Home > A Medium Homecoming

A Medium Homecoming
Author: Lynn Cahoon

 

1

 

 

Spring arrived in the French Quarter of New Orleans late. I knew that the bright red tropical hibiscus had no actual smell, but I liked to imagine the flowers made the air fresh and sweet. That was me, Eddie Cayce, new owner of Cayce’s Treasures. Or at least that’s what I wanted to call the new design shop I was opening inside my new antique store. Currently the sign said Goldman’s Antiques. I’d already designed the new sign and was waiting to pull the trigger on ordering it. I was determined to get out of my office and into the fresh air sooner than later. All I had to do was get through this meeting, then my day was clear. The first day I’d planned off in months and Mel Anderson, my new assistant, had taken the empty slot in my calendar as permission to schedule an impromptu presentation by the public relations firm I’d hired last month. I leaned back in my chair and watched as the marketer made her pitch for the grand opening promotion of my new business.

Of course, Tessa Hunt, my new PR associate wasn’t in love with the shop name I’d chosen. As well as most of the ideas I’d sent to the PR agency when I’d hired them to do a promotion package.

“Goldstein’s Antiques is a well-known company in the Louisiana area. Keeping the name, which your contract clearly allows you to do,” Tessa pointed to a piece of paper on the table, “would allow you to avoid the new company distrust buyers have and builds on the reputation of Mr. Goldstein rather than just starting over.”

“I actually have a strong name and experience in the antique business. I worked for a large, well-known design company for over ten years before I moved back here.” I pointed out, hoping my voice didn’t show the exact level of my exasperation. I’d had this discussion with the agency’s partners when I’d hired the company and before Tessa had been assigned to my project. I stared at Doyle Butler, one of the partners who’d come along for the meeting. Doyle and I were friends, or at least I’d thought we were. Now I wasn’t sure.

“Yes, I’m sure you did. But honey, that was in Seattle.” Tessa said the word like she was pointing out that I’d been working for an underground sex club or something worse.

“Let’s shelve the discussion about the name change for another day.” Doyle Butler shook his head lightly toward the woman presenting her ideas.

“I’ll think about your points.” I decided to throw out an olive branch and took in a deep breath. I would think about it, but I wasn’t changing my mind. Grandma Andrews had given me the money to finance this dream in her will and there was no way I was sacrificing a name I’d been dreaming about for years because some girl didn’t think I had a reputation in the antique community.

Tessa went on with the presentation, clearly frustrated with losing a battle. Apparently, she’d never heard the concept that the customer was always right. Even when they were wrong. When she finished, I closed the binder in front of me.

“Thanks for coming by today. I’ll give these ideas some thought and get back to you next week if we’re going ahead.” Standing to end the meeting, I tucked my notebook in the crook of my arm.

Tessa’s eyes widened at the unexpected ending of the meeting. “I thought you’d already committed. I told my contacts that…”

Doyle glared at Tessa and then turned to me. “Thanks for seeing us today, Eddie. I’ll come by and check in with you next week to see if I can answer any questions about our proposal.”

“I needed to talk to you about…” Tessa began but Doyle took her arm and helped her out of the chair.

“Later, Tessa.” Doyle smiled at me. “Thank you for seeing us today, Eddie. We’ll get out of your hair.”

After they’d left, Mel Anderson leaned back in her chair from her desk outside the conference room so she could catch my gaze. “Somebody’s in trouble.”

“OMG. Can she be much out of college? What was Doyle thinking letting her work my account? I’m going to wait until tomorrow then call him back and ask for someone new. Someone who listens when the client talks about her vision.” I rubbed my face and watched people window shop as they passed by my store.

“You look tired. Are you heading home?” Mel gathered up the papers that the promotions company had left on the table. “I’ll put these in your office. I don’t think we have any interviews this afternoon, so I can watch the shop for the last few hours as well as research any upcoming sales.”

“That would be awesome if you don’t mind. I didn’t sleep well last night. Nic was having one of his business meetings at the house and you know how long those go. I really need to find a place to buy.” Purchasing a house near the shop had been on my to do list since I’d finalized the store purchase. But since I was remodeling the compound as my first official job, I’d let Nic talk me into staying at the house for the duration rather than spend money at a hotel. I think at first, Nic was worried about what Aunt Franny might do if she caught me alone. She was still angry that I’d received Grandma’s inheritance, but at least she’d stopped randomly showing up at the shop to yell at me. Now, getting a house was my first priority. Well, second. Finding enough staff to keep the shop open at least bare bones hours had to be my first priority. Tomorrow. “I’m going to stop in the garden district to check out a new listing my realtor sent me this morning.”

“Woo hoo! You could ride the street cars to work and still not need a car.” Mel followed me out of the main floor showroom. The conference room was situated on the first floor so we could hear if any customers came into the shop is we were in a meeting. “I love my apartment over by Lafayette. Maybe you’ll be nearby?”

“I can’t afford to buy in your neighborhood and there’s no way I’m renting. I still have some of my inheritance left so I might as well put it into an asset that’s going up rather than spending it all here at the store.” I picked up a vase that had landed on the floor. Since it had been on the desk when I’d gone into the meeting, either Doyle or Tessa must have hit the corner of the desk and knocked it off as they left. Or it had been Harry, the building ghost. There was also another item on the floor. I didn’t recognize the small statue. It looked African in heritage but without studying it, it could have been Egyptian or from the southern part of the continent.

“Harry again?” Mel asked, watching me arrange the desk decorations.

I set down the statue. I’d find it in inventory tomorrow and move it back to where the ghost had grabbed it. “I guess. I know he wasn’t happy me adding in the design studio on the third floor, but now that Mr. Goldstein is on the other side as well, he doesn’t have much choice in the changes I make.”

“I don’t think he sees it that way.” Mel sat the papers down on a table. “Yesterday when I opened the store the entire third floor had been rearranged to block people from coming in from the stairwell. I about tripped over a step stool when I went to check the building.”

I decided to try something as I stared around the empty store. “Harry, you know you’re safe. Nothing’s going to happen to you, I promise. Stop moving around the furniture.”

Mel watched me talk to the resident ghost. “You really think that’s going to help?”

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