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Authors: Angela Kay Austin

Beale Street Blues

BOOK: Beale Street Blues
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Books by Angela Kay Austin

Excerpt from Love's Chance

About Angela Kay Austin

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, businesses, and incidents are from the author's imagination, or they are used fictitiously and are definitely fictionalized. Any trademarks or pictures herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks or pictures used are specifically in a descriptive capacity. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 Bluff City Publishing, L.L.C.

Edited by Leanore Elliott

Cover Art by Fiona Jayde Media

All rights reserved.

Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9863137-1-4


No portion of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form (electronic or printed) or by any means without permission. Please do not participate in piracy or violating the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.


For information, address: Bluff City Publishing, L.L.C., P.O. Box 300934, Memphis, TN 38130



Does starting over mean you've lost? No. It means you've been given the chance for a new chapter. This book is dedicated to everyone who's not afraid to pack the trunk of their car and give it one more try



This one is for my parents. Without whom I would not have been able to start over again, and again and again.



he twists and turns of the streets of downtown Memphis drained what little energy Darling Crawford had remaining. She wasn't twenty-one anymore and didn't have the desire or money to party all night long. But, what were her options? Sit at home with her parents and waste another Friday night.


Before the truck could pull out of its parking spot, she'd begun to swing her car across traffic to the other side of the road.
Screw the angry horns, honking; I have out of state tags.
If she didn't get this one, she'd have to cough up fifteen dollars to park. And that wasn't going to happen.

Darling parked and then grabbed her clutch bag from the backseat. With her purse gripped underneath her arm, she strolled down Union. The stories her grandfather and parents told her of the old days and Beale Street flooded her mind as she strolled through the historic neighborhood. Muddy Waters, Memphis Minnie, Louis Armstrong, and B.B. King had all played at the clubs on Beale back in the day. Beale had been through a few transitions since then. When Darling was a child, many of the shops on Beale were closed and boarded up. But now, the streets were lined with trendy shops, restaurants, and clubs.

AutoZone Park, Memphis' minor league baseball team's stadium, loomed out of the darkness at her. Neon baseballs and bats affixed to its façade lit her path. As she neared Peabody Place, a late addition to the famed Peabody Hotel, she glanced through the plate glass windows at the Memphis elite. Women dripping in sparkly jewels laughed as they chatted with men dressed in expensive suits, instead of boys wearing jeans.

Thirteen dollars minimum for a glass of wine
! Not her idea of a cheap night.

She kept walking.

Darling shifted her weight from one foot to the other as she stood waiting on the octogenarian, waving the wand along the length of the back of the young black man in front of her. When it was her turn, she flashed her I.D. and gritted her teeth in an attempt to hold onto the ounce of patience she had left. It never went smoothly and this time was no different.

The woman asked her to step through the gate and to the side. A younger female security guard asked her to open her bag, after glancing through it, she asked Darling to stretch out her arms. The woman slid her hands along the length of Darling's waist smoothing the cotton of her red dress as she did. Then, she bent and ran her hands along the black boots she wore.

As the woman finished, Darling turned her attention to the sadness of the harmonica that spilled out of the bar onto Beale Street beckoning to her as it had done so often over the past months. The slow slide of the guitar accompanying the harmonica's wordless pain and sorrow spoke to her broken heart. What could be more appropriate, she thought as she paid her three dollars—she'd forgotten it wasn't free on Fridays. She'd rather join the Elvis junkies, drunken conference attendees, starlet wannabes and lost souls with nowhere to be and no one to be with than strangers in a dark room sipping cheap liquor while they ate saucy spicy barbeque.

Seated in her normal spot, Darling squeezed her eyes shut to close out the corny flirtations of the velvet-clad singer, and let the sad lyrics of the down-home Delta blues slink across her body and mind. The singer longed for the return of his lover, as she'd wished so many nights for hers. It was stupid, she knew it. He'd abandoned her.

The beat of the music dragged her body with it. Slowly, her feet tapped and her shoulders swayed. As the singer sang to his mystery lover, she remembered the touch of her own. His mouth against hers. The sensation of his hands to her breasts. The feel of his fingers as he dragged them along the length of her legs.

How could I still want someone who didn't want a damn thing to do with me?

She stepped onto the dance floor and allowed the vocalist to sing only to her. Her body followed the baseline of the music. She didn't care what the people watching her thought.

Her eyes sprang open at the feel of a hand on her arm. Eyes the color of the deepest emeralds asked her permission, wordlessly. She placed her hand on his waist allowing him to pull her closer. A mixture of mandarin and persimmon filled her senses as he tightened his hold. One hand rested on the small of her back, while the other lay on her hip, guiding her to his rhythm.

Too much time had passed since she'd felt the warmth and strength of a man, especially a man like this one. She glanced up to find him watching.

His eyes locked on hers and he smiled.

The confidence in his smile and the warmth of his touch sparked a flame inside her. She couldn't resist reaching up to rake her fingers through the salt and pepper curls at his temple.

He closed his eyes at the touch of her hand. When he opened them, his gaze was too intense to hold.

She allowed herself to be lost in the fantasy of the man and the music. But when the music ended, regretfully, they would go to their separate corners.

"Excuse me," he spoke in a deep male voice with a definite southern accent.

His voice rippled through her mind and across her skin, taking over where the dance with her stranger had ended. She opened her eyes to find herself staring into the green eyes of one of the most beautiful men she'd ever seen.

The gentle smile he wore touched the corners of his eyes tugging them down slightly. "Hi. Am I disturbing you?"

There it was again…his southern drawl made her want to keep listening to whatever he said next.
Yes, you are disturbing me but…don't stop talking.

"I didn't introduce myself earlier." He extended a hand. "Jaxon."

The strength of his hand was matched by its warmth. The simple touch made her want to pull away and hold on at the same time. He belonged at the Peabody with the women adorned in diamonds, not here with her. "Darling."

He raised an eyebrow at the mention of her name. "Darling. Interesting name." He tempted her with the sound of her name as his eyes took in all of her.

"Thank my grandmother." She smiled. "I'm lucky it wasn't Sugar or Belle."

"Or a mix of the two." He laughed. "I think they definitely made the right choice." He sipped from his glass. "You love music?"

With her glass, she pointed at the singer and his band on stage. "This is one of the best bands I've found in Memphis."

Jaxon nodded, leaning a little closer. "I come here whenever I'm in Memphis." He flashed a heartbreaking smile that formed those little parentheses along his cheeks.

She leaned a little closer because she wanted to. "Often?" It didn't matter, but she was curious.

"Regularly…for work." He looked at her empty glass. "Can I get you a refill?"

She couldn't keep dipping into her 401K money. He could buy anything he wanted. "Dirty martini," she said, "Thanks." It wouldn't get him anywhere. Maybe another dance, but that's all. If she were a few years younger, maybe she could play the game of one night stand. But, she wasn't trying to be bought with a few drinks and a dance. And that was all she really had to offer him or anybody else.

An hour later, his easy manner and casual conversation combined with drinks that had been endless since his arrival kept her talking and dancing much longer than she'd originally intended, beating down her desire to leave without him.

So much about this man reminded her of the one who'd left her.

"Where are you from?" he asked, the warmth of his breath breezed across her ear, as he leaned closer in an attempt to compete with the music of the live blues band.

Was it the martinis or did his cologne wrap around her, and pull her in with no hope of her escaping him? Why did she want to? How long had it been since she'd been close to a man that she wanted? She crossed and uncrossed her legs to calm her mind, but it only excited her body more. "Here."

Jaxon quirked an eyebrow. "Yeah? Where's your Memphis accent?"

"Never had one." She grabbed the toothpick, spearing the olives in her glass and slid one off. Popping it into her mouth, she closed her eyes and savored the blend of the olive and her vodka. When she opened her eyes, his green gaze stared at her mouth as if he wanted a taste, too. But, not of the olives. And she truly wanted to allow him.

Something in his gaze changed. He reached out and wrapped an arm around her waist. "Let me show you Memphis."

Did she really want to leave with him? Could she trust this man? He could be an axe murderer.

Slowly, his hand moved up and down the length of her back. "Trust me." He smiled. "You'll love it."

"Okay." Why not? She stood, and he waved down the bartender. Outside of the front entrance, a crush of bodies briefly slowed her exit and he caught up to her.

With a touch of his hand to her elbow, he guided her through the crowd of drunks and underage teenagers who couldn't enter the clubs along Beale. It was early by Beale Street time, and the crowd created its own party in the streets. The horde waited for whatever opportunity presenting itself as inebriated club hoppers came and went.

"Where are we going?" she asked.
Back to his hotel?

BOOK: Beale Street Blues
8.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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