CHAPTER ONE (Page 1)
Williamson County, Texas
Adella cringed at the sound of shattering glass.
Exasperation pushed her taut nerves to the edge. Two vases and a china teacup had already met their demise as house servants feverishly prepared for Natalie Langford’s arrival on the morrow. That her brother’s fiancée sparked such anxiety did not bode well, considering the wedding was still two weeks away. Would things only worsen after the blonde beauty became mistress of Rose Hill Manor—a role Adella herself had filled since Mama took ill three summers ago?
A small shadow appeared in the open doorway to her bedroom. Adella Rose Ellis waited from her perch on the window seat, her bare feet tucked beneath a wide bell skirt, for the guilty servant to emerge. A warm afternoon breeze teased her loose hair. A moment later, Carolina’s fuzzy braids poked around, followed by wide, fearful eyes.
“Missy Ellis?” The little girl’s timid voice squeaked. Perspiration glistened on her dark skin, and her bottom lip trembled when she stepped around the corner. “I sorry, Missy. I didn’t mean to break it. It just tumbled outta my hand.” A tear slid down an ebony cheek before she tucked her chin into the too-large homespun dress, which hung off of thin shoulders.
“Come in, Carolina.” Adella softened her voice the way Mama always had when dealing with the servants. “Tell me what happened.”