Miss Julia Renews Her Vows

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Table of Contents
 
Also by Ann B . Ross
Miss Julia Delivers the Goods
Miss Julia Paints the Town
Miss Juila Strikes Back
Miss Julia Stands Her Ground
Miss Julia’s School of Beauty
Miss Julia Meets Her Match
Miss Julia Hits the Road
Miss Julia Throws a Wedding
Miss Julia Takes Over
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
VIKING
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First published in 2010 by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
Copyright © Ann B. Ross, 2010
All rights reserved
 
Publisher’s Note
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.
 
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
 
Ross, Ann B.
Miss Julia renews her vows / Ann B. Ross.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-19006-7
1. Springer, Julia (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Married people—Fiction. 3. City and town life—North
Carolina—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3568.O84198M569 2010
813’.54—dc22
2009042561
 
 
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For Claudia—beautiful, courageous and full of grace
.
Chapter 1
“Mr. Pickens,” I’d said in a tone that demanded his full attention. And to make sure he listened, I raised my finger to him. “Mr. Pickens,” I said again, “if you break Hazel Marie’s heart, you will answer to me.”
This little lecture occurred right after he’d resigned himself to the fact that he couldn’t wiggle out of it this time. He was roped and tied, and I intended to make sure he knew it.
He clasped my finger and moved it aside. “Be careful where you point that thing.” Giving me that lopsided grin that told me he wasn’t taking seriously a word I said, he went on. “You can stop worrying, Miss Julia. My heart-breakin’ days are over.”
“Seeing is believing, and with your marital history—which you’ve taken no pains to conceal—I have every reason in the world to worry. Three wives, Mr. Pickens, and not a one of them took. Marry ’em and leave ’em, that seems to be your motto, and I’m telling you now, I am not going to have Hazel Marie treated in that fashion.”
“Now, Miss Julia,” he said, while those black eyes danced in his head. “I didn’t do the leaving. Every one of them left me, so, see, I am innocent on all counts.”
“Huh,” I said, glaring at him. “If that’s true, it just goes to show that you were doing something wrong or not doing something right. I remind you, Mr. Pickens, that you have responsibilities now, and your carefree days of coming and going as you please are over.”
“My goodness,” he said, grinning at me, “looks like I can’t win. But,” he went on, sobering up just slightly, “I am well aware of my responsibilities. You don’t have to remind me that Hazel Marie’s having twins.”

Hazel Marie’s
having twins! Stop right there this very minute.
She’s
not having them.
Both
of you are, and I’ll point out to you that what you say and how you say it are fairly good indicators of how you think. So you just might take a good hard look at your own attitude toward those babies—they are
yours,
Mr. Pickens, and you are just as responsible for their existence as Hazel Marie is.” I gave him a sharp nod of my head to punctuate the statement. “And don’t you forget it.”
We’d had that little conversation the morning of his and Hazel Marie’s wedding, although to call that hurry-up, practically last-minute civil ceremony a wedding made my skin crawl. Dashing down to the clerk of court’s office for a license early on a Monday morning, then making the drive to a magistrate’s office for legal sanction with no notice to friends or announcement in the
Abbotsville Times,
Hazel Marie in a skirt half zipped up with a safety pin to hold it on and crying because she wasn’t walking down an aisle with a cathedral train trailing along behind her, and Mr. Pickens gritting his teeth to get through it—well, I wouldn’t classify that as anybody’s idea of a proper wedding, even though it did get the job done. Thank the Lord.
I was also thankful that our state did not require a waiting period, because we didn’t have a minute to lose getting those two married. We did, however, have to wait for Mr. Pickens to drive over to Asheville to get all his divorce decrees out of his lockbox. Seems you have to prove you’re unattached before getting reattached. Then Sam, Lillian, Lloyd and I went with them to the courthouse and waited out in our car while Hazel Marie and Mr. Pickens went in to get the license, and I was just as glad not to have seen the clerk’s face when Mr. Pickens spread out all three decrees like a losing hand in gin rummy.
I must say at this point that Mr. Pickens had shown some forethought by stopping at a jeweler’s and buying a wedding ring on his hurried trip to Asheville. It was only a plain gold band, but it was a wide, thick one, which with the cost of gold these days was no minor purchase. Of course, there was no engagement ring because there had been no engagement, but that could be rectified in the future, on an anniversary, perhaps, if they stayed married long enough to have one.
When they came out of the courthouse and got in Mr. Pickens’s car for the trip to an out-of-town magistrate’s office for that travesty of a ceremony, we followed them. Going to Waynesville for the civil ceremony had been my idea, in order to forestall the
Abbotsville Times
from making a public announcement as to the exact date of legalization. If the Waynesville paper printed it in their public notices, more power to them because no one in Abbotsville would see it. Sam and I were to be the official witnesses, for which I was glad because I intended to make sure the whole thing was done up good and tight, so nobody would be able to talk his way out of it.

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