The Copycat Killers(9)

By: Paula Millhouse


Nick and Patrick Jones, his nephew, busied themselves unloading one of Nick’s white birch bark canoes from Meg’s old pickup truck. He’d leased a business space in one of the historic downtown buildings on Main Street and kept the shop open three days per week, weather permitting.

“You guys mind if we go on?” Evie asked.

Patrick waved her away. “Naw, we got this. Go buy me something awesome for Christmas. Mom has my list on her phone.”

Evie giggled. Patrick was seventeen, a senior in high school, and one of her favorite people on the planet. Gangly and tall, the teenager hadn’t quite grown into himself, but he would. Pat’s father Tom was a huge bear of a man, and Meg stood five-foot-ten. With Nick at six-foot-four, and her at only five-foot-six, it was like living in a forest of giants.

Nick swooped in for a goodbye kiss. “Meet us back here before noon. Pat and I will be busy getting this boat and the bamboo fly-rods shipped out west for the Winston job.”

“Do they fly fish out there in the winter?”

“Depends on the weather I think. This is a Christmas present, though so we have to send it now,” Nick replied.

“Okay. The address is in the computer files. You’re sure…?”

He turned her toward Meg and swatted Evie on the butt in a playful way. “Go. Spend that royalty money on something amazing for yourself. Love you.”

She giggled and bolted forward to catch up with Meg. She’d been waiting to do this for a week, and now with the festive decorations surrounding her in the quaint little downtown area, and the snow on the ground, she was definitely in the giving mood. “Meg. Wait up.”

Her sister-in-law-to-be hesitated and turned back to her. “Come on shrimp. There’s something special I want to show you.”

“Nope. You need to come with me. I need your approval on a Christmas present.” She led Meg down to the bookstore that sold cameras and cards and books. She could hardly contain her excitement.

“Did you finally pick out a present for Nick?” Meg asked, taking her scarf off, and unzipping her coat.

“Mmm, no. He’s a tough nut to crack.” She turned her attention to the clerk. “I’d like to see the Franklin job please.”

“Just a minute,” the clerk replied, turning to get her order.

“You know what Nick really wants. He wants to get married. To you.” Meg tapped the engagement ring on her finger. “That would be a killer Christmas present.”

“April, Meg. That’s what we agreed on. A long engagement.”

“You’re not gonna change your mind, right?”

“Nope.”

“Then why wait?”

“Doesn’t it take like six months to plan a wedding?”

“So that’s what you want? A big church thing, with all the trimmings? We can do that you know.” Meg’s expression brightened. She tucked her hair behind her ear. “I’ve started a Pinterest board and everything.”

Evie lifted up her palms. “I’ve been thinking about it. I want something simple and intimate.” She didn’t add the part where she was afraid to draw attention to herself, or to Nick. She did her best not to worry about the man who got away that awful day back in October. About him coming back.

Meg had taken a bullet to the chest that day, then spent an entire week in the hospital. That she was standing here beside her was a miracle. That she wanted her to marry Nick and be a part of her family, even moreso. Over the past two months Evie and Meg had developed the kind of relationship she’d always wanted. A sisterhood.

The clerk returned with her order and interrupted her reverie. “Okay. This is what the publisher calls their galley. Your next step is to look through the book to finalize it.” He checked the calendar. “If you’re happy with it they should have it ready to print next week, just in time for Christmas.”

Evie took the eleven-by-fourteen black hardback book from his hands and chills raced over her arms. She was so excited about the gift and hoped Meg would like it. Then she turned to her and placed it in her hands. “This is for you, Meg.”

The clerk pointed them to the café chairs. “Sit over there and decide if you want any changes. Once we have the dedication your order will be complete.”

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