Monday, January 2, 2012

Open For Business~Part 3

Nettie saw Oscar walk through the door and her heart skipped a beat. Oscar lost his beloved wife several years before and had not so much as glanced at another woman in all that time. There was something about Miss Nettie that the old gentleman found endearing. He felt like a schoolboy himself as he ordered a cup of tea with just a sliver of banana cake. He invited Miss Nettie to join him at the table.
He asked her what had brought her to Camden Corners and she explained that she had been a schoolmarm until she retired last year. She missed the children and having her very dear friend, Ethel move away was all she needed to make a change in her life. As a young girl she had loved Randolph Evans but three days before their wedding, he had been killed in a fire after heroically saving the lives of three small children and their mother. Her life had been full with so many students through the years. All of the children had loved Miss Nettie and she loved them as if they were her own. She'd had several suitors but none of them had measured up to Randolph. Until now that is.
Oscar talked about his wife, Louise and what a happy life they had together. They had two active sons who followed in their father's footsteps and studied law. Robert and Richard were both unmarried and Oscar thought it was about time they settled down. Emma and Lily came to mind. What a pair of fine young ladies. Although he didn't need it, he may ask for both his sons assistance in girl's legal matter.
Nettie and Oscar sat and talked for well over an hour. Neither was aware of the time until the sun started to set. Oscar wondered if Miss Nettie would be willing to join him for dinner at the Marino Trattoria. She, of course was delighted and happily accepted the invitation. They had a lovely dinner and Mama Rosa who could spot a romance blossoming made sure they didn't lack for wine or delicious food. She asked her son Eduardo to take a break from his kitchen duties to play a tune on his violin for the couple. Eduardo was a very romantic fellow himself and enjoyed watching the couple as they gazed into each others eyes.
The following morning, the whole town of Camden Corners was abuzz with talk of the December romance between Oscar and Nettie.
Oscar visited the courthouse and secured a copy of the deed Harvey's lawyer had filed. It was poorly written and it wouldn't be terribly difficult to disprove it's authenticity but it would take time to straighten the matter out and Oscar was hoping to spare the girls that frustration. They had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a success of their shop. He would just have to get Robert and Richard involved. They both happened to be in the office when Oscar returned from the county courthouse. He spoke with them together explaining the situation. Richard left the office chuckling.
“That sly old fox, he obviously has something other than our legal expertise in mind for the Misses Patterson and Kramer”.
“And I'm sure you will set the young ladies straight” replied his brother.
Robert was due in court shortly but Richard had some free time and decided to pay a visit to The Looking Back Antique Shop. He was still amused at his father's obvious ploy as he entered the shop. Emma was busy clearing off a shelf at the back of the store. He spotted Jonas and laughingly told him he was here to check out the merchandise to see if they measured up to his usual standards. His father was pushing him and Robert to find wenches and start producing grandchildren. Suddenly a beautiful red haired girl popped her head up over the counter. She was scowling and her face was getting redder by the minute. Richard's face was as bright red as Lily's. He didn't know what made him say something so crass. He was about to apologize and beg forgiveness when a satin pillow came sailing through the air aimed directly for his head. Emma heard the commotion and came running to the front of the store. Lily was about to pick up a vase that was displayed on the counter when Emma caught her hand and rescued the vase and Richard's handsome face. Jonas was speechless. He had never heard a gentleman speak about a woman like that. At least not in her presence.
Nettie and Ethel had been visiting with Maddie and Diana at one of the tea room tables. They told them that the rude young man was Richard Crowley. He sometimes puts his foot in his mouth but he is really quite a nice and genteel fellow. They explained that his father, Oscar was intent on getting his boys married off and that must have prompted him to speak in such a way. Emma's always cool head prevailed. She was able to calm Lily down somewhat and asked Richard if she could help him. Richard explained who he was and that he meant no disrespect towards either of the girls. He had a long complicated morning and his father was acting like a father and it had rubbed him the wrong way but that was no reason for him to have spoken as he did. Lily was enjoying his discomfort and decided to play the shrew for just a little bit longer. She couldn't help but notice that Richard had the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. His shoulders were so broad, his teeth were so white, his nose was a perfect shape and his raven hair was full and thick. She didn't think she had ever seen a more handsome man.
Emma escorted Richard into the small office partly because she knew he would be talking about their legal trouble and partly to keep Lily away from the poor fellow for his own safety. She knew Lily would calm down but thought it best to give her a little longer to compose herself. Emma told Richard all that had transpired. His father had filled him in but he listened intently to Emma tell her side of the story once again. Like his father, Richard asked if Amos had written a Will or had put anything in writing before he became so ill. To Emma's knowledge, he hadn't. She knew Elmer Mayhew was an attorney and a good friend of Amos' but he had passed away 3 years ago. He had been semi-retired and Emma didn't know what had happened to all his files. He had never married and she didn't believe he had any living relatives. She called Jonas into the office and he couldn't give Richard any more information than that.
Richard was about to leave when he saw the beautiful girl he had insulted standing by the counter. He went over to her to apologize. She picked up the vase again and he began to duck. Lily couldn't help herself, she started giggling. She told Richard she had never been referred to as a wench before but thought it sounded rather endearing coming from Oscar Crowley's son but she wouldn't recommend he use that term in her presence again. Richard couldn't help but notice that Lily not only had a beautiful face her figure was lovely although he didn't dare lower his eyes for fear of what she may do.
He said his goodbyes and turned to leave the shop when he realized suddenly that he had fallen in love for the first time in his life with the feisty redhead behind the counter.
He turned on his heel and said “I don't suppose you would be willing to go to lunch with an ill mannered lout like me?”
Lily wrapped her cape around her shoulders picked up her handbag and met him at the door. “Ill mannered you might be sir but a lout? Never!”
Emma knew her dear friend would never be the same. Nettie and Ethel, relieved that their young friend was in good hands bid goodbye to Maddie and Diana and went to the store room to carry a small crate to the front of the store. They expected to open it to find more beautiful Tiffany lamps but instead it held two identical mahogany boxes. They lifted one then the other out of the crate. They were both locked.

Check back tomorrow for more surprises unfolding in the Camden Corners Looking Back Antique Shop.  This and all of my Camden Corner Short Story Series are available on; Kindle and Nook.

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