Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and hard to forget.
“How are you doing in there?” Beth Harrison shouted between the wooden slats of the dressing room door. “I’m leaving a couple more out here for you to try-on.”
Liz ignored her and looked at the black-sequined dress in the three-fold mirror. There was no way the image staring back at her was really her.
She’d been in The Figure 8 several times over the past year. She’d stood in front of this very mirror many times, but she’d never seen this person.
She smiled. This was the one, she thought with a faint sigh of relief.
The hinges creaked as Liz slowly opened the door.
Beth brought her hands to her mouth. “Perfect. Jenna made me swear I’d help you pick out something perfect, but I think we’ve hit it out of the park.” Beth brushed her long crimson hair behind her shoulders. Her green eyes were popping with envy.
Beth ran her hands down the side of the sequined dress, along Liz’s frame. At the hem, she folded it under, making it a little shorter.
“Let’s take it up a few.” Beth winked. “You’ve got great legs.”
“No, I’ll take it exactly the way it is.” Liz sashayed back into the dressing room, letting the hem fall back to its original place.
She took one last look in the full-length mirror and her smile broadened.
Maybe Beth and her twenty-something-year-old friends would wear the dress shorter, but Liz wouldn’t be comfortable.
“Thank you, thank you,” Liz whispered out loud. A trickle of excitement swept through her lost soul.
How in the world had she let Jenna Greenlee talk her into co-hosting the annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving New Year’s Eve fund raiser? Jenna had always hosted it alone. Why did she need Liz? At least it would be better than in past years when Liz rang in the new year crying in her bed.
This is the one, she smiled again because she knew what Hayes would say.
Hayes, her twelve-year old son, constantly asked her why she always wore black. She’d tell him it was more professional, and professional was the image she had to maintain in order to court her clients who pay her to decorate their houses.
Truth be told, Liz liked the way her caramel highlights seemed to look creamier against black. She may be forty, but she could still pull off the long, straight Demi Moore look.
A year ago, the town folk didn’t know what to think when Liz Day blew into Grandberry Falls, Kentucky and opened up The Mole Hole Interiors.
She had, of course, done her homework before she uprooted Hayes and moved two hours away from her hometown, away from family and long-time friends.
The quaint town of Grandberry Falls had appealed to her. The waterfall in the center of town was like magic to her soul. The first time she stood on the charming brick road in front of the waterfall, she felt a peacefulness settled over her that she hadn’t felt in the past couple of years. Not to mention the old Victorian homes that lined the streets were way past their prime and in desperate need of a makeover. These were signs to her, and she believed in serendipitous signs.
But coming up with a name for the shop to fit in with Grandberry Falls, was another story. She couldn’t name it any old thing when the shop was surrounded with stores like The Fatted Pig Restaurant, The Purple Cow Bookshop, The Trembling Cup Café and, The Thirsty Turtle Bar.
It had to be unique and quirky and she knew it. This was a town with a sense of humor.
‘Name-the-shop’ was a game Hayes made up where they threw out different animals in silly phrases. They laughed especially hard at The Great Goatsby, in honor of Liz’s favorite book, The Great Gatsby. Hayes had even drawn a picture of a Goat wearing a dapper twenties suit.
Hayes was smart, clever, and handsome. He was her pride and joy. If she was going to make a good life for him, Grandberry Falls was the place.
“Not bad, not bad.” She brushed down the sequins along her hips and twirled around to make sure the dress looked decent on all sides.
Her mouth curled in a faint smile. The Brown Tiger Tanning Salon on Main, was worth the few extra dollars investment for the spray on tan. Her legs, although slender, still weren’t as tone as she would like them, but they’d have to do.
Her eyes stopped. The back of the dress was low cut, almost to her waist. Racier than she planned, but who was there to impress—no one.
“When you’re ready, I’ll be at the counter.” Beth chimed on the other side of the dressing room door causing Liz to lose her train of thought.
She twirled around one last time, secretly wishing she could run home, put on the dress, and seduce her loved one. That isn’t going to happen unless her hairy dog got excited.
When she took off the sequined black dress, it slid down her slim frame. The smooth cold fabric sent chills up her spine. Carefully, she hung it up.
She glanced at her watch, not wanting to be late for her standing lunch date with Jenna. Besides, she had to stop by The Busy Bee to pick up the yarn tassels she’d ordered earlier in the week.
For the past year, meeting Jenna at The Trembling Cup was a much needed break from the stress of single mommy hood and sole proprietorship.
The two hit it off right away. She had Jenna to be thankful for this holiday season. Jenna made Liz the talk of the town, going on and on about Liz’s eye for design. After that, small town gossip led to a lot of inquiry and clients for The Mole Hole, and making her a busy woman. The resulting reduction in financial stress was a welcome benefit.
“It was made just for you.” Beth pulled the protective plastic over the dress. “I can’t wait to tell Wendy you bought it.”
Wendy Owens was not only the buyer for Figure 8, but the girlfriend of Grandberry Falls’ Mayor, Mitch Dozier.
“That reminds me, I need to give her a call. She wanted a small sofa or loveseat for the mayor’s office.” Liz took a slip of scrap paper out of her purse and jotted a quick note to remind herself to make that call.
“We are still over the moon that Mitch won the election.” Beth said.
Grandberry Falls’ old mayor had been in office for over forty years and it had definitely been time for a change, especially with the impending eminent domain case against long-time resident Hazel Greenlee, Jenna’s mom.
“I sure hope he can help Hazel.” Liz said, digging deep into her purse for her wallet.
“I don’t know what’ll happen to business if that outlet mall comes to town.” There was sadness in Beth’s eyes. “I’m afraid The Figure 8 will go under.”
“Don’t worry. I have the same fears, but we’ll stick by each other.” Liz was worried too, but she knew no matter how much she stressed about it, she wouldn’t be able to change fate.
The town was divided over the whole situation. The younger generation wanted the outlet mall, while the older generation wanted Grandberry Falls to stay the same quaint little town it had always been. And they were all relying on Mitch to solve the problem so that everyone was happy, including the small business owners like Beth and Liz.
“Cash or Credit?” Beth’s nails clicked on the register buttons. “One hundred and seventy-five dollars is a steal!”
“One-hundred and…” Her mind raced. She’d never spent that kind of money on a dress for herself before.
“One-hundred and seventy-five dollars,” Beth confirmed.
“Hmm…”Liz debated on whether to put the dress back, but took out her credit card.
She liked the dress and she deserved to look good if she had to go to the party—and she had to go.
“I’ve got it nice and sealed.” Beth handed the dress over the counter. “We’re supposed to get over three inches.”
The falling snow had already covered the tops of cars, and the sidewalk outside.
“And if you need a wrap, I’ll be more than happy to tell Wendy to keep her eye peeled next week when she heads down to the market.”
Of course she needed a wrap, but she sure wasn’t going to be spending much more on herself.
“I might have something at home.” She laughed thinking about how her jean jacket would look overtop the sequined dress. “I’ll let you know.”
Liz wrapped her scarf around her neck and carefully took the dress from Beth. She decided to put the dress in her Mercedes SUV, a car she really couldn’t afford, before she ran across the street to The Busy Bee.
The car salesman had promised her it would keep her and Hayes safe, as they traveled back and forth between Cincinnati and Grandberry Falls every other weekend. He was a good salesman. Using Hayes and safety in the same sentence had worked like a charm. Since she had to take Hayes every other weekend to visit his dad, she’d wanted something reliable. Granted, it wasn’t brand new, but it had still been pricey.
Trying not to think about the credit card bill that would be greeting her in the New Year, she wrapped her coat tightly around her and trotted across the street to the yarn store.
HAPPY NEW LIFE is the second novel in The Grandberry Falls Series.