What can be more boring than covering the local produce festival?
Reporter Scott Reneau’s world changes forever when local history mixes with Michelle Butler, the newsroom wallflower, to explode in an uprising of emotions in The Watermelon Riot.
Old letters drew Scott Reneau from his high paying journalism career in Portland Maine to the small southern town of Gallatin Arkansas. Now working the news desk for a rural paper, he found himself demoted and again staring at a pile of old letters.
Michelle Butler was a local girl from the top of her head to the soles of her feet, but she’d been burned by big city dreams and men. When she decided to take a chance on Scott and share her family’s passionate history, she hoped to catch the sexy reporter’s eye, but her grandparents had other plans in mind.
Will he be able to realize that there is more to local images? Will he be able to fight the fire within him that the caramel colored beauty erupts in him?
Scott opened his mouth to tell Gus Strahan how much he was enjoying the impromptu concert when she walked in. Michelle. He hadn’t realized just how many times his thoughts and dreams had centered around what she would look like out of the dumpy tweed suits and tight braids, but the image of loveliness stepping barefooted across the threshold pulled the very air from his lungs.
“Close yer mouth boy, ‘less you wanna catch flies,” Gus’ husky voice teased. “I take it ya know my grandbaby. Shelley has tol’ us a bit about you. Rheal Reneau’s grandson, I get that right?”
Scott chewed on the corner of his mouth and tried to look at the man speaking to him but couldn’t. The young woman he thought he’d known so well was turning into an exciting mystery, one he was astounded to discover as more and more appealing with each passing second. Long gold streaked tresses tumbled in red-brown corkscrews over her shoulders and made his fingers itch to brush them back and get a better, second look at the slim column of neck he’d seen more often than not.
Under the weight of her hair, the white V-necked cotton shirt had some hay chaff clinging to the fabric and a part of his anatomy throbbed with longing at the thought of getting itchy by rolling in a pile of warm fragrant hay with a certain blushing reporter. The color on her cheeks didn’t stain the skin, it kissed the dusky flesh with a rosy hue. He almost missed the dark half circles under the glowing turquoise eyes, but the shadows only added to the allure. Eyes…where were those hideous glasses?
Throat tight he asked, “Your glasses?”
He watched as she cast about the room for something that wasn’t him to look at but failed. Waving a vague hand she looked down and stared at a spot on her navel. His eyes were drawn to follow and discovered the bounty of her breasts as her nervous hands tucked into the back pockets of denim shorts. Apparel that by definition more closely resembled an assortment of strings and rags held together by belt and pockets than any real pants. Good God above, he marveled, all this beauty trammeled under the world’s ugliest conglomeration of moth-eaten tweed, horn rims and plaid.
“Well young’un I reckon yer ready to hear the story of my daddy, if’n you don’ mind getting the tale second hand as it were?” Mutely Scott nodded and shook his head at the same time, uncaring if the old man understood what he was or wasn’t saying.
Michelle moved self-consciously to lean against the sink forcing Scott’s attention to stay with Gus and his wife who chose to stand behind her husband with an affectionate smile as he strummed the strings. Striking a series of upbeat notes, he began.
“Long about a year ago, on a day so hot as to make the Devil sigh, I found myself in the middle of a local harvest fair. This wasn’t any old fair, but the annual Watermelon Harvest Jubilee. Folks around those parts took their melons serious and an award was given out to the lucky farmer who sold his crop for the best share.” The thrumming tune was a simple harmony that didn’t detract from the telling but kept the listener caught in a cocoon of ‘for your ears only.’ Scott felt the world drop away and his imagination take over.
“There were ramshackle stands of produce crates nailed to old gahnite boxes pilfered from the local coal mine. All the streets in this little town were closed and far as the eye could see were watermelons of every shape and size. Watermelons, sitting out pretty as you please in boxes, crates or simply loaded in the back of tractor wagons and box trucks. The only thing more plentiful was overalls and cornhusk hats.”
In his mind, Scott saw the Main Street and nearly closed his eyes to keep the stream of words building the picture flowing across his mind.
“Bein’ of a mind to break the heat, I wandered down the main fairway and stopped chock still in front of the sweetest melons I ever did see. They were clothed in a small tube of white cotton that did nothing but promise an overflowing handful of God’s greatest gift.” Scott’s eyes popped open and he stared into knowing blue-green eyes that winked roguishly. “They were framed by a pair of ratty worn suspenders that dipped low across a tanned belly to a threadbare pair of hand-me-down jeans what ended about mid-thigh on a butternut beauty.
Corn would weep on the stalk to ever be so golden as the crop of curly locks hidden underneath her cornhusk hat.” I’m doomed, Scott swallowed convulsively as his mind automatically wove the erotic image of Michelle’s luscious latte hide into the center of the tale, just where she deserves to be his libido heartily agreed.