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Chapter One

Why hadn't I realized this problem before? The bright red tote bag with Yarn2Go emblazoned on the front fell over as I tried to cram in the long knitting loom for my upcoming yarn retreat. My selection of round looms rolled across the floor efore falling flat. The other long looms scattered at my feet. Julius, my black cat, watched from his spot on the leather love seat in the room I called my office as I gathered up the odd-looking pieces of equipment.

I might be able to get them into the bag for my meeting, but it would simply not work to hand out such ungainly and heavy bags to my retreaters as they registered.

Julius blinked his yellow eyes at me. "I know what you're thinking," I said. "This is the fourth retreat I'm putting on and I should have figured this out already." The plan had been that after my meeting, I was going to pick up the boxes of looms and stuff the bags for the retreaters.

I looked around the small room, as if there might be an answer for me. There were reminders of my aunt's handiwork with yarn everywhere. My favorite was the crocheted lion who patrolled from the desk, though is face was too amusing to appear threatening. And then there was the sample of my handiwork that I was the most proud of. It had taken me awhile, but I'd finished making the worry doll from the last retreat. I loved the doll and the concept. You were supposed to give her your worries, and she would take care of them. I'd give mine a face with an attitude, which made her appear up for the job.

"Worry doll, how about some help with this?" I pointed at the bag, which I had smartly propped up at my feet when I'd refilled it. It fell over on its side anyway.

"I'm talking to cats and dolls," I said, shaking my head in disbelief as I grabbed the handles and lugged the bag out of the room.

Julius followed me to the kitchen, making a last play for a serving of stink fish. I started to ignore it, but such a little effort made him so happy, and eventually I gave in. The can of smelly cat food was wrapped in plastic and then in three layers of plastic bags, yet somehow the strong smell still got through. I held my nose before giving him a dainty portion and then starting the involved job of rewrapping resealing it. He was busily chewing as I went out the back door.

Julius and I had only been companions for a short time and he was the first pet I had ever had - thought I was beginning to think he viewed me as the pet. He had definitely chose me, and he seemed to be doing a good job of training me to give him the care he desired. I'd wanted him to stay inside initially, but he'd he no intention of being strictly an indoor cat and had pushed open a window to show me how to leave it open just enough so that he could coe and go as he pleased.

Outside, the sky was a flat white. That was the average weather here on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. White sky, cool weather, no matter the month. It just happened to be October, though you couldn't tell by looking around. There were no trees with golden leaves-mostly there were Monterey Pines and Monterey Cypress, which never lost their foliage and stayed a dark green year-round. The cypress tree on the strip of land in front of my house had a typical horizontal shape from the constant wind. Somehow it made me think of someone running away with their hair flowing behind them. It seemed funny, since I had here to ?"

My name is Casey Feldstein, and to make a long story short, I'd relocated to my aunt's guest house in Cadbury when I was faced with moving back in with my high-achieving parents (both doctors) because I was once again out of a job. Sadly, my aunt had been illed in a hit-and-run several months after I moved in. She'd left me everything-a house, a yarn retreat businesses and, as it was turning out, a life.

I might have moved almost two thousand miles away from Chicag, but that didn't mean I had severed my ties with my parents or, I was sorry to admit, my need for their approval. It still stung when my mother ended our conversations with her usual, "When I was your age I was a wife, a doctor and a mother and you're what?"

So, maybe I was thirty-five and it was true that I'd had a rather spotty career history that, until recently, seemed to be headed nowhere. Of all the things I had done, my two favorites were the temp work at the detective agency, where I was either an assistant detective or a detective's assistant, depending on who you talked to, and my position as a dessert chef at a small bistro. I would have never left either of those jobs-they left me.

Though my mother had a hard time acknowledging it, these days I di have an answer for her usual comment. I had taken over my aunt's yarn retreat business, even though I hadn't known a knitting needle from a crochet hook when I'd started. And I'd turned my baking skills into a regular job as dessert chef at the Blue Door restaurant, plus I baked muffins for the assorted coffee spots in Cadbury.

I starred to walk past the converted garage that had been my home when I'd first moved here and then made a last minute decision to go inside and check the supply of tote bags, as if the new ones I'd had made up might somehow be bigger than the one I was carrying.

The flat light that made it through the cloud cover was coming in the windows and illuminating the interior. The stack of bags sat on the counter that served as a divider etween the tiny kitchen area and living space. I folded one out and measured it against my stuffed one. No surprise, they were the same size. As I flattened the ag and put it back, I noticed the worn manila envelope that had been sitting there for month. I still hadn't figured out what to do about its contents.

I hadn't told anyone about the information the envelope contained, not even my best friend Lucinda Thornkill, who owned the Blue Door with her husband, Tag, so there was no one to go to for advice.

There was no reason to deal with it now, except to procrastinate from dealing with the bag issue. I guess there was one person I could go to for advice. It was two hours later in Chicago, and even though it was Saturday, my ex-boss at the detective agency was probably leaning back in his office considering his lunch options, which meant it was a good time to call.

I punched in the number, and he answered on the third ring.

"Hi, Frank," I said. Before I could say more, he interrupted.

"Oh no, Feldstein. Don't tell me there's another body in that town of yours, with the name that sounds like a candy bar." It was true that when I had called him in the past it was to get advice about a death-well, a murder in town to be exact.

"No, no, Frank. No dead bodies this time. All the citizens of Cadbury by the Sea are alive-as far as I know. I wanted to ask your advice on something else."

"Okay, Feldstein. I get it. You've got boy trouble again. Shoot."

I laughed. I'd never called him about boy trouble, as he called it nor would I ever do so. "It's something else," I began.

Gone With The Wool
by Betty Hechtman

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