In Moonbright, Maine, there’s a pumpkin on every porch, fresh brewed apple cider in every cup—and the sweetest sorcery in the air . . .
Before, after, and even during the excitement of the annual Halloween parade, gathering at the Corner Café is a beloved Moonbright tradition. Costumed revelers of all kinds come for the famous whoopie pies, the heartfelt hospitality, and the chance to hear the town’s spookiest stories and local legends whispered to the younger generation . . .
The most magically romantic legend of all promises that a Moonbright woman will marry the man she sees reflected in a mirror on Halloween. For three such singles, the crunch of fall leaves and the fragrance of fresh-baked pie sets the perfect stage for this most tantalizing trick—and most delightful treat—the genuine enchantment of true love.
PRAISE FOR THE COTTAGE ON PUMPKIN AND VINE
“This wonderful, well-written collection calls to mind brisk autumn nights cuddled with a loved one.”
“This diverse trio of stories bring three couples to love with a charming, slightly sexy Halloween flair . . . Sassy, funny, and dusted with magic.”
“With humor and a little mysticism thrown in, each story winds its way to a happy ever after. Every pairing comes to fruition in a unique way.”
—RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
Release date: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Kensington Books
Print pages: 368
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The Café between Pumpkin and Pie
Her sheep? Hannah heard him but didn’t look his way. She stood in the middle of Pumpkin Lane, awaiting the start of Moonbright’s annual Halloween parade. Fifteen minutes and counting. She was dressed as Little Bo Peep. She’d pinned her hair beneath a pink bonnet with white eyelet trim, then tied it under her chin. Her pink satin dress featured puffy sleeves, a faux lace-up bodice, and polka dot trim. A stiff crinoline flared the skirt. Adult sheer white thigh-high stockings decorated with flirty blue bows brought sexiness to the childhood nursery rhyme. She’d debated the pink ruffled panties and decided to stick with the costume. No plain white cotton. Black patent leather Mary Janes completed her outfit. She carried a bright blue plastic shepherd’s crook.
She grew weary. This was not her costume of choice. She wore it on her older sister’s behalf. She was doing Lauren a big favor. She had come down with a cold and could not participate in the holiday festivities. Her husband was a police officer, on duty, and so, equally unable to carry out the family tradition. She’d begged Hannah to take her place. To take her four-year-old triplets to the parade, then trick-or-treating. Which was actually asking a lot. Hannah was single. She had no experience with children of her own.
Hal, Howie, and Harry were a handful. The nearly identical boys were costumed as sheep. Their one-piece fluffy white Sherpa jumpsuits, hoods with ears, and shoe covers made it difficult to tell them apart. A tiny gold bell was sewed at the neck of each costume. Their heads bobbed, and there was a lot of jingling going on.
One such jingle had wandering feet. She turned to her young flock and discovered Howie’s focus was on the numerous live animals lining up behind them. He liked all things Disney and wanted to pet the Saint Bernard wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
Hannah motioned to him. “Come back to me, Howie.”
He ignored her. “Right now,” she said firmly. “All small hands on the shepherd’s hook. We walk together, remember?”
The guy at the curb chuckled. “Need help with your flock?” he asked.
The wide brim of her bonnet framed her face. She refused to look his way. “I’ve got things under control.” Or did she?
“You’ve lost a second sheep,” he pointed out.
So she had. Hal’s interest was centered on the Moonbright High School band. Costumed as skeletons, they tuned up their instruments in preparation for marching down the street. Hal had joined their drumline.
Worry took over. She was two sheep down, and the third, Harry, took interest in the man curbside. One quick look in his direction and familiarity struck home. She shivered. Not from the cold, but in response to the man himself. Jake Kaylor in the flesh. A Halloween shocker.
He thumbed down his mirrored-lens aviators and stared at her over the rim. His eyes were a green so deep they were almost black. No more than ten feet separated them. He defined edgy. All hard faced, daring, and hazardous to her heart. He held her attention with a shadowed gaze and sexy cool smile. Then reset his shades.
Her knees nearly buckled. She’d had a crush on him for more years than she could count. Unrequited and from a distance. She was so lost in the moment of looking at him that she nearly forgot who and where she was. Including her responsibility of the triplets. She blinked, adjusted to his presence. Then raised her voice to be heard over the trombone section. “Hal, Howie, right here, right now.”
The boys glanced her way for all of a second, only to ignore her request. Bribery became her best friend. Hannah knew their weakness. “Whoopie pies at the Corner Café if you behave.”
The enticement worked. They stopped short and returned to her as fast as their small feet could carry them. Hal ran. Howie hopped. They loved the chocolate cake circles filled with a creamy vanilla frosting. Their favorite treat. She extended the shepherd’s crook and each grabbed hold. They stood appropriately still. For the moment. Harry, however, took his sweet time.
Jake now held his full attention. Harry wasn’t the only one fixated on the man. Anyone standing within twenty feet of Jake openly stared. He made an immediate impression, biker tough. The men admired him. A sexual rush made women blush. He was a turn-on. There was a wildness to Jake that unsettled the ladies. A roughness that dared them to domesticate him.
Other guys were equally tall, broad shouldered, and muscled. It was Jake’s face that set him apart. Angular and strong boned. Alpha and masculine. His sharp gaze undressed and penetrated a woman’s deepest thoughts. His cheekbones slashed to a single dimple, unshaved jaw. Wicked grin. His mouth promised midnight arousal and morning satisfaction.
Hannah recalled that her sister had dated Jake a number of summers ago. It had been short-lived. Lauren was oftentimes vain and liked being seen with him. However, he hadn’t shown her the consideration she felt she deserved. He was a man of strong convictions. Blunt and truthful. There was no small print written into his character. Lauren’s nagging, criticism, and ultimatums hadn’t set well. He didn’t change for anyone. They’d parted ways. He on friendly terms, she silently fuming.
Jake rallied by playing the field. The single women of Moonbright missed him terribly when he left town.
Lauren rebounded with policeman Grant Atwood before the growl of Jake’s motorcycle had cleared the city limits. Grant was madly in love with her and went out of his way to please her. They’d married and had three adorable boys. All curious, a bit unmanageable, and growing like weeds. Hannah needed eyes in the back of her head to keep track of them.
At that very moment a preoccupied young Harry was checking out Jake. Hannah studied the man too. A black bandanna wrapped his long hair. He wore a faded gray T-shirt scripted with Ride Hard beneath his black leather jacket, the collar turned up. He packed a pair of frayed jeans like no other man. He emitted an intimidating strength and purpose that left her breathless but didn’t faze Harry in the least.
Undeterred, Harry scrutinized Jake’s scuffed black boots. Boots with attitude, thought Hannah. The boy stooped low and touched the steel toe, the side zipper, and the double snap flap. His gaze widened in awe. Hero worship. “Snow boots?” he asked Jake.
“Motorcycle boots,” Jake informed him. “I ride a ’70 Ducati Monza.”
The brand of bike was lost on Harry. But he liked Jake’s clothes. “Nice costume.”
“Thanks.” Jake didn’t correct Harry. He let the mistake slide. His outfit wasn’t a disguise—it was his everyday attire.
Jake held out his hand to the boy. “I’m Jake. The parade looks fun. Mind if I walk with you?”
“I’m Harry.” The child straightened so fast, he nearly tipped over. The excitement of holding Jake’s hand along the six-block route would make his day. Nonetheless, he hesitated. Smart boy, Hannah realized. His parents had taught him well. Jake was a stranger and Harry sought Hannah’s permission before taking the man’s hand. She nodded, and Harry grabbed on to Jake, jumping in place, his sheep bell jingling.
“Hal and Howie,” she introduced the other two boys.
“Dudes,” Jake acknowledged.
“Dudes” drew their laughter. Silly belly laughs.
Hannah observed them from beneath the rim of her bonnet. The triplets had taken to Jake. She was taken by him too. She’d recognized him, standing nonchalantly on the curb, but she didn’t know him well. Nobody did. Rumors and reputation preceded him. He never corrected misconceptions. He knew who he was and didn’t care what people thought of him.
She’d grown up in the small Maine town of Moonbright, a shy, oftentimes clumsy girl. Her family owned the Corner Café. Established in 1946, the restaurant had a generational soul that went deep in Moonbright history.
Jake had no such ancestral roots, wasn’t even a full-time resident of the community. The majority of his family lived in Bangor. Jake and his father restored classic cars and, over the years, had established platinum status for their business. Jake had further branched out to collector motorcycles. Repairing, rebuilding, and reselling the bikes. His only link to Moonbright came through his grandfather, military veteran Major George Kaylor. Jake visited the older man on occasion. More often now since his grandmother’s passing. He apparently deemed Halloween a homecoming event, Hannah thought.
“You sure about the parade?” she hesitantly asked him. He had volunteered, but she didn’t want to disrupt his day.
Jake nodded. “I’ve two hours to kill. Afterward I’ll locate my granddad and let him know I’m in town. On our last phone call, he indicated he would be at the café late in the afternoon, seated on a counter stool, enjoying a cup of coffee and piece of pie.”
Hannah had served the older man over the years. He was a regular. “Black coffee and pumpkin pie.”
“He lives for that pie.”
Baking was near and dear to her grandmother’s heart. Nan’s pies were celebrated throughout the county. She made them from scratch. “I crack one egg at a time,” she often said. She baked daily. The pies were in the oven long before dawn. She made one specialty pie each day along with the standard favorites. The kitchen always smelled fruity, cinnamon-y, and delicious.
The coordinator of the parade soon drew everyone’s attention. The woman had climbed an aluminum ladder near a corner stop sign. Her voice was amplified by a megaphone. “Your attention, please.” Those on the street quieted. Only a beagle and a pug exchanged barks. “Welcome to Boo to You!” The theme of the parade. “Get in position. It’s almost one PM. The Halloween Queen goes first in the vintage Cadillac, followed by the mayor and city officials in separate vehicles. Third, the high school band. Play loud; play lively. Fourth, anyone in costume. From babies to adults. Pets fifth. Hold tight to those leashes. No runaways. The hayride and floats sixth. An enormous new pumpkin-faced helium balloon will wrap up the parade. Handlers guide the balloon straight down the street just above the rooftops. No higher. Looks like a windy day. The route ends at the city park. Disperse with care. Once the street fully clears, the stores and cafés will open for trick-or-treating. Have fun, everyone!”
She blew a whistle, loud and piercing, and the parade was underway. Exhilaration marked the day. Moonbright laid claim to the largest pumpkin patch in the state of Maine. Located on the outskirts of the village, the acreage produced hundreds of pumpkins, from palm size to four hundred pounds. Locals and tourists alike bought pumpkins to carve, then display. Both grinning and grumpy jack-o’-lanterns now lined the parade route. It was a sight to behold.
The parade was inclusive. Anyone who wanted to participate could participate. No one got left out. It was a tight fit on the narrow streets of Moonbright, but the outcome made every person happy.
The weather was overcast and cool with no snow in the immediate forecast. The sun poked holes in the clouds and lit up patches of blue sky. The pale sunshine cast a false warmth.
“The band is on the move,” said Jake. He motioned them forward. “It’s our turn, guys.”
Little Bo Peep, her sheep, and the motorcycle man fell in behind parents pushing baby carriages and those with toddlers. They got their fair share of stares. Hannah didn’t like being the center of attention. Shyness overtook her and she withdrew inside herself. Jake was comfortable in his own skin with nothing to hide, nothing to prove. Numerous locals recognized him. Most seemed surprised that he walked in the parade. Quite tame for him. He received short nods and curious grins. The triplets seemed to believe the parade was in their honor. They marched with pride and waved like crazy.
A peevish northern wind joined the parade. It tipped Hannah’s bonnet over one eye. Sketched goose bumps on her arms. Then blew up her skirt. The hoop-style petticoat swung above her knees. She flashed sheer white thigh-high stockings right up to the pretty blue bows. She swatted down her errant skirt. And nearly dropped the shepherd’s crook. The triplets hadn’t noticed the mishap, but Jake definitely had.
She felt his gaze from behind his mirrored aviators. He cocked his head and grinned. A teasing grin, so sexy and unsettling that she nearly tripped over her own feet.
He edged close, lowered his voice, and said, “Naughty wind peeked up your skirt.”
“So did you.”
“Nice legs, Peep.”
Her blush was immediate. Worse still, the wind had a mind of its own. It continued playing with her hem, unrepentant and determined to lift the layered polka dots once again. She didn’t want to draw further attention to herself. However, the gusts were relentless.
The crowd had thickened, and she couldn’t let go of the staff or her two sheep would wander off. Hal and Howie were still hands-on as long as she guided them. Panic set in. She feared the next stiff breeze would flaunt her pink ruffled panties. Despite the fact they were part of the costume.
Overly modest? Perhaps. Even so, she preferred that no one see her undies. She flattened the front of the skirt over her legs with one hand only to have the wind riffle the back. A stiff draft slid between her thighs. Tickled her bottom. She sidestepped into Jake.
He sensed her predicament and saved her. He grasped her by the elbow and eased both her and the sheep toward the curb. The parade swerved around them. Continued on. Not missing a beat. No one paid any attention to their momentary break. Even her nephews behaved.
Once curbside, he shucked his leather jacket and handed it to her. “The wind’s really kicked up. Put it on; zip it up,” he told her. “My jacket will fall below your hips. At least it will pin your skirt down. No panty flash.”
How had he known her worst fear? There was something about the man that both relieved and bothered her. She was glad to have his jacket, yet flustered by how easily he’d read her mind.
Jake kept track of the triplets while she slipped on his jacket. It was large, roomy, and scented with his maleness. All earthy and musk. The bottom leather edge fell mid-thigh and, once zipped, held down her polka dots. His body warmth embraced her, chasing away the chill and further indignity. Grateful, she smiled and mouthed, Thank you.
He spoke low. “We’ve denied the wind the big reveal.”
We, as in he and she. Together.
A lusty gust pressed his gray cotton T-shirt to his chest. Etching his firm pecs and six-pack. The man was built. “You won’t get cold?” she asked.
“I’ve plenty of heat, Peep.”
That he did. She was feeling overheated herself. Not only from the jacket but from his nearness. “The parade,” she managed. They needed to join the folks in costume before the animals caught up to them. The dogs, cats, and a Shetland pony required their own space. And would prove distracting to the boys.
Jake found the perfect moment for them to reenter the procession. They ducked between a Flintstone family and a row of Caped Crusaders. They’d walked four blocks with two to go when Hal’s shoulders drooped, his one hand dropped off the staff, and he began to drag his feet.
“Tired, Hal?” Hannah was quick to ask the boy. The triplets had been hyped at the beginning of the parade and expended a lot of energy. They were winding down. She gently suggested, “Let’s step aside and watch the remaining pets and floats from the sidewalk.”
“Keep going.” Hal pushed forward on a sigh and a yawn. His sluggish steps slowed the parade behind them. A few people shouldered past. The dogs pressed close. A black Labrador sniffed Hal’s costume.
Jake still held Harry’s hand, yet his concern for Hal was evident. He stepped behind Hannah and hunkered down beside the boy. He patted his shoulder, encouraged, “Piggyback.” Hal climbed on. Jake carried him easily, and they continued down the street.
Jake’s thoughtfulness wasn’t lost on her. She glanced at the tall man holding one small boy’s hand while piggybacking another. They were quite the sight. She saw a photographer on the sidewalk snapping pictures for the small-town newspaper the Moonbright Sun. The young woman focused on Jake. Clicked several frames. He’d make a great feature photo.
Hannah looked at Howie, still holding on to the shepherd’s crook. “You doing okay, little man?” she questioned. Hoping he was.
“I’m fine,” he assured her. He was all smiles as he marched along to the band’s rendition of “Monster Mash.” “Whoopie pie,” he reminded her of the promised treat.
Hannah had not forgotten. It was fresh on her mind. They progressed down the street, streaming past the redbrick storefronts. Seasons came and seasons went. The autumn russet awnings would soon be retracted and winter frost would curtain the storm windows.
They’d nearly reached the end of the route. The courthouse marked the southwest corner of the final block. Constructed in gray brick, the 1889 town landmark had aged gracefully. The two-story structure had weathered countless harsh northern blizzards. The clock tower created a sense of time and place. The wide cement steps provided seating for those watching the parade. A vendor costumed as a skeleton sold popcorn and caramel apples from a rattling-bones portable food cart.
The town park spread out just ahead at the end of Pumpkin Lane. October painted a sparse cropping of trees in faded russet and sienna hues. Few leaves survived on the branches; the bark on the white oak had turned patchy. The grass browned by fall.
Two police officers directed traffic as everyone dispersed along Pie Street. She debated inviting Jake to join them at the café. He’d gone above and beyond helping her with the triplets. The least she could do was offer him a homemade sweet before she took the boys trick-or-treating. Their father would pick them up at the conclusion of his shift.
She looked at Jake now. A big man encircled by little boys. He still held Harry’s hand. Hal’s arms were still wrapped about his neck. The little boy had fallen asleep over the last two blocks, his cheek pressed against Jake’s shoulder. A much-needed short nap. He stirred now. Jake twisted about and Hal slid off his back, stood, and stretched. Wide awake and fully revived.
Howie tugged on Hannah’s hand. “Whoopie pie!”
Her nephews weren’t the least bit hesitant about inviting Jake to join them. “Come with us,” they begged.
“He may have other plans,” Hannah said, giving Jake an out.
“There’s nothing more important than whoopie pie,” he replied. “Once inside, I’ll speak briefly with my granddad, then join you for a snack.”
“I appreciate your help today,” she told him.
“I like a grateful woman.” His suggestive tone stroked her.
“I never expected you to—”
“Join the parade?”
“You don’t seem the type.”
“There’s a first time for everything. I was at the right place at the right time. You had your hands full. Harry did like my costume,” he reminded her.
His clothes fit him, a physically hard man. Yet she’d also seen his softer side. He liked kids.
As did she. “I love children,” she admitted. “Sadly, I don’t discipline; I bribe.”
“They aren’t your kids,” he reminded her. “They’d listen to their parents, but you’re the aunt and an easy mark. There’s nothing wrong with a little bribery.”
She accepted his take on the day.
He removed his mirrored sunglasses and hooked them in the collar of his T-shirt. Humor crinkled the corners of his midnight green eyes. “It was a fun afternoon. There was a lot going on, and the boys survived all the stimulation and distractions. They were actually quite good.”
She crooked her finger. “Cooperation comes with whoopie pie.”
An appealing treat, Jake thought. He willingly followed her the short distance to the Corner Café, one of his favorite places in town. The triplets had gotten their second wind and were all bounce and boundless energy. They jerked the front door wide and entered ahead of Hannah. Jake held the door for her, and she passed beneath his arm. The wind had pinkened her cheeks and the tip of her nose. Her shoulder brushed his chest and her feminine scent enveloped him. Fresh, crisp, and clean. Innocent. Awareness jolted him. Sudden and unexpected. A sexual surprise.
What the hell? Hannah was pretty and sweet but not his usual type. Maybe it was her costume, he mused. Sexy role play in the bedroom wasn’t new to him. Sinful nurses and naughty nuns turned him on. Little Bo Peep was mild by comparison. Nursery rhymes were meant for children. Be that as it may, her thigh-high stockings were damn sexy and very adult. She had shapely legs.
His wayward thoughts were lost to his memories of the café. The casual atmosphere included a pressed-tin ceiling, wood-paneled walls, green vinyl counter seats, and wooden booths with coat hooks. The old-fashioned tile work had survived the wear of spring sandals and winter boots.
Each time he had visited his grandparents they’d brought him to the café for a meal or two. A wide chalkboard on the far wall displayed the daily specials. A wooden sign off to the right was carved with the café slogan: Your Favorite Food Comes in a Pie—Lobster, Chicken, or Fruit. Jake’s favorite was lobster pot pie.
Mounted photographs of the Allan family along with time-honored customers framed one wall. All from different decades, showing folks at various stages of eating their meals. The locals felt a sense of celebrity to be pictured among diners of another era. Jake planned to look more closely at the photos as time allowed. He hoped to spot Hannah as a young girl.
All around him local residents hung out on the counter stools or settled into booths. Tables didn’t turn over quickly. More often than not, new arrivals would pull up chairs where people were already seated for extended conversations. The home-style atmosphere offered generous food portions at a fair price.
The waitresses were older, in their fifties and sixties. Most had aged with the café. Their customers were predictable. The servers could write up an order when someone entered the door. That’s how well the waitstaff knew what the regulars ate. To this day, Hannah’s grandmother Nan left bite-size sugar cookies in an antique cookie jar next to the archaic cash register. Everyone left with a smile on their face and a sweet in their pocket.
A few people drifted toward the door, which Jake presently blocked. He moved aside. He’d lost Hannah and the boys during his reflections. They were halfway across the café, headed for a corner booth. She corralled the triplets in the booth while he searched out his grandfather.
His gramps was easy to spot. He sat shoulder to shoulder on a counter stool beside retired electrician and longtime friend Will Moody. The men were known as Moody and the major. Both were widowers and had reached their eighty-fifth birthdays within the same month. A need for companionship drew them to the café twice a day. Like clockwork. A routine never broken. Their morning breakfast and afternoon coffee and pie gave their day purpose. They showed up for each other.
Jake felt a flicker of regret that he hadn’t visited his grandpa more often. Regrettably, work got in the way. Which was his own fault. Days turned into weeks, into months. He’d recently restored a 1956 Harley-Davidson KHK motorcycle. A hell-raiser bike. An intense and time-consuming overhaul. The owner had been pleased. The Californian had added a large bonus to the bill. Jake had subsequently decided to take some time off. He planned to stay in Moonbright until the major sent him back to Bangor.
Jake crossed the café and came to stand behind his granddad. He curved his hand over the older man’s shoulder and squeezed. Both his gramps and Moody swiveled on their stools. They faced him, equally gray haired, bespectacled, in their flannel Pendleton shirts and dark trousers. No belts, Jake noticed. Apparently, they were too restricting for pie a la mode.
The major grinned at Jake, and years faded away. “You’re here,” he greeted Jake. He pushed off the stool and the two exchanged man hugs and thumps on the back.
Jake next shook Moody’s hand. “You’ve been gone too long, boy,” the older man declared.
“So I have,” Jake agreed. He had no one to blame but himself and his busy schedule. “I’m here now and hope to stay awhile.”
His grandfather raised an eyebrow, asked, “What’s a while?” There was hope in his voice that Jake would stay longer than a day.
“Until you tire of me.”
“That would never happen. You are my grandson.”
Jake’s schedule was presently open-ended. He didn’t have a set agenda. He scratched his jaw and his gaze strayed to Hannah and the triplets. He hadn’t realized the major and Moody also followed his stare. An open, revealing look, apparently, given their grins. He wished he hadn’t taken off his aviators. No one could trace his gaze when he wore them. Too late now.
“Cute kids,” his gramps said. “Hannah’s nephews, I believe.”
“They’re costumed for the parade,” added Moody.
“We walked together,” slipped out. Jake set his jaw. He didn’t feel the need to explain himself.
“Old news. We’ve already heard.” There was humor in Moody’s voice. Moonbright was a small town. Word spread fast. Gossip had run ahead of Jake into the café. His name was now linked to Hannah’s.
“Little Bo Peep never looked so pretty,” his grandfather admired.
Gentle and shy too, Jake thought. He mainly knew Hannah through the café. She worked for her grandmother. Waitressing. Hannah occasionally mixed up orders, but no regulars seemed to mind. The customer who received country fried steak and eggs instead of flapjacks switched plates with the other person. Food was eaten. Everyone left the café full and happy. Hannah always received big tips.
“The kids are enjoying whoopie pies,” noted the major. “There’s an extra treat and glass of milk on the table untouched, as if they’re waiting for somebody.”
“That someone would be me,” Jake admitted.
“You’d better go and get it,” said Moody. “The little boy on the end has finished his treat and is eyeing yours. He’s got shifty hands.”
Jake cracked his knuckles. “Guess I’ll head that way then.”
His grandfather cleared his throat, hinted, “You’re looking open-road scruffy. You might consider a haircut someday soon. A shave even.”
Jake couldn’t help but smile. His gramps had lived his life with a military buzz cut. His hair was close-cropped even in retirement. His jaw was cleanly shaved. Jake, on the other hand, wore his own hair longer. A bandanna worked for him or, on occasion, a short ponytail. His facial scruff protected his jawline from windburn when he rode his motorcycle.
“I’ll think about it,” was as far as he’d commit.
Moody spoke up. “You’d need an appointment at Theodore’s Barbershop. With the recent cooler weather it’s become as busy as the café.”
Jake understood. The drop in temperature drove everyone inside. The old-fashioned barbershop drew the male population. It specialized in classic, hot-lather shaves, conservative haircuts, and shoeshines. The shop had three vintage barber chairs and a striped pole out front. Extra slat-back chairs bordered the walls of the shop to accommodate those individuals hanging out, just being sociable. Friendships made time pass quickly. Companionship came with a cut and a shave. Theodore had been in business as long as the café. Both . . .
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