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Hidden fields. Top charts. New arrivals. Penelope J. Stokes October 9, When she discovers her son has designs to sell her home out from under her, Miss Amethyst-ninety-three years old and as sharp as ever-isn't about to let her legacy go. She pins her hopes on her granddaughter, Little Am, a good-natured child who has mutated in her teenage years into something else altogether.

The Amethyst Heart: Newly Repackaged Edition - Baker Book House

Whatever it takes, Little Am will know that the Noble family heritage is worth fighting for. More by Penelope J Stokes See more. Four friends gathered in a cold, dusty attic on Christmas day to make a solemn pact. Heartbreak Cafe. Penelope Stokes J. Dell Haley's mama always said there were two things a man couldn't get enough of: good cookin' and good lovin'. Well, Dell knows she's got the cookin' down pat, but her husband is getting more than his fair share of lovin'-in another woman's bed.

And when he dies there, Dell's predictable life comes to a screeching halt. Short on money and education, Dell turns to the one thing that has never let her down: her cooking. For the first time in her life, Dell takes a huge risk and opens a restaurant in a derelict diner on the west end of town.

The cafe gradually becomes a gathering place for a motley crew of people who become Dell's family. And yet, even as her life becomes more solid, Dell is plagued by the memory of her husband's betrayal-but the answers she seeks may have a higher price than she's willing to pay. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text, Google-generated PDF.

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Read Aloud. Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. The year before the accident she had called at four in the morning to tell them she had changed her name to Selina or Salmonella or some other odd thing Conrad couldn't remember. Lauren was not a viable option. For once in her life, Mimsy, a veritable mass of motherly instinct, had taken over and insisted upon having her own way. The baby would come to live with them and be raised as their own daughter. She put her foot down and refused even to consider any other options.

So, at midlife, he had found himself cast in the role of father to the infant Little Am, named Amethyst after her great-grandmother. Mimsy was in heaven. Her empty nest had been filled again, her shallow life given depth and meaning by a senseless tragedy.

Conrad, on the other hand, felt trapped, imprisoned by fate in a claustrophobic cell of responsibility.

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Almost without realizing it, Con began to retreat into himself, to insulate himself from a world spun out of control. He started to drink on the sly, and his business began to slide. No one wanted a lawyer who couldn't keep up with his commitments, who didn't return calls, who misplaced files, got his clients confused, couldn't keep his billing straight. Finally he had gotten a grip on himself and curtailed the booze, but it was too little, too late. In an attempt to get out of the hole, he had made some bad investments with money borrowed from the trust funds of several of his clients.

At the point in his life when he should be looking forward to a comfortable retirement funded by ample stocks and bonds and IRAs, his practice was in the toilet, and his creditors were closing in.


Bankruptcy loomed on the horizon. Mimsy, of course, knew nothing of his dilemma. She had never taken an interest in his business dealings, always content to let him bring home the paycheck and control the finances. As long as she had a fine house, a gold card, her society friends, and Little Am, she didn't ask questions. And he certainly didn't volunteer any information. Conrad raked a hand through his hair and shuffled the papers on his desk. He could see only one option. We don't want to keep Mother waiting!

Cambridge was a small, compact university town, its streets lined with venerable antebellum homes and tall magnolia trees. At the center of the courthouse square stood the statue of a Confederate soldier, and the sight of it always evoked a wave of nostalgia in his heart. As a boy he had played under the watchful eye of that statue; as a youth he had painted his initials on its base. As a freshman at the university, his fraternity hazing included a long night chained to the soldier in his boxer shorts. As a law student he had attended trials in the courthouse and gazed out the window to see the soldier standing there, ever attentive, ever vigilant. Conrad knew every street in Cambridge, every alley, every path through the woods that surrounded the town and the college. Even though his law practice forced him to live within commuting distance of Memphis, he still loved Cambridge and thought of it as home. Today, however, the drive into Cambridge made Conrad unaccountably nervous. All he could think of now as he pulled the Mercedes into his mother's driveway and parked it in the shelter of the hundred-year-old magnolia tree was that because of him, Noble House would soon become little more than a faded memory.

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Reluctantly he got out of the car, took the presents from the trunk, and proceeded up the walk toward the front of the house with Mimsy and Little Am trailing behind. She was seventeen, and Con was sure that visiting her ninety-three-year-old great-grandmother seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to the girl.

But when she got out of sorts, which happened on a regular basis these days, her voice took on that shrill and strident tone she had learned as a baby at her grandmother's knee. Conrad stopped in his tracks and turned to glare at her. Now stop whining. Little Am was dressed in black jeans, a cropped-off black T-shirt that bore a Harley-Davidson logo and revealed five inches of her belly, and a black leather vest studded with silver spikes. A tattoo?

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  5. Con sighed. He could only hope it was one of those temporary things that came off with baby oil and a good scrubbing. At least she looked clean and, except for that awful black stuff around her eyes, had toned down the makeup a little. Maybe he couldn't expect any more than that.

    He turned and continued up the walk. The pink azaleas across the front of the porch were budding, and around the big magnolia tree, clusters of daffodils had already bloomed. In a couple of weeks, when crowds of people would be flocking to Cambridge for the annual pilgrimage tour, the place would be a riot of color. Mother had finally conceded to taking Noble House off the pilgrimage. Sometimes Mother would still put on her rose-colored satin dress and sit on the porch swing waving to passersby, and if any of them had the nerve to get out of the car and come onto the porch, she'd offer them lemonade and regale them with her stories of Grandpa Silas and the War.

    Noble House wasn't as large or as elaborate as some of the other stately homes in Cambridge, but it had a history, Mother said, that couldn't be matched. History, and a hundred and forty years of Noble love. Con paused at the heavy iron-grilled doorway and rang the bell. Anyone who had ever been on the pilgrimage tour, after all, knew what kind of treasures the house held. Mother always said she was "house poor.

    But the house itself had been valued at well over half a million, and that didn't count the antiques.