MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
The bell above the bookshop’s front door jingled. I scooted my chair and stood from where I’d been working at the back table and peered around the dividing half wall. I saw Rosie at her desk. She’d been so quiet that I wasn’t sure, but there she was, standing to help the customer who had entered. I could get back to my project. However, when I caught sight of who’d come in, I paused again, curious enough to join Rosie and Hector—the cutest dog in the world—up front.
A young man had come through the door. He stomped snow from his boots and swiped some off the top of his pillbox-like cap before standing at attention. “Ms. Delaney Nichols, please,” he said.
“Can I help ye?” Rosie asked as I made my way to the front.
Suited in black from head to toe and wearing that unexpected cap, the young man squinted at her. “Are you Ms. Nichols?”
“I’m Delaney,” I said as I put my hand on Rosie’s arm. He seemed harmless enough.
“Aye?” He smiled. “I have a note for you.”
He and I met halfway, and he handed me the folded note.
“Thank you,” I said automatically.
The messenger nodded, smiled again, and then left as if in a big hurry to get out of there. I blinked at his exit, shared some raised eyebrows with Rosie, and then read the note aloud:
Ms. Delaney Nichols,
Your presence is requested this afternoon at 2:00 at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern to discuss Ms. Shelagh O’Conner’s vast collection of rare and valuable books. Please don’t be tardy.
Sincerely and with gratitude,
Ms. O’Conner’s representative, Mr. Louis Chantrell.
“Well, isn’t that strange?” I said. “What about the collection would we be discussing?”
“Aye.” Rosie moved closer to me and peered down at the note.
“Do you think it’s … for real? Maybe the books are for sale?” I asked.
“I dinnae ken.”
I laughed once and glanced at the time. It was slightly after noon. “Do you think I should just go and find out?”
Hector, a miniature Yorkie who lived with Rosie but took care of us all, trotted to my feet and put his paws on my boot. I lifted him to the crook of my arm.
“Do ye ken who she is?” Rosie asked.
“I do, but only because of an article I read recently. It was about her and her books, not to mention her mansion and all her money. Brigid wrote it.”
“Aye. I ken who she is and I read that too.”
“You’re reading Brigid’s articles now?” I said with a small smile.
Rosie’s mouth quirked. “Sometimes.”
“She’s really good, huh?”
“Not as good as you.”
“I’m not a journalist.”
“Och, that’s not what I meant.”
I laughed. “Well, thank you, but she is a fine journalist.”
Rosie, my grandmotherly coworker, was protective of me and my recent marriage to Tom Shannon, handsome pub owner—who had also, at one time, been boyfriend to Brigid McBride, pretty blonde newspaper journalist. Brigid and I had become friends, sort of, but that hadn’t stopped her from barely reining in snarky comments regarding Tom’s previous commitment issues. To his credit he was ashamed of his behavior regarding their breakup, and he’d apologized to Brigid. She wasn’t ready to let it go.
Rosie was the most loyal person I’d ever known, and she would always have a suspicious side-eye for Brigid. That was okay.
“Anyway,” Rosie continued, “what do ye think? Are ye intrigued by the inveet?”
I looked at the note and then out the front window. I hadn’t paid attention to where the messenger had gone. Grassmarket Square’s first-of-the-season snowfall had turned the world into a winter wonderland.
“I wish I could ask someone more questions first. Maybe I could find”—I looked at the note—“Louis Chantrell.”
Rosie shrugged. “I doubt it. It all seems purposefully mysterious and delivered with little time tae spare.”
Briefly, I listened for a bookish voice. My intuition sometimes spoke to me, lent some guidance, using the voices of characters from books I’d read. But all was silent; there wasn’t even enough information for my intuition to have an opinion.
“Yes, mysterious. Weird,” I said.
“A wee bit. Are ye going?”
“I’m interested in any book collection, of course, but something about it feels manipulative.”
“Aye, it does, but if ye want tae go, I dinnae think there’d be any harm done.”
“It is a public place.”
“Aye,” she said with a distinctly doubtful tone.
“What?” I prodded, wondering what was bothering her.
Rosie looked at me a long moment. “I think ye should go, but I think ye should call Edwin first. Not because ye need permission from him but because he’s met Shelagh a few times I think, and he can give you some insight as tae her personality.” She nodded toward the note. “I doubt you’ll be able to reach Mr. Chantrell.”
“Good plan.” I glanced at the time again. “Have you ever met Shelagh O’Conner?”
“Aye, a long time ago, she came into the shop. She didnae stay long but searched for some books. When she didnae find what she was looking for, she left and never came back in, as far as I ken.”
Copyright © 2020 by Paige Shelton-Ferrell. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.