Authors: Debby Grahl
First published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop, 2015
Copyright © Debby Grahl, 2015
The right of Debby Grahl to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the
Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
All characters and events in this Book – even those sharing the same name as (or based on) real people – are entirely fictional. No person, brand, or corporation mentioned in this Book should be taken to have endorsed this Book nor should the events surrounding them be considered in any way factual.
This Book is a work of fiction and should be read as such.
The Writer’s Coffee Shop
PO Box 447 Cherrybrook NSW 2126
PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168
Paperback ISBN- 978-1-61213-317-1
E-book ISBN- 978-1-61213-318-8
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.
Cover Images - © Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com, © Csaba Peterdi /
Shutterstock.com, © Vasilchenko Nikita /
Cover art - Niina Cord / niinascoverdesign.weebly.com
To my husband, David, with all my love.
Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Caterine Doucette lay in the white canopy bed, her tears soaking the lace-edged pillowcase as she clutched a Raggedy Ann doll. Her
had told her Mommy and Daddy had gone to heaven and would be sitting on a star watching her. But Caterine didn’t want them to be on a star. She wanted them to be with her. She loved Grandmère and Grandpère, but she wanted to go home.
Caterine buried her face in the pillow and began to sob.
“Don’t cry, Cat. It’ll be okay,” Bobby Doucette said as he stood next to the bed and awkwardly patted Caterine’s back. “I’m here. Look what I brought you.”
Caterine buried her face further into the pillow. “Go away, Bobby. I don’t care what you have.”
“Please, Cat, I brought you Rex. He always makes me feel better when I’m sad.”
Caterine hiccupped then turned her face to see her seven-year-old cousin Bobby holding out his favorite stuffed puppy. “I don’t think even Rex can make me feel better. Bobby, I want my mommy and daddy, and I want to go home. But Grandmère says I have to live here now with all of you.”
Bobby nodded. “That’s right, Cat. Just think, we’ll always be together and we’ll have lots of fun.”
Caterine sat up and rubbed her eyes. “I don’t feel like having fun. Bobby, why did my mommy and daddy have to go away?”
Tears filled Bobby’s eyes. “Grandmère said someone hit your car and ran away. She said your car hit a tree and your parents had to go to heaven.”
“But I was in the car. Why didn’t I go to heaven, too?”
Bobby sniffed. “I don’t know, Cat, but I’m glad you didn’t. Here.” Bobby handed Rex to Caterine. “You’ll be okay here with us. My daddy and Uncle Jules are going to fix up Raymond and Randal’s old tree house for us to play in. And you can have tea parties with Paulette and Charlotte.”
Tears again began to flow down Caterine’s cheeks. “I don’t want to have tea parties with them. Your sister Paulette pinches me every time she sees me and tells me if I’m bad I’ll be taken to the swamp and left. And cousin Charlotte calls me ‘Grandmère’s spoiled brat.’ ”
Bobby frowned. “Don’t pay any attention to them. They don’t like me either. So it will be you and me against them. Just think, Cat, every time they’re mean to us, there’ll be two of us to fight back—not just one.”
Caterine’s lower lip trembled. “But, Bobby, I want them to like me. My mommy said they were mean to me because they were jealous that I was Grandmère’s favorite granddaughter. But I don’t want to be her favorite if it means no one likes me.”
Bobby shrugged his thin shoulders. “I think Grandmère likes you more because you’re nice, not mean like them.” Bobby’s eyes brightened. “You know what I think will make you feel better?”
“A mug of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows. I’ll bet if we go down to the kitchen, Cook will fix us some.”
Caterine rubbed her nose. “We’re supposed to be sleeping. Will we get in trouble if Grandmère catches us?”
Bobby smiled. “Naw. I do it all the time. Now if my mommy or Aunt Frances sees us, well . . .”
Caterine followed Bobby as they crept along the dimly lit hallway, their footsteps muffled by the thick carpet.
“We’ll use the back stairs,” Bobby whispered. “I think everyone is still in the parlor.”
As they turned the corner, Bobby reached out his hand, stopping Caterine. “There’s light coming from under my parents’ bedroom door. Be really, really quiet.”
They were almost past the door when Hyacinth Doucette’s shrill nasal voice, coming from the other side, stopped them.
“I don’t care what Miss Dauphine says, Markus. That child doesn’t belong here. She should go live with her mother’s people in Virginia.”
“For God’s sake, Hyacinth, keep your voice down. You know as well as I that Suzanne left Virginia to get away from her family. The last thing she’d want is for Caterine to be sent into that dysfunctional mess. Mother isn’t going to send Caterine anywhere, and you’d just better get used to it. My God, she’s a six-year-old little girl who just lost her parents. Have you no compassion? Do you not realize how losing Luke and Suzanne has shattered my own parents? The last thing Miss Dauphine needs now is for Caterine to go live somewhere else.”
“That’s just my point. Miss Dauphine already treats Caterine like she’s a little princess. Can you just imagine how she’ll coddle the girl now? Why, she’ll turn her into more of a spoiled brat than she already is.”
“That’s enough, Hyacinth. Caterine isn’t a little brat nor will she become one. If you want to talk about spoiled brats, you don’t have to look any further than Paulette.”
“Markus, what a thing to say about your daughter.”
“Yes, well, I didn’t make her like that.
“Let me tell you something. My Paulette is just as good as Miss Dauphine’s precious Caterine. And I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and let Caterine grow up thinking otherwise.”
Bobby tugged Caterine’s hand and whispered, “Come on, Cat. Don’t listen to her.”
Caterine held back a sob and followed.
As they approached the central staircase, they paused. Aunt Frances’ and Uncle Jules’ voices could be heard below.
“Honestly, Jules, I can’t believe Miss Dauphine is considering taking Caterine with her to Ma Chérie,” Frances Doucette said. “The child should be kept in school.”
“It will only be for a short time until Caterine gets adjusted,” Jules replied. “Mother wants to keep her close, and Caterine loves going to Ma Chérie, so it will be fine.”
“That’s the problem. Since Caterine was old enough to walk, your mother has taken her to that store, treating her as if she were the granddaughter who will inherit. Miss Dauphine has always been a stickler for tradition, and our Charlotte is the oldest, and therefore should be next in line. It isn’t fair to Caterine to have her believe something that can never be.”
“The truth is that neither Charlotte nor Paulette has ever shown any interest in Ma Chérie, so I don’t blame Mother for wanting to have Caterine at the shop with her. As young as she is, Caterine already shows a talent for drawing. Why, she’s already making her own clothes for her cutout dolls. Who knows, Mother may break tradition and leave the store to Caterine.”
“She can’t do that,” Frances stated indignantly.
Jules chuckled. “Ma Chérie belongs to Mother; she can do anything she wants. But aren’t you jumping the gun? Hopefully, Mother will be around for many more years, and it will be a long time before we have to worry about who inherits.”
Caterine sat in the morning sunshine at the Café Du Monde with her friend Elaine LaBeau. A mild February breeze blew off the Mississippi River, bringing with it the soulful notes of a saxophone.
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into coming here,” Caterine said as she bit into her hot beignet. “Do you have any idea how many calories are in these?”
“Oh, who cares?” Elaine replied. She wiped powdered sugar from her chin and sipped her café au lait. “Mardi Gras is only two weeks away. It’s time to be a little crazy. Besides, a few calories won’t hurt you.”
In the distance, the sound of a marching band could be heard. Elaine pointed. “People are beginning to gather for the Krewe d’Écrevisse parade. We’d better go if we want to find a place.”
They stepped from the cafe onto Decatur Street.
“Wow, there’s already a crowd,” Elaine said. “Let’s try over this way.”
They wove their way around families with small children, college students holding go cups from Pat O’Brien’s, and a group of ladies wearing dental conference badges featuring smiling teeth.
“I really should call Grandmère and let her know I might be late,” Caterine shouted over the noise as she reached in her Chanel bag for her cell phone.
“Will you please relax? It’s not even ten o’clock. Ma Chérie doesn’t open until then, does it?”