A little snippet from Hope for the Holidays
Jill shook her head, and her chin trembled. “I’m so sorry. I had no clue.”
“What happened?” He pinched the bridge of his nose, scrambling for any clue about the situation. No stranger had stopped in and asked him any questions about the building. A steady stream of tourists entered the store but no single moment stood out. Over the past year, he had several normal encounters with members of the city council at various functions. Last Thanksgiving, he stood on a ladder and strung lights on the memorial in front of City Hall, smiling and exchanging pleasantries with the council members.
No one stopped to warn him. Had the property already been sold at that point? How could he not have known? He dropped his hand and sighed. “When did the town council decide to sell my property?” He rolled the papers into a cylinder.
“I don’t know.” Jill held up her hands. She set her mouth in a solid line.
He smoothed his free hand over his scalp. With his world spinning off its axis, he clutched onto her honesty. “I slipped from a year-long lease and into a month-to-month arrangement in the fall.” He shook his head. “I wasn’t paying attention. But I’ve saved enough. I can purchase the building. Mayor McKinney promised me he’d give me warning. I should have talked to the city months ago. I got busy with the new business and distracted. I have the money.”
“I don’t know any specifics. I rushed over as soon as I heard.” Her back rounded, and she hunched.
Extending both hands toward her, he tightened his grip on the rolled paper, crinkling the sheets. He snapped to attention, dropping his arms to his sides. While his instincts urged him to close the gap and comfort her, he held a more pressing concern.
She raised her chin. “I’ll find out. I can talk with the town council before the meeting tomorrow night.”
He recoiled from her clear blue-eyed stare, drawing back his chin. Gripping the papers with both hands, he twisted the cylinder like a towel. Exposing his troubles to the community at large was the absolute last option he’d choose. “I don’t want everyone talking about my situation. Only a handful of people know I sold. Won’t questions jumpstart speculation about my family?”