Booty BonesI think living with Sarah Booth Delaney has rubbed off in me in ways I can’t even count. I’ve become hard-headed as a knot of cedar. Determined to bend life to my will. And I also have a sense that the past is never far behind me.

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve known that acting was the only thing I wanted to do. My love affair with the boards began in the first school play I was cast in, when I played Robin Hood. Despite the humiliation of being sixteen and having to wear tights, I loved everything about the show. From painting the sets to rehearsing six nights a week.

When I met Sarah Booth in New York City, she was the most beautiful, spunkiest young woman I’d ever met. I fell in love on the spot. And for a year, I had everything a man could want. My reputation as an actor had begun to take root and I found myself getting cast in small roles that got bigger and meatier and closer and closer to Broadway. And I had Sarah Booth who championed my career even as hers floundered.

The news that Dahlia House would be sold for taxes hit Sarah Booth hard. On top of that, I failed her. My chance to star in The Four Seasons came at the very moment Sarah Booth needed me. Though she understood when I chose my career, I doubted she could ever forgive me.

And yet she did. After suspecting me of some pretty dire things.

Now it’s my turn to forgive her. Or at least she believes I must. During her last case, I was kidnapped and shot in the leg. There’s some question if the leg will heal properly. The movie I was cast to star in, a western, has been pushed back until after Thanksgiving so that I can rehab. Sarah Booth is determined to make this her fault, and even though I tell her she had no control over the person who shot me, she refuses to listen. So here we are, with the mid-October heat rippling over the fields of cotton, the bolls just ready to split.

The heat keeps me prisoner almost as much as my leg, which is healing. Slowly, for sure, but healing. I’ve overheard Sarah Booth talking with Tinkie about a rehab vacation for me. She’s very clever, and more than a little devious in her attempts to sneak around me with this big Dauphin Island vacation surprise. Walks in the sand on the beach, a cottage with three flights of stairs to exercise my leg—a huge conspiracy to get me up and moving so that the leg will heal properly.

I adore her for the effort, and I’ll never let her know that I’ve caught on to her manipulations.

She has another surprise lined up, too. I’m not sure what, but it involves a ceremony on the beach. Could be she’s going to sacrifice me to the tidal gods. Or maybe she’s created some new exercise torment. Or…it could be that she’s finally ready to say yes. The very idea makes me want to rush to her and pull her into my arms. By the end of October, I hope I can do that.

The Black and Orange Ball is coming up October 31st in New Orleans. Sarah Booth and Tinkie and Cece and the rest of her friends have been comparing dresses for weeks. My tux is cleaned and I want to dance with my fiancé at the ball. Even better, I’d love to dance with my wife.

I wonder, if we could see the future, if it would be better or worse. Anticipation is such a wonderful thing. But sometimes knowing—and not wondering—might be better.

For now, I hear the physical therapist coming in the front door of Dahlia House. It’s time to work toward the goal I hold dear: Sarah Booth dancing in my arms on a beautiful Halloween night in the City that Care Forgot.

You can read more about Graf in Booty Bones, the 14th book in the “Sarah Booth Delaney” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Them Bones. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Have you ever planned a vacation for someone without them knowing it, only to find that the person knew?

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 22, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of BOOTY BONES. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi Delta Mystery series. BOOTY BONES, set on The SeekerDauphin Island, Alabama, is the 14th book in the series and goes on sale May 21. Haines also writes gothic chillers as R.B. Chesterton. THE SEEKER, set at Walden Pond, is her latest “dark” book. She is also active in animal rescue and runs Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 aimed at rescuing, re-homing, and rehabilitating cats, dogs, and horses.

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