The church bells rang out the ninth hour of the morning and Wilson’s new friend jumped with a start. “That time already?” she said, groaning. “Wilson, it’s been fun, and a pleasure to meet you, though I wish it were under better circumstances. However I need to go. Will you be here later?”

“I believe so,” he said. “I have to figure out how to run a bookshop.”

“Best of luck to you then,” she said, hopping up and squeezing his hand. That was a surprise. “I’ll check up on you later, to see how it’s going.”

“Thank you. Have a good day, Mrs. Howell.”

“It’s Miss, thanks. And please, we’re friends, right? Call me Lyn.”

“Of course”, he nodded. “Lyn.”

She nodded in approval and rushed off back into her room, appearing moments later with her hair gathered in the back and a bag on her shoulder. She winked at him on the way out the door and was gone. He could already tell that she was going to be a confusing complication in his new life, if he chose to stay. Was she his tenant? His friend? She had gripped his hand, and winked at him, was she attracted or just friendly. He  was pretty sure he was too old for her, and had never really thought of himself as the type of person that women were attracted to, so he decided to just assume that she was just being friendly. He was fairly sure friends acted like that, at least sometimes. Tooth was right, he really should have more experience with this sort of thing, otherwise it would always be questions like this.

One problem at a time though, Lyn and the confusion she brought could wait until later. First he felt he would need to deal with the Read it and Weep. Tooth had said the box would hold the answers, so he dove into the box. Lyn had already revealed the first piece of the puzzle: the large ledger book. It had all of the transactions from the last several years written down in it. Tooth really didn’t do that much business it turned out. He sold a book or two a day on most days, it seemed, and sometimes less than that. Fortunately it looked like the place was completely paid for, he didn’t see any sort of recurring bills for rent. He quickly checked all of the outbound payments he could find, and really only found city taxes and the occasional payment to the suppliers. There was a rare payment to the electrical company, so he supposed the place was wired after all, but Tooth must not have run it much. It looked like it was around what Wilson was paying at his place. Overall Tooth had been spot on with his short assessment in the letter, the shop made money, very little, but money none the less.

With that worry out of the way Wilson turned back to the box and found something he was actually excited about. It took a moment to register exactly what it was, a list of names. A list of book titles. It was the inventory book, a full listing of the books that were downstairs. And that was when it hit him, something that he had not allowed him to consciously think about, but which had been screaming around in the back of his head from the beginning. He owned a book shop. He owned all the books. He smiled to himself as he skimmed over the list of names, all the books he would ever want to read.

 


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