Jonquils for Jax (Blueberry Lane 3 - The Rousseaus #1) - Katy Regnery

Chapter 1

Jax Rousseau had been thinking a lot about destiny lately.

Hers in particular.

What did she want from life, and what if what she wanted was different from whatever the universe had already fated her to receive? Because it really and truly felt like the universe was not on her side.

“Jaxy-baby, wait up!”

“No,” she muttered, quickening her pace, her hands starting to sweat as he chased her across the lawn. Not to mention…Jaxy? She gagged a little. As if.

After ducking through the hedgerow that separated her childhood home, Le Chateau, from her neighbor’s estate, Westerly, she peeked over her shoulder to see if Tripp was still weaving unsteadily behind her and sighed with relief when she didn’t see him. She slowed her pace as she walked farther into the dark shadows of Westerly’s gardens.

Tripp Stuyvesant Stanton IV wasn’t even her date; he’d just been seated beside her at the wedding reception of Jax’s older brother, Étienne. And she didn’t like Tripp all that much, though her mother had probably handpicked him as Jax’s dinner companion since he was, as Liliane Rousseau liked to remind her daughter, one of the “right” people.

Jax reached down for a bright-white peony and picked it, lifting it to her nose and breathing deeply.

The thing is, the “right” people had always felt wrong.

She knew dozens of guys like Tripp: wealthy, well-bred guys from good Philadelphia families who worked for their fathers’ law firms or grandfathers’ hedge fund. They’d gone to the right prep schools, followed by an Ivy League education. She’d foxtrotted with them in ballroom dance classes since the third grade and ridden against them in polo matches since high school. She ran into them at the Merion Cricket Club every July, at The Union League Club Christmas party every December, and at the Cos (a.k.a. The Cosmopolitan Club, which was her generation’s co-ed answer to the stiff and matronly Acorn), where Jax had been a luncheon regular before she moved to LA.

In fact, Tripp had escorted Mad, Jax’s twin sister, to junior cotillion, and—she glanced up at the mostly dark windows of the Winslows’ Westerly as she continued across the lawn—he had crewed for Brooks Winslow in a regatta more than once. And let us not forget, she thought acidly, that Tripp was set to inherit his family’s millions, and as the only child, he wouldn’t have to share.

He was also a boring conversationalist, a high-handed dinner partner, and a handsy drunk, and he didn’t know how to take no for an answer.

Being chased like this a year ago, before her unfortunate sojourn in Hollywood, probably wouldn’t have bothered her as much. She would have just rolled her eyes at him and told him to get lost. But a lot had happened since last year. Tripp’s persistent pursuit was bringing up the worst memories of Jax’s time in LA and setting her on edge.

“Jax? Jaxy! C’mon, gor…jus!” he called from behind her. “Voooly voo coochie ’vec moi? Jaaaaaa-xy!”

He chuckled like his pigeon French was hilarious, and though his voice wasn’t close, she could tell he’d made it through the hedgerow into Westerly because it wasn’t muffled by the wall of shrubbery. Jax hurried her steps, picking up the skirt of her bridesmaid dress and trying not to twist her ankle in four-inch, gold Manolo Blahnik “Chaos Cuff” sandals as she ran over the uneven grass. She darted through the gate that separated Westerly from Haverford Park, the English family’s estate, and latched it behind her. Still looking over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of Tripp—oooof!—she slammed into a wall of something.

“Whoa there!” said a man’s voice.

“Hey!” she cried.

Teetering for a moment on her heels, she lost the battle with gravity and landed with an inelegant plop on her satin, champagne-colored backside, the cold dampness of the dew-covered grass making her suck in a gasp of breath as she looked up in alarm.

In the moonlight, she could make out the silhouette of a giant whose head partially blocked the full moon.

“You okay, miss?” he asked, leaning down to offer her his hand.

She really didn’t want to take it—she not only blamed him wholeheartedly for her fall, but it was dark, and his sudden presence set off a carillon of warning bells in her head. Then again, getting up on four-inch heels required either a hand or flipping to all fours. And she was not getting on all fours in front of this…this…

“Who are you?” she asked, having no other option but to reach for his hand.