Home > Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New
Author: Amy Clipston

 

 

one

 


Christine flipped the front-door sign to Open as she hummed along with Cyndi Lauper singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Her favorite ’80s satellite radio station poured through her store’s wall-mounted speakers, and after taking a moment to appreciate both her air-conditioning and the early morning sun streaming through the large windows, she turned to scan the business she’d established nearly four years ago.

With its booths displaying everything from the old—like vintage purses and clothes and antique toys and furniture—to the new—like her best friend’s handmade soaps, candles, and greeting cards—Treasure Hunting Antique Mall was a dream come true.

Leaving behind the law office she’d worked in had been a leap of faith. But thanks to the antiques she and her grandmother had collected over the years, the money she’d saved on her own, and the inheritance her grandmother left her, she’d finally opened the store Nana had always talked about owning someday. And right here on Main Street, in their hometown of Flowering Grove, North Carolina.

If only Nana could see it. She’d love it!

When a loud meow echoed throughout the large, single room, she spun to see her two resident tabby cats staring up at her. Wanda, the smaller gray tabby, blinked up at Christine, while Pietro, her orange-tabby brother, meowed again. He was at least twice his sister’s size.

“Well, now. I suppose you two are waiting for your breakfast, huh?”

Pietro bellowed another response as Wanda rubbed against Christine’s shins.

“Okay, then. Follow me.” She strolled down the aisle between a row of booths until she reached the breakroom across from her office at the back of the store. The cats began a chorus of loud meows as she filled their bowls with their favorite food and then provided fresh water.

“Now, Pietro, don’t push your sister out of the way and finish her meal. You need to start watching your weight or the vet will put you on a diet at your next checkup.”

Both cats ignored her, scarfing down their breakfast as if they hadn’t eaten in a week.

“You two are way too spoiled,” she muttered.

The bell above the front door rang, and Christine made a beeline to the front counter.

Mrs. Ward, a frequent customer, sashayed in. “Good morning, Christine. Oh my! It’s another hot morning out there. But then again, the Fourth is next week.”

Christine leaned against the counter. “June sure is flying by. What brings you in today?”

“I’m looking for a bookcase.” With her perfectly coifed graying-blond bob, just the right amount of makeup to accentuate her brown eyes, and designer jeans and bag, Mrs. Ward seemed to be enjoying her early retirement from the corporate world in style.

“Are you looking for any particular finish, Mrs. Ward?”

The older woman shook a finger at her. “How old are you and your twin sister now? Twenty-eight, right?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“That means you should call me Harriet like any other adult.”

Christine smiled. “Well, I’ll try,” she said, but she would never get used to calling her Harriet. Her parents had raised her better than that.

“How is Britney doing?”

“She’s great. Thanks.”

“How old are her twins now?”

Christine couldn’t hold back a grin as she pictured the faces of her precious nieces—her “M&Ms,” Maddy and Mila. “They’re four, and they’re fantastic. Growing like weeds and learning to read. I’m hoping to see them this weekend.”

“It’s just so astounding that Britney is a fraternal twin and has a set of fraternal twins of her own.” She clucked her tongue. “Now, wouldn’t it be something if you had twins too?” She pinned Christine with a look. “Do you have a special fella in your life yet?”

Christine merely cleared her throat, unwilling to discuss her non-existent love life.

Mrs. Ward turned toward the furniture pieces up front, most of which Christine had found, refinished in her workshop at home, and then brought in to sell. “I have boxes of my favorite novels in the attic, and I want to put them on display.”

“Oh, how nice.” Christine followed her.

Mrs. Ward frowned. “I’m sure you heard about my Cameron’s messy divorce. His wife decided she didn’t love him anymore. Anyway, he stayed with us until he got back on his feet.” Her expression brightened. “And now he’s finally moved out, which means I have an office again.”

“That’s wonderful.” Christine made a sweeping gesture toward the bookshelves, finished with varying stains. “I have a few here and more in the booths. What size do you need?”

Mrs. Ward touched a finger to her lips and then pointed to a five-shelf, solid-oak bookcase Christine had refinished and brought to the store last week. “That’s it.”

“Do you, uh, want to measure it?”

“Nope.”

Christine inwardly grimaced as she recalled the pieces of furniture Mrs. Ward had purchased without measuring—a china cabinet, a dining room set and buffet, a triple dresser, and an entertainment center. Each time, Christine’s mother, who had occasion to visit the Ward home from time to time, informed Christine the piece was scaled a bit too large or small for the room it was in. Too bad Mrs. Ward’s design sensibilities didn’t necessarily translate to interior design.

“Are you sure you don’t want to measure it, Mrs.—uh, Harriet?” Not that you would have properly assessed your space before coming.

Mrs. Ward waved off the question and then pulled a matching wallet out of her gray purse. “How much is it?”

Christine told her, then grabbed the tag off the bookcase and slipped behind the counter. She rang up the sale and had Mrs. Ward run her credit card through the machine before handing her a receipt.

“I have a truck parked right out front,” Mrs. Ward said.

“Oh. Let me grab my hand dolly, then.”

“Perfect.”

Christine maneuvered the heavy bookcase out the front door to the sidewalk, where Mrs. Ward stood waiting at the tailgate of a Ford pickup truck. Christine wished her brother-in-law was somewhere close by. Not only was Hunter a wonderful husband and father, but he often made time to help her haul heavier pieces of furniture to and from the store.

Christine squared her shoulders. She was strong and courageous. She could lift this bookcase by herself.

Couldn’t she?

Mrs. Ward dropped the tailgate and then grabbed an armload of blankets. “I had to convince Marty to let me bring his truck today. But I knew you’d have what I wanted, and like I said, I’m ready to reclaim my office.” She spread the blankets out on the tailgate and truck bed.

“Any chance Marty is nearby to help me lift this?”

“No, he went fishing with his brothers. But I can help.”

Christine sucked in a deep breath. Where was a superhero—maybe Thor—when she needed him?

“All right,” she said, doubtful but willing to try. “You take one side, and I’ll take the other.” Once their hands had grasped the bookcase, she called, “Ready? One, two, three!”

They heaved and moaned as they lifted the bookcase approximately an inch off the ground. It was even heavier than Christine had recalled. Then as they shoved it toward the truck bed, it started to slip, and she yelped.

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