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"Savannah Love"


Prologue
Synopsis

By barbara.wilkey

Savannah Love begins in 1863 during the Civil War and ends with PAIGE SWANSON agreeing to marry CASH WILKINS in 2015.

On September 20, 1863, Confederate soldier Corporal BRADLEY BOOKMAN is killed during a Battle of Chickamauga. At the exact moment of Corporal Bookman's death, his wife, Alice, delivers their first and only child, James Bradley Bookman. The Corporal's ghost remains by her side throughout the entire delivery.

After the first chapter, the novel moves to the present as Paige, an heiress from Boston, inherits the Bookman's antebellum mansion from her aunt. She immediately meets Cash Wilkins, who had been hired by her aunt, to restore the mansion to Gothic Revival authenticity.

Nala, the African American maid, and Cash introduce Paige to Billy Joe and his wife, Mary Pat. They all become immediate friends. Cash attempts to assimilate Paige to Southern living. One occasion he takes her fishing, and instead of catching fish Paige finds and adopts a stray puppy, Morgan.

The mansion is burglarized numerous times and it becomes clear somebody wants the rumored hidden treasure and Paige evicted from the house. Paige's four new friends fear for, not only her safety, but Nala's. It surprises Paige to discover sixty years after the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement her friendship with Nala causes her hardship.

Internally Cash fights two battles with himself. First, he fights falling in love with Paige; after all she's a rich heiress from Boston. Secondly, he doesn't believe ghosts exist. Now he must come to the realization that Bradley's a real ghost.

Bradley's ghost befriends Paige and Morgan as he guides them and her friends to discover the secrets hiding within the mansion's walls. Eventually, he reveals the hidden treasure and gives Cash the engagement ring, his beloved Alice wore. Cash presents this ring to Paige as she accepts his proposal.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of the US flag and the Confederate flag flying together. I am NOT trying to make a political statement, but this novel addresses both views. I am trying to get Savannah Love published and need help!!!!!!!!! So I am calling on my FS friends and family. Please edit this for me. If you think I have left out any important part please let me know. Also please share your favorite part of the novel. I need a strong dialogue from the novel.


Chapter 1
Chapter 1 part I

By barbara.wilkey

Corporal Bradley Bookman wiped the sweat from his brow as he marched on the dirt road beside his buddy, Private Frank Swift. "How far is it from US Ford to Guinea Station?"

Frank chuckled. "I'm a Georgia farmboy, how would I know? I just want a decent seat on the train. It's a long way to Chickamauga."

"Did General Benning say Longstreet ordered all of Hood's division to the train station?"

Frank glanced around at the numerous rows of marching soldiers. "Looks like it." He grinned. "We'll call it the September 7, 1863 exodus of Virginia."

"We have four days of supplies. It'll take longer than that to get to Chickamauga. Think we can find some food on the way?"

Frank tapped his Enfield. "If you see a rabbit or squirrel, let me know."

"You'd need about a thousand. Look at all those hungry soldiers." Bradley glanced down at his feet. "I'd like a decent pair of shoes." He laughed. "My feet are getting plenty of air."

Frank pointed to a hole in his left sleeve. "Our clothes ain't much better."

"At least we have our blankets and Enfields. We don't need anything else, do we?" Bradley chuckled. "It'll be enough to scare Rosencrans' men away from that railroad."

"Our stomachs not growling would be nice. I hope those bluecoats are deaf or they'll hear us coming."

After a two day train ride to Richmond, Bradley stretched stepping off the train. "My poor back's ready to desert me."

"If I had to sit any longer on that floor, my ass couldn't handle it." A young private rubbed his rear-end.

"After we left Guinea Station, how many times did we switch trains?" Frank removed his ragged floppy cap, scratched his scraggly brown hair, before replacing it.

"I lost count after three." The private glanced back at the train.

"Benning said we had to switch because the rail gauges are different. He also said he thinks we'll surprise Rosencrans. He won't figure we'd be arriving by train." Bradley cringed when he saw Hood.

"Load them up," shouted Major General Hood. "We need to get to Raleigh!"

"I hope I get a decent seat," muttered the young private.

After a short stop in Petersburg, the train reached Raleigh on September 11. A few hours later the soldiers loaded another train.

Corporal Bradley Bookman adjusted himself on the hard floor of the crowded flatcar and wrote to the pregnant wife he'd left in Savannah, Georgia.

Dear Alice,
We're headed to Atlanta by steam engine. We hope to get rations and find some way to procure shoes, before we get to Chickamauga. It seems Ol' Rosencrans thinks he can take over the Chattanooga railroad. I can't wait to eat one of your home-cooked meals again, cornmeal and make-shift coffee's getting pretty old. I heard the Army's a little behind in sending out our pay. You'd think $11.00 a month isn't that much. I'm glad my younger brothers are helping you with the cotton and the ship building business. I'm sure you're doing all right. Keep saving your chamber pot contents. It helps make good gunpowder and we need plenty of that. I can promise you them blue bellies won't get to Savannah. I know you heard about Gettysburg. No matter what the rumors say, Longstreet isn't to blame. If Stonewall Jackson wouldn't have gotten himself kilt at Chancellorsville, we probably would've won at Gettysburg. Rumor says he actually died of pneumonia at Guinea Station. If the baby is a boy, I think we should name him James Bradley Bookman. I like the sound of that and it pays tribute to the great confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet. I heard tell some of our boys tried to sack a newspaper office, 'The Raleigh Standard.' They say they didn't do it and blamed it on some North Carolina boys. I believe them. The owner was a Yankee sympathizer. Some ol' conductor tried to get us to pay for our train ride. We aimed our Enfields at him and said, "We paid our fare at Gettysburg." I'd better finish up. After Atlanta we go to Resaca, then hope to be at Catoosa Station by September 17. We're going to meet up with Bragg's Army there. The men are coiled like snakes ready to strike. I'm sure we'll win this battle.
My love and prayers are with you.
Your loving husband
Bradley


When Benning's brigade marched into Chickamauga, Lieutenant General Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee had already arrived. They met up and started toward Reeds Bridge, across the west branch of Chickamauga Creek.

Frank stared at his toes peeking through his boots. "I thought we'd get to rest after marching from Catoosa Station. It wouldn't be so bad if we had decent shoes."

"We may not have shoes, clothes or food, but we have pride, spirit and forty rounds of ammunition. Let's kill some blue bellies." As the skirmish began, Bradley released a deep breath and gave out a rebel yell as the raw Yankee troops high-tailed it into the woods.

They pushed the enemy back as they continued to Alexander's Bridge. Frank tripped over a vine and Bradley caught his arm. "We must've walked through two and half miles of thick woods."

"My feet are drenched from those creeks." Frank glanced ahead. "It looks like this is where we're going to bivouac."

"Good, there's light from that burning house. If I move closer, I'll have enough light from the coals to write Alice."

"I wonder if we set it on fire or if them bluecoats did?"

"Don't know. Think we'll get any decent food?"

Frank shook his head. "Nope."

After a dinner of beans and make-shift coffee, Bradley sat on his tattered blanket. It's hot. He wiped his brow. They haven't seen rain in probably six weeks. No wonder that house burnt fast. He proceeded to write his wife.

Dear Alice
Did you know that Chickamauga is a Cherokee word for River of Death? I'm writing this by some remaining coals of a burnt house. There really isn't much to write about. We had some skirmishes today but nothing serious. Them bluecoats are scared and ran. They were jumping up from every sort of cover, trees, logs, stumps, and clumps of bushes. I'd better get some sleep. I really miss you. I'll try to write more tomorrow. Maybe after this battle, I can find some way to mail it.


Author Notes The language mistakes in the dialogue are intentional.

This photo was taken while my family was on vacation in the summer of 1998 to the Chickamauga Battle field. It is of a monument that sits by Horseshoe Ridge adjacent to Snodgrass Hill. In the background you can see the Confederate soldiers heading toward the Union forces.

I orginally had the states listed in the writing but felt it bogged down the reading.
US Ford, Virginia
Guinea Station, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Petersburg, Virginia,
Raleigh, North Carolina
Augusta, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Chickamauga, Georgia


Chapter 2
Chapter 1, part II

By barbara.wilkey

When Bradley filed in line with the rest of Benning's brigade, a false dawn lit the sky. The battle line stretched north to south, facing west. The view of the battlefield brought on a familiar gut-tightening to the young corporal. Benning had 850 battle-weary men.

As they initiated advances, Frank swatted a vine. "Is this whole area full of vines? I wouldn't be surprised if them damn Yankees didn't spend the night planting these pesky vines just to slow us down."

Bradley held his weapon ready with bayonet pointed forward. "This ain't no woods, it's a dag burn jungle." He chuckled. "Yesterday they retreated so darn fast, we'll be slipping and sliding through their trailings."

Again, skirmishes prevailed as the Confederate soldiers pushed the Northerners back. The sound of guns popping, bayonets clashing, and men's last dying moans filled the woods.

That night Bradley laid his blanket on the dusty soil and fingered a new hole. "If this keeps up, there won't be nothing left." He stretched his five-feet-eleven body across the blanket. Today, I bet we lost a third of our men. I bet they lost more. Yanks would have to be fool to face us riled up Southern boys. He wiped his eyes. Tomorrow's September 20. I should write Alice, but I need sleep. He moaned softly with all the aches and pains making themselves known. He was too tired to toss and turn. Exhaustion and the soft sound of his buddy playing a harmonica brought on sleep. Periodic gun shots didn't disturb his deep slumber.

Early the following morning, Benning's regiment advanced to the Chattanooga Road and veered right. They crossed over to the Brotherton House. The volume of fire produced by the Northerners was heavy, but on Glenn-Kelly Road, the Union fell to Benning's brigade and their bayonets.

Frank grinned. "Hot damn, I bet we be the best colonic them yanks ever had. We may be low on supplies but not on courage."

Bradley scratched his scruffy face. "You're right about that. It must be around noon. Most good people are sitting in church, but not those blasted-heathen Yankees. They're trembling and praying right there in the fields. I hear tell most of them are green. Hell bells, my sick ol' granny could whip them without working up a sweat. She'll probably quote from the Good Book while she's doing it. They'd be begging, 'Daddy Lincoln' let us go home."

Union Colonel John Croxton's men were on the outskirts of the woods. They returned and met the volleys of gunshots.

A three men scout team ran back to the line of confederate soldiers and the oldest of the three reported, "Down the slope about one hundred and twenty yards we saw six cannons and a line of infantry, triple our numbers, almost enough of them to make a good fight. Them Yankees were hiding behind a breastwork made of logs. It's gonna be root hog, or die to get them damn bluecoats to run back home to their mammies."

Bradley stood waving off flies and slapping mosquitoes. He swiped sweat from his eyes with the back of his dirt-filled ragged sleeve. About three hundred yards away, by that yonder tree I saw something.

The sound of a bugle and the yell, "CHARGE!" set the line in motion, spurring the troops on. Bradley ran halfway down the slope before a volcano of fire burst out in the front line. Enemy cannons unleashed a torrent of grapeshot and bullets whizzed through the ranks.

Corporal Bradley Bookman fell. Some from behind jumped over while others stomped on him. Trying to crawl to the safety of the trees, he felt someone pull his rifle from his weakened hands and tug at his ammo sack. The man rolled him on his back, doing a quick body search. He yanked Bradley's hat off the ground and noticed a half written letter stuffed inside. Half conscious, the corporal watched him wad it up and throw it down. The soldier put on his newly acquired hat and ran toward the fighting. Bradley felt around for the letter, smoothed it out the best he could before placing it inside his shirt. "Alice, you'll always be in my heart." He tried to stand, but his legs betrayed him. Blood seeped from wounds up and down each leg.

*****
The unmistakable stench of mutilated bodies assaulted the wounded man's nose. He lay alone under the hot steaming sun. His head bare. Flies and other insects covered his bleeding face and body. As they kept him company during the last hour of his life, he faded in and out of consciousness. I see Alice. She's in labor. I need to get to her. He reached out his hand. Alice, I'm sorry. A halo of light shined on him and he felt a warm glow surround him. "Please take me to Alice. She needs me, and I need her."

*****
*****
Alice Bookman's screams pierced the humid air as another contraction took hold. After it subsided, she took deep breaths. "I need Bradley's strength. He'll help me through this. It has gone on all day."

"Now, Miz Alice, plenty a women had babies without their husbands, ever since Eve dropped hers. This ain't no place for a man. Master Bradley done done all he can do. He's the reason you're lying on that bed feeling like you're being ripped apart." Beatrice, a heavyset black midwife, wiped the sweat from Alice's forehead, then her own. "You can do this by yourself. I'll help. It ain't gonna be much longer."

Moments later, another strong contraction overtook Alice. She cried in agony, stopped mid-way, then calmly asked, "Bradley, is that you? You look exactly the same as the day you left." She paused. "Hold my hand." She held it up. "I can feel your strength. Thank you, Lord. You sent him here just in time."

"We better get that baby out fast. Miz Alice is a seeing things." Beatrice patted Alice's arm. "The next contraction you need to push as hard as you can."

Alice didn't have to wait long. After a few pushes Beatrice announced, "It looks like a healthy baby boy. He's a big one too. He's gonna be bigger than Master Bradley. What's his name, Miz Alice?"

Alice paused and glanced to her left. "Bradley wants to name him James Bradley Bookman. I'm glad he made it in time for his son's birth." After taking a few deep breaths, she asked, "Beatrice, what's today's date?"

"Why Miz Alice, it's September 20, 1863. The sun's a just going down."

Author Notes Thank you google images for the use of a cannon that could have been used at Chickamauga.

The language errors during dialogue are intentional.

I am leaving for vacation on July 23 and won't be back until Aug 7. I am going to visit my grandchildren and my parents. I will have internet services at my sons' homes but not at my parents. I will try to keep up on my reviewing, but I won't be able to post. When I return, I will continue with Savannah Love. This is the last post Thank you for your kind reviews and patience with me.


Chapter 3
Chapter 2, part I

By barbara.wilkey

Alan Redman parked his black Lincoln beside the curb. A young woman in a blue Jaguar convertible pulled up behind him. Cash Wilkins and Billy Joe Johnson, his friend since elementary school, turned and stared. Cash wiped the sweat from his forehead, then shielded his eyes from the hot Georgia sun.

Billy whistled. "Woo-eee! Where's that fancy car from? I bet it traveled a fur piece."

Cash scratched his head. "The car tag says Massachusetts. She must be Ms. Paula's niece. I'd heard she'd arrive today."

"She's one purdy Yankee?" He sat on the large antebellum home's front steps and swiped his brow with a dirty bandanna, before adjusting his straw hat. "I'm gonna sit a spell and give this poor heart a rest." He leaned over and stretched his neck. "She sure is easy on the eyes."

"Don't forget you're hitched." Cash poked his friend's arm.

"I'm married, not dead. I can still look, just can't touch." He laughed.

"Maybe you'd better ask Mary Pat about that," Cash teased before he took a big gulp from the water jug and wiped his mouth. "I guess I'd better introduce myself." He walked toward the cars. "Howdy, Mr. Redman."

"Good afternoon, Cash. Ms. Swanson arrived a little over an hour ago. I've already gone over the legalities." He turned slightly. "Paige, this is the young man I told you about. Your aunt hired him to do the reconstruction of the house."

She offered her hand. "I'm glad to meet you. I'm Paige Swanson. You are?"

Cash wiped his hand on his blue jeans, then shook hers. "Cash Wilkins. This week we've been working on the cast-iron fence." He pointed to the cusped arched fence surrounding the house. "Mr. Redman told me to expect you. I thought once you get settled we could discuss the remodeling."

Mr. Redman patted Cash on the back. "Sounds like you have it under control. I need to get back to my office. Paige, call me if you have any questions." He shook her hand.

Paige nodded and watched the heavyset, middle-aged man get into his car and drive away. She turned toward Cash. "I was told you're an expert at Gothic Revival architecture. I'm not sure I can be of any help." She brushed a strand of long black hair from her face.

"There's a few decisions that need to be made." He turned toward his friend. "My associate, Billy Joe, and I, will help tote your bags." He motioned for his friend to help.

Once inside the house, Cash scanned the parlor. "Where'd you like them?"

"I guess upstairs." Paige ran her hand along the American Black Walnut banister as she climbed the curved stairway. "I miss the days of sliding down this."

"We're going to sand it down and give it a new coat of varnish," Cash offered, as he stood at the top and waited for the next instruction. When it didn't come, he asked, "There's five bedrooms. Where you want your bags?"

Paige glanced at each open door. "Aunt Paula's room was that one." She pointed to the far left. "When I'd spend summers with her, I stayed there." She pointed to the next room. "Now I own the house. Maybe I should take the master bedroom." After a hesitation, she continued, "But Aunt Paula's only been gone for five months." Tears welled in her eyes as she turned toward the men. "I don't know. I need to think about it. Just leave them here. When I make up my mind, I'll take care of them."

"We'll get back to work." The men set down the suitcases and left.

*****
"Looky there!" Billy Joe pointed toward Paige standing on the porch. "Figure she's found a room?"

"Reckon so." Cash glanced up but continued working on the fence.

"I'm going to the grocery store. I'll bring back some tonic and Heroes." She walked toward the car.

"What's tonic?" Billy Joe tilted his head.

"I figure you'll find out." Cash watched her walk.

"Can a Yankee woman wear Daisy Dukes?" Billy Joe grinned.

"She is." Cash wiped the sweat from his forehead. Her ponytail and her cute little butt swish the same direction at the same time. He watched her open the car door.

"Ouch!" She jumped as soon as she sat.

Billy Joe laughed. "I guess the Georgia July sun doesn't work too well with black leather seats."

Cash smiled as she jogged into the house. She burnt that butt.

Out Paige came, carrying a towel. She set it on the car seat, sat, and turned on the engine. After adjusting the radio, she got out and stood before Cash. "Where's the grocery store? I've been there with Aunt Paula, but I don't remember how to get to it."

As he gave directions, he smiled. "That's the one with the best prices." He continued grinning as he watched her walk.

"A Yankee woman who drives a Jaguar isn't interested in cheap prices." Billy Joe chuckled. "You never see a Jaguar parked at Wally World, do ya?"

"I reckon not, but you ever seen a grocery store just for rich people?"

Billy Joe scratched his head. "Nope, I ain't."

*****
When Paige pulled her car by the curb, she called to Cash and motioned for him to come closer. "I don't remember Aunt Paula using a garage. Can you recommend a shaded place to park?"

"Pull around to the right of the house." He scratched his head. "If you want, we can turn the stables into a garage."

"Will that stop the house from getting that historical thingy?"

"I doubt it." He paused. "We can check." Cash followed the car until Paige parked. "I'll help tote the sacks."

"I have five bundles and a case of tonic."

"Bundles of what?"

Paige tilted her head. "Groceries." She stood beside the car. "I have a feeling we may have some language issues. Aunt Paula and I used to tease each other over it." She smiled.

"Billy Joe's waiting to see what tonic is?"

She pointed to the case of coke. "Tonic."

He laughed. "Hey Billy Joe, tonic is Coca-Cola."

Billy Joe nodded and laughed.

"Why don't you two come in and I'll get some ice for your tonic and you can eat some Heroes?"

"Heroes are?" Billy Joe grinned.

"Cold cuts and cheese between two pieces of long bread." She held out her hands to show how long.

"Po Boys." Cash picked up four bags. "Can you get the last one?"

Paige lifted the bag and followed Cash. Billy Joe grabbed the case of bottled Coke. The three went into the house.

As they sat at the solid-oak antique dining room table, Paige's cheeks flushed. "I'm embarrassed to ask, but Aunt Paula used to tell me this house was haunted. I'm sure she was teasing, but ..."

Cash took a drink. "I don't know if the house is haunted or not, but folks in these parts say Savannah's the most haunted city in these United States." He paused. "Even if it's haunted, it must be friendly. Your aunt lived here as long as I can remember."

"I guess you're right. This will be the first night I've stayed by myself."

"If you have a piece of paper, I can write down our numbers in case you need anything."

"No, I couldn't impose." Paige shook her head.

"We're Southern boys. We help folks when they need it."

Billy Joe nodded. "Cash is right, that's what we do."

"Are you sure?" Paige sighed. After both men nodded, she took a pen and paper from her purse and handed it to Cash.

He wrote down the numbers and laid it in the center of the table. "We'd better get back to work or we'll be late for supper."

"Thank you."

*****
Paige decided she'd take the master bedroom and finished unpacking. She stared beyond the magnolia tree outside the bedroom window. What a gorgeous sunset. She grabbed her paints and a canvas and looked through each bedroom window trying to choose the best view. Finally, she began painting.

It was dark when she added the last stroke. I'd better make sure the doors are locked. Paige started at the front of the house, checked the three front doors, then went to the back door. She studied the pecan tree. Aunt Paula and I used to gather pecans and shell them. When we finished, she always made a pie. I miss the times we spent together. There's a light on in the old kitchen house. I wonder why. She continued staring out the window. "There's someone moving in there!" She checked to make sure the door was locked. Why'd I do that? Ghosts can walk through doors, can't they? Where's my phone? I'd better call the police.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the Owen Thomas House. Brian and I vacationed there in 2004. I fell in love with the city and my muse decided I should write about the city. I hope soon you will be able to understand where my first two posts of this novel fit.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.


Chapter 4
Chapter 2, Part 2

By barbara.wilkey

When Paige heard police sirens, she glanced out the front cut-glass window. Two police cruisers were parked along the curb and two alongside the house, their sirens now silent. The flashing lights gave an eerie glow. A tall officer ran to the door and knocked.

She cautiously opened it. "There's someone in the old kitchen behind the house."

"Are you all right, Ma'am?" When she nodded, he followed the other officers.

Paige relocked the door, hurried to the back window, and watched.

As the officers appeared behind the house, Cash stood outside the building. He looked toward the back door, shook his head, and held up his hands.

After Cash and the officers spoke for a while, they followed him inside the old kitchen. A few minutes later, the five men headed toward the house.

Paige opened the door allowing the officers and Cash enter.

The tall officer asked, "Ma'am, do you know this guy?"

She nodded. "Cash Wilkins. I met him this afternoon. My aunt hired him to restore this house."

"Did you know he's using the old kitchen for storage?"

"No, sir. He didn't say anything about it."

"On my way home, I stopped by the lumberyard. After supper, I brought the supplies over. I didn't want to leave them in the truck bed overnight. Your aunt said I could use it."

"It makes sense." Paige chewed on her bottom lip. "Officers, I'm sorry.
It's my first night in the house and guess I'm a little jumpy. How do I make this right?"

The lead officer glanced toward Cash. "When we searched the building, we saw the supplies. He showed us the receipt. So, I'd say Mr. Wilkins is telling the truth." He turned toward Paige. "Is it okay if I let him go?"

She nodded. "It sounds like a good idea."

"I think we're done here." The officers turned and left.

As Cash began to follow them, Paige touched his arm. "May I speak with you?"

He stopped.

"I owe you an apology. I'm sorry, I caused so much trouble."

He ran his fingers through his short sandy hair and stared into her bright blue eyes. "You worried about ghosts?" After she nodded, he walked over to the dining room table and held up the paper with his phone number on it. "Why didn't you call?"

"It would've made sense, since you were the one outside." Her face flushed pink. "Now I think about it, why would a ghost turn on a light? I should've gone out to check before I called the police."

"No! What if there would've been a prowler? You'd have no way to defend yourself. Next time just call me or Billy Joe." After Paige nodded, Cash continued, "I better leave. I'll be back about sunrise."

"Would you like a drink or something to eat?" She opened the refrigerator door.

"I need to go."

Paige stared inside, paused, then closed it. "Of course, I'll see you in the morning." She avoided Cash's eyes.

"I better check and make sure the doors are locked." He went to the front of the house.

"You don't need to do that." She followed. "I'll be fine."

Cash turned. "It's your first night alone in the house. I understand why you'd be nervous." He turned the knob. "This is locked." He checked the second door. "Where's your phone. I'll put my number in."

Paige handed it to him.

"Keep it by your bed and call if you need anything." He handed it back. "I'll see you later. Try to get some rest. Be sure it's locked after I leave."

Paige nodded. "I will." She watched Cash leave, then locked it. I'd better clean my brushes. She went upstairs to the bedroom where she had been painting. Next to the easel sat the paints, but no brushes. Where could they be? I know I didn't move them. Cash or police didn't come upstairs.

She searched the room, then retraced her steps throughout the house. For over an hour she searched without finding them. I'll go on to bed. Tomorrow they'll show up.

*****
The following morning, Paige stretched, stood beside the bed, then glanced at the alarm clock. "I have time for a cup of coffee before my meeting." Still in her nightshirt, she stepped into the hallway. "ARHHH!" She ran back to the bedroom, slammed the bedroom door, and tried to turn the lock.

"AHHHH!" Sounded at the same time.

Paige cracked open the door. "Who are you?"

"Nala."

"You aren't a ghost?"

"I'm Francine's daughter. You must be Paige Swanson."

"Yes." She released a deep breath and offered the petite black woman her hand. "Nobody told me to expect you."

"Miz Paula had a trust set up. I get paid monthly."

The women glanced toward the stairs and watched Cash and Billy Joe run up them. At the top of the stairs, Cash asked, "Paige, you all right?"

Nala shook her head. "Mr. Cash, I know your mama taught you better than to show up at a lady's bedroom door. Now, get." She held up a towel she'd carried in front of Paige. "My mammie assisted in bringing you into this world."

"I heard someone scream." He tried to look past Nala.

"I heard two ladies," offered Billy Joe.

"We surprised each other. I didn't know Aunt Paula made arrangements for Nala to work here. I knew once Francine passed on, her daughter came in a few times a week, but we hadn't met until today." Paige paused. "I guess Mr. Redman forgot to tell me everything."

"I know you had a rough night. Did things calm down after I left?"

"Not really." She looked toward the bedroom with her easel. "Somehow my paint brushes disappeared." She glanced toward Nala. "You haven't seen dirty paint brushes, have you?"

Nala shook her head.

"I have," interrupted Cash. "They got paint all over the inside of my toolbox. I wondered how they got there."

Paige's face turned pale. "So do I." She hesitated. "I painted a sunset scene. As I finished, I noticed it was dark so I went to lock the doors." She turned toward Cash. "That's when I noticed the light on in the old outdoor kitchen. After everybody left, I went back to clean my brushes and they were missing."

Cash scratched his head. "That doesn't make sense."

"It even makes less sense being in your toolbox. I know I didn't put them in there. I've never touched it." Paige turned her head when her alarm clock sounded. "We'd better discuss this later. I have an appointment in a few hours and need to get ready." She went into the bedroom and shut the door.

*****
After Billy Joe poked Cash's arm, he glanced toward the porch and took a deep breath. "She's all decked out. I wonder who her appointment's with."

"I don't know, but she sure is purdy for a Yankee." Billy Joe grinned. "Ms Paige, where you going all purdied up?"

"I have an appointment with the department head, Mr. Simpson, at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I have a part-time teaching job starting this fall and he wants to discuss my ideas for the class."

"I thought your aunt left you all sorts of money." Billy Joe lifted his straw hat, brushed off the dust, and replaced it.

"Shhh, you aren't supposed to ask those kinds of questions." Cash slapped his buddy's back.

Paige smiled. "It's all right. Aunt Paula did leave me quite of bit of money, plus I have a trust fund from my parents. I teach because I like it." She glanced at her watch. "I'd better get going. See you two later."

"Do you know how to get there?" Cash grinned.

"I googled it before I left Massachusetts. I shouldn't have a problem." She walked toward her car.

Cash and Billy Joe watched until she drove out of sight. Cash took a drink of water. "Wanta bet she gets lost?"

"Nope." Billy Joe laughed.

*****
About twenty minutes later, Cash answered his ringing cell. "Where you at?" He laughed. "If you don't know where you're at, how can I help?" He paused. "Is there a street sign?" After listening for a moment, he asked, "So the sign says Abercorn and you see a temple and a water fountain? Stay put. I'm on my way."

"How'd she get there? SCAD's only a few blocks away from here. She could walk."

"Who knows? I'll be back." Cash got into his pickup and drove off.

When Cash saw Paige's Jaguar, he pulled alongside and rolled down the window. "Follow me and I'll take you to SCAD."

She nodded, then followed his truck.

After Paige parked, she got out of the car and walked up to Cash's truck door. "Thank you. I guess SCAD is short for Savannah College of Art and Design."

He nodded. "That's what we call it around these parts. Call me when you're done and I'll show you how to get home."

"Think I'll ever figure this town out?"

"I have hope." He grinned, then watched a man in a suit walk up to Paige.

"Hello, you must be Paige Swanson."

"I am. Are you Dr. Walker?"

"Please call me Dwayne. I'll walk in with you."

Paige turned toward Cash. "When I'm finished, I'll call. Thank you, again. I appreciate the help." She walked beside Walker.

Cash watched the man take Paige's briefcase. Look at that fancy suit. I don't have a chance. I don't own a suit. Wait, I bought one when Billy Joe got hitched. She won't call, that guy'll show her the way. He continued to watch.

Dwayne held the door open for Paige. Before she entered the building, she turned toward Cash, smiled, and waved. Cash grinned, then backed out of the parking lot.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the Hamilton-Tucker House. These images are of antebellum houses in Savannah, Georgia. Brian and I vacationed there in 2004. I fell in love with the city and my muse decided I should write about the city. I hope soon you will be able to understand where my first two posts of this novel fit.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.


Chapter 5
Chapter 3, Part 1

By barbara.wilkey

Paige called Cash as she left the SCAD administrative building. "Hi, my meeting's over. I think I'll try to find my way home. If I need help, I'll call." She listened a few moments. "If I back out of the parking lot toward the stop sign and turn left, then go down three blocks and turn left my house will be there?" She paused. "You're sure?" She laughed. "I'll be home in a few minutes, hopefully."

After parking the car beside the house, Paige walked inside. I wonder where Cash and Billy Joe are? I thought they'd be here.

Nala met her at the door. "Mornin', Miz Paige. Mr. Cash told me to tell you they went to talk to a man about the silver-plated doorknobs."

"Thank you. That explains it. I'll be down in a few minutes. I need to change into something cooler."

*****
Once Paige put on jean shorts and a white tank top, she heard a knock on the front door. She hurried down the stairs and answered it. There stood a young woman holding four bags.

"Hello, I'm Mary Patricia Johnson, Billy Joe's wife. I'm sorry to bother you, but I was shopping a few blocks away and locked my keys in the car. I brought him to work this morning so I could use the car. Is my husband around?"

"Please come in." Paige held the door open. "The men went to talk to somebody. I'm sure they'll be back in a few minutes. It's really hot outside. I bet you could use a drink. I'll get some lemonade. Does anything in those bags need to be put in the refrigerator?"

"There's some milk, eggs, and chicken."

"I'd hate for them to spoil." Paige took the items and set them in the refrigerator. "Have a seat." She returned with two frosted glasses filled with crushed ice and slowly poured the lemonade.

As the ladies sat and sipped their drinks, Paige lifted her cell. "I'll call Cash and see how long they'll be. We may have time for lunch."

After explaining the situation, Paige smiled. "Cash said they're on their way."

Before long, Nala joined them and they set up a shopping excursion for Saturday afternoon.

*****
Paige smiled when she heard a tap on the door, then grinned when Cash and Billy Joe entered. "Hello, you two."

"I see you three hit it off." Cash removed his cap.

"We're going for lunch Saturday and then shopping. Right ladies?"

"I see where your hard earned money's going." Cash poked Billy Joe in the arm.

"Think I can work some overtime?" Billy Joe kissed his wife.

"You might talk Paige into letting you wash her car. Come to think of it, I'll let you wash my pickup if the price is right." Cash laughed.

"Let me use your keys and I'll be sure to run it through the mud. I know how much you hate mud on your truck." Billy Joe chuckled, took Cash's keys, and held the chair as his wife stood. "I'm glad we have separate keys for the car, or we'd both be locked out. Let's get your keys." He glanced at his buddy and grinned. "Dave Howell's place isn't too far away and he raises pigs. Maybe I can drive through one of the open pens."

Cash frowned and looked at Paige. "It's hard to get good help, especially when you have to stop and attend the old help's funeral."

Paige laughed and shook her head.

Nala smiled. "I'd better get to work. Nice seeing you again, Mary Pat."

"I can't wait 'til Saturday." Paige stood, removed the items from the refrigerator, and followed the three outside. She watched Cash walk over to the cast-iron fence and the pickup leave, before going inside.

*****
Paige turned when she heard Cash call her name. "I'm in the library." As his footsteps approached, she looked up from a book and smiled. "You finished for the day?"

"Yes, ma'am. Billy Joe was picked up a few minutes ago." He glanced around. "Why you in here?"

"This afternoon, Nala and I compared notes about the ghosts in this house." Paige set the book down, stood, and walked over to the first photograph hanging on the wall. "This is William Bookman. He had this house built and gave it to his wife, Irene in 1854. This photo was taken in 1859. William made money from cotton and ship building. He was the first one in this area to own a cotton gin."

"After your uncle Andrew died, what happened to the cotton fields and shipping business?"

"They're still in the family. Mr. Redman hired some managers to oversee the businesses." She pointed to the next photograph. "William's oldest and only son, Bradley."

"He looks pretty young there."

"He was only sixteen when it was taken. Bradley was killed at Chickamauga in 1863. About that time his wife, Alice, delivered James." She pointed to the next picture. "Now, James had nine children. His oldest son, Isaiah, inherited the house and business." She smiled and pointed to each photograph as she said their names. "After Isaiah, was Jonathon, George, Wesley, and then Uncle Andrew. He married my Aunt Paula, Dad's oldest sister. They had no children. That's how I got the house."

"The house has been in the family a long time."

"I'm the first non-Bookman to own the house. I want to do right by it."

"You ladies talked about more than just shopping, didn't you?"

Paige smiled. "Guilty as charged." She walked over and picked up the book she had looked at. "It seems when Major General William Tecumseh Sherman ..."

Cash took a step back and raised his arms crossing his two pointer fingers in a cross. "Don't say that name in these parts. We invited him and his troops down for a picnic and we're still trying to clean up their mess. I wish Lee had won at Gettysburg."

"Don't tell me you're still fighting the Civil War?" Paige studied him to see if he was teasing.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of River Street in Savannah, GA. Please note the cobblestone and the trolley tracks. Brian and I vacationed there in 2004. I fell in love with the city and my muse decided I should write about it. I hope soon you'll be able to understand where my first two posts of this novel fit.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.


Chapter 6
Chapter 3, Part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Paige smiled. "Guilty as charged." She walked over and picked up the book she had looked at. "It seems when Major General William Tecumseh Sherman ..."

Cash took a step back and raised his arms crossing his two pointer fingers in a cross. "Don't say that name in these parts. We invited him and his troops down for a picnic and we're still trying to clean up their mess. I wish Lee had won at Gettysburg."

"Don't tell me you're still fighting the Civil War?" Paige studied him to see if he was teasing.

TODAY'S POST:

"Not no more, the North's sendin' their purdiest women down here givin' our Southern Belles a run for their money. Us poor Southern men don't know which way to turn," Cash said in his deepest southern drawl.

"Are you saying I'm a distraction?"

"No, ma'am, you became an honorary Southern Belle when you moved in this house. Now we can say Savannah has the purdiest Southern Belle living in the purdiest house in Georgia. Don't be surprised if the Mayor and City Council put your statue in the courthouse park." He winked at her.

She shook her head. I was warned about sweet-talking Southern gentlemen. She released a deep breath. "Anyway, when Sherman made his march to the sea and stopped in Savannah, rumor has it Alice, the baby, Bradley's two younger brothers, and the servants hid in some tunnels under the house." She chewed on her lower lip. "Do you think there are really tunnels?"

Cash shrugged his shoulders. "Wouldn't surprise me. This ol' house probably has hidden doors and rooms. If the house is haunted, any idea if it's one of the former owners?"

Paige shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I guess it's possible, or maybe a total stranger." She smiled. "What happened to that Southern accent?"

He grinned, "It comes and goes," and turned toward the door. "I probably need to get home."

As they stood by the front door, Paige glanced to her right toward a body of water. "Is that the Atlantic Ocean?"

"It's the Savannah River. I don't need to rush home. Wanna walk down and see it?"

"Isn't your mom expecting you?"

"Man, you women talked about everything, didn't you?" He took off his cap and slapped it against his thigh. "I don't live at home. Since Mom had a heart attack, I eat dinner there so I can check on her. Tuesday nights she plays Bingo at church. Wanna take a walk? It's probably a good five blocks."

She tilted her head and smiled.

Cash opened the front door. "Let's go."

After Paige locked the door and slipped the key into her jeans pocket, they walked toward the river.

As they walked, Cash pointed out the different squares and historical sites.

When they crossed River Street, Paige bent down and touched the smooth-shaped stones. "This is cobblestone."

"I think it's original." He smiled, then pointed toward a small building. "You won't find this place in the tourist books, but I'm hungry. Would you like a burger and fries?"

Paige turned her head as she glanced at her hands. "I forgot my purse."

"I can afford a couple of cheeseburger baskets." Cash took her hand as he led her toward the building. "It doesn't look like much but it has the best burgers in Savannah." He held the door for Paige.

A young waitress seated them. "Hi Cash, what would you like to drink?"

"Karen, is your tea fresh?

She nodded. "Two teas coming up."

Within a few moments, Karen set the glasses in front of Paige and Cash. "Do you need a few more minutes or are you ready to order?"

Cash smiled at Paige. "Wanna try the cheeseburger basket?"

"Of course, two cheeseburger baskets, please."

Karen looked toward Cash, winked, and grinned. "They'll be right up."

Paige glanced around the restaurant. "I like the Southern decor. Oh look." She pointed toward a painting. "Is that a real pirate?"

"I'm sure it's just any ol' pirate. Robert Louis Stevenson is supposed to have met the real Captain Flint at the Pirates' House before he wrote Treasure Island."

"Really?" Paige sipped her tea, "ugh," and wiped her mouth. "What's this?"

Cash laughed. "I guess you aren't used to Southern tea."

"It's sweet." She wrinkled up her nose and closed her eyes.

"Here you go." Karen placed two red baskets each filled with a cheeseburger and fries in front of the couple. "I hope you enjoy."

"Karen, could you get the lady some Northern tea?" He grinned and winked.

"You sure?" Her eyebrows rose.

"She's from up north and has only been here a few days."

"I'll be right back." The waitress left and within a few moments returned with a replacement tea. "I had to threaten to horsewhip the cook to get him to brew straight tea."

"Thank you. I have to threaten my remodelers the same way." Paige took a sip and grinned. After Karen left, Paige twirled a French fry in some ketchup. "Aunt Paula told me Blackbeard was around here. There's even a small island named after him. Wouldn't it be cool if my house was haunted by Blackbeard himself?"

Cash took a bite of his cheeseburger, chewed, then set it down. "There's no proof that he was ever in Savannah."

"But there isn't any proof he wasn't," she interrupted.

"I guess that's true." Cash grinned. "Blackbeard is notorious for being ruthless. Legend says he shot a sailor in the leg during a card game just to remind him and the crew that Blackbeard was in charge. I don't think you want him haunting your house."

As the couple left the table, Paige noticed Cash left a large tip. I wonder why? It's obvious they know each other. I wonder how well?

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the pirate Blackbeard. Brian and I vacationed there in 2004. I fell in love with the city and my muse decided I should write about it. I hope soon you'll be able to understand where my first two posts of this novel fit.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.


Chapter 7
Chapter 3, Part 3

By barbara.wilkey

Outside the restaurant, Cash directed Paige toward the Savannah River. "I'll show you the Pirates' House on the way home." He led her down a stone staircase that led to the river walk.

Paige stared at the river. "Wow! The lights and the moon's reflection off the water are beautiful." She rubbed her arms. "It would be a beautiful painting. I'd make sure the cobblestones and the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees were somehow in the picture."

"Just think how pretty it would be with a full moon." Cash unbuttoned his shirt. "I bet you're chilly." He put it around her shoulders. "It'll help a little. The breeze off the river is cool."

"I never thought to grab a jacket." She glanced at his muscles and a pink flush came to her cheeks.

"What's wrong? We're both wearing white tank-tops."

"Yours is to be worn as underclothes. Mine is not."

Cash chuckled. "Believe me. Yours should be worn as underclothes too." He took her hand. "This way to the Pirates' House." They climbed back up the stone staircase.

After climbing up the steps, they turned right and walked along River Street again. Cash smiled. "I bet you could have fun in these shops."

"I think this is where Nala, Mary Pat, and I are shopping Saturday afternoon."

Cash stopped walking and faced Paige. "It's none of my business and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you have a lot of money. I know Mary Pat and Billy Joe live from paycheck to paycheck. I'm guessing Nala and her family do too. She has four or five kids."

"What are you trying to say?"

"Neither of them can afford lunch and shopping."

Paige stuffed her hands in her jean's pockets. "You don't think it's a good idea?"

"All I'm saying is the three of you can come up with a less expensive idea."

"What do you do for fun?" Paige asked as they continued walking.

"Work on my old car and fish."

"I doubt we can do either of those." Paige smiled. "What kind of car do you have?"

"1969 Charger. It purrs like a kitten. I just repainted it. I bet you've never been fishing, have you?" After she shook her head, Cash continued, "How about if I pick you up Sunday morning for church, we'll have dinner with Mom, and then go fishing?"

"I can't wear my Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes fishin'."

Shaking his head, Cash laughed. "Please don't try your Southern drawl again. Bring your old blue jeans and a shirt. While Mom's finishing dinner, you can change."

As they turned down East Broad Street, Dwayne Baker walked up to them. Dwayne addressed Paige, "Ms. Swanson, I'm surprised to see you here."

"Cash and I took a walk along the Savannah River. Now, he's going to show me the Pirates' House."

"I didn't picture you as a Pirates' House kind of date." Dwayne chuckled.

Cash held out his hand. "Cash Wilkins. I'm just showing Paige the Pirates' House. She was asking about pirates."

Dwayne hesitated, before taking Cash's hand. "Dr. Dwayne Baker. I'm head of the fine arts department at SCAD."


Paige pulled the shirt tighter around her small frame.

"We'd better be moving along. It looks like Paige's cold." Cash paused. "Nice meeting you, Dwayne."

"Nice meeting you, also."

Cash glanced over his shoulder, making sure they weren't in hearing range. "Is that guy your boss?"

"There are administrators above him."

With a chuckle, Cash said, "Good." He pointed to a grey building with green shutters. "The Pirates' House."

"Can we get closer?"

After Paige and Cash crossed the street, Paige jogged ahead and began reading a plaque. "It says the Pirates' House is supposed to be the oldest building in Savannah and next to it was the first garden in the US. Because Savannah was a seaport blood-thirsty pirates came and drank grog."

"There's plenty of history to it."

Paige moved over to some hanging fliers and pointed. "Oh look! They have ghost tours."

"Let me guess, you want to go on a ghost tour?" After she smiled, Cash stepped closer and read the flier. "Would you like to go Friday evening?"

"Yes, I might find out something about my ghost. Do you think it could be a pirate?"

"I think you have a vivid imagination." Cash laughed.

"Humm. There's supposed to be a tunnel leading from here to the river." She turned and stared toward the waterway. "Do you think my tunnel goes to the river too?"

"You don't even know if you have one."

"True, but ..." She giggled. "This is fun."

"Let's see, you now have plans for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, and pretty much all day Sunday. I'd say you're a very busy lady."

"Today's only Tuesday. I guess I can find something to do tomorrow and Thursday."

"With your imagination, I'm sure you will." He glanced at his watch. "We'd better head for home. It's getting late."


Paige unlocked her house and turned toward Cash. "Would you like to come in for a few minutes?"

"No, I better not. I need to make sure Mom made it home from Bingo, then I want to check the house plans."

"Are you searching for the tunnel?"

"If there's a tunnel, I'm sure you'll find it. See you in the morning. Call if you have any problems."

Paige stood at the door and watched Cash drive away. His Southern charm can sure warm a girl's heart. The last thing I need in my life is another man.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of stone stairs leading to the river walk in Savannah. I found them slighly slippery, but it might just be me. Brian and I vacationed there in 2004. I fell in love with the city and my muse decided I should write about it. In another chapter I had Dwyane Simpson. A reviewer thought I should change it because Simpson is close to Swanson. I did. His name is now Dwayne Baker. I hope soon you'll be able to understand where my first two posts of this novel fit.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.
In my school district teachers report to work starting Monday, and the students begin back the 27th. I will be back to posting only Sunday afternoons and probably my posts will be much shorter. Thank you for your patience.


Chapter 8
Chapter 3, Part 4

By barbara.wilkey

Cash answered a knock on his mother's door and his eyes widened. "Nala, what brings you here? Come in." He held the door open. "Is something wrong?"

"Mr. Cash, it's Miz Paige. When I was fixin' dinner, I couldn't remember turnin' off the iron. I went back to check and Miz Paige was gettin' her camera ready. She was goin' to the river walk and take pictures. She spent the day upstairs paintin'. I don't think somebody as purdy as her should be down there after dark."

Cash released a deep breath. "You're right. I'd better get her or at least stay until she gets what photos she wants." He turned. "Mom, I need to check on Paige. I guess up North they don't teach common sense." He held the door for Nala and followed her out. "Thank you for telling me. I guess it's going to be a full-time job working for this lady."

Nala smiled. "I wouldn't go that far, besides, I've seen the way you look at her." She shut the car door and waved.


After parking his pickup, Cash walked down the same stairs he and Paige had used the previous night. I'm guessing she went to the same spot. I hope she's still there. He walked toward the river. What did Nala mean by 'seeing the way I look at Paige?' I don't look at her any different than I do anybody else.

Close to the river, he noticed a group of teenage males standing around a petite female. As he jogged toward them, he saw one of boys holding a tripod above his head and Paige trying to reach it. "Give her the tripod and go on your way."

The seven teenagers turned toward Cash. The tall slender male holding the tripod glared. "Aren't you Cash Wilkins?"

"Yep, I am." He nodded his head.

"You got a full ride to Georgia. Weren't you a D-end? Didn't you have a third down fourth quarter sack against Auburn?" He turned toward his buddies. "My old man talks about this dude all the time. His younger bro went to high school with him."

After eyeing Cash for a few moments, the teenager handed the tripod to Paige and nodded for his friends to follow. "Let's go. Leave the dude's girlfriend alone. He's a football legend."

Cash watched them leave, then turned toward Paige. "What are you doing out here alone?"

"Taking photographs of light reflections on the water." Paige scrunched her eyebrows together and shook a fist in their direction. "Until those hoodlums came around."

"I guess I need to rephrase my question. The river walk isn't a safe place for young women alone after dark." He hesitated. "If you would've said something, I would've brought you."

"I didn't want to be a bother. How did you know I was here?" She sighed. "Nala told you."

"Maybe your ghost told me," he teased.

Paige set up her tripod. "I only need a few more." After taking some photos, Paige took the camera off the tripod and snapped a few pictures of Cash.

"What are you doing?" He reached over and took the camera from her. "I didn't give you permission to take my picture." He chuckled. "How do I delete them?"

"You didn't say I couldn't. Besides, I hear you're a legend." She giggled as she put the tripod in the case. "I'm finished."

"It's just kid talk." Cash held up the camera. "You haven't told me how to work this thing."

"And I'm not going to. Maybe I'll want to paint your portrait someday." Paige rubbed her arms.

"I see you didn't bring a jacket." He handed her the camera, removed his shirt, leaving only his T-shirt, and put it around her shoulders. "I'll give you a ride home."

Paige lifted the shirt to her nose. "This shirt has the same scent, as your shirt last night." She smiled. "I like your smell."

Cash sighed.


They walked up the stairs and Cash led Paige toward his pickup. "You weren't serious about painting me, were you?"

"I can promise I won't get any paint on you." She grinned.

"You know what I meant. Stop being silly." He opened the passenger door.

Paige blinked her big blue eyes and flashed a huge smile. "Moi?"

"I give up." Cash shook his head as he walked around the truck and sat behind the steering wheel.


When Cash parked in front of the house, Paige glanced at the second-floor window of the room she'd used for painting. "Cash, I'm sure I didn't have that light on. I like to paint in natural light. I only left on the kitchen light." She paused. "I don't like walking into a dark house by myself."

"But you don't have any problems going down to the waterfront after dark by yourself, right?" He let out a small groan. "Stay here and I'll make sure nobody's in there."

"What if it's Blackbeard?"

"What if it's nobody?" Cash took the key from Paige. "Stay put." He walked toward the house.

Cash searched the downstairs rooms and listened to the silence. There's nobody here. She probably left the light on. He started up the stairs. At the top, he checked each bedroom before going into the room she'd used to paint. He stared at the painting of a pirate ship in the Savannah River. Glancing at the computer still on, he smiled. She did her homework on the Jolly Roger flag Blackbeard used. He backed up and the light went off.

He heard a noise and sensed someone behind him. He whirled around and jumped the intruder, bringing them both to the floor. THUD!

"Ouch!"

"You're supposed to be in the truck."

"But what if the prowler hurt you and you needed help?" She sighed. "Would you get off me? You're heavy."

"How would you help me from in here?" Cash used his arms to do a push up off her, then stood. "The prowler would hurt you too. If you had stayed in the truck and I didn't return in a timely manner, you could've called the police." He reached out his hand to help her up.

Paige accepted his offer, stood, turned the light on, and walked over to the computer. She picked up her cell phone. "Not from the truck I couldn't. I forgot to take it with me."

Cash clinched his jaw. "I don't think there's anybody here."

"But who turned on the light?"

"I don't know. Do you have a finger print kit?" he teased.

"Of course not, silly." She grabbed the mouse on her computer. "I'd better get one." She stopped and glanced at him. "Ghosts don't have finger prints, do they?"

The computer screen began flashing images and turned itself off. Paige backed up and covered her mouth. "What just happened?"

The lights flashed off. Cash glanced at the ceiling light. "I'd better check the wiring in this room first thing in the morning."

*****
When Nala arrived the following morning, Paige led her outside. "Cash, you need to talk with Nala."

He walked over to the stairs. "What about?"

"Last night." She glanced at Nala. "Tell him when we left."

"Miz Paige and I left the house together. She had her camera ready to take pictures of the river walk."

"Tell Cash about the lights."

Nala glanced at Paige and raised her eyebrows. "All the lights were off except in the kitchen area. Why?"

"See. I didn't leave any upstairs lights on." Paige's hands were on her hips.

"What is going on?" Nala's look darted between Paige and Cash.

"I brought Paige back last night and the upstairs room she uses to paint in had a light on." Cash removed his hat, ran his fingers through his hair, and replaced the cap. "Come on, Billy Joe, there must be a loose wire." The men followed the ladies inside.

The men were ready to leave for the day, when Paige handed Billy Joe an envelope. "Please give this to your wife. Plans have changed for Saturday afternoon and I wanted to let her know." She turned toward Cash. "How's my wiring?"

"I couldn't find any problem."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the Jolly Roger Flag that Blackbeard is supposed to have used. I'm sure by now you have figured out that I love Savannah. Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.
School officially begins Monday. What happened to summer?


Chapter 9
Chapter 4, Part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER FOUR

When Paige answered the door Friday evening, Cash asked, "Are you sure you don't want to go out to eat?"

"Nope, dinner's in the oven." Paige glanced at her watch. "The lasagna will be done in ten minutes. Everything else is ready. The ghost tour begins at nine, right?" After he nodded, she pointed toward the dining room. "Let's sit down. We can begin with the salad. I've set out a few different types of dressing. I wasn't sure what you liked."

"Ranch is my favorite." He smiled. "I see two pitchers of tea."

"Northern and Southern tea." She giggled, then continued, "I'll remember the ranch dressing."

Paige removed the towel that covered the warm bread and offered the basket to Cash. "I hope you like it." She turned her head as the oven timer dinged. "I'll be right back." When she returned, she set a pan of lasagna between them. "Help yourself."

Cash cut a rectangular section and placed it on her plate, then sliced another for his. "It looks good. Where did you learn to cook?"

As she stood, her face flushed and she went into the kitchen.

"I didn't mean to upset you." Cash followed Paige.

She held up the box and laughed. "I'm afraid my life has been a little sheltered. My lasagna came from a box. Mom always let the servants do the household tasks."

"If you're interested in learning to cook, I bet Nala would teach you."

"I guess it wouldn't hurt to learn." Paige tilted her head and smiled. "Let's eat. I don't want to be late for the tour."

*****
About fifteen minutes before nine o'clock, Paige and Cash arrived outside the Pirates' House. There stood a man in a traditional Confederate uniform.

Paige studied him for a few minutes. A slouch hat, gray jacket, gray trousers, and a bedroll over his shoulder. That gun surely isn't loaded. She turned toward Cash. "Why's he dressed like that?"

"I'm guessing he's our tour guide and he's dressed as a Confederate soldier. Savannah's rich with Civil War history."

"I need to talk to him before we start." Paige hurried toward the middle-aged man.

"Paige, wait." Cash followed.

"Hello. I'm Paige Swanson and I'm the new owner of the William Bookman House on the edge of Madison Square. Can you tell me anything about the ghost who lives there?"

The man chuckled. "I know that house. I hear it's being renovated by the best Gothic Revival architect in these parts." Paige glanced at Cash, as the man continued, "I can't wait until it's finished. I hope you give tours." He shook his head. "I've heard rumors about a ghost, but it's never been verified. Sorry."

"How do you verify a ghost? I'm sure the ghost won't come out and yell, 'Hey, I'm a real ghost.' Will it?"

"There are a few questions you would need to answer. Do you feel cold sometimes for no apparent reason? Do you hear sounds when you shouldn't hear anything? Sometimes does your dog or cat act strange? Have friends or family members mentioned strange feelings? Have things been moved without explanation? Are there often strange smells? Have you seen a fog that takes the shape of a person? Have you ever felt like you've been touched? Have you felt you're being watched? I saw you nod when I asked a few of these questions. Keep a journal for about a month, then come back and I'll look at it."

"Thank you." Paige stepped back, bumped into Cash, and turned. "Sorry."

"Did you get your answer?"

Paige nodded. "I think I have a ghost. I'm not sure if I'm happy or not." She grinned.

"Keep your journal for a few days." Cash glanced up front. "I think the tour is beginning."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the Pirates' House in Savannah, GA.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.
Sorry for the short post. I am behind again, as usual.


Chapter 10
Chapter 4, Part 2

By barbara.wilkey

"Shiver me timbers! Here ye'll find the blood thirstiest sea-dogs, scallywags and wenches of history, including Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, and many more." The tour guide, who a Confederate uniform, waved his arms.

"If we're talking about pirates, why you dressed in the grays?" A man in his twenties chuckled.

"Very good question, young man. Believe it or not our sweet, Southern city has a dark secret; we have more residents than we can count, literally." He laughed. "With our colorful history of dastardly pirates and violent battles, some of the spirits of Savannah's past are still among us." The tour guide's eyes widened. "Savannah is often described as charming, captivating, and graceful, but has a mysterious dark side and has been recognized as America's most haunted city."

"Will any of these residents cast a vote in November?" The same young man laughed.

"That is an interesting question. You'll have to ask the voting judges." He turned and walked toward the street. "My name is Evan. Come with me, and experience the things that go bump in Savannah's night." Turning back toward the group of thirteen, he added, "If you're brave, you should check out our centuries-old cemeteries." He smiled.

Paige glanced over the group, which was made up mostly of men in their late twenties and thirties, except for one family with two teenagers,, and one older couple. She took Cash's arm. "This is going to be fun, isn't it?"

He shook his head. "I guess."

Evan stopped and pointed behind the Pirates' House. "Under Savannah there are numerous tunnels. During our history, they served many purposes. The pirates have been known to get a man so drunk he passed out. Later when he woke up, he was sailing the ocean forced into service as a deckhand on a pirate ship. This is where the term 'shanghaied' originated. I'll discuss more about the tunnels later in the tour."

"See there are tunnels." Paige poked Cash's arm as they followed the tour guide across the street.

"I hope you have your walking shoes on. This tour covers much of the Historical Section of Savannah." On the sidewalk, Evan paused. "A little history about our city. General Edward Oglethorpe sailed from England and landed in 1733. He made agreements with the Yamacraw Indians and created this town. His plan for the city included twenty-four squares. Twenty-two of them exist today. We'll walk by or through most of them." After a brief moment, he continued, "Savannah made the thirteenth English American Colony. After the Revolution, our fair city was the first capital of Georgia."

Paige smiled at Cash. "I didn't know anything about the history. Since it's now my home, I should know a little bit. I'll research it when I get home."

After the group entered a park, the tour guide continued, "This is Emmet Park, named after Robert Emmet. He was an eighteenth-century Irish patriot. The park contains the Celtic cross, monuments to German Hussars and Vietnam's fallen soldiers. This was once an Indian burial ground. Some say a few Native Americans still make their presence known." Evan grinned.

"Maybe my ghost is Native American." Paige giggled.

"Or maybe all you have is a vivid imagination." Cash chuckled.

"As we leave this area, I want to walk by the Olde Pink House. It was built in 1771 by James Habersham and is the oldest building in town. It was a headquarters for a Yankee general during the Civil War."

Eleven group members booed.

"Why'd they do that?" whispered Paige.

"Many Southerners still view the war as the War of Northern Aggression." Cash sighed.

"Mr. Habersham didn't like the pink color so would have the house painted white. To his dismay the house would return to pink." The tour guide laughed. "Since the Olde Pink House is now a restaurant, every employee has seen Mr. James Habersham himself on many occasions."

He paused a few moments. "It seems another spirit lingers at this house, a war veteran. He likes to sit at the bar in full Revolutionary War attire. It has been reported that he's friendly. He raises his drink, smiles, then vanishes."

Paige giggled. "I bet my ghost has a sense of humor."

Cash glanced her way and sighed.

Evan continued, "A third ghost walks the house or now restaurant and seems to be a descendent of James Habersham. He appears in solid form and orders a drink from the bar. After he's done, he walks down to the cemetery where he disappears close to where his body is buried. This house is reported to have a few more entities. A female has been heard crying on the second floor by guests and employees."

"Hum, I wonder what her story is." Paige tilted her head.

"A specter of a former house servant has been seen and several slave children. It seems the children are mischievous and enjoy playing in the basement. They have been known to throw dice against walls and bathroom doors, hit bartenders with wine bottles, and lock people in restrooms." Evan chuckled. "Let's continue."

"I guess even ghost children are stinkers." Paige stared at the house, before she followed the group.

"Next is Wright Square. This square is named for James Wright, Georgia's last colonial governor. A slab of granite from Stone Mountain adorns the grave of Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraw chief who befriended General Oglethorpe and the colonists."

Paige smiled at Cash.

"Don't even say it. Your ghost is not an Indian chief." Cash shook his head. "You're incorrigible." He stopped and stared at her. "You don't even know if you have a ghost."

"The finest example of English Regency architecture in America is the Owen-Thomas House. It still has the original carriage house, which contains the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South." Evan continued, "I wouldn't have done my job if I didn't show you the birthplace of the Girl Scouts, the Andrew Low House. It also contains a bedroom that friend and visitor General Robert E. Lee slept in."

Paige pointed to another house down the street. "What about that house?"

"It's the Marshall House. We'll stop at it on the way back to the Pirates' House." Evan crossed the street. "Follow me."

The tour group then entered the Colonial Park Cemetery.

Evan pretended to dry his eyes. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but Sherman's troops set up camp here and for their own amusement moved some headstones and altered inscriptions. Ghosts reportedly search this park looking for their headstones. This was a final resting place for many Savannahians from 1750 until 1853. A yellow fever or yellow jack killed about 5000 citizens over a period of three epidemics. We'll stop here for a few moments. See if you can help some poor soul find the proper headstone."

Paige hurried off from the group studying each grave marker.

*****
Cash called after her, "I doubt your ghost is here." This woman doesn't have an ounce of common sense. He started to follow, but paused as a movement at the far end of the cemetery caught his attention. Why would a couple wearing mid 1850's clothing be standing arm-in-arm facing a grave? Cash stepped closer. The woman appears to be crying. They must be actors for the tourists. He watched the man take the woman into his arms. They are acting. Cash started to walk toward them. As the couple faded away, Cash wiped his eyes. Now, I'm seeing things.

"Boo!" Paige sneaked up behind him.

Cash jumped.

"Are you all right?" She studied his face.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the 'Colonial Park Cemetary' in Savannah, GA. The image is supposed to be of a ghost. I'll let you decide.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.
I have two more post about the ghost tour. I'm worried that I'm spending too much time on it. Please let me know your feelings.


Chapter 11
Chapter 4, Part 3

By barbara.wilkey

The end of my previous post:

Cash called after her, "I doubt your ghost is here." This woman doesn't have an ounce of common sense. He started to follow, but paused as a movement at the far end of the cemetery caught his attention. Why would a couple wearing mid 1850's clothing be standing arm-in-arm facing a grave? Cash stepped closer. The woman appears to be crying. They must be actors for the tourists. He watched the man take the woman into his arms. They are acting. Cash started to walk toward them. As the couple faded away, Cash wiped his eyes. Now, I'm seeing things.

"Boo!" Paige sneaked up behind him.

Cash jumped.

"Are you all right?" She studied his face.

*****

Today's post:

Evan counted. "I see thirteen people have returned. I wonder if it's the original thirteen." He raised his eyebrows. "Our next stop is the Green-Meldrim House. Mr. Green hoped to protect his home and cotton from destruction as General William T. Sherman's Union Army drew closer in December of 1864. Green rode out to meet Sherman and invited him to use his home. Shortly after Sherman arrived at Green's home, he sent a telegram to President Lincoln. The telegram said Sherman was giving Savannah to Lincoln as a Christmas present along with one hundred and fifty heavy guns, plenty of ammunition, and twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."

"I don't know much about Sherman. I remember hearing he was a great general, but that's about it," Paige said.

Cash stopped. "Sherman decided he would 'make Georgia howl.' He used his fingers to accent the words. "His army marched through Atlanta, burned it to the ground, and continued the destruction as he marched onto Savannah."

"He must have had a good reason." Paige glanced ahead. "We'd better catch up."

"Yeah, he had a reason, he was evil."

As they stood in front of the Green-Meldrim House, Paige stared at it. "It's the same Gothic Revival style as my house." She turned toward Cash. "I heard a rumor it's being remodeled by the best."

His cheeks turned a slight red shade. "Listen to the tour guide."

"Sherman thought Savannah was so beautiful he spared her and remained here for about a year." Evan paused. "Here are a few random facts you might find interesting about our charming city. Many citizens hid in the tunnels from Sherman's Army. During the war some of the tunnels were used as an underground railroad for slaves to escape. Let's walk a few blocks to Madison Square."

"Excuse me, sir." Paige stood beside Evan and asked, "How many tunnels are there in Savannah?"

"No one knows for sure. There are at least two at the Pirates' House. The old Chandler Hospital has two or more. We don't know how many houses have tunnels under them or how many underground railroads there were." He shook his head. "No idea."

The thirteen person group stood in front of a huge house. "The Sorrel-Weed House is the largest house in Savannah. It's sixteen thousand square feet and was completed in 1841. There's plenty of history attached to it. Since this is a haunted tour, I'll get right to the ghosts. If you're interested in the history, talk with me later." Evan turned toward the house. "It's the most documented haunted house in Savannah."

Cash glanced at Paige. "You can't wait for him to start, can you?" After she nodded, he sighed.

"Francis Sorrel owned the house. Mr. Sorrel was originally from the island of Hispaniola and fled during the slave revolt of 1793. He was born Francois but changed his name to the English pronunciation when he came to the US. Since he was only one quarter black, he had no problem passing himself off as white. He married a Virginia blue blood, Lucinda. After she died, he married Matilda."

The older of the teenage boys said, "You said you weren't going to give any history, just ghost facts."

"Oh so right, but you need to know some of the background." Evan paused for a moment. "One slight history fact our Civil War buffs might like to know, Francis' son, Gilbert Moxley Sorrel was one of the youngest generals in the Confederate Army. He started out as a lieutenant under Lee and was wounded three times by the age of twenty-six. He was the youngest soldier to hold the rank of brigadier general."

He bowed toward the teenager. "Now for the ghosts, it seems Francis and Matilda had eight children. Two died at birth and a daughter died when she was six. The hauntings started around that time. Francis had an affair with one of the servants, Molly. His wife, Matilda found out and jumped from the second floor porch onto the courtyard." He pointed to the courtyard. "Two weeks later Molly was found hanged. It seems even after the rope was taken down, it would mysteriously return hanging from the same carriage house rafter."

The boy laughed. "Now, that's some story."

"I'm not finished," said the tour guide. "People have claimed to see figures in the windows and heard disembodied voices coming from the house. There's a lower section of the house that was used as a slave kitchen. There have been reports that voodoo is somehow practiced in that area."

The teenager grabbed his mom's arm. "Tomorrow we need to take a tour inside the house."

The rest of the group laughed.

"Now that's settled," continued Evan, "we have quite a jaunt to Monterey Square."

After walking about seven blocks, Evan stopped in front of a two-story house. "The Hampton Lillibridge House was built in 1796 but didn't have any strange phenomena until the 1960s. A wealthy antique dealer, Jim Williams, bought the house in 1963. Remember his name, it will come up later. He wanted the house moved. It collapsed and two workers were killed. The men found a crypt made from lime and oyster shells. Inside were eight skeletons. This house used to be in the poor section of town. During the yellow fever epidemic not everybody could be buried in consecrated ground and were buried at home."

Evan adjusted his gray slouch hat. "Tools went missing, noises were heard upstairs. Williams felt the foot of his bed being lifted. He called in ghost experts and was told there were six different ghosts and did what anybody would do with a house full of ghosts, he had an exorcism performed. Two years later more ghosts appeared. Some say this house is more haunted than the Sorrel-Weed House." His eyes widened. "There are still many things that go bump in the night. We have a short distance to walk to Forsyth Park."

"Cash, what's on your mind?" Paige's eyes met his.

"Nothing, why?"

"Since we left the Colonial Park Cemetery you've been quiet."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a presence from the Sorrel-Weed House in Savannah, GA. I'll let you decide if it's real.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.
I have decided to continue the ghost tour. Only a few reviewers thought it was too much. In upcoming posts, I hope you will see the relevance.


Chapter 12
Chapter 4, Part 4

By barbara.wilkey

"We're headed to the old Candler Hospital." Cash released a deep breath. "It can cause chills up your spine."

Evan stopped in the parking lot. The group of thirteen circled around him as he pointed toward the hospital. "The decayed building before you is the old Candler Hospital. No building in Savannah has witnessed more misery and death. It was founded in 1808 as a seaman's hospital and a poor house. It's the oldest hospital in Georgia."

This is eerie. I can feel something here. Paige rubbed her arms as the hair bristled. Horrible things happened here.

"The structure has been empty for two decades, but was once used as a Union hospital as well as one where hundreds of patients died of yellow fever. It has even been an insane asylum." Evan stepped slightly to his left.

Paige took Cash's left hand in hers and held onto his arm. He glanced down at her and rubbed her hand.

"During the summer of 1876, the height of Savannah's greatest yellow fever epidemic, 276 people died within a period of forty-eight hours. With that many corpses, the doctors feared the disease would spread. They also were afraid it would cause the residents to panic. A tunnel was dug about twelve feet beneath the surface." Evan pointed to the parking lot and then to Forsyth Park. "It ended at the wooded area of the park. It was used for a morgue while they awaited burial and for autopsies and medical experiments. It's now blocked. Today Candler Hospital sits as an empty witness to Savannah's former sufferings."

Cash slipped his arm around Paige's waist, pulled her closer, and whispered into her ear, "Are you all right?"

"I'm not sure. I can feel the atrocities that happened to people here. I need a minute." Paige looked around at the somber group. Silence filled the air.

*****
Eventually, they crept along the almost empty residential streets. Evan stopped in front of a red-brick two-story house. "We're now in Ellis Square. The two-story building before you is the Johnny Mercer House. Can anybody tell me why it's is famous?"

The older gentleman said, "Johnny Mercer was a famous song writer."

"Very true. There's another reason. Are there readers in this group?" Evan waited a few minutes, then added, "It's a story about some very interesting characters who lived in our beloved Savannah."

Paige said, "I know." Evan nodded for her to continue. "There's a book and movie titled, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The movie was filmed here."

"You're so right, my dear." The tour guide faced the house. "The book tells the story of Danny Hansford's murder, but there were two earlier deaths in this house. First, a previous owner tripped over the second floor banister, fracturing his hip and suffered a concussion. He died three days later. A young boy was chasing some pigeons from the roof, fell over the edge and impaled himself on the fence below." He pointed to the iron-works. "Oh yes, Jim Williams in the story is the same Williams who lived in the Hampton Lillibridge House we just talked about. He died from a heart attack here. This house has more than a few ghosts haunting it." Evan motioned for the group to follow him.

"Before we return to the Pirates' House, there's one more place I'd like to show you. It's not too far."

Paige stared at the building they stood in front of and read the sign aloud, "The Marshall House."

"It's now a hotel with interesting heritage." Cash smiled. "I take it you're doing better."

She nodded.

"Constructed in 1851, the Marshall House is the oldest hotel in Savannah and is reportedly one of the most haunted places in this city," Evan said to the group.

"You've said that twice before," the youngest teenager commented.

"I wanted to make sure you were listening," the tour guide said with a grin. "Actually, which place is the most haunted depends on who you talk to and what their experience has been." He turned toward the building. "This hotel served once as a boarding house and three times as a hospital. In the later days of the Civil War, Confederate forces of Lt. General Hardee used the building as a hospital. Later it housed the Union armies under Sherman. Many wounded soldiers died or underwent amputation during their stay."

"Are you going to give us another history lesson?" The teenager shook his head.

"Nope, but you needed that information to understand the ghosts I'm getting ready to tell you about. During the 1957 renovation, human remains were discovered buried in the rear yard under the floorboards of a storage shed. It's believed these bones were amputated limbs of soldiers."

"How horrible." Paige released a deep breath.

"Today, guests have reported seeing a young man holding his own severed arm and searching for someone to reattach it. The soldiers wander the halls in Civil War clothing. People report hearing children, water and lights turning on and off, crashes of some sort, and door knobs wiggling, but nobody's there." Evan paused as the group stared at the building.

"I'm changing my hotel reservations." The man in his twenties chuckled. "I want to see some real ghosts."

"Now for the Pirates' House." Evan led the way.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of one of the tunnels at the old Candler Hospital in Savannah, GA.
Here is a URL to a report done on the yellow fever tunnels.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p769qDGCWV0

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.

In upcoming posts, Paige will help you see the relevance of the ghost tour.


Chapter 13
Chapter 4, Part 5

By barbara.wilkey

"Back in the days when cotton was 'king,' ships docked at the Savannah harbor." Evan used his fingers to highlight the word king. "The Pirates' House was a popular haunt in many ways." The tour guide winked at the group.

As the group gathered in front of the gray building Evan continued, "When a certain police officer heard the same story I told you at the beginning of the tour, he searched deeper and deeper into the tunnel." As Evan pretended to pull something, his voice changed. "He heard noises. The officer took a closer look and witnessed sailors dragging a body through a dirt wall." He stopped abruptly and stood straight. "The officer ordered the tunnel sealed. Today you can see the bricks that seal the entrance."

The oldest teenager with the group asked, "Can we see it?"

"When the tour's over you can go downstairs and take a look." Evan paused. "But there are others who haunt this building." He grinned. "I need to tell you about Anna, a promiscuous young lady who met the man of her dreams. She fell in love and at seventeen became pregnant. When the man learned of the pregnancy, he ran off. Anna, very distraught, jumped from this second floor window to her death." He pointed to the window. "A few years later, strange things started happening in that room, especially on Sundays. One couple who had rented the room tells the story about getting into an argument. The wife made her husband sleep on the couch. In the middle of the night the man heard his wife come beside him and felt her kiss. They proceeded to 'make-up.'" Evan chuckled. "In the morning the wife knew nothing about the 'make-up.'" He winked and grinned.

"One of Savannah's favorite stories is about a young lady, Florence Martus. Her statue sits on River Street and welcomes the sailors."

Paige glanced at Cash.

"I'll take you by it. Is Sunday soon enough?" he asked.

"The story goes that Florence lived in the Cockspur Lighthouse with her brother. She had a lonely life with her collie as the only companion. To entertain herself the young girl waved a white towel and welcomed ships into the harbor. This continued for forty-four years."

One of the teenagers sighed. "That's great, but what about the pirates?"

"Of course, no ghost tour would be complete without pirates. I'll save Blackbeard for last."

"Isn't Blackbeard the most famous pirate from this area?" a man in his early twenties asked.

"He probably is, but Captain Flint was supposed to be at the Pirates' House when Robert Louis Stevenson met him."

The oldest gray-headed man said, "Some research says Captain Flint is an imaginary character Stevenson made up."

"There's no way of knowing for sure." The tour guide released a deep breath. "Anne Bonny was the illegitimate daughter of a rich Irish lawyer and his servant. When his wife made it public, the lawyer and the servant moved to the New World and settled in Charleston, South Carolina"

"Great more history." The teenager rolled his eyes.

"Anne was a strong, independent woman. She married James Bonny, who was a small-time pirate. When her husband became a government informer, she ran away with Calico Jack Rackham. Anne was known for her ruthlessness and wore men's clothing. Calico Jack and Anne Bonny were eventually captured. Calico Jack and the crew were hung. Anne was pregnant. It was against the law to hang a pregnant female. Somehow Anne escaped. Some say her rich father paid her way out of prison, some say she still roams the area between Charleston and Savannah." Evan's eyes widened. "Nobody's sure what became of the baby or if there really was one."

The tour guide put his right hand above his eyebrows and looked toward the Savannah River. "I'm just checking." He shook his head before he said, "Blackbeard was killed off the coast of North Carolina. His crew attempted to board a sloop commanded by Lieutenant Robert Maynard from the HMS Pearl. Blackbeard fought with Maynard and was killed by Maynard's men and his head was hung from the sloop's bow as it returned to Virginia." Evan stared again toward the harbor. "That's when the weirdness began. According to legend, Blackbeard's corpse swam around Maynard's ship three times while his head shrieked loudly. From that day on, many have spotted his ghost swimming as it glowed an eerie light. This light is called 'Teach's Light.' Blackbeard's real name is Edward Teach. Some say he's searching for his head."

"Look!" The youngest teenager pointed toward a second-story window, then fainted.

While the tour group looked toward the window, the parents attended to the boy.

Paige gasped. "Do you see that?"

"I see it, but I don't believe it. It has to be a trick, just like the actors at the cemetery." Cash's eyes were glued to the window.

"What the ..." Evan paused and didn't finish the sentence. "I've never seen anything like it."

The parents revived their son. He glanced toward the window and fainted again.

One of the young men asked, "Is that Blackbeard's head?"

"It's been reported he used to set his beard on fire to intimidate people," replied someone in the crowd.

"It's on fire." Paige's eyes widened.

"Is he holding a mug of ale?" asked a male voice from the group.

"He can't be. It's only his head," answered another.

Cash reached in his pocket and removed his cell phone. "I'm calling the police. This is weird."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of Blackbeard's ghost.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.

In upcoming posts, Paige will help you see the relevance of the ghost tour.


Chapter 14
Chapter 4, Part 6

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:
One of the young men asked, "Is that Blackbeard's head?"

"It's been reported he used to set his beard on fire to intimidate people," replied someone in the crowd.

"It's on fire." Paige's eyes widened.

"Is he holding a mug of ale?" asked a male voice from the group.

"He can't be. It's only his head," answered another.

Cash reached in his pocket and removed his cell phone. "I'm calling the police. This is weird."

*****
Today's post:

The police searched the room and found nothing except the faint smell of smoke. Some of the tour group went inside the Pirates' House and others went their separate ways.

As Cash and Paige walked toward her home, she released a deep sigh, then asked, "Was there really an Underground Railroad and tunnels under Savannah? Are we walking on a tunnel?"

Cash paused. "You know the Underground Railroad was a series of safe houses for runaway slaves, don't you?"

"Yes, but they could've hidden in tunnels."

"I don't know. I'd think a Ground Penetrating Radar would answer some of those questions. It's definitely a mystery." Cash took her hand. "Are you all right?"

"I'm not sure. I'd hoped the tour would answer some questions but now I only have more. Are there any Bookman's buried in the Colonial Park Cemetery? Aunt Paula said they owned large cotton fields a few miles west of town. I wonder if there's a family cemetery on that land. Maybe I'll ask Mr. Redman how to get there and check it out."

Paige paused at the curb a few moments before she continued, "Did any of them die of yellow fever? Are any of them buried under my house or somewhere in the yard? Are there tunnels under the house? If so, where do they lead and what were they used for? I'm guessing the Bookmans were slave owners. Were they nice to their slaves? Did any of them have affairs with their servants? Were the tunnels used to hide slaves? How many people died in my house? Is anybody here missing an arm or a leg?" Paige shoved her hands in her jeans' pockets. "What about my ghost?"

Cash chuckled. "You probably don't even have a ghost."

"I have a ghost all right. I just hope it's not Blackbeard. That guy's spooky."

When they arrived at Paige's house, Cash walked up the steps, stopped, and turned around. "Are you coming? What's wrong?"

"I was just thinking." Paige's eyes met his. "I should be scared, but I'm not. I'm wondering why."

"I don't understand." Cash moved closer to her.

"Mary Pat and Nala are coming over tomorrow for girl fun." Page smiled. "What if my ghost makes an appearance? My ghost's friendly. I don't want to hurt his feelings."

"If there's such a thing as ghosts, I doubt they have feelings." Cash chuckled.

"You don't believe in ghosts?" Paige's eyebrows rose. "I thought you saw ghosts at the cemetery."

"I saw something. I'm sure they were actors."

"What about Blackbeard's head? I'd say it proved he spent time in Savannah."

"Again, it was for effect. It proves nothing. There's still no proof he was ever in Savannah." Cash took Paige's arm. "Come on. I'll turn on the lights."

"But Evan was as shocked as we were. He didn't know anything about it."

"He's a good actor," Cash held the door open. When they were both inside, Cash said, "Stay here and I'll search the house." He started to walk away, then turned toward her. "You have your cell phone, don't you?"

Paige held it up, nodded, and watched Cash walk into the kitchen.

A few moments later, Cash called to her, "This area's clear. If you want, you can come in here to wait."

Paige crept into the room. "If there's a ghost and he didn't want you to see him, he could hide from you, right?"

"I guess." He shook his head. "No, there's no such thing as ghosts."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm positive."

"I'm not sure if you're trying to convince me or yourself."

"Let me check upstairs and turn on the lights. I'll be right back."

Paige waited at the bottom of the stairs. When he returned, she teased, "Is my bedroom safe?"

"Are you sure you'll be all right?"

"I'm fine, really." She walked Cash to the door. "Good night. I'll see you Sunday morning."

"Call if you need me."

Paige watched Cash get inside his truck. I think that strong hunky Southern boy's scared of ghosts. She turned, saw movement, and screamed. Then she heard banging on the door and Cash's voice, "Paige, you all right? Unlock the door. It's me."

With a trembling hand, Paige opened it and went into Cash's arms. After a few moments, he said, "I saw a shadow in the window. What happened?"

"I don't know. He was right over there." She pointed toward the parlor. "When I screamed, he disappeared."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of Green-Meldrim House. It was built in Gothic-revival architecture. The same as Paige's house.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional.

I hope you will begin to see the relevance of the ghost tour.


Chapter 15
Chapter 5, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

The end of the previous chapter:
Paige watched Cash get inside his truck. I think that strong hunky Southern boy's scared of ghosts. She turned, saw movement, and screamed. Within seconds she heard banging on the door and Cash's voice, "Paige, you all right? Unlock the door. It's me."

With a trembling hand, Paige opened it and went into Cash's arms. After a few moments, he said, "I saw a shadow in the window. What happened?"

"I don't know. He was right over there." She pointed toward the parlor. "When I screamed, he disappeared."

*****
CHAPTER FIVE

"I'm sure cars' headlights caused the shadow." Cash glanced toward the window.

"That makes sense." Paige stepped back from him. "It's windy. Branches blowing could've made it look like it moved."

"If you want, I'll sleep on your couch."

Their eyes met. "If your mom knew you stayed at my house, she'd whip your butt."

"If she knew there was a lady in need and I didn't offer to help, she'd take me to the woodshed." Cash chuckled.

"Really?" Paige's eyes widened.

"You're in the deep South, sweetheart. Things are done differently down here."

"I'm beginning to figure that out. In Massachusetts, I never had to worry about ghosts." Paige rubbed her arms.

"You cold?"

"I felt the same chill at the hospital, but it's gone. Do you think it's the chill Evan talked about?"

"It wouldn't hurt documenting it."

Paige got paper and pencil, then sat at the table. "I'd better get a binder. I'll probably have a lot to write about."

After Paige finished, she stood. "Mr. or Mrs. Ghost, I'm sorry I screamed. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

Cash shook his head. "Have you decided what to do about tonight?"

"I'm fine now. There's nothing to fear in my own house." She glanced toward the front door. "You can leave."

"I'll walk you upstairs and make sure it's safe." Cash headed toward the staircase. Paige followed.

Outside Paige's bedroom door, she touched Cash's arm. "You're a good friend, but now that you see I'm all right, you can go. I'll walk down with you. I need to lock the door."

"You don't have to. I have a key." When Paige's eyebrows rose, Cash said, "Paula gave me one."

"My aunt must have thought highly of you." Why'd she do that? I'm not sure I like it.

"I guess she did." He turned toward the stairs. "I'll let myself out."

*****
At the bottom of the stairs, Cash opened the front door, then closed it. Something isn't right in this house and it ain't ghosts. He walked into the parlor and stared at the window. "I saw the shadow myself."

He turned his head, when he heard Paige's voice, "Cash, you can leave. I'm fine and going to bed. Good night."

"Good night. I'll leave in a few minutes. I need to check on a few things."

"Okay, see you Sunday morning."

Cash heard the bedroom door close and sat on the couch. I'm missing something, but what? He scanned the room. Could Paula've given somebody else a key? After a pause, he said, "I'm changing the locks first thing in morning." He started toward the door, then turned around. I'd better check the house once more.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of an image in a window.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are shor, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel.

I hope you will begin to see the relevance of the ghost tour.


Chapter 16
Chapter 5, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

Early the following morning Paige heard a door slam and rushed downstairs. She paused and pulled her robe around her slim waist. "Cash, what are you doing? You don't work on Saturdays. It's way too early for normal people to be up. Why do you have my doorknob in your hand?"

"Good morning to you, too. I see you made it safely through the night. Any more ghost scares?"

"Good morning." Her face turned a slight pink. "Sorry I heard a door slam. When I came downstairs, I didn't expect to see you." She paused. "No more incidents. What's all this about?" She moved her arms indicating the tools lying across the entryway.

"There was a wind gust and the door got away from me. Sorry, I woke you up. I got to wondering if your aunt gave out any more keys. I'm changing the locks." He held out his hand. "Here's your new key. If you don't want me to have one, take both."

"Keep it. While I'm at work, you may need access to the house."

He nodded. "I'm almost done here. The backdoor's finished. It uses the same key, only upside down."

"I thought you were here to join us for our girls' day out." She smiled.

"No way would I stay round for that." He grinned. "I'll be done before the ladies arrive."

She glanced toward the stairs. "Not a problem. I have a lot of things that need to be done before the ladies show up. I'd better get dressed."

When Paige returned, she paused in front of Cash and watched him replace some tools in his box. "I need to get busy in the kitchen."

"I have one more thing to check, then I'm finished. I'll see you tomorrow morning."

*****
It wasn't long before Cash escorted a tall muscular man into the kitchen. "Paige, this guy says you hired him for the massages. He wants to set up."

Paige turned and offered her hand. "Hello, you must be Maurice."

He took Paige's hand and kissed the top of it. "My pleasure, Madam."

Cash ran his hand through his short sandy hair. "I'll help carry stuff in. Paige, where do you want it set up?" He started toward the door, then turned back. "What time are Mary Pat and Nala showing up?"

She glanced at her watch. "In about an hour and a half."

"Come on, Maurice, we'd better get busy and let the lady finish getting ready. I'm sure it's all right if we set up in the dining room."

With a smile across her lips, Paige whispered, "That Southern boy's very protective, isn't he? I don't think he likes Maurice. I wonder why?" She finished setting out plates and silverware.

*****
"Madam, I'll return in about thirty minutes. I forgot one of the special oils I planned to use."

"Not a problem." She watched Maurice leave, then turned toward Cash. "You don't like him."

"I don't dislike him. I just think a man should have a real job. Not one where you rub oil on ladies' backs. Heck, I'd do it for free. How much you paying that guy anyway? I'm sure it's more than Mary Pat and Nala make in two weeks."

"It's none of your business." Her eyebrows rose. "I didn't know you were a licensed masseur."

"I'm not but I can give a gal a backrub. I knew we had a few brothels in town, but I didn't know we had any massage parlors. Is that what they call them nowadays?" Cash glanced toward the cot Maurice had set up. "Do you think I should stay to make sure things don't get out of hand?"

Paige put her hands on her hips. "We're going to paint finger and toe nails, do each other's hair, each have a thirty minute massage, eat, listen to music, and talk. Which part do you want to take part in? Maurice's fingernails were painted a flesh tone. I'd love to paint your nails fire engine red."

He glanced around the kitchen. "What's to eat?"

"Vegetables, dip, meat, cheese, crackers, petite fours, and Southern and Northern tea."

"I'll pass, but promise to call if this Maurice guy gets out of hand." Cash paused. After Paige indicated she would, he left.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a kitten giving a massage. I was looking for a hunky man, but this photo was too cute. FS, I'm sorry, the silly side of me won out.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel.


Chapter 17
Chapter 5.part 3

By barbara.wilkey

Paige set down the meat and cheese tray and turned her head when she heard a knock. She smiled as she opened the door for Mary Pat and Nala. "Welcome." She glanced out the door. "You didn't see Cash hanging around, did you?"

"Just us. Nala picked me up. Billy Joe has the car. He's changing the oil. You're expecting Cash?" Mary Pat grinned.

"He was here earlier changing the locks. He's not too sure about the masseur."

"That doesn't surprise me. Did you really hire one? I've never had a massage."

Nala grinned. "Me neither."

Paige led them into the dining room and pointed toward the massage table. "Yep. I'm glad you both wore comfortable clothes. I think we'll have fun." The ladies followed her into the kitchen.

After pouring two sweet teas and one unsweetened, Paige motioned for the ladies to sit. "I thought we'd have finger food, so we could snack throughout the afternoon." She opened the refrigerator. "I have three different flavors of ice cream and topping too. Please help yourself." She pointed toward the bowls, spoons, and dipper.

Mary Pat took a drink of tea, closed her eyes, wrinkled her nose, and scrunched up her mouth.

Nala sipped hers and coughed. "Miz Paige, you make this tea?"

She nodded. "Please drop the miz and call me Paige. What's wrong with it?"

"It's way too sweet," the ladies said in unison.

"Cash drank a glass last night and didn't mention it." She frowned. "He was just being polite, wasn't he?"

Nala stood. "I'll make a pitcher and show you how much sugar to put in." She dumped the sweet tea down the drain and washed the pitcher.

The ladies stood around the stove and talked while they waited for the teapot to whistle.

Paige set the tea bags and sugar on the counter. As she watched Nala add the sugar, she laughed. "I used three times that amount. Oh dear." She covered her mouth as her cheeked twinged pink.

"Poor Cash." Mary Pat giggled.

"He's so sweet. He didn't say a word." Paige tilted her head.

"I'm wondering if you're sweet on him."

"I was thinking the same thing." Nala smiled.

"Heaven's no. He's a friend, that's all. Besides, he has a girlfriend. I met her earlier in the week. Tuesday night, I think."

"Are you sure? Billy Joe hasn't said a word. If he's been keeping that from me, I'll ... who knows what I'll do." Mary Pat laughed. "What's her name?"

"Karen, but I didn't get a last name. She's a waitress. Cash gave her a large tip."

"Is she pretty?" Nala asked as she glanced at Mary Pat.

"Would you say she's Cash's type?" Mary Pat winked at Nala.

"How'd Paige know what's his type? She just met the man five days ago." Nala shook her head.

"True, can you picture her with Cash?"

"All I can say is they looked pretty friendly with each other." Paige turned toward the knock on the door. "It must be Maurice. Ready for your massages?"

Paige introduced Maurice, who kissed Paige's hand then both the other ladies'. He handed Paige three individually wrapped, pink over-sized bath towels. Paige passed one to each of her friends. "Nala, would you show Mary Pat to the guest bathroom. She can go first, you second, and I'll be last.

*****
It wasn't long before they'd each finished their massage. Maurice had packed his things and left. The ladies changed back into their shorts and T-shirts then stretched.

Mary Pat spoke first, "Who would've thought having your back pounded would've felt so good? "

"I'm glad you liked it. How about you?" Paige smiled at Nala.

"It felt good, but a little sinful."

The ladies laughed.

Paige carried a large plastic container filled with all different shades of nail polish. "Choose your color."

Mary Pat lifted a flesh tone bottle up and laughed. "This looks exactly like the color Maurice wore."

"I don't know why any self-respecting man would get a manicure." Nala shook her head. "I just don't understand it."

Mary Pat put out a limp wrist. "All those muscles going to waste."

"I doubt Cash understood." Paige smiled.

"God help Maurice if he flirts with Cash or Billy Joe." Mary Pat laughed.

"Amen!" said Nala.

I guess my new friends aren't very tolerant of peoples' differences. Paige set the container on the table.

They gave each other a pedicure then a manicure. While they waited for it to dry, a discussion on music began.

Mary Pat laughed. "I can't believe you've never line danced. You're now a Southern gal, you need to learn, isn't that right?"

Nala smiled. "Do we have music?"

Paige showed them where the radio sat. Soon country music blared. The ladies line danced and laughed.

Paige stopped abruptly and turned toward the door when she heard a male voice, "Knock, knock."

"Cash, we're fine." She paused when she saw Dwayne Walker holding the door open, but remained outside. "Sorry, I thought you were somebody else."

"Obviously. May I come in?"

She walked over, turned the volume down, but didn't acknowledge the question. "We're having a girls' special day. My friends are teaching me to line dance." As she came toward him, she noticed his eyes searching her body when she walked. She crossed her arms over her chest. "How can I help you?"

"I have tickets for a classical concert tomorrow evening. I wondered if you would like to attend with me." He paused. "You do like classical music, don't you?"

"I'm sorry, but I already have plans." She put her hand on the door knob and edged it closed.

"Maybe another time." He scanned the room before leaving.

"Maybe." After the door was closed, she leaned against it and took deep breaths.

Nala and Mary Pat walked over to her, Mary Pat asked, "Who's he?"

"Dr. Walker, my department head."

"He gave me the creeps." Nala sighed. "Did you see how he glared at me? It was like I wasn't supposed to be here."

Paige stared out the window. "He makes me feel creepy too."

"Does Cash know about him?"

Paige turned and faced Mary Pat. "He met him Tuesday night and doesn't like him either."

"I can't believe you'll have to work with that man every day. Are you going to be all right?"

"I'm not sure. The good part's I only work part-time. I'm scheduled to teach two painting classes. I might teach one night class. They're waiting to see how many students register for it."

"If you're there at night, you'd better make sure he's nowhere around. I'd have Billy Joe or Cash give you a ride home." Mary Pat released a deep breath.

"I'd hate to impose." Paige glanced toward the door.

"I'd hate for you to be raped or molested."

Author Notes I took me three times to attempt to post this. I have no clue how it will turn out.

Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of nailpolish. Do you think Cash will let Paige do his nails? LOL

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel.
This should take you to a line dancing video. I am a huge Alan Jackson fan.





Chapter 18
Chapter 5, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

When the large walnut grandfather clock chimed five times, Nala glanced at her watch. "I can't believe it's this late. I better get home. My young'uns be expecting dinner." She smiled.

"Billy Joe'll want his too. I wonder if he'll take me out with my new look." Mary Pat touched her hair.

The three ladies turned when they heard footsteps. Paige shook her head. "You couldn't stay away, could you?" She held up her hand. "Do you like this color? I think it'd look good on you."

Nala and Mary Pat giggled.

"The three of you are nothing but trouble. Put you in the same room and it's disastrous." Cash chuckled.

"I'm going to ask Billy Joe to take me to dinner. Why don't you and Paige come along? It would be fun."

Cash glanced at Paige.

Paige held her breath, then said, "It's not necessary. I'm sure you have other plans." She glared at Mary Pat.

"I don't. Wanta go?" He removed his cell from his jeans' pocket. "Hey, Billy. Mary Pat and Paige want us to take them out. Where'd you like to go?" He listened a moment. "I don't think Micky D's is an option." He laughed.

Cash moved the phone from his ear. "How fancy are we talking? Is pizza all right? The Braves are on tonight. They're playing the Mets."

Mary Pat sighed. "I swear sports rules those two's lives."

"I have an idea." Paige glanced at Cash. "I have a wide screen TV. It's not unpacked yet. If you and Billy Joe'll unpack it, you can watch the game and we'll order pizza. I have plenty of ice tea left," she teased.

"Hush your mouth, child." Nala touched her hand. "Mr. Cash, we straightened her out on how much sugar to put in the tea."

He grinned and mouthed, "Thank you," then said in the phone, "Did you hear Paige's suggestion?" After putting away the phone, Cash said, "Billy Joe says it's a good idea. He'll be over in about twenty minutes."

Paige touched Nala's arm. "Why don't you bring the kids and join us?"

Nala shook her head. "It sounds like fun, but I'd better not. They need baths and need to get ready for Sunday morning meetings. If we came here, it'd be a late night." She hugged Paige before she left.

"Darn, I wish Nala would've joined us." Paige watched her drive away.

"I agree. We had fun this afternoon."

"Where's this TV?" Cash started up the steps. "I'm sure Billy Joe doesn't wanta miss any of the game."

"When the moving van dropped things off, they stacked the boxes in the back corner of the porch. I wasn't here, yet. So they made do."

Cash and Mary Pat followed Paige. She moved a few boxes and pointed to a large flat box leaning against the porch wall. "There it is."

"Holy cow!! How big is it?" Mary Pat's eyes widened.

After scooting behind some boxes, Cash looked the box over. "It must be around fifty inches." He glanced at Paige. "I'd say we'll be able to watch the game with no problems. Where should we set this baby up?"

"That's the reason it's not already up. I don't know what rooms I can and can't decorate. When it comes to decorating my house, I'm at your mercy."

Paige watched Cash carry the box and lean it against the dining room table. His muscles bulged.

Cash walked in and out of each downstairs room, then put his hand on the TV. "I guess this is the best room for now. I don't want to hang it up. I'll set it on the table, then move it against the wall so it doesn't fall." He pointed to an open area. "We can move some chairs in from the living room and it'll work great."

"Sounds like a plan." Paige leaned against the table and started to push.

"Whoa!! Let me move the TV first." He moved it aside. "We need to discuss the renovations so we're on the same sheet of music. Think about it over the weekend and we'll talk Monday."

"All right, but I don't know what can and can't be done. I know it has to get the historical thingy."

"It'll have to get the proper rating to be put on the National Register of Historical Places. It's my job to make sure that happens and you still have a place to live. I have a few ideas."

Mary Pat turned. "Did you hear that? Billy Joe, is that you? Stop fooling around."

Paige glanced toward Cash. "I heard laughter too."

"Billy Joe's not here, yet. I'm sure it's nothing more than a gust of wind that blew through an open crack. Hold the box steady." Cash moved Paige's hands to where he wanted them and took a knife from his pocket. "I don't want to cut you."

Within minutes the flat screen TV sat on the table. Cash searched around the floorboards for a cable jack. "I know Paula had cable, because we discussed it."

Paige walked into the living room. "When I visited, the TV sat on this cabinet." She tried to push the table aside. "I wonder where that TV's at?"

"That's a good question. Ask Mr. Redman about it." Cash moved Paige aside. "Let me get back there. It's probably solid walnut." He pushed, then held up the cable wires. "We'll need an extension to reach." He removed his cell and made a call. "You have any extra cable wire?" He glanced at the cable. "It's a male. Bring a female if you have one."

Mary Pat put her hands on her hips. "That man hasn't left, yet?"

"I caught him as he was walking out the door." Cash grinned.

They turned their heads toward a thump.

"I know the wind didn't do that. Somebody's in this house besides us." Mary Pat's eyes met Paige's.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of the Green-Meldrim House, which is a Gothic-revial mansion similar to Paige's house. Please notice the large trees surrounding the house.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I am over 20,000 words into this story. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter.


Chapter 19
Chapter 5, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:
They turned their heads toward a thump.

"I know the wind didn't do that. Somebody's in this house besides us." Mary Pat's eyes met Paige's.

Today's post:

"You two stay here. I'll look around." Cash searched the parlor and den before he went to the back porch.

Paige followed. "Who made the noise?"

"That large oak tree by the south side of the house has a big branch that leans again the roof." Cash pointed toward it. "The wind blew it against the house."

"How many strange things are you going to blame on the wind?" Paige shoved her hands into her short's pocket.

"There's a better chance the wind caused a noise than a ghost." His eyes met hers.

"You two argue like an old married couple." Billy Joe chuckled as he joined them.

"Cash blames every strange sound on the wind."

"It makes a lot more sense than ghosts running wild, doesn't it?" Cash glanced toward his friend.

"I'd haveta agree with Cash. There ain't no such things as ghosts."

Mary Pat stood beside her husband. "Just like there's no gays in the South. They're all up north, right?"

Billy Joe put his arm around his wife and chuckled. "You got that right, baby. That's what my grand pappy used to say. God rest his soul."

"I think it's time we ordered pizza. What kind and how many should I order?" Paige removed her cell from her pocket.

Mary Pat followed Billy Joe inside. As Paige followed, Cash touched her arm. When she turned toward him, he said, "Billy Joe's grandpa didn't speak for all Southerners. Not even for Billy Joe."

"Just most of them?" she asked.

"Probably the majority, but things are changing. It takes time."

"Just in case you're wondering, not all Northern men are gay." Paige walked inside and shut the door.

"Paige." Cash opened the door and rushed to stand in front of her. "I didn't make that comment." His eyes met hers'. "All I'm guilty of is not believing in ghosts." When Paige didn't acknowledge him, he added, "If you want me to go, I will." Again, she remained silent. Cash turned toward the front door.

She watched him take a few steps, before she reached out and touched his arm. "There are worse things than not believing in ghosts. I'll bet you that I have at least one ghost in this house. You up for a bet?"

He turned. "I am. What should we bet?"

"You can argue about the bet after the pizzas are ordered. At least one large pepperoni." Billy Joe grinned.

Paige scrunched her nose. "Will anybody help me eat a large all vegetable?"

"I will if there's no tomato. I don't like their taste baked," said Mary Pat.

"Why don't we go with two large meat lovers and a large veggie? That should be enough." Cash took out his phone. "I have the pizza place on speed dial." He glanced at each person to see if they'd agreed.

"The game starts in fifteen minutes. We don't have this TV set up yet." Billy Joe attached the cable wire to the back and unrolled the rest as he went into the living room. "Cash, turn it on," he yelled. "Has anybody paid the cable bill, since Paula passed?"

"Mr. Redman's supposed to take care of all the bills," Paige said as she studied the TV.

Within moments it was on and set to the correct channel. Each person pushed a chair into the dining room and prepared to watch the game. By the end of the top of the first inning there was a knock on the door. Paige got up to answer. Cash beat her to the door. "I got it."

Paige tilted her head. "It was my idea. I can pay."

"Now, they're arguing over who's paying. Those two were made for each other." Billy Joe laughed. "Just get the pizzas. You're missing the game."

"In case you're keeping score, I won that round." Cash smiled and set three boxes on the table.

Paige sighed and glanced at him. "He's stronger than me and shoved me out of the way. I'll get some plates."

"Who needs plates?" Billy Joe lifted a lid and took a slice. "It's perfect this way." He took his first bite.

She went toward the kitchen, but paused and turned her head toward Billy Joe and smiled.

"Mind your manners." Mary Pat slapped his arm. "I'll get the glasses and pitchers of tea." She followed Paige.

*****
Mary Pat returned from the kitchen. "Help yourself to the drinks." She touched Cash's shoulder. "Why don't you get the ice?"

He nodded and went into the kitchen. "I'm here for ice. What should I put it in?"

Paige set the plates and napkins on the counter. "I'm sorry about earlier."

Cash brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. "I've already forgotten it. Have you decided what we should bet?"

Paige paused then grinned. "How about if I win, I get to paint your fingernails the color of my choice?" She giggled.

"Okay. If I win, you'll have to, hum, that's a good question. I need to think about it." He chuckled.

When the two joined the others in the dining room, Billy Joe smiled. "I'm glad there's no such thing as ghosts. I couldn't be seen with you if you had painted nails. I think Paige should haveta go camping."

Cash laughed. "That'd be good, but I'm not sure she'd last without all the conveniences of home."

Paige smiled, grabbed a pillow from a chair, and threw it at Cash. "I'm insulted."

After catching the pillow, Cash grinned. "I should take you camping and time how long you could last."

"All right, if I lose, which I won't, I'll go camping with you. I'm not the little miss prissy you think I am." Paige grabbed the pillow back.

With a sigh, Mary Pat's eyes met Paige's. "I am not sure about this."

"Just because I'm from Massachusetts doesn't mean I don't know anything about camping."

"You misunderstood. I'm wondering about you being a female and Cash being a male."

"I'm bringing two tents and two sleeping bags." Cash chuckled.

Author Notes Do you have any idea how hard it is finding a ghost eating pizza? Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a ghost eating pizza.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I am over 21,000 words into this story. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter.


Chapter 20
Chapter 5, part 6

By barbara.wilkey

By the end of the fourth inning, the pizza had been eaten and Paige and Mary Pat sat on the floor playing Twenty-one. Mary Pat leaned against Billy Joe's legs and said, "This feels good. You should try it, Paige. Your back has to be getting sore."

Paige scooted and leaned against a table leg. "It's all right."

Cash reached over and touched her shoulder. "Come here. I don't bite."

She looked at him and grinned. "At least you haven't bitten me, yet. There's always a first time."

How can such a beautiful woman be a pain in the butt? I'm sure she does it on purpose. Cash sighed and went back to watching the game.

*****
"Seventh-inning stretch." Paige stood and stretched her arms above her head. "Anybody want ice cream? I have plenty left from this afternoon."

The three friends stood and followed her into the kitchen. Paige set three containers on the counter. "Choose which flavor you'd like. I have toppings too."

CRASH!

Paige turned her head as her eyes widened. "What was that? You heard that, right?"

The friends ran from the kitchen. Cash was the first to reach the dining room table. "A glass rolled off and broke."

Mary Pat bent down to pick up the pieces. "This doesn't make sense. Nobody was in here. A glass doesn't jump off the table."

"You're right. I majored in art, not science. But I know enough about Newton's Theory to know a glass doesn't move without help." Paige glanced at Cash. "Are you going to tell me a wind blew inside the house, or maybe we had an earthquake?"

"What did she just say?" Billy Joe picked up a piece and studied the broken glass.

"Newton's first law says, 'An object at rest stays at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.' In other words, something or someone had to knock the glass over." Cash ran his hand through his short hair. "There has to be a logical explanation." He glanced at his friend. "Come with me. There has to be somebody else in this house."

Paige watched Cash and Billy Joe leave the room. "Good luck."

The women finished cleaning up the broken glass and ice cubes. As they stood at the kitchen sink, Mary Pat asked, "Are you sure you're all right? Maybe you should stay with us until the guys figure out what's going on?"

"I'm fine. There's nothing here that wants to hurt me. Just tease a little. Probably a deceased relative of Cash." Paige laughed.

"I don't see how you can make jokes about this." Mary Pat paused. "Do you think it could be that guy who was here this afternoon?"

"You mean Dr. Walker?"

"Yeah, that guy. He gave me the creeps."

The volume rose on the TV. Billy Joe yelled from upstairs, "Mary Pat, turn it down. It's not funny."

"I didn't do it."

Both women stared wide-eyed as the cabinet doors repeatedly opened and slammed shut.

"Guys, things are going crazy down here. We need some help." Mary Pat grabbed Paige. "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure."

Moments later an antique bronze Greek Revival Amphora vase rolled across the kitchen's wooden floor.

Paige sat beside the vase. "I already know you exist. You don't need to prove yourself to me. I'm not afraid, but you're scaring my friends. Cash is a stubborn Southern boy. It'll take more than this to prove your presence."

Paige heard a laugh, then answered, "It's true. He's as stubborn as a country mule." When Paige heard a sigh, she noticed the volume lowered and the cabinets remained closed. She patted the vase. "If Aunt Paula knew you were playing with her antiques, she'd kick your butt. I'll put this back." Do ghosts even have butts?

The two men walked into the kitchen. Cash's eyes met Paige's. "We didn't find anything. I don't understand what's going on."

Paige held up a bottle of bright red polish. "You ready to get your nails painted?"

"Maybe you should do his toenails, too." Mary Pat laughed.

"I still don't believe you have a ghost. There's a logical explanation. I just haven't found it yet." Cash took a container from the counter and glanced at Billy Joe. "How about some ice cream." He dished up two large bowls of chocolate ice cream. Handed one to his friend and went into the living room to watch the end of the game.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a book title that perfectly decribes Cash's opinion.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I am over 21,000 words into this story. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 21
Chapter 6, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER SIX

Paige ran down the walnut staircase yelling, "I'm coming. I'm coming." She opened the door. "I heard the doorbell the first time. You didn't need to keep it up."

"Since the game went into extra innings and we didn't leave until almost midnight, I wasn't sure if you got up or not. I know you like your beauty sleep."

"You don't know anything about my sleeping habits, Cash Wilkins."

"You're using my full name. I wonder what that means." He chuckled as his eyes met hers. "Ready? The car's waiting."

"I need to grab my sweater and finish fastening this shoe." Paige pointed to the coral stiletto sandal.

"You ran down those," he glanced toward the stairs, "wearing those? You could've broken your neck."

'I had to. You wouldn't stop ringing the bell." She grabbed a coral short-sleeved sweater.

Cash took it from her and held it while she slipped it on. "You're impossible." He held the door. "Are you ready?"

Paige tilted her head and grinned. "Not quite. I need to get my fishing duds." She went into the parlor and grabbed a bright pink overnight bag. "Do I need anything besides old blue jeans and a T-shirt?"

Studying her heels, Cash said, "You can't wear those fishing."

"I know that. I packed other shoes." She started toward the door. "Ready?"

"I'll carry this." Cash took the bag and shook his head. Why am I not surprised it's pink?

Inside the car, Cash started the engine. I'm always one step behind her. Maybe it's my imagination? He glanced toward her. She'll stick out like a sore thumb in that dress. At least the sweater covers most of her shoulders.

Paige patted the seat. "Real leather, nice. I can see you've worked hard restoring this. What's the color called?"

"Dark blue metallic. I'm glad you like it. I didn't think you should go to church in a pickup." He grinned.

"Don't you?"

He nodded. "Yep, but it seemed wrong somehow to bring a lady in a pickup."

"How far away is the church?"

"It's on the outskirts of town. Dad didn't like what he called, 'new-fangled religion.' He liked the old fashioned churches."

"Do Mary Pat and Billy Joe go to the same church?"

"Whenever Mary Pat can get his sorry butt out of bed." Cash laughed.

Cash parked beside Billy Joe's car. "I guess Mary Pat won today. They're already here." He went around, opened the door for Paige, and offered his hand. After letting out a deep sigh, he asked, "Ready?"

"Yes, but I'm not sure you are. You seem a little nervous. Should we abort church?"

"Mom'd shoot me full of rock-salt, then she'd give me a tongue-lashing that'd make Ol' Scratch blush. She's called all her friends and warned them I was bringing someone."

"Who's Ol' Scratch?"

"The Devil."

"On top of all of that, I wore a bright coral sundress. They won't miss me. Bless your little pea-pickin' heart. You don't have a chance, do you?" Paige tried to hide her giggle.

"I'm beginning to think you and Mom are conspiring against me." Cash grinned as he glanced up the seven cement steps to the church. "Let's do it." He took Paige's arm.

As they stood at the solid oak door, Paige stopped and straightened the knot on Cash's tie. "You look mighty handsome all spruced up."

"You're a real stinker. Would you cut it out?" Cash shook his head and smiled.

"Are you sure you don't want to turn and run in the other direction?"

"The one thing Southern men don't do is run. Northerners should've learned that during the war." He opened the door and walked in with his hand on the small of Paige's back.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a Southern rural church.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 22
Chapter 6, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

The minister stood just inside the door. "Cash, welcome." They shook hands before he took Paige's hand. "You must be Paige Swanson. I'd heard you were coming today. Welcome, I'm Pastor Ben Coleman."

"I'm happy to meet you, Reverend Coleman."

"In these parts I'm called Pastor Ben." He grinned.

"I see Mom waving. I guess she thinks I've forgotten where our family pew is?" Cash laughed.

Paige turned toward him. "You have assigned seats?"

"No, we sit in the same pew every week. That way Pastor Ben don't haveta call roll and he knows who he needs to visit during the week." Cash winked at her and then struck Ben on the arm, raised his fists, and stood in a fighter's stance.

The congregation standing around laughed.

Pastor Ben chuckled deep from his stomach. "You and me three rounds this Friday at noon. I might even let you win, so this young lady can minister unto me." He winked at Paige. "I guess I'd better get to the pulpit."

"And we'd better get seated. The organ's started." Cash took Paige's hand and gently squeezed as he escorted her down the center aisle.

All eyes stared at them.

Cash leaned over and kissed his mom on the cheek and briefly introduced the ladies.

Faye Wilkins used both hands to hold Paige's. "I'm so glad to meet you. We can get better acquainted at dinner. I hope you like fried chicken." Paige smiled and nodded, as Cash's mother motioned for them to sit. "We'd better get quiet."

With the church bulletin open, Cash pointed at the page number and opened the hymnal. They stood while they sang.

*****
At the beginning of the final hymn, Paige watched Faye leave the sanctuary.

As they left the building, Cash loosened his necktie. "Pastor Ben can talk." He glanced at his watch. "That service lasted an hour and forty-five minutes. The fish will be taking a nap before we can get out there." He opened the passenger door.

"This is the first time I've seen rafters shake."

"This is an ol' fashioned fundamentalist church. I'm pretty sure they don't have them up North." Cash turned the key, then rolled down his window as Billy Joe knocked on it.

He leaned in the window. "How'd you like a Southern Church service?"

"I'm not used to the minister shouting." Paige grinned.

"I guess he wanted to make sure Ol' Lucifer heard him." Billy Joe winked. "Think the Braves can win two in a row from the Mets? Game starts at 3:00. I guess the TV sets the schedule." He glanced up. "It looks like Mary Pat's ready. She had nursery duty this morning."

"I'll be listening to the game while fishing. I'd better get home. Mom doesn't like a late Sunday dinner."

"I'm sure she wants to spend plenty of time getting acquainted with Paige." Billy Joe grinned.

"You got that right. I'll see you in the morning." Cash rolled the window up. "It's time to head toward Mom's."

Paige was silent.

As Cash turned down a road, he said, "Mom's house is the white one on the left." He glanced at her. "You're quiet. Are you nervous?"

She nodded. "What if your mom doesn't like me?"

"She likes you. I got a sign of approval during church." He parked in the driveway. "Why don't you change clothes? I'll help Mom set the table."

"How did she cook fried chicken so fast?"

"Mom believes Sunday's a day of rest. She cooks on Saturday then reheats. About the time it takes you to change, dinner will be ready." Cash opened the door and followed Paige.

Inside the house Paige took a deep breath. "Boy the chicken smells good. There's another scent. Is it peach pie?"

Faye turned from the stove and smiled. "Peach cobbler."

Cash gave his mom a quick hug. "I'll show Paige where to change, then help you." He led Paige to a back bedroom. "If you need a bathroom, there's one halfway down the hall on your left." He shut the door as he left.

Paige entered the kitchen and noticed Cash wasn't there. "I thought Cash was helping. Is there anything I can do?"

"Cash was, but Karen dropped by and he walked her to the car. She wanted to catch him after church, but she said you two rushed out." Faye laughed, then pointed to a pan sitting on the counter. "Cash was getting ready to mash those 'tators."

Paige stood by the counter and studied the butter, the milk carton and a tool she'd never seen before. At least I know what 'tators are. She studied the tool. What is this? She turned her head when she heard the screen door shut.

Cash stood beside her. "Don't look so puzzled. That's a 'tator smasher. What do you smash 'tators with up North?

"I'm really not sure." She handed the gadget to Cash. "I think this is your job. I'll set the table."

He glanced down her body. "I'm wondering where'd you get those jeans and T-shirt. I'm pretty sure you didn't have them hanging in your closet."

"You said I needed to wear old clothes. Mary Pat told me to get some at the thrift store." She turned. "Am I dressed all right?"

Laughing out loud, Cash said, "You actually walked into a second hand store?"

Faye took a dish towel and snapped it toward Cash. "Mind your manners, Son." She looked at Paige. "I'm sorry. I don't know what gets into him sometimes. Lord knows, his father, God rest his soul, and I did our best raising him."

"I'm sure you did, Mrs. Wilkins."

"Please child, call me Faye." She opened a door. "Here's the silverware." She set some plates on the counter. "The napkins are over there." She pointed to a counter closer to the table.

*****
After prayer, Faye glanced at her son. "I saw you and the pastor horse playing again. There's some in the congregation that don't take too kindly to his former profession."

"They need to lighten up. What could be more Christian than a reformed alcoholic boxer?"

Paige coughed as she took a bite of potatoes. "You're kidding, right?"

"Nope." Cash winked at her. "Pastor Ben has been dry for somewhere around four years. While he did the twelve step program, he found Jesus and switched careers. I think that's what makes him a good preacher."

"Do you two really box each other?"

Cash set down his fork and grinned. "We've been known to go a few rounds at the gym."

"When we needed to add on to the nursery, they sold tickets to the boxing match. We raised almost a thousand dollars." Faye patted her son's arm.

"Who won?" Paige raised her eye brows.

"It was a tie, I think." Cash chuckled.

"Are you telling me a minister beat you at boxing?"

"Nope, I'm telling you it was a tie."


Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a fried chicken meal.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I know my posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 23
Chapter 6, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:
Cash set down his fork and grinned. "We've been known to go a few rounds at the gym."

"When we needed to add on to the nursery, they sold tickets to the boxing match. We raised almost a thousand dollars." Faye patted her son's arm.

"Who won?" Paige raised her eye brows.

"It was a tie, I think." Cash chuckled.

"Are you telling me a minister beat you at boxing?"

"Nope, I'm telling you it was a tie."

*****
Today's post:

Paige tilted her head and studied Cash. "I don't understand." Her eyes widened. "I get it! You guys had an agreement before the match that it'd end in a tie. Am I right?"

Cash shook his head and grinned. "Do you have any brothers?"

"I'm an only child."

"Figures." Cash stood, pushed his chair in, and walked into the living room. When he returned, he carried a rocking chair. "Mom, get comfortable. We can visit while Paige and I take care of the dishes."

"Before I forget, in the drawer on your right I put new batteries. I know you'll want to listen to the ball game while you're fishing."

Cash opened the drawer and put the batteries in his pocket. "Thanks, Mom." He studied Paige. "You want to wash or dry?"

Paige scanned the kitchen.

"Mom doesn't believe in those newfangled dishwashers. I've tried to buy her one on many occasions, especially after her heart attack." He nodded toward his mother.

"He's right. Washing dishes by hand is the only way to know if they're really clean." Faye went to the refrigerator and brought a bowl of fresh green beans to the chair. "I don't like canned vegetables either. Fresh ones are better." While she rocked, she snapped beans.

"I guess since I don't know where to put them once they're dry, I'll wash." She nodded.

Cash put in detergent and filled the sink with hot water. "Your turn." He stepped aside.

After Paige had washed three plates, the ends of her long black hair fell in the dishwater. "Darn!" She lifted it and wrung it out.

Faye handed her a pink scrunchie. "Cash told me about your beautiful long black hair and I figured sometime this would come in handy."

"Thank you." Paige grabbed her hair, making a ponytail and put the band around it.

"I like it down, but you'd have problems while fishing." Cash grinned.

"I'm beginning to wonder about fishing. I can't wear sandals and I can't wear my hair down. It had better be worth it." She laughed.

"You've never been fishing?" Faye's eyebrows rose.

"Not even once."

"I thought my son was teasing, but you are a Yankee through and through."

Their eyes met, as Paige asked, "Is that a problem?"

"No child, it's not."

Cash put his arm around Paige's shoulder. "Since I'm a Southern gentleman, I'll teach you the ways of the South." He chuckled. "Mom does her fishing at the meat market. Maybe, you should too."

Paige tossed some dishwater toward him. "I'm doing fine on my own, but thank you."

Just before Paige finished the last pan, Cash filled a cooler with some ice and sodas.

Faye opened the refrigerator. "You might need some sandwiches."

Paige put a hand across her stomach. "I ate so much; I doubt I'll be hungry for days."

"Good, wouldn't hurt if you had some more meat on those bones." Cash's mom set a few items in the cooler. "Cash, you make sure she eats something. If a big wind comes along, she might blow away."

Cash hugged his mom and kissed her cheek. "I promise I won't let anything happen to her. I'll come by before I go home, but don't wait supper. I'm sure we have plenty to eat. If not, I'll stop somewhere."

"Paige, come by tomorrow and I'll fry the fish up for dinner." Faye gave her a quick hug. "Cash loves my hushpuppies."

"Hushpuppies?"

"Mom has a fresh litter of puppies out back; she coats them with cornmeal and drops them in the fryer."

"Cash! You behave yourself. Hushpuppies are a mixture of cornmeal, flour, baking soda, buttermilk, onion, and an egg. They're deep fried. You two best be on your way."

After returning the hug, Paige said, "It was nice meeting you and thank you for the wonderful meal." She smiled. "I knew Cash was teasing about the puppies. I'm not that gullible."

Faye stood at the door and waved as they got into Cash's truck and backed out of the driveway.

"You keep both your vehicles at your mom's?"

"I live right over there." He pointed to a small house three houses to the left of his mom's. "I had a place across town, but decided I needed to be closer when she was recovering."

"It makes sense. She's a very nice lady."

"Are you over your nervousness?" He laughed.

"Yes, but I'm worried about fishing."

"Don't be. It's easy. You just throw your line in, sit back, relax, listen to the Braves beating the Mets, and wait for a fish to bite. I'll even bait your hook. All you got to do is throw it in the water and haul in the fish."

"Nothing's that easy," she teased.

*****
"You're going to drive through that?" Paige pointed out the windshield.

"That's why I brought the truck. The car would've hit bottom on the road. There's a lot of dirt roads in these parts. The best fishing holes are about two miles straight ahead. Get ready for a bumpy ride."

"These ruts are deep. Are you sure you want to continue?" Paige glanced toward Cash.

"Yes, I'm sure. Next week we'll test your Jag's suspension out here." He laughed.

"I think not!" Paige's eyebrows rose. She bumped her shoulder on the door as Cash made a sharp right. "Ouch. Could you give me some warning? Maybe you should slow down. Look at all the dust you're stirring up."

"I'm going slow." He pointed to the left. "My favorite fishing hole's right over there."

"This looks way out in the country. Why couldn't we have fished by the River Walk? People fish there."

"I like freshwater fishing, not salt water."

Once Cash parked, Paige stood by the truck and watched him unload the poles, tackle-box, and two small chairs.

She picked up the cooler and glanced around. "I don't see a bathroom anywhere close."

Cash pointed to the trees. "It's over yonder."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a the Spanish Moss around Savannah, GA.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. My posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 24
Chapter 6, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:
Once Cash parked, Paige stood by the truck and watched him unload the poles, tackle-box, and two small chairs.

She picked up the cooler and glanced around. "I don't see a bathroom anywhere close."

Cash pointed to the trees. "It's over yonder."


Today's Post:

Paige set down the cooler. "You actually expect me to go in the woods?"

"I do." Cash grinned. "If you're worried about privacy, I promise I won't move from this spot." He crossed his heart, then held up his right hand.

"I'm not worried about that. Oh, never mind, you're a guy. You won't understand." Paige headed toward the woods.

"Don't go in too far, you might get lost."

"I don't know why he can't take me back to town? It'd be a lot simpler," muttered Paige.

"I heard that." Cash chuckled. "I don't know why you didn't use the bathroom before we left Mom's."

Paige turned and glared at him. "Because I didn't need to."

"But you have to twenty minutes later?" Cash shook his head.

"Maybe because you drove like a maniac over the ruts and you bounced everything around." Paige stepped into the tree line.

"I didn't drive like a maniac and be careful."

*****
Cash stood by the truck and waited. After about five minutes, he yelled, "Paige, is everything all right?" When she didn't answer, he yelled again, "This isn't funny. I know you're upset. I need to know you're all right."

He waited a few moments, then slammed his fist on the hood of the truck. "I know why I don't have a girlfriend. They're too much trouble. This dame's high maintenance." He stepped closer to the woods. "Paige, you proved your point. Next time we'll drive back to town."

Silence.

How could she possibly get into trouble out here? It's only her and me and she's a pain in the butt. Cash ran his fingers through his short hair. I guess I'd better look for her. No, I came out here to fish. She'll show up when she's ready. He grabbed the pole, put on some stink bait, and cast out. I hope the catfish are hungry.

Turning on the radio, Cash sat down. "Come on, guys. Take two in a row from the Mets." He turned and stared at the woods. "Damn, I'd better go find this crazy Yankee before she hurts herself."

Cash stood on the edge of the tree line. I told her I wouldn't move. What if she's still going? He took a step toward the truck. Not even Billy Joe can poop that long. Walking between two trees, he pushed aside some underbrush. "How far did she go?" After another fifty feet and no evidence of Paige, he called, "Paige, Paige." Again silence. I wonder if she got her ankle hung up in the underbrush. I should've warned her.

"What was that?" Cash turned his head toward the sound and listened. There's voices. Who else would be out here? He jogged toward the noise, jumping over rotting logs and pushing aside tree sprouts and weeds.

In a small clearing, Cash saw two men wearing navy blue windbreakers with yellow letters on the back indicating they were ATF. Damn, she can get in trouble in the middle of nowhere. The shorter of the two men was questioning her.

A twig Cash stepped on snapped. The taller man knelt down on one knee in his direction and pointed at him a Glock 27. The shorter one moved closer to Paige and said, "State your business."

"Cash, these men think I can take them to a still. They said something about moonshine. I don't know what they're talking about, so there's no way I can help them, but they don't believe me." Paige released a deep breath.

The taller man moved closer to Cash. "You a moonshiner too?"

"No, sir. We came to fish. Ms. Swanson needed to use the bathroom so she went into the woods. I'm guessing that's where you found her. She's only been in Savannah a week. She's from Boston, Massachusetts. I doubt she can help you."

The revenuers glanced at each other. "Do you have proof?" the shorter one asked.

"In my right back pocket, I have my driver's and fishing license."

The taller man beside Cash nodded for him to reach for the billfold. "Slowly."

Cash showed him the two documents. "Paige's purse is in my truck. It's parked by the river. I'm sure she has identification in it. I can take you to it and show you our gear."

"I won't leave." Paige put her hands on her hips.

Cash rubbed his forehead. Now's not the time to show your independence.


Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a the still around Savannah, GA.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. My posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 25
Chapter 6, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

Ending of Previous post:

"In my right back pocket, I have my driver's and fishing license."

The taller man beside Cash nodded for him to reach for the billfold. "Slowly."

Cash showed him the two documents. "Paige's purse is in my truck. It's parked by the river. I'm sure she has identification in it. I can take you to it and show you our gear."

"I won't leave." Paige put her hands on her hips.

Cash rubbed his forehead. Now's not the time to show your independence.

Today's post:

All three men stared at her. After a long moment, Paige smiled. "I followed a lost dog into the woods. He appeared to be injured. I couldn't leave him out here by himself."

"At least it wasn't a ghost." Cash chuckled.

Both ATF men glanced at him.

"It's a long story. I'm sure you're not interested," Cash added.

Paige turned to her left and pointed. "I think he went that way. He's very skinny."

The short revenuer sighed. "I bet it belongs to the moonshiners. Think he'll lead us to them?"

"Wouldn't hurt to find out." The taller one nodded. "We'll help you look."

"Good. He went this way, but I'm not sure where from here. You two stopped me. I didn't see where he went." Paige turned toward Cash. "You coming?"

"Why not?" What does she think she's going to do when she finds the mutt? Cash caught up with Paige. "What color and how big?"

"Dark brown and maybe fifteen pounds. His ribs stuck out. I thought puppies had little round tummies." Her lips pouted. "He needs my help."

Cash took her hand. "If we split up, we'll cover more area."

The short ATF man glanced at his watch. "Let's meet you at your truck in thirty minutes."

After all agreed, the revenuers went right and Cash and Paige went left. Cash moved the underbrush so Paige would have an easier time walking. She paused, removed the pink scrunchie, and redid her ponytail. "I understand why you said old blue jeans. Sandals wouldn't work." She grinned.

"Did you hear that?" Cash turned his head. "I heard a whimper." He pointed forward. "Come on. Up ahead."

They hurried. As they rounded a large oak tree, there stood a scrawny brown puppy having a staring contest with a box turtle.

Cash laughed. "I guess the turtle doesn't see the pup as a threat. He didn't crawl into his shell."

Paige stepped closer and knelt down. "I won't hurt you. Come here, little guy." She reached out her hand for the puppy to smell. He hesitated but sniffed the air between them. "Look Cash, he's thinking about it."

The pup crept closer.

Stretching her arm even farther, Paige touched his muzzle. The animal jumped back. Paige sighed and glanced toward Cash.

With patience and slow movements, Paige coaxed the dog closer. After petting him for a while, she placed a hand under his stomach. Once he accepted that, she picked him up, but continued to kneel on the ground. "Finally." She cuddled him close to her chest as she stood.

Cash glanced at his watch. "We'd better hurry. The ATF men'll think we ditched them and really are moonshiners."

Paige scanned the area. "Which way do we go? I'm lost."

Cash shielded his eyes from the sun. "This way." He pointed. "Do you want me to carry the mutt? It'd be easier walking."

Paige headed in the direction Cash had indicated. "I'm fine."

*****
When Cash and Paige stepped into the open, the two revenuers stood beside Cash's pick-up. The taller of the two pointed at the dog and laughed. "She was telling the truth. There was a mutt and a scrawny one at that."

"Why would I lie?" Paige frowned.

"Ma'am, we get lied to a lot." The short one touched the dog's head. He glanced toward his partner. "If we're going to find that still, we'd better get going."

Cash and Paige watched the two men walk back behind the tree line.

"That was strange." Paige leaned against the truck.

"Let me see this little guy." Cash reached for the dog. "He's skinny. What you going to do with him?"

The pup wiggled to get away.

"I'm keeping him. I've never had a dog and I think it'd be nice to have one around."

"A dog's a lot of responsibility. He's not going to stay cute and cuddly." Cash raised him up and checked. "He's a male and looks like a Labrador Retriever. He could get up to eighty pounds. Are you sure you don't want to find a nice home for him?"

"Why would I want to do that? You don't think I'm responsible enough to take care of a puppy, do you?" Paige glared at Cash and snatched the puppy back.

"That's not what I said. You've never had a pet. I was just telling you they're a huge responsibility. You start work next month." Cash glanced toward the river. "Are we gonna fish or not?" He grabbed his tackle box and redid the stink bait on his line. "I'm fishing. You can do what you want." He cast out.

After a long moment, Paige stood beside him and watched him reel in his line. "Are there really moonshiners back there?" With her free arm, she pointed to the woods.

"I wouldn't be surprised." He petted the pup on the head. "He looks hungry. I'm sure Mom put something in the cooler he could eat." Cash brought back some chicken meat and handed it to Paige. "Have you decided on a name?"

The hungry dog devoured it. Paige held him up and looked into his eyes. "He looks like a Morgan."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a the chocolate labrador puppy.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. My posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 26
Chapter 7, Part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER SEVEN

As Paige watched Cash walk down the steps toward his pickup, she held the pup while stroking his head. "Morgan, you need to be nice to Cash. He stopped by the pet shop before he cleaned the fish. I'm sure that was difficult for him."

Before Cash climbed behind the steering wheel, he called, "Don't forget tomorrow evening. Mom's gonna fry up those catfish."

"How could I? You bragged about five perfect pan-sized fish all the way home and how good your mom's hushpuppies would be." She laughed. "I'll be ready. Any idea what I could bring? How about some potato salad?"

"Yourself will be enough." He grinned.

When Morgan gave a whimper, she glanced at him then back at Cash. "Thanks for taking us to buy supplies. I'll see you in the morning. Bye." Paige waved as Cash pulled from the curb. She closed and locked the front door.

"Well, little guy. Let's get you fed and settled." Paige turned her head as the gust of wind caused a branch to crash into the side of the house. "I think a thunderstorm's brewing. I'd better check the weather." She searched for the remote control and then clicked on the TV.

Paige poured some dry puppy food into a bowl, then set it on the kitchen floor next to a fresh bowl of water. She watched the local weather forecast and sighed. "Morgan, after you eat, we'd better go out so you can do your job. This storm's almost on us. It's supposed to have rain, wind, and hail; not to mention thunder and lightning." She sat on the floor and rubbed the pup's ears. "I guess I'll find out if you're afraid of thunder pretty fast."

Morgan hadn't cleaned his bowl when he sat and stared at his new master.

Paige laughed. "You're just too cute. Let's get your outside jobs finished."

The puppy struggled to get away as Paige put on the new blue collar. "Now, sit still. You'll be safer if you walk on a leash. You don't want to get lost, do you?"

After Morgan tugged and chewed the leash, Paige picked him up. "Maybe you'll do better outside."

As Paige set the pup on the ground, a loud clap of thunder sounded. Morgan jumped and took off dragging the new leash.

Paige ran after him. "Morgan, Morgan, come back. It's only thunder. Morgan!" She reached for the leash but missed. The louder the thunder, the faster the puppy ran and Paige chased.

Morgan jerked and yelped as the leash tangled on a large rotted branch. Paige crept closer as the pup struggled for freedom. Lightning crashed as it struck ground. Paige jumped, catching her right foot on an exposed tree root. She fell and rolled slowly down the small slope, landing against an oak tree. The branch, leash, and the pup came with her.

Sheets of rain pelted their bodies as Paige cried out in pain. She attempted to stand but was unable to put weight on the ankle. It must be sprained. Still on the ground, she searched for something to prop against so she could stand. She found nothing.

Hail beat against them. "Maybe this'll help." Paige held Morgan close to her body to protect him. "We're going to have to wait this out, little guy."

My ankle hurts. She tightened her hold on the pup. Temp's dropping. A least you're not out in this by yourself. She rubbed her cheek against her little friend's head.

I don't feel well. Paige leaned her head sideways against the tree trunk. As she passed out, strong arms lifted her, carried her toward the house, up the stairs, and gently placed her on the bed. After removing the wet outer clothes, blankets were tucked in around her.

When Paige's body warmed up, she called out, "Cash, Cash." Silence. She grabbed her cell phone on the nightstand, pressed Cash's number, and waited for him to answer. "Cash, I don't know what I did to my ankle. How'd you know I needed help?"

"I didn't. I'm on my way."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a ligtning strike.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. My posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 27
Chapter 7, Part 2

By barbara.wilkey

Ending of previous post:

When Paige's body warmed up, she called out, "Cash, Cash." Silence. She grabbed her cell phone on the nightstand, pressed Cash's number, and waited for him to answer. "Cash, I don't know what I did to my ankle. How'd you know I needed help?"

"I didn't. I'm on my way."

Today's post:

Cash used his key to enter Paige's house. He searched downstairs, then heard Morgan's yap. He followed the sound upstairs and saw Paige lying in bed with the puppy beside her. "What happened?"

Morgan stared at Cash before he slowly wagged his tail.

After Paige relayed the story, she continued, "I guess I passed out. The last thing I remember was sitting under a tree and freezing. I don't know how I got here. I thought you carried me."

Shaking his head, Cash released a deep breath. "I didn't have anything to do with that. Let me look at your ankle."

Paige struggled to uncover it.

Cash lifted the blanket just enough to expose it. He felt around it, tenderly. "It may be broken. I need to get you to the ER."

"It's only sprained." Paige flinched at his touching.

"An x-ray's the only way to tell." Their eyes met. "I'll take you."

"I can't leave Morgan. He's been traumatized. I'm sure I'll be better tomorrow."

With his phone to his ear, Cash said, "Mom, sorry to bother you. I think Paige broke her ankle. Can you watch Morgan while I take her to the ER?" He listened for a few moments, then put his phone away. "We'll drop the pup at my mom's on the way." He petted Morgan's head, then glanced at Paige. "Ready?"

"Whoever helped me, removed my clothes." She pointed to a pile of wet, muddy clothes on the floor. "I'm not fully dressed. I need to put on jeans and a blouse."

"You're saying a stranger undressed you?" Cash's jaw set.

Paige cringed as she moved. "I don't feel like having this conversation right now. Leave, and I'll get dressed."

"If your ankle's broken, you won't be able to put weight on it. Where's your clothes? I'll get them. You can dress from bed."

She glanced and nodded toward the dresser. "Bottom drawer for jeans, and the closet for a blouse."

"You may want to wear shorts or sweats. If your ankle needs to be set, they'll cut the jeans."

"Third drawer for shorts." She sighed. "It's only sprained. I know it."

Cash held up a pair of khaki walking shorts. "These all right?"

Paige tilted her head and thought for a moment. "Go to the next drawer. There's workout shorts in there. Get the dark blue ones. There should be a light blue V-neck T-shirt folded under them." She watched Cash lay the clothes beside her. "Thank you. Please leave while I dress."

She slid the T-shirt over her head and pulled it to her waist. All of this is a waste of time. My ankle's fine. Just a little sore. Glancing at the alarm clock, she wrinkled up her nose. It's already 10:30. I won't be back for hours. She leaned forward and wiggled trying to slip into the shorts. "OUCH!" She released a deep breath.

"Are you all right?" Cash knocked on the door.

"Of course, I know how to dress."

Again, she tried to get her right foot inside the shorts. It wouldn't go. Tears welled in her eyes. She tossed blankets over the lower half of her body and whispered, "Cash, I need help."

Paige heard a knock on the door, then Cash's voice, "Did you say something?"

"I need help," she said softly.

"I can't hear you. You need to speak louder."

"Never mind."

Cash opened the door and grinned. "What did you say?"

"You heard me the first time, didn't you?" Paige glared at him. "You're so male."

"Hand me the shorts." Cash took them and carefully lifted Paige's right foot. After he slid the shorts to her knees, he stopped. "You'll have to take it from there." He glanced at something lying beside Paige and picked it up. "What's this?"

Paige studied it. "I've never seen it before. I wonder how it got there. It looks like an old button. what's it made of."

"It's a Civil War button." He ran his thumb across the CSA. "Probably brass. Do you mind if I take it?"

Paige shook her head and asked, "What does CSA stand for?"

"Confederate States of America." Cash slipped it in his pocket. "I guess it stuck to your body when you fell outside."

Paige cringed, but wiggled her bottom into the shorts. "Would you hand me those shoes." She pointed to a pair of running shoes by the dresser.

Cash's eyes widened as they met Paige's. "You haven't taken a good look at your ankle, have you? It's so bruised and swollen you won't get shoes on for days, maybe weeks."

Out of frustration Paige leaned back in bed. "You seem to think I need my stupid ankle x-rayed. How am I supposed to get to the truck, fly?" She sighed. "After the doctor pronounces my ankle being sprained only, you'd better believe I'm going to shout 'I told you so'."

Shaking his head, Cash said, "Sit up." He set Morgan on her lap. "Hold the mutt," Then he picked up Paige. "I'll carry you to the truck."

"You can't carry me inside the emergency room."

"Watch me."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of Confederate uniform buttons.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. My posts are short, but please remember they are part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 28
Chapter 7, Part 3

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:

Out of frustration Paige leaned back in bed. "You seem to think I need my stupid ankle x-rayed. How am I supposed to get to the truck, fly?" She sighed. "After the doctor pronounces my ankle being sprained only, you'd better believe I'm going to shout 'I told you so'."

Shaking his head, Cash said, "Sit up." He set Morgan on her lap. "Hold the mutt," Then he picked up Paige. "I'll carry you to the truck."

"You can't carry me inside the emergency room."

"Watch me."

Today's post:

After spending five hours, twenty-three minutes, and seventeen seconds in the Emergency Room, Cash parked his pickup outside Paige's home. He lifted her from the passenger seat. "It's too late to get the mutt. I'll bring him to you in the morning."

Paige clenched her jaw. "It's already morning."

"Just tell me why you're so pissed. I'm too tired to guess."

"What's this moaning and groaning? A secret man language? You and the doctor acted like I wasn't even in the room. I could've handled not having a full cast. But no! You had to groan until the doctor thought I wouldn't follow his instructions."

"I cleared my throat, once. There's no way you're going to follow the doctor's orders and stay off that ankle. Did you see the x-ray? You fractured your fibula."

"It's only a tiny crack. It was hard to see on the x-ray."

"That's why you had an MRI. If you put weight on it, it will become a big crack and you'll have to have surgery to realign it and probably a pin put in." Cash stomped up the sidewalk. "And there's no such thing as a secret man language."

At the door Cash sighed. "Do you have the key?"

"It's in my purse. You have me so frustrated I left it in the truck. And there is too a secret man language."

"Reach in my right pants' pocket and get the key. After I set you down, I'll get your purse."

"I don't usually reach into men's pockets."

"I don't normally hold women at their door. Just get the key."

Paige reached for the key. "I can't find it. Are you sure it's there?" She searched a little more. "I found it."

"Now, put it in the lock."

"I know what to do with it." Paige turned the handle and shoved the door open. "You don't need to be so bossy."

Cash carried her upstairs and placed her on the bed. "If you're all right, I'll get your purse."

Paige watched him leave. "Cash, did the doctor really say I needed a cast up to my knee?"

"Yes." He stopped and turned. "He put that temporary one on until the swelling goes down, then he'll replace it with one you'll need to wear for about six weeks."

Paige's eyebrows narrowed. "I don't like this one bit."

"I know. I'll be right back."

*****
When Cash returned carrying the purse, Paige had turned and faced away from the door. He held it up and said, "Just for the record this isn't a purse, it's a French bag."

She remained silent and didn't move.

"It was supposed to be a joke. I guess it wasn't funny." Cash set the purse on the nightstand.

Paige rolled over and forced a smile.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Cash sat beside her and wiped away the tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Thank you for everything."

"You're welcome, but I doubt that's the reason for the tears."

There was a moment of silence before Paige spoke, "It's really late. You need to get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."

"You sure you'll be all right? If you want, I can stay a little longer."

"I'm sure. Good night." She rolled over and faced the wall again.

*****
Cash walked into the hallway. Something's wrong. Maybe she misses Morgan. He stood outside her door for a few moments. Now what do I do? After waiting a little longer, he started downstairs, before glancing back at her door. Is that crying? He strained to hear. Yep, it is.

Entering her room, Cash walked around the bed and faced her. "Paige, talk to me. There's a reason you're crying. What is it?" He sat on the bed.

"My ankle hurts, I'm tired, and I'm in pain, and ..." Her slow flow of tears turned into sobbing. "I can't sleep because my ankle hurts."

Cash kicked off his boots, lay beside her and scooted closer. "Come here. Maybe this'll help." He put his arm around her.

Paige lay her head on his chest.

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of an antebellum bedroom.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I have to post short because I work full time teaching first grade. Time doesn't allow me write and review. This post is part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 29
Chapter 7, Part 5

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:
Entering her room, Cash walked around the bed and faced her. "Paige, talk to me. There's a reason you're crying. What is it?" He sat.

"My ankle hurts, I'm tired, and I'm in pain, and ..." Her slow flow of tears turned into sobbing. "I can't sleep because my ankle hurts."

Cash kicked off his boots, lay beside her, and scooted closer. "Come here. Maybe this'll help." He put his arm around her.

Paige lay her head on his chest.


Today's post:

The early morning sun shone through the cracks in the Venetian blinds and woke Cash. He glanced toward Paige. I'm glad you're finally asleep. He stretched, before glancing at her ankle that rested on a pillow. It's still badly bruised and swollen. I didn't expect it to be any different. Paige will.

Cash put on his boots before he stood. I wonder why she turned down the pain killers. I'm sure she has a good reason. Maybe someday she'll tell me. He glanced at his watch. Good, Billy Joe should be here. He opened the door and squinted at the bright sunlight.

"Hey, Cash, you look like it was a rough night." Billy Joe chuckled.

"Can you go inside and keep an eye on Paige? I need to get her dog." Cash continued toward his pickup.

"Paige doesn't have a dog and she doesn't need a babysitter."

"She has a dog and a broken ankle." Cash shut the truck's door and drove away.

*****
Paige woke up, studied her ankle, and grimaced. "It's still swollen and it still hurts." She tried to get out of bed. "Ouch!"

Billy Joe stepped into the room. "You ain't supposed ta walk on a broken ankle."

"That's already been mentioned more than a few times in the last twenty-four hours. Hello. Where's Cash?"

"He went to get a dog. What's going on?" Billy Joe removed his cap and scratched his head. "I'm buffaloed."

"Can you help me to the bathroom? We've had a lot of excitement since we spoke after church."

Paige attempted to put her hand around Billy Joe's neck. His arm went around her waist. "I see why you ain't got crutches." He picked her up and carried her.

"When I get my other cast, the doctor said I could use them." She glanced around. "You can set me down now." She stood on her good foot and used the sink for support. "I'll let you know when I'm finished."

Once Paige was back in bed, she told Billy Joe about the ATF, the puppy, the five perfect pan-sized fish, and how she and Morgan got stranded outside during the storm.

"I ain't too smart, but I'm purdy sure you ain't supposed ta take the dog out in a storm." Billy Joe rubbed his chin.

"According to the weather forecast, we should've been back inside before the storm hit. It hurried. Morgan got scared and darted off. Anyway, it's history now."

"Having you around ain't dull. Go back to the part about a stranger that helped you inside."

"I passed out. I don't know who helped me. I thought it was Cash, but he says it wasn't."

"He ain't gonna like some other man helping you."

"He should be happy someone found me or I'd still be outside under that tree."

Billy Joe looked out the window and pointed to a large tree a few feet off the beaten path. "Yonder under that there oak tree?"

"I don't know. It was dark. I tripped and rolled, then hit the tree."

"When Cash gets here, I'll go out and look for footprints." He sat beside Paige and studied her ankle. "You did it up right."

"Thanks." She frowned.

*****
It wasn't long before Cash returned and set the wiggly puppy beside Paige. "He already likes you. Nala just arrived and will be up shortly with coffee and breakfast."

"That mutt's a male, right? Name a male in these parts that don't like Paige." After Cash grinned and nodded, Billy Joe continued, "Paige's gonna have ta be careful when she takes the dog out."

"You're right." Cash stared at Billy Joe. She didn't need the mutt to start with.

"I want to show you something." Billy Joe paused until Cash stood beside him, then continued, "See that yonder oak tree? I'm guessing whoever helped Paige left footprints in that mud. We need to take a look-see."

"Good idea. As soon as Nala brings breakfast, let's check it out."

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a Confederate five dollar note.

Thank you for reading and reviewing. Errors in dialogue are intentional. I have to post short because I work full time teaching first grade. Time doesn't allow me write and review. This post is part of a longer chapter which is part of a novel. I cannot describe the main characters in each post, the novel would never end. The characters do continue to grow with each chapter as does Cash and Paige's relationship.


Chapter 30
Chapter 7, Part 6

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

"I want to show you something." Billy Joe paused until Cash stood beside him, then continued, "See that yonder oak tree? I'm guessing whoever helped Paige left footprints in that mud. We need to take a look-see."

"Good idea. As soon as Nala brings breakfast, let's check it out."

Today's post:

Paige and Morgan's footprints were easy to follow. Cash and Billy Joe soon found where Paige fell and rolled into the tree. Cash picked up a pink scrunchie. "Mom gave this to Paige yesterday. This is the spot."

Billy Joe searched the muddy ground. "I don't see any other tracks." He glanced up from the shallow ravine and pointed toward the house. "There's no way Paige got back by herself."

Fingering a heart carved in the tree, Cash read the names, "Bradley and Alice. Who are they? Think they ever lived in the house?"

"Don't know. Check the pictures in the library and see if the names match."

"I'll do that." Cash spotted something in the mud and bent to pick it up. "Hey, look at this." He carefully unfolded the damp paper. "It says Confederate States of America, five dollars, Richmond, Virginia, September 2 1861."

"It ain't neither. Let me take a look-see." Billy Joe grabbed the faded paper from his friend's hand. "Is that a bale a cotton? Why's that girl sittin' on it?"

"I think we need to do some research."

Both men hurried into the house and straight to Paige's room.

When they arrived, Paige smiled. "Hi, guys. Did you detectives discover how I got back to the house?" She took a bite of cantaloupe.

"That ain't no decent breakfast. Where's the biscuits and white gravy and the grits?" Billy Joe shook his head. "It just ain't right." He glanced at Nala, who smiled. "And you being born and raised in the South."

"I happen to like fruit, ham or bacon, and toast for breakfast. And sometimes even English muffins or bagels. Is that breaking a rule?" Paige laughed.

"Dadgummit! It ain't fittin for a wannabe Southern gal to try to eat that weak Yankee food."

Paige continued laughing as she took another bite of cantaloupe. "Billy Joe, I'll share." She offered him some. He refused and she continued, "Did you discover who helped me to the house?"

"Nope, we could only find Morgan and your footprints. It looks like a good breakfast to me." Cash chuckled.

"How's she going to heal that bone? She needs more substance."

The three stared at Billy Joe, as Cash held up the Confederate note. "I did find this and a heart carved on the tree with Bradley and Alice's name it. Any ideas?"

"Bradley Bookman was a former owner of this house. His wife was Alice. He died during the Civil War. He was shot at Chipa something."

"Chickamauga?" Cash grinned.

"That's it. History was not my strong subject. I think he died in 1863. I'm not sure about that. I could find out." She frowned and glanced toward the door. "If I could get to the library."

"If you promise not to walk around, I can get you to the library."

After Paige finished drinking her tea and Nala helped her dress, she called to Cash. He carried her downstairs.

*****
Just before they reached the bottom step, Paige turned her head toward a whimpering sound.

At the top stood a very unhappy puppy, trying but afraid to venture to the next step.

Paige's eyes met Cash's.

"Don't try that sad puppy dog eye look on me. Your eyes are blue, not brown. It won't work." He quickly glanced away and continued to the next step. Like hell it won't. It works all the damn time.

Billy Joe ran up the stairs. "Ain't no Southern pup gonna act like a scared Yankee. Y'all climbed up here, now get your butt down.

"Actually, we were both carried up here. Remember?" Paige winked.

After a sigh, Billy Joe tapped the step below Morgan. The dog sniffed his hand and wagged his tail. Billy Joe backed down a step and Morgan followed. "See, it's not too soon for him to learn about them steps." This continued until they reached the bottom.

Morgan let out a happy yap and ran toward Paige, wagging his tail.

Billy Joe picked up the pup and looked at his face. "He's a cute little booger. I can see how his sad little eyes can melt some hearts." He chuckled. "And Paige's too."

As they continued into the library, Cash glared at his buddy. "Tell me again why I let you work for me."

"Because I have sad puppy dog eyes; and you don't want Mary Pat to throw my happy butt out."

"You got the last part right. You'd probably end up on my couch." Cash put Paige on the couch. "I think you'll be comfortable here. You can elevate your foot with pillows. Doc said the more you keep your ankle up the faster the swelling will go down and the faster you can get your cast."

Billy Joe set Morgan beside her and he cuddled close.

Nala stepped into the library. "Mr. Cash, once I finish with the breakfast dishes, I'll stay with Paige and make sure she follows the doctor's orders."

Paige adjusted her rear end on the couch. "They weren't orders, just recommendations." She let out a deep breath.

Cash scanned the bookshelves. "Which one do you want to start with?"

"See that big dark blue binder?" When Cash acknowledged with a nod, she continued, "I think it's full of family history. I'll start with it."

"What about that Confederate note?" asked Billy Joe, as Cash handed it to Paige.

"Would you mind if I borrowed your computer for some research?"

"Go ahead." Paige opened the binder and began to read.

*****
After about thirty minutes, Paige yelled, "Cash! I found something!"

As Cash and Billy Joe rushed into the room, Paige was trying to stand.

"I got here as soon as I could." Cash helped her get adjusted on the couch. "What's so important you're risking hurting your ankle?"

Paige held her breath. "Ready for this? My ghost is Bradley Bookman."

Cash's chin hit his chest as his head dropped. "What?"

"Seriously, Alice writes that Bradley returned to help her with the delivery of their first and only child, James." She pointed to Alice's words.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of an oak tree in Savannah, GA. I should have reused the image I used last week of the Confederate five dollar bill, but for some reason, I wanted an oak tree. Thank you for reading and reviewing.


Chapter 31
Chapter 8, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

End of CHAPTER SEVEN:

After about thirty minutes, Paige yelled, "Cash! I found something!"

As Cash and Billy Joe rushed into the room, Paige was trying to stand.

"I got here as soon as I could." Cash helped her get adjusted on the couch. "What's so important you're risking hurting your ankle?"

Paige held her breath. "Ready for this? My ghost is Bradley Bookman."

Cash's chin hit his chest as his head dropped. "What?"

"Seriously, Alice writes that Bradley returned to help her with the delivery of their first and only child, James." She pointed to Alice's words.


TODAY'S POST:

CHAPTER EIGHT

After Cash read Alice's diary entry, his eyes met Paige's. "How do you get from this to Bradley Bookman's a ghost?"

"He made an appearance while his wife delivered their baby. That's proof."

"He fought and died at Chickamauga? There's no way he could be in Savannah for a birth. If Alice saw him, she was hallucinating."

Nala stood up from her chair. "Mr. Cash Wilkins, you've never delivered a baby in your life. Women do many things while bearing a child and hallucinating ain't one of them."

"Maybe the midwife gave her strong medicine. We don't know. There's a lot of things about it we don't know."

"My mammie helped you come into this world. Being a midwife has been passed down in my family for generations and there ain't no strong drugs used." Nala's hands were on her hips.

"I didn't mean to upset you. I just don't believe in ghosts. A man can't be in two places at once. It's impossible."

"I need to fix Paige some lunch." Nala left the library.

Billy Joe sat. "Why don't you tell Paige what we found about the Confederate note?"

Women! Cash took the paper bill from his jean's pocket. "Good idea." He moved a chair and sat beside Paige. "This is an allegorical figure of Ceres sitting on a bale of cotton."

"I want to know who's Ceres and what in hell's bells is a allegory?"

Paige smiled at Billy Joe. "The Roman goddess of agriculture and an allegory is a symbol representation." She glanced at the note. "Is it real? If so, how'd it get in my backyard?"

"It seems real. Mom has a friend who's an antique dealer. While we're eating tonight, I'll ask if she can set something up."

"Can you handle five perfect pan-sized catfish, bowl of hushpuppies, and remember to ask?" She giggled.

Cash ignored her and continued to answer her previous question, "I have no idea how it got in your yard, but I'm sure a Confederate ghost didn't drop it."

"Cash has a point. Why would a ghost need money?" Billy Joe cocked his head.

"Okay, you have me on that one. I have no idea why a ghost would be carrying money." Paige frowned. "Besides Confederate money isn't legal tender. I think I'll get back to the family history. My gut tells me the answers are there."

"My gut tells me it's time to eat." Billy Joe chuckled.

Cash glanced at his watch. "It's already noon and we haven't got a lick of work done. Paige, if you need us we'll be outside. I'll come inside and get you before I leave."

Paige watched the men leave the library before she continued reading the Bookman family history.

When Nala brought lunch and set it on the table, Paige smiled. "This looks really good. You're going to eat with me, aren't you? I hate eating by myself."

"I'll eat in the kitchen." Nala turned to leave.

With eyebrows raised and a frown, Paige asked, "What are you doing? You fixed a nice lunch. Why don't you share it with me? There's more than enough for both of us."

"In these parts, the hired help don't eat with the employer."

"But you ate with Mary Pat and me on Saturday. I don't understand."

"That was a mistake."

"Why was that a mistake? I invited you. Mary Pat was born in the South and she didn't have problems eating with you." Paige noticed Nala avoiding eye contact. "Nala, has something happened? Did somebody say something?"

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a Confederate five dollar bill. Thank you for reading and reviewing.


Chapter 32
Chapter 8, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

End of previous post:
With eyebrows raised and a frown, Paige asked, "What are you doing? You fixed a nice lunch. Why don't you share it with me? There's more than enough for both of us."

"In these parts, the hired help don't eat with the employer."

"But you ate with Mary Pat and me on Saturday. I don't understand."

"That was a mistake."

"Why was that a mistake? I invited you. Mary Pat was born in the South and she didn't have problems eating with you." Paige noticed Nala avoiding eye contact. "Nala, has something happened? Did somebody say something?"


Today's post:

"Paige, I'll sit with you, but I'd prefer my own lunch." Nala left for a moment then returned with a sack lunch. She opened it and took out a sandwich in plastic wrap.

"I won't ask any more questions, but I want it made clear that while you're in my house you're a friend who happens to work here. It's no different than Cash or Billy Joe. If we meet on the street, I'll treat you as a friend."

"I understand and I appreciate the thought." Nala took a bite of sandwich.

The ladies ate in silence until Morgan stretched his body as far as he could, trying to help himself to Paige's cob salad. "I think he wants some turkey." She laughed and reached for a piece.

"Don't do that." Nala touched Paige's arm. "He's going to be a big dog. He'll help himself to your plate all the time. It's better to stop him now." Nala set her sandwich on the brown bag. "He might be hungry. I'll get him something to eat." She placed the pup on the floor. "Come on. I'll feed you."

He ran behind her.

When Nala returned, she smiled. "He's a cutie. I can see why you brought him home."

"I need to get him a vet appointment. I'm not sure how to do it with my ankle issue. Do your kids have a dog?" Paige offered Nala some grapes.

She accepted them. "They have a ol' redbone hound, their grand pappy gave'm. They love that dog." After eating a few grapes, she said, "I'm sure Cash'll help you get him to a vet. Do you have the number?"

"Cash's mom gave me a number of the vet they used. Morgan's my first pet. I'm not sure why I never had one. I can already tell he's going to be extra work, but he's fun to have around."

The puppy scampered around the corner and slid across the waxed floor. The women laughed as he turned and barked at the tasseled rug.

As Morgan expressed his disgust, Paige and Nala wiped the tears rolling down their cheeks.

"Good afternoon."

Both ladies turned at the sound of a man's voice. The puppy ran toward Paige. The fur on his back bristled and he growled.

"Dr. Walker." Paige's eyes widened. "I didn't hear the bell."

"I'm sure it's because of the laughter. I let myself in."

Nala stood. "I need to get back to work. Can I get you some ice tea?"

"That would be fine." His glare followed Nala.

"Dwayne, what brings you here?" Paige interrupted his stare.

"I heard you'd injured your ankle. I came by to see how you're doing and see if there's any way I can help." He stepped closer to Paige.

"How did you find out about my accident? Only a few people know." Her eyes met his.

"I have a friend who works at the hospital." He glanced into the hallway. "Excuse me a moment."

That's strange. Where's he going? Paige used the arm of the couch to help her stand. She grabbed the back of a chair to keep from putting weight on the ankle. Standing in the doorway, she heard Dr. Walker addressing Nala. I can't make out the words. Whatever it is, it isn't good.

As Dwayne returned to the library, Paige released a deep breath. "I think you'd better leave. I won't allow my friends to be intimidated in my home."

"You aren't from these parts. I was trying to help you assimilate to our ways. I know things are a little different up North. In the South, aristocrats don't socialize with the hired help. You're a person of wealth."

"Are you telling me there's a class system in the South?" Paige chewed on her lower lip.

"Not exactly a class, but a social system. If you plan on staying, you might want to embrace our ways."

"If embracing your ways means not treating everyone as an equal, then I'm not interested. Please leave, or I'll have you removed." She turned away and said, "Nala, please ask Cash and Billy Joe to come here."

Nala called to the men. Dr. Walker turned toward the front door. "You're making a huge mistake. I guess you'll find out the hard way."

Dwayne paused and said something to Nala.

Billy Joe entered. Paige explained the situation.

"That ain't right. Think we need to pay him a visit?" Cash stepped into the room. Billy Joe glanced at him.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a chocolate Labrador retriever puppy. Thank you for reading and reviewing.


Chapter 33
Chapter 8, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

Dwayne paused and said something to Nala.

Billy Joe entered. Paige explained the situation.

"That ain't right. Think we need to pay him a visit?" Cash stepped into the room. Billy Joe glanced at him.


Today's Post:

"Who do we need to pay a visit?" Cash used a bandana and wiped the sweat from his forehead.

"Mr. Cash, I don't want no trouble. You know how it is in these parts." Nala shook her head.

"I think Dwayne Walker's a racist." Paige's eyes met his. "He said something to Nala. I know it wasn't nice, but I couldn't make it out. I told him to leave."

"Nala?" Cash glanced at her.

"I think you could use some ice tea." Nala turned.

Cash stepped closer. "What did he say?"

"He reminded me of my place. That's all." Nala wiped her hands on her apron.

"He'd said something before today. She was uncomfortable eating lunch with me." Paige braced herself against the wall. "We want to help, but we can't if you won't let us."

"Let's continue this in the library. Paige needs to elevate that foot." Cash carried her to the couch and adjusted the pillows.

Paige scooted over and tapped the couch. "Nala, come sit by me. Let's talk."

"I better get Mr. Cash some tea. He looks mighty hot."

Billy Joe stepped in front of Nala. "Cash can wait. He's used to the sun. Have a seat." He moved a chair beside her.

"Nala, remove the apron and give it to me." Paige held out her hand. She folded it and set it on the table. "Now it's just friends talking."

Three sets of eyes stared at Nala. She studied the floor for a few moments. "Yesterday, my boys and me were walking home after the church service. Dr. Walker stopped his big fancy car and stood on the sidewalk. He said my kind doesn't belong at a white lady's party. Today he said, my kind don't socialize with the boss." She wiped a tear rolling down her cheek. "I don't want no trouble."

"This is 2013. Segregation ended about sixty years ago." Paige released a deep breath. "It's illegal. I can't believe it still goes on. He said something to me about a social system. I didn't believe that either."

"There's some in the South who'll never accept changes in society." Cash took Nala's hand. "How can we help? Do you want Billy Joe and me to have a talk with him?"

"No! I want it dropped. If you go stirring things up, it'll only get worse. Remember a few years back? The Washington family got burned out of their house, and the baby girl died."

After Billy Joe removed his cap and hit it against his thigh, he sighed. "This ain't good." He looked at Cash. "We'd better take him out back and read from the Good Book." His eyes lit up, and he grinned. "Remember what you did to the wide receivers' coach? He kept bad mouthing your running back because he was black."

"The coach got the principal to fire him. He took a lot of grief for hiring a black coach to replace him. After Toby ran a forty-seven yard touchdown to win the district finals, people left our new coach alone." Cash smiled. "Black players on the football team did more to ending segregation than all the political ploys."

Billy Joe looked at Cash. "If we raise too much of a fuss, it'll get worse. Nala and her kids'll pay the price."

Nala glanced at Paige. "We can't do anything about hate, but we can do something about Paige."

Cash's eyebrows rose. "What?"

"How did he know Paige broke her ankle?" Nala's hands set on her hips.

"Exactly what did he say?" Cash stared at Paige.

"He said he came by because he'd heard I'd broken my ankle and wanted to see if he could help. I asked how he knew, and he said somebody at the hospital told him." Paige studied Cash. "Do you think he's spying on me?"

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing tolerance. Thank you for reading and reviewing.


Chapter 34
Chapter 8, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

Previous post:
Nala glanced at Paige. "We can't do anything about hate, but we can do something about Paige."

Cash's eyebrows rose. "What?"

"How did he know Paige broke her ankle?" Nala's hands set on her hips.

"Exactly what did he say?" Cash stared at Paige.

"He said he came by because he'd heard I'd broken my ankle and wanted to see if he could help. I asked how he knew, and he said somebody at the hospital told him." Paige studied Cash. "Do you think he's spying on me?"

Today's post:

"Maybe." Cash clenched his jaw. "Walker could've helped you back to the house."

"Why weren't there footprints in the mud and tracks in the house?" Billy Joe asked.

Cash rubbed both temples with the palms of his hands. "I don't know. Maybe he cleaned up." He glanced toward Nala. "Were any cleaning supplies moved or missing?"

"I didn't notice." She stood. "I'll check."

Paige watched Nala leave the room. "Why would Dr. Walker stalk me? It doesn't make sense."

"Because you're one good lookin' Northerner with a lot of money. We don't see too many of them in these parts." Billy Joe shook his head.

Morgan squirmed.

"I bet he needs out." Cash picked up the pup and turned to leave the library.

"I need to set up a vet appointment as soon as possible," Paige called after him.

"I've already taken care of it," Cash said.

Nala returned. "I just saw Mr. Cash and Morgan."

Paige nodded. "I have a feeling Cash needed some fresh air. Any cleaning supplies missing?"

"Everything's in place." She patted Paige's arm. "Do you really need to work with Walker?"

"I signed a contract. I'll see if I can get out of it. When I was hired, I hadn't met him."

A few moments later Morgan ran up to Paige with Cash following. "He did what he needed to." The puppy stood on his hind legs and tried to crawl up on the couch. "I'll help, little guy. It won't be long before you can do it yourself." He lifted the pup.

After giving Paige's face a lick, Morgan cuddled in.

"I've got a two o'clock appointment for the dog. I'll get what he needs. When you're on your feet, we'll switch the account." Cash glanced at his watch.

"I guess it's okay, but it would've been nice if you had discussed it with me. Morgan's my dog." Paige frowned.

"It didn't make sense to carry you to the truck, carry you around the vet's office, and then carry you back."

"Now the mutt's settled." Billy Joe's stare switched from Cash to Paige. "What we going to do about Walker?"

Cash glanced at Nala. "I don't mean any disrespect, but I think we need to wait-see what happens. Maybe Paige standing up to him was enough."

"What if he's stalking me?"

"I'll make sure it'll never happen again."

"If you see him, I'll call the police."

Cash laughed. "That'll be the least of his problems."

A sudden chill entered the room.

Billy Joe rubbed the back of his neck. "That air conditioner's mighty cold. We'd better take a look-see."

"It's gone haywire." Cash and his buddy left the room.

Morgan barked and wagged his tail as Paige smiled

Nala picked up Paige's lunch plate. "While you're researching family history, I'll take care of the dishes."

Paige glanced at the blue binder, pushed it aside, then touched Alice's diary. The answers I'm looking for are in here. She opened it and read. September 20, 1863. Bradley made it home and held my hand while our son, James Bradley Bookman, was born. Bradley named him after Lieutenant General James Longstreet. During this war, Bradley hasn't changed. Our love is as strong as ever.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing Civil War soldiers. Thank you for reading and reviewing. I am approximately halfway finished with the novel.


Chapter 35
Chapter 8, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

Cash entered the library and grinned. I guess the Bookman family history's too much for her. He set the diary on the table and picked up Morgan. "You have a vet appointment in twenty minutes." The pup squirmed. "Shh, don't wake Paige. She didn't get much sleep last night."

Nala turned the corner and smiled as Cash held his finger to his lips. They walked to the front porch.

"It shouldn't take longer than forty-five minutes. If Paige wakes up, let her know I took the mutt. If you need anything, Billy Joe is on the south side of the house."

As Nala petted Morgan, she smiled. "I'm sure Paige won't wake up for a long while." She went inside.

*****
An hour later, Cash returned with Morgan and smiled when he saw Nala. "Is sleeping beauty awake?"

"Paige went back to sleep. She only sleeps twenty minutes at a time. I think she's in pain. Why didn't the doctor prescribe pain pills?"

"Paige wouldn't let him. She said she didn't need them. I don't know what that's about." Cash set Morgan down. "Any ideas?"

"Why don't you ask?"

Cash winked and grinned. "That's a pretty good idea. I'll do just that." He rushed into the library as Morgan whined attempting to crawl onto the couch. "Don't wake her. She needs sleep. You can help Billy Joe and me outside." He turned to leave with the pup. I might as well give up on getting any work done.

"I'm awake. Is Morgan healthy?"

"Yep, the vet said he's a very healthy three month old puppy." He set the dog beside Paige.

She smiled. "Does he have any idea where he came from?"

"No, but he thinks this mutt's a purebred. He's surprised somebody'd dump a lab pup."

"I'm very lucky I found you." She hugged the puppy. He licked her face and wagged his tail.

"You up for a question?" After Paige nodded, Cash continued, "You have to be in pain. Why'd you turn down the pain pills?"

"A friend was in a car accident and got hooked on the pills. He ended up going to rehab. I don't want to chance that."

"Is your friend all right now?"

"He left rehab about a year ago. We stayed in contact for a while, but I haven't heard from him in months."

Cash turned when he heard Billy Joe call his name, then glanced at his watch. "I need to see what he wants and get some work done. Be back in an hour."

*****
When Cash and Paige opened the door to Faye's house, she greeted them with hugs. It wasn't long before Faye held up Morgan and studied his face. "Aren't you just the cutest little thing?"

The puppy licked her face.

Faye laughed.

"He says, 'I sure am.'" Paige grinned.

Cash shook his head. "You two are just alike. He's a mutt."

"You said the vet thinks he's a purebred Labrador." Paige tilted her head and eyed Cash.

"Mom, how close is dinner?" Cash took the wiggly critter from her. "You're holding up my pan-perfect catfish."

"Just a few minutes. Help Paige get situated at the table."

Cash brought a pillow from the living room so Paige could keep her ankle elevated. "The sooner the swelling goes down, the sooner you can get a regular cast and crutches." He laughed. "You'll probably break your arm falling down those stairs. I wonder if I'd better install an elevator."

"Ha ha, that's not funny." Paige frowned, trying not to smile.

Faye swatted Cash with a dishtowel. "You behave yourself and help set the table."

After grace, Cash took a fish filet and set it on Paige's plate. "Taste this and let me know if it ain't the best thing you've ever eaten."

Paige took a bite. "Yum, it's really good." She watched as Cash filled her plate with coleslaw, French fries, hushpuppies and another fish filet. "There's no way I can eat all this."

"You need to eat so your ankle heals quickly."

"I doubt eating has anything to do with it, but eating will make me fat. I can't workout with a cast."

It wasn't long before the dinner conversation switched to Dwayne Walker.

Faye set the fork beside her plate, then finished chewing. "I wonder if his people own that large plantation north of town by the river?"

"Doesn't that place go back to before the Civil War?" Cash's eyebrows rose.

Faye used her napkin to dab her mouth. "It does. The family dates back to James Oglethorpe. They were supposed to be on the first ship from England. They settled in Savannah sometime in 1733. If he does, then his family dates back to an original American aristocracy."

"That would explain his comment about belonging to a 'social society'." Paige used her fingers to highlight social society. "His family would've been slave owners before the Civil War."

"Certainly they were. Passed down folklore says they were the first family to get more than the standard fifty acres. Since they were self-supporting and had indentured servants, they received about 950 acres."

"What did they grow?"

"Cotton, rice, tobacco, mulberry groves and indigo." Faye grinned. "The mulberry grove and the indigo weren't too profitable."

"I knew they grew the first ones, but why the last two?" Cash helped himself to the last hushpuppy.

"Mulberries for silk and indigo for dye." Paige smiled. "I'm an artist, remember?"

"How could I forget?" He ate the last bite of fish. "Perfection!"

"About how many slaves would they've owned?" Paige nibbled a French fry.

Faye tapped the side of her face with her finger. "Again with folklore, maybe around sixty-five."

Paige shook her head. "That explains a lot."

"We don't know for sure he's part of that family." Faye stood.

"It would explain a lot about what was said." Paige watched Cash push his chair under the table.

*****
"You sit until I'm finished with the dishes." He winked at her.

"I wonder." Faye faced Paige. "It seems I heard a rumor the Walkers lost most their money a few years back playing the commodities."

"You mean the Chicago Board of Trade?" Paige's eyes widened.

Faye nodded.

After dinner and the dishes were done, Cash hung up the towels. "I'd like to stay longer, but I'd better get Paige home. She looks tired."

"Will you be back later?"

Cash shook his head. "No. I'm hanging around and make sure she's safe. Walker may be stalking her."

"Won't he see your truck?"

"After I take her home, I'm going to get Billy Joe. He'll drop me a few blocks away and then take my pickup home."

Paige frowned. "That seems like a lot of trouble."

Cash ignored her comment. "I need to run home and get a few things." He grabbed Morgan. "Come on. You need exercise."

When Cash returned, Paige glanced up. "Did you get what you needed?"

"Yes, but that crazy pup of yours tried to chase a polecat. I had to run him down." Cash shook his head.

"What's a polecat?"

"A skunk." Cash opened a drawer and put something in his pocket.

"Cash, do you think that's necessary?" Faye frowned.

"I want to be prepared, just in case."

"Prepared for what?" Paige frowned.

"Nothing, my dear." He turned and kissed his mom's cheek. "I'll call in the morning." He picked up Morgan. "Come on, trouble maker."

Faye smiled and took the pup. "I'll carry this adorable little guy. You get Paige."

*****
It wasn't long before Cash helped Paige to her front door. Morgan trailed behind and struggled climbing the steps. Cash finally picked him up. "It'll take you forever to catch up or you'll get sidetracked and chase another polecat." Cash lifted Paige and chuckled. "You're getting heavy."

"I told you that you put too much on my plate."

"You didn't have to eat it all. You could've passed a hushpuppy or two my way. I'll set you down at the top of the stairs before my back gives out." He paused. "What's that?"

"I don't know." Paige removed a white paper taped to the door. "It's too dark to read it."

Inside Cash set Paige down and read the note aloud, "We don't want Yankees contaminating Southern purebreds. Show loyalty to White Society or get the hell out."

Paige touched the letters cut and pasted from magazines and newspapers. "Why would some one do this? I haven't done anything. I've only been here a week." She wiped a tear rolling down her cheek.

"I don't know. I better look around." Cash helped her to the parlor couch, then turned.

"Don't leave."

Morgan barked.

"What are you barking at? You're too little to do any good." Cash removed his cell from his jeans pocket. "Billy Joe, can you and Mary Pat come to Paige's? A note was taped to her door. It wasn't a welcome message." He put his phone away. "They'll be here in a few minutes. While Billy Joe and I search the place, Mary Pat'll stay with you and your vicious dog." He petted the pup on the head.

"I guess he knows I'm scared. I read somewhere that pets can feel their owners' emotions."

"I guess he'll have all sorts of emotions." Cash grinned.

Paige's eyes met his. "Please don't joke. I can't take it right now." Tears welled in her eyes.

Cash put his arms around her. She cuddled into his chest and cried. He kissed the top of her head. "I won't let anything happen to you."

After glancing at his watch, Cash stared at the door. What's taking Billy Joe so long? He should've been here fifteen minutes ago.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing a fried fish dinner. Thank you for reading and reviewing. As I posted I ended up changing some things. I hope I didn't mess it up too badly. This is the ending of chapter 18. I won't be able to post next weekend. I'll be traveling Friday to MO. My parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. I'll be home on the 12th. I have the week off for spring break. Maybe I'll be able to catch up. Probably not. LOL


Chapter 36
Chapter 9, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER NINE

Morgan put his front paws on the arm of the couch and barked. Paige petted his head. "What's wrong?"

Cash and Paige turned toward a knock on the door. Cash released a deep breath before he stood. "I bet that's Billy Joe and Mary Pat."

At the door, Cash asked, "What took so long?"

"We were almost here when my gut told me to check on Nala."

"She all right?"

"Somebody's been knocking on her door. By the time she gets there they're gone." Billy Joe chewed the end of a tooth pick. "She has an aunt East of town. Her and the kids are spending the night there."

"I'm glad you checked on her." Cash patted his buddy's back. "Paige is in the parlor."

"Where's the note?" Billy Joe and his wife followed Cash.

Mary Pat hugged Paige. "I can't believe this is happening. You all right?'

"I'm not sure." Tears rolled down Paige's cheeks. "I don't understand."

After the men discussed the note, Cash said, "Billy Joe, come with me. I think the downstairs is safe." He glanced at the women. "But we'd better make sure before we check upstairs and the outside." He studied Mary Pat. When she patted her jeans pocket, he grinned. "Let's go."

As Billy Joe and Cash turned to leave, Morgan barked. Cash turned. "You need to stay and protect the women."

The puppy wagged his tail and barked again.

"That mutt understood you." Billy Joe shook his head.

"Come on." Cash left the parlor with his friend.

The open library door caught Cash's eye. He motioned toward Billy Joe, and they scanned the room before entering. Nothing seemed out of order.

Cash stared at a photograph tilted on the wall. That's strange. Nala must've bumped it when she cleaned. Paige told me this guy's Bradley Bookman. He straightened it and touched the uniform. Those uniform buttons look like the one I found in Paige's bed. He scratched his head. "Let's get out of here."

Billy Joe followed his friend. "Do we need to take somebody out to the woodshed and teach them some manners?"

"Not yet." He glanced back at the library. "If there's somebody in here, I'm not sure how much damage your wife's pea shooter can do. Let's check out the dining room."

Once the downstairs rooms were cleared, Billy Joe leaned against a wall in the kitchen with ceiling to floor cupboards. It opened. He peeked in. "Hey, did you know this place has a secret staircase?"

"Nothing about this place surprises me anymore."

"I wonder if there's a tunnel?"

"You've been around Paige too long. There's no secret tunnels." Cash started up the stairs.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing a confederate civil war jacket. Thank you for reading and reviewing. I'm posting this section really fast. I hope I didn't miss too much while editing. I'm on spring break so I hope I can catch up some. LOL


Chapter 37
Chapter 9, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Once the downstairs rooms were cleared, Billy Joe leaned against a wall in the kitchen with ceiling to floor cupboards. It opened. He peeked in. "Hey, did you know this place has a secret staircase?"

"Nothing about this place surprises me anymore."

"I wonder if there's a tunnel?"

"You've been around Paige too long. There's no secret tunnels." Cash started up the stairs.

TODAY'S POST:

At the top, Cash searched for an opening. "We gotta be close to Paige's bedroom. It's above the kitchen. Billy Joe, you still got that flashlight on your key chain?"

"The one you always tease me about?" He handed it to his friend.

"Who would've thought this little thing would come in handy?" Cash shined it on the wall. "I know there's a way out."

"Maybe it was never finished." Billy Joe leaned against a wall. "Whoa!" He stumbled back.

"Quit horsing around."

"I found the opening."

Cash turned and pushed until the opening widened. "Paige's wardrobe. That's strange."

"I'm wondering what other secrets this house has?"

"This was a waste of time. We'd better check with the women before we go outside. Don't say anything to Paige. I don't want her imagination going wild."

The men walked into the parlor. Mary Pat glanced up. "Paige is tired. Can she go to her room? She'll be more comfortable in bed."

"We didn't find anything in the house." Cash leaned over Paige and glanced at her ankle. "I think the swelling's gone down a little." He lifted her. "Mary Pat, can you get the mutt?"

*****
After Cash set Paige on the bed, she watched Cash and Billy Joe leave the room before she glanced at Mary Pat. "Do you think somebody wants to hurt me?"

Her friend sat beside her and rubbed her arm. "Somebody put the note on the door for a reason. That I'm sure of, but I don't know why." She glanced around the room. "Let's get you snuggled in for the night."

"I doubt I can sleep knowing somebody hates me and wants me out of my house and out of Savannah." She hugged her pillow. "Who would've thought making friends with my housekeeper would've caused so much trouble."

"Around here, some people still hang on to the old ways. I doubt they'll ever change."

"I understand, but what does it have to do with me? I'm not asking them to change."

"That's the part that doesn't make sense." Mary Pat smoothed the blankets. "How can I help?"

"I appreciate you just being here." She squeezed the pillow tighter. "I've always been independent. Now, I've had to rely on you, Billy Joe, and Cash for so much. Maybe I should go back home."

"I think if you did that, a certain Southern boy would miss you a lot." Mary Pat grinned.

Paige petted Morgan. "I'd take him with me. Isn't that right, little guy?"

"You know who I mean." Mary Pat tilted her head at the door. "The man who took you to Sunday dinner to meet his mama. The best I can tell you're the first to get that privilege."

"I seriously doubt that. What about Karen? When I was changing after church on Sunday, she came to the house."

"Have you asked Cash about her?" After Paige shook her head, Mary Pat continued, "After our afternoon out, I asked Billy Joe about her. She married Cash's younger brother. Colt died two years ago this coming September. He liked to race cars south of town. For some reason his car caught on fire. He left Karen and a little boy."

"That had to be hard on Cash and his mom."

"It was. Cash and Colt took over their dad's business. His dad died of cancer about five years ago. Cash was always the more serious of the two. He helps Karen every chance he gets."

"Has Cash ever had a serious girlfriend?"

"Not really, or I should say, if he did, he didn't let anybody know about it."

"Cash and Billy Joe are outside making sure my house is safe and we're in here gossiping." Paige giggled. "There's something wrong about that."

Mary Pat smiled. "Where's your pajamas?"

Paige stopped and thought a moment before pointing. "The second drawer on the left."

Mary Pat opened it. "Which ones?"

"I normally wear oversized T-shirts, but with all the men around, that won't work." Paige pointed at her ankle. "Pajama pants won't fit over this thing. I'll wear the sweats and cut them off at the knee. There's a T-shirt in the next drawer."

After Mary Pat found the clothes, she helped Paige change. As the women visited, Morgan let out a loud growl, then barked.

Paige grabbed the puppy. "What's that?" As she held him, she pulled the blankets to her chest and stared at the door.

Mary Pat put her finger to her lips, crept toward the door, and aimed her Ruger LCP.

She stepped into the hall and scanned the area. Seeing nothing, she backed into the room and removed the cell phone from her pocket. "Billy Joe, where are you?" She listened a moment. "There's somebody in the house besides Paige and me." Again, she listened, then put her phone away.

"The guys are on their way." Mary Pat continued staring into the hall with her weapon ready.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing a secret staircase. Thank you for reading and reviewing. I'm on spring break so I hope I can catch up some. LOL


Chapter 38
Chapter 9, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:
Mary Pat put her finger to her lips, crept toward the door, and aimed her Ruger LCP.

She stepped into the hall and scanned the area. Seeing nothing, she backed into the room and removed the cell phone from her pocket. "Billy Joe, where are you?" She listened a moment. "There's somebody in the house besides Paige and me." Again, she listened, then put her phone away.

"The guys are on their way." Mary Pat continued staring into the hall with her weapon ready.

TODAY'S POST:

In a rush, Cash took the stairs two at a time. Billy Joe followed. As they reached the landing, Cash saw Mary Pat. "What'd you hear?"

"A door opened and shut. I think it came from the front of the house, but I'm not sure." Mary Pat put the revolver into her pocket, then hugged her husband.

"You all right?" Billy Joe stroked the back of her head and glanced at Cash. "What now?"

"You stay with the women. I'll check downstairs." Cash turned to leave.

Billy Joe put his hand on Cash's shoulder. "We need to stay together. Might be more than one." He pointed at the door. "Mary Pat'll make sure nobody gets in here."

After a short pause, Cash glanced toward Paige and saw her eyes wide open, staring at the door, and she'd drawn the blankets tight at her neck. Morgan peeked out from between her arms. He sat on the bed beside her. "I'm sorry this happened."

"I want to go back to Boston."

Cash swallowed hard. "I understand. Can we talk about it in the morning?" After she nodded, he glanced at his buddy. "If you're coming, you'd better hurry."

"Cash?" When he turned, Paige said, "Please, be careful. You too, Billy Joe."

Both men nodded. Billy Joe pecked Mary Pat's cheek as he walked past.

At the bottom of the stairs, Cash slugged the walnut bannister post. "We need to find out who's doing this and fast. Paige is thinking about going back to Boston." He examined his fist.

"I'm sure between the three of us we can talk her into staying." He scanned the room. "Where to first?"

"I don't know. Could there be more secret stairs or a room somebody's hiding in? We checked everything and there was nobody. There's more questions than answers."

"We ain't got no answers." Billy Joe scratched his head. "If we know about the hidden stairs, so could somebody else. Mary Pat's only watching the door. The bathroom also opens to the nursery. There's three ways to get in that room."

"The door between the two rooms and bathroom is locked. I locked it myself." Cash stood by the ceiling to floor cupboard. "Where'd you touch to get this to open?"

"Around here." Billy Joe ran his hand up and down until it swung open.

Cash examined the opening. "I think a padlock and braces at the top and bottom will fix the problem. You stay here. I have spare ones in the outside kitchen."

When Cash returned, Billy Joe studied his face. "It took you a while. Was something wrong?"

"Our supplies have been rummaged through. Nothing's missing, just messed up."

"That's strange."

"Yep. I'll put a new lock on it in a little while."

"Should we call the cops?" Billy Joe removed the toothpick he'd been chewing and put it into his shirt pocket.

"And tell them what? We have a ghost-infested house with secret staircases and tunnels. Oh yeah, don't forget the KKK left a mysterious note on the front door." Cash missed the nail he was hammering and hit his thumb. "Shit! Nothing's going right."

"You have a point. With that information the cops'll put us in the loony bin. After we get this taken care of, we'll check things again and call it a night. You're staying here, right?"

"Yep." Cash's eyes met his buddy's.

Billy Joe leaned against the wall. "I hope this doesn't open another stairwell. Me and Mary Pat'll stay, too."

"Our lives were peaceful until Paige moved here. How can one woman attract so much trouble?"

"No idea." Billy Joe shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe 'cause she's a Yankee."

Cash hooked the padlock on the top brackets he'd installed. "You could be right." He knelt to work on the bottom. "This won't prevent somebody from taking the stairs, but it'll slow them down." Cash stood. "Let's look around one last time."

The two men walked into the parlor and their eyes widened. All drawers were dumped on the floor. Lamps, books and doilies that had been on the tables were scattered. The couch cushions were tossed around the room, along with the pillows. The artwork on the walls had been removed.

Cash rubbed the back of his neck. "What are they looking for?"

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing a walnut bannister. Thank you for reading and reviewing. Spring break ends tomorrow. So I will be back to posting once a week. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 39
Chapter 9, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:
The two men walked into the parlor and their eyes widened. All drawers were dumped on the floor. Lamps, books and doilies that had been on the tables were scattered. The couch cushions were tossed around the room, along with the pillows. The artwork on the walls had been removed.

Cash rubbed the back of his neck. "What are they looking for?"

Today's Post:

"Who knows?" Billy Joe took his toothpick from his pocket and put it between his teeth.

Cash shook his head. "That's just nasty."

"I ain't smoking no more. This works." Billy Joe pointed the toothpick at his buddy.

"I doubt Paige knows what they're looking for. Let's put this room back together, then see what she does know."

"Maybe she knows, but doesn't know she knows." Billy Joe replaced the couch cushions.

"You don't make a lick of sense."

"I'm done trying to explain pure logic to you."

Cash picked up some envelopes from the floor. "There's nothing in here but Paula's needlepoint thread." He paused a moment. "Paige needs to talk to that Redman guy."

"That lawyer?"

"Yep. If there's any important papers, he'd have them or know where they're kept. There's probably a safe or safety deposit box somewhere."

"Maybe that's what we need to be looking for. Do ya think Paige knows anything about it?"

"I doubt it, but won't hurt to ask."

Billy Joe glanced at his watch. "Damn, it's only nine-thirty. It seems later than that."

Cash stood and scanned the room. "I think it looks all right, don't you?" After his friend nodded, he continued, "Let's take a look-see outside." He paused at the front door. "Whoever left must've parked a ways away, or left on foot."

"Too bad there's no snow. We could follow the tracks."

"That's just stupid. It's July in Georgia." Cash punched his buddy in the arm. "We couldn't find tracks in mud after a thunderstorm."

"True." Billy Joe chuckled.

At the front door, Cash paused. "It's unlocked. I know I locked it after you and Mary Pat came in. This is how they left, but we still don't know how they got in."

They walked to the street, faced the antebellum mansion, and studied it and the yard. Cash pointed at the sky. "There's a full moon. That's why there's strange things happening."

"You believe that superstition stuff?"

"Got a better explanation?"

Billy Joe licked his finger and made a line in the air. "One point for you." He laughed.

"Go right of the house and I'll go left. We'll meet by the ol' kitchen."

The two separated. As Cash walked by Paige's jaguar, he paused. There's a hand print. It's too big for Paige's. "Hey, Billy Joe, come here." He pointed at the hood. "You been by the jag lately?"

"Nope. That's one mighty big hand."

"Sure is. I wish there was some way we could find out who it belongs to without calling the cops." Cash took out his cell. "Mom, is Karen still dating that P.I.?" He listened a moment. "Good. I'll call her. Sure, Mom, things are all right. Why wouldn't they be?"

"Man, you just lied to your momma. That just ain't right." Billy Joe pointed his toothpick at Cash.

"I told the truth. Nobody's hurt or in danger."

"At this moment." Billy Joe grinned.

Cash pushed buttons on his phone and listened. "Hello, Karen, that P.I. wouldn't be visiting you, would he?" Again, he listened. "Good, would you ask him to bring a fingerprinting kit to the old Bookman house?" He sighed. "Me and Billy Joe aren't getting ourselves into any trouble." He put his cell away. "The P.I. will be here in a few minutes.

Within thirty minutes, the P.I. parked in front of Paige's house, and Cash and Billy Joe walked up to him. Each offered a hand and introduced themselves.

"Bart, the hood of the jaguar has a huge handprint on it. Can you check to see who it belongs to?"

"A couple buddies of mine work in the police department. They'll run the prints for a price."

"Not a problem." Cash took out his billfold. "How soon will we get the results?"

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing a handprint on the jaguar. Thank you for reading and reviewing. I'm back to posting once a week. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 40
Chapter 9, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:
Within thirty minutes, the P.I. parked in front of Paige's house, and Cash and Billy Joe walked up to him. Each offered a hand and introduced themselves.

"Bart, the hood of the jaguar has a huge handprint on it. Can you check to see who it belongs to?"

"A couple buddies of mine work in the police department. They'll run the prints for a price."

"Not a problem." Cash took out his billfold. "How soon will we get the results?"


TODAY'S POST:

After Bart left, Cash and Billy Joe checked the outside and installed a new lock on the old kitchen door. Then the men went inside.

At the top of the stairs, Mary Pat stood just inside the bedroom door. "What'd you find out?"

"Someone was in the house and left by the front door. They trashed the parlor, looking for something." Cash glanced at Paige. "Any ideas what?"

"No." Paige paused and chewed on her lower lip. "Wait. Mr. Redman told me a few months ago someone contested the will. He never said who. I told him I wouldn't take possession until it was all squared away. He called a few weeks later and said everything was taken care of. Do you think it could still be in question?"

Cash sat beside her. "I think first thing in the morning you need to call Redman." He touched her ankle resting on the pillow and grinned. "You might want to make an appointment for the regular cast. By Friday, the swelling should be down." He rubbed the back of his neck. "There's a huge handprint on your jag. Karen's dating a P.I., I had him come by and take a print."

Mary Pat smiled at Paige. "Told you so."

Paige blushed.

"What's that about?" Cash interrupted.

"Just girl talk." Mary Pat tilted her head.

"Anyway, he knows some guys at the police department and they'll run the prints. Maybe we'll find out who's bothering you."

Billy Joe hugged his wife. "We're staying here tonight. That way we're sure Paige's safe."

Mary Pat crawled to the opposite side of the bed from Paige. "I'm sleeping with her. You two can fight for the floor."

"You don't need to stay. If you feel you must, there are four bedrooms in this house besides mine and the nursery next door. Nobody has to sleep on the floor." Paige released a deep breath.

"Billy Joe and I'll stay downstairs and make sure nobody gets in the house."

"Mary Pat'll make sure nobody comes in through the hidden staircase." Billy Joe pointed to the wardrobe.

"What?" both women screamed and eyebrows rose.

"Dang it! I sorta let it slip. Sorry."

"It's too late now." Cash walked over and opened the hidden door. "Billy Joe accidently found this."

"When were you going to tell me about it?" Paige glared at Cash. "What else are you hiding from me? Tunnels?"

"We ain't found no tunnels. Cash says there ain't no tunnels." Billy Joe pointed his toothpick toward his buddy.

Cash used the palms of both hands to rub his eyes. "I'm too tired and frustrated to have this conversation right now. We'll talk in the morning."

"You're darn right we'll talk, buster." She watched Cash turn and leave. "We also have a little issue of guns being brought into my house."

"Ya know that hidden staircase would be a great place to put an elevator." Billy Joe followed his buddy.

"Thanks a lot." He pointed toward the parlor. "Why don't you take the couch in there, and I'll find something to sleep on in the kitchen."

Billy Joe paused. "Do ya think Paige really has a problem with guns?"

"I think Paige has an issue with a lot of Southern ways." Cash released a deep breath.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing an antebellum wardrobe. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you have not read my previous posts, then you will probably be confused with this post. I'm back to posting once a week. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 41
Chapter 9, part 6

By barbara.wilkey

Previous POST:

"Thanks a lot." He pointed toward the parlor. "Why don't you take the couch in there, and I'll find something to sleep on in the kitchen."

Billy Joe paused. "Do ya think Paige really has a problem with guns?"

"I think Paige has an issue with a lot of Southern ways." Cash released a deep breath.


TODAY'S POST:

Cash scooted a cushioned chair into the kitchen, then a footstool. I need my sleeping bag and cot. I'll get those tomorrow. I wonder if Paige has any spare blankets. I'm sure Paula had plenty. But where? Cash started up the stairs.

"Hey, is that you?" Billy Joe called out.

"Yeah. I think there's some blankets in that huge wardrobe in the west bedroom." He leaned over the walnut banister.

"How would you know?"

"Paula and Mom think alike. If I find them, you want one?" Cash continued up the stairs.

"It would help, but don't wake up the girls."

"How can we sleep with you guys yelling?" Mary Pat's voice could be heard from the bedroom.

Cash stepped into Paige's bedroom. "Looking for some blankets."

"I know, and so does the entire neighborhood. You're headed in the right direction." Paige released a deep breath. "Men!"

Cash opened the antebellum, wooden wardrobe and removed two lightweight blankets and two pillows from the perfectly stacked bedding. Just like Mom. He glanced at the top shelf, saw a closed, small wooden box, and set the items he'd gathered on the bed. Holding the box, he paused. What secrets does this hold? Very slowly he turned the small key and lifted the lid. He removed a cameo necklace and a seeded pearl necklace. Holy cow, I bet these cost a mint. Who did they belong too? Then he took out a stack of Confederate bills. "Damn! Paige!"

"Did you find the blankets?" Paige asked as Cash entered the bedroom.

"Yes, but I also found this." Cash held the box and the two pieces of jewelry.

The women and Cash turned their heads when they heard footsteps running up the stairs.

Morgan barked as Billy Joe rushed in. "Now what did you find?" He touched the cameo. "If that ain't a cat's meow?"

Paige tilted her head and glanced at him. "You come up with the strangest sayings."

"Do you have any idea where they came from?" Cash glanced at Paige.

"Aunt Paula showed me some beautiful jewelry, but I've never seen those or the box. Where did you find it?"

Cash tilted his head toward the west bedroom. "On the top shelf of the wardrobe."

Paige's eyes widened. "I was looking for some towels the other day and that box wasn't there. Aunt Paula had some shoe boxes with photographs in them. I moved them to the library. The top shelf was vacant." She swallowed hard. "How did that box get there?" She glanced at each person. "Would somebody tell me what's going on?"

"I'd love to if I knew." Cash eyed the box. "What do you want me to do with this?"

"Put it back where you found it."

"Paige, they're antiques." Mary Pat stared at the necklaces.

"I'll take them to Mom's friend tomorrow along with the Confederate bill and button." Cash put the jewelry inside the box and relocked it.

Paige grabbed her phone and began searching.

"What ya looking up?" Billy Joe glanced over her shoulder.

"The phone number to the airport. I want the first flight out."

Cash sat beside her. "You aren't going anywhere. You're the one who wanted to go on the ghost tour and thought it was great having a ghost in your house."

"Wait a minute. I said any ghost but Blackbeard. He's mean."

"I don't believe you have a ghost, especially not Blackbeard. I do think you have a real person who's trying to scare you. Are you going to let them?"

Paige studied the blankets for a few moments, released a deep breath, then her eyes met Cash's. "Never! I won't be chased from my house."

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo representing an antebellum cameo necklace. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you have not read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 42
Chapter 10, Part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER TEN

The following morning, Nala's nephew drove her into town and dropped her at Paige's house. While Nala prepared breakfast, Mary Pat helped Paige shower and dress. During breakfast, Cash filled Nala in on the latest news of the break-in, jewelry, hidden staircase, and handprint. After helping with the dishes, Mary Pat and Billy Joe went home to shower and pack clothes for an extended stay with Paige.

Set up in the library, Paige, armed with a cell phone, called Mr. Redman and set a meeting for three o'clock that afternoon. Dr. Henderson's nurse wouldn't allow her to make an appointment without checking first with him. Later that morning, he returned the phone call and said he'd come by after work to check on her ankle and see if the swelling had gone down enough for the cast.

"I never heard tell of a doctor in this day-and-age making house calls." Nala wiped her hands on her apron.

"I'm sure his bill will reflect the unusualness of it." Paige grinned.

"Not nearly as unusual as a masseur who makes house calls, ma'am. Mr. Wilkins told me to go on in." Maurice chuckled. He took her hand and kissed it. "Ms. Mary Pat called and said you were in desperate need of a massage and weren't able to come to the spa." He glanced at her ankle and shook his head. "Not good, not good." He petted the little brown puppy. "I see you added to your family. Who's this adorable little guy?"

"His name's Morgan. He was orphaned and I adopted him. He stays very close at all times." She petted the dog's head.

Maurice picked up Paige and the pup. "I'll take you to the bedroom. We'll have more privacy."

*****
As Cash worked on the bottom-floor window shutters, Billy Joe returned. "My wife stayed home to do some laundry and pack. She said she has this Maurice guy coming to give Paige a massage."

"He's already here."

Billy Joes's eyes met his buddy's. "Ain't you worried about a strange man being alone with Paige?" He chomped on his toothpick.

"Not a bit." Cash continued to work.

"Why ain't ya? Maybe he's spying on Paige."

Cash laughed. "He paints his fingernails. He's not checking out any woman."

"Oh, so you already checked him out." Billy Joe shook his head. "I should've guessed. Ya wouldn't let any guy too close to your woman."

"She's not my woman. She's a friend who needs help." Cash started on another shutter. "Why don't you get to work?"

"You're protesting way too much. I've known you for over twenty-five years. I have you figured out."

"Then figure out that we have work to do." Cash slammed a shutter in place.

"Yep, you're worried all right." Billy Joe stopped working and stared at two elderly women who had gotten out of a black Bentley. "Hell's-bells! Does this place have a revolving door?" He removed the toothpick, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. "Damn, that wasn't a cigarette. Think Paige has any toothpicks?" He headed toward the front door.

Cash stepped closer to the sidewalk. "Good afternoon, ladies. Can I help you?"

"We're here to speak with Ms. Swanson," said the shorter woman, walking with a cane.

"Ethel, he's obviously hired help. Don't waste your time," whispered the lady holding her arm. They continued up the steps and knocked on the door.

Things just get better-and-better around here. I wonder what those two want. Cash went back to his window shutter. What'll they think of Maurice? He laughed. This should be interesting.


Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a chocolate Labrador puppy. Morgan's growing. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. It is a background post that will lead up to the following posts. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 43
Chapter 10, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:
Cash stepped closer to the sidewalk. "Good afternoon, ladies. Can I help you?"

"We're here to speak with Ms. Swanson," said the shorter woman, walking with a cane.

"Ethel, he's obviously hired help. Don't waste your time," whispered the lady holding her arm. They continued up the steps and knocked on the door.

Things just get better-and-better around here. I wonder what those two want. Cash went back to his window shutter. What'll they think of Maurice? He laughed. This should be interesting.

TODAY'S POST:

As Maurice carried Paige downstairs, Nala opened the door and let in the eldery ladies.

Billy Joe walked by. "Nala, thanks for the toothpick." He held it up for her to see. "Howdy, darlin's." He tilted the toothpick and left.

"Oh my, maybe we came at a bad time," said the lady without the cane as her eyebrows rose.

Paige smiled. "Of course not. Maurice and I just finished. I've never felt better. Please follow us into the parlor."

Maurice set Paige on the couch, helped her rest her ankle on a pillow, and kissed her cheek. "Please don't hesitate to call."

"I won't and thank you again for making a house call." Paige watched him leave the room. "Maurice's hands work magic." She rolled her shoulders. "Please have a seat. What can I do for you?"

"I'm Ethel Rivers, and my friend is Beatrice Walker. You're new in Savannah and we wanted to welcome you and let you know what this great city has to offer."

"How nice. Would you ladies like some lemonade? Nala made some earlier this afternoon." She glanced at her friend.

Nala nodded and left the room.

"I'm anxious to learn more about Savannah."

"Good. We checked your family name and noticed it's registered with the Daughters of the American Revolution." Ethel set her cane against the arm of the chair.

"I see you've done your homework. Yes, relatives on both sides of my family fought in the Revolutionary War. How does that concern you?" Paige tilted her head as she studied Ethel.

"What my friend's trying to say is that we couldn't find you listed under the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If it's a mix-up, we'd be happy to correct that error." Beatrice's smile showed all her teeth.

"I'm afraid there isn't a mix-up. I'm originally from Boston."

"We noticed your family has been in the Boston social register for numerous generations." Beatrice silenced when Nala brought in a tray holding three tall glasses of lemonade, a pitcher, cloth napkins, and a plate filled with warm blueberry muffins.

Once Nala served the guests, she turned to leave. "Ms. Paige, if you need anything, I'll be in the foyer."

Paige nodded. "I'm not sure how this affects me. I'm curious how you found out about me. I never advertised that I'd moved to town."

The ladies stared at each other, before Ethel said, "Our grandson's Dwayne Walker. He mentioned that you moved into the Bookman mansion and would benefit from our, how should I say, social standing."

"Hmm, I'm wondering if either or both of you are part of the Walkers who own the large plantation north of town by the river."

"Matter of fact we do." Ethel smiled. "I see you've heard of us." She sat straighter.

"I have, but I'm still not sure why you're here and how I can help." Paige paused and scrunched her eyebrows together. "It seems I heard your name in conjunction with the Chicago Board of Trade, but I'm not sure. Maybe I have you mixed up with another Walker family."

Beatrice stood and tapped her watch. "Oh my, I didn't know it was getting so late. I'm sure you have plans for this afternoon. Come along, Ethel. We need to leave."

"Please don't rush off. Would you like some more muffins? Or maybe some cookies or fresh fruit? I'm sure Nala has some in the kitchen."

"No, we mustn't keep you any longer." Beatrice stood at the door. "Hurry up, Ethel."

"I'm sorry you have to hurry off. Why don't we set another date to visit? Nala, would you get my date book?"

The ladies hurried out the front door, letting it slam as they left.

"Ms. Paige, I don't know where you keep your date book." Nala glanced around the parlor.

"Please, don't call me Ms. Paige, and I don't own a date book." Paige giggled. "When I mentioned the commodities, they sure left in a hurry, didn't they? Do you think the Walker family could be after my money?"

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a blueberry muffins. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. It is a background post that will lead up to following posts. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 44
Chapter 10, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

"No, we mustn't keep you any longer." Beatrice stood at the door. "Hurry up, Ethel."

"I'm sorry you have to hurry off. Why don't we set another date to visit? Nala, would you get my date book?"

The ladies hurried out the front door, letting it slam as they left.

"Ms. Paige, I don't know where you keep your date book." Nala glanced around the parlor.

"Please, don't call me Ms. Paige, and I don't own a date book." Paige giggled. "When I mentioned the commodities, they sure left in a hurry, didn't they? Do you think the Walker family could be after my money?"

TODAY'S POST:

As Ethel and Beatrice stomped down the steps, Morgan followed and alternately sniffed their ankles. When the pup got close to Ethel, she used her cane and swatted him. "Git, you mangy mutt."

Morgan yipped and rolled on his back.

Cash hurried over.

Beatrice raised her head. "Boy, would you remove that animal from our presence? It's in our way."

Cash bent down, picked up the puppy, and petted his head, before stepping in front of the ladies. "I don't know and I don't care who you are. I don't take too kindly to being called 'boy.' Whatever happened inside shouldn't be taken out on a defenseless animal."

Ethel used the cane in an attempt to brush Cash aside. "You talk like a Southern boy. I'm sure your momma taught you better. As hired help you know better than to address ladies such as ourselves." She leaned closer to her friend. "It's a shame this younger generation hasn't been taught manners."

Billy Joe stood beside Cash. "It ain't worth getting into a scuffle with skunks."

Both ladies sighed loudly, raised their heads high, and continued to their car.

*****
After the Bentley drove away, Cash and Billy Joe went inside. Billy Joe held his toothpick in his hand and laughed. "What did you do to make those ol' biddies run out of here? They were so angry they screeched the tires. I didn't know a Bentley could do that."

Cash handed Morgan to Paige. "The ladies weren't too fond of him."

"Oh dear. Are you all right?" Paige cuddled the puppy. "Those two are Dwayne Walker's grandmas. It seems his family is the same who lost their money playing the commodities."

"You didn't ask, did you?" Cash stared at her.

"Of course not. I had better up-bringing than that." She giggled.

"Talken' Southern, just don't suit ya." Cash grinned. "What did you say?"

As Paige relayed the conversation, Nala poured lemonade and provided more muffins and cookies. She put her left hand on her hip. "Paige thinks they're after her money."

"That's as good a guess as any. When's Redman coming?" Cash glanced at his watch.

Paige studied the antique clock sitting on the table. "In about fifteen minutes." She turned. "Cash, would you like to join me while I speak with him?"

After Cash nodded, Billy Joe grinned and said, "That'll work good. Mary Pat should be done gettin' things together. I'll get her." He watched Nala leave the room. "What about her?"

"We can decide after we talk with Mr. Redman. Maybe he can put some light on all of this and Nala won't be affected." Paige petted Morgan's head.

All heads turned when Nala brought Alan Redman into the parlor. Nala smiled. "I'll be right back with more refreshments."

"None, for me. I'm leaving." Billy Joe handed her his glass as they left the room.

Cash stood and shook Redman's hand. "Have a seat." Cash pointed to several vacant chairs.

Before sitting, Alan kissed Paige's cheek. "I see you've had an accident. What happened?"

"Nothing serious. I tripped over some tree roots. I'm glad you came on such short notice."

Alan accepted a glass of lemonade from Nala and waited until Cash and Paige had refills before he said, "I'm guessing you have a problem. How can I help?"

"A few months ago you told me somebody had contested the will. I told you then I wouldn't take possession unless all parties involved were in agreement. I'm under the impression it hasn't been settled." Paige stared at the lawyer. "I feel you haven't been completely honest with me. I'd like more information about that person and on what grounds it was contested."

"Has there been problems?"

"You could say that. Someone broke into the house last night searching for something. I figure you know what they want and who we're dealing with." Cash glared at Redman. "He left a handprint and we've hired a P.I. In a few days, we'll know who it belongs to."

"The will was contested on the grounds that Paige isn't a direct Bookman descendant." The lawyer took a sip from his glass. "To shed light on this you need to know a little history. George Bookman had three sons and four daughters. His oldest son, Wesley, inherited the house and business. Your uncle inherited it from him. George's youngest son, Elijah married Abigail Walker. The Walkers and the Bookmans didn't get along any better than the Hatfields and McCoys."

"You mean like the Montagues and Capulets?"

"Yeah, I guess." Alan studied his hands. "Elijah and Abigail had a whole herd of children. I think fifteen in all. Somehow it spread word-of-mouth through one of Elijah's children that George Bookman had written down that the house would never belong to anybody but a blood Bookman. The only living blood Bookman is from Elijah's bloodline. It seems many in the Bookman line died from the numerous yellow fever epidemics that hit this area. Documentation that the house has to stay in the Bookman line has never been found nor has there been any record of it."

"What's the last heir's name?" Cash rubbed the back of his neck.

"It's a female, Bonnie Bookman-Walker. She hyphenated her name when she married Daniel."

"Any relation to Dwayne Walker?" Paige massaged Morgan's ears.

"Nephew, I think."

"Go figure." Cash stood. "What do you know about Daniel and Bonnie?"

"They're young. In their early twenties. As far as I can tell, no employment. He's been in trouble a few times for drunk and disorderly. He always gets off with a slap on the wrist because of his last name."

"Not surprised." Cash watched Alan check a text message.

"I'm sorry. I'm needed back at the office. I hope I've helped." Alan stood and took Paige's hand. "Call if I can help in anyway."

"I'll walk you to the door." Cash followed Redman to the door, then in a few moments returned. "What do you think?"

"If they want the house, I'll gladly give it to them."

The lights went out. Enough sunlight shone through the window that Paige noticed the Bookman Family book opened to the family tree. Why does he want me to study this? What is he trying to tell me?


Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a chocolate Labrador puppy. I figure if the puppy gets hit by the cane, he deserves to be highlighted. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. It is a background post that will lead up to following posts. Sorry, I draw this out so long. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 45
Chapter 10, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
"I'll walk you to the door." Cash followed Redman to the door, then in a few moments returned. "What do you think?"

"If they want the house, I'll gladly give it to them."

The lights went out. Enough sunlight shone through the window that Paige noticed the Bookman Family book opened to the family tree. Why does he want me to study this? What is he trying to tell me?

TODAY'S POST:

Paige pointed at the book. "It opened by itself!"

Cash moved a chair closer to Paige. "That's impossible." He stood. "I'd better see why the lights went out. Maybe a fuse blew?"

"Try turning them on. I think my friend turned them off to get our attention." Paige nodded toward the switch.

When Cash flipped it, they came on. "That's strange. Maybe the switch got bumped. I'll check it later in case there's a short."

"Is it possible that the Walkers taped that note to my door?" Paige chewed on her lower lip. "I think Dwayne did it or had somebody do it for him. He really insulted Nala yesterday and made it clear I shouldn't befriend her." She glanced at her ringing phone, then back at Cash, and smiled. "It's my mom."

He nodded. "I'll be working outside."

As Paige said hello, she watched Cash leave. "Mom, how are you and Daddy?" She listened a moment. "There's no reason to worry. I'm doing fine. No, you don't need to come. I told you I'm fine." After a sigh, she added, "Mom, there's nothing going on. Aunt Paula's house is wonderful." She crossed her fingers. How does she know when things are going wrong? Is there some sort of mother's intuition? She seems to forget that I'm an adult.

"Mom, somebody just walked in. I'll call you back." She glanced at Cash escorting Dr. Henderson into the room. "Hello, I didn't expect you so early. I thought doctors worked late into the evening."

"It depends on the day. How's your ankle?" He glanced at it then met her eyes.

"I think it's ready for the real cast."

"Let me be the judge of that." The doctor studied the ankle before he asked, "May I?" After Paige nodded, he touched the ankle.

Morgan wiggled and whined.

Paige smiled at Cash, who grinned. "I know. He wants out."

Dr. Henderson watched Cash and Morgan leave. "I'd like to hear again how you broke your ankle. Your boyfriend isn't here. This is just between the two of us."

"I have nothing to hide from Cash. I was home by myself when this happened. He wasn't here and he isn't my boyfriend. We're just friends. Besides, I told you when you came to the ER. I tripped over a tree root and rolled down a hill, bumping into a tree. I was chasing Morgan. Thunder had scared him and he took off. Why don't you believe me, Dr. Henderson?"

"Please call me Marc." He massaged the ankle.

Paige studied the brown eyed doctor. He's cute. Tall, dark, and handsome; all the requirements.

Marc removed his phone from a clip on his belt. "Does Friday morning at nine o'clock sound okay?"

"That's fine. I can't wait to get the cast and crutches. Not being able to put any weight on it is getting old." Paige watched him tap the keys.

"It's set up." His eyes met hers. "I'm wondering if you'll have dinner with me Saturday evening."

"It sounds nice, but I've sworn off dating. Check back in about six months."

"Recovering from a relationship?"

"It lasted nineteen months." Morgan ran in, stood on his hind legs, and pawed at Paige. "Hi, little guy, did you do what you needed?" Paige lifted the puppy onto her lap. "This is the only male in my life."

"I'll see if you changed your mind by Friday. I guess I'd better get back to the hospital. I'm on call."

After Marc left, Cash sauntered in. "I guess you get your cast Friday morning?"

Paige nodded. "At nine." She turned her head toward the door as if looking back at the doctor and frowned. "Marc thought you somehow broke my ankle." She shook her head. "How ridiculous is that?"

Cash's eyebrows tightened together. "So it's Marc now?"

"I guess it is. He asked me out." Paige paused. "I declined."

"Howdy, I just saw a doc leave." Billy Joe stood in the doorway and set a suitcase down. "How's our patient?"

As the three friends exchanged information, Mary Pat stood beside her husband. "Did I hear the ankle will be casted Friday morning?"

All three said at once, "Yes."

Paige's eyes darted to each of her friends. "Now that you're all here, we need to decide about Nala. Is it safe for her to come every day or should she wait until all this blows over?"

"I can decide for myself." Nala stood in the door with her hands on her hips. "My boys are staying with my aunt. They don't need to learn about hate so young. I won't be scared from my home or my job."

"I guess that's settled." Paige grinned. "Does that make us the five musketeers?"

Mary Pat laughed. "I don't think so."

Cash chuckled and started toward the stairs. "I'll get the jewelry and go to Mom's. It won't take long."

*****
Nala followed. "I'll set place at the table for you. I'll start dinner in about an hour, then let Mary Pat finish it. I've got a church meeting tonight."

Cash stood still. "If you have any problems, call. I don't want to hear about it later. You should've called last night after the second doorbell. Promise you'll call."

After releasing a deep breath, she said, "I guess it won't do any harm. I promise."

*****
Paige heard the front door open. "Cash?" After he acknowledged he'd heard her, she continued, "When you return, we still have some things we need to discuss."

"Okay. I won't be long."



Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of an antique book. I thought the Bookman Family Book may look something like this. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. It is a background post that will lead up to following posts. Sorry, I draw this out so long but my paying job must come first. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 46
Chapter 10, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:

Paige heard the front door open. "Cash?" After he acknowledged he'd heard her, she continued, "When you return, we still have some things we need to discuss."

"Okay. I won't be long."

TODAY'S POST

With a cot and sleeping bag in tow, Cash poked his head into the parlor and smiled at Mary Pat and Paige. "I'm back. Mom called her friend, so I dropped the jewelry, confederate button, and bills by his house. He'll bring them over tomorrow afternoon around two o'clock." He set the cot against the wall and took a receipt from his front jeans pocket. "Hang on to this in case something happens to the items."

Mary Pat stood, took it from him, and handed it to Paige.

Paige put it inside a blue folder and glanced at Cash. "When you have time, we need to talk."

"I haven't forgotten." He checked his watch. "I need to put this stuff up. Do we have time before dinner?"

"I'll check." Mary Pat walked toward the kitchen and over-her-shoulder said, "Billy Joe's out back working on the window shutters."

Morgan stretched, barked, and ran a circle between Paige and the front door.

"What's that all about?" Paige giggled. "I can't let you out. That's how I got in this mess to start with."

From, the hallway Mary Pat's voice was heard, "Dinner'll be ready in about twenty minutes." She came closer to Paige. "While you talk with Cash, I'll let this cutie out." She snagged the impatient puppy.

Cash returned to the parlor. "Is there enough time?" After Paige nodded, he sat and said, "Let's begin."

"First, I don't like the idea of you and your friends bringing guns into my house. I can't believe you hid them from me."

He paused then rubbed the back of his neck. "I thought Mary Pat and Billy Joe were your friends too."

"They are but they follow your lead. You put them up to it."

"You were sitting beside me when I made the call. All I said was somebody stuck a note on your door."

"Is that secret guy language for 'you'd better bring a gun?' Paige tilted her head.

"We've been over this before. There's no such thing as secret guy language, and it meant exactly what I said. There's a note stuck to the door, and I might need help." Cash shook his head. "Where'd you get this secret guy language garbage anyway?"

"Every female knows you guys have a secret language."

"That's news to me." He stretched his long legs and leaned forward. "You don't like guns. I understand that, but we don't know who we're dealing with, and he might be carrying a weapon. I'm concerned about your safety. Billy Joe and I have been carrying guns since we were in diapers. Mary Pat joined us a few years back. At the firing range, she puts us to shame." He poured a glass of lemonade and took a sip.

"How many other secrets are you keeping?"

"What are you talking about?" Cash's eyebrows scrunched up.

"You've kept the guns and the hidden staircase from me. What else is there?"

"Nothing. I didn't mean to keep the guns from you. The subject never came up. As for the locks on the staircase, I can remove them when this is settled and you're safe."

"But you did mean to keep the staircase secret." Her glare shot daggers at him.

Cash's eyes met hers. "I did. I didn't want you digging up the floor looking for a hidden tunnel." He chuckled.

Paige paused before she continued, "You must think I'm a real idiot."

"No, just someone not wise in our ways. Even a blind man in a dark room can see you're a right smart gal." He touched her arm, but she pulled it away. "I knew you were frightened and was afraid it would add to your concern. I don't want anything to happen to you. It wouldn't look good if you got hurt in our fair city."

"Do you have a low opinion of me because I'm a female, or because I'm from Boston?" She scooted her body so she didn't face him. "This conversation's over."

"Paige, you've misunderstood me."

"I don't think I'll need your services any longer. You can leave."

Silence filled the room.

"If that's what you want." Cash reached into his front jeans pocket before he tossed the house keys on the table. "I'll call before I come back for my things."

*****
As Cash stormed from the parlor, Mary Pat entered. "Dinner's ready."

"I'm not hungry," growled Cash as he slammed the front door behind him.

"I'm not either." Paige hugged Morgan.

Billy Joe chewed his toothpick as he studied the young lady.

"I fired Cash." She mumbled onto Morgan's head.

Mary Pat glanced at Paige in tears and nodded to her husband. "Find Cash and throw some ice water on his campfire before this turns into a raging bonfire. We both know his temper." She sat on the edge of the couch, but Paige held Morgan and stared at the wall. "I'm about to find out about hers."

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a broken heart. I am sure Paige and Cash, both feel their heart is broken. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll probably be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. It is a background post that will lead up to following posts. Sorry, I draw this out so long but my paying job must come first. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 47
Chapter 10, part 6

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
As Cash stormed from the parlor, Mary Pat entered. "Dinner's ready."

"I'm not hungry," growled Cash as he slammed the front door behind him.

"I'm not either." Paige hugged Morgan.

Billy Joe chewed his toothpick as he studied the young lady.

"I fired Cash." She mumbled onto Morgan's head.

Mary Pat glanced at Paige in tears and nodded to her husband. "Find Cash and throw some ice water on his campfire before this turns into a raging bonfire. We both know his temper." She sat on the edge of the couch, but Paige held Morgan and stared at the wall. "I'm about to find out about hers."

TODAY'S POST:

Cash fumbled with his keys. "Damn!" He slugged the steering wheel, his anger expanding. How come this Yankee gets to me? After turning the ignition key, he put the truck in first gear. He turned his head when he heard banging on the passenger door. Cash slammed on the brakes, killing the engine.

Billy Joe jumped in and yanked out the key.

"What ya doing?" Cash glared at his friend. "I'm getting the hell outta here."

"Saving a buddy from acting like a bonafide jackass." He slipped the key-ring into his jeans pocket. "Now, if you want to whip up on someone, you can use me. Ya done it before."

"You mean years ago with Susie? You were flirting with my girl. We'd had a few too many beers and were teenagers."

"That night, you were fighting for your pride. I was fighting for my life." Billy Joe rubbed his jaw.

"That was the only time you've kicked me in the balls. I came to my senses and let you whip on me." Cash smiled and rubbed his crotch. "Your anger told me no girl was worth our friendship."

"Your anger, now, shows me that a woman has broken through that barrier you've hidden behind for years." Billy Joe paused. "Mary Pat and I talked the other night."

"I don't think I cotton to being the subject of your conversation." Cash glared at him.

"You weren't invited."

"What?"

"We were talkin' about Paige resentin' your high handed ways."

"My what? You're crazy." Cash raised his cap, brushed his hair back, and replaced it.

"Son, you fell for that Yankee the first time she burnt her prudy little ass gittin' into that fancy car of hers. I saw you studyin' her and knew you were hooked."

Cash glared at him and held out his hand. "My keys." Billy Joe put his well chewed toothpick in it. "You trying to be funny?"

"You ready to admit you're a jackass?"

"I'm no more a jackass than you. I've seen you and Mary Pat screaming at each other. You don't know any more about women than I do. More than once I heard your wife yell she wanted a divorce."

"Never got it, has she?" Billy Joe smirked. "Out of twelve years of marriage, I got some real good hay-makin' out of that yellin'. Mary Pat loves the way I make-up."

"So, what are you suggesting?"

"I don't make suggestions to a jackass. They're too hard-headed. But, if I was talkin' to a sensible man, using that word loosely, I'd go down to Harvey's Newsstand and pick up as many different copies of the latest editions as I could. They'll be chock-full of violence."

"Then what?"

Billy Joe handed Cash his key chain. "Son, if I need to explain the 'Birds and Bees' to ya then your folks raised ya wrong." He paused. "I think Paige's been hurt and isn't ready to take the risk. She needs time. It's a good time to take a couple of days off and go fishin'."

"That's all?"

"It worked for me and Mary Pat. Once she realized there's violence all around, she quit arguing about having a gun in the house. She even learned to use one and carries it."

"What about watching the house?"

"We'll watch from the outside and Mary Pat'll watch from the inside. Morgan'll let her know if any strangers come a'callin. I'm sure her pea-shooter's loud enough for us to hear." Billy Joe grinned. "You robbed me of a prime rib dinner. At least, you owe me a Big Mac. It'll do Paige good to worry a while."



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo. I think Paige and Cash will discover how fragile relationships can be. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Sorry, I draw this out so long but my paying job must come first. Only three more weeks until summer break. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 48
Chapter 10, part 7

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:
"What about watching the house?"

"We'll watch from the outside and Mary Pat'll watch from the inside. Morgan'll let her know if any strangers come a'callin. I'm sure her pea-shooter's loud enough for us to hear." Billy Joe grinned. "You robbed me of a prime rib dinner. At least, you owe me a Big Mac. It'll do Paige good to worry a while."

TODAY'S POST:

After dinner was put away, Mary Pat pulled a chair beside Paige. "Let me know when you're hungry. I'll get you something. I heard you talking on the phone."

"It was Mom. She called earlier this afternoon. Marc showed up and I told her I'd call back. With everything that's happened, I forgot."

"Marc?"

"Dr. Henderson." Paige's eyes met her friend's. "Don't raise your eyebrows at me. He asked me to dinner, but I turned him down."

"Is everything all right back home?"

Paige nodded. "Mom has a feeling something's wrong here. In the morning, Daddy's flying to Brussels. He's going for business but wants Mom to come along. She thinks she needs to help me get settled. I told her to go with Daddy. She'll have fun. He'll be busy all day, but there are great little shops. She can shop all day and at night attend all the fancy dinner parties."

"Your mom's right. Things aren't great here."

"True. But nothing I can't handle. She doesn't need to worry."

"Did you really fire Cash?" After Paige nodded, Mary Pat asked, "What are you going to do about it?"

Paige sighed and shook her head. "I don't know. Any suggestions?"

"It depends. Do you want Cash in your life?"

Their eyes met and there was a long silence.

"He's very bossy." Paige chewed on her lower lip and turned away from Mary Pat.

"That's true." Mary Pat paused and studied her friend. "I've known him going on fifteen years. You're the first woman he's ever really shown an interest in."

Paige started to turn toward her friend then changed her mind. Maybe he's gay.

Mary Pat continued, "He's worried about your safety."

"He feels I'm too stupid to take care of myself." Paige faced Mary Pat. "Does he think all women are stupid or just Yankee women? Maybe he doesn't like women in general."

"Do you honestly believe that?"

Morgan nudged his owner's hand until she petted him. Paige used the back of her hand to wipe a stray tear. "Not really, but he's the most frustrating person I've ever met."

"That I'd agree with." Mary Pat laughed. "How do you plan to solve this problem?"

"I have no idea. I don't like guns or being told what I should do. Cash does both."

Mary Pat giggled. "Seduction always works with Billy Joe. Maybe it'll work with Cash. If you work it right, he'll come around to your way of thinking."

"You're married. Unless you call going on a ghost tour, attending church, and going fishing a date, Cash and I haven't been on a date. The fishing part was a disaster." Paige smiled and hugged the puppy. "I did find this little cutie there." She paused. "About a month ago, I ended my engagement. I'm not ready to date or have a man in my life."

Morgan stood and barked, and both women turned their heads.

"I heard Cash's truck leave while you were in the kitchen. Have the guys returned?" asked Paige.

Mary Pat stood, moved the curtain aside, and searched out the front window. "I don't see anything. You expecting company?"

"No."

Morgan growled and his hackles rose.

Paige rubbed his head. "What's wrong, boy?"

"I'll step out front and look around." Mary Pat left the parlor.

I wonder what's going on. Paige stared toward the door. I'm sure the guys are back and they're talking. She put a hand on the back of the couch, and one on the armrest as she propped herself to a standing position. Grabbing the back of a chair, she headed toward the door. I can't wait to get my crutches. She used the wall and the door frame to help her walk. "Mary Pat, you all right? Shhh, Morgan, I can't hear with you barking." When she didn't get an answer, she continued toward the front door. This can't be good.

Paige shielded her eyes from the west sunlight as she stared out the screen door.

One hand grabbed her. Another went over her mouth. Off balance, she bit the hand and screamed.

"You bitch!" yelled a male voice. He slugged her, and she fell to the ground.



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of Morgan. Morgan alerts Paige and Mary Pat to danger. I thought he needed to headlined. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Sorry, I draw this out so long but my paying job must come first. I have children for 8 more days and then 1 day to clean my room. Summer break is almost here. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 49
Chapter 10, part 8

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
I wonder what's going on. Paige stared toward the door. I'm sure the guys are back and they're talking. She put a hand on the back of the couch, and one on the armrest as she propped herself to a standing position. Grabbing the back of a chair, she headed toward the door. I can't wait to get my crutches. She used the wall and the door frame to help her walk. "Mary Pat, you all right? Shhh, Morgan, I can't hear with you barking." When she didn't get an answer, she continued toward the front door. This can't be good.

As Paige shielded her eyes from the west sunlight, she stared out the screen door.

One hand grabbed her. Another went over her mouth. Off balance, she bit the hand and screamed.

"You bitch!" yelled a male voice. He slugged her, and she went down.

TODAY'S POST:

Cash glanced at his ringing cell phone. Why do I have this thing? He studied it and frowned. "A man can't even fish in peace."

"Ya goin'a answer?" Billy Joe cast his line.

"Don't recognize the number. Guess I'd better. But it's probably a telemarketer." Cash tapped a button. "Cash, here." He listened, before said, "We're on our way." He reeled in his line. "Nala went by the house. One of Mary Pat's shoes is in the yard and her sunglasses are on the steps. There's no sign of the girls."

Both men ran to Cash's truck.

*****
After parking half on and half off the curb, Cash and Billy Joe ran to the house. Nala stood at the door. Tears rolled down her cheeks. "After church, I came by 'cause I forgot my phone. I wanted to call my boys." She held up the sandal and sunglasses. "There's nobody here. The house's ransacked."

The men entered and scanned the area. Cash released a deep breath and picked up a drawer. "Damn!" He glanced at Nala. "Sorry. My gut said don't leave the women alone. I didn't listen." He set the drawer on an end table. This is my fault. Why'd I leave them alone? My temper and male pride is why.

Billy Joe walked toward the stairs. "Ya look up here?"

Nala shook her head. "I waited for you. I knew you'd know what to do."

"Let's go." Cash glanced at his buddy, then back at Nala. "Wait by my truck." He paused, watched until she walked through the door, then took two stairs at a time with Billy Joe following.

"Why ain't that mutt barkin'?"

"They might've killed him. He's already protective with Paige." Cash's eyes met his friend's eyes and he pointed. "You go that way and I'll go this way. You carrying?"

After a nod, Billy Joe walked toward the west side of the house.

Cash went into Paige's bedroom and tugged the mattress out of his way. Damn, they were thorough. No matter how aggravating Paige gets, I'll follow my gut. He raised his head and paused. God, I learned my lesson. Please keep the girls safe. He tilted his head toward the right. What's that? "Hey, Billy Joe, you making noise?"

"Nope, ya hear somethin'?" He walked into the Paige's room.

"Listen."

Both men stood still.

Cash pointed toward the nursery and whispered, "It's coming from in here."

Billy Joe nodded and followed.

As they stood in the center of the room, they scanned each section and listened.

"There ain't no noise in here."

"Shh!" Cash listened again. "There's a growl." He followed the sound.

"It's a branch hittin' the window."

Cash headed out the door. "It's coming from downstairs."

Both men ran to the kitchen. Cash glanced at the ceiling. "I think it's coming from over here." He paused and held his finger up. "Hear it?"

Billy Joe nodded and walked more to the left. "It's louder here."

Cash followed, listened, and kept walking. "It's from this area."

A door led to the laundry room. Once inside Cash picked up a piece of torn glove.

"We're headed the right direction," whispered Billy Joe.

"There's an old mudroom back there that nobody uses. It opens to the outside." Cash bent and picked up the other sandal. There better not be one mark on those two or one hair out of place.



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of question marks. I think there's a questions that need to solved. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Sorry, I draw this out so long but my paying job must come first. I have children for 4 more days and then 1 day to clean my room. Summer break is almost here. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 50
Chapter 11, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS CHAPTER:

"There's an old mudroom back there that nobody uses. It opens to the outside." Cash bent and picked up the other sandal. There better not be one mark on those two or one hair out of place.

TODAY'S POST:

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Cash released a deep breath. Please be in here and alive. Before his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he turned the rusted, loose doorknob. Was that growling?

Only a dim light came from Billy Joe's flashlight.

Bending down, Cash petted Morgan's head. "Where's the girls? Are they all right?"

Morgan barked, turned, and trotted toward the back of the narrow, long room.

I swear that mutt speaks English. Stifled moans and grunts came from the direction the puppy went. Cash followed the dog and the sounds. "Billy Joe, come on."

A few feet away, Morgan growled. "Where's that flashlight?" Cash put his hands out feeling for a wall.

"The battery's dead." Billy Joe shook it. "There's got to be a light switch in here." He swung his arms over his head, searching for a chain in case one hung from the ceiling.

"This room goes back a ways." Cash kept moving. "You search for a light. I'll keep walking." Again he heard growling. "Morgan, keep making noise. I'm close."

"I found a light switch," yelled Billy, turning it on.

On the damp cement floor, sat Paige and Mary Pat, their hands tied behind their backs, knees bent to their chests and ankles tied. Cloth gags were in their mouths. The girls were cramped side-by-side in a narrow space between the wall and a broken sink. Morgan growled trying to chew through the rope that tied Paige's ankles together.

"They're back here." Cash untied the dirty rag from Paige's mouth. "You're safe now."

Paige coughed. "I was afraid you wouldn't find us."

Cash removed the knife from its belt sheath and sliced through the rope around her ankles. "I bet that ankle isn't doing too well." He felt it. "It's swollen pretty bad. It needs ice, and the doc should look at it."

As Billy Joe did the same for his wife, he asked, "What happened?"

"Let's get them outta here then ask questions." Cash slashed through the rope around Paige's hands and lifted her. "You'll be more comfortable shortly."

"Cash, I'm sorry." Tears escaped her eyes.

"Shh, I know. You don't have to say anything." Cash moved her head to his shoulder, "It's all right," and kissed her forehead.

As the men carried the women through the kitchen, Nala walked in with two police officers. "I called them. I thought it's time we get the authorities involved."

"Nala, would you get Paige some ice for her ankle? Gentlemen, if you'd follow us. We need to get the ladies comfortable, and then you can ask your questions." Cash went into the parlor.

"Make that several ice packs. These two are pretty banged up," Billy Joe added as he followed Cash.

Once the women were sitting comfortably and with ice packs in place, Mary Pat took a deep breath and began, "Morgan alerted us, but we couldn't figure out why he was barking. I went outside to take a look-see and was hit from behind."

Both officers took notes. The older one glanced toward Paige.

"When Mary Pat didn't answer, I went to the door, and somebody hit me from behind. The next thing I remember we were tied up in that dungeon. The short man threw a bucket of water on us. He kept asking where the treasure was hidden." Paige rubbed the side of her face and cringed. "When I couldn't answer, he'd slap me. Then he said it's not in a treasure chest, but I knew where all the jewels were at." She wiped a tear. "I have no idea what he was talking about. Neither Aunt Paula nor Uncle Andrew ever said anything about treasure."

As the police continued to ask questions, Cash watched Paige. I wonder if the two necklaces I found in the closet are part of the jewels they were after? Paige'll go back to Boston for sure. Those bruises on her face gotta hurt. I'll kill whoever did this. After they're both checked by a doc, I'm fixing that room so this can't happen again.

"How many were there? Do you know who they were?" The older police officer's glance bounced between the two women.

Mary Pat glanced at Paige. "At least two?"

"There could've been more, but I only know of two. They wore masks. Like Mardi Gras masks."

"Can either of you remember anything that could help identify them?" asked the other officer.

"My puppy bit a piece of one of their gloves. The man's skin was white, but tanned." Paige petted Morgan's head.

"I think they were both white. I got a glimpse of their necks under the masks."

"Was there a dialect or anything different about the way they spoke? Could you identify them by their voices?"

Both ladies shook their heads.

Mary Pat added, "I doubt it. Their voices were normal."

"I agree." Paige reached out for Cash's hand.

The older officer studied Cash and Billy Joe. "Where were you guys when this happened?" He fingered his gun.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a room close to what Paige and Mary Pat were kept in. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Summer vacation has started for me. I plan on writing more and reviewing more. Let's hope I can stick to my plan. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 51
Chapter 11, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:

The older officer studied Cash and Billy Joe. "Where were you guys when this happened?" He fingered his gun.

TODAY'S POST:

"We stopped at Micky D's for burgers, then went fishin'. That's when Nala called," Billy Joe answered.

"The same spot Cash and I found Morgan?"

Cash nodded. "Yep, we went there to fish not find orphaned mutts."

"Can anybody verify your whereabouts?" The officer's glare met Cash's.

"The workers at Micky D's." Billy Joe glanced at Cash. "You still have the ticket?" He waited for Cash to pull it from his jeans pocket. "See? It has the time we ordered on it. I can't remember anybody fishin' in the same spot. How about the Bait Shack? We bought some shad and sodas. If you wanta take a look-see, there's some still in the bucket in Cash's pick-up."

"A game warden checked our fishing licenses before we could get a line in." Cash took out his billfold. "Want to see mine?"

As the police officers stood, the older one said, "No, but we want to look around. The place's pretty torn up. Do you know if they found the jewelry?"

Both ladies shook their heads.

"Did you touch or move anything?"

Cash pointed to the drawer upside down on the table. "I set that there. I moved the mattress in the master bedroom, so I could get in." He paused. "Mary Pat's sandals and sunglasses. I think that's it. Oh yeah." Cash handed the older man the piece of glove. "Morgan tore this from a guy. Do you need us anymore? I want these two to be checked out by a doctor."

"I think going to a doctor's ridiculous." Mary Pat removed the ice pack from the back of her head.

Paige sighed. "Cash, you're being bossy again. We're fine. Just let us rest a while and take a long hot bubble bath." She glanced at Mary Pat. "This house has four bathtubs. Take your pick. I have numerous scented bath oils and candles."

After making a note in his book, the older police officer nodded to his partner. "This way first."

Billy Joe grabbed Mary Pat's arm and forced her out of hearing range. "Come here. We need to talk." Animated whispering continued.

Cash rubbed the back of his neck, before he glared at Paige. "You have a nasty bump on your head. Your face and arms are bruised. I'm sure your ankle needs attention." He released a deep breath. "How are you going to take a bubble bath? You can't put your leg in water."

With her leg raised in the air, Paige gave a weak grin. "I'll hang it over the edge. I had plenty of time to think about it while I waited to be rescued." She stuck out her tongue. "You forgot the nasty bite on my tongue. It must have happened when I was hit."

Billy Joe put his hand on Cash's shoulder. "Takin' her over your knee and paddlin' her'll only get you in trouble. I thought if I'd convince Mary Pat to go, Paige'd follow. My wife's as stubborn as a grand pappy mule. Sound thinkin' is lost on these two."

"Can you wait until the police leave before your baths?" Cash glanced at both ladies.

"I think so." Mary Pat reached for Paige's hand. "You haven't eaten since lunch. You hungry?"

"No, but I could use a drink."

Billy Joe stood. "I'll get drinks for everybody."

Nala followed. "I'll help and bring in a few things to nibble on."

Paige watched Billy Joe and Nala leave the room, then her gaze turned toward Cash. "Why's this happening?"

"I'm not sure." He took her hand. "I'm guessing there's folklore that some precious jewels were hidden around here. To be honest I've never heard anything about it. They started building it about 1850. It took a few years to complete."

"That was before the Civil War, right?" asked Mary Pat.

Cash nodded. "Yep. Many people hid their possessions when they heard Sherman's troops were headed this way. Jewels could be hidden anywhere."

"But it's been," Paige paused, "over one hundred fifty years. Wouldn't somebody have found them by now?"

"You'd think so." Cash glanced up when Billy Joe and Nala returned with lemonade, sandwiches, crackers and cheese, and an assortment of fresh fruit.

After everybody was served, Paige frowned. "Since they wore gloves there won't be any fingerprints. We'll never know who did this."

The younger officer stepped into the room. "We found a muddy shoe print on the back porch. That's something."

"Why didn't I think of this earlier?" Cash stood. "Somebody broke into the house a few nights ago. They left a handprint on the hood of Paige's Jaguar. I had a P.I. lift the print and run it." Taking out his cell phone, he searched for the number. "Bart, Cash here. Have you heard anything about that handprint?" He listened for a minute. "The house was broken into again and this time the women were tied up. We need to find out who this is before somebody gets seriously hurt." After putting his phone away, Cash said, "He's calling his friend to see if the results are back."

The older officer stood beside his partner and said, "We should be able to drop you from our suspect list. We'll check with the game warden and the crime lab people will take your prints. We'll need to deduct them from the scene. I know they wore gloves but maybe one of them became careless, especially after part of the glove was bitten off."

After checking his notes, he continued, "As far as the jewelry goes, in a house this size and age there could be hundreds of places to stash it. Are there tunnels here? Most of these old places had a tunnel network under them."

"I'm sure there are some. We haven't found any yet," interrupted Paige. "The men found at least one secret passageway between floors. Cash sealed it before we could investigate."

The older officer glared at Cash. "Why'd you do that?"

"To shut off ways to get from the downstairs into Paige's bedroom without anybody knowing. I put padlocks on the doors. If you want the keys, I have them." Cash reached into his pocket and produced the keys.

"Have any of you found anything unusual that burglars would be interested in?" interjected the younger officer.

"Not really. I found some jewelry, a few Civil War bills and a button. I took them to a friend of my mother's to be authenticated."

"Is that all?" The older officer studied Cash and took some notes.

Paige opened the blue binder. "If you would like to see it, I have the receipt. The gentleman's supposed to return them tomorrow afternoon."


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of crime scene tape and prints. I think there's too much going on to know what's happening. LOL Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. Summer vacation has started for me. I plan on writing more and reviewing more. Let's hope I can stick to my plan. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 52
Chapter 11, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Not really. I found some jewelry, a few Civil War bills and a button. I took them to a friend of my mother's to be authenticated."

"Is that all?" The older officer studied Cash and took some notes.

Paige opened the blue binder. "If you would like to see it, I have the receipt. The gentleman's supposed to return them tomorrow afternoon."

TODAY'S POST:

All heads turned at the sound of a repeated knock on the door. Nala went to answer with the older officer following. Cash stepped into the hall and watched.

Paige stared at the doorway. Now what?

Nala and the officer escorted a two men and one woman crime scene lab team into the parlor.

The team leader, a lady in her mid-thirties, glanced at the officer. "Where should we start?"

"Would you go upstairs first so we can get the women comfortable and out of the way?" Cash motioned to Paige and Mary Pat. "After you're finished upstairs, we'll move up there and let you finish with the downstairs."

The older officer nodded. "Go ahead. I think we're finished. Let me know if you find anything interesting. Come on, Chuck."

The younger man followed his partner from the house.

Once the friends were alone, Paige held up Morgan. "You did your best to protect us, didn't you? It won't be long before you'll be large enough to be a great protector." She glanced toward the parlor door. "Think anybody can hear us?"

Cash walked to the door and scanned the area. "Nobody's out here. Why?"

Paige chewed her lip. "We'd better talk softly. I thought the older cop was picking on you and Billy Joe, especially you. Any ideas why?"

Nala took a business card from her apron pocket. "When he arrived, he gave me this. It says his name's Detective James Davis. See? Do you know any Davises?" She held it out for Cash.

"There's a whole herd of Davises over by the fishin' place off Oak Hill Road." Billy Joe readjusted his cap.

"I went to high school with a Davis." With his cell phone out, Cash pushed a button. "Mom, aren't the Davises somehow related to the Walkers?" He listened. "Thanks, Mom. I'll drop by in the morning." After putting his phone away, Cash paused. "My hunch is right. Davis' and the Walkers are related."

"Mary Pat, hand me that brown tattered book." Paige reached out her hand. When she held the book, she thumbed through pages. "Right here." She pointed as her friends hovered over her shoulder. Rebecca Bookman married Samuel Davis. They had seven children. Five were boys. I have a feeling our cop's from that line. Would somebody tell me why they have a problem with me living here?"

"I think it's about time we ask." Billy Joe chewed his toothpick. "It just might help."

Mary Pat set her empty glass on a table. "They sure don't want you living here, but that guy had a problem with Cash in particular." She frowned at Cash. "Have you met him before?"

"Not that I know of." Cash answered his ringing cell phone. "What? Repeat that again. I don't think I heard you correctly." He paused. "You've got to be kidding?"

The three watched Cash put his phone away.

Billy Joe pointed his tooth pick and asked, "You gonna tell us what's goin on?"

Cash chuckled. "That was Bart. The handprint belongs to none other than James Davis Junior, the son of Detective Davis." He glanced at Billy Joe. "He went by Tyler Davis in high school."

"You're shittin' me?" Billy Joe plopped the tooth pick in his pocket. "Now what? Think that ol' fart knows his son's a thief?"

Mary Pat laughed. "There was bad blood between you and Tyler back then."

"I'm new around here. Would somebody fill me in?" Paige frowned.

"Tyler was expected to be the school's super jock. Cash got that honor." Mary Pat grinned. "Let's see, you also took Susie to prom. Didn't Tyler ask her first?"

"My favorite one's, Thursday afternoon after practice, the team was sittin' around the locker room. Cash laid back on the bench and said, 'Wouldn't it be funny if we painted the Wildcats' field blue?' Some of the team headed off to Augusta with cans of blue spray paint and did exactly that." Billy Joe laughed so hard, he couldn't continue.

Cash rubbed his forehead with his thumb and index finger.

"I'll finish the story." Mary Pat smiled. "We were playing Laney High on their homecoming that Friday night in Augusta. Our colors were blue and white. Their colors were red and gray. Tyler and a few of his friends broke into the Wildcats' stadium and spray painted the grass Savannah High blue." She glanced at her husband still laughing. "The police didn't see the humor in the prank and the boys were arrested. They had to do something like forty hours of community service. Tyler tried to name Cash as the instigator, but he was with the coach and a scout from University of Georgia. Needless to say, Tyler's parents were not too fond of Cash."

"It's beginning to make sense." Paige glanced at Cash. "Although you didn't recognize Detective Davis, he recognized you and still wants you to pay for the problems you caused his son during high school."

Cash stood. "I didn't cause his son any problems. He was lazy and didn't work-out during practice. He missed probably a third of the practices and didn't go to weight training during the summers. Who would've thought he'd take me seriously about painting the football field? Only an idiot." He slapped Billy Joe across the shoulder. "Quit laughing. It ain't funny."

"Buddy, it's downright hilarious."

Both women glanced at each other and broke out giggling.



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a high school football game. I remember watching my brother play, then all four of my boys. I actually miss warming the bleachers. My husband and I are taking off Tuesday and will return Thursday for a short trip to Corpus Christi. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 53
Chapter 11, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

The crime scene team entered the parlor, and one of the men said, "We finished upstairs. Boy, whoever did this sure made a mess of things, didn't they?" He glanced out a window. "I guess a summer storm blew up. Maybe it'll cool things off."

"I hope it does cool things down." Paige glanced around the room. "As for the room, it'll take a while to get it back in order."

Thunder clapped, and Morgan climbed on Paige.

"Mr. Cash, why don't you help Paige upstairs?" Nala walked toward the stairs. "I'll get her ready for a bath and then pick up the room."

"I'll help, then take a bath later." Mary Pat petted Morgan's head. "Storms are scary, aren't they boy?"

Paige's eyes switched from Nala to Mary Pat. "You two shouldn't have to clean up this mess."

"You can't do it." Mary Pat pointed to Paige's broken ankle.

Cash bent down to lift Paige. "I think Morgan can make it up the stairs. He's had plenty of practice." After taking a few steps toward the stairs, Cash turned to make sure the pup followed. "Good boy."

After Cash set Paige on the edge of the bed, he bent and picked up some papers. "It's your turn to do your thing." He grinned at Mary Pat and Nala. "Have fun."

Both women waited until Cash left the room, then helped Paige undress except for the undergarments. With one on each side, they helped her into the bathroom.

"The bubble bath and candles are in the cabinet." Paige pointed to the cupboard under the sink. "Mary Pat, and you too, Nala, can help yourselves any time."

Mary Pat opened the door. "Oh my!"

Morgan barked and ran into the bedroom.

"Look!" Mary Pat held a folded hand-towel with brooch, mother-of-pearl hair-comb, and a mourning necklace. "Why didn't you tell me this was here? I can think of better places to keep my jewelry."

Nala's placed her hands on her hips. "When I cleaned in here this morning, they weren't there."

"Let me see." Paige held out her hand, then turned her head at the sound of a man's laughter. "Did you hear that?"

"I sure did." Mary Pat opened the door. "Billy Joe, it's not funny!"

Nala leaned over Mary Pat. "I know those two are out there."

The two women walked into the bedroom and scanned it. Again, the sound of thunder and a man's laughter filled the room.

"Somebody tell me what's going on." Paige leaned against the door.

"I heard it again, but there's nobody here." Mary Pat stood in the center of the room.

"It's probably Bradley Bookman. He's harmless and likes to play games. Thunderstorms are his favorite type of weather."

"You're telling me a ghost's laughing?" Mary Pat stood beside her friend.

Paige nodded. "Yes, I am." She studied the brooch. "I've read about this in Alice Bookman's diary. Have the guys bring it here."

Mary Pat left to get the men.

Nala grabbed Paige's robe. "You best put this on or Mr. Cash'll be blushing for days."

Paige quickly complied, then glanced in the full length mirror. "Think it's long enough?" Her fingertips touched the hem against her thigh.

"It covers your rear-end but not much else." She nodded. "It'll be fine. I like the blue color. It highlights your eyes."

Cash walked in first and his eyes went immediately to Paige. "I see you dressed for the occasion."

Billy Joe followed behind, smiled, and tried to hide his chuckle. He tipped his toothpick at Paige. "Where's the stuff you found?"

Both men studied the objects.

Paige searched for the page in the diary. Once she found it, she showed her friends the drawing. "Alice drew this. Doesn't it look exactly like the brooch?" She read from the diary. "The brooch has chipped diamonds surrounding six turquoise stones on a rectangle that surround a large diamond in the center. There are two diamond chips on each side of the large one."

"I guess that describes it. It isn't too clear." Mary Pat frowned.

"I don't think Alice was well educated." Paige continued, "Listen to this. 'Bradley's mother gave me this on our wedding day. She said her mother-in-law gave it to her on her wedding day. I'm the fourth generation to own it. I'll pass it to my daughter-in-law on her wedding day. I'm not sure I'm worthy of such a valuable piece of jewelry.'" Paige wiped a tear. "Isn't that the sweetest thing?"

"Who hid them under your sink?" Billy Joe searched under the sink. "There's no more."

Mary Pat grinned. "I'd say Bradley Bookman."

Paige continued studying the brooch and touched the stone. "Turquoise is believed to be a holy stone and is used for getting rid of negative energy. Its color is supposed to be a symbol of happiness and to increase a person's self-confidence. I find it very interesting that women gave this brooch to the young ladies marrying their sons." She sighed. "I wonder why Bradley wanted us to find this now."

"And where did the tradition get broken and why?" Mary Pat hugged Billy Joe.

Cash rubbed the back of his neck. "You guys aren't falling for Paige's ghost stories, are you?"

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a brooch, similar to the one Mary Pat found. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 54
Chapter 11, part 5

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
Paige continued studying the brooch and touched the stone. "Turquoise is believed to be a holy stone and is used for getting rid of negative energy. Its color is supposed to be a symbol of happiness and to increase a person's self-confidence. I find it very interesting that women gave this brooch to the young ladies marrying their sons." She sighed. "I wonder why Bradley wanted us to find this now."

"And where did the tradition get broken and why?" Mary Pat hugged Billy Joe.

Cash rubbed the back of his neck. "You guys aren't falling for Paige's ghost stories, are you?"

TODAY'S POST:

A crime scene member walked into the bedroom and gawked at Paige. "Is there a problem? We heard noise. The others sent me up to check."

Cash answered the man, "Nope. Business as usual."

Still eyeing Paige, he asked, "Ma'am, everything all right?"

"Of course. We've had a stressful day and just having some fun."

"Nala and I need to get busy picking up this room." Mary Pat bent to pick up a drawer. "Billy Joe, can you and Cash put the mattress back on the bed? I'll take care of the bedding."

"Cash, wait." Paige paused, until the investigator was out of hearing range. "After my bath, I want to see who Alice and Bradley's son married. His name was Bradley James or James Bradley. He was named after a Southern general."

"Maybe General James Longstreet?" Cash smiled.

"That's it! I wonder where the passing down the brooch stopped."

Nala stood beside Paige. "You need to get your bath taken and more appropriately dressed. That investigator can't get his eyes off you. Mr. Cash, take that man with you." She helped Paige into the bathroom and shut the door.

Morgan stood and barked. Nala cracked the door just enough so the young pup could enter.

*****
Paige sat in bed and sighed. The room's almost back to normal. She thumbed through Alice's diaries until she found the correct time frame of James' marriage. Since James was an only child the brooch had to be given to his wife. When Cash entered, she glanced up and asked, "Did Nala get home safely?"

"I went in the house with her and made sure everything's okay." He glanced at the hallway. "I think Mary Pat's a little shaken up. Billy Joe and her have the bedroom across the hall. I'll be downstairs. Will you be all right by yourself?"

"That's a silly question. Of course, I'll be fine. I have my trusted guard dog." She petted Morgan's head and he rolled over for a tummy rub.

Cash chuckled. "He looks vicious." He turned to leave. "See ya, in the morning."

"What's wrong?" Paige sat up straighter and watched. Who grabbed Cash's arm? Billy Joe's probably acting up again. Why didn't anybody answer? Moments later, Cash was shoved into the room. "What's going on?"

"It seems our friends think I'm needed in here to keep you safe." Cash's cheeks flushed bright pink.

Morgan wagged his tail and scooted closer to Paige, giving Cash more space.

"I swear that dog understands English."

"He just might." Paige smiled and glanced at the diary.

Cash sat on the edge of the bed and removed his boots.

"I found it!" Paige leaned closer and pointed. "Right here in Alice's diary." She read aloud, "I hope Bradley makes it back in time for James's wedding."

"Bradley can't make it to his son's wedding. He died before James was born."

"Shh." Paige swatted Cash's arm with the book. "Behave or I won't share anymore."

He grabbed his arm and grinned. "Continue. I'll keep most my thoughts to myself."

"Would ya'll stop fightin'? Mary Pat needs her beauty sleep," yelled Billy Joe.

"I do not, but quiet down, I want to hear what Alice wrote," answered his wife.

"Mary Pat, are you ready for me to continue?" Paige waited until she heard her friend, then read, "I went to the Wilkin's house the morning of the wedding and gave my future daughter-in-law, Ann, the brooch my mother-in-law had given me. The smile on her face was delightful."

Cash ran his fingers through his hair. "Wait! Stop! Did you say Ann Wilkins married James Bookman?"

"I didn't say it, Alice said it." Paige glanced at the pages. "I'm checking to see how many children they had. I hope Alice tells me."

Billy Joe laughed and walked into the room. "Ya got to be joshin' me?"

"Again, I'm in the dark. What's going on?" Paige sighed.

Mary Pat followed her husband into the room. "Cash's last name is Wilkins."

"Your mom's done some family tree work, right?" Billy Joe glanced at Cash.

"She started genealogy about a year ago. I don't know how far she's got." Cash glanced at his watch. "It's too late to call tonight. I'll check with her in the morning."

"It looks like James and Ann had three boys, Isaiah, Elijah, and Ezekiel. Two daughters, but one died; Abigail survived. The house and business was passed down through Isaiah."

"This just gets more exciting and more exciting, but can't do anything tonight. I'm going to bed." Mary Pat walked out the door.

"Me too. Wait up." Billy Joe followed his wife.

After they left, Cash, asked, "Is it okay to turn off the light?"

"I guess. I get my cast and crutches tomorrow. After that, I can research some more." Paige was silent for a while, then said, "Cash, I've had a stressful week. Can I have a hug?"

"Sure." Cash scooted over and put his arm around Paige. She put her head on his chest.

Morgan crawled on top of Paige and lay half on her and half on Cash.

"That dog's too big to be sleeping on you. When he's grown he'll weigh a good eighty pounds."

Morgan got up and turned so his rear-end faced Cash.

"But he's only a puppy now." Paige turned the dog around and petted him. "Good night, Morgan. Good night, Cash."

"Good night." Cash kissed the top of Paige's head.

"Cash?" She looked up at him, waited for him to respond, and kissed his cheek. "Thank you for everything."

"Just done what any self-respecting Southern boy would do." He gave her a squeeze.

Morgan snarled, wagged his tail, and wiggled between them.

"I think someone's jealous." Cash laughed.

"Does he have any reason to be?" asked Paige as she rested her head on Cash's shoulder and patted Morgan's head.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a chocolate lab puppy. I thought Morgan needed top billing again. Thank you for reading and reviewing. This is the end of chapter 11, next week I'll begin chapter 12. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is not meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 55
Chapter 12, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER TWELVE

The sun shining through the window woke Paige. After checking the time, she noticed a note where Cash had slept.
Went to see Mom. Be back in time to take you to the doctor.
Cash
PS The mutt's been out and fed.


Mary Pat entered the room. "I thought I heard you moving. Do you want to eat or get dressed first?"

"I guess get dressed. I feel like I've been run over by a bulldozer. A hot shower might help. How are you feeling?" Paige rubbed the back of her head.

"A shower helped, but I'm pretty sore and stiff myself." Mary Pat moved closer and took Paige's arm. "Nala and I have the upstairs back in order. While you're at the doc's, we'll work on the downstairs."

"I appreciate all you've done. Those thieves should be made to clean up their own mess."

Mary Pat laughed. "If we could pull it off, it'd be great."

After her friend helped her into the bathroom, Paige glanced in the mirror. "Ugh, I look terrible." She touched her bruised cheek. Ouch! He hit me each time he asked about the treasure. I would've told him if I knew. I may never know.


*****
When Cash walked in, Billy Joe, Mary Pat, and Paige sat at the dining room table. Paige's foot was resting on an extra chair.

Nala smiled. "You look like you could use another cup of coffee?"

Cash glanced at his watch. "We have a few minutes before we need to leave." He sat beside Paige. "You ready?"

Paige nodded. "I can't wait to get my crutches. I need to be able to get around by myself." She took a bite of a bagel. "Did you learn anything from your mom?"

"Ann Wilkins-Bookman's only related because my great, great, great, great, grandpa is her brother." Cash laughed. "I have no clue how many greats. I'd say that's pretty far down the list, wouldn't you?"

"I'm beginning to think everybody in Savannah's related." Paige took a sip of tea and bite of cantaloupe. "Later today, I'm planning to read more of Alice's diary. I'm sure that's where the secrets lie."

Cash gulped his coffee and stood. "Let's get the cast and crutches." He held the chair for Paige.


*****
Inside the doctor's office, Cash helped Paige onto the examination table. Dr. Marc Henderson studied Paige's face and arms, then asked, "Mr. Wilkins, we could save time if you'd pick up Ms. Swanson's crutches?" After Cash nodded, the doc glanced at Paige. "How tall are you?"

"Five feet-five inches."

Marc turned to Cash. "They'll ask the height of the patient. You'll need to go to the third floor, room three twenty-five." He wrote a few things on a prescription pad. "Take this with you." After Cash left the room, Dr. Henderson smiled at Paige and stood. "I'll be right back. I need to have the portable X-ray machine moved here. Before I put on the cast, I want to make sure it's started healing and aligned correctly." He left the room.

When Marc returned, he said, "The machine's on its way. How did you get so bruised up? You were beaten, weren't you?"

"Yesterday afternoon, my house was broken into. My friend, Mary Pat, and I were beaten and tied up. Cash and her husband, Billy Joe, found us tied up in an old mud room."

"You've got to be kidding. This is Savannah. That type of crime doesn't happen here."

"No. It seems my house is supposed to have some kind of hidden treasure. I don't know anything around that house that might be considered a treasure." Paige glanced up when a male nurse wheeled in the machine.

The doctor moved aside so it could be set up by the examination table. He waited, then adjusted Paige's ankle. "This will only take a second." Other adjustments were made to either the machine's placement or the ankle and more X-rays taken.

The three waited in an awkward silence while the films processed. Finally, the doctor glanced at the films. "They're good. We can continue." He waited until the nurse removed the machine, then restudied the films. "I can't believe your ankle has started to heal so fast. You're making amazing progress." He paused at a knock on the door. "Come in."

Detective Davis and his partner entered. Det. Davis glanced at Paige. "Dr. Henderson, your office called and said you have a possible domestic violence victim in your office?"

"Yes. I think Ms. Swanson's in an abusive relationship with Mr. Wilkins. Can't you tell how battered, she is?"

"I've told you before Cash isn't abusing me." She glared at Marc, then at Detective Davis. "Tell this man that somebody broke into my house yesterday. This needs to be settled once and for all. Cash would never hurt me."

The detective studied Paige then glanced at the doctor. "She's right. Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Johnson have solid alibies for the time of the break-in and the battering of the victims."

The four turned their heads at a knock on the door. Cash walked in carrying two crutches. He scanned the room. "What's going on?"

"The doctor seems to think you've been beating me. He called the police. Detective Davis and his partner got the call."

Cash's jaw clenched and the veins in his neck bulged. "I hope you've all agreed that I haven't laid a hand on Paige."

Paige held her breath sensing the forced calmness in Cash's voice. After she released the breath, she said, "Now that this is settled, can we get on with the cast? It seems like I've already waited for years."

"Let's get started." Marc washed his hands and then put gloves on. "The X-rays showed your break's healing very nicely."

Detective Davis sighed. "Doc, if you're satisfied Mr. Wilkins isn't abusing Ms. Swanson, we're leaving."

Without looking up, the doctor said, "Thank you for coming so quickly and have a nice day." He continued removing the temporary cast.

Neither Doctor Henderson nor Cash looked at nor spoke to each other.


*****
Paige sat in Cash's truck and stared at the bright red Dodge Viper parked in front of her house. "Do you know anybody who drives a Viper?"

"Nope."

"You don't need to get snippety. When Marc thought you'd broke my ankle, I told him you'd never hurt me and I told him again today."

"At least one person believes it."

"Cash, Davis said you were innocent."

"But he still checked my alibi."

Paige reached over and touched his hand. "I trust you."

He studied the steering wheel. "That means a lot." He gave her hand a squeeze. "Let's get inside and see what's going on."

"I can do this by myself." Paige used the crutches to get out of the truck and walked up the sidewalk. When she came to the steps, she struggled. "This is harder than it looks."

"Let me help before you break your neck." Cash shook his head before he put his arm around her waist and raised her. "Little-Miss-Do-Everything- Yourself."

At the top of the steps, Paige heard Morgan growling. "I wonder what that's about. It's unusual for him to growl."

A man opened the door. "I thought I heard your voice." He glared at Cash. "What's your arm doing around my fiancee'?"

The pup continued to growl and snarl as he stood between the man and Paige.

Paige's eyes widened. "How did you find me?"

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of question marks. Although, Morgan is taking over this story, I felt Cash and Paige are still trying to find answers to questions. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 56
Chapter 12, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
At the top of the steps, Paige heard Morgan growling. "I wonder what that's about. It's unusual for him to growl."

A man opened the door. "I thought I heard your voice." He glared at Cash. "What's your arm doing around my fiancee'?"

The pup stood between the man and Paige and continued to growl and snarl.

Paige's eyes widened. "How did you find me?"

TODAY'S POST:

Cash's eyes met Paige's then the man's. "I didn't know Paige had a fiance'. But one thing I'm sure of, she's not too happy you're here." He turned toward Paige. "Who's this guy?"

"Let's get inside first." Paige ignored the man as she passed him. What's he doing here? I made myself clear. I never wanted to see him again.

With Cash's assistance, Paige sat on the parlor couch. As the man tried to sit beside her, Morgan jumped up and snapped at his hand.

Paige grabbed his muzzle. "No! Boy! You can't do that." I wish I could let you bite him. She patted the vacant seat by her. "Cash, do you mind? I wouldn't want my puppy getting into trouble."

Cash sat, petted the dog, and winked at Paige. "Me either." He sighed. "Paige, what's going on?"

"Everybody, this is Cleveland Clover." She glanced around the room. "Cleve, this is everybody. Now, what are you doing here?"

Billy Joe jumped up. "I thought ya looked familiar. Ya're Cleve Clover, driver of the number ninety-one car. Wow! Right here in this livin' room. How do ya know Paige?"

"I told you she's my fiancee."

"I am not!" Paige said through clenched teeth as she glared at him. Breathe. Patience, you don't want to make a scene. "I broke off the engagement, don't you remember?"

"Just because you flushed the engagement ring down the toilet, doesn't mean the engagement's off." He took a small black velvet box from his pocket.

Mary Pat laughed. "Flushed it? You must've been really mad."

"I was."

"Don't you want to see what I have in the box?" Cleve opened the box, revealing a diamond ring.

"I'm not interested." Paige petted Morgan, then touched Cash's hand.

Billy Joe tapped his chewed toothpick on the side of his chair. "Now, I remember. Last week the news reported that ya lost your ride. Did ya?"

"What does that mean? He drove up in a red car?" Nala frowned.

Paige eyed Cleve but answered Nala, "It means the sponsors or financial backers of his Sprint Cup car left him high and dry." She shook her head. "Hmmm, isn't the Brickyard 400 this weekend? Now, I know why you're here. Your pretty little blonde wouldn't fund your car?"

"Come on, Paige, don't make me beg." Cleve's eyes met Paige's. "Don't you remember what we meant to each other?"

"What I remember is how it felt when I surprised you in Talladega. Then I discovered she wasn't the first or the second. You seemed to have females waiting in every town where there's a race. I was the only one who didn't know about it."

Suddenly the small velvet box dropped to the floor.

Cleve bent to pick it up, but it moved from his reach. "What?"

Mary Pat smiled at Paige.

Paige nodded.

Cleve sat straight, glanced down at the box, then continued, "But it was the pain pills that caused my behavior. I've cleaned up."

"This was after your fourth rehab stay. All of which I funded by the way." Paige watched the box move farther away from Cleve.

"You never did understand how close to death I came in that accident."

"According to your doctor, you had whiplash and your chest was bruised from the harness." Paige raised herself with her crutches. "I think it's time you should leave. I'm not giving you money, so there's no reason to stay." She started to walk away, but stopped and turned. "One more thing, did you lose your sponsors because of the pain pills? You must've tested hot." She waited for his reaction. Getting none, she asked, "How did you find me? Did my mother tell you?"

"I'm not leaving until you listen." Cleve stood.

Morgan barked and snapped at his pant leg.

When Cleve kicked at the puppy, he fell. He glanced around as if he expected to see somebody.

"Ya're pretty clumsy for a Sprint Cup driver." Billy Joe put the toothpick in his mouth.

"Somebody tripped me." Cleve blinked a few times.

Cash stood beside him. "You can leave by choice or I'll help. Either way, the lady told you to leave."

"You're a country boy. You can't do anything to me."

"Watch me!" Cash put one hand around the back of Cleve's neck, the other at the back waist band of his pants, half pushed, and half carried him to the door. "Billy Joe, get the door for me." On the porch, Cash tossed him down the stairs. "You're not welcome here, so I wouldn't come back."




Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a chocolate Labrador puppy. Morgan wants to bite this Cleve guy. I tried to come up with a Sprint Cup car number that body has. I hope I did. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 57
Chapter 12, part 3

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
Cash stood beside him. "You can leave by choice, or I'll help. Either way, the lady told you to leave."

"You're a country boy. You can't do anything to me."

"Watch me!" Cash put one hand around the back of Cleve's neck, the other at the back waist band of his pants, half pushed, and half carried him to the door. "Billy Joe, get the door for me." On the porch, Cash tossed him down the stairs. "You're not welcome here, so I wouldn't come back."

TODAY'S POST:

Paige grabbed the black velvet box. "Darn! I forgot to give him this."

Morgan went alongside his master.

Mary Pat ran to the door and pushed through the two men. "Cleve, wait. Paige has something for you."

When Paige got to the door, she smiled. "I have no use for this." She tossed the box to the sidewalk, and it landed beside Cleve. As she went inside, the door slammed.

The pup stood on the porch and barked. After the door shut, he pawed and whined.

Cash opened the door, let the dog in, and followed. "Billy Joe and I need to start on the inside. Do you want us to start with the parlor or the library?"

"Let me think a minute." Paige tilted her head. "I think the parlor. I have research to do in the library." She headed for the library with Morgan at her feet. "First, I need to call Mom."

*****
"I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but couldn't help it. You were raised with a butler and a driver and had a private jet?" Mary Pat stood in the doorway.

"Yes." Paige stared at her phone. "But I had as normal of a childhood as a rich kid could have. My parents were always around. I wasn't raised by a nanny. My parents were strict and I had to do chores."

Cash entered the room. "Only you didn't learn how to cook, right?"

"Everybody drives a Jaguar." Billy Joe stood behind Cash. "I left mine at home today."

"I'm sick of my money. Cleve wants it, the Walkers crave it. I don't have a clue what the treasure hunters want. I guess they want treasure and the house. I'm about ready to give it all to them. I just want to be left alone."

Billy Joe removed his toothpick. "Hey, ya really have enough money to sponsor a race car?" After Paige nodded, he removed his cap, scratched his head, and then replaced it. "Hell's bells, now I know a bonafide millionaire."

"I think technically she's an heiress." Mary Pat glared at her husband.

Paige grabbed a pillow, lay back on the couch, and covered her head. "I want to be a nobody."

Cash poked Billy Joe's arm. "Let's get back to work." He took out his cell. "I need to call Bart and see how he wants to handle our burglar. I think it'd be better received coming from him. Davis won't be too happy if I tell him that his son's suspected of breaking and entering. We don't know if he took anything or not."

"Ya got that right." Billy Joe went into the parlor. "A real live heiress. Go figure."

Paige's lips pursed. "He'll never let me forget it, will he?"

"I'll talk to him." Mary Pat followed her husband.

Using the crutches as support, Paige stood. I better get started on the research. I wonder how much Alice wrote about Ann. I hope she wrote about her grandchildren so I can see who the brooch was passed on to.

Cash stepped into the room. "Bart's going to pass the info on to the police department." He studied Paige a moment. "You all right?"

"Yes." Paige used her crutch to hold herself up. "I'm just wondering if we'll ever get to the bottom of this."

"We will. Do you need help getting back to the couch? That's a pretty big book."

"No, thank you. I can do it. Alice wrote a lot. It's her second diary. I'm hoping it has some answers." Paige set the book on the table and sat on the couch. Morgan jumped up beside her.

"If you need anything, I'll be in the parlor."

About an hour later, Mary Pat entered, followed by Nala. "I bet you need a break. I'll be back shortly with some tea and snacks." Nala left the room.

Mary Pat brought a chair closer to Paige. "Any success with your research?"

Paige looked up from the diary. "It's full of chicanery and mistrust."

"What do you mean?"

"Alice wrote about scalawags and thieves. They cheated widows and their children out of their inheritance. The so-called honest, caring Southern gentleman's a myth."

"That's pretty harsh coming from a Northerner. Yankee Carpetbaggers backed by crooked politicians made life rough for the Southerners after the Civil War. That made it difficult for the South to rebuild." Mary Pat glared at Paige. "The Southern gentleman is not a myth. I found one in Billy Joe, and you can have one too if you open your eyes and take a good honest look at Cash."

"Every man I've met is just after my money, even Cash."

"For your sake, I hope you don't really believe that. Cash Wilkins is as honest as the day is long. I wouldn't hesitate to trust him and Billy Joe with my life." Mary Pat left the room without another word.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a carpetbagger They caused the South many problems as they tried to rebuild after the Civil War. I am leaving Wednesday to go back to the Midwest and see my parents, in-laws, boys and their families and especially spoil my grandchildren rotten. I'll return on the 14th. School starts for teachers on the 19th. I had wanted to finish this novel during the summer, but life happens. I should be able to review while I'm gone, except at my parents. They don't have Internet, but I won't be able to post. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 58
Chapter 12, part 4

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
Mary Pat brought a chair closer to Paige. "Any success with your research?"

Paige looked up from the diary. "It's full of chicanery and mistrust."

"What do you mean?"

"Alice wrote about scalawags and thieves. They cheated widows and their children out of their inheritance. The so-called honest, caring Southern gentleman's a myth."

"That's pretty harsh coming from a Northerner. Yankee Carpetbaggers backed by crooked politicians made life rough for the Southerners after the Civil War. That made it difficult for the South to rebuild." Mary Pat glared at Paige. "The Southern gentleman is not a myth. I found one in Billy Joe, and you can have one too if you open your eyes and take a good honest look at Cash."

"Every man I've met is just after my money, even Cash."

"For your sake, I hope you don't really believe that. Cash Wilkins is as honest as the day is long. I wouldn't hesitate to trust him or Billy Joe with my life." Mary Pat left the room without another word.

TODAY'S POST:


Paige sat on the couch and fingered the pages of Alice's diary. Could Mary Pat be right? Can she and the guys be interested in me and not my money? My intuition says she is. She closed the book and set it on the table.

Cash walked in. "I have three Gothic Revival wallpaper samples. You need to choose one." He handed them to her.

Accepting the swatches, Paige glanced at them. "I don't like wallpaper. Is painting possible?"

"Not really. Period parlors had wallpaper."

After Paige glanced at them, she frowned. "These are gaudy. This one is actually covered with pineapples." She held it up, and then the next one. "If this one covered the walls, I'd feel like the flowers were devouring me."

"Maybe I'd better get wallpaper samples from 1860-1900. They're a little softer. I need to get back to work. With all the extra stuff going on, I'm behind." Cash faced the door and spoke over his shoulder, "After I finish sanding the floors, I'll get different samples. I want to place the order so there won't be any waiting time."

"Cash, wait." Paige paused a moment. "Have you seen Mary Pat?"

"I saw her in the kitchen. Why?"

"No reason." After Cash left the room, Paige adjusted the crutches so she could stand. I need to apologize. What if she won't accept it?

Morgan followed her into the kitchen.

Nala smiled. "What brings you in here?"

"Have you seen Mary Pat?"

"She went out the back. Do you want me to get her?"

"No." Paige glanced at her crutches. "I can do it." She headed to the back porch.

Paige stood and searched the yard. Seeing Mary Pat by an oak tree, she gingerly started down the steps.

Morgan leaped down, turned, and barked.

After stopping to adjust a crutch, Paige continued hobbling down. "You're proud of yourself, aren't you?" The pup jumped up and down. "You're a silly boy."

Mary Pat walked to Paige. "You're really good with crutches. I would've fallen getting down those." She pointed toward the steps. "What are you doing out here?"

"Looking for you." Paige avoided eye contact. "I wanted to apologize about what I said earlier."

"No reason to. I understand the pressure you've been under. Almost everybody you've met wants something. I can promise Cash, Billy Joe, and I do not. We could care less if you have money or not. Billy Joe and I go from paycheck to paycheck, but we're happy."

"I realize that." Paige searched the area. "Is there a place to sit out here?"

"There's a bench by the flower garden on the south side of the house. The ground's uneven. Let me help. It's a beautiful day."

*****
After the two women sat on the bench, Paige faced her friend. "Cleve wasn't the first man interested in my family's money. I don't think I can count all the people. Both men and women fill the list."

"I've only known you for a short time, but you're already a close friend." Mary Pat hesitated. "I can tell by the way Cash looks at you that he's interested in more than just friendship."

"Cash's a wonderful man. I'd hate to lose him, but I'm not ready for a serious relationship."

"He'll wait."

A gust of wind blew. "Boy, that was strong." Paige brushed hair from her face and held on to the falling crutch. "How do you know he'd be willing to wait?" She glanced toward Morgan as he barked and ran off. "What's he up to?"

"I can't see him. The tree's in the way."

"Morgan! Come here, boy. Morgan!" Paige smiled. "Good boy." She petted his head. "What's in your mouth? Give it to me."

The pup dropped a cap in his mistress's hand. "Good boy." Paige turned it over. "This looks like an Army hat."

"It's a Confederate hat." Mary Pat held it and touched the emblem. "We'd better show the guys. I wonder where it came from? Do you think the wind blew it here?" She walked over to where Morgan had disappeared to. "I don't see anything or anybody."

*****
As the women entered the parlor, Cash stared at what Mary Pat carried in her hand. "What's that?"

"Morgan found it outside. It looks like it belongs with a Confederate Uniform." Mary Pat handed it to Cash. "We don't know where it came from."

Cash pointed to the jewelry and the Civil War artifacts setting on a table. "Mom's friend, Bart just dropped these off. They're authentic. I bet the hat is too. These things are valuable. Bart left an estimate of worth beside each item."

Billy Joe walked past the ladies. "Paige, I'm gonna borrow an easel and some paper."

Mary Pat watched her husband leave the room. "Anybody know what he's up to?"

"We were just discussing that we need to make a chart of what we know and what we suspect and who the players are." Cash scratched his head. "I'm guessing he's getting started."

The three heads turned when they heard a crash. Cash and Mary Pat ran toward the sound. Paige hobbled after them. When they reached the kitchen, Nala stood by some broken plates.

"Are you all right?" Cash put his arm around her and led her to a chair.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Paige." Nala stared at the door. "I just saw that Confederate hat float through the back door. Morgan chased it to the door."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of an 1830-1860 wallpaper sample. School starts for teachers on the 19th. I had wanted to finish this novel during the summer, but life happens. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 59
Chapter 13, part 1

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Billy Joe set up the easel by the dining room table and used a black marker to write, 'things we know.'

"We know Dwayne Walker taped a threatening note to my door." Paige pointed at the front door.

"We know a note was taped to it, but we don't know it was Walker." Cash's fingers tapped the antique walnut table. "We do know he was rude to Nala."

"All in agreement?" Billy Joe scanned the friends. After they nodded, he continued, "What else?"

"We know James Davis Junior left his handprint on Paige's Jaguar after the house was broke into." Mary Pat watched her husband write it down.

"We know Daniel and Bonnie Walker feel they should've inherited the house." Paige hesitated. "Bonnie and James are distant cousins. I bet Daniel knows them. Probably Daniel and James are the two who broke in and tied up Mary Pat and me. They want the treasure."

Billy Joe continued to write. "We'll use some of it, but we don't know all of it."

"I'd bet they know each other. They're about the same age. Savannah's not that large." Mary Pat motioned for him to write more.

Cash nodded. "She's right. I think we might've just hit on something."

"What else do we know?" Billy Joe tapped the paper with the marker.

"We keep finding jewelry and Civil War artifacts," said Mary Pat.

"Bradley Bookman's ghost haunts the house."

Cash glared at Paige. "We don't know that."

Paige pointed at the back door. "I'm betting Bradley Bookman carried his hat through that door."

Cash rolled his eyes. "You're telling me a ghost came in and retrieved his hat?"

"Somebody tell me what's goin' on," said Billy Joe. "I was gettin' the easel when all this happened."

After the three told Billy Joe about the events surrounding the hat, he scratched his head. "So the wind blowed the ghost's hat off and you two brought it in." Billy nodded to the women. "And then he came in and took it back, walking through the door."

"That sums it up pretty good." Paige smiled.

"How do we know there are ghosts? If there are, how do we know they wear clothes?"

"We're never going to solve that issue. Let's move on." Cash took the black marker. "We want only facts."

Nala stood. "I think we could all use some tea. I'll be right back."

"Walker lost money playing the commodities and is broke." Paige frowned. "On our ghost walk, Blackbeard wore a hat when he showed up in the Pirate's House second floor window. His beard was on fire too." Her arms were folded across her chest.

"You two argue like an ol' married couple. Stay on track." Billy Joe watched Cash write.

"Here, Mr. Cash. Have a glass of nice cold tea." Nala held the tray out for him to choose one.

Cash put the glass up to his mouth to take a sip.

Morgan jumped up, barked, and snarled at Cash's feet.

Something jerked Cash's elbow, forcing tea to splash his face.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of an easel. A new group of six year olds start with me on Monday. I have no idea where the summer went. I had wanted to finish this novel during the summer, but life happens. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 60
Chapter 13, part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
"Here, Mr. Cash. Have a glass of nice cold tea." Nala held the tray out for him to choose one.

Cash put the glass up to his mouth to take a sip.

Morgan jumped up, barked, and snarled at Cash's feet.

Something jerked Cash's elbow, forcing tea to splash his face.

TODAY'S POST:

Nala grabbed a kitchen towel and began wiping off Cash. "Mr. Cash, what happened?"

Paige and Mary Pat moved closer to see if they could help.

Cash took the towel and dried off his face. "I don't know. Something hit my elbow. Hard."

"Sure it wasn't that pup?" Billy Joe pointed at Morgan, who had calmed down.

"It wasn't him."

"I think it's obvious." Paige returned to her chair. "You don't believe Bradley Bookman exists, so he showed you how real he is."

"That's just plain ridiculous." Billy Joe chomped on his toothpick. "There ain't no such thing as ghosts. That mutt of yours hit Cash's arm."

"Write these facts down." Paige raised one finger. "A brooch, mother-of-pearl hair-comb, and a mourning necklace were found in the bathroom cabinet. They weren't there earlier that morning." She raised another finger. "Number two. Cash found a small wooden box, which held a cameo necklace, a seed pearl necklace, and a stack of Confederate bills from a wardrobe that held a shoebox of old photographs a few days earlier."

"Exactly what's your point? We all know what we've found in the house." Cash handed the towel to Nala. "Thank you."

"Bradley Bookman's giving us clues." Paige tilted her head.

"Then why doesn't he just tell us the answers?" asked Cash.

"That I don't know. After I broke my ankle, I'm sure he helped me to bed. He's planted the Civil War artifacts so we know it's him."

"If he's so helpful, then why'd he let those men hit and tie us up?" asked Mary Pat.

"I don't know. Maybe he was visiting somebody else that day or maybe the weather wasn't right." Paige's shoulders slouched. "This is a mystery."

"You got that right." Billy Joe held the marker up. "What else do I need to write?"

"Paige is right. You need to add the jewelry and artifacts that continue to show up for no reason." Cash nodded for his buddy to write.

Paige petted the pup's head. "You need to add how Morgan reacts when Bradley's around."

Cash's eyebrows rose. "Now, you're pushing it." After Paige wrinkled her nose and scrunched her eyebrows at him, he shook his head. "Go ahead and add it." Cash answered his ringing cell phone. "I'm on my way." He stood. "Billy Joe, come on. Mom's got trouble."

*****
After Cash parked in his mom's driveway, he jumped out of the pickup and stared at his mom's car. "Holy shit! The back tires are flat." He walked to the front. "These too."

Billy Joe followed his friend. "They been slashed." He pointed toward a slit. "A knife did this. It ain't no accident."

"We'd better get inside." Cash took three steps toward the house and stopped. "Just cause they're mad at me doesn't mean they should take it out on my mom. She's never hurt anybody." He stood in front of the smashed picture window.

"They must'a used a brick to make that big of a hole."

The two men went inside.

Faye met them at the door and hugged Cash. "What's going on?"

Cash kissed her cheek. "I don't know. All this has something to do with the house Paige inherited. We're not sure exactly what." He glanced around. "Get your things. You're not staying here." He called the police.

Billy Joe waited until Faye couldn't hear him and then asked, "Do you think that's wise?"

"We've got to find out who's doing this. Maybe they left a clue." Cash bent down and studied the burgundy brick lying on the living room carpet. "I doubt they'll get a fingerprint off this. Its surface is too rough." He glanced at his buddy. "After the police are finished, take Mom to Paige's. I'll get started on the window. It's supposed to rain tonight. Over dinner, we'll finish our fact list."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a slashed tire. I met my new six year olds. I'm sure it will be an interesting year. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 61
Chapter 13, part three

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
Cash kissed her cheek. "I don't know. All this has something to do with the house Paige inherited. We're not sure exactly what." He glanced around. "Get your things. You're not staying here." He called the police.

Billy Joe waited until Faye couldn't hear him and then asked, "Do you think that's wise?"

"We've got to find out who's doing this. Maybe they left a clue." Cash bent down and studied the burgundy brick lying on the living room carpet. "I doubt they'll get a fingerprint off this. Its surface is too rough." He glanced at his buddy. "After the police are finished, take Mom to Paige's. I'll get started on the window. It's supposed to rain tonight. Over dinner, we'll finish our fact list."

TODAY'S POST:

When Billy Joe escorted Faye into the library, Paige and Mary Pat were hunched together reading Alice's dairy.

Both women turned and smiled.

"What's going on?" Mary Pat asked her husband.

"Ms. Wilkins' tires were slashed and a brick thrown through the front window." Billy Joe turned toward the door. "He feels she would be safer here and wants her to stay. I need to get back and help Cash."

"Of course." Paige used the crutch to stand. "I have plenty of room. You can choose between a couple of rooms."

"Oh no, I won't be staying." Faye smiled.

"You'd better talk to Cash about that, Ms. Wilkins. It shouldn't take us that long." Billy Joe left the room.

Faye watched him then faced the women. "I guess you're stuck with me for a while."

"We could never be stuck with you. Please sit. We were trying to follow the Bookman family tree using Alice's diary." Paige pointed to the well-worn book. After Paige sat, she held up a brooch. "This was passed down through generations of Bookman brides. We're trying to find out where the practice stopped."

Cash's mom stretched out a finger and touched the diamonds. "I've never seen such a large diamond." She paused. "Those turquoise stones are beautiful."

"We know that Alice Bookman gave it to her daughter-in-law, Ann Wilkins, on the morning of her wedding day, but we can't find a record of it after that." Paige turned a page.

"Did you say Ann Wilkins?" Faye's eyebrows arched.

"That's what she said. We can't find Ann's father's name anywhere." Mary Pat frowned. "But we're still looking. Any ideas?"

"Have you tried looking in the census for that time period? It would be what around 1884 or 5?" Faye smiled.

Paige stood. "Great idea. I'll get my computer."

"How you going to carry it down the stairs with your crutches?" Mary Pat motioned for her friend to sit. "I'll be right back."

"We know James was born September 20th 1863. Let's say he was eighteen when he married." Paige did the math in her head. "We need to look around 1881. I'm assuming Ann's about the same age, but we can look around those years."

"I think the census is taken every ten years, so we could look in the 1880's census or even go back to 1870." Faye watched Nala bring in some glasses.

"Ms. Wilkins, would you like some iced tea?"

"Thank you, Nala. I haven't seen you since your mama passed. How are you doing, sweetheart?"

"Thank you for asking. We're doing fine, but Mammie's sure missed." Nala offered Paige a drink, and as Mary Pat walked into the room, she offered her one. "I'll get some cheese and crackers."

"Nala, Faye'll be joining us for dinner." Paige smiled and took a sip of tea. "It hits the spot. Thank you."

When Mary Pat handed Paige the computer, she turned it on. They waited silently.

"Finally!" Paige released a deep breath. "Should I Google US census?" After Faye nodded, Paige typed.

"We're getting closer to solving part of our mystery." Mary Pat took a slice of cheese that Nala offered. "Join us. This is getting exciting."

Nala joined the ladies.

Paige ran a search for 1840 - 1880 census records and selected the most promising. She continued until she found the 1880's Chatham County, Georgia census. Mary Pat and Faye sat on each side of her. Nala scooted closer.

"Look, here's a James Wilkins who lived in Savannah." Mary Pat pointed to the listing.

"It gives his age, sex, color, and birthplace. He married Ruth Roberts, and her parents lived with them. His occupation is listed as a store owner. By 1880 he had seven children," Faye continued reading, "Ann is one of the children and is listed as sixteen years old. He's 51 years old and was born in England."

"He had four boys: Robert, Paul, John, and Timothy. Do any of those names sound familiar?" Paige asked Faye.

"Timothy's a Wilkins family name that has been passed down at least three or four generations. Cash has an uncle named Timothy."

"We know Alice gave Ann the brooch, but we don't know what happened to it after Ann." Paige scrolled to find Bradley Bookman.

"We know he died in 1863. We won't find him in an 1880's census." Mary Pat took a sip of tea. "Try looking up Alice. We haven't seen anything that says she remarried."

The women followed the census in 1890.

Paige giggled. "It's like we are spying on them. It's fun finding out how old Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, and Abigail were in 1890. Alice never lists their birthdays. Let's go to the 1900 census and see if we can find out who Isaiah married. The brooch should have been passed down to her."

When the 1900 census listed Ann as deceased, tears entered Paige's eyes. "I wonder what happened."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a book that could represent Alice's diary. This post isn't overly lively but it is necessary for things to come. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you'll be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 62
Chapter 13, part four

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The women followed the census in 1890.

Paige giggled. "It's like we are spying on them. It's fun finding out how old Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, and Abigail were in 1890. Alice never lists their birthdays. Let's go to the 1900 census and see if we can find out who Isaiah married. The brooch should have been passed down to her."

When the 1900 census listed Ann as deceased, tears entered Paige's eyes. "I wonder what happened."

TODAYS POST:

Cash and Billy Joe entered the library and saw the four women with tears welled in their eyes. "What's wrong?" they asked in unison.

"Ann never lived long enough to watch her children get married." Paige wiped a tear and hugged Morgan. "She died before 1900."

"Now, ya know where the brooch stopped." Billy Joe pointed toward it with his tooth pick.

Mary Pat's eye widened. "Aren't you at least concerned that Ann died?"

"Of course she died. Why wouldn't she? Everybody does."

"But she never saw her grandchildren." Paige touched the diary.

"It wasn't uncommon during that time period. There weren't the medicines there are today, and in this area yellow fever was a real problem. Many women died in childbirth." Cash picked up Morgan and sat beside Paige.

"I know, but I was hoping for a different ending." Paige rested her head against Cash's arm and petted the pup's head.

The dog barked. Everyone glanced at the front door when they heard a knock.

Nala's eyebrows rose. "It's probably that salesman who keeps coming around."

Faye stood. "I'll answer it. I'm good at getting rid of them. Cash, where's your shotgun?" She laughed.

"Rear window of my pickup." As Cash watched his mom leave the room, he shook his head. "She's a feisty lady."

*****
When Faye answered the door, the man said, "Ms. Swanson finally got herself a new maid. That darky was lazy and didn't do her job." He pushed his way past her.

"Excuse me, young man. I never invited you inside." Faye followed.

"I don't need an invitation. Where's the lady of the house?"

Cash stepped into the foyer. "Is there a problem?"

The man glanced at the curtain covering the parlor doorway. "I see you're still working on the house, and still wasting time. The entire house could've been renovated in a week."

"What are you doing here?" Cash blocked the doorway to the library.

"I have business with Ms. Swanson."

"She didn't mention you had an appointment."

"I don't need an appointment. You know who I am?"

"You're Dr. Dwayne Walker, but that doesn't mean you can show up whenever you like. That ain't a Southern gentleman's way. I'll check and see if Paige has time for you today." Cash turned toward Paige.

Their eyes met. Paige smiled and nodded. "Show him in." She covered the grin with her hand. "How can I help you, Mr. Walker?"

Dwayne glanced around the room at the others. "This is a private matter."

"Okay, I don't keep secrets from my friends. If you're uncomfortable talking in front of them, we can go into the next room." Paige smiled, raised herself by using the crutches, and walked into the foyer. "Nala?" She paused. "Mr. Walker owes you an apology." Her eyes met his. "Mr. Walker?"

Deep red crept across his face as the veins in his neck and forehead bulged out. His eyes glared daggers at Paige, and then toward Nala. "Sorry."

Nala curtsied. "Thank you, Dr. Walker."

When Nala returned to the library, Paige led Dwayne into the dining room. She flipped a page on the chart so it couldn't be read. "That wasn't much of an apology, but I guess it'll do. What are you doing here?"

"This afternoon, I was called into Patterson's office. It seems you have resigned and he's blaming me. What accusations have you made against me?"

"I mailed a letter stating that I refused to work with you." Paige reached under the paper and removed a note from the chart. "You have been rude to Nala." She held up the note. "You either taped this to my door or had somebody do it. The same for Nala's door bell. You probably hired somebody to do your dirty work. I doubt you'd do it yourself."

"Do you know who I am?"

"You're a department head at SCAD and a bigot. I don't need the job, so I quit."

"My family was one of the first to settle this area. We own most of the land and money in this fine city."

"Not any more. You lost the money playing the Chicago commodities, and the state's about ready to foreclose on the property because you're behind on taxes." Paige smiled. "Maybe I'll buy the land and give it to Nala for a Christmas present."

Dwayne lunged toward Paige. "How dare you insult my family by even suggesting such an outrageous thing!"

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of the US and Confederate flags. Things are starting to heat up as answers are found. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 63
Chapter 13, part five

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
"You're a department head at SCAD and a bigot. I don't need the job, so I quit."

"My family was one of the first to settle this area. We own most of the land and money in this fine city."

"Not any more. You lost the money playing the Chicago commodities and the state's about ready to foreclose on the property because you're behind on taxes." Paige smiled. "Maybe I'll buy the land and give it to Nala for a Christmas present."

Dwayne lunged toward Paige. "How dare you insult my family by even suggesting such an outrageous thing!"

TODAY'S POST:

As Dwayne closed in, Paige stepped backward and stumbled. Her right crutch swung and hit Dwayne across the upper body. Morgan barked and snarled.

Cash ran in, as Paige struggled on the floor and Dwayne's fist aiming at her head. He grabbed Walker, lifted him upright, and repeatedly slugged him in the face.

A few moments later, a police officer grabbed Cash from behind. Cash glared at Dwayne's bloody face. "Who called the police? I wasn't finished, yet."

Faye shyly raised her hand. "I did. I knew nothing good was going to come of this."

Dr. Walker stood up straight, pulled his shoulders back, and adjusted his shirt. "As you can see, officer, I was brutally attacked."

"You lunged at me." Paige lifted herself from the floor, with Mary Pat's help.

"When I got to the room, Paige was on the floor and Walker was ready to throw a punch." Cash wiped his mouth. "Did he hit you?"

"She hit me with her crutch."

"I did not. When I stepped back to avoid you, you yanked it from me. That's how I fell." Paige accepted the offered crutches from Mary Pat. "Bottom line is, Mr. Walker stomped his way into my house without an invitation and insulted my friends."

The two officers glanced at Dr. Walker and then turned as a male's voice said, "What strange thing's going on in this house this time? Another robbery?" Detective Davis walked in and stared at the group.

"I came to clear up a few things with Ms. Swanson, and she viciously attacked me with her crutches, and then Mr. Wilkins beat me up."

"I resigned my position at SCAD because I refused to work with him after he made prejudicial comments to my friend. I think he either taped a racial warning to my door or more likely had somebody do it for him."

"Detective Davis, I'm sure you're aware of my family's standing in this fine town and you know such behavior is beneath my family."

Cash turned and walked toward the kitchen. "I need a drink."

Paige rubbed her forehead. "You don't believe any of his nonsense, do you?"

Davis' eyebrows rose.

"I heard the prejudicial comments he made to Nala." Paige glanced toward her friend and then picked up the note from the table. "This is what was taped to my front door." She handed Davis the note.

After he read, the detective studied Dwayne and then said, "I'm pretty sure you came here expecting to cause trouble. Only it didn't end the way you wanted, did it?"

Detective Davis nodded for the two police officers to follow. "Come on, Walker got what he deserved. I don't see a crime." He turned and stared at Dwayne. "I suggest you leave."

"I was assaulted. Aren't you going to do anything?" Walker followed them out the door and continued to complain.

Paige stood by Cash as he took a drink of water. "Are you doing all right?"

Cash smiled. "I never had so much fun in my life."

"Honey, you know I don't like fighting." Faye frowned.

"I know, but he's been asking for it for a long time."

"Next time let me at him, then ya won't get in trouble with your mom." Billy Joe grinned and his toothpick fell on the floor. "Paige, ya..."

"You know where I keep them." Paige watched him go into the kitchen.

"I do have one question, "Faye said. "Why do you call him Mr. Walker, when he's a doctor?"

"I know." Mary Pat's eyes lit up. "Can I answer?" After Paige nodded, her friend continued, "He's a doctor of art, not a medical doctor, and Paige does it just to be a pain in his butt."

"I don't want to give him any more power or authority than he deserves. He likes the control."

Billy Joe held up his new toothpick. "Thanks. Hey, little lady, how much of that there education do ya have? I know you went to fancy schools. Do ya have one of those doctor degrees?"

"I think I'll get some ice tea. Anybody else want some?" Paige turned toward the kitchen.

"Whoa!" Mary Pat touched Paige's arm. "Why are you avoiding Billy Joe's question?"

"I'm not. I'm just not sure why that's important." Paige glanced around at each of her friends and their eyes were glued on her. "I got my masters from Stanford and my PHD from Cambridge"

"You mean the Cambridge in England?" After Paige nodded, Mary Pat asked, "Where else have you been educated?"

"I was an intern at Musee du Louvre, whoops, The Louvre Museum."

"Besides French how many languages do you speak?" Cash downed the last of his water.

"Again, I don't know why that's important amongst friends." Paige studied her crutch. "I wonder how this crutch hit Walker. I honestly had nothing to do with it. I stepped backward to avoid him coming at me and this flew away from me."

"You're avoiding our question with another interesting point. Answer the first question, then we'll work on the second one."

"Three, French, Spanish, and Italian." Paige's eye remained on her crutch. "I didn't count English, I guess that's four."

"Hot damn! I can't even talk English right." Billy Joe studied his toothpick.

"Your English is perfect." Paige rubbed his arm. "I like hearing it. It's charming."

Cash laughed. "I never thought Billy Joe was charming."

"Billy Joe speaks perfect Southern English."

Faye smiled. "Billy Joe's English expresses exactly who he is. He's a kind, considerate, Southern gentleman, who is very loyal to his friends."

Mary Pat put arms around her husband. "Faye's right. His language does express his personality."

Paige touched Cash's hand. "Can we discuss the crutch now? I think Bradley came to my rescue and hit Walker with the crutch."

Cash's hand wrapped around Paige's as he said, "I doubt that."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of the Confederate ghost. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find and image of a Confederate ghost? Oh my!!! Things are starting to heat up as answers are found. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 64
CHAPTER 14: PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Paige touched Cash's hand. "Can we discuss the crutch now? I think Bradley came to my rescue and hit Walker with the crutch."

Cash's hand wrapped around Paige's as he said, "I doubt that."

TODAY'S POST:

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

After Paige watched Faye put her phone inside her purse, she asked, "You're leaving?"

"Yes, sweetheart. I've been here nearly a week. It's been fun researching family history with you and Mary Pat, but it's time for me to go."

"Since nothing's been resolved, Cash won't be happy about your leaving."

"I'm going to stay with my brother and his wife. It's about ten miles southeast of town. Way in the back woods. Not even my son could find fault with that."

As Cash walked into the library, Paige and Faye glanced at each other and laughed.

"I'm guessing I'm the butt of another joke." Cash sat beside his mom and gave her a squeeze.

"Not really. I'm going to stay with your Uncle Frank until this blows over. I'm sure things will settle down before long. You young'uns need to go on with your lives."

Cash stared into his mother's eyes.

"It seems she's made up her mind." Paige touched Faye's arm.

"I have. We've found out that Bonnie Bookman-Walker's husband Daniel Walker had an older sister, Helen. Helen married none other than Matthew Stevenson, who is the stepson of Detective Davis or big brother to James Davis Junior. We have our connection. Now all you need is proof that Daniel and James 'Tyler'," Faye used her fingers to highlight Tyler, "are the men who caused the entire ruckus."

"We'll need to catch them in the act. I'm not sure how to make that happen." Cash released a deep breath.

"We should set something in motion that would be too hard for them to refuse and then snatch them." Paige clapped her hands and giggled as she said 'snatch'.

Faye glanced at her watch. "I agree, but what? I'm sure if you'll put your heads together you'll come up with something." She stood. "I need to finish packing. Frank will be here in about twenty minutes."

*****
Later that evening, Cash, Paige, Mary Pat, Billy Joe, and Nala sat around the dinner table and studied the chart.

Paige wiped her mouth with a napkin. "Everything seems to center around the jewelry. Maybe we could use that to set a trap."

"I agree. I think fightin' over ownership of the house had to do with wantin' the money/jewelry." Billy Joe put a new toothpick in his mouth and then jumped up. "I got it! We can take the girls to a ball game! The Braves are lookin' good for the wildcard."

Cash took a well-worn schedule from his billfold. "Saturday night they play LA at home. It's a 7:10 game. Atlanta's only about four and a half hours away. We could get up early Saturday morning, get there mid-afternoon, see the sights, go to the game, get a room, and drive back Sunday." He glanced at Paige. "The girls could stay in one room and us in another. We'd advertise around town that we're all going to the game. It'll be understood the house will be empty."

"How do you know the right people will get the news?" Paige's eyebrows rose. "What about Morgan?"

"Easy. News travels through this town like a fire travels through gas." Mary Pat smiled. "I bet we could find somebody to babysit Morgan. I have some ideas."

"We'll need video cameras set up around the place and alarms to go off at the police department." Cash grabbed a piece of paper and started making a list.

"How do we know the police will be interested?" Paige tilted her head.

"That's where Bart comes in." Cash pointed the pencil at Paige.

"Refresh my memory. Who's Bart?"

"The private eye dating Karen." Mary Pat winked at Paige.

"Oh yes, the one you called for the handprint on the Jag. I'm following now." Paige's eyesbrows scrunched together. "What makes you think they'd believe we'd all go to a baseball game?"

"Any self-respectin' Braves fan would." Billy Joe stared at his toothpick. "When's this supposta start workin'? I could use a smoke right about now."

Cash poked his buddy's arm. "Bart has friends at the police department and he could fill them in. When the alarm goes off, Bart will make sure they respond in a timely manner and catch the thieves in the act." He paused. "We just have to make sure we get the tickets and a hotel. This is short notice and it'll be a packed game."

Paige smiled. "Let me handle that. You just take care of the cameras." She watched Cash as he walked away scanning the room and writing notes.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a private-eye. I somehow thought this would be appropriate. Not too sure. Thank you for your well wishes. I am doing a littler better, but I still miss my Big Boy. Things are starting to heat up as answers are found. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 65
CHAPTER 14: PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Cash poked his buddy's arm. "Bart has friends at the police department and he could fill them in. When the alarm goes off, Bart will make sure they respond in a timely manner and catch the thieves in the act." He paused. "We just have to make sure we get the tickets and a hotel. This is short notice and it'll be a packed game."

Paige smiled. "Let me handle that. You just take care of the cameras." She watched Cash as he walked away scanning the room and writing notes.

TODAY'S POST:

Paige picked up four plastic water bottles and set them inside a bag. "How many do you think we should bring?"

"I think a couple bottles each will be enough, don't you?" Mary Pat grabbed four more bottles. "We're going to a ballgame, not to a desert."

"I wonder if we've packed enough snacks."

Both women turned their heads to the sound of a knock on the door.

"Who could that be this early on a Saturday morning?" asked Mary Pat.

"I rented a car for the drive to Atlanta." Paige glanced at her watch. "Seven-thirty, right on time." She opened the front door and spoke with the gentleman.

After speaking for a few moments, Paige and the man came inside. "Mary Pat, do you know where Cash and Billy Joe are? We need a copies of their driver's licenses. They'll drive, right?"

Paige smiled as the two men walked through the kitchen door. "Great timing. Mr. Fowler needs to make a copy of your driver's licenses."

"Why?" Cash retrieved his billfold from his back jeans pocket.

As Paige explained, both men handed them to him. He scanned and returned them.

Mr. Fowler handed Paige the keys and left.

Once the door shut, Cash asked, "Why do we need a rental car?"

"Because we won't fit in your truck or my Jaguar. The '69 Charger you're so fond of will pollute the air and cause noise pollution all the way to Atlanta. We'll be more comfortable in a larger vehicle."

Cash slapped his Atlanta Braves cap against his thigh a few times. "Don't you think a Mercedes-Benz SUV's a little overboard?"

Paige's eyes widened. "No, why?"

"Somehow I'm not surprised. How close to leaving are you two?" Cash lifted the bag with the water bottles. "Holy cow, is the kitchen sink in here?"

"I'm going to ignore your sarcasm for the sake of time. I need to change." Paige started upstairs, turned around, and hesitated. "Yesterday, Dr. Marc said since I just got my cast off I'd need to take it easy on my ankle. What do you think he meant?"

Billy Joe removed the toothpick from his mouth. "Not running up and down stairs when you're already dressed and it's time to leave. Dagnabbit. I'll need a few more toothpicks." He went into the kitchen.

*****
When Paige returned from changing, she watched Cash recheck the cameras. "Do you think this plan will work?" she asked.

"I think it has a good chance. After you all get outside I'll set the motion detectors. Bart's sitting around waiting for them. He'll alert the police department."

"Yesterday, Mary Pat and I told everybody how excited we were to go to the game. After the hospital, I think we shopped at almost every downtown store."

"That's probably on the doc's not to do list." Billy Joe stuffed a handful of toothpicks inside his jeans pocket.

Inside the SUV Mary pat ran her hand over the light gray seat. "This is real leather, isn't it?"

Paige nodded. "Yes."

"Ain't nothing special about that. Cash's Charger has leather seats. What's takin' him so long?"

"He's turning on all those surveillance things." Paige glanced toward the door. "Here he comes."

"I better drive. Cash'll have problems keepin' his mind on the road since you wore that T-shirt and them there Daisy Dukes." Billy Joe pointed his toothpick at Paige's shorts.

"I wanted to fit in. Isn't this how Braves' fans dress? Mary Pat and I Googled it. She's dressed similar."

Cash opened the door. "Move over. I'm driving."

"You sure? You seen Paige?"

"She's sitting in the backseat. So?"

"We get in a accident, it ain't my fault. I warned ya'."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of Atlanta Braves' fan gear. Things are starting to heat up as answers are found. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 66
CHAPTER 14: PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:
"I wanted to fit in. Isn't this how Braves' fans dress? Mary Pat and I Googled it. She's dressed similar."

Cash opened the door. "Move over. I'm driving."

"You sure? You seen Paige?"

"She's sitting in the backseat. So?"

"We get in a accident, it ain't my fault. I warned ya'."


TODAY'S POST:

As the group entered the Atlanta suburbs, Billy Joe turned toward Paige. "Do we check into the hotel first? Where we stayin'? We don't know a dang thing about this."

"We have reservations at The Ritz-Carlton. It's about a mile and a half from Turner Field. They have limousine service. Since the game doesn't start until seven-fifteen, I thought maybe we could sightsee for a few hours, eat a nice lunch, check into the hotel, and relax a while before the game. How does that sound?"

Mary Pat smiled. "Sounds great to me."

Cash glanced into the rearview mirror. "What do you have in mind for sightseeing?"

Paige removed a piece of paper from her purse and read, "The Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain, The World of Coca-Cola, The Botanical Garden, Turning Point: The American Civil War, there's a museum exhibition, or maybe the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. Does anything interest you?"

"We better rule out the Civil War thing." Billy Joe removed his toothpick. "You bein' a Yankee might cause problems."

"There's always Buckhead. We could go shopping. Right, Mary Pat?"

"Yep. I've never been shopping there. I've heard it's great."

"We ain't got no money for fancy shoppin'. Don't go gettin' fancy ideas in your head." Billy Joe's jaw clenched.

"Cash, we haven't heard from you? What would you like to do?" Paige leaned forward and touched his shoulder.

"I'd really like to go to the Hall of Fame museum, but we could go an hour or so early to the game and see it. Billy Joe and I could go through it and you two could shop at the gift shop if you want."

"Or they could wait at the hotel and come a little later," added Billy Joe.

"I think we should stay together. Paige seems to get herself in all sorts of trouble. Remember when I took her fishing and the revenuers thought she had a still?" Cash chuckled.

"Yeah! And she got that mutt."

"I've been a Braves fan since I was knee-high to a goose. When I was little, Daddy and I watched the games on TV. I'd love to see the museum." Mary Pat faced Paige. "Do you mind?"

"No, but I do take offence to you calling Morgan a mutt. He's a pure-bred chocolate Labrador retriever." Paige tapped Billy Joe's shoulder.

He grabbed it and pretended to be hurt. "She hits hard."

"What should we do between now and the hotel?" Paige fingered her paper.

Billy Joe pointed to an exit. "That's where ya' shouldda got off."

"I know. Have you noticed the traffic? I couldn't get over." Cash pointed to the next sign. "That settles it. We're going to the aquarium."

"We could save a lot of money and go out to ol' man Johnson's lake and watch the fish." Billy Joe's eyebrows rose.

Mary Pat tapped her husband's shoulder. "Play nice."

*****
As the foursome arrived back at the SUV, Billy Joe opened his door and plopped down in the passenger seat. "I can't believe you paid $158.00 to look at fish."

"I enjoyed watching the different types of fish and seeing the different depths that certain fish live at." Mary Pat thumbed through a brochure. "I learned a lot."

"I found out I'm using the wrong bait for catfish." Cash grinned and glanced back at Paige before he got behind the steering wheel. "Where to now?"

"Ready for lunch?" Paige removed a second piece of paper from her purse, scanned it, and then studied Billy Joe for a moment before she put it back inside her purse. "Flip Burger Boutique is supposed to have really good hamburgers."

Billy Joe whispered, "Great. A boutique."

"Go toward the hotel. There's a place downtown. Midtown Burgers is supposed to be good."

Mary Pat mouthed, "Thank you," to Paige.

After they ate, Billy Joe put his arm around Paige. "That was the best cheeseburger I ever ate." He kissed her cheek.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it." Paige glanced at her watch. "Want to check into the hotel?"

"I'm ready." Cash took her hand as they walked to the rented SUV.

Paige pointed to a skyscraper. "See that? It looks like The Ritz-Carlton. It's on N.E. Peachtree Street."

Cash glanced at the traffic. "It should only be a minor inconvenience to get there." He winked at Paige.

"How we sleepin'?" Billy Joe put in a new toothpick.

"Mary Pat and I have a king-size bed. There's a door between the rooms. You and Cash have two queens in your room. That's all I really know."

A valet parked the vehicle. Paige registered the group and asked for a limousine to pick them up at five o'clock.

Paige smiled as she watched Mary Pat's eyes widen. "I've never seen such a gorgeous hotel lobby." She pointed. "Crystal chandeliers and a water fountain."

"Just wait until you see the room." Paige told the bell hop they would be staying on the tenth floor and handed him each of the keys.

The bell hop helped them with their luggage and assisted with the elevator. Once the elevator stopped, he opened the ladies' room and set their luggage on a stand in the room. He then left to show the men their room.

Mary Pat lay back on the bed. "Wow, this is nice. I could really get used to this."

"I'm glad you like it. I hope the men like theirs." Paige sat beside her friend.

"This has been a perfect trip." Mary Pat sat up. "I can't imagine anything going wrong. I always dreamed Billy Joe and I would have a honeymoon in a room like this."

"Where'd you go for your honeymoon?"

"That little run-down hotel outside of town. We married the summer after we graduated. We didn't have any money. We always said if we ever had extra money we'd have a real honeymoon." Mary Pat shrugged her shoulders, got off the bed, and walked around the room.

Paige watched. "What time did the guys say to be ready?"

Mary Pat looked at her watch. "We have twenty minutes."

*****
The men and the ladies stepped out of their rooms at the same time.

Cash took Paige's hand. "I have to give it to you when you do something, you go all the way. The room's great."

"I'm glad you liked it. The limousine should be waiting. Off to the Hall of Fame Museum."

Inside the museum, Billy Joe and Cash dodged other sightseers as they stared at Hank Aaron memorabilia. Paige took Mary Pat aside. "I know this man must be important, but who is he?"

"Most fans believe the best Braves player ever. He retired in 1976, I think. He's before our time, but we've seen clips of him playing. The fans called him 'Hammerin' Hank. His retired number, 44, should be hanging in the stadium."

As they left the museum, Cash put his arm around Paige's shoulder. "What surprise do you have for our seats, young lady?"

Paige smiled. "They're in the Hank Aaron section, right behind home plate. Where else would they be?"

After they were seated, Paige watched her friends' eyes widen as they enjoyed the game. They had never sat so close to the playing field before and waitresses brought their concessions to them. The Braves beat the Dodgers five to three.

The limousine was in the designated area after the game and brought them back to the hotel.

Paige smiled as Billy Joe kissed Mary Pat good night before they went into their respective rooms.

Mary Pat and Paige were ready for bed, and they each crawled under the covers. After they said goodnight to each other, Paige heard Mary Pat release a huge sigh. "Is anything wrong?"

"No, I was just thinking how much fun we had today. Thank you for everything."

She's wishing she was sharing this bed with her husband, not me. Paige stood and unlocked the door between the two rooms. It wouldn't open. She knocked. "Would one of you unlock that side of the door?" After Cash unlocked the door, Paige said, "Billy Joe, Mary Pat's waiting. This is the honeymoon you've never had." She glanced at Cash. "I guess you're stuck with me. Do you want the bed by the air conditioner or the other one?"

Cash's gaze slowly glided down from Paige's eyes to the four-inch slits on each side of the upper thigh length, pink and white T-shirt.

What's he thinking? Paige tilted her head. "Is something wrong?"

After Cash cleared his throat, he said, "No, nothing's wrong."

"Did you enjoy the game? Have you heard anything from Bart? I hope our plan worked." Page stepped closer to Cash. "You haven't told me which bed you want."

"I did. It was a great game." Their eyes met. Cash slowly bent down. His lips met Paige's as she put her arms around his neck.

After the kiss, Paige kept her eyes closed and licked her lips tasting the sweetness of Cash. Now what?

Another kiss quickly ensued.

Cash stopped. "This is wrong."

Paige watched Cash leave the room. What just happened? Why'd he leave?


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of the night T-shirt Paige could be wearing. Many reviewers may want more information about the places these four visited, but...my writing books state if it doesn't move the story along leave it out. I feel I have enough information about the trip to make the post interesting but not so much that it stops the post from moving along. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 67
CHAPTER 14: PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Did you enjoy the game? Have you heard anything from Bart? I hope our plan worked." Page stepped closer to Cash. "You haven't told me which bed you want."

"I did. It was a great game." Their eyes met. Cash slowly bent down. His lips met Paige's as she put her arms around his neck.

After the kiss, Paige kept her eyes closed and licked her lips tasting the sweetness of Cash. Now what?

Another kiss quickly ensued.

Cash stopped. "This is wrong."

Paige watched Cash leave the room. What just happened? Why'd he leave?

TODAY'S POST:

Where's Cash? Paige paced the carpeted floor, glancing at her watch. He left over an hour ago. This makes no sense. Was kissing me so horrible? She opened the hotel room door, scanned the hallway, and closed the door. I don't get it.

Paige picked up the remote control, turned on the TV, and sat on the edge of the bed. I'll wait one more hour before I begin to worry. She leaned back on the bed. Dummy, you're already worried. Looking toward the door that separated the two rooms, she released a deep breath. I won't bother them until I have too. Certainly he'll be back soon.

An hour passed, and still no Cash. Paige studied the door. What do I say? Cash kissed me then ran away. It doesn't make sense. This whole thing doesn't make sense. Maybe I should look for him. If I can't find him, then I'll tell Mary Pat and Billy Joe. Paige opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

Two young men in their late twenties came toward her. The taller one smiled and said, "Hello, beautiful. Did you get locked out of your room? We can help." They both laughed.

Her eyebrows arched. "No!" Paige hesitated a moment. "I thought I heard something." She rushed back into the room, slammed the door, and leaned against it. "That wasn't too smart. My clothes are with Mary Pat. Searching for Cash is not an option."

I need to get my thoughts together. Maybe a bubble bath would help. Paige dialed room service.

When she heard a knock on the door, Paige rushed to answer. It's too soon for room service. I bet it's Cash.

"Good evening, Ma'am." The bellhop handed her a bottle of bubble bath. "I hope you enjoy your bath."

"Thank you, sir. I'm sure I will." Paige glanced around the room but remembered she'd left her purse with Mary Pat. "Sorry, my purse is next door. I'll leave a tip at the desk in the morning."

"Sure, Ma'am." The bellhop walked away.

"I really will." Paige closed the door. "I'm beginning to really hate men," she muttered to herself.

Paige turned on the bathtub faucet and the shower sprayed her. "UGH!" She turned the water off and adjusted it so the tub water would run. "Great now my T-shirt's wet." She checked the hook on the back of the door. At least they have an extra robe.

After removing the nightshirt and putting a generous amount of oil under the running water, Paige stepped into the luxurious claw-footed tub, relaxed, and turned off the water. "Peace at last." She leaned back and fell into a restless sleep.

Sure she had awakened every few seconds, Paige stretched. Hmm, the water got cool fast. She stepped from the tub, dried, and put on the fluffy white terrycloth robe the hotel had provided. She glanced at her watch. "Five o'clock. Guess I slept more than I thought." She ran from the bathroom and scanned the room. No Cash.

"Something must have happened. I better call the police." Paige grabbed the hotel phone and was about to press the keys for 911. A knock on the door caused her to jump.

"Who could that be?" Paige released a deep breath. Please not the police. Tears welled in her eyes.

With the door cracked open, Paige hesitated before she looked into the hallway. "Cash!" She threw her arms around his neck, hugged him, and then slapped his left cheek. "You'd better have a good excuse for being out all night!"



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of the Paige getting ready for her bubble bath. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 68
CHAPTER 14: PART FIVE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF THE PREVIOUS POST:

"Who could that be?" Paige released a deep breath. Please not the police. Tears welled in her eyes.

With the door cracked open, Paige hesitated before she looked into the hallway. "Cash!" She threw her arms around his neck, hugged him, and then slapped his left cheek. "You'd better have a good excuse for being out all night!"


TODAY'S POST:

Cash grabbed Paige's right wrist. "I didn't deserve that."

"Yes, you did! You made me worry about you all night. I thought something had happened." Paige glared into Cash's eyes. "Let go of my arm."

"Will you promise not to hit me again?" After Paige nodded, Cash released his grip. "You can see I'm all right."

"I had visions of you lying all bloody on the sidewalk. Where'd you go? Why'd you leave? I paced all night." Paige moved her arm sideways to show the path of the carpet pressed down.

"You did some pacing, but I doubt it was all night." Cash sniffed the air. "I smell cherry blossoms."

"I took a bubble bath so I could think of what to do next. I almost called 911."

"I'm glad you didn't. That would've been overreacting."

"So worrying about your safety's wrong?"

"I'm a country boy. I know how to handle myself."

Paige yanked the ties of her white terrycloth bathrobe. "So in your world it's okay to disappear without telling anybody for," she glanced at her watch, "seven hours. I think I'll try it and see how you like it." Paige walked toward the door and put her hand on the handle.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Cash touched her arm.

"And why not?" Paige stared at his hand on hers.

"It's not safe out there."

"Exactly my point!" Paige elevated her voice.

"Lower your voice or you'll have those two over here." Cash nodded toward the other room. "I'm not a beautiful woman wearing nothing but a robe."

"Sometimes I really hate you."

Cash smiled. "That doesn't surprise me at all. Logic tends to do that to some people."

Paige wrinkled her nose and plopped on the bed. "You still need to tell me where you spent the night and why you left."

"Maybe I was hungry."

"We could've ordered room service. Why won't you tell me?"

"I guess because it's none of your business."

"How dare you!" Paige stood and put her hands on her hips. "I worried about you. I care about you." She hesitated. "I meant I cared about your safety."

Paige sat in a chair and stared at Cash. What is he hiding from me? Maybe he has a female friend that moved here from Savannah. Or he might have an addiction; gambling, drugs, alcohol, maybe even sex. He spent the night with a professional. Help! I need Mary Pat.

Cash took a drink of bottled water. "I can tell that imagination of yours is running wild. Whatever you think I did, I didn't."

"You don't know what I was thinking, so how could you know you didn't do it?"

"I know you. You see ghosts and treasure chests at every turn."

"It never occured to me that you spent the night with a ghost or a treasure chest." Paige sat up straighter. So there.

"I'm hungry. Want me to order some breakfast?" Cash picked up the phone.

"I guess whatever you did last night didn't include eating." Paige's lips pouted.

Cash set down the phone. "This is really bothering you, isn't it?" He dried an escaped tear and took her hands in his. "Come over here."

After they sat on the edge of the bed, Cash continued, "I slept in the SUV."

"Why?" Paige tilted her head.

"Because I didn't want anything to happen we might regret."

"But?"

Cash put his finger over her lips. "Because that's how I was raised and that's who I am." He removed his finger, put his arms around her, and his lips tenderly met hers.

After the kiss, Cash continued to hold Paige. "We good?"

Paige nodded. We're perfect.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a dog trying to make up with a cat. I was searching for a woman in a white bathrobe, but it was like searching for the Holy Grail, so I gave up. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 69
CHAPTER FIFTEEN; PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Cash had just finished shaving when he heard a knock on the door between the two hotel rooms. With his shirt off and a towel in his hand, he unlocked it. "Shh, Paige's sleeping."

"I know why Mary Pat's still sleepin' but not Paige." Billy Joe eyed his buddy.

"It's a long story. I'll explain everything over a cup of coffee. What's going on?"

"I was watchin' the news and saw Cleve Clover was killed last night in a car accident."

"Paige's ex-fianc©?"

"Yep. It's under investigation. Think this will affect Paige?"

"Don't know. We'll have to wait and see." Cash glanced at the towel. "I'll finish getting dressed and we can go down and get something to eat. I'll leave a note for Paige."

Billy Joe laughed. "I never thought of you as a note-leavin' sorta guy."

"Give me ten minutes." Cash went into the bathroom.

*****
After Cash explained everything that had happened last night, Billy Joe grinned. "I bet Paige was as mad as a ol' wet banty hen."

"That she was." Cash checked his watch. "How long do you think we should let the girls sleep?"

"It's what, seven o'clock? I'd say another two hours. We don't wanta three-hour ride back with two grouchy females."

"That's for sure." Cash rubbed the cheek that Paige had slapped. "Last night, I saw all of Paige's anger I care to see."

"Mary Pat can sure do some yellin'. Why'd we choose such pain-in-the-ass women anyway?"

"You need to answer that one yourself. I haven't chosen any woman."

"I got eyes, ain't I? Paige's yours. You two just need to set the wedding day."

"Yeah, right?" Cash chuckled. "No fancy lady from Boston would even think about marrying a Southern country boy."

"I knew you weren't too bright when it came to women, but, buddy, you're way off. Paige's just waitin' for you to pop the question."

"It won't happen." Cash sipped his coffee.

"You'll be married within a month. I know it." Billy Joe hesitated. "Heard anything from Bart?"

"I got a strange text last night. I answered but no reply."

"Have you tried callin'?"

"Yep, nothing."

"That's strange." Billy Joe searched the room. "These hoity-toity places may have good food, but the service stinks. Back at Ma' Jones' my coffee mug would've been refilled ten minutes ago and waitin' to do it again."

Cash took a sip. "I know, but I think we're supposed to visit and sip our coffee."

"These cups are tiny and dainty; not a man's mug. They didn't even have biscuits and gravy or grits on the menu. This is the South. Atlanta's the heart of the South. Too many Yankees came down here."

"I think I'll step outside and try calling Bart."

"I'll wait for the waitress." Billy Joe stared at his empty coffee cup, turned it upside down, and shook it.

*****
Cash walked over to a shaded area, searched for Bart's phone number, and then pressed dial. On the third ring, Bart answered. "Cash, here. Any news from last night?" He listened. "What? You've got to be kidding! For real?" He rubbed the back of his neck. "As soon as the girls get ready, we're headed back."

After Cash put his phone away, he stood still and shook his head. "Damn! Who would've expected that?"

A few moments later, Cash stood beside his buddy. "We need to get the girls up and get back to Savannah. We've opened a hornets' nest, and it's not pretty. Come on. We need to hurry."

"But I just got my coffee." Billy Joe gulped his cup empty. "I needed that. What happened?"

"I'll explain on the way."

"It's Paige's ghost, ain't it?"

"Partly. Come on."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a filled coffee cup. The cup looks to me as if it were China. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 70
CHAPTER FIFTEEN; PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

A few moments later, Cash stood beside his buddy. "We need to get the girls up and get back to Savannah. We've opened a hornets' nest, and it's not pretty. Come on. We need to hurry."

"But I just got my coffee." Billy Joe gulped his cup empty. "I needed that. What happened?"

"I'll explain on the way."

"It's Paige's ghost, ain't it?"

"Partly. Come on."

TODAY'S POST:

Cash sat on the edge of the bed and studied Paige. I'd better tell her about Cleve's death. How's she going to take it? He caressed her back and whispered her name.

Paige rubbed her eye. "Is it time to leave?"

"We need to get back to Savannah."

"Did our plan work?" Paige jumped out of bed and started toward the bathroom. "I won't be long."

"Whoa! Wait a minute." Cash reached for her hand. "Some have been caught. But..."

"Cash, what's wrong? It's not Morgan, is it?" Paige chewed on her lower lip.

"As far as I know Morgan's fine." Cash motioned for Paige to sit. "Billy Joe came over earlier. He'd seen on the news that Cleve Clover was killed in a car accident."

"During last night's race?"

"No."

"I'll send his parents flowers. They'll be devastated." Paige got up and went into the bathroom.

What does that mean? Cash got a bottle of water, opened it, and took a drink.

*****
After Mary Pat and Paige were dressed, the four friends met in the hallway. Mary Pat glanced at her husband. "Can we eat before we head home? I know we need to get back, but I need a cup of coffee"

Paige nodded. "I could use a cup of tea. Let's go down to the restaurant."

"Cash and I were already there, and the service is lousy. How about a fast food joint?" Billy Joe headed toward the elevator.

"The service was bad." Cash took Paige's bag from her. "I'll carry this. We'll get the SUV loaded and see if we can find someplace to eat before we get out of Atlanta."

Paige took her phone from her purse and did a search. "There's a place two blocks south of here."

Mary Pat handed her bag to Billy Joe. "Let's go."

*****
As Cash backed from the parking spot, Billy Joe turned to Paige. "Who ever heard of New York Cheesecake pancakes? That just ain't right."

"They were really good, or at least the bite Paige shared." Mary Pat smiled at Paige.

Billy Joe shook his head. "Of course you'd like them. You ate raspberry white chocolate chip pancakes. What happened to ol' fashioned flapjacks?" He glanced at his buddy. "It's only us four. Can you finally tell us what Bart said?"

"Let's get out of the city traffic first."

About thirty minutes later, Billy Joe tapped the dashboard. "We're out of town. Talk."

"I guess I don't have a choice." Cash chuckled. "We had visitors. It seems our friends Daniel Walker and James Davis Junior entered the house around two this morning." He glanced in the rearview mirror at Paige. "I don't know how you did it, but Tyler and Daniel swear the house is haunted. There seems to be a light orb on the video."

"What type of things did Bradley Bookman do?" Paige tilted her head.

"Tyler swears somebody kept pulling his ear and drawers kept opening into him when he'd get close and hit him. A wolf howled and chains rattled. Your classic ghost."

"Somebody's playin' a joke." Billy Joe stuck a toothpick in his mouth. "Ain't no such thing as ghosts."

"A door smacked Daniel in the face and broke his nose."

Paige covered her mouth to hide the grin.

"Pots and pans rattled, and lights went on and off. Both Tyler and Daniel say somebody kicked them in the butt." Cash shook his head. "Paige, you've really caused an uproar this time. The police won't enter the house and want some high-falutin guy to come and get rid of these ghosts. Oh yeah, they think you have maybe fifteen to twenty ghosts in that house. I think maybe you went overboard when you hired the special effects people."

"I didn't hire anybody. I have only one ghost, and he's friendly. He's only protected my home."

"Well, that's the fun news. Tyler and Daniel got so scared they started talking up a storm. It seems Walker's blackmailing Redman for information about the house."

"Mr. Redman seems like a nice man. What could Dwayne have on him?" asked Paige.

"Oh, wait, I know," interjected Mary Pat. "Walker got Redman drunk or high and used a pro to either seduce him or at least pretend they had sex and took pictures."

"I think your imagination is goin' overboard. I doubt Redman knew anything to tell." Billy Joe removed the toothpick. "I can't wait to get all the dirt on these guys."

"All we have so far is Tyler and Daniel breaking and entering. We have no other proof. We can't tie them into anything else." Cash slapped the steering wheel. "Redman and Walker are being brought in this afternoon."

Billy Joe's eyes widened, "Cash, we need gas."

"We have a quarter of a tank. It can wait."

"No, it can't. There's a station next exit. Take it."

Cash took the next exit, got out of the SUV, and pumped gas. "What's so urgent?"

Billy Joe stood beside him. "Do you think Paige hired somebody to provide special effects in the house?"

"With her money, it's possible."

"She said she didn't. Would she lie to us?" Billy Joe glanced toward the girls in the SUV.




Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a ghost going upstairs. Could a ghost play tricks on Tyler and Daniel or did Paige pay for special effects? Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 71
CHAPTER FIFTEEN; PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Billy Joe's eyes widened, "Cash, we need gas."

"We have a quarter a tank. It can wait."

"No, it can't. There's a station next exit. Take it."

Cash took the next exit, got out of the SUV, and pumped gas. "What's so urgent?"

Billy Joe stood beside him. "Do you think Paige hired somebody to provide special effects in the house?"

"With her money, it's possible."

"She said she didn't. Would she lie to us?" Billy Joe glanced toward the girls in the SUV.

TODAY'S POST:

While Cash pumped gas, he and Billy Joe talked. Inside the SUV Mary Pat placed her hand on Paige's and said, "Billy Joe told me that Cleve was killed in a car accident."

"Yes, Cash did mention it."

"How are you holding up?"

"Fine. I'm sending flowers to his parents."

"You were engaged to this man. You sure you're all right?"

"Yes. On Valentines' Day, I surprised him by showing up at his hotel room. I found him in bed with a blonde and felt pure rage. It hurt. I wasn't sure I could continue living. For a while we tried to make it work, but he'd always do something proving I couldn't trust him. He taught me to be very leery of men. For that I thank him."

Billy Joe opened the SUV door and sat. "What you two been talkin' about?"

"Nothing much. Just girl things." Mary Pat smiled.

"So been talkin' about me and Cash."

Paige tilted her head. "Neither one of you came up."

Cash scooted behind the steering wheel. "It should be a clear shot back to Savannah. Ready?"

"I can't wait to see what happened." Paige stared out the window. "I'm surprised Bradley Bookman showed himself."

"She even named her creation," whispered Billy Joe to Cash. "There ain't no such thing as ghosts. Buddy, you need to set her straight." He turned back around, stared out the windshield, and muttered, "Artsy-fartsy types and their imagination."

Mary Pat poked her husband in the shoulder.

*****
As Cash parked the SUV by the curb in front of Paige's mansion, Paige asked, "Does that crime scene tape mean I can't go in my own house?"

"Probably so." Cash hesitated. "There's a policeman by that oak tree." He pointed. "Let's ask."

The four friends walked toward the officer.

"I'm Officer Baker, can I assist you?" He extended his hand.

Cash accepted the hand. "Yes." He pointed to Paige. "This house belongs to her." Paige waved as Cash continued, "We were in Atlanta for a few days and would like to know what's going on."

"I'd like to go inside and unpack." Paige glanced toward the house.

"I'm afraid that's not possible, Ma'am. There are ghosts in that house, and until the paranormal investigators arrive and deem the house safe, nobody's allowed to enter." The officer's jaw set.

Cash took Paige's arm and led her away from the others. "Don't you think it's about time you come clean about the special effects? How much did they cost? They must've been really good."

Paige glared at Cash. "I don't know anything about this. I honestly had nothing to do with it."

The officer walked over to Paige and Cash. "Bart told me to call when you returned. He's on his way."

"Good. Maybe he can shed some light on this." Cash ran his fingers through his hair.

*****
Before long Bart arrived. "Did you enjoy the game? I watched it on TV, and it was a good game."

"The game was great." Cash shook hands with Bart. "We're not sure what's going on."

Billy Joe removed the toothpick from his mouth and pointed to Officer Baker. "That cop over there says we can't go inside."

Bart glanced at Paige. "Did you know the house was inhabited by a ghost?"

"I suspected it but didn't know for sure. Why?"

"Come with me and I'll show you the videos." Bart walked toward his car. "I'll meet you at the police station."

Billy Joe pulled Cash aside. "Ya gonna let this continue? Ya don't believe in ghosts, do ya?"

"No. Paige swears she had nothing to do with it, and I believe her. We need to take a look at that video and see what's going on."

"I guess that's all we can do right now."

The men hurried to the SUV. After Cash unlocked the door, the four climbed in and followed Bart to the police station.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a house covered with crime scene tape. When the group arrived home crime scene tape coved the house. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 72
CHAPTER FIFTEEN; PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

"Come with me and I'll show you the videos." Bart walked toward his car. "I'll meet you at the police station."

Billy Joe pulled Cash aside. "Ya gonna let this continue? Ya don't believe in ghosts, do ya?"

"No. Paige swears she had nothing to do with it and I believe her. We need to take a look at that video and see what's going on."

"I guess that's all we can do right now."

Hurrying to the SUV, Cash pressed the key fob and the clambered in to follow Bart.

TODAY"S POST:

"Ms. Swanson?" The speaker greeted them with an outstretched hand.

Paige accepted his hand. "Yes, and you are?"

"Wesley Blake." Wes motioned toward the foursome. "I'm head of the Paranormal Activity Team. We're tasked with checking your house for paranormal activity."

"What will you do when you find this activity?" Paige asked as she tilted her head.

"Ma'am, you must understand it's very rare that we find anything. Most of the time there's a reasonable explanation for the strange happenings. If there are actual spirits in the house, we'll rid the house of them."

Paige folded her arms across her chest. "I don't want the house rid of my ghost. I have become very fond of Bradley Bookman. Bradley's mischievous but not dangerous."

"If the video contains an actual paranormal event, it's more than naughty. It was dangerous to humans."

"May I see the video?" Paige glanced around the station.

"This way, please." Wes led them to a room that had a large rectangular table and chairs placed around it. "Who are these people?"

Paige cringed. "I'm so sorry. I forgot my manners." She pointed to Cash. "Cash Wilkens." After a sigh, she turned to Cash and added, "I'm sorry."

Cash shook the man's hand. "Pleased to meet you."

"My friends, Mary Pat Johnson and her husband, Billy Joe."

Both shook Wes's hand.

"You must be the man of the house." Mr. Blake grinned at Cash.

Billy Joe removed the toothpick from his mouth. "You could say that, right?" He smiled at Paige.

Cash put his hands on the back of a chair. "Not likely."

"I need to see the video." Paige took a seat at the table.

The other three followed Paige's lead as Wes put the video in the player and said, "This video's very graphic. We need to see the inside of the house before we can make any decisions about paranormal activity."

Paige's eyes widened as she watched Tyler and Daniel enter the house through the front door. "How'd those two get a key to my house?" She noticed the time listed in the corner of the video as two o'clock. When a sphere of light floated through the air, Paige sat straighter in the chair. "The light orb seems to be following Tyler."

As a desk drawer flew open, hitting Tyler in the lower stomach, Paige covered her mouth and whispered, "Bradley, that wasn't very nice." She glanced at Cash. "It wasn't very nice of those two coming into my house uninvited. I want them charged with breaking and entering."

The top of Tyler's right ear elongated and he swiped at it. "Daniel, that isn't funny! It hurts! We don't have time to play around!" He turned his head at the sound of a lone wolf howling. "I don't know how you're doing it, but stop!!" Again, he swung at the air around his ear. "That hurt!" He massaged his ear. "We need to get the goods and get back."

"I wonder where they need to get back to." Paige moved closer to the screen. "I don't believe this." As pots and pans rattled, she touched the screen and then faced Wes. "Bradley has never done anything like this before."

When chains rattled, Tyler ran into the kitchen. "Dan, we need to get out of here now!"

Daniel came up behind him, holding his bleeding nose. "I'm behind you!" He grabbed a towel from the counter and pressed it against his nose. "Somebody opened a door and hit me in the face. I think my nose is broken."

Sirens sounded as Tyler fell to the floor. "Why'd you kick my ass? I didn't break your nose."

Daniel fell to the floor. "Me either."

Both men raised their hands as the police entered the front door with weapons drawn.

Paige listened as Daniel and Tyler relayed their story to the officers. When the video finished, she stood. "I'd like to talk with the police chief. Somebody better know how these two got a key to my house and why Walker's blackmailing Redman."

Cash stood beside her. "I'd like to know if these are the same two men who broke into her house on two other occasions. Also, who taped the racial note to her door?"

"Don't forget about who harassed your mom and Nala in their homes." Billy Joe pointed his toothpick at Wes.

The officer standing beside Wes said, "Mr. Blake won't be any help with any of those questions. He's only here for the ghosts, but I'll take you to somebody who might have the answers."

"While you're taking care of that business, my team and I'll start on the house." Wes smiled at Paige.

Paige's eyes met his. "No, you won't. When I'm finished, we'll go to my house together. No one's going to hurt Bradley."

The foursome followed the young officer through the narrow halls to the chief-of-police's office.

Mary Pat touched his engraved name plate on the door. "Boy, this case ranks high."

"Maybe it has something to do with who Paige is?" Billy Joe followed his wife through the door.

When Cash and Paige entered the room, the Police Chief offered his hand. Cash accepted it. He motioned for them to sit. "How can I help?"

Paige put both hands on his desk and leaned forward. "I need answers. I was told you have some answers."






Author Notes Thank you Google images for the image of the Savannah, Georgia police department emblem. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 73
CHAPTER FIFTEEN; PART FIVE

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

The foursome followed the young officer through the narrow halls to the chief of police's office.

Mary Pat touched his engraved name plate on the door. "Police Chief Robert Dennison. Boy, this case ranks high."

"Maybe it has something to do with who Paige is?" Billy Joe followed his wife through the door.

When Cash and Paige entered the room, the Police Chief offered his hand. Cash accepted it. He motioned for them to sit. "How can I help?"

Paige put both hands on his desk and leaned forward. "I need answers. I was told you have some answers."

TODAY'S POST:

Chief Robert Dennison took a sip of steaming coffee. "Ma'am, I'll do my best. Have a seat and start with your questions." He sat in a black swivel chair and pushed his half eaten sandwich away.

Paige, Cash, and Billy Joe each asked their questions. While Chief Dennison listened, he took notes.

When the three finished, Robert glanced at Mary Pat. "Do you have anything to add?"

"I think my friends have covered everything." Mary Pat folded her hands in her lap.

"Okay, I'll answer the first question." The police chief read from his notepad. "How did Tyler and Daniel get a key to the mansion?" His eyes met Paige's. "According to the suspects, James Davis Junior and Daniel Walker, Alan Redman handed them the keys late yesterday afternoon, around four-thirty."

"That doesn't make sense. He's the executor of my aunt and uncle's estate. He's worked for the family for years." Paige rolled her shoulders. "Do you know why?"

Wrinkles formed in Roger's forehead. "Not really. They said something about Dr. Walker, but nothing has been verified, so I hesitate to say anything." He pointed to his paper. "Again according to the suspects, they were looking for treasure and a paper stating the house and money goes to a direct line in the Bookman genealogy. That was your second question."

Cash turned toward Paige. "We're getting the same information we already have."

"When Uncle Andrew died, Aunt Paula never mentioned a treasure or anything about a Bookman line. I have no idea what they're talking about. I've spent every summer in that house since I was four." Paige paused, and then asked, "Have you questioned Redman and Walker? I thought they were brought in this afternoon."

"So far my men haven't located them. It seems they've left town for a few days." The police chief tapped his pen on the pad then made a note.

Billy Joe removed his toothpick before he asked, "Why haven't your men checked the crime scene, yet?"

"Some members of this police department are Gullah and won't enter the house until it's deemed safe. I can't force somebody to go against their faith."

Paige's eyes widened. "What's Gullah? I thought it was a language similar to Creole."

"It's from the low country, right?" Billy Joe asked.

"You're right, Mr. Johnson. The Gullah people believe in witchcraft or 'wudu' or 'juju' as they call it." Chief Dennison rapped his fingers on the desk.

"I have a ghost not a witch." Paige folded her arms.

"Well, Ma'am the way I understand it, to these people they're similar because they believe dangerous spirits are capable of enslaving a person by controlling his will. Sometimes they paper their walls with newsprint believing the spirit must first read each and every word before taking action."

Billy Joe chuckled. "That'd be a problem if they can't read."

Mary Pat stared at her husband, put her finger across her lips, and nodded.

The police chief continued, "They believe souls leave the bodies at death and if it's a good soul it goes to Heaven, but the spirit of a person has a different function. A good spirit stays behind to watch over their family left behind, protecting them if need be." Robert rubbed the back of his neck. "A bad spirit is a 'boo hag' and uses witchcraft to manipulate people and steal energy from the living while they sleep. Boo hags are like vampires because they're undead beings that feed off humans. They're skinless and bright red in color with bulging blue veins. In order to survive they must steal a living person's skin and wear it like clothes. At night they shed the skin and go looking for a new victim."

Paige rubbed her arms from the shoulders to the elbows. "That gives me goose-bumps."

"Me too." Mary Pat squeezed her husband's hand.

"It seems we hit one road block after another." Paige released a deep breath.

Her friends nodded in agreement.

"The suspects have not admitted to any previous wrong doings on your property." Dennison made another mark on the paper. "That answers question number three."

"Did Bart tell you Davis's handprint was on Paige's Jaguar?" Cash's hands made fists, stretched out, and then repeated the action.

The police chief nodded.

"When you find Walker ask him about the racial note taped to Paige's door." Billy Joe shoved his toothpick into his front shirt pocket. "I'd like to hear his answer."

"I don't know what happened at Ms. Wilkins's house or your black servant's." The police chief answered the phone and said, "I'm almost finished here." He stood. "I've answered all the questions."

"The lady who helps me around the house has a name, Ms. Nala Jackson. I expect you to use her name from now on. Do you understand?" Paige stood, placed both hands on the desk and leaned closer.

Chief Dennison avoided eye contact and grimaced. "I need to leave. Redman was found and he's in the interrogation room."

"Can we listen in?" Billy Joe stood.

"I can't allow that. If I find out anything, I'll notify you by telephone." Robert opened the door for the foursome to leave.

Paige's eyes met his. "I'll be waiting for you to drop by the house after you question Mr. Redman. I'd like to know why Walker's blackmailing him." She left the room, and then turned around to face the police chief. "Mr. Blake and I'll be discussing Bradley Bookman."

Cash took Paige's hand. "Ready to go home and fight the next battle?"





Author Notes Thank you "Melinda's Midnight 2010" for 'A Boo Hag peers through a keyhole.' This one gives me goose-bumps. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 74
CHAPTER SIXTEEN, PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

After Cash held open the SUV door for Paige, he pointed to the sidewalk. "I see that Blake guy didn't waste any time getting here."

"Look at all that equipment!" Paige released a deep breath. Bradley, please leave the house before you get hurt. This guy means business.

Billy Joe and Mary Pat followed Cash and Paige to the house. As the four approached Wesley Blake, he shook each of their hands and welcomed them.

An open black bag aroused Paige's curiosity. "What's the equipment for?"

Wes removed a cell phone size object.

"You gonna talk to a ghost on a special phone?" Billy Joe chuckled.

"No, this is an EMF meter and it detects disturbances in the surrounding electromagnet fields." Blake handed it to a female team member and then took out another gadget. "This barometer will tell us if there's an increase or decrease in barometric pressure."

"Are you expecting rain?" Mary Pat looked at the sky. "It's sunny and clear."

"I've read that ghosts prefer haunting during stormy weather." Paige used her hand to shield her eyes from the sun.

"Not necessarily. When ghosts manifest themselves the barometric pressure can rise and lower in that specific area." Wes gave it to a male member of his paranormal team and said, "Wait for me on the porch." After he watched his four team members walk toward the house, he held two rods. "These dowsing rods are used to detect spiritual energy. If ghosts are around, they'll either cross or uncross." Next, he held two small plastic bags.

Paige reached out and touched them. "It looks like spices. What do you plan to do with this?"

"White sage is used in ceremonies. It's for cleansing, clearing, and blessings. If we actually find a spirit living in your house, we'll smudge the house by burning the sage to expel negative vibrations, entities, and thought influences."

Paige grabbed the plastic bags. "I'll hold on to these."

"Okay, let's get this under way." Blake started walking up the steps. "It shouldn't take long to see what we're dealing with. I think you might want to stay out here. These spirits can get nasty. We already know two people have been hurt inside this house."

"I'm coming with you. I've lived in this house for months and there's nothing dangerous inside, except the two men who are now sitting in jail." Paige followed Wes up the steps. Before going inside, Paige closed her eyes. Bradley, please leave until this guy and his team are gone.

"I gotta see this." Billy Joe ran up the steps. Cash and Mary Pat followed close behind.

Inside the house the EMF meter and the barometer showed no activity. Wes stared at the instruments and then adjusted them. "They seem to be working."

One of the male team members stood beside him. "If there's no activity, how do you explain the orb and the injuries those two men had? They were really scared."

Billy Joe patted the man on the back. "Good questions. I figured no ghost did it anyway."

"The orb's easy to explain. The video camera probably had a smudge or dust on the lens. The injuries are another issue. All I can do is guess somebody played a trick on them." Blake removed his cap and ran his fingers through his hair.

"I figured that all the time and I don't own any fancy tools." Billy Joe eyed Paige. "Do you have anything to say?"

"Sure don't." Paige held up the white sage. "I guess you won't need this, will you?" After she handed it back, she smiled. "Can I have my house back now?"

"I don't see why not, but the police will probably need to process the crime scene before anything else is touched."

"I'll call Chief Dennison and let him know the house is safe to enter. No Boo hags here." Cash held his cell phone, walked away from the group, and stood on the front porch.

Wes walked through the house one more time with his team and the three friends following. He shook his head. "I don't understand this at all." He hesitated and turned around. "I guess we're finished. Let's go."

Paige breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you, Bradley.

Paige, Cash, Billy Joe, and Mary Pat watched in silence as the paranormal team walked to their van. "I'm glad this is over." Paige rubbed the chill from her arms.

"You were really afraid they'd find something, weren't you?" Cash put his arms around Paige's shoulders.

As Paige nodded, she watched Wesley Blake's cap fly off his head to the other side of the van. Bradley, no! Within minutes the windshield wipers came on and the horn blew. Paige rubbed her eyebrows. Bradley, what have you done now?

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the picture of a diploma that could be earned studying paranormal activity. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 75
CHAPTER SIXTEEN, PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Paige breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you, Bradley.

Paige, Cash, Billy Joe, and Mary Pat watched in silence as the paranormal team walked to their van. "I'm glad this is over." Paige rubbed the chill from her arms.

"You were really afraid they'd find something, weren't you?" Cash put his arms around Paige's shoulders.

As Paige nodded, she watched Wesley Blake's cap fly off his head to the other side of the van. Bradley, no! Within minutes the windshield wipers came on and the horn blew. Paige rubbed her eyebrows. Bradley, what have you done now?

TODAY'S POST:

Still standing on the front porch, Billy Joe slapped Cash on the back. "Ya think we better go help those dimwits? I figure the electrical system's shorting out?"

"It would be the neighborly thing to do." Cash grinned. "We're Southern boys so we better live up to our upbringing." Both men walked down the steps to the van.

"Something must be wrong with the van." Wesley Blake stared at the vehicle. "Our equipment showed no paranormal activity."

"That was inside the house. Maybe the spirit was outside waiting for us to leave. I'm going to recheck." A paranormal team member attempted to open the back of the van, but it wouldn't budge.

From the porch Paige tilted her head, watched, and listened. Bradley, you're causing way too much trouble. You've made your point. It's time you stopped.

Mary Pat smiled. "This is better than a comedy reality show."

"Oh so true." Paige smiled when the van's activity stopped. Thank you.

As the four member paranormal team and Wes got into the van, Billy Joe slapped the hood. "I'd take this to a garage right away."

Wes nodded. "I'm on my way." They drove away and the horn pierced the air one more time.

Paige laughed. You're a real stinker. Couldn't help yourself, could you?

Billy Joe reached the steps first. As he put his right foot on the bottom step, he stumbled and his toothpick fell from his mouth. "Dang it, Cash. You didn't need to kick me in the ass."

"I didn't. You missed the step." Cash fell and his hands hit the steps catching his fall. "Something isn't right."

Mary Pat glanced at Paige and mouthed, "Is your buddy at work?"

Paige nodded and whispered, "I think so." She released a deep breath and shook her head.

"Let's do something fun." Mary Pat hooked her arm through her husband's as he reached the porch.

"You're right. We've been under stress for months. I think it's getting to all of us." Paige shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand as she watched the police chief drive up with three cars behind him. "I guess it's not going to happen now. How about when they leave?"

The foursome watched Chief Dennison and the six crime scene investigators walk up to the porch.

"Chief, did Redman say anything of interest?" Paige offered her hand. "We can go inside, get comfortable, and discuss it."

An investigator turned and faced Paige. "Sorry, but you're not allowed inside until we're finished."

Robert accepted Paige's hand. "Redman confirmed that Walker's giving the orders and is paying the two suspects. We still haven't been able to contact Walker. His family said he left for vacation, but didn't say where he was going."

Paige raised her eyebrows. "That's strange. Classes have already started at SCAD and he's a professor there. This early in the semester I can't imagine he took an extended leave."

"You have a point. I can't imagine his family lying for him. They're an upstanding family in this town; old money." The chief adjusted his hat.

"Rumor has it Walker lost the family fortune playing the commodities," said Cash. "They're behind on the plantation's taxes and are about to lose it. They want it back and Paige's money is an easy way to get it."

"I've heard that rumor too, but never believed it."

"It's true. I had my father's investor check it out. He lost millions and actually owes more than he lost."

"That puts a whole new spin on this case." Robert rubbed his chin.

Mary Pat had stood a little behind the group, but moved closer. "I'd love to know what Walker had on Redman in order to blackmail him into helping."

"I'm not at liberty to say, but I will tell you that all Redman did was hand the keys to the suspects." Dennison stepped away to answer his phone.

After he put his phone away, he joined the foursome. "We sent the rope you ladies were tied up with to Atlanta. We didn't have the equipment to process it. It seems both the young Walker and Davis' fingerprints and DNA were on it and on some duct-tape."

Paige glanced up when she heard her dog's familiar bark as the pup came running over to greet her, Nala following. "How have you been?" She hugged Nala, and then bent down and cuddled Morgan. "I missed you too."

Paige moved her head from side to side while the pup licked her face. She finally laughed. "It's good we're all together." Paige stood. "Chief Dennison, I'd like you to meet my friend, Nala Olson."

Nala offered her hand. "Pleased to meet you, sir."



Author Notes MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR!!!!!

Thank you Google images for the picture of a van that is used to identify paranormal activity. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 76
CHAPTER SIXTEEN, PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Paige glanced up when she heard her dog's familiar bark as the pup came running over to greet her, Nala following. "How have you been?" She hugged Nala, and then bent down and cuddled Morgan. "I missed you too."

Paige moved her head from side to side while the pup licked her face. She finally laughed. "It's good we're all together." Paige stood. "Chief Dennison, I'd like you to meet my friend, Nala Johnson."

Nala offered her hand. "Pleased to meet you, sir."

TODAY"S POST:

Chief Dennison stared at Nala's outreached hand, and then glanced at the people watching him. He hesitated, but accepted the hand. "Glad to meet you."

"As soon as the police are finished with my house we can go inside." Paige looked at the front door and frowned. "I hope they hurry."

"I'd better get back to the station. I just wanted to give you the update." Dennison walked down the steps.

Paige watched him remove a white handkerchief from his back pocket and wipe the hand Nala had touched. What a jerk! I can't believe prejudice is still alive and well in the 21st century. I see it is. She glanced at her watch. "It's close to two o'clock. No wonder I'm hungry. Let's get some lunch. Maybe these guys will be done by the time we return."

"Sounds like a plan. What about the mutt?" Cash petted Morgan's head.

Nala smiled. "I've already eaten. I'll stay with him."

"No, you won't." Paige's hands were on her hips. "Even if you only have something to drink, you're going with us. Morgan'll be fine in the old kitchen for an hour or so." She lifted Morgan. "Boy, you put on some weight. You're not so little anymore." Paige turned back and said, "Maybe you'd like some dessert."

"I'm full, really." Nala laughed.

Cash took Morgan from Paige. "He's too heavy for you. You'll hurt yourself. Nala, don't argue with her. Her mind's set. You'll lose."

"Ya got that right. How can I get a new toothpick?" Billy Joe's lips pouted as he eyed the front door.

"The restaurant'll have some, I'm sure." Mary Pat rubbed her husband's back and giggled. "Poor man!"

When Cash returned from putting the puppy in the back outside kitchen, they continued toward the SUV. Paige's eyes met Cash's. "We're getting a few answers but it seems small segments at a time."

"I think we're not only bein' spoon fed but baby spoon fed." Billy Joe opened the door for his wife. "Let's hurry. Cash, stop at the closest restaurant."

Paige rubbed her arms. "I have a feeling that something's wrong or will happen. I don't like this feeling."

Billy Joe studied his buddy as he drove. "Cash, ya think the police is protectin' Walker?"

"It's a real possibility and if it's true, there'll be problems getting to the truth."

Cash pulled in at an Oriental Buffet and parked. "Let's eat."

"Ya got to be kiddin'. You expect me to eat here?" Billy Joe stared his buddy down.

"You said stop at the nearest restaurant and this is it."

Paige tilted her head. "I happen to be fond of Oriental food. I hope they have General Tso's Chicken."

Mary Pat's eyes met Paige's. "Remember that time you took Nala and me to eat? What was it I liked?"

"Orange Chicken. Nala, you were fond of the Sesame Chicken."

Cash walked ahead. "It seems I made a good choice."

"Paige is citifying these females." Billy Joe's eyebrows clumped closer together. "And I don't even have a toothpick to get me through it."

At the door, the group was asked if they wanted the buffet or to order off the menu. Cash and Billy Joe stared at each other.

"Five for the buffet, please," Paige said. "And would you please point out the toothpicks?"

"Four, I'll only have some ice cream and some tea." Nala grinned.

Billy Joe rushed to get one, unwrapped it, and stuck it in his mouth. "Hmmm, much better."

*****
As the five left the restaurant and hurried back to the SUV, Paige hooked her arm with Billy Joe's. "Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me you didn't like the food?"

Billy Joe rubbed her on top the head. "It was okay. What was that stuff I kept goin' back for seconds on?"

"Hibachi Chicken and Lo Mein noodles."

"I guess it was eatable." Billy Joe laughed.

As Cash parked, he asked, "When do we have to return this SUV?"

"They're sending somebody tomorrow afternoon to pick it up." Paige smiled. "Look, they're packing up. You guys wait here. I'll go out back and get Morgan. I'll meet you inside." She jogged around the corner of the house.

Paige stuck her key inside the doorknob lock and her body stiffened. A hand placed over her mouth prevented her from screaming. An object stuck in her back between her shoulder blades.

Morgan's bark changed to a growl and then a snarl from inside the old kitchen. Paige heard him bang against the door.



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the picture of an Oriental Buffet. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 77
CHAPTER SIXTEEN, PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As Cash parked, he asked, "When do we have to return this SUV?"

"They're sending somebody tomorrow afternoon to pick it up." Paige smiled. "Look, they're packing up. You guys wait here. I'll go out back and get Morgan. I'll meet you inside." She jogged around the corner of the house.

Paige stuck her key inside the doorknob lock and her body stiffened. A hand placed over her mouth prevented her from screaming. An object stuck in her back between her shoulder blades.

Morgan's bark changed to a growl and then a snarl from inside the old kitchen. Paige heard him bang against the door.

TODAY'S POST:

Cash stood in the kitchen, moved the curtain, and then stared out the backdoor window. "Didn't Paige say she was getting Morgan and would meet us inside?"

Mary Pat stood beside Cash. "That she did. I thought she'd be waiting for us." She turned her head sideways so her ear was closer to the door. "Listen. Isn't that Morgan?"

"Yep, and he's angry. We'd better rescue her. Ya know how much trouble that dang Yankee can get into." Billy Joe chuckled and then set the toothpick tighter between his teeth.

Cash and Billy Joe rushed out the door and down the hill toward the outside kitchen. Mary Pat followed behind. Nala stood on the back porch.

The person who had grabbed Paige glanced up at the two men coming toward him. He tossed her to the ground and ran.

Cash yelled, "Billy Joe, stay with her. Mary Pat, call the cops." He ran after the suspect.

"Cash, no! He has a knife!" Paige held her breath and then released it. "Cash, come back."

*****
Billy Joe removed his shirt and used the sleeve as he held pressure on Paige's neck with one hand and used the tail and other hand to apply pressure across the right chest area above her breast.

"I'm fine, they're only scratches." Paige took over applying pressure to her chest. "He wanted to scare me into talking more than hurt me."

Silence continued until Paige heard dead leaves crackle and started to rise.

Billy Joe stood, used his hand to motion her to stay, and grabbed a knife from the sheath inside his boot. He turned, held his finger across his lips, nodded, and crept to the corner of the outside kitchen with the knife ready to attack.

Paige held her breath, afraid to breathe. This is my fault. As the sound of steps came closer, Paige hid her face in her hands. She turned her head toward the house when she heard sirens. Good. The police are close.

"Hey, buddy, you need to let me know you're comin' this direction." Billy Joe held up his knife. "I 'bout gotch ya." He replaced it in his boot-sheath.

"I lost him. He had a get-away vehicle on the next block." Cash put his hands down to help Paige. "You all right?"

"He sliced her a few times. I can't tell how deep." Billy Joe moved aside the shirt, revealing the cuts.

"You need medical attention." Cash ran his fingers through his hair, and then let Morgan loose. "You didn't get a chance to help, did you, buddy?" He rubbed the dog on both sides of his neck.

"They're only scratches, they aren't deep." Paige bent down and petted her pup.

Mary Pat led the police down the hill. Detective Davis asked, "Can you identify the man who did this?"

"Dwayne Walker. I recognized his voice. He tried to stay behind me, but I got two or three glimpses of him. He wanted the treasure that I don't know anything about." Paige glared at the police officer and revealed her injuries. "Now will you arrest him?"

*****
As everyone found a seat in the library, Cash asked, "Nala, would you get Paige a doctor's appointment? Those cuts need looked at."

Nala nodded and left the room.

Detective Davis studied Paige. "I need to know what you know about the treasure. It seems to be the root of all the problems around here."

"I've said this from the beginning and I'll say it again. I do not know anything about a treasure." Paige petted Morgan's head. "From my earliest memories, I've spent every summer in this house. I can't remember not spending summers here. Uncle Andrew and Aunt Paula never mentioned a treasure. I used to explore this entire house and I never found anything that even resembled a treasure chest. They had money, but I figured it was old money like my parents."

Davis took time scanning the room and then stared at each person. "If that's true, why do Dwayne Walker, James Davis Junior, and Tyler Davis believe there's a treasure?"

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a plantations old outdoor kitchen. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 78
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN


As the conversation continued about the treasure chest, Nala escorted Dr. Marc Henderson into the library.

Paige glanced up and rolled her eyes. "The knife only scratched me. I certainly don't need an ER doctor. I'm sorry they bothered you."

"You seem to be one accident-prone lady. Maybe you need a better class of friends." Marc set his bag on an end table.

"My friends had nothing to do with this. They didn't know what was happening." Paige petted Morgan's head. "My buddy was locked up so he couldn't help either. Let's get this over with."

"While the doc takes care of Paige, we can finish the conversation in the parlor." Cash led the group.

Mary Pat started to follow but hesitated. "I think I'll stay with Paige."

"I'll get some drinks and snacks." Nala walked to the kitchen.

After the men were seated, Cash looked Det. Davis in the eyes. "Any ideas on how to find out if the treasure chest's real?"

"If you follow the Savannah River out past Jasper Hwy, there's an area between Abercom Creek and Big Collis Creek. In this area lives a neighborhood of colored people. They're from old slave families and plenty of folklore has been passed down through generations. They're the only ones I'd know that'd know if there ever was a treasure. Them people knew everything about the families they worked for." Det. Davis shook his head. "I'd sure be careful if you go there. They don't take too kindly to white folks entering their area."

Billy Joe studied his buddy. "We going?"

"Yep. We have to find out if there's a treasure." Cash grinned. "We'd better not take Paige's Jaguar."

Davis stood. "I'll leave you two to your business. Don't call me if you get into trouble. They have their own justice system and don't take too kindly to the police. I'm going back to the station and adding to Walkers' arrest warrant."

After the police left, Cash called Karen. "Hey, how's my favorite sister-in-law? Do you still have that old beat-up car Colt worked on?" He listened. "Does it run?" Silence, then Cash said, "Billy Joe and I are on the way."

"Remember that old, rusted, two-door Chevy that my brother Colt was restoring?" Cash's eyes met Billy Joe's. When his buddy nodded, Cash continued, "That'd be perfect to drive to that area. Nobody'd want a thing from it."

"You sure you want to drive it? You haven't touched anything of his since he died."

Cash was silent. "It's hard losing your brother. Earlier that day, we'd set a date for a camping trip. We were taking his son. Car accidents happen so fast." He hesitated. "You know Colt would want us to use that old junker, if it'd help."

After they told Paige and Mary Pat their plans, the two men left.

*****
The sun still peeked over the horizon as Cash parked the old Chevy on the gravel street. He and Billy Joe leaned against the car's hood. Billy Joe removed his toothpick. "We won't have light much longer. Where to from here?"

"Don't know." Cash started walking.

"Where ya headed?"

"Don't know, just walking 'til I find somebody who'll talk. I'm guessing if we walk up and down the street enough somebody'll get curious."

"That's as good a plan as any." Billy Joe walked beside his buddy.

On the fifth trip back and forth on what looked like the main road, an older red-bone hound slumbered closer to the men. Cash knelt down and petted the dog. "Howdy." The dog nuzzled his head closer. Cash laughed. "I see you like attention." He took both hands and rubbed each side of the hound's neck. "Oh! You like that, uh?"

Cash continued until a gray-haired man walked partway onto the gravel road. Cash glanced up. "Hello. Your dog?"

"Yep."

"What's his name? I bet he did some hunting in his day."

"I call him, Dog. Yep, he liked ta hunt." The man eyed Billy Joe. "Ya don't like dogs?"

"I like dogs, but Dog seems to prefer my buddy."

The old man nodded. "Yep. I guess yar right. What brings you down here? We don't see too many of yar kind around here."

Cash stood but continued petting the dog's head. "We need some information and was told somebody down here'd have it." He offered his hand. "Cash Wilkins, and my friend here is Billy Joe Johnson."

Billy Joe offered his hand.

The old man studied them before he offered his hand. "Clyde Washington." He looked up and down the street. "What'd ya need to know?"

"Do you know anything about the old Bookman plantation?" Cash's eyes met Clyde's.

Clyde tapped his thigh, and Dog stood beside him. "What kind of things? I know the place is haunted and a pretty Yankee livin' there."

Cash grinned. Davis was right. These people know everything about everybody.

"Ever hear about a treasure chest?" asked Billy Joe.

The old man wiped his lips with a dark blue handkerchief. "I might be able to help ya if there was some of Molly's peach pie and a big scoop of 'nilla ice cream on it with a cup of coffee."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a gravel road in the swamp area around Savannah, GA. I have used some language that would be appropriate for that area and the people. I do not think it's appropriate or do I use that language myself. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 79
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Clyde tapped his thigh, and Dog stood beside him. "What kind of things? I know the place is haunted and a pretty Yankee livin' there."

Cash grinned. Davis was right. These people know everything about everybody.

"Ever hear about a treasure chest?" asked Billy Joe.

The old man wiped his lips with a dark blue handkerchief. "I might be able to help ya if there was some of Molly's peach pie and a big scoop of 'nilla ice cream on it with a cup of coffee."


TODAY'S POST:

Cash chuckled. "Where might we find this Molly? I bet her peach pie is mighty tasty." He rubbed his stomach.

"It is. I heard a few minutes ago a fresh pie just came out of da oven." Clyde adjusted his tattered straw hat and started walking toward a lit up diner. "Right this way. We'll stop and get Amos. He likes pie, too. His great-grandpappy worked on that plantation. If we hurry, the pie'll be warm."

*****
After the introductions, the four men continued to the diner. Inside, Dog crawled under the table.

As the men waited, they sipped coffee. Cash glanced around the diner and smoothed the checkered tablecloth. "This is a nice place."

"What were ya expectin'?" Amos took out his well-worn pocket knife and cleaned his corncob pipe.

"To be honest, I didn't know what to expect." Cash set the cup down. "Clyde said some of your ancestors worked the Bookman plantation."

"My whole family did, me included. My niece still works there."

"Nala's your niece?" Billy Joe's eyes widened.

"Sho' is." Amos grinned when a large slice of pie was set in front of him. "Dem Bookmans was good people. Dey pretended we was slaves, but paid us decent wages so dem uppity white folks wouldn't cause no trouble." He took a bite of pie and smacked his lips. "Story has it dat under dat house used to be one of dem underground railroads. Dey was helpin' our people get out." He glanced toward Clyde. "Remember my pa telling about dat Walker devil trying to kill James Bookman 'cause five slaves ran away and he accused Bookman helpin' dem?"

"I hear that battle still goin' on. Them families never could get along and they even married each other." Clyde shook his head. "Umm this pie's sho' is good." He smacked his lips.

After taking a bite of pie, Cash asked, "Ever hear of a treasure chest?" He took another bite. "This is really good. Does Nala have this recipe?"

Amos laughed. "How well do you know my niece?"

Both Billy Joe and Cash smiled. Cash glanced at the two men dressed in bib-overalls. "She's a wonderful lady and friend. We're friends with the present owner."

"Ya must be dose guys Nala said were helping Ms. Swanson against dem Walkers." Amos moved closer and studied Cash and Billy Joe and then he pointed his pipe at Cash. "Ya must be da man smitten by dat purdy Yankee. I heard tell she's as purdy as a speckled pup."

Is there anything he doesn't know? Cash sipped his coffee and studied the men.

"We're those guys." Billy Joe grinned and looked at Cash. "Think Nala'll bake us one of these pies?" After Cash nodded, Billy Joe continued, "We can't help unless we know if there's a real treasure chest and where it's hidden. Paige says she never heard of it."

"I'm sure she ain't." Amos set his fork down. "The story of da treasure goes all da way back to Bradley Bookman. Either of ya seen him around da house?"

Cash and Billy Joe stared at each other as their faces paled.

Amos laughed. "Ya look like ya done saw a ghost."

"Ain't no such thing as ghosts." Billy Joe straightened his shoulders.

"If ya say so." Amos chuckled. "We better have some more coffee and another slice of dat pie if we's gonna tell dat story."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a slice of peach pie. I have used some language that would be appropriate for that area and the people. I do not think it's appropriate or do I use that language myself. I have substituted 'd' in place of 'th' when Amos speaks. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 80
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
"Ya must be dose guys Nala said were helping Ms. Swanson against dem Walkers." Amos moved closer and studied Cash and Billy Joe and then he pointed his pipe at Cash. "Ya must be da man smitten by dat Yankee. I heard tell she's as purdy as a speckled pup."

Is there anything he doesn't know? Cash sipped his coffee and studied the men.

"We're those guys." Billy Joe grinned and looked at Cash. "Think Nala'll bake us one of these pies?" After Cash nodded, Billy Joe continued, "We can't help unless we know if there's a real treasure chest and where it's hidden. Paige says she never heard of it."

"I'm sure she ain't." Amos set his fork down. "The story of da treasure goes all da way back to Bradley Bookman. Either of ya seen him around da house?"

Cash and Billy Joe stared at each other as their faces paled.

Amos laughed. "Ya look like ya done saw a ghost."

"Ain't no such thing as ghosts." Billy Joe straightened his shoulders.

"If ya say so." Amos chuckled. "We better have some more coffee and another slice of dat pie if we's gonna tell dat story."

TODAY'S POST:

After seconds of pie and a coffee pot were brought to the table, Amos chuckled. "So ya dink ya can tame a Yankee woman, heh?" He took a long drink of coffee. "Maybe she wants ya to tame her. Dat's the only way ya can."

Cash studied his plate and shook his head. I can't believe they're having a conversation about Paige and me. He tried to change the subject. "We won't be able to help anybody unless we know if the treasure's real or not. How can it go all the way back to Bradley Bookman? He was killed during the Battle of Chickamauga."

"Ya's be right. He was, but he came back in time for da Missus to deliver da baby, I dink his name was James. Anyways, he helped her." Amos set his cup down. "Ya see Bradley was a ghost dat had business to complete." He fingered the tobacco in his pipe. "I'm a figurin' he ain't finished yet, 'cause he's still hangin' around. My pappy said he'd help Isaiah beat da others at poker. Now, Isaiah I'm purdy sho was one of James brood." Amos put the unlit pipe between his teeth and nodded. "Sho was."

"Amos, let me tell this part." Clyde chuckled. "The fancy men would go back behind the Pirate's House and play poker. They were too fancy to go inside a place of sin. If their women folk ever found out, they'd be sleeping with us colored folks." He laughed. "Well, Bradley being a ghost and all would help his grandson by telling him what cards the other players had."

Amos glanced toward the door opening. "Hey Willie, I ain't seen ya in a month of Sundays. How ya been? Sit a spell. Dese men are wantin' to know about dat Bookman treasure. Ya hear any stories about it?"

"Mr. Amos, I heared tell it's worth millions. Nobody done found it, yet." Willie glanced back at the door. "I don't have time to say what I know. Paul and me's got us a gator in da truck. I need to get some sodas. We got mighty thirsty fightin' it." He motioned for the waitress.

Clyde jumped up. "How big that feller be?"

"I figure about fifteen foot. We saw great grandpappy out there, but we couldn't get close. He's a wiley critter. I think he done laughed at us. He must be goin' on forty years old, maybe more." Willie shook his head. "Take a look see at this one. He's purdy."

All the men rushed outside to look at the alligator in the bed of the old rusted Chevy pickup.

Billy Joe tapped its head. "I ain't never seen one that big. You sure he's only fiifteen feet. I bet he's closer to twenty. Cash, you got your twenty-five foot tape measure?"

Amos held the end of the tape measure at the end of the gator's tail, while Cash pulled it until it reached the nose. The other men looked over Cash's shoulder.

Billy Joe yelled out, "It's twenty-one feet and four inches. Wow! He's a big 'un."

Willie glanced back at the diner. "I best get the sodas. We need to get this guy to the barn and skin him. I can't wait for fried gator."

Paul rubbed his stomach. "My favorite's creole gator stew. Can't beat it."

Amos, Clyde, Billy Joe, and Cash watched as the two men drove away. Amos opened the diner's door. "We best get back to our story tellin'."

After the four men sat, Cash asked, "Where were we?"

"Amos, we need to go back further than Isaiah cheatin' at cards." Clyde took a drink of coffee. "It done got cold. Francine, honey, can you warm up my coffee. The others need help too."

As the waitress poured fresh cups of coffee, Amos continued, "Yep, we need to go back further dan dat." Amos set the pipe by his plate and ate some pie. "Ya know Sherman spent the winter of 1864 in Savannah." He sipped his coffee. "His men had lots of jewels and coins dey done stole from da Southerners before dey burned da plantations on da march to da sea. Dem men gambled with dem pirates and all da stuff got mixed up dependin' on who won and who lost. Dem soldiers hid dat stuff and rumor has it, somehow dem Walkers found it and hid it from dem soldiers." He glanced at Clyde. "You finish with your part. My pie's a wastin'."

Clyde took his last bite of pie and a long sip of coffee. "Bradley told Isaiah what cards da other men had in their hands. So his grandson won all them treasures from Walker and the pirates. Walker lost the title to fifty-five acres of land down by the river, so Bookman had the water rights." He chuckled. "Walker knew Isaiah was cheatin' but couldn't figure out how. This went on for nearly two years. Isaiah done hid that treasure. He must of hid it good. I bet it's in one of them underground tunnels."

"Did anybody ever actually see the treasure?" asked Cash.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of an alligator. I copied more than I usually do of the previous post, because I was afraid if I didn't newcomers would be even more lost. I have used some language that would be appropriate for that area and the people. I do not think it's appropriate or do I use that language myself. I have substituted 'd' in place of 'th' when Amos speaks. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 81
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Clyde took his last bite of pie and a long sip of coffee. "Bradley told Isaiah what cards da other men had in their hands. So his grandson won all them treasures from Walker and the pirates. Walker lost the title to fifty-five acres of land down by the river, so Bookman had the water rights." He chuckled. "Walker knew Isaiah was cheatin' but couldn't figure out how. This went on for nearly two years. Isaiah done hid that treasure. He must of hid it good. I bet it's in one of them underground tunnels."

"Did anybody ever actually see the treasure?" asked Cash.

TODAY'S POST:

"Dat I don't rightly know." Amos removed his pipe. "I figure enough people talked about it dat it had to be true."

"Did the pirates ever try to get their jewels back?" Billy Joe scraped the last of the pie crumbs from his plate. "I can't believe they just peacefully turned it over. It ain't their nature."

"Them pirates tried to raid the Walker plantation. Them Walkers put them slaves out front to fight. They had a lot of slaves. I'm a guessin' the pirates gave up figurin' they'd just rob more tradin' ships." Clyde sipped his coffee.

"I can't believe those Yankees didn't try to get their money back." Billy Joe leaned back in his chair.

Cash glanced at his buddy and then at Amos. "Me neither."

"Rumor has it dat Sherman sent one of his highfalutin' colonels and some men to da Walkers. Dem Walkers had already hidden da treasure and when dem Yankees searched dey couldn't find it. Walker did give dem two of deir bastard children to show good faith."

"You mean they gave their own flesh and blood away to keep some money?" Cash's eyes widened.

"Well, now hold on a piece." Amos held the coffee pot up and motioned for more. "Ya see. Dey weren't real flesh and blood. Dem Walker men got with some of da slave women and they had children." He held up two fingers. "Dey sent two young males to fight with dem. Dey figured two mixed breeds couldn't do much damage." After the waitress brought a fresh pot of coffee and poured the men each a fresh cup, Amos took a sip. "Man, dat's good stuff." He looked at Cash. "Da best way to find da treasure is ask Bradley. He'll tell ya, or at least I bet he'd tell dat purdy Yankee."

Billy Joe glanced at his watch and motioned to Cash it was getting late.

Cash caught the waitress's eye. "Ma'am, could I please have the check?"

When Amos started laughing, the lady smiled. "You didn't tell them you owned the place, did you?"

"Sho didn't."

"Why am I not surprised?" Cash chuckled and laid forty dollars on the table. "I think this should cover the pie, coffee, and time." He held out his hand. "It's been a pleasure talking with you. Next time you make it to town, stop by. I know Paige would like to meet you."

"We sure will. Good luck with dat Yankee woman, ya's gonna need it. Dey mighty head strong. Ya come back, ya hear? Next week Molly's making blackberry pie. It's real good too."

"Is Molly your wife?" Billy Joe stood.

"Sho is. We be married going on seventy years."

"Ya old fool. It's fifty-nine years," called a female voice from the kitchen area.

Amos laughed. "It seems like more dan dat. She's one of dem Yankees." He rose to his feet.

Cash and Billy Joe walked to the old Chevy, as Clyde and Amos stood outside the diner. Dog waited by the car door until Cash petted him.

*****
As the two buddies crept down the unlit gravel road, there was silence. Finally Billy Joe asked, "What do ya think about the ghost and the treasure?"

"I think the whole Walkers family's evil." Cash stopped the car and waited for a deer and her fawn to cross. "I think there's some sort of a treasure, but I think it's exaggerated. Pirates and soldiers wouldn't give up that easy."

"What about Bradley the ghost?" Billy Joe used his fingers to put quotations around 'Bradley the ghost'.

"I believe something's going on." Cash stared out the windshield and continued to drive. "I just don't know what. None of this makes any sense."

"One thing I know for sure; there ain't no such thing as ghosts." Billy Joe tapped the dashboard.

The car's engine stalled.

Billy Joe's eyes widened as he whispered, "Cash, did the wind just pick up?"


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a tree and Spanish moss. I have used some language that would be appropriate for that area and the people. I do not think it's appropriate or do I use that language myself. I have substituted 'd' in place of 'th' when Amos speaks. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 82
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, PART FIVE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"I believe something's going on." Cash stared out the windshield and continued to drive. "I just don't know what. None of this makes any sense."

"One thing I know for sure; there ain't no such thing as ghosts." Billy Joe tapped the dashboard.

The car's engine stalled.

Billy Joe's eyes widened as he whispered, "Cash, did the wind just pick up?"

TODAY'S POST:

"Don't be ridiculous. A wire jarred loose on this gravel road. I hope Colt put a flashlight in this thing." Cash opened the car door.

"Didn't he rebuild the engine just before the car accident?" Billy Joe stared at Cash.

"Yep, but a wire could still be loose. Get out and help me look for a flashlight."

"I ain't movin' from this seat. It's dark out there and there ain't a moon or any stars. There's bears, mountain lions, and who know what else in those woods."

"The only animals out here are gators and we're too far from the swamp to be bothered with them. Come on and help so we can get home. We've been gone long enough; the girls are getting worried."

Billy Joe got out of the car and searched the back seat. "Good, at least we got a shotgun. If a bear gets close, I'll shoot him."

"Is the gun loaded?" Cash chuckled.

"I bet there's buckshot in the glove box." Billy Joe looked and held up a box. "It's here."

"Good. I'm glad we're safe from animals that don't exist." Cash continued searching the trunk. "He's got everything under the sun in here, but a flashlight. Nope wait. Here's one." Cash shut the trunk. "Hold this while I see what the problem is."

Cash unlatched the hood and opened it. "Now, I know why that piece of wood was in the trunk. Get it for me, unless you want to hold the hood open."

"I'm making sure no critter sneaks up on us." He headed for the rear of the car. "I'll look for more batteries. These are pretty weak."

After Billy Joe handed his buddy the wood, Cash propped the hood up. "Get the light over here. I can't see a thing."

Billy Joe pointed the flashlight toward the engine. "It doesn't give off much. I didn't see any new batteries."

"It'll have to do." Within moments, Cash stood straight up. "I can't see anything. All I know is there's an engine in there. Damn it!"

The engine started.

"You must of done something." Billy Joe looked under the hood.

"Nope, didn't touch a thing."

The flashlight became brighter.

Billy Joe ran to get inside the car. "This place is strange. Let's get out of here."

Cash closed the hood. "I'm not arguing."

*****
When Cash and Billy Joe returned, Mary Pat walked down the stairs and kissed her husband. "Did you find out anything?"

"We did but we're not sure what, yet." Cash glanced up the stairs.

"Being attacked and all finally hit Paige. She's pretty upset. If they don't arrest Walker soon, she'll shoot him herself." Mary Pat took Billy Joe's hand. "Let's go upstairs." She faced Cash. "You coming?"

"I'll be up in a few minutes. I want to check on some things." Cash walked into the kitchen and stared out the backdoor. Paige won't get a chance to shoot Walker. I'll kill him with my bare hands. He chuckled as he made sure the door was locked. Besides she hates guns. She's one of those East Coast liberals.

After Cash poured a glass of water, he checked the front door, and then went into the library. I drank enough coffee I won't sleep for days. Those ornery old coots. He stared at Bradley's photo. Speaking of ornery old coots, if you are a ghost why aren't you showing yourself. Is there really a treasure? If there is, why aren't you helping us find it? Or maybe you don't want us to find it, or maybe you want us to find it ourselves, or maybe there's no treasure. Cash finished the glass of water. "Hell, now you have me talking to a picture. This whole thing's stupid."

The glass fell from Cash's hand as he watched the photo of Bradley sway against the wall.

Moments later, Cash said, "If you have something to say, just say it. There's no sense in being secretive." He picked up the empty glass. "I'm going to bed. You do what you want."

Cash fell forward. He turned and looked behind his back. Who just kicked me? He climbed the stairs two at a time. I know better than to drink that much coffee. It's making me hallucinate. I'd better check on Paige. He slightly pushed the door open and noticed her on her side. Good, she's asleep.

As he started to leave, Paige asked, "Cash, is that you?"

"It is. Do you need anything?"

"Not really. I was just wondering if you found out anything new."

"Nothing that can't wait 'til morning. You'd better get some sleep."

Paige sat up in bed. "Would you sit with me for a while?"

How can I refuse with all she's been through today? Cash walked into the room, sat on the edge of the bed, touched the dressing on her neck, and dried tears on her cheek. "I'm glad it was only a scratch." He petted Morgan lying beside her.

"Are the police really trying to catch Dwayne or does his family have too much clout around here?"

"I don't know." Their eyes met as Cash continued, "You could probably throw a little clout around. I bet you or your family could make some pretty big waves."

Paige forced a smile. "Maybe tomorrow, I should call a TV station and set a five hundred thousand dollar reward for Dwayne Walker, dead or alive."

Cash tilted his head and nodded. "That would make the townspeople take notice. You might want to do something a little less showy."

"How about I hire a P.I. or a bounty hunter?" Paige touched Cash's arm. "That's it. Why haven't I thought of this before? I'll hire a bounty hunter. Do you know any? Where would I find one?" She reached for the phone book. "Do they advertise?"

After Cash too the book from Paige and set it on the nightstand, he said, "You can check into that in the morning. You really need to get some sleep."

"I tried, but can't. When I close my eyes, I hear all sorts of sounds and think somebody's in the house."

"I drank so much coffee I won't be asleep for hours. What if I sit here until you fall asleep?"

"I'd appreciate that." Paige cuddled under the covers. "Good night, Cash."

He reached over and kissed her cheek. "Good night."


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of lonely night. I have used some language that would be appropriate for that area and the people. I do not think it's appropriate or do I use that language myself. I have substituted 'd' in place of 'th' when Amos speaks. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 83
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN; PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Early morning sun shone in Paige's eyes, waking her. She glanced around the room, but Cash was nowhere in sight. After she showered and dressed, she and Morgan went downstairs.

Paige stared at the vast backyard from the kitchen window. She looked down at Morgan doing the 'got to go now' dance. "I know you need to go out, but I don't know if it's safe." When she heard footsteps coming up behind her, she turned her head. "It's only you." She released a pent up breath.

"Sorry to disappoint you." Cash grinned.

A slight pink flush came across Paige's cheeks. "I didn't mean it that way. I guess I'm still a little jumpy."

Morgan put his front paws on Paige's right hip and barked.

"He wants out."

"It looks like he's demanding to go out." Cash reached for the doorknob.

Paige put her hand on his arm. "You don't need to do it. I can."

Cash continued to open the door. "Why don't we do it together?"

As the door opened, Morgan pushed his way past them and ran out to the grass.

"I'm sure he feels better." Paige watched the puppy do his business, and then glanced at Cash. "What did you find out last night?"

Cash told Paige the story from the beginning to the end, causing her to laugh.

"Amos must be an interesting individual." Paige smiled.

"That's an understatement. He was well versed on Bookman history. In those books you've been reading does it say anything about their slaves?"

"There are two entire books on their history. I've noticed them, but haven't opened them. Why?" Paige tilted her head. "Should I?"

"I think it might make for some interesting reading. I'm guessing there's even a slave family tree."

"After I set up an appointment with a bounty hunter, I'll check those books out. What do you have planned for the day?"

"Billy Joe and I are going to try to finish the parlor. We're about two months behind on the renovations. The gardener texted me and is complaining. We might just get fired. I heard the boss lady's mighty tough on the help." Cash chuckled.

Paige punched his arm. "Whatever!"

"Ouch!"

They both looked toward the kitchen door when they heard Nala call them for breakfast.

"Morgan, come," Paige called and then yelled, "Race you!" She began running.

"That's not fair. You started before I knew we were racing." Cash jogged after her with the pup leaping up and grabbing his arm in play. "No, Morgan. I have to beat her." He ran.

A few feet from the steps, Cash passed Paige and reached the bottom step before her. "I won." He raised his arms in celebration.

Paige tickled under his arm as she passed, hurried inside the kitchen, and laughed. "Did I forget to mention the winner is the first person inside the house?"

Cash walked in and put his arm around Paige's waist. "I never pictured you as a cheater." He led her to the dining room table. "Let's eat. I'm starved."

Billy Joe and Mary Pat were already seated. Billy Joe laughed. "So you let a girl beat you."

"She cheated." Cash held up Paige's plate. "To get your plate back, you need to admit you cheated."

"Nala, could I please have another plate. A sore loser took mine." Paige laughed.

"It's nice to see everybody's in good spirits today." Nala set the biscuits on the table. "I heard you had quite a time talking with Uncle Amos last night."

"I guess you talked with him. His wife makes a great peach pie. I heard you have the recipe." Billy Joe grinned.

"He mentioned you both really liked it." Nala turned toward the kitchen. "I'll make one for dinner tonight. Do you think after last night you could eat another one or will it go to waste?"

Billy Joe stood and frowned. "Only one?"

*****
After breakfast, Cash and Billy Joe went to buy wallpaper paste. Nala went to the grocery store, and Mary Pat stayed with Paige. They settled on the couch in the library and began searching through one of the books labeled 'Slaves'.

Paige rubbed Morgan's head. "I heard it too, boy. I'm sure the guys are back and unloading supplies."

Mary Pat stood. "I'll check it out."

Morgan's stare continued to follow Mary Pat.

This is a list of run-a-way slaves the Bookmans helped get to the underground railroad. There really are tunnels under this house. Paige looked up as the pup left the room. "All right you check on it. Maybe Mary Pat and the guys need help."

Within moments, Paige heard Morgan bark, growl, and yip. She jumped up and ran to the hallway. "How'd you get in here? Where's Mary and Morgan?"

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a chocolate Labrador. I thought it was time Morgan got a headline. I hope EE doesn't destroy my post with ?'s this week. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 84
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN; PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Paige rubbed Morgan's head. "I heard it too, boy. I'm sure the guys are back and unloading supplies."

Mary Pat stood. "I'll check it out."

Morgan's stare continued to follow Mary Pat.

This is a list of run-a-way slaves the Bookmans helped get to the underground railroad. There really are tunnels under this house. Paige looked up as the pup left the room. "All right, you check on it. Maybe Mary Pat and the guys need help."

Within moments, Paige heard Morgan bark, growl, and yip. She jumped up and ran to the hallway. "How'd you get in here? Where's Mary Pat and Morgan?"


TODAY'S POST:

"Your friends can't help you."

"What did you do to them?" Paige scanned the room for evidence that Mary Pat and Morgan were all right.

"Now, would I hurt anybody?" He smirked, while aiming a knife at Paige.

"Yes." As he crept closer, Paige backed away.

"If you give me what I want, I'll leave you and your friends alone."

Paige set her jaw as she glared at Dwayne Walker. "I don't have the treasure. I don't know if there is or ever was a treasure." Paige's back was against the kitchen wall.

Walker used the knife to cut off the top button of her blouse. "This won't end good for you, sweetheart."

"I'm not your sweetheart."

"You could've been. I would've enjoyed teaching you to be a proper Southern Belle."

"You would've forced it on me."

"Once you saw the light, you would've easily given up those Yankee liberal ways. You're smart. It wouldn't take long for you to see the South's rising again. You would want to be on the winning side."

He's relaxed a little. Now's my chance. Paige slammed her knee into Walker's groin. When he doubled over in pain, she ran.

Paige didn't get far before he caught up to her. She was cornered. Think! There has to be a weapon in here. It's a kitchen for God's sake. On the floor by the cabinet, Paige saw the small kitchen fire extinguisher. That'll work. Patience. Wait for the right time.

"You're way too much trouble. If I didn't need you, you'd be dead."

"I can't tell you what I don't know." Paige never moved her glare from Walker. She heard growling in the background. He must've put Mary Pat and Morgan in the mud room. They're alive. Where's a ghost when you need one?

"You think you have it all figured out, but you can't play dumb forever. This time nobody's coming to your rescue. Those two rednecks' pickup is missing an important part." Walker took the distributer cap from his pocket, held it, and smiled. He glanced at his watch before he added, "Your uppity nigger's being detained as we speak. You know the other two are incapacitated." He laughed.

Don't show fear. Paige crossed her arms on her chest. "I don't have what you want. I've never heard of a treasure before all this garbage started."

Walker stepped closer, but was to the side. Paige didn't have a straight kick at him. As he lunged for her, she stretched her arm out and with her fingernails gouged his right eye.

Before he looked at his bloody hand, he applied pressure. "Bitch!"

Paige took deep breaths. Don't be afraid! You have him right where you want him. She took another deep breath. Sorta.

With the knife aimed at Paige, Walker motioned for her to move. "Go toward the sink. I need to get a damp towel for my eye."

"I'm not moving." Paige put her hands on her hips.

"You heard me! Move!"

"I said I'm not moving." Paige's blue eyes glared at him.

"I need a doctor, Bitch."

"If you put the knife down, I'll call one."

"Sure! Right after you call the police." He glanced around the room. "As soon as I get the treasure, I'm leaving this town."

"There is no treasure. It's a myth." Paige paused. "If you don't get medical help, you might lose the eye or the sight might be damaged."

"I should kill you and search for the treasure myself." Walker lunged for Paige.

Paige averted his attempt, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and slammed it against Walker's body as hard as she could. "Take that, you creep."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a woman kneeing a man. I am sure Paige isn't wearing a dress and heals, but you get the idea. I hope EE doesn't destroy my post with ?'s this week. I have contacted Tom, but.....I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 85
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN; PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

"There is no treasure. It's a myth." Paige paused. "If you don't get medical help, you might lose the eye or the sight might be damaged."

"I should kill you and search for the treasure myself." Walker lunged for Paige.

Paige averted his attempt, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and slammed it against Walker's body as hard as she could. "Take that, you creep."

TODAY'S POST:

Dwayne Walker used his weight, leaned against Paige, and knocked her onto the floor. Paige struggled but couldn't stand. Walker's body covered her from her feet to her waist. Blood puddled on the floor. Paige managed to grab the fire extinguisher but couldn't raise it from her angle. Instead, she pulled the safety key and sprayed Walker's face.

"Bitch! I'll kill you!" Dwayne raised himself just enough to slug Paige.

Paige cried out, swung the empty canister, and blocked the punches.

"Paige!" Cash lifted Walker from her and repeatedly slugged Walker's already battered body.

Billy Joe helped Paige to her feet, and into a chair. He then grabbed Cash around the shoulders and dragged him away.

Dwayne fell unconscious.

"You'll kill him. He ain't worth it. Let the police handle it." Billy Joe dialed 911 and gave them the information.

When Billy Joe finished talking, Cash asked, "Why'd you pull me off?"

"Because Paige doesn't need you in jail. She needs you to be with her."

"Cash walked over to Paige and caressed her cheek. "Where's Mary Pat and Morgan."

Paige pointed. "I don't know for sure but I think they're in the mud room."

Cash started in that direction.

"You stay with her. I'll get my wife." Billy Joe left.

Cash knelt in front of Paige, put his arms round her, and held her. "It's over."

After moments of silence, Morgan ran into the room growling. He jumped up and grabbed Walker's arm.

Cash swung around as a knife grazed his back shoulder blade, cutting his shirt. He jumped up, clutched Dwayne by the throat, and shook him.

The knife had fallen to the side. Paige noticed as it moved toward her. She grabbed it and thrust it into Walker's side, not once but repeatedly and yelled, "Take that!"

*****
Mary Pat kicked Dwayne Walker in the stomach as she walked by him. "He's the scum of the Earth."

Morgan sat beside Paige, putting his head in her lap.

Paige petted his head. "Thank you, buddy." She glanced up when she heard the front door open. "Detective Davis, what brings you to our neighborhood?"

He walked to the body lying face down in blood. "Walker, I presume." He took out his phone, called for a bus and the crime scene unit.

"Who else keeps breaking into my house?" Paige touched Cash's cut shirt. "Maybe you need to go to the ER this time, instead of me."

"I'm fine, only a scratch. It's barely bleeding. I've been hurt worse playing football."

"Would somebody please tell me what happened?" Davis removed his notebook from his pocket.

"If I tell you, will you believe me this time?" Paige glared at him.

"I think the body and the surrounding evidence speaks for itself."

"If you would've believed me the first time or even the second, this wouldn't have happened."

"You've made your point." Davis tapped his pen on the pad. "Just give me the facts."

After Detective Davis wrote down the events of the afternoon and the crime scene unit left, Cash released a deep breath. "How'd you get the knife?"

Paige took his hand. "Bradley moved it within my reach."

"Don't go talkin' about them ghosts again." Billy Joe shook his head. "If he was real, why didn't he take care of Walker before he put my wife in the mud room?"

"I don't understand what he does or doesn't do. I just know I saw the knife move toward me."

*****
Billy Joe pulled Cash aside. "Once it sets in that Paige assisted in killing Walker, she's not going to take it well."

"I know." Cash went back to Paige. He brushed aside a lock of hair that had fallen over her face. She looked up and smiled as he drew her closer.



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of police lights. I know you will be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I hope EE doesn't destroy my post with ?'s this week. I have contacted Tom, but.....I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 86
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN; PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Billy Joe pulled Cash aside. "Once it sets in that Paige assisted in killing Walker, she's not going to take it well."

"I know." Cash went back to Paige. He brushed aside a lock of hair that had fallen over her face. She looked up and smiled as he drew her closer.


TODAY'S POST:

Cash touched Paige's hand with his. "Let's go into the library. It's more comfortable in there."

Paige followed. After she settled on the couch, Cash sat beside her. Billy Joe and Mary Pat followed. Mary Pat glanced at her watch. "Nala's taking longer than usual at the grocery store."

Paige jumped up. "Walker said Nala was being detained." She looked at Cash. "He had your distributor cap. He's done something to Nala. We need to help."

"We already know what he did. Once we bought a new one it took forty-five minutes to fix it." Cash ran to the truck with Billy Joe on his heels.

Mary Pat and Paige hurried to Paige's Jaguar. Both groups rushed to the grocery store.

Once inside, the foursome found the manager's office. There sat Nala.

Paige walked to her and hugged her. "What happened?"

"This man accused me of stealing your money." Tears welled in Nala's eyes. "I never did nothing like that. Honest."

After Paige knelt down, she put her arms around Nala. "I know. Walker arranged all of this. I'll settle it." She glanced at Cash. "Would you take her home?"

"Excuse me. You can't take her anywhere." The young assistant manager glared at Paige.

"I know you're too young to be the manager of anything. Where's your boss?" Paige glared back and checked the nametag on his shirt, making sure she got his name correct. "Mr. Larry Matter."

"He's not available. I'm in charge." Larry glanced at his watch. "The police should have been here by now. I wonder what's taking them so long."

Paige tapped her watch. "I'm giving you three minutes to contact your boss."

"I told you I'm in charge."

"You now have two and a half minutes."

The young male stood his ground. "You can't threaten me. Wait 'til the police arrive."

"I'll be sure to tell them how Dwayne Walker paid you to detain Nala." Paige paused. "Oh, by the way, you're down to a minute and a half."

Mr. Matter walked over to Nala. "I'm sorry, ma'am. There's been a mistake. You're free to leave."

Cash took Nala's hand. "Let's go home." He led her to the door.

Nala turned. "What about my car?"

"If you give me the keys, I'll drive it home." Billy Joe put his hand out.

After reaching into her purse, Nala handed Billy Joe the keys. "It's not real fancy." She looked at the floor.

Billy Joe knelt down so their eyes met. "Neither's mine." He patted her hand as he took the keys.

Paige watched as Nala and Cash closed the door behind them, and then she turned toward the young assistant manager. "How much did Walker pay you to detain Nala?"

Larry sat down and ran his fingers through his medium length dirty blond hair. "I'm going to be fired, aren't I?"

"Looks like it. My attorney will be in touch. Losing your job is the least of your problems. Since you're the assistant manager, I may sue the entire grocery chain." Paige titled her head toward sirens. "The police have finally made it."

*****
After Paige, Mary Pat, and Billy Joe arrived home, they discussed the events leading to the arrest of Larry Matter.

Paige hugged Nala. "Don't worry about anything. I never believed for a second you'd steal from me."

Mary Pat plopped in a recliner. "This Matter guy married one of the Walker cousins. I guess they're all related somehow." She rubbed her eyes. "I don't think I can take anymore today. I'm beat."

Billy Joe glanced toward the kitchen. "I'm starving."

"It'll be something simple." Nala headed for the kitchen.

Paige stopped Nala and tossed some money on the coffee table. "Order delivery. I'm going to my room."

Cash stood up to follow, but Billy Joe touched his arm. "She needs to be alone for a little while."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a grocery store. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I hope EE doesn't destroy my post with ?'s this week. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me. Steven, my youngest son, 20 years old until Monday, is home and resting peacefully. He may still be facing surgery. The lesion on his salivary gland has decreased in size but still twice the original size and still producing puss. No clue what caused it. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.


Chapter 87
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN; PART FIVE

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Billy Joe glanced toward the kitchen. "I'm starving."

"It'll be something simple." Nala headed for the kitchen.

Paige stopped Nala and tossed some money on the coffee table. "Order delivery. I'm going to my room."

Cash stood up to follow, but Billy Joe touched his arm. "She needs to be alone for a little while."


TODAY'S POST:

I should be with Paige. She needs my support. Cash thought as he sat.

His friends discussed their options for delivery and settled on pizzas and salads, deciding if Paige ate anything it would be salad.

"Ya in agreement?" Billy Joe asked his buddy.

Cash stared at the stairs leading to Paige's room.

Billy Joe kicked his buddy's boot. "Hey, is it okay if we order a buffalo b-cued in a pit?"

"Yeah." Cash studied the staircase.

"Go ahead and order. I guess buffalo's fine."

Mary Pat tilted her head. "I thought we decided on pizzas and salads."

"We did. Just teasin'." Billy Joe punched Cash's shoulder. "After the food gets here, take some to Paige."

Mary Pat set the phone down. "They said it'll be here in about twenty minutes."

Nala walked toward the kitchen. "I'll set the table." Mary Pat followed.

"I should be with Paige." Cash still stared at the stairs.

"Give her space to work it out. Paige's a lot stronger than we thought." Billy Joe took a toothpick from his shirt pocket.

"I know. She needs a shoulder to lean on."

"And ya think ya're that shoulder?" asked Billy Joe as his eyes widened.

"I am." Cash stood. "Who else would it be?"

"Sit. Wait 'till the food comes so ya'll have an excuse. If ya go up now, ya'll look like a lovesick dog. She's already got one mutt."

Mary Pat stood in the doorway with her hands on her hips. "Cash, you won't look like a lovesick dog, you'll give her the impression you don't think she's capable of handling things. No woman want's a man to believe that."

Cash studied Mary Pat for a moment and then sat. "Okay." He glanced at his watch. "It'd better hurry."

*****
After the delivery man came, Cash grabbed two slices of vegetable pizza and a salad. He headed for the stairs. "Save me some with all meat."

"Whoa!" Mary Pat grabbed his arm. "You'll need more than that." She opened the freezer door grabbed two containers of ice cream, and faced Nala. "Which one? I'd say butter pecan."

"I agree." Nala handed Cash a spoon.

"You've got to be kidding." Cash accepted the container of ice cream. "Shouldn't it be in a bowl?"

"Nope, only the container will do." Mary Pat nodded.

Mary Pat, Billy Joe, and Nala watched Cash walk up the stairs. Billy Joe sighed. "I hope he doesn't strike out."

"He won't. Paige loves him as much as he loves her." Mary Pat took a bite of pizza.

*****
Cash stood in the doorway of Paige's room with hands filled with pizza, salad and a half gallon of ice cream. "You hungry?"

Paige glanced at him, and then walked over, and grabbed the ice cream. "Butter pecan, my favorite." She sat and began to pry the lid off. "Do you have a spoon?"

Cash handed her one. Mary Pat was right. She's going to eat straight from the container. But she's a Yankee, from Boston. Maybe it's a female thing.

Paige studied Cash for a few moments. "Is something wrong?"

"No. Here's salad and pizza."

"You can eat that. I want the ice cream."

"Okay." Cash took a bite of pizza. This could use some meat. "Can I sit by you?"

"Sure." Paige scooted from the center giving Cash more room, scooped a spoonful of ice cream, and put it in her mouth. "Yum, this is just what the doctor ordered."

Cash took another bite of pizza.

After a long silence, Paige said, "I guess I'm going to jail." She studied the spoon.

"I don't think so. If Davis thought you were at fault, he would've arrested you. I think he feels you protected yourself and me. The police are aware of the problems you've had with Walker."

"I hope you're right." Paige put another spoonful of ice cream in her mouth as tears welled in her eyes. "Do you honestly believe this is over?"

Cash's eyes met hers. "I think the Walker family may still cause problems, but for the most part; it's over." He drew Paige closer into his chest and held her.

When Paige finished crying, she backed away. "Sorry."

Cash stood. "Not a problem." He reached for a tissue, handing it to her.

Paige dried her eyes. "You knew this was coming, didn't you? That's why you brought the ice cream."

"To be honest, Mary Pat suggested the ice cream. I wouldn't have thought of it. Next time I will." Cash grinned. "How can I help?"

"Will you hold me?" Paige lay on the bed. "I need to be held."

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a butter pecan ice cream. I am NOT endorsing any brand of ice cream, this happens to be the one I found still in the container. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I hope EE doesn't destroy my post with ?'s. I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me. Steven, my youngest son, 20 years old until tomorrow, is home and resting peacefully. He has two doctor's appointments next week and they'll decide if he is healing or needs surgery. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.


Chapter 88
CHAPTER NINETEEN; PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

END OF CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:

When Paige cried her final tear, she backed away. "Sorry."

Cash stood. "Not a problem." He reached for a tissue, handing it to her.

Paige dried her eyes. "You knew this was coming, didn't you? That's why you brought the ice cream."

"To be honest, Mary Pat suggested the ice cream. I wouldn't have thought of it. Next time I will." Cash grinned. "How can I help?"

"Will you hold me?" Paige lay on the bed. "I need to be held."


TODAY'S POST:

CHAPTER NINETEEN

The following morning, Paige woke up in Cash's arms. "You stayed with me."

"You needed me."

Paige's face turned a light pink. "It's humid." She glanced toward the door. "I need a shower."

"It feels like a storm's brewing." Cash stretched. "I'll meet you downstairs. I smell coffee. I think everybody's up." He left the room.

After showering and dressing, Paige stared out the window, loosing track of time. When she heard the doorbell, she walked into the hallway. Overhearing Mr. and Mrs. Dwayne Walker Sr. announce themselves, she went downstairs with Morgan by her side. "I'm Paige Stevenson. Why are you here?"

"You're the woman who murdered my son." Mr. Walker stood directly in front of her.

Morgan growled.

Paige patted the pup's head. "I did. He had attacked my friends, tying up one and stashing her and my dog in the mudroom. Then he attacked me. When other friends arrived, he attacked them."

Mrs. Walker cried, "Lies, all lies. My son wouldn't attack anybody."

"He paid the assistant manager of the grocery store to lie and have a friend detained." Paige's hands were on her hips. "He stole a distributor cap from my friend's truck."

Mr. Walker glared at Paige. "You'll rot in jail for what you did to my son. You're slandering our good name."

Paige maintained eye contact. "I doubt it. The police have come to many crime scenes and have seen what he was capable of." She paused. "I think you should leave. By the way, you'll be hearing from my lawyer."

"Your lawyer! How dare you threaten us! We're mourning a son that you murdered." Mrs. Walker's finger shook as it lingered, pointing at Paige.

"And your son has caused nothing but trouble since I came to town." Paige walked to the door and opened it. "Please leave. Or I'll call the police and have you removed."

Mrs. Walker walked out the door. "How dare you talk to us that way! You need to mind your manners, young lady." Her husband followed and Mrs. Walker said, "I guess she doesn't know who we are."

Mr. Walker turned and faced Paige. "She knows all right. She just doesn't care."

You're right, I don't care. Paige stood in the door and watched their Rolls Royce leave, as she said, "What a way to start a day." Cash walked up to her and put his arm around her waist. She turned toward him. "Did you say something about a storm?"

"I did. Not that type, but the Mother Nature type." Cash kissed Paige's forehead. "You doing all right?"

"As soon as I contact my lawyer, I'll be fine." Paige grabbed her cell and went into the library.

*****
It wasn't long before Paige joined her friends around the breakfast table. Cash held a chair while Paige sat. He asked, "Did everything go all right?"

"Yes, Jason Monroe, my family's lawyer, should be contacting the Walkers as we speak. It should be taken care of in a matter of minutes. He's also filing a restraining order on them and all their associates. I shouldn't be bothered again. Mary Pat, would you please pass the biscuits and bowl of fresh fruit?"

Mary Pat handed Paige the plate of biscuits and the bowl. "What are your plans for the day?"

Paige took a biscuit and filled her plate with fruit. "I'm going to relax with my buddy." She petted Morgan, sitting on the floor beside her. "I think I'll do some research. How about you?"

"Sometime today, Billy Joe and I have to go by the house. Our car's license plates are due and it seems proof of insurance isn't in the glove box where it should be." Mary Pat glared at Billy Joe.

"She thinks I left it in my pants pocket and lost it. I don't think she gave it to me."

"You probably lost it," teased Cash. "The hardware store sent over the wrong varnish. I need to take care of it." He took a bite of bacon. "Hmmm, this is good."

"Nala, what are your plans?" asked Paige.

"After lunch, I'm going back to the grocery store and get the groceries."

Paige chewed on her lower lip. "Would you like me to come with you?"

"No. I need to do this myself. I wasn't guilty of anything."

"You don't need to prove anything." Paige touched her hand.

"I know." Nala moved the hash browns around her plate.

Mary Pat stood. "I'll get started on some of the dishes."

Paige picked up some bowls. "I'll help."

*****
While the group ate lunch, Nala glanced out the window before she joined them. "There's dark clouds building in the south. We're probably going to get a late afternoon thunderstorm. I'd better hurry and get my chores done so I can go and get back from the store."

"I'll help. Then Billy Joe and I can do our running around. You haven't found the proof of insurance, have you?" Mary Pat glared at her husband.

"Cash, I'll meet ya outside." Billy Joe left the room, chomping on his tooth pick.

Cash grinned. "I'll get my running done when everybody gets back. That way Paige won't be alone."

"I'll be fine alone, I have my trusty dog." Paige petted Morgan. "Let's help. That way you all can leave and be back before the storm hits."

After the lunch dishes were finished and her friends left, Paige took Morgan on a walk around the back yard. "Boy, the wind's picking up. I'm glad everybody left early. This feels like a nasty storm's building. The temperature's already dropping. Finish your job."

Inside, Paige stood at the front door and looked south. It's really dark. She went into the library, grabbed the Bookman family journal, and curled up on the couch with Morgan beside her. "This is as good a place as any to ride out the storm. They usually don't last too long." She glanced at her watch. "Everybody should be back in ten to fifteen minutes."

Morgan whimpered at the first sound of thunder in the distance.

Paige patted his head. "It's okay. It's still a few miles away. We're safe. When I visited Aunt Paula as a child, we rode out many summer storms sitting right here."

The wind howled as the storm neared. Tree branches blew into the house, causing Morgan to bark. Large limbs fell on the roof and the ground. The lights flickered off and on.

Paige grabbed an afghan and covered herself and the pup. "I knew this one would be bad." She opened a drawer and grabbed the flashlight. "I'm glad Cash insisted on keeping fresh batteries in this. The lights might go out." She glanced toward the door. I wish everybody'd get back. It's dangerous driving in this.

Rain pelleted the house. The bang and crackle of lightning striking close by caused Morgan to yelp. The lights when out. Paige turned on the flashlight. Where Morgan had lain, she felt cooler air on her legs. What happened? Where's Morgan? She paused. "Morgan, Morgan, come here, boy." Paige moved the flashlight beam around, searching the room. "Morgan, I know it's scary. Where are you? Morgan?"


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a storm brewing. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me. Steven, my youngest son, 21 years has been cleared and no surgery as of now. The antibiotics are doing their job. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.


Chapter 89
CHAPTER NINETEEN; PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

END OF PREVIOUS POST:

Rain pelleted the house. The bang and crackle of lightning striking close by caused Morgan to yelp. The lights when out. Paige turned on the flashlight. Where Morgan had lain, she felt cooler air on her legs. What happened? Where's Morgan? She paused. "Morgan, Morgan, come here, boy." Paige moved the flashlight beam around, searching the room. "Morgan, I know it's scary. Where are you? Morgan?"


TODAY'S POST:

The lights were out in the house when Cash returned. "Paige! Paige!" He hurried into the library, noticed the wadded up afghan, and lifted it. The Bookman journal made a thud as it fell to the floor. She was here. But now where? With a flashlight in hand, Cash took two stairs at a time. It doesn't look like they came up here.

*****
Billy Joe entered through the front door and called out, "Paige, Cash. Where's everybody?"

"Are you guys upstairs?" asked Mary Pat as the muscles in her face tightened. "Something isn't right."

Cash stood at the top of the landing and turned off his flashlight. He motioned for his buddy to point the light away from him. "Paige and Morgan have disappeared."

"That's impossible." Billy Joe scanned the vacant areas with the light.

"Do you think the Walkers have anything to do with this?" Mary Pat clutched her husband's arm.

"I don't know. I can't believe they could've just disappeared." Cash stood beside his friends. "It looks like they were in the library."

They couple followed Cash, and then Mary Pat folded the afghan and set the journal on the table. "She was here." She glanced at the ceiling when the lights came on. "Now, we'll find them. You know how Morgan is about storms. They're hiding someplace."

Cash walked over to the open drawer and closed it. "It looks like she has a flashlight."

Nala walked in and stood in the library doorway with her arms full of grocery bags. "Boy, it's nasty out there." As she looked around the room at each person, her eyes widened and she asked Mary Pat. "What's wrong?"

"Paige and Morgan are missing." Mary Pat walked to her. "Let me help. The guys are searching for her. She glanced at the men. "We'll be right back." She took two bags from Nala and the women went to the kitchen.

*****
Within moments the ladies returned. Nala walked over to the wall with the Bookman photographs on it. She frowned and bent down and took something off the floor. Holding it up to the light she studied it. "Isn't this one of the earrings Paige wore at lunch?"

"It must have tangled in her hair and fell out." Mary Pat took it.

Nala tapped on the wall. "Uncle Amos said the underground tunnel's door used to be around this area. Do you think the storm somehow opened it and Paige went searching?"

"Don't be ridiculous." Billy Joe pointed his toothpick at the wall. "That's just an ol' legend."

"No it isn't. I'm calling Uncle Amos." Nala lifted her cell phone from her pocket. "Hi, Uncle Amos." After talking for a few minutes, she said, "Uncle Amos will be here in about forty-five minutes."

"I'm not waiting." Cash headed toward the door. "Billy Joe, let's look outside. Maybe we can find some clues." His buddy followed.

*****
When Cash and Billy Joe heard the roar of a pickup that had lost its muffler decades ago, they stood on the front lawn. Billy Joe scratched his head and Cash removed his cap, hitting it against his thigh as he grinned.

After Amos parked, Clyde stepped out and four other men jumped down from the bed. Amos walked around the front of the truck, shook Cash's hand, and said, "I heard dat purdy youn' gal of your'n done got herself lost in dem tunnels."

Cash laughed as the red-bone hound slumbered his way from the back of the pickup. "I see Dog made the trip." He petted the animal's head.

"He be de best tracker ya ever did see." Amos's chest almost burst with pride through his coveralls. "If Dog can't find dat Yankee, ain't nobody can. Dem tunnels be aweful dark."

Nala hurried down the steps and put her arms around her uncle. "I'm glad you're here. We're worried sick about Ms. Paige."

"Don't worry, youn'un. I brought Dog with me." Amos motioned to the men. "Let's get inside and see what's going on."

*****
Inside the library, Amos wiped his brow with a red kerchief. "Dis is a right fancy place. It shore would make for a nice homestead to raise a herd of youn'uns." He winked at Cash. "Shore would."

Nala pointed to the carpet by the wall. "Uncle Amos, this is where we found Ms. Paige's earring."

Amos stood back and studied the wall. After a few moments, he gently slid the palms of his hands along the wall. "I don't rightly remember where da latch be."

"If there are tunnels, why'd they suddenly open up?" Billy Joe put a new tooth pick in his mouth.

"Dat was a doosey of a storm. Sometimes de air be just right to cause strange dings to happen. It be just right." Amos searched more of the wall.

Bradley Bookman's photograph began to sway. Amos's smile was so wide his missing front teeth showed. "Dank ya." He removed the picture, set it against the wall, and slid his hand where the photo had hung. "Yep, the latch be right here." After he pressed the area, a small doorway swung open.

The eight men entered single file into the tunnel.

"Holy shit! There really is a tunnel." Billy Joe's eyes widened.

Amos led the group, knocking down spider webs as he walked. "Ain't nobody been here in years. These spiders done took over."

"Anything dangerous live down here?" Billy Joe stuffed his toothpick in his shirt pocket.

"Depends what ya call dangerous." Amos chuckled. "I figure dat pup of her's scared most critters into hiding." He glanced around. "Where's Dog?" Dog moseyed closer to his owner. He motioned for Nala to pass the afghan his way. He held in in from of Dog. "I need ya to find dat youn' lady. Now, go find her." Dog led the way.

After walking a couple hundred yards, Dog stopped and barked. Cash paused. "This can't be good." He stared at the fallen rocks and damp soil that blocked the passage way. "Paige isn't under this, is she? Is there another way in?" He dug through rocks. "Help me. She could be suffocating!

"It ain't good." Amos wiped his brow. "If dat dog barked, it probably caused dese old walls to collapse. Dey ain't been tended to for years." He pointed to the two youngest men that came with him. "You'n get shuvels and buckets from da truck, den start a'diggin'. If ya find somethin' send Nala after us. We're going to da cemetery. I know dere's an entrance dere."

Amos stood in front of Bradley's photograph. "Ya done showed me one door. Can ya show me one closer dan the cemetery? It's a good mile away. I don't know all da openin's in da house. Us'un weren't allowed much in da house."

Billy Joe turned. "Let's get going. He ain't going to show us nothing. He can't. He ain't real and we're wasting time."

Amos, Clyde, and the other two men that came with Amos followed Billy Joe.

Rumbles and loud clashes of rocks roared from the tunnel. Stale air entered the library. Mary Pat, Nala, Cash, and the two men helping dig coughed.

One of the men held up something. "Amos, wait. I found somethun'."

Cash wiped his eyes, coughed, and then said, "It's one of Paige's tennis shoes." He dug faster. "We need to hurry! We're running out of time."



Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of an underground railroad used during the Civil War era. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 90
CHAPTER NINETEEN; PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Billy Joe turned. "Let's get going. He ain't going to show us nothing. He can't. He ain't real and we're wasting time."

Amos, Clyde, and the other two men that came with Amos followed Billy Joe.

Rumbles and loud clashes of rocks roared from the tunnel. Stale air entered the library. Mary Pat, Nala, Cash, and the two men helping dig coughed.

One of the men held up something. "Amos, wait. I found somethun'."

Cash wiped his eyes, coughed, and then said, "It's one of Paige's tennis shoes." He dug faster. "We need to hurry! We're running out of time."



TODAY'S POST:

When the young man held up Paige's shoe, Amos closed his eyes and his lips silently moved. He opened his eyes. "We're a wastin' time."

"I agree." Billy Joe plopped a new toothpick between his lips and followed Amos.

Two of the four men that rode in the truck bed trailed behind.

Billy Joe stopped. "It's gonna be hot out there. I'll grab some water." He opened the cabinet door under the sink and quickly filled a thermos. "See, it didn't take long." As he walked closer to the back door, a floor slab creaked. "Whoa! This never happened before." He moved back and forth.

Amos joined him. "It be a sign. Dank ya, Bradley." He began searching the wall for the hidden door.

"There ain't no hidden door here. We're wastin' time. Let's go." Billy Joe opened the kitchen door. "All there is in the kitchen is a hidden staircase to Paige's bedroom. Cash put a lock on it."

"Where it be?" Amos turned and stared at Billy Joe. "Dat be what we need."

"Over here, by the pantry." Billy Joe pointed at the padlock and felt behind the cabinets for the key. When he found it, it unlocked the door. "It's in here."

Amos slid both hands along the walls looking for the latch. "I know it be here. I heard tell how the various Mr. Bookmans would go down to the tunnel and help dem slaves through dem tunnels to da next place. Dem people like dem Walkers watched da house, trying to catch dem. Dem Walker type people be slave catchers."

Moments later, the door to the tunnel opened.

"Cash, we found another door," Billy Joe called. Then waited for his buddy. "The others can finish digging. If they find anything, they can call."

"I be bettin' dem phones won't work where's we be going?" Amos shook his head.

"I'm sure you're right," said Cash as he entered the kitchen. "Why are we standing here talking? Let's go."

Amos let Dog smell the afghan and followed the animal into the tunnel.

"Doubt Paige came this way. Dog won't get her scent until he's closer." Cash was behind Amos.

"Might get da scent of dat other critter. I's tell ya, he be da best tracker around dese parts. He may not be as purdy as some dogs."

Inside the tunnel, Cash glanced around. This must be four feet wide. He looked up and thought, I'm six three and have to hunch down. Maybe a little shy of six feet tall. "Amos, where does this end? I know it can't go all the way to New York City." He grinned.

"Son, dis is a good one. Not sure who built it, but dere be more dan one tunnel. Some lead off to da First African Baptist Church, den dere be one goin' to da river, den 'nother one goin' to a big cellar."

"Great, for all we know Paige is down by the river." Cash straightened up and bumped his head. "Damnit!"

"Sh!" Billy Joe removed his toothpick. "I heard something."

Cash rubbed his head. "You hear the girls and the men digging by the library."

"No, I don't. I think I heard Morgan's bark."

"If'n you hurd dat, den we could have 'nother cave-in." Amos studied the walls.

"Let's hope my faithful buddy's imagining things. Do you have any idea which route to follow to find Paige?" Cash looked ahead.

"My memory is goin' on the hefty side of fifty years. I'm a guessin' da cellar."

"Do we keep going straight?" asked Cash.

Amos chuckled. "Boy, we ain't got no choice but straight. All leads to da cellar." He quieted and raised his hand. "I heared a dog too. Dis way."

"That's definitely Morgan." Cash tilted his head, listened, and then shoved Amos against the wall, just as some rocks came crashing down exactly where Amos had stood.

After Cash moved aside, Amos took out a red kerchief and wiped his brow. "I be mighty beholdin' to you. We best keep going as long as da good Lord's willin' and da creek don't rise."

Billy Joe threw his toothpick down. "You saying there's a creek in here too! With all the rain we just got, this tunnel will flood."



***********************************************************************
The following is a quote by Harriet Tubman, who helped the slaves escape through the Underground railroad:

By Harriet Tubman
I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say -- I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of an underground railroad used during the Civil War era. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 91
CHAPTER NINETEEN; PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Amos chuckled. "Boy, we ain't got no choice but straight. All leads to da cellar." He quieted and raised his hand. "I heared a dog too. Dis way."

"That's definitely Morgan." Cash tilted his head, listened, and then shoved Amos against the wall, just as some rocks came crashing down exactly where Amos had stood.

After Cash moved aside, Amos took out a red kerchief and wiped his brow. "I be mighty beholdin' to ya. We bes' keep goin' as long as da good Lord's willin' and da creek don't rise."

Billy Joe threw his toothpick down. "You saying there's a creek in here too! With all the rain we just got, this tunnel will flood."

TODAYS POST:

"I ain't ever heared of a creek down here, but one never knows." Amos stuffed his kerchief in his back pocket, half-wat. "Ain't your poppa ever said that before?" He released a deep breath. "Young 'ins dese days. We need ta hurry dat purdy lady might be a-hurten."

Again the men continued through the narrow tunnel, but stopped often to listen.

"I wish that damn dog would quit barking. He's going to collapse this whole thing," muttered Billy Joe.

"You know, being quiet was never one of his strong areas." Cash raised his t-shirt and wiped his brow. "It's sure hot and sticky." He took the jug of water from his buddy and took a drink, sighing. "That's good!"

Billy Joe glanced at Cash. "Does that mutt have any strong areas?"

"Better not say that too loud. Paige might hear you." Cash rubbed his back. "This hunching over's getting old. Amos, any ideas on how much further?"

Amos turned and looked back. "I figure we've gone 'bout half-way. Da cellar should be straight ahead; fifty yards or so. Does da purdy lady, always gets herself into trouble?"

"Sure does," Billy Joe said. "If it wasn't this, it'd be something else." He tilted his head. "Listen! I don't hear that mutt. That can't be good."

Cash rushed ahead of the others. When he arrived at the circular cellar, it was vacant. Fallen rocks, spiders' webs, and bat feces were all he saw. While waiting for the others, he paced. Where are they? Why isn't Morgan barking? This can't be good.

When Amos caught up, he was out of breath. "She ain't here."

The two men, who came with Amos, walked around searching for clues.

"Nope, she's not. Why don't you rest a while?" Cash patted Amos' shoulder. Something caught Cash's eye and he bent down to pick it up. "A painted broken fingernail. It has to be Paige's. I'm pretty sure during the Civil War women didn't wear these fancy colors." He held it up for all to see.

"It's Paige's. She's got Mary Pat into doing all that fancy stuff." Billy Joe shook his head, but grinned. "Women!"

Amos released a deep breath. "I's a-wondering why she didn't stay put." He hesitated and then continued, "'Cause Bradley's leading her to safety."

"Just in case you're wrong, we need to keep looking. I'm wondering why Morgan's suddenly quiet. He barks at everything." Cash's head turned toward the right tunnel and then the center one. "Which way?"

"Ya knows yer woman better 'n me." Amos wiped his brow again. "Which way do ya dink?"

"Do you know where each leads to?" Billy Joe pointed to each passage way.

"I'm a-dinking dat one goes to da First African Baptist Church. It be down town." Amos pointed to the center tunnel. "And dis one goes to da river." He pointed to the right one. "Whoa! Wait! Dere's a tunnel dat breaks off from dat dere center on dat goes to da Bookman Cemetery. I'm a bettin' Bradley done took dat fine lady dere."

The men started toward the right tunnel, but stopped as rocks fell closing it.

Amos turned. "I's say dat be a sign we need to go da other way. Bradley be helping us. To da church we be a going."

"No ghost's helping anybody, because their ain't no such thing as ghosts!" Billy Joe stomped his foot.


Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of fingernail polish. I was just having some fun. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 92
CHAPTER TWENTY; PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

CHAPTER TWENTY

Those new batteries didn't last long. Paige threw the flashlight down. It hit with a thud and a few rocks tumbled down. Better get moving. She slid her right hand along the jagged wall and walked a few more steps. Maybe this is the way out. This tunnel's a maze. After walking about a half-mile, she slumped down to the floor. Morgan put his paw on her thigh and whimpered. "I know your paw's swollen." She massaged it. "This tunnel has to lead outside, any ideas which way to try next?" She petted Morgan, who wagged his tail in response. "We need to keep going. We'll never find our way out sitting here.

Paige, Paige.

After glancing up, Paige blinked a few times and then focused her eyes on a bright light that surrounded a smoky image of a man dressed in Civil War attire. "Bradley?"

Follow me. I'll help.

Morgan limped to the image with his tail wagging. Paige cautiously stood. "Okay, I'll follow."

Your foot has open cuts, it's probably infected.

"My shoe came off when some rocks fell on me." The light surrounding Bradley allowed Paige to notice the blood squeezing up between her toes. They began following the left tunnel.

I know.

"If you knew, why did you wait so long to help?"

Bradley faced her and grinned.

"You're enjoying yourself, aren't you?"

He nodded.

"It seems you care, but then you allowed things to happen. Why?"

You'll find out. All in good time.

All in good time. All in good time. That's what Mom and Aunt Paula used to tell me. I used to think 'patience, child' was my name.

Bradley chuckled out loud.

"You can read minds." Paige tilted her head. "Only mine or others?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Would you please show yourself to Cash and Billy Joe? They need to know I'm not crazy."

Think that would help? Bradley laughed.

Paige frowned. "Probably not." She glanced around. "I've been this way and it led to a dead end."

Just before the dead end, there's a door. You missed it.

"I'm sure there wasn't a door. My flashlight was working then and I searched all around. There was no door." Paige stopped and put her hands on her hips. "Are you trying to trick me?"

His eyebrows rose. Would I do that?

"Maybe." Paige paused and thought a moment. "I'm from Massachusetts and you not only fought for the Confederate Army, but lost your life."

I understand why Cash always has a bewildered look on his face. Come on. It's getting late. Bradley walked. Are you coming?

Paige noticed Morgan followed Bradley. She jogged to catch up. "I guess it's possible I missed the door, but I don't think so. Do I have a choice?" She hesitated. "If Cash looks bewildered, it has nothing to do with me, by the way."

Bradley shook his head. If you say so.

At the end of the tunnel, Paige pointed. "See, it's a dead end." She turned and tilted her head. "What's that noise?"

The tunnel's caving in. Bradley pushed a brick and a door opened. He pulled Paige through the opening. Morgan followed. Falling rocks filled the space Paige and her dog had just vacated.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of two Civil War ghosts. I know Bradley is only one person, but I struggled finding him. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 93
CHAPTER TWENTY; PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Paige noticed Morgan followed Bradley. She jogged to catch up. "I guess it's possible I missed the door, but I don't think so. Do I have a choice?" She hesitated. "If Cash looks bewildered, it has nothing to do with me, by the way."

Bradley shook his head. If you say so.

At the end of the tunnel, Paige pointed. "See, it's a dead end." She turned and tilted her head. "What's that noise?"

The tunnel's caving in. Bradley pushed a brick and a door opened. He pulled Paige through the opening. Morgan followed. Falling rocks filled the space Paige and her dog had just vacated.

TODAY'S POST:

Paige blinked until her eyes felt free from dust. "Where are we?" She glanced around in the dark. "Bradley? Bradley?" She waited in silence for the ghost to reappear.

Morgan paced circles around Paige, sniffing the air.

"He's nowhere around, is he, boy?" Paige leaned against the wall. "Now what?" She released a deep breath and petted the pup's head. "We continue forward. Let's go."

With her hand sliding along the jagged wall for guidance, Paige and Morgan continued forward. She paused, used her arm to wipe her forehead, and quickly re-braided her long black hair. "Ready?"

Morgan barked.

"Hush!" whispered Paige. "When you do that, more rocks crash down."

The twosome continued.

After walking a few hundred yards, Paige called out, "Morgan, where are you? Morgan?" A couple of rocks tumbled down the side of the tunnel. Something's wrong. Morgan never leaves my side.

Paige took a few more steps, and then noticed the familiar light surrounding the hazy figure of Bradley. "Where have you been? Are you all right?"

I lost energy for a moment. I'm back

"Where are we?"

Very close to the end. Go straight. Bradley grinned. When we leave the tunnel, you'll know where you're at.

"I doubt it."

Bradley chuckled. Poor Cash. A doubting lady Thomas.

"Poor Cash my aching foot." Paige pointed to a crack of sunlight. "Is that the opening or are there more of you?"

He held up one finger. Only one.

Paige jogged and hobbled with Morgan by her side until they reached the opening. "Can I hug you?"

You can try, but I doubt it'll work. I'm a ghost, you know?

A pink tinge crossed Paige's cheeks. "I know you're a ghost." She glanced around. "We're just outside the mudroom."

We are. You go up to the house. I'll be along later. I still have work to do.

"But I need you to come with me. I need to prove to Cash you're real."

All in good time. Patience, dear. Bradley disappeared.

How does he do that?

Paige and Morgan hurried to the kitchen. "Hey, everybody! We're here!"
Mary Pat, Nala, and two of the men Amos brought with him rushed into the kitchen. Nala and Mary Pat hugged Paige.

"Where's Cash and Billy Joe?" asked Paige when the hugs ended.

"They're in the tunnel with Amos and two of his friends. They're looking for you." Mary Pat pointed toward the opening in the kitchen. "We were digging in from the library."

Nala held up Paige's shoe. "We found this." She handed it to Paige. "Oh my! Your foot's cut up. I'll get something to clean it with." Nala walked off.

"The tunnel's caving in. How long have the men been gone? I'd call and tell them but I guess I left my phone in the library." Paige started to limp away.

"The phoned don't work in the tunnel." Mary Pat glanced at her watch. "They've been gone well over an hour."

"I bet that's what Bradley meant by he still had work to do."

"You met Bradley?"

Paige nodded. "Sure did. He helped me get out of the maze."

All heads turned toward the opening to the tunnel. A loud crashing sound filled the room. The floor trembled and a large cloud of dust came through the door.

"Dat tunnel done cave in." One of the men who had helped dig from the library looked up at the ceiling, closed his eyes, and prayed.

"Cash!" Paige ran for the door. "I'm coming!"

Morgan ran beside her.

Mary Pat and Nala ran in front of Paige. "You're staying put." Mary Pat grabbed her friends hand. "You're not going in there again."

Nala tapped keys on her cell phone. "I'm calling the rescue squad. I should've done that in the first place!"

Paige sat and hugged Morgan. Please God, get them out safely.





Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a cave in. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 94
CHAPTER TWENTY; PART THREE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Dat tunnel done caved in." One of the men who had helped dig from the library looked up at the ceiling, closed his eyes, and prayed.

"Cash!" Paige ran for the door. "I'm coming!"

Morgan ran beside her.

Mary Pat and Nala ran in front of Paige. "You're staying put." Mary Pat's hands were on her hips. "You're not going in there again."

Nala tapped keys on her cell phone. "I'm calling the rescue squad. I should've done that in the first place."

Paige sat and hugged Morgan. Please God, get them out safely.



TODAY'S POST:

Paige tapped her fingers on the table. "How long does it take a rescue team to get here? By the time they arrive, there won't be anybody to rescue." Morgan lay at her feet.

"Patience, Paige." Nala continued to clean the cuts on the bottom of Paige's right foot.

"I'm tired of people telling me to be patient." Paige rapped her fingers for a few moments. "Sorry, Nala. I shouldn't take out my frustration on you."

"I'm worried about the men too."

Mary Pat ran into the kitchen. "The rescue squad just drove up."

After the situation was discussed, Paige showed Gary, the team chief, the door she and Bradley used.

Mary Pat followed to make sure Paige returned to the house. "We'll be more comfortable in the parlor." Mary Pat took some glasses from the cupboard. "Go ahead and get comfortable. I'll bring some lemonade."

Nala opened the refrigerator door. "I made a new pitcher this morning."

Paige and Morgan hobbled into the library. I should be searching for Cash. Not sitting around being an invalid. I caused this mess. Bradley's helping them. He has to be. What if Cash and Billy Joe won't believe in him? Can he still help?

Mary Pat walked in with Paige's crutches. "These might come in handy."

"I don't know why. You and Nala won't let me help."

After setting the crutches beside the couch and waiting for Nala to set down the tray of lemonade, Mary Pat said, "I can't imagine you listening to either one of us. I figure we need to search for our men. Has Bradley contacted you lately?"

With raised eyebrows and a smile, Paige stood. "Nope, but I know he's helping. Ready?"

Mary Pat nodded. "Let's do it." She checked her gun.

"You won't need that. I only saw spiders. Firing a gun would be overkill and collapse the rest of the tunnel."

"Gotcha!" Mary Pat shoved it into the waistband of her shorts. "One can never be too careful."

Nala took a sip. "You two are going into that tunnel, aren't you?"

Paige and Mary Pat nodded.

Nala took out the Bible she kept in her pocket and hugged it. "I'll be praying to God Almighty."

Morgan sat and stared at Nala.

"Get going." Nala used her hand to chase the pup away. "You're just as bad as they are. At least you have a little sense."

The two women and Morgan headed for the opening Paige had walked through.

As Paige and Mary Pat began to enter the tunnel, Paige stopped. "Wait! It doesn't feel right. Don't go in there." She closed her eyes and took deep breaths.

Paige, go to the root cellar. Inside it there's a hidden door. Enter through it.

"Bradley, is that you?"

"Who you talking to?" asked Mary Pat.

"Bradley, I think. He didn't appear like he did in the cave, but he entered my thoughts. Maybe he's making sure the boys are safe. He says we need to go to the root cellar. I've never been there. Isn't it outside the old slave quarters?"

"I thought it was inside." Mary Pat took out her cell and called Nala. "She says it's on the North corner."

"But there's a scrub oak there. Let's just go."

"The oak's on the East." Mary Pat pointed at it as they hurried.

Once at the slave quarters, Mary Pat paused. "You sit and rest. I'll circle around and see if I can find anything."

A few moments later, Mary Pat yelled, "I found it! Follow the building around to your left."

When Paige caught up with her friend, Mary Pat was yanking on a handle. "I can't budge this thing."

"How'd you find it? It's covered with kudzu."

"A light pointed to it. I can't really explain." Mary Pat yanked again. "It won't budge."

"Bradley's telling us where to look. Let me help." Paige propped her crutches on the side of the building, grabbed the handle, and both women pulled. "I think it moved a little. Ready, set, pull!"

Again they pulled, the door opened, and then slammed shut.

"We got it loose." Mary Pat wiped her brow. "Move back and I'll prop it." She looked around for a large branch. "This should work."

After the door was open, Mary Pat glanced down it. "It looks like a long way down. The steps are pretty narrow. You going to be all right on those things?" She pointed at Paige's crutches.

"What choice do I have? You lead the way. I'm glad Nala remembered the flashlights and extra batteries."

Mary Pat turned hers on. "Keep yours off. You don't need anything else in your hands."

The women fought thick cobwebs as they descended the damp moss-covered stairs. At the bottom was a sharp right turn. Mary Pat led the way with Paige right behind. Inside the root cellar, Mary Pat scanned the room with the light. "On my God!"

Paige screamed.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of kudzu covering a building. It's a huge problem in the Southern states. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 95
CHAPTER TWENTY; PART FOUR

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The women fought thick cobwebs as they descended the damp moss-covered stairs. At the bottom was a sharp right turn. Mary Pat led the way with Paige right behind. Inside the root cellar, Mary Pat scanned the room with the light. "On my God!"

Paige screamed.



TODAY'S POST:

The women stopped in their tracks as their eyes widened.

It's a skeleton. Walk by it. It's not going to hurt you. It's been dead a long time.

"But, but, but..." Paige struggled.

Cash needs you.

Paige swallowed. "You're giving me some kind of test, aren't you?"

I'm trying to help.

"We'd better continue." Paige hesitated. "I'll call the police later."

"Are you getting information from Bradley?" Mary Pat slid along the wall as far from the skeleton as possible.

"I think so. I think he did this on purpose. What do you think happened to that person?"

"He got lost in the tunnel. Maybe he searched for the hidden treasure, then got lost." Mary Pat's voice rose at the end.

"If there's a real treasure. When Cash and I went on the ghost walk, the guide said many yellow fever victims were put in tunnels."

"Would yellow fever still be contagious after all these years?"

"Good question. Can you get a vaccination against it?" questioned Paige. "I guess it's too late to worry about it now. We're already here." She continued walking beside Mary Pat. Morgan was at their side. "We need to find the tunnel door. It's in here somewhere."

"It's probably behind the skeleton. Who's going to look there?" Mary Pat glanced at Morgan. "It wouldn't bother him at all."

Paige bent down and hugged Morgan. "He's just a puppy."

Mary Pat petted the pup's head. "Just teasing, boy. Well, sorta. He might chew on him. Dogs like bones."

"Yuck!" Paige tapped different areas on the wall. "We need to find it or get another sign from Bradley."

"What are we looking for?"

"Something that doesn't look like the rest of the wall." Paige continued to check the wall. As she stepped to the right, she felt something under foot give. "I think I've found it." She knelt down and brushed the built up dirt away. "I think there's a lever here."

"Stomp on it or let me. I weigh more."

Paige stepped aside. Mary Pat pushed the lever down with her foot, slowly part of the wall creaked open. Mary Pat's flashlight scanned the area as both women surveyed the tunnel.

Paige stepped inside. "It appears safe." She glanced back at the skeleton. "At least we'll be away from him."

"Think he might've been searching for the door?" Mary Pat asked as she followed her friend.

"Would make sense. Only I wonder what he was doing down here and how long he's been here. Then again, he might be a she." Paige took a deep breath. "We have no choice but to go straight. Let's go."

"Pieces of clothing hanging from him would tell us." Mary Pat pointed.

"I'm not checking, are you?"

Mary Pat shook her head. "Let's get out of here."

The two women continued, following the tunnel. Morgan stayed at their side.

Mary Pat stopped. "You doing all right? I know it's difficult on those crutches." She hesitated. "When you were in here by yourself, you had to be afraid. I'm scared to death and I'm with you."

"I did a lot of praying. It wasn't so bad when Bradley showed up." Paige released a deep breath. "I wish he'd help now." She looked around. "Did you hear that? I wish you'd show up and guide us to the men."

"I guess he's busy." Mary Pat touched Paige's arm. "Let's go."

Before long, they came to a Y. "Which way?" Paige glanced at her friend.

"Got a coin? We could flip it."

Both women heard a chuckle. Stay right. Be careful. This tunnel's old and could cave-in any moment.

"Stay with us," pleaded Paige.

I can't. Those crazy men you're trying to save need me more than you.

"He's probably right. I don't even want to think what Billy Joe's up to."

"Bradley, Bradley? Would you tell us how much further?" Paige petted Morgan. "I guess he's left."

Maybe three hundred yards.

"Thank you. Just a little farther." Paige started walking.

"Three football fields isn't a bad walk."

"Unless you're in a tunnel that could cave in any second. We're hardly out for a Sunday afternoon stroll."

Mary Pat grinned. "Point taken. At the end I get to hug and kiss my husband."

After about a hundred and seventy-five yards the tunnel took a sharp left. Paige stopped. "I wasn't expecting this. Think we messed up somehow?"

"Bradley said go right and we did. There haven't been any other choices."

"Did we miss a hidden door?" Paige rubbed her back.

"If the door was hidden, how would I know if we missed it?"

"That's true. I guess we keep going."

The women continued walking. Mary Pat hurried ahead. Paige struggled to keep pace. "Just a minute. I need to rest." Paige set the crutches against the wall and took deep breaths.

"Sorry." Mary Pat stood beside her friend.

"I'm not as young as I used to be."

Mary Pat laughed, and a few rocks tumbled to the ground. "Sorry, again. I forgot."

"What'd you guess about fifty more yards?"

"I'd say we're close enough for a field goal." Mary Pat smiled.

"Whatever that is, it sounds good. Let's go."

The women continued walking.

Paige stopped. "Hear that?"

"Sure do. That's my husband!" Mary Pat ran ahead.

Mary Pat's in Billy Joe's arms. I'm almost there. Paige glanced ahead and saw Cash running toward her. She fell into his arms. "You're safe."

"How'd Mary Pat find you?"

"She didn't." Paige stopped. "I know you won't believe this, but Bradley helped me find my way out. When I found out you were still inside, Mary Pat and I came looking for you."

"You'd be surprised what I've come to believe."

Cash and Paige turned toward the sound of a thunder of rocks falling.

Paige yelled. "NO!" She dropped her crutches and followed Cash.

Author Notes I WILL NOT BE POSTING NEXT WEEKEND. I'M LEAVING FOR MO. ON WEDNESDAY FOR MY THIRD SON'S WEDDING. I WON'T BE BACK UNTIL THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY.

Thank you Google images for the photo of a kitty finding a secret door. I tried to find to a cave or tunnel with a secret door, but it was impossible. I went with cute instead. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually see the end in sight. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. My chapters are divided into usually 4 parts for FS. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 96
CHAPTER TWENTY; PART FIVE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"How'd Mary Pat find you?"

"She didn't." Paige stopped. "I know you won't believe this, but Bradley helped me find my way out. When I found out you were still inside, Mary Pat and I came looking for you."

"You'd be surprised what I've come to believe."

Cash and Paige turned toward the sound of a thunder of rocks falling.

Paige yelled. "NO!" She dropped her crutches and followed Cash.

TODAY'S POST:

When Cash and Paige got to the doorway, Paige glanced from friend to friend. "We heard the cave-in. It looks like everybody's all right." She scanned the area. "The rocks and dirt blocked the tunnel. We'd better hurry and get out before the whole thing caves in. Come on, follow me. Mary Pat and I found another entrance."

Morgan sniffed a pile of rocks.

"Come on, boy. It's nothing but fallen rocks." Paige waited for him to respond. When he didn't, she walked over and watched him dig. "What is it?" Paige knelt down and brushed some dirt and rocks away. "Cash, come look at this."

The group came over and stared. Amos said, "Dat be da treasure!" He motioned to his two friends. "Dat dawg found da treasure. See dat wood box."

The men dug for a while, and then pulled the box into the open. Billy Joe took a slender pointed rock and pried off the lid. "Hot damn! Look at all them jewels." He held up a brick. "Is this a gold brick?"

Amos and Cash knelt down as Amos said, "It shore is." He lifted up a few. "Dey shore be pretty." He smiled at Paige. "What ya gonna do with dem?"

Paige stepped closer and continued to stare. "I have no idea."

Cash stood. "We'd better get to safety, or Paige won't have a chance to decide what she's going to do."

Cash turned his head toward the opening Paige and Mary Pat had come through. "Did you hear that?" When his friends shook their heads no, he continued. "I'd better check anyway." He hurried to the hallway. "We might need to find another way out."

After a few moments, Cash returned. "It must've been the wind. Come on, let's get out of here." He took his hand from his pocket and reached it out for Paige.

One of the young men who came with Amos said, "It looks like there's two more boxes."

"Ya youn'uns get dem." Amos bent to pick up the third one.

Billy Joe dodged in front of him. "Let me get that."

"Much obliged." Amos wiped sweat from his forehead with this red kerchief.

With a nod from Billy Joe, the group started through the tunnel with Morgan by their side.

Paige hobbled with her crutches. Cash grabbed them and handed them to Mary Pat. "Would you carry these? We need to move faster. I have a bad feeling about this." He glanced over his shoulder, before he picked up Paige. "We can move faster this way."

"But, but, but..."

"Ah hush." Cash brushed a kiss across her forehead. He glanced over his shoulder at the sound of another rock slide. "There's not much time before this whole thing is filled with rocks and dirt." He sped up the pace, and Morgan trotted ahead.

When they came to the secret door, Mary Pat leaned the crutches against the wall. "There's an opening here. Paige found it. The lever's in the floor."

Cash leaned Paige against the wall and searched for the opening. "Do either of you remember about where the door was?"

Paige ran her hand along the wall. "I think it's right here. See how the dirt and dust moved." She scooted her foot along the side of the wall. "It'll be down here.

Billy Joe set down the box and helped.

"Found it!" Paige pointed to the spot.

"She's too light to activate it. Billy Joe, stomp on it." Mary Pat stepped aside. "I'd better warn you. There's a skeleton on the other side."

Cash and Billy Joe's glances switched between the two women. Finally, Billy Joe said, "No shit?"

"No shit." Mary Pat nodded.

"I ain't never seen a real skeleton." Billy Joe adjusted his toothpick before he stomped on the lever.

"Now isn't the time to examine it. We need to get out of here." Cash picked up Paige.

As the group walked by the skeleton, Billy Joe gawked. "It's real, all right."

Before long, they arrived back in Paige's kitchen. The men set the boxes on the dining room table.

As Billy Joe and Amos opened the two boxes, Nala came into the room. "Good, you're all safely back." She glanced around. "Where's the rescue squad?"

Cash and Billy Joe looked at each other and both said, "What rescue squad?"

"The one I called when Paige made it back and you guys weren't nowhere in sight." Nala got Morgan a bowl of water.

"We'd better go back after them." Cash turned toward the door.

Paige pulled out a chair and sat. "It's too dangerous. Nobody's going back. I'm sure the men will walk through that door any second."

A loud crash caused them to close their eyes.

"Please God, show dem men da way. Amen." Amos prayed.

As the sound of rocks crashing against rocks thundered, tears rolled down the cheeks of the three women.

Author Notes THE WEDDING WAS PERFECT. I AM GOING TO TRY TO FIND TIME TO POST SOMETHINGS ABOUT IT; MAYBE A MOTHER'S PONDERINGS.
Thank you Google images for the photo of a treasure chest and rocks. I know you'll be shocked as long as this novel has drawn out, but I actually may have only one chapter left. It will be separated into parts for FS. LOL I use a lot of dialogue, so if you don't like reading dialogue, please don't read. Thank you for reading and reviewing. If you haven't read my previous posts, you WILL be confused with this post. This is NOT meant to stand alone. I appreciate you sticking with me.


Chapter 97
CHAPTER TWENTYONE; PART ONE

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Paige pulled out a chair and sat. "It's too dangerous. Nobody's going back. I'm sure the men will walk through that door any second."

A loud crash caused them to close their eyes.

"Please, God, show dem men da way. Amen." prayed Amos.

As the sound of rocks crashing against rocks thundered, tears rolled down the cheeks of the three women.

TODAY'S POST:

CHAPTER TWENTYONE

Morgan barked as he scampered toward the mudroom. Paige hobbled after him. "What's wrong?"

Cash, Billy Joe, Mary Pat, Nala, and Amos followed. Two dirt-covered men walked through the door. Amos shouted, "Praise da Lord! Ya'll makin' it out?"

Gary, the team chief, nodded. "The other two are on their way. They're not far behind." He glanced at the group. "How many are still in there?"

Paige released a deep breath. "We're all out. Just about five minutes ago."

"Good. The whole structure's caving in." Gary paused as the last two men stepped through the door. "My advice is to block all entrances. Nobody should go in."

"That'll be taken care of immediately. We have another problem." Paige pointed toward the root cellar. "My friend and I entered through the root cellar and there's a skeleton in there. I don't have any idea how it got there, who it is, or how long it's been there."

Gary motioned for the men to go toward the cellar. "We'll take care of it for you, ma'am." He followed, but paused and said, "It'll take a while to get this taken care of. The police, CSI, and coroner will have to be brought in."

"I understand. Thank you for all you've done." Paige watched them leave.

"I don't think they've done a dang thing." Billy Joe put a new toothpick between his lips.

The group went back into the dining room. Paige stood in the doorway and stared at the treasure. "Everybody choose three items and take them with you. I'm donating the rest to the historical society."

"Dat be mighty generous, but ya should've first pickin's." Amos took Paige's arm and led her to the table.

"This treasure has caused nothing but trouble. I really don't want any part of it."

"Dat be understandable." Amos wiped his brow.

Paige sat back and watched Amos and his friends, Mary Pat, Nala, and Billy Joe search through the treasure. She glanced at Cash, who was staring out the window. "Anything interesting going on back there?"

"The coroner just arrived. Everybody else showed up a few minutes ago. I'm wondering why they think an ambulance is needed." Cash chuckled.

"True. Lifesaving techniques won't work on him. He's definitely dead." Paige pointed at the treasure. "Isn't there anything you want?"

"Not really. I think I'll get some ice tea. Anybody else want some?" Cash headed for the refrigerator.

After Cash passed everybody a glass, he answered a knock at the back door. "Greg, how can I help you?"

"Just letting you know the skeleton's a male. From the remnants of clothing, we're guessing young and probably been down there for about twenty to thirty years. Hopefully, the forensic pathologist can work some magic."

"Thank you. I bet he was looking for the treasure." Cash faced the others. "We're taking a break with some iced tea. Would you and your team like a glass?"

"No thanks. We need to get back." Greg turned and left.

Mary Pat held up a pearl and diamond brooch. "Isn't these beautiful?"

Paige smiled. "Is that one of the items you want?"

"Were you really serious about choosing three items?"

"Of course. If I keep that here, more people will be breaking in to steal it. I want to be rid of everything. I just want to be left alone." Paige ran her fingers through her long hair, and then stood. "I think I'll go upstairs and take a long hot bubble bath.

Nala got up. "I'll run your bath."

"It's not necessary. I can do it. Have fun searching through the treasure." Paige hobbled up the stairs.

*****
After a few moments, Cash took something out of his pocket and rolled it between his fingers. He poured himself another glass of tea and stared out the window.

Now would be a great time to talk to Paige. She's alone.

"She's taking a bath. It's a horrible time."

Billy Joe glanced at his buddy. "Who you talking to?"

"Nobody. I didn't say anything." Cash shoved his hands in his pockets.

She's waiting on you to make a move. Do I need to explain things to you?

"I know what to do. I'm the only one who can hear you, aren't I?"

"You sure you're all right?" Billy Joe stood by his buddy. "You look a little green behind the gills." He poked his friend's arm.

"I'm fine. Just tired."

You're afraid of a sweet little Yankee girl. Bradley chuckled.

"I'm not afraid of anybody." Cash's eyes glared.

"I never accused you of being afraid. You need to get a good night's sleep."

Cash released a deep breath and stomped up the stairs. A gray smoky mist followed him.

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a Victorian era pearl and diamond brooch. I THINK I have only one more post to go before this novel ends. Thank you for sticking by me. I have another novel in the works. I hope you'll stick around for it.


Chapter 98
CHAPTER TWENTYONE; PART TWO

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"You sure you're all right?" Billy Joe stood by his buddy. "You look a little green behind the gills." He poked his friend's arm.

"I'm fine. Just tired."

You're afraid of a sweet little Yankee girl. Bradley chuckled.

"I'm not afraid of anybody." Cash's eyes glared.

"I never accused you of being afraid. You need to get a good night's sleep."

Cash released a deep breath and stomped up the stairs. A gray smoky mist followed him.


TODAY'S POST:

"I think Paige wants to be alone." Billy Joe put his hand on Cash's shoulder. "Bothering her ain't a good idea."

"I dink we'd better leave dem two alone." Amos winked at Billy Joe. "We be back early in da evening." Amos led everybody out the front door. Billy Joe followed.

Cash paused and watched the group leave. At least I don't have to worry about them. He continued up the stairs. Inside the bedroom, Cash sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the bathroom door. It's quiet in there. I guess she's in the tub.

Get in there or I'll shove you myself.

"Has anybody ever told you that you're a pain in the butt?" Cash stood, crept to the door, and placed his hand on the knob. "You can leave now. I'll handle this." As Cash turned the knob, he was shoved inside. Off-balance when the door shut, he caught himself on the edge of the tub. As Bradley chuckled, Cash turned toward him. You're an ornery old fart. You made your point. Leave now!

Paige's eyes widened. "Cash! What's going on?" She adjusted the mountain of bubbles so they covered her.

"Nothing. I need to ask you something."

"It couldn't wait?"

"No." Cash knelt beside the tub. "Paige, I love you. Will you marry me?" He removed an opal and diamond ring from his pocket. "This is the ring Bradley gave Alice."

"It's gorgeous. How did you get it?" Paige smiled as her eyes met Cash's. She reached up and kissed him.

The bubbles shifted, momentarily catching Cash's attention. He cleared his throat and placed the ring on Paige's finger. "You haven't said yes, yet but...."

"Yes!" Paige giggled, pulled him nearer, and planted a strong kiss on his lips, soaking his shirt in the process. Cash returned the kiss with even more ardor. His action pulled Paige half out of the tub. When their lips separated, she asked, "What brought this on?"

"Remember when we were all in the tunnel, I heard something, and left for a few minutes?" After Paige nodded, Cash continued, "Bradley gave it to me."

"You believe in Bradley?"

"I don't have a choice." Cash stood and lifted Paige from the water. "It seems he approves of us getting married and he wants this to be your engagement ring." Cash kissed her, and then set her on the floor. His hands dropped to her wet rear-end and pulled her closer as they continued their kisses.

When the kissing ended, Paige eyed his soaked clothing and began unbuttoning his shirt. "Want to join me in the bubble bath? I'll wash your back if you'll wash mine."

They ignored Morgan whimpering and scratching at the door.


THE END

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of a Victorian era opal and diamond ring. I will be editing this during the summer and I hope to have it published this fall. Thank you for sticking by me. I have another novel in the works. I hope you'll stick around for it.


Chapter 99
Information

By barbara.wilkey

Many people have asked if I'm going to publish Savannah Love. YES! I've started editing. I just finished chapter 6. Hopefully before long, I'll have my edited version ready to send to my editor. I'd love to have it published in the traditional manner. I have a few friends who use traditional publishers and have suggested I try theirs. I might do that.

Two Tattered Hearts, I posted it as When Lonely Hearts Meet. It's the story about how Troy and his family help Anna get out of her abusive marriage. It's published as an e-book and can be found on Amazon.com or Barnesandnobel.com. It has enjoyed some success, but I wish it was doing better.

Next week, I'll post my working notes for my new novel, Texas Dream Catcher. On July 6, I'll post chapter one, part one. On June 23, my husband and I'll be taking an Amtrak trip to LA. So I don't want to post a chapter and leave you hanging. LOL

I hope this helps you know what I'm doing. As of right now I like the name Savannah Love. If any of you have a suggestion, please let me. I'm always up for new ideas. Hey, what about calling the novel, Morgan? I think he took over as the main character. Bradley's still smoking cigars in my bathroom: the ornery ol' fart.

I have no idea how you're going to review this. Oh my!!!

My prayers continue to be with my FS family.

Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, and assistance.

Barbara

Author Notes Thank you Google images for the photo of the North vs. South.


Chapter 100
Help!!!!!!

By barbara.wilkey

I got my first rejection letter for Savannah Love. It has caused me to take a second look at an area that I have questioned since I wrote the beginning of the novel. (I hate doing it, but...)

The first chapter of Savannah Love is about Bradley Bookman, the Battle of Chickamauga, and how he becomes a ghost. Then I move to the second chapter and begin with Paige and Cash. When I wrote the novel I felt I needed to lay the foundation of Bradley becoming a ghost.
Now, I am wondering if I just need to incorporate Bradley's story during the novel.

Thank you for assisting me with this issue.

I appreciate all the feed back.

Author Notes Please don't worry about reviewing what I've written. I can't promote this and I just want to know about Bradley. A PM will work.


Chapter 102
Savannah Love

By barbara.wilkey

Dear ...

I feel I have the perfect novel, ready to go. Cash Wilkins is a hero who readers will believe in and will do anything to keep the heroine safe. Paige Swanson is a feisty likable heroine who the majority of women can relate to her. The plot is believable, with motivation, conflict, and filled with emotion. Therefore, I respectfully submit my completed and revised 78,836 word suspense romance novel, Savannah Love, for your consideration.

Savannah Love mixes contemporary, historical, suspense, and paranormal in a new way. The predominant aspect is contemporary that is set in Savannah, Georgia. The rich history of this Southern city intertwines throughout the novel.

Paige is an heiress from Massachusetts, who inherited an antebellum mansion in Savannah. As a child, she spent summers in this mansion with her aunt and uncle. She fondly remembers these carefree summers and the family folklore that surrounds this home. Already during her first day living there, Paige wonders if the ghost her aunt told her about was real.

In order to find the answer, Paige searches through the Bookman family journals and discovers that Bradley Bookman was killed during the Civil War at the exact same time his beloved wife Alice gives birth to their only child. The family believes Bradley attended this birth and has since remained in his home.

Cash was hired by Paige's aunt to restore the mansion to historical authenticity but ends up spending the majority of his time helping Paige discover who wants her evicted in order to get possession of the rumored treasure. Cash refuses to believe ghosts exist and attempts to find a logical answer for things that go bump in the night.

While Paige becomes accustomed to Southern ways, she discovers, with the help of Bradley's ghost and Cash, that the mansion does have underground tunnels in which the treasure is hidden. The treasure is found, and the bad guys end up in jail or dead. At the end of the novel, Bradley's ghost gives Cash the engagement ring his beloved Alice wore. This forces Cash to believe in ghosts. Cash uses this ring to propose to Paige, and she accepts.

I've been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2008 and have read many wonderful things about your Publishing Company. I also subscribe to Writer's Digest and have often browsed your website. Both have only confirmed what I've already read. My first novel, Two Tattered Hearts was published by G and J Publishers and can be found on Amazon.com in their Kindle store. I enjoy reading and writing all genres of romance. I believe Savannah Love has many of the qualities I love in a romance novel and that others would too.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you.

Author Notes Thank you for your help with my synopsis. I have written this query letter. The next publisher I am looking at requires both. I have rewritten the first chapter and am adding the part about Bradley being shot as Paige does her research. I think that works better. Thank you for all your help. Again, I can't promote this. I am sorry, but I do need help.


Chapter 103
Novel pitch

By barbara.wilkey

Savannah Love is a romantic suspense novel that begins on a hot July Savannah, Georgia day. PAIGE SWANSON, an heiress from Boston, inherits the Bookman's antebellum mansion. She immediately meets CASH WILKINS, who had been hired by her late aunt to restore the mansion to Gothic Revival authenticity.

The mansion is burglarized numerous times and it becomes evident somebody wants the rumored hidden Civil War/pirate treasure. Paige stands in the way. Often, threatening Paige's safety.

Bradley Bookman's ghost befriends Paige at the novel's beginning. Cash doesn't believe in ghosts, but by the end of the novel is forced to believe Bradley's ghost does exist. The ghost leads them to discover the secrets hidden within the walls and the Underground Railroad tunnels beneath the mansion. Eventually, he reveals the hidden treasure and gives Cash the engagement ring, his beloved wife wore. At the end of the story, Cash presents Paige with this ring. She gladly accepts his proposal.

Through Bradley's ghost, Paige trying to adapt herself into Southern life, and Cash attempting to bring logic to every situation, this novel is both humorous and romantic. It has mystery and mild violence intertwined as they search for the rumored hidden treasure.


Also a back-cover possible hook. They ask for a possible one. I'm no good at this stuff.


Tourists describe as charming, captivating, and graceful, but it has a mysterious dark side. Paige encounters this dark side after she inherits an antebellum mansion. While finding a hidden treasure and keeping possession of the mansion, she finds love.

Author Notes Sorry I don't have the money to promote it. I need to review so I can promote Perennials of War and I'm really late in starting. I have been task with writing a novel pitch for a publisher I am trying to get to publish Savannah Love. They have asked that this be between 150 and 200 words. By my word.doc it's 197. Thank you LiFisher for 'Summer morning'. It fits perfectly with my novel.


Chapter 104
Secrets of My Confederate Soldier

By barbara.wilkey

This was posted on FanStory as 'Savannah Love'. Some editors and the like, LOL, suggested I change the name to 'Secretes of My Confederate Soldier'. It's ready to read on Amazon.com as an e-book on Kindle. I really wanted this one to come out as a real book for in about another week it will be out as a book. LOL I'm excited about this. My prayer is it does well.

I want to thank all of you for your support and help.

Thank you
Barbara

Author Notes There's no reason to review. I just wanted to notify you.


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