Lancelot of the Pines (Louisiana Knights Book 1)

Lancelot of the Pines (Louisiana Knights Book 1) by Jennifer Blake Read Free Book Online

Book: Lancelot of the Pines (Louisiana Knights Book 1) by Jennifer Blake Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Blake
they had taken a rougher blacktop road.
    “I hope you know where you’re going.” Her tone held more than a trace of doubt.
    “More or less.”
    “Meaning?” She held the shirt she’d brought so he could slide his right arm into its short sleeve.
    “I haven’t been to the house is years. It was Trey’s granddad’s old place. We used to stay there now and then.”
    “Trey and I, and another Benedict cousin.”
    “But you can find it.”
    “I think so.” He leaned forward to allow her to slip the shirt behind him and then held the steering wheel with his right hand while he found the other sleeve with his left.
    “I didn’t hear him mention it.” The comment might or might not have been coherent as she jostled against his shoulder while straightening the shirt. The warmth seemed to burn her abdomen through her T-shirt.
    Lance sent her a quick glance over his shoulder. “What Trey doesn’t know, he can’t let slip to anyone. Besides, nobody has lived there since the old man went into a nursing home several years back. It’s not in the best shape.”
    She raised a brow as she resumed her seat. “But we’re staying there?”
    “You expected maybe the Ritz-Carleton?”
    “No, but aren’t there campgrounds for van things like this one?”
    “Sure are, great places with nosy folks who have cell phones and Internet and nothing to do but watch other RVs come and go. But don’t worry. We’ll be staying in the RV, not the house.”
    “Oh.” He’d been mocking her, as if he thought fancy hotels were standard fare for her. “So your cousin doesn’t take care of the property?”
    “It doesn’t exactly belong to him, which is part of the problem. An uncle and a couple of other relatives are involved, plus mineral rights, oil and gas leases, that sort of thing. It’s all Trey can do to keep the antique furnishings from walking off.”
    “Just promise me there are no ghosts,” she said, looking out the windshield at the overgrown track they were turning into now.
    “Nope, no ghosts.” The assurance was firm. That was until he turned back to his driving, muttering under his breath. “Not that I know of, anyway.”
    The old house wasn’t as bad as he’d led her to believe. Set back at the end of a rutted drive, it was a roomy rectangle, with a long front porch, dormer windows set into the roofline for a second floor, and a fan-lighted front entrance. Shrubbery crowded around it, however, and vines crawled up the shutters fastened over the windows. One porch column was black and crumbling from mold, so the roof sagged on that end. The front walk of faded red brick was thick with last year’s leaves and overgrown with grass along its edges.
    “What a shame to let it go to ruin,” she said, staring at it with her hands set on her hips. “Somebody should do something.”
    “Trey will. When the time comes.”
    “It’s going to fall down if he doesn’t hurry.”
    Lance twitched a shoulder. “It’s sturdier than it looks. These old places were built with heart cypress by people who expected them to last for generations.”
    The permanency of that idea roused a yearning sensation deep inside Mandy. Nothing in her life had ever been that enduring. It seemed less than fair that some were born to solid security while others could never find it.
    “You know that because?” she asked with some acerbity.
    “I’ve spent a good chunk of my life on upkeep for one a lot like it.”
    She stared at him a long moment while envy rose inside her. “You own a house like this one?”
    “By the hardest.”
    “Meaning?” She thought the expression was a deep country way of saying he’d had difficulty holding on to his historical home, but couldn’t be sure. She waited expectantly, her curiosity piqued by the hard note in his voice, as well.
    “My ex thought she’d force me to sell it during the divorce settlement, so she could pocket half its value. She miscalculated. It was never community

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