When I first met Maxine "Max" Englebright, I thought she was quirky. I mean, the woman was dressed as if she were going to a costume party dressed as a flapper. But then this happened:
“So, you leased the shop?” Max asked.
“Congratulations! I wish we could have champagne to celebrate.”
I laughed. “Me too, but I’m driving.”
Max joined in my laughter. “I’m so glad you’re going to be here. I think we’ll be great friends.”
“I hope so.” And I truly did. I immediately envisioned Max as my best friend--the two of us going to lunch together, talking about guys and clothes, shopping together. I reined myself in before I got too carried away.
I surveyed the room. The inside wall to my right had a fireplace. I recalled that all the rooms upstairs had them too. But this one had built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side of the fireplace.
“Does this fireplace still work?” I asked Max.
“I imagine it would, but it isn’t used anymore. The owners put central heat and air in eons ago.”
“Just checking. I mean, I wasn’t going to light a fire or anything. I merely wanted to be sure it was safe to put flammables on these shelves.” I could feel my face getting hot. “I’m sorry. That was a stupid thing to say. I’m just so excited--”
“And I’m excited for you. You have nothing to apologize for. How were you supposed to know whether or not the former tenant ever lit the fireplace?”
“You’re really nice.”
“And you’re too hard on yourself. Must you be brilliant and well-spoken all the time?”
“Well...I’m certainly not, but I’d like to be.”
“Tell me what you have in store for this place,” she said.
I indicated the window. “I’d like to have a table flanked by chairs on either side here.” I bit my lip. “Where’s the best place around here to buy some reasonably priced furniture that would go with the overall atmosphere of the building?”
“I have no idea. You should ask Connie.”
“Connie?” I was actually checking to make sure I’d heard Max correctly, but it so happened that I’d left the door open and Connie was walking by as I spoke.
“Max was telling me that you might know of a good furniture place nearby,” I said.
“Max?” Connie looked about the room. “Who’s Max?”
I whirled around, thinking Max had somehow slipped out of the room. But, nope, there she stood...shaking her head...and putting a finger to her lips.
“Um...she was....she was just here. She was here yesterday too. I assumed she was a Shops on Main regular.”
“I don’t know her, but I’d love to meet her sometime. As for the furniture, I’d try the antique stores downtown for starters. You might fall in love with just the right piece or two there.” She grinned. “I’d better get back to minding the store. Good luck with the furniture shopping!”
Connie pulled the door closed behind her as she left, and I was glad. I turned to Max.
“Gee, that was awkward,” she said. “I was sure you knew.”
“That I’m a ghost.”
What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?
I hope you'll check out Designs on Murder on March 29, 2019! I'm really excited about this new series!