An Old Fashioned Southern Romance Novel

BOOK: An Old Fashioned Southern Romance Novel
3.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


An Old-
Fashioned Southern Romance Novel


Annalise Arrington

Of the
Southern Arringtons



Chapter One

lily-white skin was better suited for the climate of the New England states from which her forefathers hailed than the unforgiving southern sun. She absolutely dreaded summers in the south and she was a most tetchy belle. It was little wonder that Warren sighed heavily when he saw her flaxen hair matted to her rubicund face through the wrought iron gate. He despised coming home from law school summer after summer and seeing his childhood friend grow more rancorous each year. Annabella had been saving herself for the right man, but somehow that man never revealed himself to her. She was positively incorrigible and no man in his right mind would dare marry such a woman. She was too entitled and Warren refused to pursue someone who thought more of herself than he did. For his part, Warren was a pretentious playboy who consumed his family’s wealth on philandering, and had little use for a frigid socialite. While he found her positively striking, he would never reveal his weakness to her. Each year, Annabella grew more disgusted with Warren’s revolving door of women parading across the promenade. It was obvious he was not marriage material, so her girlhood crush on the alabaster blond dissipated over time. By the time she was old enough to consider marriage, Warren was at the bottom of her list of potential suitors. Now, he had completely dropped off the list.

“The war is over, Annabella. You can drop the Southern Belle act,” he told her.

“The South shall rise again,” she joked.

“Besides, you’re too old to be a damsel in distress.”

“I’m the same age as you,” she reminded Warren.

is not old for a man, but it’s ancient for an unmarried woman.”

“You’re not married, either.”

“But that’s by choice,” he guaranteed her.

Warren always had to have the last word. Annabella
was used to his quips and she simply walked back into her parents’ stately mansion. As she closed the door, she could still hear his muffled voice, undoubtedly insulting her further. He could not conceive of a woman her age remaining a virgin. Years ago, in one of his drunken tirades on his parents’ lawn he tried to convince her:

“No one’s going to want
you if you wait too long. Unquestionably, everything has an expiration date!”

Annabella remembered that the exchange between her and Warren lasted for hours that night. They did
not dare argue face to face, but rather stayed safely within their property lines and screamed terrible things at each other through the gates. They never apologized, per se, but by virtue of communicating in subsequent rants, it was a gesture that all was forgiven. Annabella had always assumed that Warren’s frustration with her was that even with all of his conquests, he was never able to add her as a notch in his belt. But, lately it seemed like genuine concern for her future. However, she was disinclined to accept advice from a self-proclaimed chauvinist whose chief goal in life was to deflower as many unsuspecting women as he could before he died. Incidentally, he was off to an impressive start.

Annabella went out to the porch for her morning stretch, she noticed something that caused her to think Warren was either losing his touch or losing his mind. The woman that was leaving had been there before. In all of their years living next to each other, Annabella had never seen the same woman twice. She hoped that her former friend was finally starting to settle down. After all, his father was not going to release one red cent of his fortune to his son until he had chosen a bride. It was of no concern to the son who was intent on spending it all before he would ever become an heir.

“She must be special,” Annabella told her neighbor.

For once, Warren had nothing clever to say. Annabella took that to mean that she was. She was not sure if she was slightly hurt by the fact that Warren did not return the exchange or that he was starting to get serious about someone. Subconsciously, she thought he was just as pathetic as she was and that they would always have each other to make miserable from several hundred yards away. But, it seemed that Warren was trading in his empty life for something more. Maybe she assumed that one day when he was tired of chasing skirts, he would come to his senses and realize what has been waiting for him all this time. That was not going to happen if he was taking up with the long-legged goddess that strutted so effortlessly down the walkway and crammed her lengthy gams into his tiny sports car. Warren’s cars seemed to get smaller each year and Annabella was sure it was a signal to the women with which he dealt that they were not welcomed for any length of time. He was a selfish man who would drive a one-seater if a German automaker was so gracious as to manufacture one on his behalf. Annabella stood in front of her French doors and watched as Warren sped off down their quiet street - with what she hoped was just another floozy.


Annabella tugged away at the new skirt that was a birthday gift to herself. As she glared at her reflection in the wardrobe mirror, she rued the evening before when she opted for the second piece of Hattie’s lemon pound cake.
Today the neurotic woman turned 29 years-old and she was sure it signaled the end of her perfect size 2 figure. The skirt just did not seem to fit her 23-inch waist and if she had to go up a size, she would surely die. Annabella had been fortunate to retain a slim, taut figure in a house where the help cooked massive amounts of fattening meats and desserts. As a youngster, she was not the wiser, but by the time she reached her teenage years, Hattie warned her she would never attain the waistline of her fictional heroine, Scarlett O’Hara. It was at that time that Annabella realized she had to take control of her shape. She began refusing any food after 5 p.m. and she ate dessert only once per month when she got a visit from her monthly friend. Soon, the baby fat disappeared and Annabella blossomed into a gorgeous young lady. She realized the power of her beauty and she used it to rule out the riffraff that begged her father for her hand in marriage. But, Annabella had become selective beyond convention and soon there were no offers on the table. When Annabella returned from finishing school in Switzerland, she was resolved to save her love for the perfect man. Annabella’s Methodist Bishop father gave up all hope of marrying off his only child and instead built her a suite in the family mansion.

“Hattie, can you cancel bridge club today? I’m feeling fat,” Annabella told the only person in the world she considered a true friend.

“Now, Anna, you always do that to those girls. They are not going to play with you anymore,” she warned her.

“It’s just as well, Hattie. Lately they have been changing the rules and such.
I never know from one minute to the next if we are playing rubber bridge, contract bridge, or honeymoon bridge. I would just as soon play solitaire. Seems that’s the game best suited for me.”

Annabella looked thoughtfully out of her picturesque window.

“Anna, you’ve gotta get out of this rut. I’m going to talk to your father to see what can be done. You are a young, beautiful girl. You should be enjoying life, not sitting up in this room waiting to be whisked away like some fairytale princess. You have to make your own fairytales.”

“That’s easy for you
to say, Hattie.”

“Why? Because I’m livin’ my dream of serving White folk?”
Hattie joked.

“I didn’t mean-”

“It’s okay.”

“Hattie, I just meant that you
have a husband and a child. You have your happily-ever-after.”

“That’s right. And I didn’t get it by locking mys
elf in a tower and waiting for Prince Charming to come and rescue me. I swear, I read you one too many of those storybooks when you were little.”

“Warren says the same thing.”

“Now that Warren is a fine man. What’s wrong with him?”

“Oh, just everything!
He’s obnoxious, pretentious, philandering, wasteful, dreadful, crude-”

Olivia Devereaux! You are in love!”

“I am not,” she responded, sulking.

“You are fibbing straight through your pouty pink lips. You love you some Warrenton Bingham Boatwright, missy.”

“Hattie, have you been sniffing the oven cleaner again?
Warren is a detestable man. Why, he’s dipped his fountain pen in every inkwell in town and in most beloved Mother England, to be sure.”

Annabella, please join your dear friend Hattie in the 21
century, darling. This is not the Old South, thank God. Warren is a modern man and you need to join the rest of us in this century if you ever hope to find happiness. For God’s sake, you don’t even have a computer! Get online, meet people! Find something interesting to do, to see. Nobody plays bridge anymore.”

“Hattie, you are being a menace.”

“Oh, Lord. Please don’t faint again,” Hattie mumbled as she walked away.

Anna took off her new skirt and plopped down on her canopy bed. She began to reflect on her life. Was she too dramatic? Was she unrealistic in her expectations?
She dozed off pondering the questions that everyone had seemed to have already resolved.

Annabella was awake
ned a time later to the sound of a roaring engine in her wraparound driveway. She was unfamiliar with the smooth-sounding machine that seemed to command her attention. She leaped from her bed and ran into the sewing room, which overlooked part of the driveway. She saw the most annoyingly red vehicle upon which she had ever set her eyes. It looked like something a child might find in a fast food meal box. It was certainly small enough to fit inside one. Annabella slipped into a pair of yoga pants and raced down the stairs to ascertain what person possessed enough gall to park such a ridiculous apparatus on her father’s property. When she finally reached the foyer and flung open the doors, there was no one there. The car, however, remained. It was parked sideways, as if the driver would return soon. Annabella was intent on finding out who would do such a thing. She marched outside to the car without shoes on her tiny, tender feet, pressed her hands on the driver’s side window, and peered inside. She saw nothing unusual, so she pulled her face back. When she did, she noticed a note on the windshield.

“Happy Birthday, Belle.”

Annabella was mortified. She could not believe Warren would do such a thing. A car was undoubtedly a kind gesture, but he could be certain that Annabella would not be caught dead driving such a horrendous thing and Warren knew that. Annabella was better suited for oversized Cadillacs and antique Packards. She was as American as apple pie and had little use for German or Italian engineering. She could not stand the sight of such a monstrosity defiling the very land upon which her ancestors fought and gave their lives for this country. She surely was unfit to betray them by paying homage to those elitist Europeans. Disgusted, Annabella climbed into the poor excuse for transportation and ripped out of her driveway. She backed up just far enough to turn the wheel and whip into Warren’s driveway. She was surprised at the handling of the machine, but tried desperately not to enjoy it. However, it drove so smoothly that she did not realize how fast she was going. She was practically at his front door before she realized how far she had gotten. So, she was not expecting someone to come ripping out of Warren’s house. Before Annabella could come to a proper and complete stop, she had bumped into the longest pair of legs she had ever seen. The person who she would later come to know as Marigold had the most incredibly bronzed stems Annabella had ever seen. She was sure the woman was wearing hose in the scorching heat. But, she wasn’t. She was a naturally tanned Californian who had met Warren on one of his escapades. It was apparent to Marigold that Warren was only after one thing. So, she refused him. Annabella would learn that is the reason the woman had returned a second time – because Warren didn’t get what he wanted the first time. When Warren wouldn’t take no for an answer on this second visit, Marigold bolted out of the grand home and right into Annabella’s car.

Annabella immediately got out of the cramped vehicle to assist the woman, but she was hysterical.

“You had this ghost of a woman run me over with this car!” she yelled at Warren.

BOOK: An Old Fashioned Southern Romance Novel
3.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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