Love Letters(4)

By: Geraldine Solon


“All right, ciao,” Chloe said, and watched as her friend hurried out of the shop toward Hairworks Salon, just down the street.

Moments later, a customer entered the store and picked up the first dress that she saw. “Do you have this in a size eight?”

“Size eight?” Chloe said, inspecting the customer who was a size fourteen by Chloe’s estimation. “Let me check in the back.” Chloe examined the tag.

She left and came back with a size eight. “It’s your lucky day,” she said, eying the woman, then the dress.

“It’s not for me; it’s for my daughter. She’s getting married to husband number five.”

“Oh,” Chloe said. “Shouldn’t she be the one choosing her dress?”

The woman shook her head. “If it were up to her she wouldn’t even bother with a wedding dress.”

“Right,” Chloe replied. “Daughters can be temperamental,” Chloe said to appease the woman.

It had been more than two years since she and her mom had spoken to each other. What started as a small argument led to a shouting match after Chloe had blurted out that she was angry with Suzanne for spending time away when Chloe’s father was dying of lung cancer. It was Chloe who took care of her father. Her mom was so upset by her outburst that she never gave Chloe a chance to defend herself. The last thing she knew, her mother had walked out on her . . . a few months after her father died. Chloe had made a few half-hearted attempts to call Suzanne, but her mother had never responded. Who knows? Maybe it was better this way.

“Yeah, tell me about it.” The woman leaned in, her eyes on the one and a half carat diamond. “A pretty nice ring you have there.”

“My boyfriend proposed this morning,” Chloe said the thought now bittersweet knowing her mother might not attend the wedding. And her dad couldn’t attend. Her eyes misted over as she recalled his final days. Though she hated to admit it, he would have preferred she marry Josh, she felt certain. A flash of Josh’s smile entered her thoughts again.

“Are you sure he’s the one?” The customer grinned.

Chloe’s smile fell as she rang up the purchase. Why did everyone think they knew better than she did?

The woman handed her a credit card. “I better get going or else my daughter’s going to be looking for me.” Then she bent forward and whispered, “Just a piece of advice – make sure he’s Mr. Right.”

Chloe bristled. What was that supposed to mean? “Okay, do you want your receipt in the bag?” Chloe asked, wrapping the gown in linen paper.

“You can toss it inside.”

“Have a nice day,” Chloe said, handing her the bag.

The customer shrugged, grabbed the bag, and then walked to the door without a backward glance.

It was a cool January afternoon and the shop was now empty. Chloe had been overwhelmed by the morning rush without Faye and Maureen. Normally, they would display the gowns and arrange the new stock. For Chloe, selling gowns was more than providing the right dress and accessories to her customers. Most of them needed reassurance that their wedding was going to be perfect, and that’s what she gave them. She sighed, wishing she had been given the same reassurance.

Chloe looked at the other shops on Main Street through the window. She loved living in Half Moon Bay, just minutes away from the beach. She didn’t mind that it was cold and foggy most of the time. Half Moon Bay was where she had grown up and she had a lot of fond memories there.

Time to close up.

She balanced the bills, put the money in the safe, and then got her jacket and purse. After closing the shop, Chloe went to get gas before going home. On the way she passed Surfing Buddies to be sure she hadn’t imagined it. Josh was back in Half Moon Bay, but why? That was the question.





***

Richard came over that evening and they snuggled on the couch while she watched her favorite Lifetime Channel, and he made several phone calls, never once removing his blue tooth earpiece.

“Are you ever going to get off the phone?” This was supposed to be their time together. Yet it gave her time to think about Josh and why he had come back. She had been crazy about Josh. Everyone had teased her that they would end up married one day. And now?