Lady Be Good (Wynette, Texas #2)


by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Chapter 1

Kenny Traveler was lazy. That explained why he’d fallen asleep in TWA’s Ambassador Club at Dallas–Fort Worth Airport instead of promptly meeting British Airways Flight 2193 at the gate. Pure laziness, plus the fact that he didn’t want to meet Flight 2193.

Unfortunately, the entrance of a noisy pair of businessmen awakened him. He took his time stretching, then yawned for a while. A nice-looking woman in a short gray suit smiled at him, and he smiled back. He glanced at his watch and saw he was half an hour late. He yawned again. Stretched.

“Excuse me,” the woman said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but . . . you look so familiar. Aren’t you—”

“Yes, ma’am, I am.” He tilted his Stetson and gave her a grin that still had a little yawn clinging to the edges. “And I’m flattered you recognize me outside the rodeo ring. Most people don’t.”

She looked confused. “Rodeo? I’m sorry. I thought you were . . . You look so much like Kenny Traveler, the pro golfer.”

“Golfer? Me? Oh, no, ma’am. I’m way too young to play an old man’s game like golf. I like real sports.”

“But—”

“Rodeo. Now that’s a real sport. Football, too, and basketball.” He slowly unfolded all six feet two inches of himself from the chair. “When it comes to tennis, though, that’s when things start getting iffy. And golf isn’t something a real man wants to get too close to.”

The gray suit hadn’t been born yesterday, and she smiled. “Still, I seem to remember watching you win the AT&T and the Buick Invitational on TV this winter. I swear I thought Tiger was going to break into tears during that last round at Torrey Pines.” Her smile faded. “I still can’t believe that Commissioner Beau—”

“I’d appreciate it, ma’am, if you didn’t speak the name of the Antichrist in front of me.”

“Sorry. How long do you think your suspension’ll last?”

Kenny glanced down at his gold Rolex. “I guess that might depend on how long it takes me to get to British Airways?”

“Pardon?”

“Real nice talkin’ to you, ma’am.” He tipped his Stetson and ambled from the lounge.

One of his unhappy ex-girlfriends had pointed out that Kenny’s amble was really the closest thing he had to a full-out run. But Kenny’d never seen much point in wasting energy anyplace but on the golf course. He liked to take things slow and easy, although lately that had been tough.

He ambled past the newsstand, refusing to look at the newspapers that were carrying the story of his recent suspension by acting PGA Commissioner Dallas Fremont Beaudine, a suspension that was taking place in the middle of the hottest winning streak in the history of professional golf and was going to keep him from playing in the Masters less than two weeks away.

“Hey, Kenny.”

He nodded toward a businessman who had that over-eager expression people frequently wore when they spotted his semi-famous face. He could tell the man was from the north because he said his name all-proper instead of pronouncing it “Kinny” like God’s people did.

He kicked up his amble half a notch just in case the businessman took it in his head to relive Kenny’s triumphant final round at Bay Hill last month. A big-haired, tight-jeaned woman gave him the twice-over, but she didn’t look like a PGA fan, so Kenny figured it was his good looks had attracted her.

A former girlfriend had said that, if Hollywood ever made a movie of Kenny’s life, the only star pretty enough to play him on the screen was Pierce Brosnan. That had sent Kenny right through the roof. Not because she’d called him pretty, which he could sort of understand, but her casting choice. He’d told her right then that the only way he’d ever let Pierce Brosnan play him was if they rumpled Pierce up first, got rid of that prissy foreign accent, then fed him enough chicken-fried steak so he didn’t look like the first storm out of West Texas would blow him over. But most of all, they’d have to teach old Pierce exactly how God intended for a man to swing a golf club.

All the walking was making him tired.

He stopped to rest at a cart selling nuts and candy, bought himself some Jelly Bellys, flirted just enough with the Mexican cutie working there to convince her to pull out the banana-flavored ones. Although he liked his Jelly Bellys mixed up, he didn’t like the banana, but, since it took too much effort to pull them out himself, he generally tried to talk someone else into doing it. If that didn’t work, he just ate ’em.

The British Airways gate was deserted, so he leaned against one of the support columns, pulled a handful of Jelly Bellys from the bag, and tilted them into his mouth while he thought about things, mainly how much he wanted to wring the neck of a certain Francesca Serritella Day Beaudine, celebrity wife of the Antichrist acting PGA commissioner, and a woman who was supposed to be his friend.

“Just do this one small favor for me, Kenny,” she’d said. “If you’ll take care of Emma for the next two weeks, I guarantee I’ll talk Dallie into cutting the length of your suspension. You’ll miss the Masters, but—”

“Now, how are you gonna do that?” he’d inquired.

“Never question my methods when it comes to dealing with my husband.”

He didn’t. Everybody knew that Francesa didn’t have to do much more than look at Dallie Beaudine to melt him down, even though they’d been married for twelve years.

A high-pitched child’s squeal, followed by a cheerful British voice, distracted him.

“Do let go of your sister’s hair, Reggie, or I shall be quite cross with you. And there’s no need to carry on so, Penny. If you hadn’t licked him, he wouldn’t have hit you.”

He turned around, then grinned as he saw a woman barreling around the corner with two young children in tow. The first thing he noticed was her hat, a perky little straw number with a turned-up brim and a cluster of cherries bobbing at the center. She wore a gauzy green skirt printed with roses and a loose-fitting rose-colored top that matched a pair of trim little flats.

In one hand she clutched a young boy, along with a purse the size of Montana. In the other hand, she held a mean-faced little girl, an umbrella that was printed with more flowers, and a raspberry-red tote bag bulging with newspapers, books, and another colorful umbrella. Her light brown hair curled this way and that from beneath the brim of her hat, and whatever makeup she’d started out the day with had long ago worn off.