Excerpt from Out-lanta


Out-lanta

A Second Chance Novella


Part of the Magnolias and Moonshine Series available in print and e-book at Amazon and iBooks

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An afternoon off to take in the sights of Atlanta turns into an adventure Luke Marcelle didn’t expect and didn’t want. When runaway bride, Ania Darska, jumps into his car, she frantically shouts for him to drive. The groom she just left at altar leaves Luke no choice when he begins shooting at them. Now, he’s stuck with the mysterious bride from Poland and a dangerous groom chasing after them as they embark on a road-trip to Cane, Louisiana because…

…Ania has no money, no passport and no one else to call for help.

Love and laughs find a way into their journey across the south to Cajun Country and gives them both a Second Chance as Luke uncovers there is much more to Ania’s escape out of Atlanta.


Out-lanta, a Second Chance Novella

 

Chapter One

 

“Okay ladies, I’m all yours,” Luke Marcelle said as he climbed into his sleek, deep red BMW M3 convertible. He’d left the Jeep he used for work back home in Louisiana, choosing to make the road trip to Atlanta in what he called his recreational vehicle—although it in no way resembled a camper. Luke put his Nikon digital camera into his backpack on the center console between the front seats. He turned to look at his passengers in the back seat. “I got my photos from the beautiful Swan House and boxwood gardens for work. I’m finished here at the Atlanta History Center. The rest of the afternoon is for your pleasure.”

“And we are here for youz pleasure, too,” Eighty-eight-year-old Izzy Bienvenu said from the back seat where she sat under an enormous floppy straw hat next to her fifty-something year old niece, Ruby. Both women were from Cane, Louisiana where Luke had moved his business a few years ago. “It’s nice we’ze all happened to be in Atlanta at da same time. We’ze are ready to party wit you and take youz mind off of work.”

Tanté Izzy and her niece Ruby wore bedazzled black and gold New Orleans Saints t-shirts and huge black, sunglasses that looked like bumblebee eyes. Even though it was late April and the football season was months away, Tanté Izzy said they were wearing the Saint’s t-shirts because she and Ruby wanted the Atlanta Falcon fans to know that their rival Who-Dat fans were around. Luke understood that she just enjoyed making the sport of fan-mania an all year long. The sunglasses were worn because they said they looked sexier that way riding in his red hot convertible with the top down.

“Party?” Ruby said, shaking her head, causing her bright red bangs to swish across her forehead from under the giant hat she wore. “Don’t you think that’s an overstatement. Luke here doesn’t want to go out dancing and clubbing with us, Tanté Izzy. He’s too busy for that. He’s just going to spend an afternoon with us. Remember, he’s got a lot to do for that big project he’s bidding on. It’s for that new neighborhood that he wants to build not too far from Cane. The one he’s taking all those pretty pictures for.” She looked at Luke. “What’s it called again?”

“Magnolia Row.”

“He’s going to grow his construction company from building houses and commercial buildings one client at a time to building thousands of houses for just one client.” Ruby explained to Tante’ Izzy who was adjusting her own huge hat on her tiny head.

“He hasn’t gotten dat big job, yet,” Tanté Izzy whispered to Ruby, but he heard her just fine from the front seat. “He’s still got to win da bid over two other companies. We’ze here to take his mind off of dat. So hush youz mouth.” Then in a louder voice she spoke directly to Luke. “Ruby and I are ready to go on da Walking Dead Tour.”

“From the Classical 1928 Swan House, or as you ladies refer to it as President Snow’s Mansion from The Hunger Games to the Walking Dead tour.” He started the car and closed his eyes, enjoying the sound of the powerful engine purring to life. Just then, the passenger door flung open and a rustle of noisy fabric and feathers along with a blur of bright white filled the front seat.

“What the hell?” Either he was hallucinating or a beautiful dark haired bride had just jumped in his car.

“Go, Go, Go,” the stranger in white screamed, banging on the dash. Even though she’d only spoken three short words, he could tell she had a foreign accent. The bride looked past him with big blue eyes focused on the woodland path on the other side of the parking lot.

“Drive! Please.”

“Hell no. I’ve seen this movie and I’m not interested in Buford T. Justice chasing me across Georgia.”

“Oh. I get out then if you do not drive.” The woman started to shift to get out of the car, struggling with the dress. The top of the dress fit like plastic wrap on her very shapely body making it difficult for her to bend and move. The bottom of the dress however, starting with a huge flare around her knees, had miles of voluminous fabric that equally made movement a problem. How had she even managed to get into his sports car?

She looked somewhere past him again.

“No. He drive,” Ruby said, unintentionally speaking like the runaway bride had.

“Yes?” she asked, her voice shaky one second and in the next her hand flew to her mouth and she shouted with complete assertiveness. “I need you driving. Now. They are coming. Hurry.” Her accent was heavier than it was at first. She was now adding a “k” at the end of her ing words.

“Go. Go. Go.” Tanté Izzy and Ruby screamed at the same time.

“One of those three men wearing the tuxedoes, has a gun,” Ruby shouted. “God, he must be the jilted groom.”

“I gotz my gun too,’ Tanté Izzy yelled, reaching into her purse. Hearing that was all the incentive Luke needed. The thought of a shoot-out between an angry fiancé and an elderly Cajun woman had him punching his foot on the accelerator. The powerful engine responded as it was engineered to and they sped off.

The bride’s veil blew up behind her like a kite tail, whipping Tanté Izzy and Ruby in the face as it trailed onto the back.

“Oh, no,” the bride cried, tugging on the material flying behind her head. It caught the wind and came around to cover Luke’s face. He slammed on his brakes.

“Are you trying to get us killed?” he yanked the white fabric out of his face as she tried bundling it up into a ball. That’s when a ping sounded near the side of the car. All three women screamed.

Luke flinched and floored it. “Holy crap, lady. I’ve heard of shotgun weddings before, but this is ridiculous.”

“Oh, God, I’m going to be dead,” she said, leaning over onto her lap and giving Luke a full view of the back of her dress and the deep plunge which left a view of more fair skin than not. Hell, there was hardly any dress in the back at all.

“I’m calling 9-1-1,” Ruby shouted. “A person should be able to say no and leave a wedding if they want…even the bride.”

Nie. No. Please.” The woman jerked up, reached around and grabbed the phone from Ruby’s hand. A tear slid down her cheek. “No police. I get out of car,” she offered and looked back to see if anyone was following them.

Luke did the same. Two cars cut the corner behind them. He sped up and took the next turn and then three after that without slowing down. His car was a performance dream. The women were grabbing onto the back and bottom of their seats to keep from falling over, even though the car hugged each turn smoothly. Luke hooked a hard, fast left and pulled into what looked like an old office parking garage. He hit the brakes, turned the wheel and stopped the car facing in the direction they had just come it. He turned off the headlights and the darkness from the empty garage closed in around them. He left the engine running.

“Where can I drop you off?” he asked the woman with the white knuckled grip on his dash.

Tanté Izzy smacked him in the back of the head and leaned between the console seats. “You liked drivin’ fast too much.”

“Hey, I was just trying to keep us from getting shot.”

“You are crazy driver,” the bride said, letting go of the dash. “Thank you for keeping us not getting dead.”

“Youz talk funny. Where are youz from?”

The woman looked over her shoulder to Tanté Izzy, then back toward where cars were passing on the street outside of the parking garage. “Lithuania,” she replied, but something in her tone told Luke she was lying. “You have an accent too. Where are you from?”

“God’s country.” Tanté Izzy said with a big smile. Ruby nodded next to her.

“That’s for sure,” Ruby added. “We’re from a town called Cane in Louisiana. It’s near New Orleans.”

“Ruby and I is Cajun,” Tanté Izzy piped in, as if that explained everything. “Luke’s not Cajun by birth but he’z Cajun by friendship.”

The probably not-Lithuanian bride’s dark brows lifted. She clearly didn’t understand what any of that meant, but didn’t ask for an explanation. She was looking around the quiet parking garage.

Luke pulled out his phone. “Shall I call you a cab?”

“No. I can walk.” She picked Ruby’s phone up off the floor where it had fallen in the mad getaway dash, and handed it back. “I’m sorry for taking it.” Luke frowned hearing her insert a k again in an ing word – to make taking sound like takink. Her accent made her sound more vulnerable somehow. She opened the door, the bottom of her wedding dress poured out like a flooding river over the banks.

“No. Don’t go,” Ruby said, squeezing her broad shoulders into the small space next to Tanté Izzy so she could get closer to the bride. “It’s not safe for you to walk through the streets with an angry fiancé and his posse of groomsmen chasing after you. Not to mention that it will be impossible to drag that long Cathedral train behind you.” Ruby lowered her sunglasses down her nose and looked over the top of them. “From what I can see—spilling out the door like that—it sure looks like a real pretty train.”

“We’ze ain’t goin’ to throw her to da wolves.” Tanté Izzy said looking at Luke.

He shook his head. “You must have friends or family you can call.”

She sighed. “I can walk.”

Oh hell. That wasn’t the response he wanted to hear. Luke grabbed the steering wheel and looked out his window into the dark, dusty garage.

“Luke Marcelle,” Tanté Izzy said, “dis girl needs our help and we’ze goin’ to give it to her. Don’t make her feel bad about it either. It took a lot of courage to walk out of her own wedding when all da people came to wish her a happy life.”

The woman looked at Tanté Izzy. “You are a good Babcia. I thank you but I don’t want trouble for you or your grandson and daughter.”

“Dey aren’t my grandson and daughter,” Tanté Izzy corrected. “Dey are family, Ruby by blood and Luke by friendship. Dey also are da peoples who are gonna help you.” 

 


Part of the Magnolias and Moonshine Series available in print and e-book at Amazon and iBooks