Thursday, February 6, 2014

Her Secret Valentine Part 11

By Debby Giusti


“I’ll drive!” Private Investigator Garth Willowby motioned for Nancy and Shanna to climb into the yellow Thunderbird. Before the ladies buckled their seat belts, he floored the accelerator and was in pursuit of the black sedan. Both cars wove along the beach road that led into town. The sedan stopped near the café, and a lone man jumped from his car and hurried toward one of the side streets that dead ended at the Cupid's Corner Museum.

Garth scurried after the man with Shanna and Nancy following close behind. Suddenly the private investigator stopped short. He stared at the museum, which the man appeared to have entered, and let out an exasperated sigh as he pointed to the sign on the door. “Closed.”

“Where could he have gone?” Shanna glanced up and down the street and then placed her hand on Mr. Willowby’s arm. She stared up at him and fluttered her long lashes. “What’s your plan, Garth?”

“M…my plan?” Evidently overcome by her nearness, his face turned as crimson as raspberry cream sauce slathered on top of a chocolate torte. He patted her hand and smiled a lopsided grin as if he’d forgotten the reason for their search.

Nancy rolled her eyes in dismay at how easily the P.I. could be pulled off course. Without question, she had hired the wrong investigator. Needing to depend on her own wherewithal, she started to retrace her steps back to her Thunderbird when raucous male laughter accosted her.

The sound of the merriment grew so intense that Mr. Willowby glanced away from Shanna and toward the source of the hearty revelry. His gaze narrowed. “Seems there’s a gathering at Cupid’s Corner Bed and Breakfast.”

He motioned to the women. “This way, ladies. We may find Nancy’s admirer after all.”

The B&B was a quaint Victorian surrounded by a white picket fence and wide front porch. Mr. Willowby held the gate for the ladies, who quickly entered the well manicured grounds. They climbed the steps, but before they could knock, the door opened, and a handsome man – the man they had seen at the beach – bowed with a flourish.

“Welcome to your Valentine Dream Come True, Nancy Hart.” Taking her hand, he gently urged her forward. “We’re so glad you followed the clues.”

 “You…you mean the roses…the poetry…the cherry Lifesaver?” she stammered.

The doorman nodded. “We’ve been waiting for you. A few friends from your past.”

“But—”

Nancy glanced at Shanna who shrugged and at Garth who shook his head but encouraged her to follow the doorman inside.

The interior of the B&B was warm and welcoming, and some of her trepidation eased when Mrs. Cannoli, the concierge, rushed forward. “Isn’t it exciting?”

“Isn’t what exciting?” Nancy asked, totally flummoxed.

“Why the contest you won.” The concierge’s eyes widened. “Don’t you remember entering the contest, dear?”

“The Valentine Dream Come True Contest on the back of the marshmallow cream jar?” Shanna asked, her voice faltering.

“That’s the one,” Mrs. Cannoli said with a nod of her curly, gray hair. “The one to find your secret Valentine.”

“There’s been a mistake.” Nancy hooked her arm around her friend’s waist and shoved her forward. “If Shanna entered the contest, she should be the winner.”

Mrs. Cannoli’s face clouded. “But your name is on the entry, Nancy. You have to play the game.”

“Game?”

“That’s right, dear. Your admirers are in there.” The concierge pointed to the closed parlor door. “Three lucky gentlemen. They’ll tell you something about themselves, and you have to guess which man is your Secret Valentine. But, first, you need to be blindfolded.”

Before Nancy could object, Mrs. Cannoli tied a silk scarf over her eyes. The parlor door creaked open. Shanna giggled nervously. Mr. Willowby laughed, too, and added a “By Jove, this is turning out to be quite an exciting evening.” All the while, Nancy remained in the dark.

“Hello?” she called out, unsure who would answer.

A hand—twice the size of her own--touched hers. “Nancy, do you remember me? We knew each other in Georgia. I took you to the Fox Theater, and we watched a rerun of Gone With the Wind, which you loved. I’ve brought a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates in hopes you’ll choose me as your Valentine.”

“Jason, is that you?” She recognized the voice. Or thought she did.

He took a step back, and a second person moved closer. “Nancy, dear, surely you remember when we toured Atlanta and picnicked on shrimp and grits and sweet tea along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. I brought heart-shaped truffles and chocolate covered strawberries in hopes you’ll choose me.”

“Paul?”

A third person approached her. The scent of aftershave brought back memories she had tried to forget—not of Brad but of someone else. Someone very special. Her knees went weak and her heart hammered in her chest.


Nancy, my love.” His voice was deep and rich and enticing. “Do you remember me?”




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4 comments:

Missy Tippens said...

Ooooh!!!! Very exciting! I want to know who he is!

Guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Missy!

Love these stories. So fun to read each installment. Wonder what Christine has in store for Nancy and Shanna and Mr. Willowby tomorrow?

CatMom said...

This is such fun to read!! Loved this part of the story today--can't wait to see what happens next!
Hugs, Patti Jo

Pamela Tracy said...

I would have known you were the writer without your name. The minute we had the car chase and then the closed museum. And, hah, a new twist. Good going Debbie.