Major Braylon Wexler arrived at his grandparents' estate on Hilton Head Island on a fine autumn morning. As the platinum Bentley driven by the Wexler's butler Adam Covington made its way up the long winding driveway flushed with oak trees, Braylon looked over his chauffeur's shoulder, admiring the three story, crimson brick mansion, sitting on the river. He spied the guest cottage, and Braylon assumed that's where he'd be staying until his condo became available.
Braylon leaned forward. "I tell you Adam, it sure feels good to be home."
Adam nodded. "So Mr. Wexler, you still call this home?"
Braylon smiled. "Of course...this will always be home." Although he hadn't actually lived in Hilton Head since he was ten, and he very seldom visited, the coziness that was generated throughout the country made most people feel as if the small island was a place to consider home.
Braylon opened the car door and began exiting the car until Adam said, "Mr. Wexler hold up sir. I can get the door for you sir."
Braylon turned his head, gazing Adam's black eyes. "No thank you. I have arms and legs just like you. And I take pleasure in doing for myself. I appreciate you giving me a lift from the airport, I couldn't ask for anything more of you."
Adam nodded complacently. "By the way Mr. Wexler..."
"Adam...you called me Braylon as a kid. Please continue to call me Braylon," he chuckled. "I'm only twenty-nine-years old."
Adam smiled. "Okay, Braylon you will be staying in the guest cottage. Your grandparents felt that you might need your privacy. Here's your key." Adam placed the key in Braylon's palm. "Oh by the way, your grandparents should be home within the next thirty minutes or so. They decided to take half a day off from the firm to give you a proper homecoming."
"Well I have a meeting on Parris Island at one o' clock, so I hope they get here soon."
Adam placed the rest of Braylon's luggage on the cottage's door step and headed for the main house.
When Braylon entered the guest cottage and inhaled the apple cinnamon air freshener, he immediately assumed that his grandmother had been there earlier. There was no doubt in his mind that his grandmother, Willa Wexler, had enormous plans to spoil him while he was there. She'd left a plate full of assorted fruits, bagels, and muffins on the dining room table.
Everything was so nicely decorated and well accessorized throughout the two bedroom two bathroom cottage suite. Copper cookware hung from the kitchen's ceiling over a square black granite table top. The family room centered the cottage with a magnificent view of the river. Long sheer drapes accentuated oblong windows of the neat room that shelved miniature hand spun glass figurines on the fireplace's mantel. The spacious master bedroom with antique chairs in the large sitting area sat a few feet away from the guest bedroom. Refreshing pastel colors, mostly off white, was the color scheme throughout the cottage suite.
Not long after Braylon had gotten reacquainted with his surroundings and showered, he began to dress in his uniform in the master bedroom that had a partial view of the river. While getting dressed for an appointment to meet his boss on the military's base he noticed a young woman sitting on a blanket underneath a huge oak tree in the backyard. A few feet away from the beautiful woman was his disabled uncle, Royce, who had Downs Syndrome, sitting in a chair searching for words in a child's crossword book. Braylon drew back the white sheer drapes, and he was mistaken for what he thought to be just a woman. His eyes fooled him! She was not just a woman. She was most beautiful woman he'd ever laid eyes on.
Braylon called up to the main house to speak with Adam, the butler.
Adam answered, "The Wexler's residence."
"How can I help you sir?"
"While looking out the window I happened to notice Uncle Royce outdoors as well as a woman sitting under a tree. Who is she?" Braylon wondered as he continued peering at the woman.
Adam chuckled. "Her name is Sandella...Sandella Summers. She was hired a few years ago to help out with your Uncle Royce while your grandparents continue to run the family's business. With her dedication and effort, Royce has come a long way even though he has Down syndrome."
"So that's Sandella? For some odd reason I've always assumed that she was a much older woman."
"No, there's nothing old about Ms. Summers. And in case you're wondering, Ms. Summers is indeed single. Not to mention she's the sweetest and purest thing that Beaufort has to offer sir."
"Thank you Adam. I hope I didn't interrupt you up there."
"Not at all. I wasn't doing anything except for getting ready to watch the Tyra Banks Show."
Braylon chucked and hung up.
Braylon finished dressing. Surely he had to go and speak to his Uncle Royce, and even more, he had to introduce himself to Ms. Sandella Summers.
Slowly walking across the thick green lawn toward Sandella, Braylon inhaled the scent of pine needles and fresh river water. "Hello there."
Quickly, she pushed herself from the blanket to stand, grabbed her bowl placing it on her hip, and stood motionless, gazing at Braylon.
Braylon could tell that he had apparently startled Sandella; therefore, he did what any gentleman should do in a situation such as his. He began to apologize. "I'm sorry if I scared you, but I thought you heard me approaching."
Sandella pushed her long black hair behind her shoulder. "You darn right you terrified me! Sneaking up on people is down right rude!"
Although Sandella appeared to be upset, Braylon thought he understood her and felt she had good reason to have had shouted at him. It was obvious he'd frightened the beautiful lady. Her screaming didn't bother him in the least bit. He was too busy admiring her honey brown eyes, long eyelashes, and her beautiful face that were so delicately carved into her smooth skin that held golden brown undertones.
Braylon bowed his head. "I didn't mean to be rude. Please accept my apology." He extended his hand.
Clutching her vanilla cotton dress, she uttered, "The Wexler's are not home. You can tell the butler Adam at the main house why you are here." She began moving toward Royce who was still searching for words in the crossword book.
Braylon didn't like the uppity woman not one bit. Her nose was so far up in the air, she could sniff the sky if she wanted. And to think she was calling him rude. She was the one with an attitude problem.
"Uncle Royce? How have you been?" he questioned as he began to approach his long time no see relative.
Royce didn't look up from his book.
Sandella stopped dead in her tracks. "What did you call him?"
Although she'd just been discourteous to him, Braylon couldn't help but be in awe of her lush curves. Refocusing on her question, he answered, "I called him Uncle Royce."
A muscle flickered in Sandella's jaw. She frowned, her eyes narrowed under drawn brows. "So you're Braylon Wexler?"
When she barely whispered his name, his hazel eyes began to glow at the sound of her sultry voice. "Yes Sandella. I'm Braylon."
"And how do you know my name?" she questioned while looking away from him, focusing in on the river waves.
. "Adam told me your name and my grandparents have mentioned you on several occasions. They're always bragging about your work and how well you are with Royce. They tell me that you even got Royce recognizing words and almost reading. I've also heard a lot about your cooking. They tell me you're famous around here in Beaufort and Hilton Head because of the delicious caramel pecan pie you bake." Braylon peered down at the bowl of pecans she was holding. "Sandella, I would love to sample one of your pies. Is that what those pecans are for?"
With one hand gripping the bowl of pecans, and the other on her hip, her brows gathered at the center of her forehead. "Look Braylon, I'm just going to cut to the chase and come straight out and say it."
"Please do." He invited her to speak wondering why she had such an attitude.
"I don't do soldiers."
"Who said anything about having sex with you?" Her ex-boyfriend must have been a soldier and broken her heart.
"See that's exactly what I mean. Right away you assumed that I was speaking of sex and I wasn't. When I said I don't do soldiers, I meant, I don't cook for them. I don't date them and I don't even speak to them."
Jeez! Who was this jerk of a soldier that did her wrong? "Well what happened to you, to makes you hate soldiers?" He folded his arms across his chest. "Soldiers are great men."
"You soldiers are so egocentric, boastful, and vicious. All you do is look for naive women that you can take the advantage of."
"Well, I don't know who you've been dealing with, but not all soldiers are the same."
"As I said before, I don't talk to soldiers. Conversation over!" She grabbed Royce's hand and they began to head for the main house.
"Then there must be something wrong with you!" Braylon reflected with some bitterness. "How dare you criticize soldiers? We've protected this country to the point of no end, risking our lives to protect you!" Braylon snatched his hat off his head, and pointed his finger at Sandella's backside. "Besides freedom, we're the best thing that America has to offer!"
Sandella kept walking as she dragged Royce to the house. Braylon spotted his grandparents waving at him. As Braylon began heading toward his grandparents, he didn't see what his grandparents saw in Sandella. She may have been beautiful on the outside, but she was downright cold and ugly on the inside. From what he could see, she had an attitude and problem with military men. And if it was the last thing he would do before the day was over, he was going to find out why a woman as beautiful as Sandella despised soldiers.