The Obsession Page 48

And she liked Jenny. She decided it was impossible not to like Jenny, who was cheerful and funny and didn’t ask probing questions.

She decided she really liked Jenny when her new friend directed her to a huge barn a few miles inland.

“I should’ve brought my camera.”

But she opened the compartment between the seats and took out a case.

“What’s that?”

“Lenses and filters for my camera phone.”

“Really? I didn’t know there were such things.”

“Works well in a pinch. And that barn—the texture of the wood, the true barn red with the white trim, that old apple tree, the light. It’s good.”

“Don’t you want to see what’s in the barn?”

“Absolutely. This won’t take long.”

She intended to leave the dog in the car. He had other ideas, so against her better judgment, Naomi pulled out the spare leash she’d stowed in the glove compartment.

“If you go, you wear this.”

He tried to stare her down. Failed.

“I’ll hold on to him while you take pictures.”

“Thanks. He hates the leash.”

“Wouldn’t you? It’s all right, sweetheart. We’ll think of it as you leading me.”

Perversely, the dog behaved perfectly for Jenny, walked happily beside her, sniffed his way to an appealing spot to lift his leg while Naomi composed shots, added lenses, adjusted filters.

She’d come back with her equipment, she promised herself. She’d love a gloomy day, that barn under gloomy skies.

She found more shots inside. The place went on forever, packed with everything under sun or gloom.

Glassware, tinware, collectibles, mirrors, chairs, desks.

In fact, she paused in front of one of the desks. She’d decided to go with new for a permanent desk—something that looked right with the bed, but had all the modern touches. Keyboard drawer, plugs, file drawers.


It was nearly black from years—probably decades—of varnish, and the drawers stuck. It needed new hardware. It wasn’t at all what she’d decided on.

And it was perfect.

“The shape’s terrific,” Jenny said beside her. “Just enough curve at the corners. Plenty of drawers. It needs work.” Lips pursed, Jenny checked the tag. “And some bargaining.”

“It’s solid, sturdy. Mahogany. It needs to be stripped down to the original finish. It’s not what I was going for. And I really love it.”

“Don’t say you love it to Cecil—his place. Look doubtful when you ask him about it. You need a good chair—a new one—ergonomic, lumbar support. Kevin says you spend a lot of time at your desk.”

“Kevin’s right. The computer’s the darkroom today. Though I want to put an actual darkroom in. I still get the urge to shoot film sometimes. Is that a mermaid floor lamp?”

“It appears to be.”

“A bronze mermaid floor lamp.” Struck, she pulled out her phone again. “I need that for my portfolio.”

“No-name and I are going to wander.”

“I’ll catch up.”

She fell for the mermaid floor lamp, which she told herself was stupid. She wasn’t looking for a floor lamp, much less a bronze mermaid with sly eyes and sleek breasts. But she wanted it.

“Don’t tell Cecil,” she reminded herself, and tried to find Jenny and the dog in the maze of fascinating things.

Jenny found her. “Don’t hate me.”

“Does anybody?”

“Kevin’s old high school girlfriend.”

“Because she’s a slut.”

Jenny beamed. “I didn’t realize you knew Candy.”

“Candy? Definitely a slut. A pink-wearing slut.”

“Actually, I have a cousin named Candy, and she’s not. She’s wonderful. But to circle back, don’t hate me, but I think I found the dresser.”

“Why would I hate you for that?”

“It’s expensive, but I really think it’s perfect, and maybe we can team up and drive the price down, especially if you get the desk, too.”

“And the mermaid lamp.”

“Really?” Jenny threw back her head and laughed. “I love it. I figured you’d see it as a novelty, just for photos, but I think it’d be fabulous in your house.”

“So do I. Let’s see this dresser. If I hate you, you have to walk home.”

There were advantages, Naomi discovered, to shopping with a friend—a friend with a sharp, creative, and discerning eye. It was more gentleman’s chest than dresser—which really hit a note for her. Not female and fussy, but gorgeous and dignified without the stuffiness. In good condition, which surprised her, the finish glowing with that lovely reddish gold undertone. She’d change the hardware—get rid of the ornate brass handles—and one of the drawer bottoms had a long diagonal crack, but that was it.

The price made her hiss and shudder.

“We’re going to talk him down. You wait and see.” Jenny gave Naomi a bolstering pat.

Cecil might have been a scrawny man in bib overalls, a straw hat, with a grizzled beard—and he wouldn’t see eighty again—but he had a gimlet eye and a hard line.

But so, Naomi discovered, did the sweet and cheerful Jenny.

She poked her oar in a time or two, just to say she did, but it was primarily Jenny who did the bargaining and, with tenacity and guile, shaved a full twenty percent off the dresser where Naomi had hoped for ten.

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