Missy spent most of the afternoon coming up with (and rejecting) possible ways to get her hands on the books. She considered getting to the Flea Market Exchange a couple of hours before they opened, but banished that thought even before it fully formed. If Loretta was paying Joyce off, then the only way to beat her to the books was to make sure Loretta couldn’t get there until it was too late.
Missy figured she’d be able to finagle getting the books if she had enough time. The problem was making sure Loretta didn’t get there until really, really late. Plus, she would have to make sure Loretta never realized that Missy had had anything to do with her not getting the books. She knew from past experience that Loretta was a vindictive bitch who would stop at nothing to make Missy’s life hell. Missy knew she would never win that battle in her lifetime. She had no desire to stand watch over her car or bookstore 24 hours a day.
* * *
Loretta grinned as she closed up The Book Nook and headed home. The call earlier from Joyce down at the Flea Market Exchange had made her day. Heck, it had made her entire week. Finding out that Joyce had a teeny little money problem had been a real gift. Even better was discovering that Joyce was more than open to a little financial assistance to help with that problem.
Loretta snorted as she thought about the look on Missy Johnson’s pudgy little face when she discovered she had once again lost out on the paperback books for her precious little shop. Missy was stupid and would never in a million years figure out what was going on. She would just assume Loretta had gotten there ahead of her once again and would slink away with the leftovers. Joyce had let it slip that Missy was getting to the Flea Market Exchange earlier and earlier in the hopes of getting her hands on the books. That alone was worth the extra money she was paying Joyce for the privilege.
Loretta pulled up outsider her house and backed up the driveway. Even though she didn’t have to leave early, she needed enough time to get the books and get back to The Book Nook and get the new books set up.
* * *
Once the Bookworm had been tidied and locked up for the night, Missy settled the cats, cleaned the house and did 3 loads of laundry until she figured it was late enough that she could make a little run up to Grand Marais. At this hour, no one would have a clue she had even stepped foot outside her house.
Of course, the cats new, she thought as she drove off, their little faces watching her from the upstairs window. But she knew they would never give her away. Especially after the extra tuna she had given them as a treat earlier.
Missy drove the winding road carefully. She had more than once surprised deer and several black bears on the road in the past. Tonight was not the night for an accident or anything else.
But the drive went smoothly and Missy found herself at Loretta’s road sooner than she expected. She turned off the lights as she turned the corner and pulled over. Her heart started pounding so hard she thought it was going to jump right out of her chest and it completely blocked out the sound of the grasshoppers.
She gazed at Loretta’s house. All the lights were out and there was nothing stopping her from just getting on with it.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, she thought. She had never done anything like this before in her life. And what if she got caught?
Then she thought about what Elaine had told her again and all the anger of this morning came rushing back. It wasn’t right that Loretta was bribing Joyce to give her the books. The Flea Market Exchange was supposed to be fair and impartial. It was supposed to be first come, first served.
Her resolve returned and she got out of the car. She carefully eased the door shut so the sound wouldn’t give her away. She looked at dark house and took a deep breath. Clutching her tools in her hand, she made her way up the driveway, thankful Loretta didn’t have a dog.