Too hot to garden...time for a good book.
Dear Friends: I really wanted to spend the day out in my new garden, but it seriously is just too hot and muggy. So I am inside working on a new book. If it is too hot for you to really do anything but relax, I thought you might enjoy reading a little bit of my novel Nantucket Tuck You Inn, Looking for Santa. Even though the name Santa is in the title, this has nothing to do with Christmas per say. Well, maybe a little bit but it is set on Nantucket in the middle of the summer.
So take a minute for an arm chair visit to Nantucket and let yourself fall under the spell of Noel and Max. Don't forget to have some tea, but make it iced...
Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild
author: The Nantucket Series, The Midwest Series. Coming soon, The Mermaid Mansion (set on Nantucket of course, that's where all the mermaids are). All available on Amazon or from teatimewithhermajesty.com.
Nantucket Tuck You Inn, Looking for Santa
“Uncle Max!” Lily, Max’s six year old niece, hollered.
He ignored her. She yelled again, this time louder, if that was even possible. Max ran a hand through his black shaggy hair, and squeezed his black brown eyes shut.
“Kendall says it’s not true!” Lily pouted.
Kendall was his eight year old niece--Lily’s sister--eight going on eighteen. He inhaled, ready for whatever--whatever his nieces were bickering about now; the never ending teasing and taunting of each other. When were they going to become best friends? Like sisters were supposed to be …
“Why? Why do I baby sit you girls?” He muttered.
But Kendall was quick, never missing a thing, “Because you love us Uncle Max!” Kendall already had the smile he knew would break hearts. Probably was already, when she wasn’t picking on someone or something that is.
Lily had joined them. She had a pretty cute little smile of her own, hard to see, as she was a pouter, and she was pouting now. “Well I say it’s true!” And she gave it her best effort.
“Is not!” Kendall yelled, well maybe sneered at her sister. She was older. That’s what she did, yelled and sneered.
“Is too! I heard it from Kim Nanny and she knows things!” And she held her hand like an oath. Max watched wondering who this Kim Nanny was Lily obviously was entranced with. “You know everything too Uncle Max! And what you don’t know you find out!”
Well, the child was smart, he’d give her that.
“That’s right Uncle Max!” Kendall joined in. “You’re not the Times number one investigative reporter for nothing! That’s what Mom says!” And she was done sneering and bossing now.
Well, I am good, Max thought, very good, and hid a vain grin.
Lily now curled up on his lap; hoping her uncle would pay attention to her, take her side, believe her. And of course, most of all help her. “We’re leaving it up to you Uncle Max! I heard Santa Claus has a summer home on Nantucket!” There she said it. It did sound a little hard to believe even to her with her active imagination. Still, that’s what she’d heard. It could be true...
“You’re nuts Lily!” Kendall snorted and rolled her eyes at her sister.
“Am not! And if he does, I want to go and meet him … or at least see him … or at least go past his house … wave to him. Maybe drop off an early letter …” And little Lily’s mind was whirling with the possibilities. She’d crawled down off Uncle Max’s lap and now was pacing--pacing with anticipation.
And so they both turned to Max, hands on hips and stared because of course he could solve this for them both.
“Santa Claus has a summer place on Nantucket?” Where did they get this stuff? Max rolled his eyes. He was hungry, and tired. But as he stole another look at his two wild nieces he knew they were serious, and wouldn’t relent.
“That’s right Uncle Max--everyone--well, Kim Nanny says so! Find out! Investigate! Write an article and we can meet him!” And now Lily was getting cranked up again, on her soap box, mentioning this Kim Nanny ‘special’ person, and making her demands--demands that her Uncle Max solve her problem. Find out about Santa Claus. And do it now. Right now!
“Cannot!” Kendall countered. “Cuz it isn’t so!” Kendall was just old enough to counter anything and everything. And she did. And to her this was a no brainer because she was starting to even wonder if there really was a Santa Claus. She saw packages in her mother’s closet, and later saw them under the tree from Santa Claus. Santa Claus didn’t come early and come down the chimney and put things in Mom’s closet just to make his work load easier on Christmas Eve like Lily said.
There was a pretty good possibility that Santa Claus wasn’t even real because if Santa Claus wasn’t, well he could hardly have a summer place on Nantucket. And if there was a Santa Claus, well would Nantucket be his first choice? Come on, what about the Hamptons? So much closer to New York City ... Or New York City itself--far more exciting.
If there was a Santa Claus, well she was sure Santa Claus would have a trendy loft in So Ho or a brown stone on Madison Avenue because that’s where you lived, if you were some one. And if Santa Claus didn’t live at either of those addresses, well common on, he couldn’t possibly be real. And so the loop went. Round and round in her eight year old head.
“Is so!” Lily was now screaming at the top of her lungs, because Kendall really got to her--pushed all her buttons. And picking on Santa Claus or worse yet, doubting him, was the last straw--the very last.
And then Max heard the key in the door of the elegant Madison Avenue brownstone and his sister was home. And he could leave to his So Ho loft.
Belle Nichols was back--just for a quick visit. Back to Nantucket to see Miss Tabatha Tucker, her grandmotherly friend who owned the Tuck You Inn and Magee, somewhere in age between Miss Tabatha and her own youth, who owned The Bake Shoppe … because she missed them, was home sick for their friendship. So she’d slipped away for a few days, just a quick trip, just a break.
They were having lunch at Neptune’s Under the Sea, one of Nantucket’s premiere restaurants. “Gwyn has another tough wedding to deal with,” Magee began as she opened her little cello bag of oyster crackers and plopped them in her quahog chowder. Gwyn owned the smartest and most expensive dress business on the island.
“Really?” Belle cut into her crab cakes. As the steam escaped and she inhaled the sweet scent she sighed. Belle was a bride, a new bride, married just a season or two. She still felt like a bride. Still kept her album on the coffee table, still had her cake top in the freezer, still reminisced about the loveliest day in her life. Yes, she was still a new bride.
“Same old story,” Miss Tabatha, the proprietress of the Tuck You Inn, and their senior friend, began. “She can’t find wedding dresses--well, unique ones that is. You know, to compete.” Well Gwyn had no real competition on Nantucket but, the majority of her brides, serious brides, didn’t just shop on the island--of course not. They were a stone’s throw from Boston and another stone’s throw from New York City. No, her customers were pretty sophisticated. And then of course, there was the internet. And everyone knew that was unlimited. One click and you could see what they were wearing in Milan or Paris.
Miss Tabatha began again because she understood, “Gwyn needs a dress maker for formal affairs and of course weddings. She needs someone to make outrageous things for her and her customers, and maybe someone who could just take her stock to a new level, so the average browser would be wowed. You know, so word would get out--one of a kind, unique, wow. Not just any seamstress though, she needs, uh, an artist I guess, but not an artist temperament of course.” Then Miss Tabatha pushed back a stray silver tendril off her round sun kissed face. “And not full time--just, you know, on call.”
There, that summed it up, the old inn keeper hoped. And of course it was a huge request list, not to mention then tossing in the part time part. That could go either way; give a creative person a little freedom or not enough of an income. Tabatha knew it was an impossible search. That type of person just wasn’t floating around looking for work on Nantucket. Nantucket was the play ground of the wealthy, or vacation novelty of the curious day trippers. It was not the stomping ground for the ambitious yet part time creative dress designers.
Miss Tabatha was simply grateful she only ran an inn. She didn’t have to constantly come up with new merchandise. She didn’t have to constantly try and impress her customers and win them over--over and over. No, she simply had to keep all her lovely appointments dusted and fluffed and well, ready. And breakfast of course. But she had a friend, Magee, who owned the Bake Shoppe so; actually breakfast wasn’t a problem either.
Magee knew what she meant, but she also knew it was virtually impossible to find that specialized person to help in your business, or join your business for that matter. As the owner of a small run bakery she knew good help was difficult to come across. And help that understood what you stood for, the gem that made your business special, well … that just was next to impossible; and on a tiny island, well virtually impossible to find help of any kind. Good or bad. It was just impossible.
Belle looked off into middle space, and then surfaced. She hesitated but then decided these were her people. They had helped her get her memory back. They had cared for her. Still did. And she cared for them. They had supported her outrageous struggle and then planned the perfect wedding for her. No, if she had even a slight chance of helping, well she would, even if it seemed a tad out there.
“I know the perfect person,” She started quietly but of course Magee and Miss Tabatha both perked up. Way up. Belle went on, “She makes ball gowns and … well, exotic formal things. She’d love to try her hand at wedding dresses, if she hasn’t already. She’s truly creative. And she loves formal, the fancier the better, though I should add she’s a little unusual …”
“Works out there with you guys?” Magee ventured. The ‘little unusual’ phrase stuck in her mind, it was the tip off. Not that Magee objected, she didn’t, and still it was just something to keep in mind. What with help and all because that little unusual could mean any number of things from not showing up, to being temperamental, to whatever. Of course they weren’t talking about someone to make cakes in her bakery or frost her cookies. So … she could afford to be very open minded.
Belle caught on, couldn’t help it. Actually at first she had been surprised what a hard time her friends and neighbors on Nantucket had to accepting her own situation. And she wasn’t really sure why. After all, it was not a new concept, actually one of the oldest. Still … She was beginning to understand. Understand that people weren’t as opened minded as she had always thought. No not really--not at all. They needed convincing. Often times brain washing.
Still she kept talking, “She does work out there with us but you know our work is seasonal, sporadic. She could use some part time work.” Then Belle sighed, “I’m afraid if we don’t help her fill the dull times, and the slow times, she’ll leave. And she’s irreplaceable.” And Belle looked almost sad tinged in frantic. “You’d be helping us out.” And she meant it.
And as they spoke who walked in but Gwyn. They waved her over. “Hi girls,” Gwyn was a true islander but with a touch of glitz. a flare of glamour. It was a natural for her to be in the fashion business. And locals and tourists turned to her for something special to wear. Often they had no idea what they wanted, but when they entered Gwyn’s they found it, captivated by her exquisite taste and flare. So they learned to count on her, and her shoppe. And that was part of the reason Gwyn felt she had to step up her formal and bridal selections. She didn’t want to let her customers down, or lose them for that matter.
She noticed Belle was at the table. They had met briefly, at Belle’s wedding but then again everyone literally was at Belle and Harv’s wedding. They had opened it up to the island, and the island came. So Belle just smiled and Gwyn smiled back. “Good to see you Belle …” But she didn’t sound good--she sounded distracted, and maybe a little tired, though she looked perfect, as always.
“Sit. Join us.” Miss Tabatha encouraged, “And talk to us. We were actually just talking about you.”
Gwyn ran a hand through her elegant hairdo, disrupting it in her stress. Still she looked better than most. “Oh girls, I’ve got Mary Beth Jamison coming in this afternoon to talk about her wedding …” Gwyn figured the name was all she needed to drop. It was a small island--very small.
“Ooh …” Magee jumped on it, “So she’s getting married.”
“Yes to Chas Herrington from Connecticut--should be a huge affair. She’s giving me a shot at her dress though she’s been everywhere already, and I mean everywhere including a little jaunt to Paris, if you can even imagine,” Which of course they all could as they had just said Paris was part of the competition now. As if you got out of a plane at Charles De Gaulle and racks of bridal dresses were all just there by the baggage claim calling your name … in English. But of course who knew … “And if that isn’t bad enough this morning Tiffany Bartlet was in for something for the Daffodil Ball. She might be queen.”
“Well that all sounds like good business …” Magee encouraged, just trying to be nice because of course she knew it was rough. She just pretended it was a society wedding cake she was competing for and then some society party that wanted extra special little tid bits, and of course had no idea what they should be--except the extra special part. So she did understand, to a certain degree, and she could feel that stress alright.