The bell chimed over the entrance door of Finn’s Fine China and Gift Shoppe. Emma Finn clicked to hide the satisfying display of her accounts ledger. She left her tiny office for the front of her shop. The long glass shelves of china, silver, and crystal gleamed dully in the grey light of the cloudy mid-April day.
“Good morning, Dahlia.”
Dahlia Grisham, trim and perfectly coiffed, already had the Royal Doulton figurine in her hands, checking every delicately modeled curve for imperfections. With a sigh of deep appreciation and avid possession, she smiled broadly at Emma. “She’s perfect. Thank you, Emma. I’ve waited a long time for this little lady to come to me.”
“You sure have. I followed many connections to find her in Hawaii, and now I have a new dealer contact.”
“You’re a genius for finding her,” Dahlia said.
Emma accepted the accolades with a smile. “Thank you. I have to admit it was weird searching for a china lady with my own name.”
“Well, you’re both lovely girls with shining chestnut hair and brown eyes.”
Emma took Dahlia’s credit card and slid it into the terminal.
Dahlia ran a fingertip over the gold script embossed on the white box waiting for china-Emma. “Myra always said she’d leave the shop to you…?”
“So she said.” Emma hid her grin while she teased the matriarch of the Gossiping Grishams, leading nurturers of Clarence Bay’s grapevine.
“And did she? Leave you this shop?” Dahlia persisted.
Emma dragged out the suspense a little longer. “Yes, she left the shop to me and the marina to Grady.” Emma clipped her lips together. No need to mention Gran’s instructions to sell the shop and use the proceeds to realize her old dream of becoming a photojournalist. She still had the compelling urge to take her camera out, though any pictures she took were for her own pleasure. Gran’s dream of carrying on the shop’s legacy was fully realized and profitable. Emma would devote her energies to keeping Gran’s shop running smoothly for future generations.
“Well, she certainly left it in capable hands,” Dahlia said. “Finn’s is practically a historic site.”
Emma tilted her head. “Historic is a stretch. But I’ll give you vintage.” Apart from her computer and the cash register, everything remained as Gran had modernized it back in the nineteen-fifties.
“Vintage is good. Tourists love it. Just look at my salon. Women come just to take pictures of themselves under my old bonnet dryer. Lots of them come back for updos for the Fifties Bandstand Dance on Labour Day.”
“You’re right. This place could use an overhaul.” Emma continued to tease her friend knowing she wouldn’t alter a thing. Change had never been a good friend to Emma, always destroying her family and friends. No need to go looking for trouble.
Dahlia’s face creased in worry. “Don’t change it too much, will you? Change isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Amen to that.” Emma drummed her fingers, waiting for the terminal to print out a receipt. “Maybe just a thorough cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.”
“You’re right. Paint is all that’s needed. Have you been to see the new homes that Ryan is just finishing up?”
“Uh huh. I went over with Melody. They’re gorgeous.” The mixed-income eco-friendly neighbourhood on the shores of Mill Lake was a recent, and closely watched, development in Clarence Bay.
“You should buy one. Get out of that cramped space upstairs.” Dahlia lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “Jump start your life after spending the last two years caring for Myra.”
Emma slowly shook her head. She’d been sorely tempted to move into the small bungalow beside the one Melody had purchased. “Why change? My apartment’s big enough for me and you can’t beat the commute.”
“Well, there’s change for the bad and change for the good. Speaking of which, have you been on anymore dates?” Dahlia inspected her manicure while peeking at Emma.
Breathing deep for patience, Emma handed over the receipt. “You know as well as I do that it’s been ages since I was out with every appropriate guy in town and none of them do it for me. I’m happy as I am.”
“What about the good Dr. Asher Stockdale?”