calendar. “Okay, there’s Thursday…nope, I’m free, why?”
The detective cleared his throat, seeming uncomfortable, and an unusual characteristic for someone so typically self-assured. “I was hoping…that is, I was wondering if maybe…you would…would you like to go out to dinner tomorrow? With me?” he tacked on, as if she might think that he was suggesting she go out alone.
Her blonde curls bounced gaily as she nodded. “Sure, that sounds great. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, actually, I didn’t know. I was waiting to see if you said yes before I made any plans,” he admitted.
“Okay, well, just let me know then,” Missy said, rising as a customer came in the door.
Chas cleared his throat again. “Will do. I’ll…uh…get back with you soon on that,” he said, suddenly even more awkward, now that there was a third party present. “Gotta run,” he declared, ducking out.
The man who had come in before the blushing detective left was completely oblivious that he had just interrupted anything, and stood perusing the somewhat sparse selection left in the case.
“Is that grape?” he asked, pointing at the Purple People Pleasers. Trying not to giggle, Missy explained how they were made and he asked to take them both. “I don’t know if you remember me or not, Miss Gladstone, but we met a couple of years ago, when you were thinking about expanding your business. I’m Stuart Cline, with Cline Real Estate. I showed you some commercial properties, but you decided that you weren’t ready for expansion back then.”
“I thought you looked familiar,” Missy nodded, smiling. “Of course, how are you, Mr. Cline? I definitely remember you. You were kind enough to talk with me about properties even though I hadn’t made up my mind.”
“Well, that’s what I do,” he chuckled modestly. “And that’s actually why I’m here. Are you still thinking about expanding?”
Missy nodded, crossing her arms while she considered her answer. “I have been thinking about expansion, yes. Particularly if things stay as busy here as they were today. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I have a property that I think might be a perfect fit for you, in a nearby community. It already has a commercial kitchen, plenty of ovens for baking, a large walk-in freezer, and a seating area that’s larger than this one, and it’s very reasonably priced.”
“Define reasonably priced,” Missy challenged, bracing herself for the answer, and pleasantly surprised at the figure that he quoted. “Well, that’s certainly food for thought,” she said, blissfully unaware of her perfect pun. “Let me get settled in here a bit for a few days and I’ll get back with you on this.”
“Of course,” Stuart agreed easily. “Take all the time you need.” He paid for his cupcakes, handed her a business card and left.
Thursday was even busier than Wednesday had been, and by the time Missy closed the door and flipped the sign over, closing for the day, she and Ben were both exhausted. The rush of people who had come in first thing started a steady stream of traffic that didn’t cease until just before closing time. She had pizza delivered for lunch, and she and Ben took turns running to the back to munch on a slice whenever they could. She could count the number of items left in the cases on one hand, and the cash register receipts were phenomenal. If this trend continued, she’d have no choice but to expand. With that in mind, she called Stuart Cline and made an appointment with him on Saturday to see the property that he had mentioned, as well as any others that he thought might be suitable. He promised to pick her up after she closed for the day.
Missy rushed home to get ready for her date with Chas Beckett, and was greeted with a wagging tail and sloppy kiss from Toffee. Snapping on the leash, she headed for the park, enjoying the sunshine and the adoring company. After indulging in a vigorous and extended
Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson