Chapter 2

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"My belles!" Cora squealed with delight as she peeked around the corner into Clem's childhood bedroom. Light pink floral wallpaper still graced the walls and a tall vase of pink hydrangeas and peonies sat on the window sill.

Cora fought back tears as she watched Adeline afix her great grandmother's pear necklace to Clem's delicate neck. It complimented her sweetheart neckline perfectly. Her baby girl was getting married today and she couldn't have been more happy or proud. Cliff would not be there to see it, but she knew he was watching down on them from wherever he was. He built a good life for her and the girls and everywhere she looked, she saw remnants of him. From the wooden chest he built when Clem when she begged him for a safe place to house her precious prom dress to the harvest table in the breakfast area that he drove all over Charleston to procure when Cora insisted it needed to be the perfect shade of chestnut brown. In the last year before his death, Clif began to slip away from her as the stress of running the distillery in the flailing economy began to take its toll. Nevertheless, she loved him dearly to the end and missed him everyday. She knew her girls felt the same way.

Just outside the Clem's window, Cora spied Henry and Carter in deep conversation. Cora had a soft spot for Carter in spite of Adeline's rage toward him and the Miller Whiskey brand. Carter meant well and she wished Adeline would ease up on him.

Cora frowned as she turned towards her eldest daughter. At 32, she was elegant, driven and...had a major chip on her shoulder. Cora wished Adeline had the ability to relax and let things just be. Since she was young, Adeline was always fiercely competitive and protective of her sister and family. Cora knew Adeline would never allow anything to threaten them. Secretly, Cora wished Walker Vintage would be acquired by a larger distillery that would be allow them to keep their name and reputation, but take over most of the financial risk. Cliff was working on a deal with a Scotish company, but it fell apart after his death.

It tugged at Cora's heart that Adeline had to leave the life she had built in New York so that she could take over the family business. Neither she nor Clem were equipped to handle the daily operations, so Adeline had gallantly stepped in. Cora knew Adeline was on the cusp of her career and had built a good group of friends while she was at NYU. She held out hope that there was still time for Cliff to intervene from his perch in heaven to come through with a ploy that would help the family business continue to flourish while leaving Adeline free to pursue her dreams.

***

Adeline looked over at her mother. Still beautiful and oozing all the southern charm to be expected of a Savannah belle, Cora was the epitome of grace. In spite of her heartache and grumblings about the burden of leading Walker Vintage, Adeline felt pride that somehow, the Walker women were making it on their own. Now if only that Carter Miller would take her hint and make his whiskey elsewhere, things would be more manageable.

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