Keith disappeared behind the counter of the little store, through a back door that read 'OFFICE.' Mary waited, tapping her foot impatiently, but quietly so she wouldn't disturb anyone. No customers were in the store at the moment, it was just Mary among the barrels of flour and jars of bright candy. Bolts of cloth lined one wall, outlined with ribbons and pins and thread, with housewares on one side and tools on the other, under the one large front window. A few barrels of beans, treacle, or perhaps wheat kernels stood in a neat, military line in front of the wooden counter. It was a very organized place. She just hoped that she wouldn't be hired to clean the shop.
Keith came out of the office with a shrewd- looking, salt- and- pepper- haired man that was very clearly his father. The man smiled a small smile as he looked her over. "She'll do," he said finally in a deep and tired voice. "I've had so few applicants that I don't really care. What's your name, Miss?"
Mary smiled, trying to be as pleasant as she could. "Mary MacEilan, sir," she replied.
Mr. Little's pale eyes widened. "Irish need not apply," he said crisply. "I do think I put it in the sign," he continued in. Keith looked dreadfully uncomfortable standing there.
Mary decided to play her unusual heritage to her advantage. "I'm Scottish, " she replied. It wasn't a lie- after all, her father had been Scottish and Mary herself was born in Scotland, though she was raised mostly in Ireland with her mother's very Irish family.
Mr. Little raised one eyebrow. "I could swear your accent is Irish."
Mary's heart stopped and then started all too quickly. "My father's name was James MacEilan, and both he and I were born in Inverness, in Scotland."
It wasn't a lie, just... not the entire truth.
"I fear I've been proven wrong about you, then, miss." He heaved a sigh. "Don't be one minute past six- thirty on Monday morning. You'll open up the place in the morning and work till three in the afternoon, when I've got Ava coming to do the work until closing. Dinner will be provided for you and four dollars a week, hear?"
"Yes, sir," she nodded emphatically, completely jubilant in her newfound occupation. "I won't be late. Thank you."
Mr. Little gestured her towards the door and went back to his office. As Mary moved towards it, Keith rushed to hold the door for her, and with a smile in his direction she left the Littles' Mercantile and General.
Mary breathed a sigh of sheer relief when she and Keith were outside the shop. "Oh, Mr. Little, I'm ever so glad that I fell over on the train this morning. Without you catching me I never would have found any lodging recommendations or work and oh, I'll never, ever be able to repay you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart." She was ever so grateful, more than she thought she'd ever be in her whole life. Thanks to this blond, crystal- blue eyed young man she had lodgings and an occupation. It was more than Mary had dared hope, and she loved Keith for it.
Keith smiled a bright smile. "You can pay me back, Miss MacEilan, by letting me show you the city. I've got the afternoon to myself until supper, would you care to let me walk you around Denver?"
Mary was delighted. "Oh, I would be utterly delighted to. When shall we go?"
Keith shrugged, still smiling as he looked at her. "Is right now alright?"
Mary grinned, a little dimple appearing on her right cheek. "Aye, that'd be lovely. I've got nothing else to do 'till supper either."
Keith held out his arm. "Is this too forward? When I was in New York last a girl almost fainted when I did this."
Mary chuckled and took his arm. "I've got no idea what's considered too forward nowadays, but I know that my younger sister goes around holding the arm of some young man when he's over." She didn't mention that Anne went around on the arm of a young man who was very seriously considering marrying her. It'd be far too awkward. Mary was not considering marrying Keith at the moment. Nor did Mary say that the said young man lived only a few city blocks away.
YOU ARE READING
Colorado, 1877. Mary MacEilan is sick of being isolated and unnoticed. So she does what any young, headstrong lady of her caliber would do: she runs away. Making a life for herself in the city of Denver is not as easy as it sounds- although she beco...