EXCERPT FROM HIGHTAIL IT TO KINSEY FALLS:
Jade put the blue cat carrier onto the hot pink countertop at Nothin’ But Knit and let Mocha out into the shop. Mocha, a seal point Himalayan, was a fixture in the store. He strolled out of the carrier, bumped Terri on the chin with his large head, and hopped down onto the oak hardwood floor to wind around Jade’s feet. Jade sat the carrier beneath the counter.
It was already seventy-five degrees on this Saturday morning, and Jade was glad the Community Center had excellent air conditioning. Terri, Jade’s business partner and best friend since middle school, was making sure the shop was tidy before unlocking the doors. The shop—and in fact, the entire Kinsey Falls Living and Retail Community Center—had only been open for a few weeks. The grand opening celebration was being held a week from today.
“You’re going to teach this loom class, aren’t you?” Terri asked, brows furrowing together over wide brown eyes. “You know I don’t do great with kids.”
“Aw, come on,” Jade said. “This experience would be good for you.”
“No, it wouldn’t.”
Jade laughed as her grandmother Millie waltzed into the shop and did a three-sixty spin.
“How do y’all like my new duds?” She wore a black, pink, and white floral print maxi skirt with a fuchsia V-neck tee. Like Jade, Millie had once been a redhead, but now her hair was a silvery white.
“That’s a gorgeous outfit,” Terri said. “But I thought you had a moratorium on new clothes for the time being.”
The moratorium was because the micro-apartments upstairs didn’t have a great deal of storage space.
“I do. And the other gals do too. That’s why some of us got together and decided to host a swap meet in the atrium. We’re going to have one each month and trade off,” Millie said. “And not just clothing but scarves, bags, and jewelry too.”
“How fun!” Jade kissed Millie’s cheek. “My smart, sexy grandma.”
“You got that right. You gals are welcome to come to the next one. We’re trying to get as many people involved as possible.” She smoothed out her skirt. “Now, what were you saying would be a good experience for Terri? Y’all know how I hate missing stuff.”
“Yep, Grandma, you’ve got serious FOMO.”
“Fear of missing out,” Terri explained to a bewildered Millie. “She’s trying to get me to teach the tween girls’ loom class.”
“One girl’s mom booked the class as part of her daughter’s birthday celebration.” Jade placed eight looms on the counter. “She bought each one a loom and the yarn to make a scarf.”
“Gee whiz. When your mother was little, we just had a cake,” said Millie. “When you were little, your mother sent everybody off with goodie bags full of candy and cheap toys. Today, the moms are buying looms and yarn for whole parties full of kids? Sounds like an expensive takeaway to me.”
“It’s all about the experiences,” Jade said. “Sure, people today want stuff, but they want experiences even more. Well, you get it, Grandma, or else you wouldn’t live at the Community Center.”
Millie shrugged. “Experience, my foot. I don’t see why they can’t share a loom.”
“For one thing, they can’t all make a scarf on one loom at the same time. And for another, they can’t share a loom because that’s bad for our business,” Terri pointed out.
“She’s got you there, Grandma.” Jade carried the looms into the knitting room and spaced them out evenly on the large, round table. The table had been a flea-market find and had a distressed white finish. The armless chairs were upholstered in pink-and-purple paisley.
“Also, there’s no way the girls can finish their scarves in the allotted time. They’ll need to take their looms and yarn home to complete them,” Jade called from the knitting room. She ran her palms down the sides of her jeans as she returned to the main part of the shop. “What are your plans for the rest of the day?”
“After I leave here, I’m going to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store. When I get back and put my groceries away, I’ll go to the pet shop and check on Perry.”
“Who’s Perry?” Terri asked.
“Perry is a…a baby…animal…that I found outside this morning and took over to the pet shop. Have you gals met Caleb? He works in the pet shop and is absolutely dreamy.”
“Wait, who are Perry and Caleb again?” Jade asked.
Millie blew out a breath. “Weren’t you listening? Caleb is the gorgeous guy who works at the pet shop. He’s a real sweetheart too.”
“And you met him how?” Jade frowned. Her grandmother didn’t even own a pet. What was she doing visiting the pet shop?
“I met him when I took Perry, the rescued animal, to him,” Millie said. “He’s helping me make sure Perry is safe.”
Jade ran a hand across her brow. “And what kind of animal is Perry?”
Millie pursed her lips. “Perry is a possum.”
Terri laughed. “Perry, the possum! That’s cute!”
“Grandma! You picked up a freaking possum? Are you out of your mind?”
“I didn’t pick up the possum…exactly. I kinda scooped it into my makeup bag.”
“Ewww!” Jade threw both hands up to the sides of her head “Grandma, that’s nasty! You’ve got to throw all that makeup away—”
“Jade, please. I certainly didn’t put a possum in my makeup bag with my makeup still in it. Besides, Caleb threw the bag away and put Perry in a box until he or she comes out of… Until the possum wakes up.”
“Oh. My. Gosh. Grandma, please tell me you didn’t take a dead possum into the pet shop to have them try to save it!”
Terri was doubled over with laughter. “This is great!”
“Terri, hush,” Jade scolded. “It’s not great. It’s…it’s horrible. Grandma, that guy will think you’re nuts.”
“I’m not nuts, nor does Caleb think I am. The possum was alive when I scooped him up, and Caleb believes Perry is still alive. In fact, he’s going to call me when Perry wakes up.”
Wiping tears from the corners of her eyes, Terri asked, “Who’s going to call you—Caleb or Perry?”
Millie cut Terri a disapproving glance and then addressed Jade. “I’m not as loopy as you two seem to think I am.” She looked around the shop until she spotted Mocha. “Aw, there’s my boy! He doesn’t judge.” She went over to pet him. “The young people are having a pre-grand opening mixer in the atrium tonight. You two should go. Maybe gorgeous Caleb will be there.”
“He sounds wonderful,” Terri said. “This knight in shining—what? Denim, maybe? Saving possums and making women swoon.”
Terri lived in one of the apartments upstairs. Jade lived in the house Millie had sold her when she’d moved into her apartment. Millie had chosen the simplicity and socialness of “Community Center life” to continuing to maintain a house.
Since Jade didn’t live at the Community Center, she didn’t feel comfortable attending the gathering. Besides, she had a sneaking suspicion that her mother was behind Grandma’s attempts to cajole her into attending the party and singing the praises of Mr. Pet Shop. Next, she’d be asking Grandma to leave job listings for Jade by the cash register.
Her mother thought she was wasting her time with a knitting shop. “Too much work and not enough profit.” In Mom’s opinion, Jade either needed to find a more lucrative career or a rich husband. Jade wasn’t in the market for either. She was doing fine, thank-you-very-much.
Seeing that Jade didn’t seem to plan on responding to Millie, Terri said, “We’ll think about it. Thanks for reminding us.”
Jade pointed to the flyers she’d printed out yesterday afternoon. “Terri, don’t let me forget to put those flyers up in the library, café, and atrium when I take my lunch break. I already have the information on the Community Center app for the YPs, but I’m afraid the seniors won’t see it there.”
Millie sniffed. “You act as if we old fogies don’t even know what an app is.”
“Do you use the app, Grandma? Did you see the information about the beginning knitters’ class on there?”
“I prefer to get my news the old-fashioned ways—like newspapers, televisions, and community bulletin boards.” She stiffened her back and raised her chin. “But I do know what an app is and how to use it if I’m so inclined.”
“We know, Millie,” Terri said. “You’re cooler than most of the other seniors around here.”
That was Millie’s way of shrugging off a compliment.
As her grandmother left, Jade turned to Terri. “Did she really just come in here and tell us she rescued a possum that might or might not be living?”