Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter 24
Welcome to Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter! Abigail and I have decided to publish The Magic of Burrows Bay one chapter at a time. As always, you can find out more information on these and all our other books at the Lavender Lass Books website.
We have a surprise for June! So many people visit our website from all over the world, it seemed like a good time to have fairytales and sweet historical fiction novelettes easily available to everyone. Enjoy the FREE stories!
And we’ve created a group on Facebook just for our Thursday newsletter! It’s a fun place to talk about all things Burrows Bay related…and as we progress through the story, you’ll find out why we post all those 1920s-inspired dresses. Hope you’ll join us!
Finally, here is the next chapter of The Magic of Burrows Bay! We’ll have a new chapter every Thursday, so we hope you enjoy the story!
Maggie McCrae knew her granddaughters were not ready for the legacy she must leave them. The house, the grounds and everything that went with it would now be theirs. She vowed she would do all she could to protect them and hopefully, give them the time they needed to fulfill their destiny. Gabriella and Moira must learn to trust themselves and each other as they discover the true magic of Burrows Bay.
And remember, you can always catch up on all earlier chapters here.
Matthew thought about how he’d gotten caught up in all this as he pruned a few of the grape vines. He’d met Maggie in June, when she’d come home from her travels and was taking a walk around the old vineyard. It was obvious the grapes needed to be rejuvenated or removed, but she wanted to try to save them if possible. Matthew told her about his family’s vineyard in Napa and agreed it might be possible for her to save the grapes. She smiled and asked him when he could start. While he thought it would probably be more trouble than it was worth, he did enjoy a challenge. And having ended the relationship with his girlfriend that spring, he did have some extra time on his hands.
So, he accepted the challenge. Ben had just appeared one day, following Maggie out to look at the vines. She told Matthew he was an old friend of the family, and he’d offered to help her. Since she lived alone in the house, she thought it might be better if he stayed in Matthew’s guest house than with her. She didn’t look like the type of person who cared what other people might think…but Matthew had been enchanted with Maggie from the moment he’d met her. And he suspected she knew it. He’d never known his own grandmothers, and she was the type of quirky, wonderful woman most people wished they had in their family. He found he couldn’t say no to her.
He soon discovered Ben liked his privacy. When Matthew needed him for something, Ben seemed to show up for a cup of coffee or to ask a question, then stayed to help. Otherwise, Matthew wouldn’t see him for days unless he came over to work on the vines. Ben was always there…pruning or testing for viruses, removing diseased plants, putting up new wires, whatever was necessary. The sound of voices brought him back to the present.
“It seems we’re about to get some company,” Ben said in that easy way he had. As Matthew stood up and ran a hand through his hair, Ben looked down and smiled. It was so obvious he was taken with the taller one, Gabriella. Of course, they pretended that was the furthest thing from their minds…but it was probably all either of them could think about when they were in the same space.
Moira walked up first and smiled at Ben, then Matthew. “Thank you for inviting us,” she said. “We’ve been looking forward to seeing the vines up close.”
Gabbi nodded at Ben and gave Matthew an appraising look. “So, what’s the story with these grapes? Will we be drinking any of our wine this year?”
Ben focused on the vine he was pruning and let Matthew take that question. “No, it will be some time before we have any wine,” Matthew replied. “Right now, the vines are too old to produce many grapes.”
Gabbi looked at Moira, saying, “Doesn’t sound like a very profitable investment to me.”
Moira ignored Gabbi and addressed Ben. “Why are you cutting off so much of the vines?”
He looked up and smiled. “The grapes grow on new wood and we want the energy to go to the fruit, not the vine. The more we cut them back, and in the right places, the better the harvest.”
Moira looked closely at the vines. “That makes sense. How do you know which ones to cut?”
Gabbi walked over to Matthew. “Rogers, do you think this is really going to make us any money?”
Matthew shrugged. “Maybe. Maggie seemed to think so.” He gave her a smile. “I told you it’s a hobby for me, but your grandmother was very interested. In fact, she’s the one who talked me into this idea. Challenged me to try to bring the grapes back, so she wouldn’t have to pull them.”
“Pull them out of the ground you mean?” Gabbi looked around. “Why would you do that?”
“If grapes don’t produce, the vines are worthless. The people who lived in the house before I bought it planted all these vines. They’re Pinot Noir grapes, which are actually a good choice for the area. They were planning to start a vineyard back in the early ‘90s. Maggie told me that at the time, she’d just wanted something planted in this field. Apparently, it used to be a landing strip of some sort.”
Moira jumped slightly, and Ben held her arm to steady her. Gabbi looked at Matthew and just waited. When he said nothing, she replied, “You don’t know, do you?”
“Know what?” Matthew asked.
“Our grandfather was killed in an airplane crash in 1986, which just about destroyed our family,” Gabbi replied. “I would imagine Gran wanted to get rid of any evidence that a runway ever existed.”
Matthew took a step towards Gabbi, but she backed up. “I’m sorry. I had no idea.” He looked at Ben. “Did you know?”
“Yes, but Maggie didn’t tell you, so I respected her wishes,” Ben said. “She chose to focus on the future, not live in the past.”
Moira nodded. “Then, that’s what we should do.” She looked at Gabbi. “Gran wanted the vineyard brought back to its full potential. She planned to do something special with this strip of land, probably to honor the man she loved.”
Gabbi looked at her and smiled. “Well, I do love wine. Even if it’s going to take a while to see any of the finished product.” She turned to Matthew, raising one eyebrow. “All right, Rogers. Show me where this wonderful wine is going to be made.”
“The previous owners had planned to put the entire facility in an old barn on the property. It’s got the space as it must be at least 2,500 square feet, but it needs some work.” Matthew smiled at Gabbi. “Want to take a tour?”
She looked at Moira and then back at Matthew. “Lead the way.”
Moira smiled at Ben. “I think they’ll have more fun if we stay here. Can you explain more to me about the grapes and how they grow?”
Ben nodded. “Yes, I would be happy to teach you. I believe you care as much about the grape as you do the wine.”
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to grow things,” Moira explained. “I’d like to have a garden full of all kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. I guess that’s all mixed up though, isn’t it?”
“Not at all,” Ben assured her. “That would be a cottage garden, which would probably suit you. If I had to guess, I would say you have the heart of a true believer.” When Moira just looked at him, he grinned. “Fairytales. Am I right?”
Moira laughed. “I’ve always loved them. And gardens that are full of climbing roses and magical plants.”
Ben looked back towards the house. “If I’m not mistaken, you have climbing roses and probably many magical plants in your garden now.” He smiled. “I would imagine they’ve been there for many generations.”
Moira stopped and looked at Ben. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“Just that the MacInnes House has always been known as a place that heals and helps those in need,” he said. “No matter who you are, no one in need has ever been turned away.” He looked back toward the mansion and said quietly. “Not ever.”
Moira was about to ask another question, when Ben turned to her and said, “Let me give you a quick lesson in pruning.” She spent the next half hour learning more about grapes than she’d ever imagined. She asked Ben if there was a good place to grow some Concord grapes for jelly. He told her it would be easy to put a few vines against the west side of the carriage house and maybe even add an arbor for a little seating area by the kitchen garden. Moira was already imagining how she would layout the garden in the spring.
Meanwhile, Gabbi and Matthew were having a less peaceful time with their tour. “So, Rogers, how do you see this setup?” Gabbi asked, looking around the empty barn, “and how are we going to afford all the equipment?”
Matthew glanced around the space. “I just do the grapes; you have to invest in the set up.” He knew that would get her going, but he liked to see the purple shimmer around the edge of those blue eyes.
“We should pay? Isn’t that convenient?” Gabbi walked around looking at the large area. “Let me guess, there’s no electricity out here, it hasn’t been weatherized, and you expect to use only the best equipment, right?”
Matthew tried to hide a smile. “Well, the quality of the wine is partially determined by the facility as well as the grapes themselves.”
Gabbi spun around. “Exactly. So, if you don’t give me good grapes, all this fancy equipment will be for nothing. Isn’t that the truth?” She paused as she saw she’d made her point. “What is your incentive if I’m paying the bills?”
“My word, but since you don’t know me that well, we’ll let that pass.” He looked at her in a way that made her knees feel a little weak. “What if we both invest and share everything 50/50?”
Gabbi glanced around. “That could work as long as we have input on equipment choices and set up costs.” As he gave her a look, she continued, “My family doesn’t own a vineyard in Napa Valley, so my funds are limited.”
Matthew didn’t know how she got under his skin so easily, but she did. “Fine. You and I will split the costs and the profits.”
“No, Moira and I will split them with you and Ben,” Gabbi replied. “I think he should be made a partner in this, too. It’s his expertise as well as yours, don’t you agree?”
Matthew shook his head, wondering how he’d got himself into this. “Okay, we’ll ask him, and I’ll back his investment. Fair enough?”
Gabbi smiled. “If Moira agrees, then yes. That sounds more than fair.” She turned and started looking more closely at the barn. “You have a good roof at least and the cement floor seems solid enough.”
“Where did you learn so much about old buildings?” Matthew asked, before thinking it through.
“What? Women don’t know anything about construction? You know Emma does this for a living and she’s a woman.” Gabbi glared at him, waiting for a response.
Matthew just laughed. “Fine. I made assumptions based on your gender and that was unfair, but how do you know so much about old buildings if I might ask?”
Gabbi smiled and shook her head. “I’ve been looking at every falling down building within thirty miles of Seattle, hoping to find some place to open my own restaurant. They were all either too far gone or more than I could afford.” She realized she didn’t mean to share so much especially with him.
“So, you want to open your own restaurant,” Matthew said taking a step forward. “Maybe I should try those tequila prawns. What are you doing tomorrow night?”
“I have a date,” Gabbi replied, “and he’s taking me out to dinner in Seattle.” She smiled a little. She didn’t add that he was her father. Why should he know she hadn’t had a real date in weeks?
“Well, maybe some other time,” Matthew said as he walked back towards the entrance. Her response had just backfired, but she was stuck with it. “Why don’t we see how Moira and Ben are doing?”
Hoping to smooth things over, Gabbi noticed the leather and silver bracelet on Matthew’s left wrist. “Nice bracelet.” She walked up and looked at it more closely. “This looks handmade.”
Matthew nodded. “I got it as a present. From a very lovely young woman.”
Gabbi raised her eyebrows and turned. “Why am I not surprised?” she replied, walking back outside. As she looked up, Gabbi saw the clouds blowing in very quickly from the southwest. “We should get back,” she said.
“Seems that storm might be coming in a little early,” Matthew agreed.
A few minutes later, they reached Moira and Ben, but the winds were really picking up. “Moira, let’s go,” Gabbi said. “It looks like that storm is headed straight for us.”
Moira saw the fear in her cousin’s eyes. That stupid dream, she thought, then wondered. After what had happened in the library, maybe the dream was more important than she’d realized. “All right, I’m ready.” She turned to Ben. “Thank you for your help.”
Ben smiled. “Of course.” He looked up at the sky. “You should get home. This storm looks like it could last for several hours.”
Moira nodded and followed Gabbi over to the drive, then back toward the mansion. Gabbi was moving very quickly when Moira saw something out of the corner of her eye. She stopped and walked over to the other side of the drive, looking towards the woods. Something was watching her. She was sure of it.
Gabbi turned. “Moira, come on. It’s going to be pouring on us any minute.” The clouds were getting even darker.
“Just a moment,” Moira replied. “Gabbi, I think there might be a dog over here. Or maybe a wolf.”
“A wolf?” Gabbi walked back and grabbed her cousin’s arm. “What are we supposed to do with a wolf? Are you crazy?”
Moira shook her head. “I don’t know. It just seemed to call to me as if it needed help.”
Gabbi pulled on her cousin, finally getting her moving again. “Come on. If you’re that desperate to find a dog, we’ll look for one after you get back from Montana. Now, let’s get in the house!”
The rain started falling as they both ran for the house. They hurried up the steps and through the front door. As Gabbi turned to look over her shoulder, she shuddered, remembering the image of Callie in the water. She shut the front door, driving the deadbolt into place. Moira had been right in her dream. The house was the safest place to be during a storm like this.
Join us next week for the another chapter of The Magic of Burrows Bay!