Her Chance Encounters
The Spirits of Royal Oaks – Book One
©2016 by Blushing Books® and Ruby Caine
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EBook ISBN: 978-1-68259-855-9
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Table of Contents:
"Let's get one thing straight right now, Adrienne."
Chance Breaux glanced down at his gold watch and let out an annoyed stream of air. Why was he wasting so much time with this maddening woman? He had dozens of lawyers who could handle this situation. Lord knew he had more important things to do, Chance groaned to himself. Studying the stubborn raven-haired woman standing before him, his loins answered his question. He reached down discreetly to adjust himself.
Adrienne Claireborne was not a classic beauty, but her French heritage was evident in her strong bone features and dark coloring. His gray eyes lingered over the subtle curves of the statuesque woman. Ever since he met her, his hormones had reverted to their teenage years. Just watching her now, standing in front of a long line of school buses, a dark walkie-talkie in one hand and a clipboard in the other, he found himself getting hard. Before he could indulge in fantasies of seducing her, Chance reminded himself there was the small problem of River Oaks to handle. It had to be eliminated. "It's only..."
The slender hand holding the walkie-talkie raised to cut him off. Pressing the button, she called out a list of bus numbers for the secretaries in the front office to announce. Soon dozens of small children started pouring out of the three different buildings of the school. Various adults lined the path leading to the buses, reminding students to walk. "Janet, once these buses are loaded, have the drivers pull up before you call the next group. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Handing off the walkie-talkie and clipboard, she motioned for Chance to walk a few feet away from the students loading up on the yellow buses. "You don't need to go into your long winded tirade again, Mr. Breaux. I've got it memorized by now." Adrienne made a production of lowering her voice to imitate his rich, masculine tone. "It's only a matter of time before you sell me River Oaks, babe, so stop stalling."
Janet cupped her hands together and called over to Principal Claireborne. "We have a runner."
"Great," Adrienne muttered, scanning the fenced in area. "Excuse me," she told Chance before sprinting to a side gate. An adorable young boy, who looked no more than five, was scaling the seven-foot fence there. Adrienne waited for him on the outside of the fence as other teachers tried to talk him into climbing back down on the other side.
"Donny, you need to get back down now before you hurt yourself." She bit back a grin. The Down syndrome child loved to make mischief. This being the last day of school before summer break, he was keeping everyone on their toes. They had managed to contain him all year and were not going to ruin their record this close to the finish line. His school last year had managed to let him escape several times.
"Don't run!" The cherub-faced child scolded her. "Donny go home now."
"Donny is going home on the bus," she told him, reaching up to catch him if he fell as he swung one chubby leg over. Not quite tall enough to reach to steady him, Adrienne worried the child could hurt himself. As his other leg inched over, Donny lost his footing. Large arms reached over to grab him before his principal could do so.
Adrienne saw Chance Breaux cradling the small boy in his strong arms. Lucky child, she thought then forced herself to stop daydreaming. "Thank you," she told him. She grabbed Donny's hand in a tight grip as Chance lowered him to his feet.
"Big man!" Donny's blue eyes widen as he looked up at his savior. "Walk to bus with big man!" He grabbed Chance's hand with his free one and pulled both adults in his wake as he walked to his bus.
Though Adrienne was doing her best to hide the fact, Chance Breaux's presence always made her uneasy. There was something very disturbing about the tall man. He was too big, too sure of himself, and too damn sexy to her way of thinking.
The May sun shone overhead as they made their way, both dressed in suits. They looked like parents walking their child. Chance smiled when he heard the distinct click of Adrienne's high heal boots. Every time he met with her, rain or shine, cold or hot, she wore boots.
The woman was a boot freak by all indications. Maybe he ought to wear a pair of his work boots to get her attention. He doubted his steel toe, size fourteen boots would turn her on. Adrienne did not seem the least impressed with his expensive attire, so his usual jeans and pullover shirts weren't likely to electrify her.
This woman was too damn cocky, Chance decided. Just because she ran a little school in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, she acted like everyone should jump to do her bidding. Someone ought to take her down a peg or two. They deposited Donny into his seat, and Adrienne fastened the seat belt herself.
"Don't run!" The small boy warned her as she reminded him to behave. They exited the bus and waved at the adorable boy through the window as his bus drove away.
Lots of people were watching the scene, but one look from Principal Claireborne and the audience scattered. Her nearly six-foot height alone seemed to command respect. Chance was six-foot, six inches in stocking feet. Adrienne's height did not intimidate him one bit. Few things fazed the oilman, except, of course, a challenge. Few things challenged Chance Breaux, and even fewer people were stupid enough to even try.
Ten years ago, the former owner of River Oaks, Stanislaus Hymel refused to cooperate with him. Chance had spent countless hours working to rectify that challenge. They both knew it was only a matter of time before Chance won. He always did. But then the former owner of River Oaks managed to prolong the dispute. He died. In death, Stanislaus had found a way to deny Chance the opportunity to possess River Oaks a bit longer. The old man had left the property to a distant relative who had turned out to be even more aggravating than himself.
Adrienne led the way back to her office, stopping to make sure Chance signed in and got a nametag. She turned to her secretary. "I'll be in a meeting for a few minutes. Hold my calls." She motioned for Chance to precede her in her tiny office before closing the door. Taking a seat behind her large, oak desk, she indicated he should settle in one of the chairs on the other side.
"How long have we been playing this cat and mouse game, Adrienne?" Chance demanded.
He was determined to get the sale of River Oaks over so he could concentrate on more important matters. In the back of his mind, the tall man visualized what the attractive principal might look like in his bed, minus her modest suit and sexy boots. Would she be as passionate about love making as she was about shoes?
"Let's see. I inherited River Oaks a little over a year ago. The lawyer contacted me in June. You showed up soon afterwards, insisting I had no rightful claim to the property."
Adrienne remembered the day very clearly. The towering giant had showed up at her apartment door bright and early, unannounced. She had just finished closing up the school for the summer, and was exhausted from long days of reviewing report cards, meeting with parents who disagreed with their child's placement for the next year, and giving directions on what the custodians should address in the summer cleaning spree.
Chance had given the appearance of being the devil himself. His dark features and demanding personality fed into the assumption. His only fair features were his smoky gray eyes. Adrienne imagined the devil had a similar set of eyes to lead the righteous astray. The dark locks on top of his head had only a hint of gray at the temples, giving him a look of authority. For a huge man, Chance Breaux was actually very fit. There was a definite hint of muscles under the coat of his expensive suit.
Even now, in another tailored suit, he looked devilish. Despite having been outside in the hot Louisiana heat, he looked cool and in control. She felt sweaty, but not even a hint of moisture was visible on his strong brow. The devil was obviously immune to the fires of hell.
"What I disputed was your relationship with the former owner." Chance qualified. "You have to admit it was very suspicious. Why would Stanislaus leave you, of all people, over a hundred acres of land and a broken down old house?"
"Why wouldn't he leave me River Oaks? I was his great-niece by marriage. My great-aunt Wynona was married to Stanislaus."
Stop looking at his mouth, Adrienne ordered herself. There was something sensual about the way his mouth moved as he spoke. What would those thin lips feel like against hers? Shaking her head slightly, the principal tried to shake off the image floating in her mind. Why did this man affect her so much? Adrienne realized he was only interested in getting her inheritance. The man made no secret of that fact, either.
But her heart wondered what might have been if River Oaks had not been a part of the picture. That was simple, Adrienne's logical side asserted. If it weren’t for River Oaks, Chance Breaux would never have entered her life. He certainly would not have stayed there all this time. A small part of her wondered if that was why she held off making any final decisions about the property.
Crossing her arms subconsciously, she tried to gain control of herself. "Their marriage license is on file at the parish court house. We both got a copy of it when you petitioned the court to verify my claim to the property."
"Don't take it too personally, babe. I've been after that property years before you even knew you had a great-aunt Wynona."
Adrienne could not deny it. Though she did not bother telling Chance, until the lawyer contacted her about the land, no one in her family had ever mentioned a great-aunt Wynona. Apparently the woman had died very young, shortly after her marriage to Stanislaus. Adrienne's mother vaguely remembered hearing about an aunt who died in a boating accident, but that was the extent of anyone's knowledge of the mysterious Wynona.
"Oh, but I do take it personally, Mr. Breaux, very personally. You barge into my life like an oversized bully, demanding I sell my inheritance. Every month or so I have to put up with your badgering, despite the fact that I've told you repeatedly I am not ready to make any decisions about River Oaks. For goodness sake, I have not even seen the place yet. All I know is it's buried somewhere on the west bank of the Mississippi."
Leaning forward in his chair, Chance nodded his head faintly. "Which goes to show why you should sell River Oaks to me. It means nothing to you. It never has, either. On the other hand, it means a lot to me."
"Why?" Adrienne demanded, leaning forward herself. "You keep insisting the land is nothing but useless swamp and the house is falling apart. Why are you so desperate to get River Oaks?"
"Determined, babe," Chance Breaux's low tone got even deeper when he was aggravated. She recognized the trend because she generally was the one aggravating him. He looked like he wanted to shake her. "I am never desperate, just very determined."
"Okay, so you are determined. Why?"
"I have my own reasons, Adrienne. They are no concern of yours. Besides, I am not exaggerating about the condition of the property. The majority of it is dense swamp, useless for development. The house has been vacant for over a year now. Hell, even though old Stan lived there for close to a hundred years himself, he let the place fall down around him. You have to trust me, babe. Selling River Oaks is the best thing you can do. It's the only thing you can do really. No one else is likely to offer to take it off your hands, certainly not at the price I have."
Adrienne started to mention another offer that came through the mail yesterday. Remembering the contents of the letter, the principal felt a small shiver creep down her spine. The letter came complete with an unusual twist. The writer was a self-proclaimed psychic who took the liberty of predicting Adrienne's immediate future. According to Madame Lenore, the other party interested in River Oaks, Adrienne was preparing to face a very critical crossroad in her life. There was a dark figure looming over her, threatening her safety. Looking at the man before her, the principal could not help but think Chance was the looming threat.
Madame Lenore also warned about someone from the past reaching out to seek Adrienne's help, calling her to help right a wrong and free a lost soul. Now, as a professional, educated woman, Adrienne did not put much stock in predictions. But it might not be a bad idea to meet this psychic before she made any final decisions. The woman who wrote the letter sounded like a real character. She could meet with her for strictly entertainment value, if nothing else.
Chance Breaux was taking up more than his fair share of the small office, Adrienne decided, when she noticed how stuffy the room had become. She reached over and turned on a small fan near the window. "Don't you have an oil company to run, Mr. Breaux? Surely an important businessman like yourself has better things to do than badger me about buying my land."
"It's my land, Adrienne. You just happen to hold the deed to it at the moment. Since we've known each other for about a year now, do you think you might manage to call me something besides Mr. Breaux? My first name is Chance. Take a chance and use it."
"Chance," his name rolled off her lips way too easily. Adrienne enjoyed the feeling of saying it out loud for a change. "Your persistence might end up costing you in the long run. Aren't you afraid your eagerness might drive up the price?"
Chance considered her words carefully, seeming to debate his reaction to them. "Aren't you afraid your stalling over the sale might drive up the stakes of this little game we're playing."
Without thought, Adrienne pushed back in her chair. Good, Chance smiled. He had her attention. Maybe they could get somewhere now. Then the principal forced herself to lean forward again, squaring her slender shoulders. "Just how are the stakes going up, Chance?"