The sun streamed through the hand-embroidered curtains, covering enough of the windows for a mostly authentic look. The idea of having a teahouse was more of a dream than a reality, except for this spring. This spring, Aunt Eleanor was visiting. I had a surprise for her.
Chimes sounded quietly in the back of the shop and I almost smiled. She’d sent the antique clock as my Christmas and birthday gift rolled into one. It sang with the lost beauty of an era long gone. The chimes stopped and footsteps picked up where they’d left off.
The smile came out in full-force. “Morning, Auntie.”
She set a silver tray tea service down on the center of the table. “Morning yourself, scamp.” There was a kiss on my cheek before Aunt Eleanor flopped onto the delicate wooden chair, golden curls captured in a green and purple polka dot scarf, setting off blue overalls and a pink work shirt. “Am I late?”
The fresh, comforting scent of orange-cranberry scones wafted through the air, slowly melting away any earlier annoyances. “Not really-I just can’t wait to get started.” I stole a glance at my watch.
Her hand snaked across the table and captured my wrist. “Ah-ah! You promised! No time censoring! You’ve closed this place for a week-and you need the rest!” She wiggled her fingers. “I would pour, but I daresay you’ve got smaller hands than I do. Help yourself and pour a cup for your poor, old auntie, would you?” She speared a scone with the miniature knife, gouging it in half to stuff the insides with homemade jam. “Mmm! Is this your Mum’s recipe?”
“Yeah, it’s Mom’s.” I rolled my eyes. “Cute accent, use it much?”
“Only when I’m traveling.” Her mega-watt smile upped a few notches. “Remind me to hand over the most heavenly recipe I stumbled across in Sweden. It’s to die for! So tell me, what’s this secret of yours?” She took a large bite and chewed for a moment. “Apart from the fact that you’re my favorite niece and I like to fool myself into thinking I’m your favorite aunt-”
“You are my favorite aunt!” I poured tea. “Cream and sugar?”
“A drizzle of honey only and you know it!” She happily licked her fingers. “I can understand giving this place a makeover, it’s looked the same in the entire five years you’ve birthed and raised it, but why me? Why now?”
“What’s wrong with now?”
“Spring time.” Aunt Eleanor said knowingly. “The best conventions and gatherings for your high-society types are going on now. Trends and cutesy things that don’t even exist yet in the real world for us working folk, are on display now. I thought it was part of your job description to search and hunt down the new, exotic products in your field.”
“Spring is all about new life and new beginnings and all of that. And it’s because of you I opened this teahouse in the first place. I just didn’t quite-” I swallowed.
“Welf?” Aunt Eleanor mumbled around a scone.
“I’m opening a new shop.” The words tumbled out on top of each other. “I was hoping I could convince you to run one, or at least help build the other.”
There was a moment of silence as the polka-dotted head tilted to the side, a southern drawl surfacing from the depths of her vast array of accents. “Hun, if I wanted t’ run a fancy coffee shop, dontcha think I would’ve awhile back?”
“You’re better at it than you think and I kind of figured you wouldn’t want to, so if you help me build it, I’ll hire someone to run this end and work the new place until it can stand on its own feet. I just need you!”
“Whoa! Now hold up there, lass! I never said I wouldn’t, just wanted to know why.”
“Dangerous question.” I took a dainty sip of tea, savoring the taste as it slipped down my throat. “I wanna be just like you when I really grow up. Bold, fearless and never afraid to try anything.”
“Starting and opening one’s own business takes plenty of bravery and confidence on its own, love.” She held out her china cup. “Because it’s spring, I go for a bit of upside-down-crazy. Let’s build this new dream and maybe I’ll hold it down for a bit, while you work out the hiccups. Deal?”
I held my cup out. “Deal!”
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