one year later
Jane's tires screeched as she flew around a curve on Bluff Road.
"Girl, where are you?" The excitement in Lydia's voice came through loud and clear, and Jane pushed her foot down a bit harder on the accelerator.
"I'm coming, I'm coming." She kept one hand on the steering wheel while frantically sifting through the things in the passenger seat of her Blazer. There was a brush somewhere, she just knew it, but finding anything at seven in the morning after pulling an all-nighter was difficult at best. Exhaustion picked at her brain, but she took it for the victory it was. Her all-nighter had resulted (finally!) in a completed logo for Sisters, Ink. Bleary eyes gave testament to the long hours she'd put into creating the official representation of their scrapbooking group. A box of stationery rested in the passenger floorboard amid granola bar wrappers, a beautiful Sisters, Ink logo centered at the top. Four smaller boxes held their new business cards, printed on her laser printer at three a.m. The skeleton of their web site was even up and running, though none of the Sisters knew about it or the business idea she'd been brewing for weeks.
"Do I need to grab anything for you? This stuff is going fast. There are barely any of the foam alphabet sets left."
"Shoot, Lydia, I barely even know what I need. I'll be there in about two minutes." Jane lunged again, still searching for the brush while trying not to drop the cell phone from her shoulder.
"Okay, but don't let the grass grow under your tires. I'll be over in the baby girl section. I need to find something for Olivia's first bath pages and get ribbon for Mac. What's this big secret you have anyway?"
"I told you I'm not saying a word until we all get to Mac's. Be there in a flash." Jane snapped the phone together and slammed to a stop at the red light. Turning her attention to her still-searching hand, she finally found the elusive hairbrush and grabbed it. A blaring horn sounded, and she realized the green arrow had finally appeared. This business idea had monopolized her mind for weeks. And she had Bill to thank for it, in a way. Without him, she'd never have learned the value of girlfriends.
Jane pushed thoughts of her ex-husband out of her mind. Tires squealing again, she tore into the parking lot of The Savvy Scrapper. Tossing the hairbrush back into the passenger seat, she threw the car into Park, grabbed her purse, and flung open the door.
Jane looked up just as her door collided with the midsection of one very tall man.
"Omigosh. I am so, so sorry. I'm just in a rush. The sale is happening, and I'm late and--"
"It's okay." Mr. Tall held his hands up as if to ward off any other car doors she might be hiding somewhere, and she noticed the coffee cup in one hand and bagel bag in the other. Bagels would be so heavenly right now. "I'm fine, really." He set the bag down on the ground and brushed the dust off of his olive green sweater, then looked at her. "I know how women can be when there's a sale involved." He grinned as he knelt to pick the bag back up.
She tried hard to ignore his sexist statement and not remind him of how many guys camp out at golf stores before a sale or sleep in the parking lot to get tickets to a concert.
"Are you sure you're okay? I mean, I have insurance, and we can call somebody." Jane shoved her hair behind her ears, willing herself to focus on the problem at hand rather than the sale happening about ten yards away or the way her stomach was now grumbling for coffee and a bagel.
"Really, go ahead. I'm fine."
"Okay, thanks." She turned and made her way around the back of the car. "I appreciate this. It's just that this only happens once a year, and my friend is waiting . . ." She stopped on the far side of the car and looked at him. He could sue if he was hurt, and her luck with men right now meant he would sue and she would lose to the tune of thousands of dollars. "You're certain you're fine?"
"Go." He made a shooing motion with the bag. "Happy shopping."
Her mother always said never to look a gift horse in the mouth, and this was one time Jane would be obeying Elizabeth rather than giving in to her own desire to argue. She practically sprinted to the front door of The Savvy Scrapper, yanked it open, and burst inside.
"Jane!" Lydia was in the front corner of the store, surrounded by pink, yellow, blue, lilac, and pale green. She waved a die-cut of a bathtub and bubbles above her head. "I found the perfect stuff for Olivia and Oliver's First Bath page."
"Great." Jane joined her, breathless. Her cheeks were tinged with pink.
"Okay, here's the deal." Lydia turned toward the back of the store and pointed. "All the Times letters are gone, the vellum is almost finito, and the dog section is getting riffled through as we speak. Where do you want to start?"
"Dog section." Jane stuffed her keys into her purse. "I took great pictures this morning of Mrs. Hannigan picking up poop while stepping in another pile."
"You are so gross. That poor woman, poop obsessed. To each his own, I guess."
Jane scanned the rest of the store, making a quick plan to get the most stuff. "What can you expect? She's lived there since before animals were allowed and tried to stop the changing of the rules. All she wants is a poop-free yard, and I can't say I blame her."
Lydia's eyebrows rose. "You're siding with Mrs. Hannigan?"
"I wouldn't say I was siding with her, just beginning to understand where she's coming from, that's all." Jane shrugged.
"Right. Go on over to the dog section. I'll come over there when I'm finished here. Can you grab me that new paper with the red stripes and dark brown bones? I've got some pictures of Otis with Olivia and Oliver from last week."
"Dale let that pug get near his precious twins? I thought you said the only thing he cared more about than SportsCenter was those babies."
"Dale hasn't seen the pictures yet. You know he never comes in my scrapbook studio. I think he gets hives when he thinks about how much money I spend on this stuff." Lydia waved her hand to encompass the store. "He's probably right."
"Oh, please. Men are never right." Jane turned toward the dog section. "Dogs, on the other hand, are wonderful companions who never cheat and can't even turn on a computer."
Lydia laughed and turned back to the wall of baby-themed paper in front of her, leaving Jane to take care of the dog paper. Stripes or flowers? She didn't want to make the scrapbook too babyish, but she also didn't want it to look too grownup. The papers were all on sale, so maybe she would just get both. Dale would never know, since he didn't come into her studio anyway, and she could give some of it to Mac for Kesa's baby book. She took two sheets of the pink and lime green-striped paper, then two of the blue rosebud ones.
"Men are never right," she muttered under her breath. Maybe Jane had a good point.