Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Harry's Tea Room, Part 4

Continued from Part 3

***

“I’m not Sandie,” said the woman. “Are you Harry?”

“Of course I’m Harry.” He approached her cautiously, a little concerned about her mental state. In the years he’d known her, Miss Sandie had shown zero signs of dementia. She was far too young, and one of the most earthy, pragmatic humans he’d ever known.

Why in the world was she pretending she wasn’t herself, not to mention driving that ridiculous smart car? “And of course you’re Miss Sandie. We just saw each other this afternoon at the tea room.”

“I’m not Miss Sandie,” she repeated.

She looked like Miss Sandie, all pink and white and girly. Her eyes were the same blue, and her curly hair was the same blonde. Her voice was the same mishmash of West Virginia and the gracious drawl of the deep South.

Harry reached out to check her temperature, but she ducked. “Miss Sandie, are you feeling all right? Would you like me to take you back to town?”

“I’m perfectly fine,” said the young woman in a snappish voice. “Sandie is my mother.”

“There’s no way.” Miss Sandie didn’t have children, and she wasn’t old enough to have grown ones.

Harry stalked right up to the intruder and stared at her face, careful his pupils didn’t wolf out as he soaked in her details. Her skin, even around the eyes, was unlined. Fresh as a dewy peach in the mid-afternoon sun. Her lips were as plump as a peach, too. Her eyebrows feathered up like she was surprised by something, but she didn’t seem to be. That was just how the hairs grew.

She was a ringer for Miss Sandie from afar, but not from anear. In addition to the peachy skin and feathery brows, she was curvier than her mother, who was thinner than anyone who could cook like an angel had any right to be. Her hair was shorter, and she was taller. Her face was rounder. Her nose had a bit of a scrunch to it that...

No, she was scrunching her nose. “Oh brother,” she groaned. “Mother didn’t warn me you were slow. This is going to be harder than I thought.”

Leaning forward, Harry whuffed in her scent. Baking bread, fruit tea and a little bit of... What was that?

“Excuse me!” She hopped backwards with a little exclamation, holding her purse between them like a shield. Harry advanced, she retreated, until she bumped into her smart car. Because it was so ridiculously small, the impact shook the vehicle.

“You’re excused.” He whuffed again now that she couldn’t escape and finally put his finger on it. Amber. Miss Sandie didn’t smell like amber, but this woman did. That’s why he hadn’t recognized the scent mark on his property.

Harry scratched behind his ear. “Are you sure you aren’t Miss Sandie’s twin sister?” Twins often smelled as similar as Miss Sandie and this woman.

“Mother would love to hear you say that, but no.” Miss Sandie’s daughter opened her big, shiny purse, pulled out a pair of rubber gloves, and snapped them onto her hands. Then she extended one for a shake. “My name is June. Nice to finally meet you.”

Harry eyeballed the glove on her hand a moment before shrugging and accepting her greeting. Since she was Miss Sandie’s daughter, he’d cut her some slack. Humans didn’t have shifter constitutions, and as a result, some of them got freaky about germs. With good reason. Poor things were always coming down with some bug or another.

She had a grip as firm as her mother’s and pumped his hand decisively before dropping it.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Harry said, his curiosity aroused. “I didn’t know Miss Sandie had children. Is there a Mr. Sandie I should know about?” He’d not seen any sign of a man around Miss Sandie’s tea room, and he’d not smelled any traces of a man on her in all the years he’d known her. But he’d never been to her house, and her car had been as whistle-clean as the diner’s front counter.

“No.” June said. “My father died a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said contritely.

Luckily June didn’t seem upset. But she was very pretty, and if she could cook like her mother, she was someone worth cultivating--for several reasons. “Is there a Mr. June?”

She blinked up at him with a crinkle between her pale eyebrows. “What difference does that make?”

“Just checking.” Harry rocked back on his heels. “So tell me, June, why were you poking your nose all over my property?”

“I didn’t think you’d mind,” June said, “since I was looking for stuff to help you.”

“Help me?” Harry glanced at her car, then back at her. “I figured your mother sent you here so I could help you.”

“Why would I need your help?”

“Obviously to pick out a decent car.”

She tightened her lips. “My car is the least of your worries.”

“Computer trouble?” Harry guessed. Despite her charms, he needed to get rid of June before three p.m., so he’d have to make an appointment.

“I don’t use a computer.” June opened her pocketbook again--really, it was more of a suitcase than a purse--and withdrew two freshly cut prongs of cedar. It looked suspiciously like it had been clipped from the white cedar tree near the back of his property.

“If you don’t need help with your car or your computer, what are you doing here?” Harry asked.

It was possible Miss Sandie intended to set them up. That was awfully nice of her, but today wasn’t a fantastic time for Harry to strike up a romance. Bianca, Gert, Violet and who knew what other shifters were due here in less than an hour, and Harry hadn’t decided how he was going to deal with them.

“I’m here because Mother tells me you have a little pack problem,” June said, “and she wants me to help you solve it.”

***

Just a head's up -- if you're enjoying my story, you might also enjoy my new release from Samhain Publishing entitled Liam's Gold, in which a rascally leprechaun finds out the girl of his dreams has been masquerading as his best friend. (Bonus points if you know where I stole that line!)

Link to Liam: http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/liams-gold

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com
LIAM'S GOLD--Available now, Samhain Publishing

3 comments:

  1. Another great excerpt Jody. I am completely fascinated now. I sure hope this story will continue to completion.

    This is getting just a bit too coincidental Jody. I have never mentioned it on the cafe but my mother's name is 'June’. You are calling your heroine ‘Sandie’ which is exactly how I spell my nickname and very unusual. If my dad's name show up next I will be wondering about your witchy abilities.

    I'm glad you mentioned this in your newsletter today. I hadn't remembered to check for this installment yet. It's been a bit busy this week. LOL

    sandie

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  2. How funny -- I almost emailed you to ask more of your family names, but in the end, I decided not to pester you and went with a name I liked :) Let's hope your Pop's name doesn't show up as the recently incarcerated alpha!

    JW

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  3. Okay... this is definitely getting interesting. I have a feeling the weres may arrive early.

    Talia

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