Excerpt – True Hearts

True Hearts (A Lilac Romance Book 2)

Copyright © 2018 Pamela Ferguson
Published by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications

Chapter One

Sunny DeStefano popped open a can of Hard to Hold and doused Lavinia Burgin’s bright red locks with enough hair spray to freeze a basket of slithering copperheads. She gave the styling chair a spin and smiled at Lavinia’s reflection. “Sleep with a satin pillow case. Your hair will be perfect tomorrow.”

Lavinia fanned the aerosol fumes with crimson-tipped fingers, diamonds flashing on her hands and wrists. “What we endure for beauty,” she pronounced with a dramatic sigh, rising from the chair and glancing around the salon like a queen surveying her kingdom.

Sunny brushed off her hands and headed for the cash register before Lavinia could see her lips pull into a grin. Too bad it was only country music playing in the background and not Pomp and Circumstance. As the mayor’s wife and owner of Lilac’s only jewelry store, Lavinia had a fondness for dramatic gestures and all things sparkly.

“I see you’ve made some changes,” Lavinia gestured to the reception area’s new curtains and brightly-colored lilac cushions. “Did your mother approve?”

Sunny bit her tongue and counted to ten. “I’m going to surprise her.”

“She’ll be surprised all right. These colors are definitely not Betty Sue’s style.” Lavinia pulled out her wallet. “You know, your parents were just a teensy bit worried about retiring and leaving you in charge. Not that you’re not capable,” she added hastily. “It’s just that you’re so young. I was thirty and married before I opened Sparkles Galore.”

“Really?” Sunny’s lips pulled into her polite-hair-dresser smile. Her father had been more than ready to retire to Florida after his sudden heart attack. Unfortunately, from the number of calls Sunny received from her Mom each day, it was clear somebody was having trouble adjusting to the move.

“I promised your parents I’d keep an eye on you.” Lavinia wagged her finger playfully.

“I’m sure my mom and dad appreciate everything you and the mayor do for Lilac.” Sunny swiped the credit card. She was getting way too much practice talking with a clenched jaw. “Are you going to Donnie and Leanne’s wedding rehearsal party?”

“Of course. We try to accept every invitation. It’s our duty to the residents who so kindly elected Tom into office.” Lavinia lifted her chin as she surveyed her profile in the mirror. “Although, I’d be just as happy to skip this particular event.”

“How come?” Sunny’s brow furrowed. Donnie Greene and his bride-to-be Leanne Killian had invited the entire town to a cook-out this evening, the kick-off event for a weekend full of celebrating.

Lavinia patted her hair into place. “Don’t get me wrong. I know you and Donnie’s daughter Reo have been best friends since kindergarten. But just between you and me, those siblings of hers leave something to be desired.”

Sunny stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know.” Lavinia took a compact from her purse and applied some pressed powder to her shiny nose. “From what I hear, Gina’s constantly moving in with different family members. Buck works in the swamps. Chris defends the worst kind of criminals. Nobody even knows where Devlin is. Carly Day’s children are all as impulsive as she is.”

Sunny gripped the edge of the counter, the tension from remaining silent coiling in her stomach. People were going to gossip about a woman who had five children by five different men. She knew that. But it wasn’t fair that Reo and her half-siblings had to endure the consequences of their mother’s choices their entire lives. How many times had Sunny been required to follow her mom’s edict and stand by silently while customers traded stories about her friends?

Well, her mom wasn’t running things anymore. Sunny lifted her chin. “I love Reo and her family.”

“Those brothers are certainly handsome, there’s no denying that. But dependable? Not in a million years.” Lavinia snapped her compact shut. “Your mother used to worry you’d get involved with one of them. Don’t give me that look. She almost had a cow when Buck Day invited you to prom.”

“Reo’s siblings are my friends,” Sunny replied, her jaw tense. “As for getting involved, Reo’s brothers live elsewhere. My business is here in Lilac.”

“Right you are. We business owners need to stick together for the good of the town.” Lavinia patted Sunny’s hand. “Speaking of which, have you decided what specials the Up Do is going to offer for the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary celebration?”

Rats! How could she have forgotten again? Her mother had called just yesterday to remind her. “I’m still finalizing my list. When do you need it?”

“By the first of July.” Lavinia sighed. “You don’t know how much I miss having you on the beautification committee. You were such a big help. I wish you hadn’t dropped out.”

Sunny missed helping the town council, too. But with Mom caring for Dad around the clock and Sunny managing the shop single-handedly, there’d been no time for volunteer work. “Maybe another time.”

“I certainly hope so. We need dedicated young people like you to serve.” The entrance chimes jingled as Lavinia opened the door. “Oh my, I wonder who that is.” She nodded towards the shiny black sports car idling at the curb.

Sunny’s jaw dropped. She’d never seen such a beautiful car. Long and low to the ground, it dominated Main Street, purring like a sleek black cat. “Wedding guest?”

Lavinia’s eyes widened. “Maybe they’ll be shopping for jewelry.” She scurried outside.

Sunny watched as the sports car’s passenger door swung open. An unexpected clash of angry shouts pierced the quiet street. Gina and Buck! She’d know those voices anywhere.

Gina, dressed in a short denim skirt and tie-dyed tank top, sprung from the car onto the sidewalk. Her brother Buck, his blue eyes blazing, leaned across the passenger seat and glared at his sister. “They’re expecting us.”

Gina crossed her arms. “I told you. No.”

Lavinia turned around to watch the scene, eyes rounded with interest.

*

Read True Hearts to find out what happens next.