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Shirley Hailstock

Sharon Parker listened to the high-pitched laughter of her daughter, Theresa, and Theresa's friend, Libby. Sharon smiled thinking of the two girls. A year ago, as Theresa turned thirteen, she declared she would no longer answer to the name Terri when called. She was now Theresa.

At the same time, Olivia Hart, BFF or Best Friend Forever of the re-imagined Theresa, became Libby.

"Teenagers," Sharon said aloud.

Closing her now empty suitcase, Sharon stored it in the closet of the Blythe Cove Manor B&B bedroom where her family was spending Mother's Day weekend. Going to the connecting door that joined her room to that of the two girls, she pushed it open.

Two pairs of eyes glanced up from matching cell phones. But there the resemblance ended. Sharon often thought of them as night and day twins. When you saw one, the other had to be close by. Theresa had dark curly hair that she struggled to tame, brown eyes, a heart shaped face and a faint dimple in her chin, courtesy of her father. Libby was a sunshine blonde with watery blue eyes that would either get her in trouble in a few years or garner her a modeling contract. Round faced, she had a brilliant toothpaste-white smile. Libby lost her mother to cancer when the child was only three. The two girls were closer than sisters. Sharon considered Libby a second daughter and she knew Libby looked at her as the mother she'd lost.

"Are you two unpacked?" Sharon asked.

"Yes," they said in unison, neither taking her eyes off the phone in her hand.

"Are you two going to stay glued to those phones? I'd think you’d want to look around. Coming to this island, Theresa, was your idea."

"I want to look around," she said, then giggled and moved her phone so Libby could see the screen. Libby laughed.

Sharon was used to her daughter talking to her from behind a phone or while she looked at an electronic pad. Better that than a worse alternative, she thought.

"What are you looking at?" Sharon asked.

"A friend, mom," Theresa said. "She just posted a picture on Instagram of a clown wig."

"And shoes," Libby added.

Sharon has an Instagram account. She'd seen a lot of the photos and she didn't really get why people found it so amusing, but she'd been a teenager once and there was no rhyme or reason for the thought processes that attracted people going through hormonal upheaval.

"Well, say good-bye. Your dad's waiting for us. I'll meet you by the front door." She stepped back, then remembered something. Turning back, she said, "Don't forget to bring a jacket and lock your door on the way out."

Sharon checked her makeup in the mirror one last time, picked her jacket up from the bed and made her way to the front of the building. Tim Parker stood admiring several varieties of scrimshaw in one of the glass enclosed bookcases. Sharon slipped her hand into his and he turned and kissed the top of her head.

"Girls coming?"

"If they can detach themselves from their phones long enough." Sharon glanced in the case. "What are you doing?"

"Look at these." Tim pointed to the collection. "Especially that oval shaped one near the back."

Sharon did as he asked. A female face had been carved into the ivory. The girl looked about twenty years old and wore a chain with a medallion around her neck. The entire piece was only an inch in diameter.

"What about it? It looks like real ivory, and depending on the type, some ivory is illegal in the United States. That would mean it's really old."

"It's the carving I want you to focus on."

Sharon leaned closer to the case and bumped her head on the glass. Grabbing her head, she stepped back.

"Are you all right?" Blythe said coming up behind her. Martha, the house cat followed her steps.

"Fine," Sharon assured her. She removed her hand and looked at the proprietor of Blythe Cove Manor's B&B. "I was trying to get a closer look at one of the artifacts."

Blythe opened the door and lifted the oval out. Sharon wondered how she knew the exact piece they'd been discussing, but the woman offered it to her and Sharon accepted it. She expected something weightier, but it was surprisingly light.

"Who carved this?" Tim asked, looking over Sharon's shoulder.

"I don't know," Blythe said with a laugh. It's pretty old, older than my time here at the inn."

Tim nodded.

Sharon lifted the object and took a closer look.

"You can put it back when you're done," Blythe said. She left them to study it alone.

"Does the face remind you of anyone?" Tim asked.

Sharon looked at it again. This time she gave her full attention to the carving. Finally, she shook her head.

"It looks like Terri," Tim said. He was the only one still allowed to call her by the nickname she'd had since birth. Sharon attributed it to that special father-daughter relationship that all girls had.

"Who looks like me?"

Theresa and Libby joined them. Sharon lowered her hand, allowing the girls to see the carving.

"It does look like you," Libby agreed, her voice skating up the scale.

"I don't think so," Theresa dismissed it. "Can we go now?"

Sharon looked at Tim and both hunched a shoulder. Replacing the delicate piece, Sharon closed the case and the group headed out. Just before Sharon got to the door, she glanced back at the bookcase. Blythe was looking at the piece of scrimshaw, then her gaze raised to Sharon, who couldn't shake the feeling that the inn's proprietor knew more about the carving that she'd let on.


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