Legacy of Love(4)

By: Donna Hill

The waitress appeared with their lunch. When Zoe glanced up to thank her, she caught a glimpse in the corner of her eye of the broad back of a man who was walking out the front door. Blood rushed to her temples. She jumped, knocking over the glass of water on the table. In the moments of confusion and apologies, Zoe lost sight of him.

“What in the world is the matter with you?” Sharlene asked, checking around for any more puddles of water on the table.

“I…I thought I saw him.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. Exhaustion is getting the better of me.”

Sharlene dabbed at the last bit of water. “You saw him?” she asked with a look of confusion.

Zoe waved her hand. “Forget it. Let’s eat.”

Sharlene studied the faraway look in Zoe’s eyes and believed more than ever that the Beaumont legacy was real and her friend was simply unwilling to admit it.

Chapter 2

Jackson Treme continued on his walk back to his car with his bag of fried chicken and waffles, completely unaware of how his tall, lean figure cut a sharp outline against the busy downtown landscape, or how many admiring women’s eyes took second looks as he passed. His thoughts were elsewhere.

He’d had the strangest sensation while he was waiting on his take-out order, a kind of energy that seemed to suddenly flow through his body. He felt strong, almost invincible. Inwardly he chuckled. How crazy was that? It was probably from inhaling the spicy aroma of the food that had his senses on high alert.

He stopped in front of his car. A soft, very fem inine scent wafted by him. He turned, looked left then right. Nothing. He released a long breath. These odd feelings that he’d been experiencing had begun a few weeks ago.

At first he thought it was simply the stress of moving from New Orleans to Atlanta, finding a house and taking on a new job. But he’d never been one to be thrown off balance by stress.

He opened the car door and got in, shut the door behind him and stuck the key in the ignition. Just as he looked up, in the distance, he spotted two women emerging from the restaurant. The car suddenly filled with the same heavenly scent. That feeling of power flowed through his body. He turned the key in the ignition, but his main focus was seeing her face. The car sputtered and shut off. What the… He turned the key again, gave it some gas. The engine whined and shut off. Without thinking, he hopped out of the car and jogged down the block. By the time he reached the corner they were nowhere in sight. His broad shoulders slumped. He stood on the corner like a lost tourist as passersby walked around him. Realizing how ridiculous he was behaving, he finally walked back to his car and slid behind the wheel. He turned the key and the car hummed to life.

“I’ve been thinking of taking a quick trip home,” Zoe was saying as they walked into Pinkberry’s frozen yogurt parlor.

Sharlene got in line behind Zoe. “Flying or driving?”

Zoe glanced over her shoulder. “Why?” she asked with a grin.

“You know I’m always up for a road trip.”

Zoe twisted her lips in feigned contemplation. “Okay, road trip. Can you take Friday off?”

“Of course, my sister. That is the joy of owning your own business.” She grinned broadly, exposing the teasing gap between her pearly white front teeth.

“If we leave by six we can be there by one.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“How can I help you?” the young woman behind the counter asked.

“Two large mangos, to go,” Zoe said and took out her Pinkberry purchase card to be stamped. The frozen yogurt place was Zoe and Sharlene’s guilty pleasure. They’d bought enough frozen yogurt to own stock in the company.

“Why do we love this stuff so much?” Sharlene cooed as she took her first lick.

“I have no idea.” Zoe swallowed the naturally sweet treat and sighed in delight.

They pushed through the doors and back out into the afternoon.

“I’m going to head back,” Zoe said and kissed Sharlene’s cheek.

“I need to make a stop first. Talk to you later.”

They waved and headed off in opposite directions.

Zoe returned to the museum and was pleased to find that foot traffic had picked up in her absence. Museums were struggling all over the country and were usually the first institutions to feel the cuts in grants and sponsorship. Part of her role was to seek out funding; the funding that not only helped to pay staff but covered the costs of installing new works and putting up shows.

At times it was difficult. But the High Museum was more fortunate than most, and at least for now she could continue to look for those rare pieces that would attract crowds.

She crossed the expanse of the main exhibit floor, took the first right turn and walked down the empty corridor that echoed her footsteps to her office at the end of the hallway. If she was planning to take off on Friday, she needed to make sure that everything was in order. Even though Mike was more than capable of handling any problems in her absence, she’d rather not leave anything to chance. As she was settling down behind her desk, her body suddenly grew warm and a heady, manly scent drifted under her nose. Her heart thumped in her chest. She felt light-headed as if she’d stood up too quickly.

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