Authors: Drucie Anne Taylor
Tags: #General Fiction
Table of Contents
Drucie Anne Taylor
Copyright © 2014 Drucie Anne Taylor
Translation © Claudia Rapp
Edited by Annie Cosby
Layout: Annie Cosby / Drucie Anne Taylor
Cover design by © Art for your book/Sabrina Dahlenburg using
several motifs of: © Valua Vitaly & © AegLe Design (bigstockphoto.com)
Manufacturing and Publishing: Createspace
This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual living or dead, businesses, organizations, events or locales is entirely
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
If you would like to know more about me, feel free to visit me on Facebook.
First published in German in April 2014 as
'Avery: Sinnliches Verlangen'
The Coral Gables Series
The Coral Gables series follows the scintillating love stories that blossom among a group of friends in Florida. Though characters reappear, each book acts as a stand-alone.
And while there is a real town of that name south of Miami, the Coral Gables I describe exists only in my imagination—and those of my readers.
Mrs. Morrison?” I call as I enter the house of the old lady I’m supposed to take care of for the summer. I got the job to earn some money, so I can pay my way through college someday.
My name is Dahlia Walker. I'm eighteen and poor as a the proverbial church mouse. Earning my own money is my only possibility of financing college, and if I don't, I'll end up like my mom, which would be awful. I’m an orphan. I was raised by my granddad, the only family I’ve got. There's no one else, apart from a few aunts and uncles, none of whom want anything to do with the little bastard my mother bore. They treat me like I'm invisible, which is why I’ve always remained in the background everywhere I go.“Mrs. Morrison?” I repeat. Maybe the old lady is hard of hearing … or unconscious. As soon as that idea hits me, I rush through the whole ground floor, which is unbelievably spacious.
Mrs. Morrison, where are you?” I call again, but I still receive no answer. Where in heaven’s name can she be?
For a long while I search the house, until I find myself in the kitchen where the back door is thrown open before a smiling old lady who reminds me of Estelle Getty from
The Golden Girls
. “Well, hello! You must be Miss Walker, right?” she asks me.
I nod, feeling confused. “Yes. Are you Mrs. Morrison?”
She offers me a warm smile. “The real deal, that’s me.”
I start to form a smile of my own, but then I wipe it off before it’s fully formed. “I’ve been looking for you. I was worried.”
Mrs. Morrison clicks her tongue. “Oh, nonsense. I may be old, but I’m not fragile. Didn’t Doug tell you I spend most of my time in the garden in the summer?”
I shake my head. I’d never even met the guy from the agency. “No, but now I know.”
Would you like a glass of iced tea, child? I’m in the mood for a sip, and you look mighty thirsty, too.”
That’s very kind of you. Thank you.”
She saunters over to the refrigerator and takes out a pitcher. Then she climbs a small stool and fetches some glasses from the upper cabinet. I hadn’t expected to find such a spry old lady because I was told she was delicate, but maybe Doug’s impression is simply different from mine. “My children are rather adamant about a caretaker, because they think I’m on my own too much, when really my grandchildren visit quite often,” she tells me.
If it’s not okay with you, I’ll leave,” I offer shyly. She seems nice, but I have next to no experience with older women, and I’m simply not sure how to act.
She shakes her head and clicks her tongue again. “I’m glad to have nice company. So tell me, Miss Walker, where are you from?”
I’m from around here. Well, I’m really from Orlando, but then I moved in with my grandpa, due to … circumstances,” I reply sheepishly.
A young thing like yourself can’t be all that happy living with an old fart, can you?”
My jaw drops. Did she just call my grandpa an old fart? Sweet Jesus. “Um … Actually, I am. He’s the only family I have, so I’m rather happy to be able to live with him.”
But where are your parents, child?” she continues.
Passed away. Unfortunately.”
How did that happen?”
My mother was very sick. A long struggle, which she lost in the end. And my dad died in an accident.” I can’t help thinking that this lady is awfully sweet, but I’m still not completely comfortable. Mostly, I don’t like surrounding myself with other people because my experiences with them have often been disappointing. Back when I was still in high school, I used to prefer to sit alone, because I always worried someone would uncover the well-kept secret of my past. I have a hard time opening up, especially with strangers, and so I decide I have to think of something to keep Mrs. Morrison from asking me more questions. “That looks good,” I say, nodding toward the glasses she’s filling.
Mrs. Morrison nods, filling them with the iced tea. It smells wonderfully of lemons and mint, and I take a deep breath to inhale the scent. Then she passes me one of the glasses. “Cheers, Miss Walker.”
I offer her a shy smile and take a sip.
Come with me to the garden, child. You can sit and dangle your legs in the pool while I tend the roses. There has to be something for an old woman to do while her grandkids are out and about, and roses are my something.”
How old are your grandchildren?” I ask.
Avery is twenty-three, and Thierry is twenty-four. How old are you, Miss Walker?”
I’m eighteen, and please call me Dahlia; I’m much more comfortable with that.”
Only if you call me Trudy, Dahlia.” She grins at me.
Thanks, Mrs. Morrison … I mean, thanks, Trudy.” I follow her into the garden, and my eyes widen when I take in the oasis. Rose bushes are climbing the fences, there are some yucca trees, and the center of the yard is occupied by a fountain. “Wow,” I blurt out. This is like the grounds of a palace compared to Grandpa’s small backyard, let alone his house, in which I sleep on the couch because the mold has taken over my little bedroom.
Please sit down, Dahlia. By the poolside, or stay here on the porch if you prefer that,” Trudy suggests.
I’d rather give you a hand, if that’s okay. I was sent here to work, after all,” I answer with a smile.
Fine with me. Then go grab the gloves from the little table over there and help me pull some weeds.” She grins. “Normally that’s Avery’s job, but he hasn’t shown up in a few days. He’s always running after this girl Pearl, who’s a really, really horrible girl if you ask me. But I can’t blame the boy. I guess he’s still young and needs to sow his wild oats, as they say.”
Is she seriously telling me about her grandson’s sex life? “Okay,” I stammer, grab the indicated gloves, and pull them on.
Trudy shows me the flower bed, which has been mercilessly attacked by a variety of weeds. Hiring a gardener would be useful, considering the size of her garden, and I’m sure she could afford one, but living with my grandpa, I know how older people are. Rather particular, I’d say.
We proceed to weed the flower bed or, to be more specific, I weed the flower bed while Trudy hums a song.
By evening, I’m pooped. Trudy and I have dug up the entire flower bed. My hands are all blistery, and I’ve developed a rash on my lower arms. I must be allergic to some weed or other. Trudy gave me a cooling ointment, which I put on the reddened areas, but it still burns like fire. She told me I didn’t need to come over tomorrow, as her grandson Avery and his girlfriend had promised to drop by for a visit, but if I don’t work I won’t get paid, so I think I’ll go anyway. Maybe I could do some more work in her garden, so Trudy will have less to do. I’ll just ignore the rash, wear a long-sleeved shirt, and take care not to let the plants touch my bare skin.
Grandpa?” I call when I get home. I hope he hasn’t fallen asleep in the armchair, because I can’t sleep when he’s snoring in there.
In the kitchen, Dale,” he answers loudly.
My mom used to call me “Dale” when I was little, and Grandpa appropriated the nickname as an endearment.
I head to the kitchen and lean against the doorframe. “How was your day?”
Same as yesterday,” he says. “I sat out in the backyard reading. What was Mrs. Morrison like?”
Pretty nice,” I say. “We spent the whole day pulling weeds, and she tried to interrogate me, but I was mostly evasive. I didn’t feel like telling her everything, how mom died and stuff. And I also told her my dad’s dead.”
Aw, Dale, you know you shouldn’t lie,” he chides softly.
I answer with a sigh. “I know, I’m just too embarrassed to admit to being their child,” I murmur. “I’m sorry, Grandpa.”
He pauses in stirring something on the stove and turns around. “I know how hard it is for you to live with all the things your mother did, but that’s in the past. If anyone judges you for who your parents are, they don’t deserve you.”
I sit down at the table and rest my head on my hands. “I’ve been judged that way too often already,” I say in a choked voice. “I don’t want to deal with that anymore. People ought to see me for the person I am, not just as the child of that woman.”
You have to learn to forgive, Dale. In her final days, your mother didn’t know what she was doing or what was happening anymore. Make your peace with her memory. Embarrassment won’t get you anywhere in life.”
But it’s just so unfair. All through school, everyone in my class—and I mean literally everyone—had a mother who took care of them, who saw to their every need. I was the only one who didn’t. I had stale bread in my lunchbox, no baloney, no peanut butter, just enough that I didn’t starve. I never had decent clothes, so I was ostracized because she spent every dollar on her next high.” I hate the way my childhood veered off a normal course; it ticks me off to no end. “She was never there for me; that’s the sad truth.”
Grandpa comes over to the table and sits down next to me. “You know how badly I regret that you had to live like that, but I had no idea what was going on. And I also regret that I can’t offer you more than a place on the couch in this tiny old house, but believe me, some day you’ll be rewarded for all the hardships you had to endure.” He puts an arm around me and I lay my head against his shoulder for a moment. “You deserve so much more, Dale.”
I take a deep and shaky breath, struggling to keep the tears at bay. “Thanks, Grandpa.”
He pats me softly on the back, which causes me to look up at him, and then he offers me a warm smile. “Someday, it’ll all be fine.”
I return the smile shyly and nod as I disengage myself from him and abruptly change the subject. “What’s for dinner?”
I’m afraid it’s spaghetti with tomato sauce again.”