Tea & Comfort (Madrona Island Series Book 2)(10)By: Andrea Hurst
The late afternoon sun dipped behind the snow-peaked mountains and a small shadow cast across the water. A car door slammed in the driveway of the inn. A voice called out, “You take care, Kyla. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Thanks for the walk, Lily.”
Luke recognized Kyla’s voice and quickly stepped back into the doorway of his suite. He listened as the car pulled away and thought of the woman inside and wondered who she really was.
“Luke just left,” Lily whispered. “He had breakfast with us first.”
“You don’t have to whisper if he’s gone,” Kyla said back into her cell phone.
“Right,” Lily said. “I don’t want Ian to hear I’m reporting back to you either. Luke asked all about the town and…”
“What else? Did he ask about me?”
“He mentioned Tea & Comfort and wondered how long it had been open.”
A million thoughts ran through Kyla’s mind. He was checking up on her. Wondering how long she’d been here. Was he also checking her financial stability?
“And what did you tell him?”
“I told him the truth, of course. That it was one of the most wonderful and successful shops in town.”
There was a satisfaction in that and Kyla smiled. But hearing about Luke’s every move was not bringing her peace of mind. “Thanks, Lily. For now, I think I’ll just imagine he isn’t here.”
Kyla hung up the phone. She could imagine all she wanted. Luke was not going away. She had too much to do today to sit around and wonder what he was doing anyway.
“Morning,” Becca said as she entered through the front door of the shop. “I stopped by the lavender field and did a little pruning this morning. The plants are looking hearty.” She slipped a purple apron over her jeans and T-shirt and tied it in the back. “Shall I brew some tea?”
“There’s plenty of hot water and I just brought the tangy orange scones out of the oven,” Kyla answered. “I do have to run out this morning to do some errands and pick up some fresh cream. Think you can handle the place alone for a few hours?”
“No problem. You just go do your business and I’ll take care of everything. The afternoon tea items will be ready when you return.”
Becca was a real find. Kyla used to have to close the shop to do errands and rush back to open it again. She walked into the back room and scooped the envelope with the deposit off the desk and picked up her to-do list. The bank was first, then the fabric store for ribbon, the post office box to retrieve mail, and last was the small grocery store in town. Cascade Market was a bit of a drive and she only needed two items. She looked at the teapot-shaped clock on the wall. It was a little after eleven in the morning. If she hurried, she could be back for afternoon tea, when her customers often came in for little moon-shaped sandwiches and moist scones with clotted cream.
Kyla walked down Front Street, peeking in the windows as she went. A delivery truck blocked Island Thyme Café as it unloaded supplies. She waved at Ryan, who was out front directing the workers. As the new chef, Ryan had made a positive difference in the food and Jude’s workload. Something else was clear: He’d touched Jude’s heart as well.
She noticed a sign in the window of Books, Nooks & Crannies. She remembered when it had been called Frank’s Books. Now it was for sale. No, Kyla thought. She loved hanging out in the various little nooks spread throughout the store and reading books and magazines. What if a new owner changed the quaint store or, worse yet, closed it or turned it into yet another gift shop for tourists? Kyla pushed opened the door and went inside.
“Morning, Miss Kyla,” Frank said. “I got some new gardening books in if you’re interested. They’re in the back by the window.”
“I’m more interested in knowing why you have the shop up for sale. Is everything all right?” He was pushing seventy, she knew, but he always seemed happy to see a customer. And he lived upstairs, so this was his home as well.
“I’ve had this shop close to twenty years,” Frank said. “I think it’s time I pass it on to someone else and do a bit of travel. I want to see my grandkids in Arizona and spend winters toasty warm in the blazing sun. The book business is not what it used to be.”