"But it's not here!" Isabella insisted. "Honestly, Aunt Tallulah. I tore the store apart looking for it."

"Well, could you search just one more time? Maybe when I was sorting the wrapping paper, the list got mixed in between the sheets."

Isabella placed the phone down on the counter and glanced uneasily through the large window on the front door. After school, Isabella and her aunt had planned to take an inventory of the small shop, How Do I Love Thee? But instead, her aunt was delayed at the bank and Isabella was all alone. Now Aunt Tallulah was missing a vital piece of information, which didn't surprise Isabella in the least. Her aunt frequently misplaced items.

Darkness was rapidly falling, and being by herself spooked Isabella. She quickly walked over to the wrapping paper, which was piled neatly on a heart shaped marble table. She searched through each piece carefully, if nothing else in an effort to keep Aunt Tallulah on the phone. But it was useless. The list was not there.

"I'm sorry," Isabella apologized as soon as she returned to the phone, "but I just can't find it."

"Drat!" Aunt Tallulah said, which was the closest she ever came to cursing. "Now I'm going to have to return to the Strokes mansion and compose the entire list all over again. The auction is less than two weeks away and I know every antique dealer in western Massachusetts is going to be bidding on that estate sale. First, though, I've got to persuade the bank to loan me the money by getting a second mortgage on the shop. How is the inventory coming?"

"Fine," Isabella told a small lie. "I'm almost done with the jewelry."

"All right, finish up, and I should be there in about an hour or so. Hopefully, Anna will come too. We'll lock up and put the alarm on. Thank God tomorrow is Saturday. By the end of the day, the three of us should have completed all the inventory. You did put out the CLOSED sign on the door, didn't you?"


"And no one tried to come in, did they?"

"No." The truth was that, even when the small boutique, which specialized in romantic presents, was open for business, people weren't exactly pounding down the door.

"All right, I'll see you in a little bit then."

Marianna Heusler © 2007 •  Home •  Sitemap •  Contact