Dorothea Benton Frank
New York Times Bestselling Author
Dorothea Benton Frank
"Frank has a gift for Southern fiction and this novel is no exception" —RT Book Reviews
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The Hurricane Sisters (Continued)

Chapter One

Maisie—Eighty Candles

Listen, I'm not complaining. I'm an extremely lucky woman to have lived so many years and it was very nice for my daughter and her family to arrange a dinner to celebrate my birthday with me and Skipper. Skipper is my young man who squires me all over town. He's sixty-five. I know. Bless my heart, I'm quite the scandal.

So there I was at the Charleston Grill, in my best pearls—a triple strand like Barbara Bush wore—sipping my Bombay gin dry martini with two olives, waiting for the others to arrive. I was seated right on the button of five thirty. It was late in May, and even though the streets were bulging with Spoleto Festival patrons and rush-hour commuters, I was punctual. And I live all the way out on James Island. My daughter Liz and her husband, Clayton, live right around the corner on Church Street and they're late. Isn't that typical? The younger folks haven't a clue about the value of time. I, on the other hand, was acutely aware of the passing of each day. Eight decades of birthdays will do that to you.

This afternoon Skipper had to go check on his llama farm way out in Awendaw and that's at least an hour from my little ranch-style house. Then he insisted on driving the whole way back across the county to pick me up. I would've been happy to drive myself to the restaurant but then everyone would've thrown a fit. They think I'm a terrible driver. I am not a terrible driver at all. It's just that on occasion I forget where I left the car. And sometimes I forget that I'm driving. That's why Liz and Clayton hired Skipper to chauffer me and we know where that led! I'm sure having the last laugh on that one. And I know where the car keys are stashed should the mood strike to take the wheel again.

Yes, Skipper raises llamas. It could be worse, I imagine. He could be raising snakes. Or alligators. The first time I saw his herd I laughed my head off because they're so funny looking, but do you know what? They are the dearest animals I have ever known! Very intelligent and affectionate. Just like, well, just like my Skipper.

I looked at my watch. Five forty-five. Obviously Skipper was still searching for a space to park. I paused a moment as I shook one olive dry and asked heaven to help him navigate the foreign throngs from other climes. Sometimes all those tourists were really just too much. But they're good for the economy and they can be interesting to talk to from time to time, if you're interested in life outside of the Lowcountry, which I am not.

Hopefully, my darling grandchildren would arrive before Liz and Clayton so we could share a civil word. And oh blessed sigh of relief, then the imbibing of a second cocktail won't be noticed by Liz who keeps a running tally. As Mother used to say, I swanny to St. Pete, if the pope had more than one sip of wine from the chalice during the Consecration of the Mass, Liz would have something to say about him too. Someone should count hers, but that's between us. Miss Nosy Nellie Persnickety. And Mother said swanny because ladies of her generation did not swear.

"Why does this fetching lass seem so troubled?"

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