Wild with the Wind

By Lenora Worth


“Where should I hang this?”

Charlotte Butler waited for her mother’s reply, knowing the answer.

Trudy glanced around. “Why not in the bedroom? Out of sight.”

“Mom, I know you don’t like the apartment, and you don’t like this poster of Gone With the Wind. But this is my favorite movie poster. I want it in my home.”

“This isn’t a home, darlin’,” her Sunday-suit clad mother said, clutching her pearls. “Your home is back at Wild Wind. You have a suite of rooms and enough acreage to get in your steps each day. Why you’d rather live here in this closet is a mystery.”

Charlotte shook her head. “Since I own this building now, it makes sense to live directly over my place of business. You sent me to college so I could become my own person. Be happy that I decided to return to Georgia, please.”

“I am happy,” her mother said in her cultured drawl. “As happy as a pig in a poke. I just thought you’d stay with us for a while … or at least be married by now.”

And there was the real problem. Trudy and Tinker Butler had raised their only daughter up right by giving her the best of everything, including a college degree, and now they expected payback in the form of a “suitable” husband and a passel of children.

“Don’t rush me.” Charlotte marched into the bedroom with hammer and nails. Soon she had Scarlet and Rhett hanging over the bed. The poster she’d found in an Atlanta antique store overpowered the room but at least she could see it each morning. Reading Gone with the Wind and then seeing the movie had made her want to go out and do good things for people. She didn’t want to be a spoiled southern belle. She wanted to be a successful, forward-thinking, southern woman. Scarlet had been a bit of both.

“I have to go, honey. Junior League meeting. Kiss, kiss. Come by for dinner. Your father wants time with you.”

Charlotte watched her mother prance down the stairs to the street. Being here was great, but she was ready to do her own thing. She had a new business to run—a dream come true. She’d always wanted to own a sweet shop filled with luscious chocolates, pastries, and confections.

She heard hammering downstairs. Renovations were happening, but soon she’d have the shop up and running, complete with a coffee bar and an ice cream counter.

When she got downstairs, a man wearing a black T-shirt, jeans, and work boots turned to greet her. And took her breath away.

He looked as yummy as her favorite nougats. Dark shaggy hair, deep blue eyes, and a swagger that shouted bad boy. “Hey,” he said, wiping sawdust off his hands. “I’m Brett O’Keeffe.”

Irish. Her favorite flavor next to chocolate.

“I thought Mr. Campbell would be here,” she managed to squeak out.

“I’m his right-hand man,” Brett said. His smile made her melt like a snow cone in August. “Is that a problem?”

“No. Not at all. What are you working on?”

“Polishing the counter. She’s a real beauty and now restored.”

He said that while he looked at Charlotte. Did she have dust in her red hair? A smudge in one of her aggravating dimples? Dirt all over her cut-off shorts and UGA T-shirt?

“The mahogany counter is original to the building,” she explained. “Early nineteen-hundreds. This used to be a soda shop.”

“And now it’s a candy shop. I do love candy and this old building. I hear you’ll be living upstairs.”

“Word gets around.”

“Well, you are a Butler.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Richest family in town—Butler, Georgia. Hard not to piece together.”

“Is that a problem?” She parroted his earlier question.

“Not for me, and I hope it won’t be for you. I mean, if we’re to become good friends, we can’t let your social status get in the way, right?”

“I’m not sure I want to be your friend. You seem a bit snobby.”

He laughed, and her spine did a little jig. Why did he have to look so good when he obviously thought she was out of his league?

Surprising her, he said, “Well, I know I’m way out of your league, but I happen to love chocolate. And … I like your pretty green eyes. So I think we need to clear the air right away.”

“You’ve turned the tables,” she retorted. “You’re not all that.”

“I’m all that and more,” he replied, his eyes sparkling like lake water. “But I’m willing to work with you on this.”

“Thank you for that.” Stomping around the counter, she said, “Have you always been so sure of your importance?”

“Pretty much. Grew up in Savannah with a big, rowdy family. But I love renovating buildings. I’m glad you didn’t want to modernize this one.”

“So I’ve impressed you just a tad?”

“More than a tad,” he said. “I’ll finish up here. I have dinner plans. A blind date. My mother, always fixing me up. She should start an online dating service.”

“We have that in common at least.” Charlotte headed upstairs to get cleaned up for her mandatory family dinner.

An hour later, Charlotte walked into the foyer of Wild Wind.  Over a hundred years old, the house had been renovated and updated but still held historical elegance.

When she entered the den, her parents stood talking to a man dressed in a white cotton shirt and dark pants, his inky hair curling around his collar.

“Oh, you’re here,” Trudy said. “Charlotte, I’d like you to meet Brett O’Keeffe. Of the Savannah O’Keeffes. He’s new in town and I thought you could show him around.”

Brett turned and grinned at her. “Hello, Katie Charlotte Butler. So nice to meet you.”

He was right. He was out of her league.

Charlotte straightened her pink sundress and smiled. “Hello. I hear you like chocolate and old buildings.”

“And green-eyed beauties,” he whispered as he shook her hand.

“It’s good to be home,” Charlotte said, accepting her fate. They were going to become very good friends.

Lenora Worth
A member of both the RWA and ACFW Honor Rolls, Lenora Worth writes romance and romantic suspense for Love Inspired and also writes for Tule Publishing. Three of her books finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards and several have been RT Reviewer’s Choice finalists. She also received the RT Romance Pioneer Award for Inspirational Fiction. Logan’s Child won the 1998 Best Love Inspired for RT. She is a NY Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling writer. With eighty-plus books and novellas published and millions in print, she enjoys adventures with her retired husband, Don. Lenora loves reading, baking and shopping … especially shoe shopping.