Excerpt from Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Ella In Bloom

by Shelby Hearon

Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon X
Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 272 pages

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'I won't tell you his name, Ella. Then you can't let anything slip. But I can tell you this much, he comes from the very same county Daddy does, Ector County, from a little town called Notrees. I'm not kidding. I guess that's what got me first, that West Texas twang. He says where he grew up is a sort of desert with old meteor craters and no oil. Though everybody out there has to tell you they haven't got producing wells on their place. He and his daddy grow beef and now they're farming emus, which are just like overgrown chickens, he says. He says they raise them for leather, but then they have to use the leather for gloves and chaps to keep the birds from ripping an arm or leg off with those toenails.

'We met on a sailing weekend, and right away as soon as I saw him, I just about went out of my mind over him. I wasn't looking or anything, but, between us, privately, things haven't been all that great at home. Now that Rufus has quit the law firm, he's sort of gone crazy on me. You don't know how that is, because, well, Buddy wasn't, you know, in the mainstream to begin with. But when middle-aged men change their spots, if you get what I mean, it's like they just turn into somebody else overnight. We hardly have one word to say anymore, and the boys don't know what's going on. So, anyway, it's taken me and Mr. Emu, I'll call him, nearly forever to get together, but we've finally got it all planned. You have to promise me you'll never ever tell, no matter what.'

I'd done my best to stay in touch with Terrell over the years. After all, your sisters or brothers, whoever you had, were the people who went down the same road with you all the way. You came into your parents' lives after things had already happened; the people they'd once been were gone and the people they were you couldn't really know. And it must be the same with your children. You were already set when they showed up, you were opaque to them, they were in another time zone from you. But siblings, they were on the same boat, in the same car, skating down the same sidewalk from the start.

'Cross my heart,' I said. Not really warm about my role in this - I wasn't into lying about someone else's life on top of my own. But I asked, 'What do you want me to do?' Trying to figure out if I was going to get to see her at all. It had been four years then since I'd last been home.

'You'll have to send me a picture of your place, you know, and tell me something about the house I can pass on to Mom, who'll want to hear everything. And make up some stuff we went to see, so I can tell her and Dad, and Rufus and the boys. And maybe something about Robin.'

'She's calling herself Birdie now,' I mentioned. 'She's learning to play the cello.' That being the one true thing I always told. 'Look,' I said, 'why don't I meet you at the airport' I could bring photos of my place and Birdie, and we could get someone to take a shot of us together!' I hesitated, then said it straight out, 'Hey, I'd like to see you.'

Terrell said she just couldn't. 'We've only got two nights. We're flying in together and we'll be lucky if we can wait till we get to the hotel.'

'Sure, okay.' I understood. Still, I was disappointed. 'It's just' been a long time, Ter.?'

'I know, I'm sorry. Honestly. I get so busy and it seems like we have people from West Texas and the Hill Country coming to the lake every weekend to sail. Just to see water. You have no idea what this drought has been like.'

At first I thought maybe she didn't want me to see this guy from Notrees. That she might be keeping him from me, since I was more available, being single. You get this between sisters, sometimes, worry about the competition. Buddy had actually first started hanging around the house trying to get a date with her, before he and I got a lot of chemistry going, a lot of heat. Luckily, she didn't go for the futureless type. And Red and I, her present husband Rufus and I, used to go out for hamburgers when she wasn't home and talk about was she ever going to marry him or not, and talk about how could I leave home without finishing school or knowing how to do anything.

Excerpted from Ella in Bloom by Shelby Hearon Copyright 1/1/01 by Shelby Hearon. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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