Chapter 9: A New Friend, I Think?
Written by: Whitney Emeigh
Lana’s eyes took in the sight of the basket being offered up and froze. Then they grew comically round. Her cheeks turned first from pink to red and then finally to crimson.
“Where did you find it?” she asked woodenly.
“It had rolled under a bush.” Adette had recovered from her shock well enough to cover her embarrassment with a slight scowl. She certainly wasn’t ready for this girl to know that she wasn’t just here to do her a favor. Adette knew she needed the villagers to stop being so wary of her. Secretly, she also didn’t hate the idea of making a friend or two. “It was no trouble. Please take it, and I can be out of your way. I’ve left Karl outside sitting, so it would be better if I didn’t leave him for too long anyway.”
Adette settled the basket somewhere inconspicuous and turned for the curtain draped across the door. She gritted her teeth and threw open the curtain. A few of the customers had gone but not all of them. The few that remained turned quickly back toward the counter or the display case. Adette narrowed her eyes and marched across the small store.
Outside, Karl was having a bath beneath one of the trees lining the square. He looked prepared to stay there all day.
“You are such a poor, put upon animal aren’t you?”
Karl finished his left paw before bothering to look up. Adette was about to comment on his silence.
“Wait,” came Lana’s voice as she darted across the short distance between them and the bakery. One eyebrow lifted slightly, but Adette said nothing. “I’m sorry. That was awfully rude of me. I should know better than to put so much stock into what these people think. Most of them have never been out of this valley let alone anywhere else that matters. You were very nice, and I’ve been nothing but rude. Please forgive me.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Adette blinked. Her mouth wanted to form other words but they just wouldn’t come.
“Oh, that’s right, that’s your dog isn’t it?” Lana didn’t wait for permission. It was like her fingers couldn’t wait to push themselves into the bushy coat behind Karl’s ears. He obviously didn’t find the attention intrusive.
“Yes, his name is Karl, and you’ve just become his favorite person.” Karl, who’d had enough of the silly neck rubbing business, had rolled over onto his back to offer up his belly. Lana was happily obliging him by scratching his white belly in big circles.
“He’s very cute.”
“Yes, he does look cute doesn’t he?” Adette couldn’t completely keep the sarcasm out of her voice. Lana didn’t notice it.
“I’d like to thank you properly,” Lana said and looked up. Karl stared at her intently. His eyes willed her hands back onto his stomach but she wasn’t getting the hint. Lana turned and began to dart back toward the bakery. She got half way there before a thought struck her. She stopped. Her head hung for a few moments as she collected her thoughts.
“Can you do me one more favor?” Lana asked.
“I suppose so,” Adette replied. She was genuinely confused.
“Please don’t tell my father that I lost the basket.” Adette took in the sight of Lana’s pleading face. A sigh burst from between her lips. Her chin dipped once in a nod of agreement.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be right back. Wait here just a moment.” Lana whipped around and darted into the bakery. Adette stared after her helplessly. Karl had given up on getting someone to rub his stomach and had righted himself.
“I wonder what she’s doing,” Karl said just quietly enough for Adette to hear and no one else.
The front door of the bakery burst open. Lana had a loaf of bread tucked under each arm. Her father, big, burly and in any other circumstance slightly scary looking, was standing with his mouth hanging open entirely.
“I haven’t quite figured out yet how to explain it to my Dad, but these are a day old. He shouldn’t have any problems with me giving them to you really. Thanks for helping me and keeping my secret. I know that no one here has been exactly welcoming. If you don’t mind, I wouldn’t mind stopping by some times to have some more tea. Maybe you can keep an eye out for good berry patches?”
“I…can do that,” Adette said in a daze.
“Great! That’s settled then. I have to go back to work, but I’ll see you some other time.” Lana turned and ran back into the bakery. She gently closed her father’s mouth and then disappeared into the back of the shop.
“Karl, what just happened?” Adette blinked. Her mind had gone completely blank.
“I think you just made a friend.”