In For A Penny (The Granny Series)

By: Kelsey Browning & Nancy Naigle
Kelsey Browning and Nancy Naigle

Chapter One

Her purse swinging from the crook of her arm, Lillian Summer Fairview pressed both wrinkled hands against the barred door of the downtown Atlanta pawnshop and pushed with her whole weight to get inside.

She glanced at the bright yellow measuring stick on the doorjamb. Frequenting this place on the seedy side of town for the past two years was bad enough, but according to that ruler she’d fallen below the five-foot mark somewhere along the way. She’d noticed it on her way out last time and convinced herself it was a mistake. Maybe a bad angle. She dang well knew she’d been five foot two once upon a time. Just one more jab on possibly the worst day of her life.

No. The worst day would arrive within the month.

Today, she wore her only pair of pricey low-heel pumps and stretched her spine like a ballerina, but she still didn’t pass four-eleven. It was a sore spot but only one of them. Having to visit J&R’s Pawn at all was worse than eating potato chips with a paper cut.

Harlan, I may never forgive you for putting me in this position.

When the preacher who’d married Harlan and her all those years ago said “for better or worse,” she’d had no idea the worse would come after the until-death-do-you-part.

“Hello, gentlemen,” she called out as she made her way past a long counter of jewelry, coins and other collectibles.

A bald, heavyset man hustled to meet her halfway. “What’cha got for us this time, gorgeous?”

Lillian didn’t have the heart to play Rick’s games today. “I know your tricks. You’re trying to soften me up so I’ll let you steal my good stuff.” She stabbed a finger in his direction. “Don’t try that with me today. I’m in no mood for it.” She’d developed a friendly relationship with these boys and they’d treated her right. So far no one back in Summer Shoals was the wiser about her predicament.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Rick leaned forward on the counter. “Let’s see what you’ve got for me today.”

Lillian leveled a stare at him, almost changing her mind, but she didn’t have a choice. She slipped a cloth place mat from her bag, positioned it on the glass counter and smoothed out the wrinkles. Then she set her bag on it and pulled out the handkerchief she’d secured with a slip of ribbon left over from the holidays.

Her hands shook as she opened the linen package. No jewels graced her fingers these days.

She couldn’t stop herself from glancing into the case under her bag. Her wedding ring, handed down in the Summer family every generation, still held a place beneath the glass. She swallowed back her longing and bitterness.

Rick pulled the bundle close to inspect the contents.

Lillian flinched at the sparkle in his eyes as he examined the five pocket watches. Two gold, three silver and not a speck of tarnish on any of them. Daddy’s favorites.

“You going to swap these and get your wedding ring back?”

“Not today,” she said, “but you can take this month’s interest payment on the things from the money for the pocket watches.”

He turned to check his computer. “Your ninety days is coming up in early July. After that…”

He didn’t have to finish the sentence. After that date, he could be generous and give her a thirty-day grace period or he could sell her family heirlooms.

“I’ll be back for them soon.” The lie sat heavy on her tongue. She beat back the tears blurring her vision and got down to the business of negotiating.

After fifteen minutes, she was far from satisfied with Rick’s offer, but she slipped the few bills into her purse. It wasn’t even close to enough.

When she walked through the door this time, Lillian refused to look at the measuring stick because there was no way she was an inch over two feet tall.

Lillian’s right hip ached from pressing the sticky gas pedal on the long drive home in Daddy’s 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Taking the massive thing to Atlanta was pure hell on her bursitis, but it was her only choice after selling her own car. A pitcher of sweet tea and the shade of Summer Haven’s veranda were calling her, but after her visit to the pawnshop and that other mandatory appointment in the city, Harlan Fairview deserved an earful.

Also By Kelsey Browning & Nancy Naigle

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