The Bookshop on Autumn Lane
by Cynthia Tennent
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
While some young women would jump through hoops to claim ownership of a bookshop, free-spirited Gertrude “Trudy” Brown wants nothing to do with the rundown store her late Aunt Gertrude left her. Having suffered from dyslexia all her life, books aren’t exactly her friends. With not much more than a collie dog who’s scared of his own shadow, and a rusty but trusty ’74 Beetle, Trudy arrives in the tiny town of Truhart, determined to sell off her cumbersome inheritance as quickly as possible…
But Trudy is not the only stranger in town. Christopher “Kit” Darlington, a professor of American Studies at Cambridge, is searching for an elusive manuscript—and he secretly thinks Trudy’s ramshackle bookshop might hold the key to its discovery. As these two opposites spend the autumn days together, cleaning out Trudy’s bookshop, they soon find that uncovering both literature and love can be equally mysterious…
Trudy’s never been the type to stay in one spot too long, but something about Kit makes her consider starting a new chapter—and maybe even finding there’s a happily-ever-after…
We arrived late last night. Rush-hour traffic on I-75 in Detroit had been a mess, and by the time we got through it, Mickey was pointing both hands to the twelve. Almost exactly midnight. The night shadows had taken over the empty center of town and the streetlights weren’t working—or maybe there were no streetlights. I had stared out Lulu’s front windshield with the strange feeling that the dog and I weren’t alone. Something unearthly floated in front of the windshield.
The hair on my arm shot straight up. Perhaps Aunt Gertrude’s ghost was coming to haunt me in new ways she hadn’t thought up when she was alive. On closer inspection, I realized it was a torn plastic bag floating across the hood of the car.
It was ridiculous for a woman of my age and experience to sit in a parked car at midnight like a coward. I had climbed Pico de Orizaba, the tallest mountain in Mexico, at twenty-three, bungee-jumped from the bridge to nowhere in southern California at twenty, streaked naked through the streets of San Francisco at nineteen, and run away from my guardian at sixteen. This one little thing, I could do.
At the front door, Pikachu caught the light from the sliver of moon that rose above Main Street and winked back, doing his best to encourage me. I placed the key in the lock, but it wouldn’t fit. I felt in my rucksack for my penlight and clicked it on. Rust and years of dust had worn away the hardware around the knob. But the cylinder where the key fit was new. Someone had replaced the lock. Without warning, a black form jumped out from the top of the awning. A single raspy bark from the old dog was followed by a sharp feline screech. “Piewacket?” It couldn’t be. There was no way the cat could still be alive. Unless it hadn’t used up all its lives. It jumped into the shadows and was gone.