Blue Autumn in the Bayou (Gumbo Love) (12 page)

On the way back to Reggie’s house
, Autumn searched her satellite stations for the song that Travis had sung to her earlier. She keyed in the words on the panel and watched the scanner scroll across the display. After a couple of minutes, the clear, strong voice of Will Downing filled the car. She played it several times until it was etched into her memory. She could still feel the heat from his body. By the time she pulled up to Reggie’s, she wished that she’d leaped at the chance to stay the night with him. Still, the sensible thing to do was what she’d done. If the thing between them was to stand the test of time, then another offer was certain. She pulled up next to Reggie’s car and pushed the gear into park. Before turning off the ignition, she pulled out her phone and called Travis.

He answered on the first ring. “Hello.”

“Hi, I made it.”

“Thanks for calling to let me know. I had a wonderful time tonight.”

“I did too. Thanks for dinner. You’re a fabulous host. Your mother would be proud.”

He chuckled. “What did I tell you about the compliments?”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot. Forget that last statement, okay?”

“Can’t. You already admitted.”

“Well, I’ll be more careful next time.”

“I’m happy to know that there will be a next time.”

“Sure. Good night, Travis.”

“Good night, sweetheart. Pleasant dreams.”

* * * *

Travis spent
a lot of time talking to Autumn on the phone for a couple of days. They hadn’t seen each other since she left his house, and by Thursday, he was so ready to see her he could hardly stand the wait. His job was to get Reggie to his parents’ house by seven. The other ladies were already back in the city, and told Reggie they were going to the mall for last-minute shopping. Mona pretended not to want to go, so when the others left with the cars, she was left home with only Reggie’s car. Within the hour after the others left, Mona decided she needed to make a quick run to pick up some personal items.

Now came his part. He would stop by Reggie’s
, as if he was there looking for Autumn. While there, his mother would call, needing Reggie to come by for a mother-of-the-groom emergency. Reggie’s mother wasn’t expected to come to the city until early Friday morning. Only, Cheri, David, her parents, and her brother Lance, all arrived early that morning. Cheri was at the house with the other ladies. He rang the doorbell twice before Reggie answered.

“Hi Travis, come in. I’m on the phone with your mom right now.”

“Oh. What’s up?”

“She says she needs me to come over
, now. I was explaining that I didn’t have my car. Mona left to go to the store and should be back shortly.”

“I can take you and wait for you. Maybe by the time we get back Autumn will be back. She told me she would be here.”

“Yeah, at the last minute Erica dragged her to the mall.” She tried to listen to both his and Diane’s conversation at the same time. “Okay, Travis is here and will bring me by. We should be there in a few minutes.” She paused as she listened to Diane. “Yes ma’am, I’m leaving now.” She clicked the ‘end’ button, and looked at Travis exasperated.

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all. Let’s go.”

When they pulled in front of the Brooks’ house, Travis got out and opened Reggie’s door. All the other cars were parked in the back, so she didn’t suspect anything. Travis pushed opened the front door and stepped aside to let Reggie in. It was a good thing he was standing behind her because when she saw everyone and they yelled
“Surprise!” the sight overwhelmed her. “Oh, my God!” She screamed. She scanned the room at all the faces to include the friends who’d ditched her and left her home without transportation. “I’m getting all of you wenches.” She pointed at them. Reggie turned back to Travis. “And exactly how were you recruited? Wait, let me guess.” She turned toward Autumn who was hiding in the corner.

Although Autumn watched the exchange between Reggie and the women in the room, her main focus was on the tall
, handsome man still standing at the entrance. He was given strict orders to come in no farther than the foyer. She wanted so desperately to run over and throw her arms around him, but caution kept her rooted in the place she stood. She didn’t turn away until Reggie called her out.

“Not me
, little girl.” She smiled at Reggie’s accusations.

, you. Now go over and thank your accomplice, ’cause I’m guessing at this juncture he’s kicked out of the house.”

“You’ve got that right. Thank you
, Travis, honey, but you’ve got to go.” Diane pointed to the door.

“Well I know when I’m not wanted.” He waited for Autumn to walk him through the door.

“I guess I need to escort you out, Mr. Brooks, before these women turn their fangs on you.”

“Trust me, I’m going willingly. Have a good time.”

“Thanks, I’ll certainly try.”

“You don’t think I can recruit you for the tell all?”

“Not a fat chance. Sorry. You’re clearly out of luck.”

“Well, can’t say I didn’t try.”

“Indeed, you did.”


































Travis opened his hand, Autumn placed hers in it. They walked to his car without a single word, and when they stopped, Travis moved in close, pulling her into him. He kissed her tenderly, but didn’t linger. She felt his breath on her face when he whispered, “I missed you.”

She looked
into his stormy gaze, and ran her hand down the side of his face. All she remembered about their evening at his house was the heat he lit in her body. The only thing that kept her from leaping into bed with Travis was the reminder of the lessons from her mother, and grandmothers before her. She made the promise to save her first time for her husband. Right then, that promise was in jeopardy.

“I miss you. I’ll call you when we’re done.”

“Well, enjoy it. I’m sure you’ll have a good time.”

“I’ll try. I’ll see you later?”

“Definitely.” He kissed her lightly. “You better get inside before the clan comes out after you.”

Autumn backed away from him and then turned to enter the house. When she entered
, she got the knowing look from Reggie. Erica, on the other hand, came up to her. “So what’s happened here, my sister since the last time we were in the city?”

Autumn slipped her arm through Erica’s. “I’ll have to fill you in later. For now, let’s just say discoveries have been made. And I think I’m liking it a lot.”

“Well, I’ll say. Good for you. Hell, it’s about time.”

“Yes, indeed.”

True to her word, after they’d managed to get all of the ladies out of the house, and all the gifts and wrapping paper cleaned up, Autumn called Travis. She had two more nights in the city before she headed back to New York. For the first time, she dreaded the trip home. “I’m headed back to Reggie’s,” she informed Travis.

“Stay put, babe. I’ll be there in a few minutes, okay

“Okay. I’ll be here.” She hung up with him and walked to the front where Reggie and the other bridesmaids gathered. She garnered Reggie’s attention. “Travis asked me to wait for him here, so I’ll catch up with you guys at the house.”

“Okay. We’ll probably be up late anyway.”

“I have all the gift
s in my car. Do you need me to bring anything home?”

“No. I think we’re good
,” Reggie assured her.

Autumn walked back to the kitchen where Diane was wrapping plastic wrap over platters of leftover cake. “Everything was great
, Mrs. Brooks. Thanks for letting us have the shower here.”

“Not a problem, dear. Did you get left behind?”

Autumn smiled. “Sort of. Travis asked me to wait for him here. He should be here in a few minutes.”

stopped wrapping the dishes and walked over to where Autumn stood. She touched her arm bringing her attention to her. She regarded the young woman for a moment. She was beautiful, sweet, and very respectful. She could see how Autumn and Reggie became fast friends. They were so much alike. For that, she was grateful. Diane was also in tune with her own children. She suspected that Autumn and Travis seemed interested in one another. She saw that Travis’s behavior, over the last couple of weeks, had changed quite a bit. And she suspected that Autumn had something to do with that. They tried to pretend nothing was happening between them, but they couldn’t fool her. She was a master at the game call love.

“Tell me something, sweetie. Are you and Travis an item?”

Autumn was fidgeting with a container but stopped abruptly. Diane’s question shouldn’t have caught her by surprise, but it did. Her question told Autumn that the exchanges between her and Travis were obvious to others as well. Just as she was about to answer, Travis waltzed into the kitchen. He’d heard his mother’s question.

“I certainly hope so
, Mom.” He walked up and draped his arms around Autumn. He briefly kissed her forehead before he left her side and went to greet his mother. “Hi. After you kicked me out, I thought I’d try and come home to redeem myself.”

“And why would you need to do that, son?”

“Of course you planned to rat me out and tell Autumn here, that I’m a momma’s boy.”

“The truth is
, all my sons are momma’s boys, Autumn. I hate to tell you that I’ve ruined them for any good and sane woman. So for that, I’m truly sorry. Maybe you can do something with this one.” She patted Travis on the arm. “I’m going to finish picking up, and I’ll leave you two alone.”

“We can take care of this
, Mom. You can go on. I know you’ve been in the kitchen all day.”

Diane patted his arm again. “See what I mean. This really is a
momma’s boy. Thank you, darlings.” She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. She stopped and hugged Autumn. “It’s going to be a long day tomorrow you two.” She said to them both.

“Yes, ma’am,” they answered in unison.

As soon as Diane cleared the door, and without shard of resistance, Autumn allowed Travis to pull her into his embrace. The interlude went directly from steamy to searing hot. All she could think about all day was his sweet lips. She pressed hard against him. Her hips rolled into him.

Autumn wanted more. Needed more. She threw caution to
the wind. At that moment, the heat of his mouth and the throbbing pressed at her center took control of her senses. They both nearly forgot where they were. She’d never been so careless. Something about Travis made her forget she should have shown some discretion.

’s hands dropped and cupped her from behind grinding her into his swollen groin. He, too, had been on fire all day, just thinking about her. He pulled his mouth away, and eased it to her ear. “Baby, listen to me. I’m going to pull away.” He tried to bring the heat of their exchange down a notch, but not before realizing that things had gone too far. He didn’t want to make out in his mother’s kitchen. For one, Diane would kill him. For another reason, he respected Autumn too much to do this to her, here.

“No.” She tried to recapture his mouth. She nibbled at his chin.

Travis took control. His hands moved up and captured her face. “Look at me.” He commanded softly. Autumn obeyed. Heavy lids opened and her eyes stared into his. Her arms continued to move against him. Travis moved one arm around to still her. “Hey, come with me, baby.” He tried to bring her down from the fog that had spiked way out of control in an instant.

Looking at her struggle to comply with his request, he could tell she was in as much heat as he was. His
body and his lips still seared. His assumptions were confirmed when he finally saw the haze in her eyes. However he wasn’t prepared for what came next. He concentrated on the movement of her lips when she asked, “What’s wrong?” And he missed the instant tears in her eyes. When she tried to pull from his grasp, he closed his grip tighter.

“Whoa. Wait.” His face dropped down low
to hers. “It’s not what you think.” He whispered.

“What is it I think?” She pushed her hands against his chest.

He saw the frown formed on her forehead and tears her eyes as clear as day. “I shouldn’t have started this, Autumn. We’re in my mother’s kitchen. Not an ideal place to put you in this position. I don’t want that for you. This is my fault, baby. So please don’t be upset.”

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