Peace and Plans

April 9, 2008 

Charlie Ann was so excited, she couldn’t wait to tell her aunt about the garden shop. She drove back to the bed and breakfast, all the while thinking of things she wanted to do to the shop. Just as she closed her car door and was about turn toward the shop, Charlie Ann noticed Jasper sitting in the porch swing.

“Charlie Ann, could I have a word with you?” Jasper Ragsdale asked as she started up the steps.

“Of course, Jasper, how have you been?” Charlie Ann took a seat in one of the rocking chairs.

“Doing pretty well, I guess. Your Aunt Shug makes sure I get a decent meal a couple of times a week. I’m not much for fast food, and since Glenda passed away, well, a man can only eat so many sandwiches!” He chuckled.

“Glenda was a wonderful cook.”

“Charlie Ann, I’m sorry things between you and Bennett didn’t work out, but I’ve learned a lot in the last year or so, especially about people. And I know the breakup wasn’t all your fault. That boy always did have a mind of his own, and since he moved to California, why, I never hear from him. But, I just wanted you to know that I don’t have any hard feelings towards you, and I hope we can still be friends, like always.”

Tears welled up in Charlie Ann’s eyes as she watched the older man talk. She stood and moved to sit beside him on the porch swing.

“Jasper, you don’t know what that means to me.” She smiled and squeezed his hand.

Just then, Aunt Shug came out the screened door and eyed the two of them, a cheeky grin breaking out on her weathered face.

“You’re not hitting on my boyfriend, are you gal?”

“Now Shug, you know I’ve only got eyes for you!” Jasper grinned and squeezed Charlie Ann’s fingers. “Me and Charlie were just making peace, that’s all!”

“Well, it’s about time. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to walk on egg shells when you two were in the same room! Now what kind of plans do you have for the garden shop?” Shug shooed Charlie Ann from the swing and took her spot beside Jasper.

“First of all, I plan to change the name to “Lady Hillington’s Garden Shop!” Charlie Ann announced after she resumed her place in the rocker. “And I want to paint the outside of it a bright color, like they do the houses on Rainbow Row in Charleston. Miss Caroline wants to move closer to her daughter as soon as she can, but she promised to leave me a detailed inventory. I’m going to go in Monday and work with her, so I can get to know the place again.”

They continued to chat about improvements and changes that needed to be made to the garden center. Aunt Shug had just suggested a glass of iced tea, when the two guests who had shown interest in Aunt Shug’s pictures stopped in the driveway and exited their pickup.

“Hello gentlemen,” Aunt Shug called. “Would you all like a glass of iced tea with us here on the porch?”

“That sounds great, ma’am. Can I do something to help?” the taller of the two men asked as he stepped up onto the porch.

“You just have a seat young man, and Charlie Ann and I will get it. I may even be able to find some fresh baked oatmeal cookies.” Aunt Shug grinned at the young man.

“Miss Shug, you are going to spoil me and I may never leave.”

“That’s what I’m counting on!” Shug laughed as she swept in the front door followed by her laughing niece.

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