“Smart buy goes to the little lady in the third row. What’s your number again?”
Abby hoisted her bidding paddle, her hands trembling and heart racing with a heady surge of excitement. “I got it,” she whispered. “I got it.” She picked up her shoulder bag and edged down the row of filled seats to the main aisle. Minutes later, she was standing at the cashier’s counter writing out a check to pay for her purchase. She knew she had paid more than she had budgeted for the piece. A couple of aggressive dealers had pushed the price higher, but she was determined to have it, and she had offered the winning bid.
She had fallen hopelessly in love with the desk after seeing it at the auction’s morning previews. Although its finish was age worn, its intricate inlaid woods and slender, tapered legs gave it an elegant, graceful style. And it was the perfect size for a lady—for her. It was the gift she had promised herself when her business was finally flourishing. And this had been an excellent year for her. Not only was her shop, Abby’s Antiques and Collectibles, successful, but she had landed some lucrative decorating contracts as well. Finding and purchasing period pieces at affordable prices for customers had become her specialty, and demands for her services were growing. She had a special talent for tracking down and authenticating hidden treasures and loved doing it. But this morning’s find was for her. Her hand still slightly trembled as she wrote out the check, signed it, and handed it to the cashier with her driver’s license for identification.
The clerk smiled, glanced at her signature, and studied the picture on her license before handing it back to her. “Abigail Cecilia. Pretty name, not one you hear often these days,” he commented.
“From my dear grandmother. Old fashioned name. Old fashioned girl.” Abby laughed, pushing a strand of her long strawberry-blond hair back from her brow. Her thickly lashed, blue-green eyes and fresh, dewy complexion gave her a much younger appearance than the thirty-two years on her driver’s license. And in her loose-fitting peasant dress with flat shoes, she looked much smaller than the five-foot-seven statistic. Even her hair in the picture was shorter, darker, causing the clerk to give her a final appraisal before dropping her check into the cash drawer.
“You gonna need delivery for this?” he asked, waving the receipt.
“I can manage if somebody will help me load it into my van. I’m parked right outside.”
“Just hand the guys at pickup this slip, and they’ll load it.”
“Thanks.” Abby beamed at him and turned away from the counter.
“Quite a buy ya just made.” A short, chubby man with a baseball cap pulled down to his protruding ears pushed through the line to her. “Wanna sell it. I’ll give ya a good deal. Make a quick profit. What do ya say?”
“It’s not for sale,” Abby answered, firmly turning away from the man.
“Ya ain’t gonna get a better offer,” he persisted, blocking her way, his hand reaching out to take her arm.
“Get out of the lady’s way,” a deep voice sounded from behind her, and the man took a step backward.
“Okay, okay, ya don’t need to stick your nose into nothin’, buddy. I was just offerin’ the lady a cool deal. That’s all. Piece of junk ain’t worth it anyhow. She paid too much for it anyway.” The man scowled as he pushed his way through the crowd and disappeared into the auction warehouse.
“I hope he didn’t alarm you too much. Sometimes these dealers just can’t let go of an item. I think he’s pretty harmless, but just to be careful, I’d be happy to escort you to your car.”
“I’m sure I’ll be all right. But thanks. He’s gone now, and I’m going to leave too as soon as I can pick up my desk and get some help loading it.” Abby smiled up at the tall young man facing her. He was dressed in a pair of hip-hugging jeans, a T-shirt, and athletic running shoes. A shock of wavy, dark brown hair fell across his forehead, giving him a casual, boyish look, but his intense hazel eyes showed his concern for her. And as she moved toward the sign indicating the pickup station, he fell into step beside her.
“Sorry, I should have introduced myself sooner. I’m Nathan Edwards,” he offered apologetically as they walked out of the warehouse onto a wide concrete loading dock, where numerous items were lined up waiting to be claimed.
“And I’m Abby Long,” she responded, anxiously scanning the various pieces of furniture and artwork for her desk. “Oh, there it is,” she said, relief sounding in her voice. “Just as beautiful as I remembered from the previews. Thank goodness I got here early and was able to see it up close. Sitting in the audience, even in the front rows, it’s hard to see the details of a piece. And that auctioneer kept up such a furious pace, I thought for a minute there I was going to be caught in a bidding war.” She handed the stock boy her pickup slip. “Did you buy anything?” she asked as she watched her desk being carefully lifted down off the dock.
“Not today. I didn’t find quite what I was looking for. If your desk had been two or three times bigger, you might have had a real battle taking it away from me,” he said, laughing. “It’s perfect for a lady, but my long legs wouldn’t begin to fit beneath it.”
“You’re looking for a desk? Any special period or style?”
“Just one I like. Big enough, roomy enough, and preferably with a leather insert on the top. I saw one a couple of months ago I liked, and I could kick myself for letting it get away. Didn’t make my mind up fast enough, and it sold right out from under my nose. Auctions are fun, but you have to move quickly or you lose out,” he said ruefully.
“You’ll have to come by my shop. I have a couple of desks, one in particular you might like—beautiful mahogany finish with a leather top like you were describing.” Abby dug into her bag and handed him a card.
Nathan took the card, pocketed it, and followed her out to the parking lot. When her desk had been loaded into her van, Abby turned to him smiling. “Thanks again for rescuing a damsel in distress. I really did appreciate it,” she said, offering her hand to him. “And, Nathan—it is Nathan isn’t it?”
He nodded, still holding her hand.
“Don’t forget about the desk. It might be just what you’re looking for. We’re open weekdays nine to five and Saturdays ten to three.”
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Genre - Biographies & Memoirs
Rating – PG-13
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