Title: Chasing Castles
Series: Finding Focus #1
Release Date: Aug 30, 2016
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Long before Dani Reed and Micah Landry, there was the story of Deacon and Camille.
Camille Benoit loved to express herself on canvas and was a dreamer at heart. The small farm she was born and raised on bordered the Landry Plantation, providing her with prime real estate for daydreaming. Even though she spent a lot of time with her head in the clouds, one thing she was always certain about were her feelings for Deacon. He might’ve been two years older and one of her brother’s best friends, but none of that mattered to Cami.
Deacon Landry, older brother to Micah, was the local football star. The town might’ve put him on a pedestal, but he always had his feet firmly planted in the rich Louisiana soil. With all of his skills on and off the field, a good head on his shoulders, and a heart of gold, he was quite the catch, and everyone knew it, especially his long-time best friend, Cami.
"I know we've done things slowly, but I've loved you since I knew what it meant to love someone. "
He is all her heart has ever known. Her past, present and future. But will the future live up to her dreams?
Join Jiffy Kate in this second book of the Finding Focus series as they take you back to where it all started.
Who doesn't love a good friends-to-lovers story? This story is told from both Cami's and Deacon's points of view, as well as from the past and the present time. Cami and Deacon have been friends for a long time, but they each had deeper feelings for the other, although Deacon was too stubborn to admit that truth. I loved watching as their relationship developed, and the fact that they were already friends before anything more happened made the transition seem that much more realistic. Deacon's character is the type that is grounded, but not so much a stick in the mud or the brooding type. Cami is the artistic dreamer, but that doesn't mean she's flighty and irresponsible, she's quite the opposite. Another great point about their friendship is that no matter what challenges may have popped up, the bonds of friendship were never broken, a sure sign that theirs is a love that will last.
Sitting in front of a half-painted easel in the middle of my little studio with the window shades drawn for the perfect lighting, I stop painting and lay my brush to the side. As I wipe my hands on my smock, I listen closely as a siren from an emergency vehicle draws near.
Any sort of action is noticed in a town the size of French Settlement. If Ms. Becky burns a cake, the whole town knows about it. And the day Mr. Johnson’s truck got stuck in the pond, practically every person was there to witness the fire department getting it unstuck.
Yes, the fire department, because, generally, they don’t have a lot to keep them busy.
So, sirens this close to town, especially on a Saturday morning, are a rare thing.
I watch out the window and listen for a minute or two as the sirens seem to get closer. Unable to curb my curiosity, I walk from the back of the studio, through the gallery, and out onto the sidewalk.
No one is around. My SUV is the only vehicle on the street. So, it doesn’t surprise me when the sirens get further away. There must be something going on out on the highway.
My heart skips a beat because I hate thinking about anyone being in a wreck or anything like that. As I walk back into the gallery, I say a quick prayer for whoever it is. Normally, that’s enough to help me relax. I always pray when I drive by a wreck or see an ambulance fly by.
But, as I sit back down at my easel and pick my paint brush back up, my heart still feels like it’s in my throat.
As I wait for another minute, still hearing sirens off in the distance, I decide to calm my nerves with a call to Annie. Carter is staying out there with her and Sam this morning because my daddy and Kay went into Baton Rouge to buy a new sofa.
“Hey, honey.” Annie’s voice sounds calm and chipper, so I try to make my stomach take a cue from her.
“How’s it going this morning? Everything alright?”
“I was calling to ask you the same,” I say, laughing at my paranoia. Since Carter came into my life, I have a tendency to be a bit over-protective. I now understand why my daddy was always keeping a tight rein on me when I was little. It would kill me when he wouldn’t let me do everything the boys did. But now I get it. I don’t know how I’d feel if Carter had been a girl. Being the mom of a boy is bad enough. It might be worse on some levels because boys can be such little dare devils.
“Everything is right as rain out here,” she says, with a clang of a pot in the background. “Me and Carter are whippin’ up some banana nut muffins.”
“We’ll be sure to save you some.”
“Don’t let Deke eat them all.”
“You’re in luck. He went into the restaurant to finish up some paperwork.”
“I thought he was takin’ the day off.”
“Well, he said if you were gonna be busy all day at the gallery, he might as well get ahead on some ordering.”
“Okay,” I say, the nervous ball back in my stomach. “Did Micah go in with him?”
“No, Micah’s in Baton Rouge this mornin’. He must’ve stayed at the apartment last night.”
“I think these muffins are ready to go in the oven. What do you think, Carter?” I can hear Carter telling her they’re ready. He loves being in the kitchen with Annie. I think he takes after his Uncle Micah in that sense. “Will we see ya for lunch?”
“Yeah, I should be done by then.”
After I hang up with Annie, I still can’t get the worry to go away. I think about taking a drive out to the highway just to check things out myself, but that would be silly. I’m not sure what’s going on, but whatever it is, I doubt they need an extra rubber-necker.
So instead, I sit back down on my stool and hit send on Deacon’s number, smiling as his handsome face comes up on the screen of my phone.
“It’s Deacon Landry. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message.”
I pull the phone away from my ear and frown at the screen, hitting end and immediately hitting the button to call again.
Maybe he left his phone in his truck?
He does that sometimes.
Taking a deep breath as I try to stay calm, I begin to pace around the room as I call the restaurant. Normally, if Deacon’s doing paperwork, he won’t answer the phone, but if he’s at his desk and sees it’s me, he will.
After five rings, the long message for Pockets comes over the phone.
“Thank you for calling Pockets, Home of the Gator Pocket. Our hours are Monday through Thursday, eleven to eleven. Friday and Saturday, two to two. We’re located on Highway 16. You can’t miss us. Hope to see you soon!”
I don’t know why I listen to the entire message. It’s not like Deacon can answer once the voicemail picks up.
Staring at the phone, I hit redial for the restaurant, letting it ring until the message starts over.
After three more tries, I call Deacon’s phone again.
Still no answer.
I can’t ignore the feeling in the pit of my stomach. There’s no way I can paint like this, so I might as well drive out to the restaurant and see for myself. I’m sure everything is fine, and I’ll have wasted fifteen minutes of my day, but I can’t relax until I know he’s okay.
As I pick up my purse and keys, my phone rings in my hand. I let out a relieved sigh until I see that it’s not Deacon who’s calling.
“Cami.” Sam’s voice comes over the phone, and he sounds worried, which makes my heart beat even faster, and my knees feel weak. I don’t even need him to tell me something’s wrong. I know it. I can feel it deep in my bones.
In case you didn’t notice, there are two of us.
We’re both from the south, one just a little further than the other.
Jiff was born and raised in Louisiana. She’s now living in Texas with her two teenagers and a bulldog named Georgia Rose. She loves purple and 80’s movies and geeking out at Comic Cons.
Jenny Kate was born and raised in Oklahoma. She’s the mom of a twelve-year-old and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Wrigley and Oliver. She also loves Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs and coffee.
Some people think we’ve been friends forever, but in reality, we’ve only known each other for five years. Four of those years, we’ve spent spinning tales and writing words. Our first published book, Finding Focus, was released in November 2015.
If you like a romance set in the south, then you’ll love our southern fried fiction with heart and soul.