As soon as Hope Spirit Walk Spencer stepped into Larry’s Deli, she collapsed into the arms of her longtime friend, Geraldine Jones. “I need help, or I’ll to lose the gallery.” Three months after her husband, Richard Spencer, died, Hope neglected to pay the utility bill, resulting in the power being shut off to the art gallery and upstairs apartment in downtown Vine Valley, California, two hours north of San Francisco. After reinstating the power with a huge payment, she sorted through the financial files Richard kept, worrying about how to manage the monthly cash flow and expenses. But she wasn’t good at business, and six months later, she received a Notice of Default on the building from the bank.
“Ah, sugar, don’t cry.” Geraldine patted Hope’s long cape of hair. “C’mon back, and we’ll figure out something.” After releasing Hope, Geraldine waved to the new girl bagging groceries. “Michelle, I’m taking a fifteen minute break.” Smiling, she nudged Hope.
Hope strode past the deli and down the aisle of freshly baked goods. She slashed through the rubber curtain into the warehouse, break room, and office.
Pulling back a chair at a table, Geraldine gestured to the refrigerator. “Sugar, you want a soda?”
Hope lifted a hand and shook her head. “No, thank you.” She never ate or drank processed food, preferring to live as close to the land as she could. After wrapping her earth-toned caftan around her long legs, she perched on the edge of the hard plastic chair. She let her hands flutter like bird’s wings from her lap to the table to her lap again. A powerful scent of sage emanated from her pores from the healing ritual she had performed earlier in the spring morning to summon the good spirits to help clear the way. Through her open window, the wind whispered for her to consult Geraldine, whose brash self-confidence flourished around business matters.
With one swift movement, Geraldine plucked a business card off the bulletin board and held it out. “You need to call this person. He helped us refinance the deli after my father died.”
After reading the embossed name, Hope shoved the business card across the table. “No way am I accepting help from Nick Gold, Jr. His father wanted to buy the gallery twenty years ago.” During his lifetime, Nicholas Gold, Sr., a cunning real estate developer, transformed the tiny town into a popular wine and tourist destination. He owned every building surrounding Courthouse Square except the gallery. No matter how much money he offered, neither she, a woman as young as Nick Jr., nor her husband, who was closer to Nick Sr.’s age and experience, would agree to a deal. She deepened her frown. “I want to save Richard’s gallery, not lose it.”
Reprinted with permission from The Wild Rose Press. You can learn more about Angela Lam and her writing here.