Starting Over #6

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. After a brief summer hiatus, we’re back on track with a new prompt, ‘ribbon’.

Today’s snippet is part of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

The story of Victoria and her antique shop in Oak Grove Square continues. Earlier in the tale, Victoria purchased a trunk full of old items from a handsome, but seemingly cold and uncaring, man. He enters Victoria’s life again today, coming with an odd and surprising gift.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tales site for more entertaining story snippets.

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“I don’t have the money to buy anything today. I’m tapped out for purchases this month.” Victoria shook her head back and forth to emphasize the ‘no’ in her words.

“I’m not selling. They’re yours. My foreman found these hidden behind a panel in the bedroom wall. I thought you’d be interested in them. For yourself. Or for your shop.”

CNJ_old love lettersShe took the bulky envelope he offered her. Her irritation subsided and was replaced with curiosity. A musty fragrance emanated from the contents as soon as she lifted the yellow flap. She peered inside. The thick bulky package appeared to be a stack of smaller envelopes. She tipped the package and slid the bundle out. A stack of old envelopes lay in her hands, bound by a faded ribbon – probably red in an earlier life. The top envelope was addressed to Charlotte Copeland and bore a 1942 postmark.

A puzzled look crossed her face. “How can you bear to give up pieces of your family’s past?”

“They’re not from my family. They’re from a decrepit house we’re tearing down. The old lady that lived there died years ago. Her son sold the house – for a pretty penny too. I doubt he cares about anything we find there. Can’t say as I blame him. I’m not one for holding on to the past either.” His head swiveled, glancing around the small shop. “Unlike you, who seem enamored with the past.”

“Aren’t there pieces of your past that you like to hold onto? Memories that warm your heart?”

“Ha! Not me. I’m a realist. What matters is today. And what I do today that makes me money. That’s what I care about. Not dusty worn-out fragments you can’t change.”

“Hmmmm.” Victoria stroked the pack of letters softly and held them closer to her chest. “I’d venture a guess that Charlotte feels differently about that sentiment. It appears that she too liked to hold onto her memories. I can’t wait to read these. I wonder why she had them hidden though.”

“Who knows? Who cares? Read away.” He tipped his head to the side, staring at Victoria.

She glanced up and caught his intent gaze. For a flash she saw a look of warmth in his eyes and felt a flash of sizzle run down to the tips of her toes. She felt frozen, unable to move, unable to avert her eyes.

He said softly, “Just wondering … do you ever take off your rose colored glasses?”

She wanted to retort with a smart ass answer. But his question seemed backed with authentic intent. She was loathe to ruin an honest question with a sarcastic reply. “Occasionally. But then I find I don’t always like the coldness in the world I see. So I quickly put them back on where a wealth of warm fuzzy memories surrounds me. It’s a safer world then.”

He lifted a hand in the air, then dropped it back down. “My memories aren’t of a safer place. I learned …” A quiet silence filled the room. “Never mind. Let’s just say that the greenbacks of today are what makes my world safer.” The warmth was gone from his eyes. The unsentimental statue was back in place.

Victoria missed the ‘other’ man. He seemed tender and caring. She didn’t much care for this guy. But … he did bring her the old letters. “Thanks. It’s Toby, isn’t it?”

“Good memory. Yes.”

“You aren’t with TL Burdett Developers are you?”

“I am TL Burdett Developers. Why?”

“Oh, then it’s just that you’re the guy that’s building houses in the field by my house. But you probably don’t care that I can’t walk down there to see my longhorns grazing in the wildflowers any more, do you?”

Toby burst out in laughter. “No sweetheart. You’re right. I care more about my houses than your old cows. Sorry. Your rose colored glasses can’t save you from this reality.”

Victoria winced. She didn’t realize that her face gave her away. Every time. She opened her mouth to speak. And closed it. She didn’t trust herself to utter anything polite.

“For what it’s worth …” Toby began, and then stopped. “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.” He spun around towards the door and hurried out. He didn’t look back.

She didn’t move. She watched his every step, even as the door jangled shut. Conflicting emotions swirled around, creating a knot in her stomach and a tightness behind her eyes. “Damn him,” she muttered to herself. “Arrogant idiot. Stupid money grabbing SOB. Heartless.” Luckily no other customers were in the store to hear the string of utterances spewing from her mouth. The packet of letters she held was no consolation. At that moment, she didn’t even realize that her hands held anything.

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