Taylor has given up on everything but her work. After becoming the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, she believes life is complete--until her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of the family home, in addition to searching for a missing heirloom.
Her first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange. Unexpected feelings surface that she doesn't understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced.
Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes.
Is this a fairytale, or simply her soul reaching out for a different world--a life she can only find
through faith and a divine trust in God?
Parked off the side of the road, Taylor sunk into the soft leather seat of her red sports car, massaging a headache as she hissed out instructions to her assistant.For goodness sake, I don’t often ask Dave to stay late. Would the man die of starvation if he didn’t make it home by six for supper with his family? Taking a hard breath, she ended the conversation she’d pulled over to complete. Teeth clenched, she hit the steering wheel in frustration.
With a heavy sigh, Taylor turned and gazed out the side window. The vibrant sight of a purple wisteria in full bloom lifted her spirits. Across the road, pink and white azaleas were coming into bud. Spring was indeed once again poking out its head—her favorite time of the year. As she pulled into traffic, she tilted her head against the afternoon sun, letting the warmth bathe her face.
Taylor Harrison was the youngest-ever chief executive officer over operations at Mugful’s Corporation. Four years ago, she’d started in the marketing department, promoting the assorted hot beverages. When old man Zimmerman, the owner of the company, retired, his nephew Jack took over the operations. Soon after, she was promoted to a supervisory position. Her career had accelerated from there. For the past year, her newest duties had her working long hours. To Taylor, the rewards were worth the sacrifices. Late nights paved her way. The North Carolina division within the hot drink company was now out of the red. Stores slated to close were revived. Taylor was proud. Her territory was on top.
If Dave aspired to ever be more than a coffee-fetcher, he’d do well to mimic her example. There was a price to pay for success.
Maneuvering through the city traffic in Raleigh, Taylor drove past a government complex. A quick right turn set her on a road toward a well-maintained residential section of town. The condominium she called home was only a few blocks from the corporate branch of Mugful’s. One of the reasons she was attracted to the area.
Parking in the cobblestone drive, she checked her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Taylor ran her fingers through her upswept shoulder-length hair to smooth down the ringlets. Straightening her thick chestnut tresses was something she had given up on. The last thing Taylor had time for was being obsessed with well-behaved hair. Keeping a short style made getting ready for work an even harder chore, and she hated using gel. Thus, Taylor’s morning routine mainly consisted of her piling her natural curls in a bun or using a hair barrette.
While she gathered her briefcase from the front seat, the sound of a beach tune blared from inside her handbag. Shutting her car door, she dug through her purse, feeling past her checkbook and lipstick for her cell phone. Taylor glanced at the front and smiled at the name lit up on the screen. “Hi, Granny Kay.”
A gentle voice sounded from the other end and wrapped around Taylor like a blanket. Kay Harrison was the only person who could melt her heart in an instant. She had spent most of her younger years with her father’s mother. Dad’s job required him to travel a lot, and her mother chose to accompany him on most of his trips. Because her parents were away more often than not, she had built a close bond with her grandmother. The love she felt for the older woman was unconditional. She would do anything to please Granny Kay.
Taylor pictured her grandmother sitting in her chair, dressed in her usual attire of khakis and a button-up blouse. Endowed with the same kinky locks as Taylor, she wore her ringlets cut short.
After they exchanged pleasantries, there was an awkward pause. Taylor noted the silence, one of her grandmother’s mannerisms. The hesitation signified she wanted to ask a favor. For as long as Taylor could remember, her grandmother wavered when she was going to request something from someone.
“Taylor, I’m going to sell my house,” the older woman finally proclaimed in a no-nonsense tone.
“You are? Why?”
Granny Kay listed her reasons for shedding the extra burden the big house now caused.
“I see…uh-huh. True…” Listening attentively, Taylor juggled her briefcase and purse as she approached the front door of her condominium. “No, I can’t argue with you there.”
As her grandmother continued to speak, Taylor unlocked the big red door and walked inside. She tossed her black leather purse on the marble table and then laid the case holding her laptop on the granite bar separating her living room from the kitchen.
Strolling into the eating area, Taylor reached in the refrigerator for a bottle of water as she concentrated on the words flowing in the slow, southern draw her grandmother used.
Taylor sipped her water and then waited for her grandmother to exhaust her speech about the trials of the family house.
“But aren’t you staying at your friend’s only temporarily? What if you decide to move back home once the broken hip heals?”
“Hun, you know that since your grandpa died, it’s just me in that big ole place. I’m not the woman I used to be. Age has begun to take its toll. My fall down those stairs proves I need a change. No, the place is much too big for me to live in by myself anymore. I had always planned for you to have it as your home one day. We could live there together. I know we wouldn’t get in each other’s way.”
Taylor set her bottle on the counter and crossed her arm over her chest, rubbing her shoulder. She didn’t want the conversation to veer in this direction. Residing in Raleigh was a decision she’d made long ago. She preferred to be in a modern city and close to work.
Though Taylor spent a lot of years growing up in the family house, it wasn’t what she wanted. No, as much as she loved her grandmother, living with her in a big, creaky Victorian was not an option she cared to entertain.
“Granny Kay, you know I work long hours most of the time. It’s dark before I get home. Liberty Cove is an hour’s drive. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help.” Taylor pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, guilt threatening. “I know you always wanted me to have the family house one day. But it’s not my style. The upkeep of a vintage home and the big yard would be too much. I enjoy simple condominium living.”
“I know you do, dear.”
In an attempt to lighten the mood, she changed her tone and added a slight chuckle, “Sometimes I think I use my apartment just to sleep in. With the hours I put in at the office, living here is more convenient.”
There was a momentarily silence before her grandmother cleared her throat. “You work all the time, hun. I wish you would slow down, maybe give some thought to a family.”
Taylor rubbed her mouth, her face twisted in discomfort. Biding time before she answered, she took a sip of water. “A husband isn’t what I want. Not right now. I have my career to think about.”
The clinking sound of ice came through the phone, causing Taylor to picture her grandmother holding a glass of sweetened tea. For as long as she could remember, the woman had been a true southern lady, with a passion for sugared tea. “Well, just don’t become a jetsetter like your parents. I don’t think they’ve stayed at their house more than a few months at a time in the past twenty years. I don’t believe I’ll ever understand the reason your father wanted a career in recruiting. When Jim retired, I figured at least then he would stay in one place.”
Taylor tossed her empty bottle in the recycling bin and strolled into her bedroom. Dropping down on the queen-size bed, she slid off her high heels. Even with her grandmother’s gentle nature, she often rehashed complaints Taylor grew tired of listening to. In fact, she could just about recite what would come out of her grandmother’s mouth next.
As the words rang in her ears, memories surfaced of growing up without her mom and dad close by.
Taylor used to resent her dad working so much. Since growing into an adult, she saw things differently. She now related to her father’s passion for the position he once held with the university.
What bothered her more than her dad’s absence was her mother’s. She chose to accompany her father every time he visited distant schools, leaving Taylor with her grandparents.
Thinking back, she mentally recounted the different states her father represented in his recruiting position. Now it wasn’t work keeping her parents away. It was friends and past connections. Taylor had resigned herself to the facts—they didn’t plan on changing. Traveling was their way of life. She accepted that. Granny didn’t.
“When I get tired of my career, then I’ll consider settling down. If I do have kids one day, I promise I will be there for them.”
Taylor sat on the bed and scrunched her toes in the white carpet while she waited for a response. “Well, enough about my son. Since you’re not moving in with me, I’ve decided to stay here at Louise’s house. We can help each other in our older years. Her quarters are all on one floor, so there are no steps for me to trip on. Since she’s a widow too, there’s plenty of room.”
Taylor smiled to herself, glad the conversation shifted. “I want you to be happy. I’ll support your decision. Do you need me to pack your personal things?”