Page 24 of Suited for Love

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"Chicken feathers and bubble wrap, huh?" I raise my eyebrows at Carlinya. She just grins back at me.

"So, why'd you leave Boutique Chrysalis?" one of them asks.

"It wasn't a good fit," I answer honestly. "Have you ever been to a Boutique Chrysalis store?" They all shake their heads. "Well, they don't sell clothes in my size, and that just didn't sit well with me. There's no reason every woman shouldn't have access to beautiful clothes. Once upon a time, it was difficult to find designers who made clothes for plus-size women." I sweep my arms out, gesturing to the clothes throughout my store. "As you can see, that's no longer the case."

Several women applaud, including Mayor Tuck.

I mill about the store, answering questions and leading people to the silent auction table. Odds are, my wealthy New York connections will win most of the auctions, but I doubt anyone in Friendly will mind since every penny will come to the town.

A group of women is gathered around the display of pet accessories. I step forward to sing Hazel's praises. "I listed Hazel's products on the online store less than forty-eight hours ago. Her entire line is on back-order now."

Mayor Tuck beams at her daughter. "Did you know she sews clothes for women, too? Besides hats and tote bags, I mean."

I raise my eyebrows in surprise. "I didn't."

The mayor twirls in a circle, showing off her expertly-tailored pantsuit. "This is a Hazel Tuck original."

Hazel's cheeks turn scarlet. "I'm not a designer," she's quick to clarify. "I'm just a seamstress. I used a pattern for the suit."

"Don't sell yourself short," I say. "It's gorgeous. I've seen thousand-dollar suits that aren't half as lovely."

Ideas for how to utilize Hazel’s talent immediately spring to mind.I could hire her as a seamstress immediately. And with a bit of training and an injection of confidence, I bet she could design garments of her own.

"Margo," a woman calls, beckoning me toward the sunrise collection. Before I reach her, I hear several people shouting.

"No, Houdini!"

I spin to see what the commotion is about. Scaling the shelves along one wall is a fat, orange cat.

"Bad cat," the mayor yells.

I’d quake in my boots if she yelled at me like that, but the cat ignores her, curling into a circle atop a pile of jeans.

Mayor Tuck looks at me with an apologetic face. "I'm so sorry."

"Is it your cat," I ask, confused.

She laughs. "No. Well, yes. Technically, he's everyone's cat, even yours."

My cat?"I don't understand."

"Tuck didn’t tell you about Houdini?"

"No," I say slowly, shaking my head.

The mayor chuckles. "I thought he complained to anyone with ears about his assignment as Keeper of Collars. He's been trying to get me to appoint someone else for years."

What in the world is a Keeper of Collars?

The women take turns filling me on theHoudini problem.My eyes widen as they explain his special skills of breaking and entering.

"An expert cat burglar, you say?" Looking up at the orange cat, sleeping soundly, oblivious to the commotion he's caused, I can't help but grin. "You know what? I think maybe I've just seen a ghost."

Chapter 14


Thewomenslowlyleavein small groups, until only Carlinya is left. She beams it me. "You did real well, city girl. Won your way right into their hearts."