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Authors: Heather Heyford

A Taste of Sauvignon

BOOK: A Taste of Sauvignon
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Books by Heather Heyford
A Taste of Sauvignon
A Taste of Merlot
A Taste of Chardonnay
A Taste of Sauvignon
The Napa Wine Heiresses
HEATHER HEYFORD
LYRICAL PRESS
Kensington Publishing Corp.
www.kensingtonbooks.com
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
This book is dedicated to all those with the courage
to pursue their dreams.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Thank you to my editor, Esi Sogah, and my agent, Sarah E. Younger for your belief, support, and guidance.
 
To Art, for your enthusiasm.
 
To my tribe of writer friends, especially The Four Winds.
 
And to my readers. I'm moved by your acceptance and generosity. Thank you and stay in touch at heatherheyford.com.
Chapter 1
S
auvignon St. Pierre pulled the first little black dress from the left side of the rod in her precision-tuned walk-in closet. Later that evening, she would replace it on its padded hanger and hang it to the far right. And so on for the next two months, until today's dress came back into rotation.
From neat rows of acrylic boxes, each with a photo of its contents taped onto the end, she picked out a pair of two-and-a-half-inch black pumps.
The only aspect of her workday routine that couldn't be prearranged was which of her myriad fragrances to wear. Not even
she
could plan her mood ahead of time.
This morning, her hand hovered over flagons of every shape and pastel hue before landing on Maman's special rose perfume . . . for luck.
Savvy had made a calculated decision to become a lawyer when she was only thirteen. Fourteen years, three hundred thousand dollars in tuition, and two progressively thicker lenses later, she'd been offered a junior position with a small firm in her Napa hometown—either
because
her last name was St. Pierre, or in spite of it. And today, at the weekly meeting, she was finally being assigned her own case.
At precisely eight-thirty-five, one porcelain cup of chamomile tea, one bowl of Greek yogurt, and half a banana later, she slid into her black Mercedes to make it to her law office in time for the crucial nine o'clock meeting.
She looked both ways before steering the sleek sedan out of the long gravel drive of Domaine St. Pierre onto Dry Creek Road. Her car cut a perpendicular path between rows of yellow-green mustard flower buds alternating with what appeared to be dead sticks wedged upright in the soil. It was only March, though. The sap was rising. By summer, the mustard would be over and those “sticks,” laden with leaves and berries, would steal the show, drawing thousands upon thousands of tourists to Napa Valley—doubling her drive time to and from work. But this morning, there was no other vehicle in sight.
She double-checked her reflection in the rearview to make sure the gold clasp on her pearls lay on her collarbone, just so. Then she pinched an earlobe to secure a diamond ear stud, brushed a microscopic speck of lint from her shoulder and cupped the chignon at the base of her neck.
Satisfied that all was in order, she began a mental preview of the day. She fast-forwarded, picturing herself seated side by side with the firm's partners around the long conference table, eager for the chance to finally prove herself worthy of someday becoming the first female partner at Witmer, Robinson and Scott.
 
“Diana! Susanna!
¡Vuelve!
Come back!”
Esteban leaned on the handle of his pitchfork, grinning as he watched his mother toddle after a clutch of her errant Ameracaunas. Expertly, she snatched up a hen into the crook of her arm and brandished a threatening finger in her face.
“¡Chica traviesa!
You naughty girl. How many times do I have to tell you do not go down the lane, eh?” Beneath her long strokes, the chicken's feathers flickered iridescent gold, green, and orange in the morning light. She softened her tone to a tender purr. “My beautiful little
chica
.”
Esteban shook his head. Madre was as fond of those stupid birds as she was of him and his sister. If possible, her attachment to her “girls” seemed to have only deepened, now that Esmerelda was married and living in Santa Rosa.
“Esteban! Can you look at the fence again? My
chicas
must have poked another hole somewhere,” his mother pleaded, gently setting Marlena down with the others to shoo them back toward the paddock.
“Sí, Madre,”
he said, lapsing briefly into his native tongue.
Away from the farm, Esteban prided himself on his command of English. Mr. Bloomquist at Vintage High had even offered to write him a college recommendation.
“Your chem teacher said she'd write one, too,” he'd coaxed. “We agree it would be a waste of your verbal and analytical skills not to continue your education. You could start out at NVCC and transfer to a four-year school later. . . .”
Esteban had been helping out on the family farm ever since he could lift a spade, but he'd never questioned why it was that plants were green. When he'd learned that what made them that way was a substance called chlorophyll that captured the sun's energy to make sugar out of air and water, he'd been fascinated. From then on, he'd been somewhat of a science geek.
After Mr. Bloomquist's offer, he'd imagined himself for a minute in a white lab coat, peering through a microscope at chloroplasts and ribosomes. The thought had made his scalp tingle.
But Esteban Morales was born to be a farmer. What would Padre do without him?
“This afternoon,” he responded to Madre. First he needed to check on the effect of last night's rain on his tender lavender plants. The worst thing for lavender was mold.
Another stray—Natalia?—ran helter-skelter into Esteban's field of vision, down the muddy lane from where Padre had already thinned celery seedlings in the truck gardens earlier in the morning, past the paddock and the house toward Dry Creek Road.
¡Mierda!
Was he actually beginning to distinguish one of the flighty creatures from another?
“No this afternoon—now!” Madre scolded. She grabbed her broom from the porch and used it to sweep Natalia back toward the paddock. “You see this?” She gestured animatedly. “Before they all run onto the road and get hit by a car, and I have no chickens, no eggs, no money to pay the bills!”
Esteban chuckled under his breath. The Morales family would never be rich, yet they were hardly in dire straits. Losing a random eight-dollar chicken here and there wouldn't break the bank.
“Okay, okay.”
Madre's appreciative grin was a reminder of her unconditional love, no matter how stern she pretended to be.
He continued in the direction of the shed. “I'll go get my tools.”
Seconds later, he cringed to the squeal of rubber on asphalt and a sickening, avian screech.
 
Savvy slammed on the brakes the moment the chicken darted into view, but too late. She felt a thump, heard a squawk, and cringed.
I can't be late for work! Not today!
Yet something about the stricken expression on the face of the farm woman toddling toward her stabbed at her heart.
Mrs. Morales. She'd seen her stout silhouette a hundred times from a distance as she drove past the modest ranch house on Dry Creek Road, but she'd never met her next-door neighbor face-to-face. Still, thanks to Jeanne, the St. Pierre cook, she knew all about the Moraleses. Jeanne bought vegetables from their stand at the Napa farmers' market. As far back as grade school, Jeanne had been rattling on about the Moraleses, their daughter, Esmerelda, and son, what's-his-name. But while Jeanne had only good things to say about the family, Papa always said Mr. Morales was nothing but a big pain in the
derriere
.
Savvy threw the gearshift into park, got out, and strode around to the right front tire, bracing for what she might find.
Directly behind the front passenger-side tire lay the deceased—intact, thankfully, but motionless, its beak frozen open in its final squawk.
“Marlena!” The older woman stopped short at the edge of the lane. Her chest heaved with effort. Calloused palms flung in helplessness toward the dead animal. “
Marlena!
” she sobbed.
Savvy looked from Mrs. Morales's furrowed brow to the chicken—er, Marlena—and back.
Lips pressed into a tight line, she swallowed her squeamishness, squatting down for a better look. The last time she'd been this close to a chicken it had been covered in a delicate morel sauce.
What was she supposed to do? She glanced back up at Mrs. Morales to see her cross herself, then back down at Marlena.
Don't birds carry all kinds of diseases? Bird flu? Salmonella? Mites?
She took a resigned breath, the farm odors of wet earth mingled with manure assaulting her senses, and steeled herself. This was all her fault. It was her responsibility to fix it.
Gingerly, she slid her bare hands under the hen's body. The unfamiliar feel of stiff feathers atop warm jelly—apparently Marlena had been neither smart nor athletic—brought up the taste of bile. Somehow she found the strength to swallow it back.
Slowly, she turned and gently deposited the animal into its owner's outstretched arms.

Dios mío.
” Mrs. Morales hugged the hen to a bosom that threatened to ooze from between the buttons of her shirt and rocked the bird, all the while chanting something that sounded like,
sana, sana, colita de rana
—whatever that meant. Obviously, the chicken had been a well-loved pet.
“I'm so sorry!” Savvy cried, torn between the urge to embrace the grieving woman and the longing for a hazmat shower.
And then from out of nowhere, an agrilicious, king-sized man in faded jeans, snug plaid shirt, and silver belt buckle the size of a turkey platter jogged up to them, and in a flash, Savvy forgot all about death and God and germs. She even forgot about work.
BOOK: A Taste of Sauvignon
11.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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