I rose early the next morning and filled two pump pots with coffee and placed a dozen donuts on a tray before taking the dogs to camp. My workers arrived at 7am sharp and by 7:30 we were in full swing. Three of the laborers were taping and painting the walls while the other three helped me paint furniture. We were almost finished by their  lunch break so the afternoon left us time for touch ups and a few extra jobs. I paid the coop manager when he picked up his workers at 3:30 and then left to pick up Eddie and Daisey.

The condo looked completely different. No more Granny’s house. The condo was now a fresher, modern version of shabby chic in shades of taupe, brown, and maroon. The old pastels were gone. New slip covers updated the tired looking upholstery and dining room chairs. The only thing left to do was sand the newly painted furniture to give it a distressed look but that would have to wait until another day because the furniture needed more time to dry.

With the redecorating done and my bags packed for tomorrow’s flight back to Kodiak, the evening began to feel long and lonely. I tossed my cell phone from hand to hand and resisted the urge to call Guy. I was still insecure about his interest in me and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself or rush into something quickly that would fade just as fast. I must have jumped a foot when the phone rang in my hand.

“Hello.” I answered without recognizing the number.

“Is this Brinkley?” a deep, mellow voice asked.

“Who is this?” I wasn’t giving out information without knowing who I was speaking to.

“Sorry, it’s Herbie Carmichael. I should have introduced myself.”

“No problem. I didn’t recognize your voice.”

“Brinkley, when are you coming back to Kodiak? I need to talk to you.”

With that question, I realized I had done everything to prepare for my trip back to Kodiak except make a flight reservation. “Tomorrow, I hope. I haven’t made a reservation yet.”

“Great. I can pick you up and we’ll talk on the way back to town.” I noticed his comment less of an invitation and more of a statement of fact.

“Ok, thank you” I said with my manners intact. Homesick for Kodiak news I added “Any news on Libby’s disappearance?”

“I haven’t heard anything lately but, then again, it’s not my case. It’s a City case with help from the state” He was telling me the truth and not just keeping police secrets. Herbie continued “My assignment is the Hope Wilson case. Her body was discovered in Ft. Abercrombie on Thursday.”

“What do you want to talk to me about?” I wasn’t fond of surprises.

“I would rather talk to you about the specifics in person but what I need is your help on my case.”

I was stunned and unsure of how I felt. On one hand, I was relieved to have someone who knew and believed my secret; however, I was worried about being used or exposed. I considered that Herbie had just done a huge favor for me, with the result of freeing Guy, so I put on a happy voice and said “OK, I’ll let you know which flight I’m on.”

After I hung up with Herbie I called Alaska Airlines and made reservations for me and my pups on the afternoon jet. There were two airlines that flew into Kodiak, but the Alaska 737 was the sure thing for transporting pets.  The smaller planes either couldn’t accommodate pets, or were limited to one crate per flight. These are things you learn living in rural Alaska.

I tried to spend the evening reading but I kept losing my place in my book. I couldn’t get my mind off the little business Nano Nosh. Eventually I succumbed to my obsessive thoughts and pulled out a pen and paper. With the sun streaming through the windows, I worked until after midnight without realizing the late hour. I created a business plan.

The business would be a tiny shop selling gourmet cupcakes and bottled drinks. The cupcakes would be made at a small commercial bakery that bakes for local restaurants and stores in Kodiak. The bakery would also mix gourmet frostings but the assembly and garnish would be done at the store for quality aesthetic control. I calculated it would take at least one hundred cupcake sales per day for a viable business. That was assuming I could find a convenient space with inexpensive rent. My favorite part of the planning process was product invention. I gave the cupcakes attention-grabbing names like Sour Puss for yellow cake infused with lemon zest, topped with sweet and sour French buttercream frosting, and garnished with a slice of candied lemon. The frosting would be piled high for a dramatic effect.

Finally, I laid out my travels clothes, texted Herbie that I would be coming in on the jet, and pushed my way into a bed overtaken by two rat terriers. Although I went to sleep right away, it wasn’t long before I woke up wondering exactly what it was Herbie wanted from me.


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