In Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.
Toby and Victoria have had a disagreement about his latest development project. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘corn’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.
A chilliness filled the car on the rest of the drive back. Each one thought they were right. Neither one wanted to admit that the other’s opinion had any merit.
Victoria’s brain frantically whirled away, composing a list of the steps she’d take during the week, who she’d talk to, and what calls she wanted to make. She vowed to contact Heather at City Hall first thing in the morning. She was so busy formulating her plan of attack she almost didn’t realize that they’d pulled up in her driveway until Toby spoke.
“Victoria, please talk to me.”
“About what? You’re doing to do what you want to anyway. Build away…tear it down…destroy whatever atmosphere there is. You won’t listen to me. So why should I speak?”
“There’s a valid need for senior accommodations in the area.”
“I won’t argue that one. But at what cost?”
“Don’t the benefits outweigh the costs?”
“Not at the cost of Oak Grove Square’s ambiance. That’s exactly the reason people come to our town to shop. A towering three story building on the corner dwarfing the historic town will destroy what we have there.” The taut lines around her mouth were an indication that she wasn’t going to budge on her opinion.
Toby pleaded his case. “I know you love the past. But don’t you believe in progress at all?”
“Progress, yes. Decimation of heritage, no.”
He laughed derisively. “So what…you’d be happy if only corn fields surrounded Oak Grove Square?”
“No, it’s hardly that.” She opened the door and stuck a leg out before turning back with one last shot. “You are so busy running from a past you don’t want to remember that you’ve forgotten there’s some of us who do relish the pieces of our past and our history.”
Sadness filled her soul as she entered the house, not only for the possibility of an unwanted change to the bucolic town she loved, but also for the sense that the small flame that had started to flicker between the two of them was extinguished before it had the chance to flame into something more significant.
The next morning she stood at the doors of City Hall, waiting for them to open. A quick meeting with Heather confirmed that an application needed to be filed and approved before a project of that magnitude could be started.
“Being a merchant, you’ll be notified of any public hearings. You can speak in front of the commission to voice your arguments,” Heather reassured her.
Victoria couldn’t wait to walk around the square with her friends. She ranted the whole way about the development and the others became just as riled as she was, especially Sally, from Crafter’s Cottage.
In between customers that week, Victoria spent her time on the phone, researching and calling people to rally her allies. Toby tried calling her several times. When she saw his name appear on the screen, she laid the phone back down on the counter without answering.
He didn’t try Friday or Saturday and she thought he’d given up.
Saturday was so busy with customers that she didn’t have a moment to give the matter any thought. It seemed that as soon as one customer left Serendipity, another wandered in. The cash register sang a merry tune that day and Victoria hummed to herself, knowing that she’d be able to pay her rent easily this month.
The rush slowed to a trickle by late afternoon and by five thirty the flow had stopped. Victoria heaved a sigh of relief and scurried about, straightening merchandise and refilling displays. About ten minutes before the hour she turned to go lock up, just as Toby entered the shop.
“You won’t answer my calls.”
“No. I didn’t.”
“We need to talk.”
“You need to talk. Are you trying to assuage your conscious? Trying to sway me to see things your way?”
“We need senior housing in this area. Don’t you think I’ve done the research? Do you think I’d build something just for the sake of building it?”
“No, I don’t,” she agreed. “You’re a smart businessman. I’ve seen that. And while I agree about the need for amenities for seniors, I think your idea of a three story complex is not taking the local environment into account.” She spoke slowly, forcing herself to remain calm. She looked away, knowing if she continued gazing at that face, she might feel herself weaken.
“Victoria,” he said softly. “Please look at me.”
She turned, eyes flashing. “It’s time to lock up now.”
“I know. That’s why I came now. I have an idea I’d like to run past you.”