Babbet’s New Beginning
by Tami Brothers
There are people in this world who never see the ugly side of life. Others barely have time to pick themselves up before something is knocking them down again.
“I’m freezing. Whose stupid idea was this, anyway?”
“Chill out, Susan. It’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad! Its eighteen freaking degrees out here, Babs. I think I’m pretty chilled already.”
Babbet Franklin ignored the grumbling and continued to fill cups with steaming hot coffee from the insulated pot. Before she’d removed her hand from the cup, her friend had scooped it off the tailgate of the pickup they were using as a makeshift table. Plopping the cup onto a tray with five others, Susan turned and headed to the next batch of Brisbing, Georgia, residents spread out along the side of Taylor Lake.
Biting her lip, Babbet tried not to grin. Susan could complain all she wanted about this event, but she knew the real deal. Her friend had been by her side while she’d planned the whole thing. Not once had she criticized the plans, which told Babbet she’d been spot on with this idea.
Bringing her bare fingers up to her mouth to blow warm air across them, she took a moment to look out at the scenery that had drawn more than one hundred and fifty people this morning. In less than an hour, dawn would break over the tops of the trees. A new beginning, not only to this day, but for the year. January first.
A few lights glowed through the trees in the distance. Other Brisbing citizens were waking up, starting their day, getting ready for work. Although they hadn’t been able to attend the New Beginnings party, they were still Babbet’s people. Glancing around at the group sitting on blankets spread out on the ground, canvas chairs lined up just behind them, and still others standing behind the chairs, a warm glow of pride bloomed in her chest. Their dedication and show of support was overwhelming. Whether snuggled under fleece blankets, cuddled up with a loved one, or covered from head to toe in insulated Carhartts, all were here because they, too, wanted to experience that feeling of starting anew.
When she spied Susan tromping back across the frozen ground towards her, Babbet pulled her attention back to her tasks. Grabbing another stack of cups, she resumed filling them.
“Two more trips, girly. Then they can get their own damn coffee.”
This time Babbet couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth from lifting. “You are a peach, Suzy Q.”
“Shut it, Babs” Susan narrowed her eyes. “Or, so help me, you will be cleaning up by yourself. Lord knows these cups won’t make it to the trash barrels you set up. People just suck.” With that parting comment, she plopped the last cup onto her tray and stalked off.
“Isn’t she all warm and fuzzy?”
Babbet jumped at the intrusion, then turned to the owner of the silky voice. Wade Green. Brisbing’s newly elected Sheriff. “Hey, Wade.”
“Morning, Mayor. Didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No worries.” Babbet outright grinned at the title as she scooped up the empty insulated container and swung it around to make room for the fresh pot Wade had carted over. Mayor. Hearing the title with her name would never get old.
He stood with his hands on his hips as he slowly nodded, taking in the scene. “You did a great job with this.”
“Thanks.” With a nod to the many volunteers sitting along the shore, she couldn’t keep the pride from seeping into her voice. “Wasn’t just me, though. I have an amazing team.”
“You were right about the fundraiser. I have to give you credit. Dinner was a hit. The town raised just over $15,000 dollars last night to put towards building the new library.” He shook his head, but continued to smile his appreciation. “I was worried. We took a gamble with $100 a plate, but those desserts made the event. I believe Marianne’s shop will get a boost in business after this.”
The woman in question was walking up and down the rows of people, passing out snacks. Babbet’s mouth instantly watered. Marianne’s Chunky Fudge cookies were absolutely the best chocolate chip cookies this side of the Mississippi. They were legendary.
She was tempted to get in line for one. If she hadn’t already had two earlier, she might have gone for another one. Wrapped in a paper blanket, each bite oozed warm chocolate. Even in this frigid weather, the two she had eaten had melted like butter on the tongue.
No wonder Drool Worthy was one of the most popular destinations in town. Marianne made each customer feel special. Babbet admired her for her talent. “She will definitely be getting a few calls. I saw Mrs. Wayne slipping Marianne’s business card into her purse. My guess is she might be planning a wedding for her youngest daughter soon.”
Wade chuckled. “Looks like Jason is fitting into the catering role.”
Babbet followed his gaze to the towering hunk opening the doors to the catering van. Jason Alexander had caused quite the stir last year when he’d arrived in town to build his fitness center. She was certainly glad Marianne had been the one to finally catch his eye. They made a great couple. And if he’d had to deal with the single women swarming in from all over the state throwing themselves at his feet each time he’d walked out of his building, she was pretty certain he wouldn’t have stayed, regardless of his family ties in the neighboring county.
“Yes, he is.” Like Wade, Jason had been enlisted to haul and cart in the food. He was currently unloading boxes of cookies that had been warming in the back of Drool Worthy’s van. Even now his actions attracted the attention of several of the women sitting around them.
“What are the two of you standing around lolly-gagging about?” Susan stormed up and plopped the empty tray on to the tailgate. Glaring at them, she started issuing orders. “Wade, get that coffee unloaded. We’ve got maybe twenty minutes to make these people happy so they’ll leave us alone. If I’m going to put this much work into something, I’d better be able to watch the damn sun rise.”
Wade tipped his hat at the two of them. “Yes, ma’am.” There was a moment’s hesitation before his gaze left Susan, but Babbet had seen the look. She’d also seen the second glance from Susan when he’d turned and headed back to his county-issued SUV. Babbet grinned when her friend’s glare was aimed at her.
“What are you looking at?”
Babette was smart enough not to acknowledge the obvious attraction. At least not until later. “Nothing. I’m glad you’re on my side.” With a sweep of her hand, she added, “I don’t think I could have done all of this without you.”
“Yes, you could have.” They both knew she was referring to more than the dinner. “You would have done a brilliant job. But you will do it better and a whole heck of a lot faster with my help. We both know it.” Then, in typical Susan fashion, she shook off the moment. “Let’s finish setting this stuff up so folks can serve themselves. I want to have my butt in that seat and be burrowed into that fleece blanket before the sun peeks over the trees. This yackin’ isn’t going to get us there.”
Knowing they had moved past the moment, Babbet finished setting out the cups and extra plates. Ten minutes later she and Susan were making their way to their seats.
“Babs! I love your hair. Very chic.” A familiar voice called from the group of teachers who had not only paid the fees but had donated their time to help set up the event.
“Thanks, Sarah Beth. Mrs. Cooper over at the Cut Above fit me in.”
Sarah Beth moved closer. “Mrs. Cooper? Has she heard from Mike this week?”
“Last Friday, I think. He didn’t say where he was, but he did tell her not to worry.” With a reassuring nod, Babbet added, “Doris said he never underplays the dangers in Afghanistan, so she’s confident he’s doing okay. I think he’s moving to a new base, though.”
“That’s good.” Sarah Beth said this with a sigh of relief. “My seventh grade class is putting together a care package to send him and his unit. I’ll shoot him an e-mail and find out where he’ll be so we send it to the right location.”
“That’s amazing. I admire you for getting the kids involved in supporting the troops. If I can do anything, let me know. I want to help as much as I can.”
“Will do.” Mary Beth headed back to her friends, but threw over her shoulder, “And that haircut does make you look radiant. I love the short look on you.”
Babbet patted the back of her short curls as she headed to where Susan had already taken a seat. Before she’d had a chance to wrap herself in her blanket, a steaming cup of hot coffee appeared in front of her. “Wade thought you ladies might need something to knock the chill off.”
Babbet wrapped her freezing hands around the steaming cup and grinned at the sexy architect the town council had hired to design and build the new library. “Thank you, Daniel.”
With a nod, he handed the other cup to Susan.
“No, thanks.” She shuddered and shook her head. “I like mine-”
“Two sugars and a dash of vanilla cream. Yes, Wade said to tell you he knows how you like your coffee.”
Susan looked suspiciously at the cup. “Where did he get the cream?”
Daniel shrugged and continued to hold the cup out towards her.
She skeptically reached for it and took a sip. Before she could say anything, Daniel had turned and walked away.
With raised eyebrows, Babbet waited for her friend to comment. “So?”
Susan shot her a glare before taking another sip. With a grin, Babbet took a sip of her own sweet vanilla coffee and let the subject drop.
“Your hair does look good.”
Babbet reached over and squeezed her friend’s hand, accepting the comment as the peace offering it was meant to be. “Thanks. I’m glad it’s finally long enough to style.” Self-conscious, she reached up and fingered the soft curls.
Just a year ago she’d attended a New Year’s Eve party with a big straw hat and a long purple wig. Not only had she been trying to boost her spirits, but she’d been covering her bald head. Chemo had not been kind. Honestly, it had about beaten the life out of her.
When she’d stepped out of the Cut Above yesterday and a breeze had lifted the wisps of curly hair floating around her face, she’d felt something she hadn’t in the past two years, true confidence. It sounded silly that the hair stylist had made her feel this way when Dr. Gregg’s clean bill of health had only given her a sense of relief. Babbet had accepted this change and pushed forward. But she’d marked the moment as the change it was meant to be. From that point forward, she hadn’t needed to fake the confidence she’d tried to project.
A hush settled over the crowd as the world sprang to life around them. Soft ripples blanketed the lake as the silver glow began to edge over the horizon. With a high pitched chirp, a bird took flight. Another answered her call. A breeze whistled through the giant pines. The sky grew lighter and the ripples in the water now winked out at the crowd like diamonds set in gold. The beauty of nature’s painting took Babbet’s breath away and humbled her as she witnessed the artist at work. This was the first day of a new year. This was one of those stand-out moments that would be forever engrained in her soul.
For now, the battle with cancer was forgotten. The devastation from the abandonment by her high school sweetheart seemed insignificant. She had lived through and survived battles that would break most people. This new beginning was her chance to redo it all. This was her chance to prove to herself that she had not been defeated.
Babbet settled comfortably into her fleece-draped chair. With the rising of the sun a weight lifted from her shoulders. As she let go of the burdens she hadn’t realized she’d been holding on to, she let herself finally believe. Yeah. This was going to be a good year.
Andrew Monroe kicked a decaying pile of seaweed, then blinked in surprise as water soaked through his brown leather Berluti’s. Coming out of the fog he’d been swimming in since coming to Tybee Island six days earlier, he realized what he’d done. A wry laugh bubbled up from his chest. Elizabeth would be appalled that he’d probably ruined a pair of $1,800 shoes. Or more likely, she would have griped about him being oblivious to the world around him, then she would have promptly gone out to buy another pair. Or even two. With his hands jammed into his front pockets, he ignored the cold numbing his toes. His loosened shirt tails flapped in the frigid breeze coming off the ocean, the sound thumping in his ears like a base drum. Unfazed, his gaze remained on the shadows breaking over the waves.
Who is Andrew Monroe and how does he play into Babbet’s New Beginning? Hop over to Tami’s blog to read the rest of the story. As an added treat (in addition to the chance to win one of the three prizes mentioned below), Tami is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift card to one lucky commenter on today’s post here at PF&HTs. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me what was wrapped around the paper Andrew found in the bottle.
Tami Brothers grew up in a small Wyoming town not unlike Brisbing, Georgia. In her upcoming My Home Town series, the stories are completely fictional, but the hometown feel is as real as it gets. Stop by Tami’s website to learn about the series coming in 2013 featuring the characters you just met in Babbet’s New Beginning. Or subscribe to her newsletter and be the first to hear about her next release.
Oooh, now that’s intriguing. It will definitely be worth looking into Tami‘s My Home Town series. I know I will.
Tomorrow we have Sia Huff’s story, The Final Gift. I don’t want to reveal too much about it, but I will say there’s a sexy foreign duke… Mmmm…
Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win one of our prizes:
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