Teacup Novellas 02 - Strike the Match

Free Teacup Novellas 02 - Strike the Match by Diane Moody

Book: Teacup Novellas 02 - Strike the Match by Diane Moody Read Free Book Online
Authors: Diane Moody
house down the street so that’s nothing unusual. I know he and your dad are friends and I always just assumed he was slowing down as he passed to see how your dad’s project was coming along. Still, I thought I should mention it. Probably nothing.”
    Keri didn’t correct the kindly woman. Jerry and her father were not friends and hadn’t been for many years. But if the guy had a reconstruction project a couple blocks down the road, he had every right to be in the neighborhood. Still, it was something to mention to her dad.
    And her boss, of course.

 
    Chapter 7
     
    “Oh my, aren’t these beautiful! And just take a whiff of those pine needles.” Nita pressed her nose in the fragrant needles and inhaled again along with Arlene. “That has to be one of the most heavenly scents on this earth. Oh, this year might be one of our best sales ever! Why, we could sell enough trees to pay for two playgrounds for the church!”
    “Well, I still think we should use the funds to update the church kitchen, but what do I know. I’m only the church cook.”
    “Arlene, enough with the whining. The committee voted on the playground. We’ll do the kitchen next year. Now help me hang these wreaths.”
    The trees had arrived late in the day, making the volunteers scurry around to get set up before the sun went down. They were more than a week behind schedule but relieved the trees finally showed up.
    Nita loved this time of year and especially loved the tree sale. Everyone was always in such good spirits and sharing holiday cheer. Plus, it was a great way to see people she didn’t share pews with as theirs was the only tree lot in town. She leaned over to grab another stack of fresh wreaths. When she stood back up, she gasped, the wreaths dropping from her hands. Shep Dawson stood right in front of her.
    “Good heavens, Shep! You like to scared me half to death!” She patted her heart, trying to catch her breath. “Where did you come from?”
    He pointed behind him. “Yonder.”
    “I meant, where did you—oh, never mind. Is there something I can help you with?”
    He smiled. It was a most peculiar smile, barely visible beneath that big white mustache. Oh, what she would give to have a go at that hairy mess with a pair of clippers. He turned, looking around at the trees and the other volunteers.
    Oh for heaven sake. It was an easy question. “Shep?”
    He turned back to face her, his eyes slowly finding hers again. “No, ma’am.”
    “No ma’am?”
    Another lopsided smile.
    “Mr. Dawson, I’m kind of busy right now,” she said, trying to hide her aggravation. This was the third time this week she’d run into him. Which was most unusual for a man who rarely came to town. Each time he’d ambled up to her, uttered one or two words—literally—before wandering off again.
    She squatted down, gathering the pile of wreaths she’d dropped.
    He stooped down to help. “Shep.”
    She looked up at him, his weathered face just a few inches from hers. “I beg your pardon?”
    “Shep’ll do. No need to call me Mr. Dawson.”
    She plastered a smile on her face. “Well, then. Shep. What is it I can help you with?”
    He grabbed the last wreath then took the rest out of her hands. “I was just . . . well, I thought . . .”
    She waited, wondering if New Year’s would come and go before he finished the sentence. “You thought what?” She took a wreath from him and hung it on the wall of reinforced chicken wire hanging behind their makeshift counter. He followed her lead, hanging some of the wreaths. When they’d finished, she stood back. “There now. That looks great. Thank you for your help.”
    He nodded, his face crinkling around his smile.
    “Would you like some hot cider?” she asked reaching for a paper cup.
    “No, ma’am. But thank you.”
    She put the cup back and buried her hands in her coat pockets. “Okay, then. Well, it was nice to see you.”
    He nodded.
    “If you’ll excuse me, I need to finish

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