Home > Follow Your Heart (Catalina Cove #4)

Follow Your Heart (Catalina Cove #4)
Author: Brenda Jackson

 

PROLOGUE


   “KAEGAN AND BRYCE, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Kaegan, you may kiss your bride.”

   Victoria Madaris swiped at the tears in her eyes as she watched the couple at the front of the church seal their marriage vows with a kiss.

   Kaegan Chambray and Bryce Witherspoon—now Bryce Witherspoon-Chambray—made a beautiful couple. You could see the love in their eyes when they’d recited the vows they’d written. When Kaegan, a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe, had spoken to Bryce in his Native American tongue and she responded in that tongue in kind, it had been the most touching thing. Although Victoria was certain she wasn’t the only one who hadn’t understood what they’d said, the important thing was that they had understood.

   A handkerchief was suddenly shoved in her hand. “Here. I can’t believe you’re carrying on like this at a wedding, considering your fate.”

   Victoria fought the urge to glare at her brother Corbin. Today was Kaegan and Bryce’s day. It had been such a beautiful ceremony. Everything had been perfect and romantic. Even the weather had cooperated. Although the forecasters had predicted rain, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Today had been a totally awesome February day in Catalina Cove, Louisiana.

   “Honestly, Corbin, do you have to be so negative? There’s nothing wrong with falling in love and getting married,” she said as people began exiting the church. When she’d received a wedding invitation for the same weekend he’d planned to visit, she’d invited him to be her plus-one.

   “So says the woman whose single days are numbered,” her brother grumbled. “Glad it’s you and not me.”

   Victoria decided not to point out that he better be glad it was her, otherwise it would indeed be him. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Nolan. I have no problem with our great-grandmother finding me a husband if she’s inclined to do so. Mama Laverne has an astounding track record as a matchmaker, and whomever she chooses will be well vetted. It will certainly save me the time of trying to figure out if the man is worth my time and attention.”

   “You honestly want a husband?” Corbin asked, as if appalled at the very thought.

   “No, but if Mama Laverne has chosen one for me, I’ll take him. I trust her judgment. She’s the best.”

   It was a well-known fact that at ninetysomething, the matriarch of the Madaris family was determined to marry off her great-grands before she left to go with the Lord. It bothered Victoria whenever Mama Laverne would say such a thing because Victoria couldn’t imagine a world without her great-grandmother in it.

   Over the years, Victoria had seen her work her magic on some of the staunchest bachelors in the family. They had fought her all the way. But then the next thing she knew, they had fallen in love with the women Mama Laverne had chosen for them.

   The last match had been Victoria’s brother Nolan, and everybody knew that Nolan had had no intention of ever getting married. He was singing a different tune these days with Ivy. The two would be celebrating their second wedding anniversary soon, and people suspected a baby was on the way. Victoria hoped so. She was looking forward to the day that she became an auntie.

   “This is a pretty nice town, Victoria.”

   She glanced around when they reached her brother’s car. “Yes, it is. I love it here. It’s so peaceful and the people are friendly. Mom and Dad came to visit last month and said the fishing here was great.”

   “So I heard, but don’t get too attached to the place. You’re a Texan. Remember that.”

   Victoria rolled her eyes. Like there was any way she could. The Madaris family had settled in Texas seven generations ago, back in the 1800s, after acquiring a ten-thousand-acre Mexican land grant. At a time when most newly freed Blacks were still waiting for their forty acres and a mule from the United States government, Carlos Antonio Madaris, half Mexican and half African American, along with his wife, Christina Marie, were shaping their legacy on land they used to raise cattle. A parcel of land they named Whispering Pines. Today Whispering Pines was a huge cattle ranch run by her uncle Jake.

   “Now tell me why you’re living here and not in New Orleans when that’s where your job is,” Corbin said as he pulled out of the church’s parking lot.

   Victoria knew he’d heard the reason from their parents, but if he thought there was another version that he hadn’t gotten wind of, she had no problem bursting his bubble. “I came to Catalina Cove to cover a story about the shrimp festival they hold each year. It took me less than an hour to get here. I loved the place immediately and decided although I worked in New Orleans, I didn’t have to live there when I liked this place better.”

   Corbin nodded. “You’ve only been here a couple of months and already you’ve made friends who invited you to their wedding?”

   She smiled. “Bryce was one of the first people I met. She’s the Realtor I contacted to find me a place to lease in the cove. And you have to admit my place is nice.”

   “It’s small.”

   She figured he would say that, since his condo in Houston was bigger than most houses. “It’s big enough for me, Corbin. And I love that apple grove in the back. There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of apples every morning.”

   “How’s your job going?”

   Victoria glanced over at him. She knew that her brothers hadn’t particularly liked the idea of her taking a job as a news reporter in New Orleans when a similar job had been offered to her in Houston. She tried to get them to understand it was time for her to spread her wings. Besides, the Madaris name was well-known not only in Houston, but also in the entire state of Texas. She didn’t want to worry about taking a job and being treated differently because her last name was Madaris.

   “My job is going great, although I miss being out on the beat.” Six months ago, she’d been promoted from a beat reporter to coanchor one of the morning shows.

   “I’m glad the political season is over. I couldn’t take interviewing one more politician,” she said. There was no reason to explain to her brother why she felt such deep animosity toward politicians. Most of the family already knew why. To change the subject, she asked, “So what’s going on with your love life, Corbin?”

   She laughed when he let out an expletive. She knew one sure way to get her brother riled was to ask about his love life. Like most single Madaris men, he intended to stay a bachelor forever.

   “Don’t worry about my love life. You need to be concerned with your own. I’m not the next person on Mama Laverne’s list.”

   “Not for long. I’ve been summoned. I got a call from Mama Laverne. She wants to see me, so I’m going to Whispering Pines next weekend.”

   Stopping at a traffic light, Corbin glanced over at her with an arched eyebrow. “Do you think she’s going to tell you who she’s chosen as your husband?”

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