Part Six

Here’s some more of my book, y’all!
***

I had been in Swallow Ridge for almost a week now and was pretty happy with my progress. I had found a place to live, was beginning to fit in at my new job, and had met one of my cousins. Lexie had arrived in town at the beginning of August, so she had been here for over a month already. I was sort of amazed to realize how popular she was around campus, but I guess it stands to reason that a girl as beautiful and fun as her, not to mention being way nice and understanding, would have a lot of friends. I was already feeling sorta ‘cool’ when people would see me around and recognize me as ‘Lexie’s cousin’. 
“Did you have fun?” Kate was dusting the bookshelves when I arrived back in the store. 
I nodded my head. “Sure, it was great.”
“Do you know what I’ve decided?” Stopping her work, Kate stood looking at me with her hands on her hips and her nose wrinkled. 
“Uh, what?”
“I’ve decided that you need to get a little bit more lively. I have this little idea in my head that once you’re comfortable around people, you’ll be tons of fun, but for now you act like a stuffy scholar.” 
“Excuse me?” My mouth dropped open. Am I really acting like that? 
“So, do you think I’m right?” Kate gave me a triumphant smile. 
“I didn’t realize I was acting stuffy.” 
“Not only stuffy, but also as if you disapprove of everything everyone does and that you think it’s wrong to have fun in life.” 
“Maybe I just wanted to prove to you that I was hard working and reliable.” 
“You’ve proven it.” Kate waved her arms around Novelty. “It looks great around here. Now what I need you to do is prove that you’re also fun to be around and that your friendly smile will inspire more people to come in here.” 
Ok then. That gave me a lot to think about. I knew that I wasn’t feeling ‘at home’ yet, and I was feeling out of my comfort zone, but I hadn’t realized how much it effected my whole countenance. I smiled a huge, goofy and quite fake smile. “How’s this?” 
“Much better than what I’ve been seeing.” Kate wrinkled her nose at me again, then tossing the rag to me, she sauntered off. 
I’ve got to learn more about Kate. So far she had wrecked every single one of my preconceived notions about her. Each time I thought I’d figured out a little bit about her personality, she would do something that totally surprised me. One minute she would be as serious as I’d ever seen her, and the next minute she would be laughing and joking away. I’ve just had too much on my mind, with finding Lexie and all. I always get serious when I’m thinking. 

“Teal O’Conner’s your cousin, right?” Kate asked me a few minutes later when I joined her by the counter. She was unpacking a box with samples of books and CD’s. She had told me that she got a box a couple times a month and I could be the first to read the new books when they came in. 
“Right.” We hadn’t talked much about Kamryn and Teal, but I wasn’t surprised she knew their names. 
“Well her latest CD’s in here.” Kate shook her head. “I can still hardly believe you have such cool relations.”
“CD? What are you talking about?” I felt the same weird feelings wash over me as when Kate had first told me about Lexie. I pushed my hair back from my face at the same time I reached out and took the CD Kate was holding up.
“She’s like a famous cello player, right?” Kate was looking uncertain. 
“I don’t know, is she?” There on the cover of the CD was a girl who looked like she was about eighteen. She was playing a cello in a large cathedral. Her hair was the same color as mine, but hung halfway down her back and her eyes were surprisingly dark for the lightness of her hair. From the picture I couldn’t tell if they were dark green or a lighter shade of brown. 
“Mrs. Layman said it was her granddaughter.” Kate regarded me with questioning eyes. “You haven’t talked to your grandma, have you?” 
“This is really Teal? I didn’t expect her- Well, I mean, I didn’t know she was so accomplished.” Teal had always been the youngest. The little tag-along. She was an only child like me, or had been, and even though she was less than a year younger than Lexie, Lexie had always made age seem like a huge factor back when we were kids. Then again, I guess that there’s a lot bigger of a difference between five and six-year-olds, compared to eighteen and nineteen-year-olds. 
“We’ve lost poor Destiny to lala land again.” Kate’s giggle brought me back to the present. 
“Sorry, was someone talking to me?” I jerked my head up from staring at the CD cover to see an older lady standing next to Kate. 
“I’m Hope,” the lady said. “And I’m Kate’s grandma.” 
“Oh my!” Gulp. The owner of Novelty. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Reed.” 
“And it’s nice to meet you too, Destiny. I remember when you were just a little girl. That nanny your Grandma hired to raise her kids did a fine job of raising her grandchildren, too.” 
“You knew Nanny?” Did everyone know about my life back here in Swallow Ridge? 
“Of course I knew your nanny. A wonderful lady. She hated not getting to say good-bye to you kids. Oh well, that’s in the past now.” 
The past? I still miss not getting to have said good bye to her.
“I’m on my way to visit your grandma, and I wanted to know if you would like to go along with me?”

Do I? I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t even realized she was still alive. I guess there’s no time like now. Besides, who’s a better person than Grandma to tell me about her children’s issues? “Thank you. I would be happy to.” 
“You can spare her, Darling, can’t you?” Mrs. Reed was directing her question at Kate, and Kate nodded, then stuck out her lip in a fake pout. 
“I was hoping you were going to ask me to go with you though, Grams.”
“Another time, dear. Another time.” She patted Kate’s cheek affectionally, then turning swiftly, she was almost out the door before I had realized what was going on and was hurrying after her. 
“Be careful around my grams!” Kate called after me, breaking the quiet of Novelty. “She’s sure to get you to agree to something you don’t want to do. Don’t ask questions. Don’t sign any papers and don’t show her your ID.”
Weird advice. I thought Kate was joking, but couldn’t tell for sure, and started to get a little bit worried. 
“You’re going with Mrs. Reed?” One of the students that frequented Novelty shook his head in mock shock as he passed us going into the bookstore. “The first time I went somewhere with her I found myself with a job in the gas station. The next time I went somewhere with her I found myself volunteering at the nursery in church. The next time…” His words were cut off as Novelty’s door closed, and I was left wondering what he was saying. 

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