Rule #1â€”The guests are always right, even when theyâ€™re
wrong. ~ Mamie Fitzgerald
â€śSCORE ONE FOR Team Fitzgerald.â€ť Abby tapped the
occupancy permit against the porch railing and waved to
her contractor as he headed for his truck. The final room
on the second floor could be used.
She propped open the bed-and-breakfastâ€™s bright blue
doors. For February 1, the day was gorgeous, with
temperatures hitting the mid 70s. Sunlight streamed
through the leaded-glass side windows and sparkled on the
foyerâ€™s crystal chandelier. The gold streaks in the
green-marble entry floor gleamed.
Abby wanted all of Fitzgerald House to sparkle like the
That meant renovating the rest of the third floor, and
finally the carriage house. They just needed a reasonable
bid, money and a whole lot of luck.
Her hand brushed the brass plaque set inside the door.
Bed & Breakfast opened
March 1, 1998â€”Mamie Fitzgerald
Ownersâ€”Abigail, Bess and Dolley Fitzgerald
As always, she made a wish. Let the renovation costs be
A fresh floral arrangement graced the console table. The
tang of lemon wax mingled with the warm scent of the
foyerâ€™s sandalwood candles. While sheâ€™d been with her
contractor, the cleaning crew had performed their magic.
With no one in the entry, she held out her arms and
twirled, tipping her head up, grinning. The sparkling
prisms were all she could see.
Dizzy, she stopped. Whoa. Hadnâ€™t done that since sheâ€™d
Sheâ€™d call Mamma and her sisters later. Let them know
they were one room closer to finishing the main house
restoration. And she was one room closer to opening her
restaurant in the carriage house. She gave herself a hug.
One step at a time.
Abby walked over to the Queen Anne secretary they used
for a reception desk. The front door opened as she logged
on to the computer, and she glanced up. â€śWelcome to
Fitzgerald House. How can I help you?â€ť
A man stalked toward her. Black brows framed laser-blue
eyes. He was tall and lean. My, my. Some days God took
pity on working women and gave them something to dream
about. She indulged in a quick fantasy of running her
fingers through his thick black hair. Too bad he had a
frown on his face and a cell phone glued to his ear.
Mr. Fantasy dropped his bag, smiled and pointed to the
phone, holding up one finger. He patted his pockets.
She handed him a pen and a piece of paper.
He mouthed a thank-you.
â€śSevern,â€ť he said. â€śWhat was the contracted completion
He wrote down the date in bold slashes.
â€śWhatâ€™s the remaining payout?â€ť Again the hand-scrawled
numbers on the paper.
Abby tried not to look, but the number was big. With that
kind of money, she and her sisters could finish off the
third-floor rooms and still have enough left over for new
â€śSo whatâ€™s the problem?â€ť the man growled.
Abby stepped back, giving him privacy. She wouldnâ€™t want
to be the person failing to meet this manâ€™s expectations.
â€śThe only way Iâ€™ll extend the deadline is if we
recontract,â€ť he stated. â€śYou have options. Overtime, more
crew. Think about it and get back to me.â€ť He switched off
his phone without so much as a goodbye.
Apparently Mr. Fantasy hadnâ€™t gone to the same customer-
service seminars Abby had.
She stepped back up to the desk. â€śMay I help you?â€ť
â€śGrayson Smythe. S-m-y-t-h-e.â€ť The manâ€™s voice was as
rich and smooth as bourbon, and his smile was just as
Abby searched the reservation system. Nothing. She tried
incorrect spellings of the manâ€™s name. Nada. She tried
his first name as his last. Still nothing. Her fingers
tapped the desktop in a staccato beat.
The manâ€™s intense gaze weakened her knees. His dark
eyebrows came together over his bright blue eyes.
Had the system eaten another reservation? She forced a
smile. â€śDo you have a confirmation number?â€ť
â€śNo, I donâ€™t. My assistant confirmed the details
yesterday.â€ť He leaned over the desk, staring at the
computer screen. The temperature in the room seemed to
climb ten degrees.
Abby kept smiling, but her mouth wanted to droop into a
frown. She couldnâ€™t. She had a guest in front of her.
A quick patter of feet turned her attention to the open
â€śI told you, Mama.â€ť A blond boy, maybe four or five years
old, darted into the entry. â€śIâ€™ll catch you a rainbow.â€ť
Catch a rainbow?
Sure enough, the sunbeams were now hitting the
chandelier, and rainbows danced over her head. She hadnâ€™t
noticed, too caught up in their guest. But she really
hadnâ€™t noticed the rainbows since sheâ€™d been young. Since
her dad had died.
Mr. Smythe whipped around at the noise.
â€śJoshua!â€ť A thin young woman entered behind the boy.
The boy jumped up and down, his hand outstretched. His
clothes were clean, but the knees were patched. â€śI canâ€™t
Mr. Smythe knelt in front of the boy. The little boyâ€™s
eyes widened and he stepped back.
Abby moved out from behind the desk. She didnâ€™t want her
guest snarling at this cute kid the way he had on the
Before she could rescue the child, Mr. Smythe said,
â€śWould you like me to lift you up?â€ť
The boy held up his arms. â€śYes, please.â€ť
Abbyâ€™s eyebrows popped up as Mr. Smythe held him in the
air. Joshuaâ€™s hands waved, trying to grab hold of the
â€śHold still and the rainbow will shine on your fingers,â€ť
Mr. Smythe said.
â€śIâ€™m sorry.â€ť The woman leaned a hand against the desk,
catching her breath. â€śHeâ€™s so fast.â€ť
â€śAre you looking for a room?â€ť Abby shouldnâ€™t judge the
woman, but her clothes were...worn.
â€śOh, no.â€ť Color washed over the womanâ€™s pale face. â€śIâ€™m
here about the help-wanted ad.â€ť
Abby nodded. â€śThe housekeeping position?â€ť
Both the man and the boy had rainbows coloring their
palms. Mr. Smythe whispered to the little boy and Joshua