tonight.” Teresa nodded toward the couple and smiled.
Grace let her old green eyes close in a slow blink, opening them to the spiking blended aura surrounding the couple. She smiled at Teresa. “We do what we can.”
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