Like most days, singing woke her. The early morning light poured through the open window, across the floor, and onto her linens. Like most days, she rose and closed her window, shutting out another talented suitor with the morning heat.
After minutes of looking, she found her tortoiseshell comb unusually wedged between two piles of leather bound books. Sometimes she could be careless. Using the books to prop up a small mirror, she brushed her dark unruly hair into a bouffant. Slipping a dress over her cream colored chemise she made her way downstairs, tying the ribbons on the bodice closed as she descended.
She paused for a moment on the last creaking stair into the shop. A small box was placed carefully on the counter next to the old brass register. The box was elegantly wrapped in blue printed paper, and tied in silk ribbon. Unease washed over her. The shop had been locked, as it was every night. Her eyes shot from the box, to the only exit. The four iron bolts her father installed were still resting in their locked position. Her dark eyes drew back to the box. It was certainly a gift. She approached it slowly, peeking over the counter to reassure herself that she was indeed alone.
There was no tag to denote who the package was for, nor who it was from. As if she had been disrobing a lavishly dressed lover, she tugged on the bow to gingerly reveal what was inside. The box opened like a flower, revealing its contents; a beautiful navy colored tome covered in delicate gold filigree that had been pressed into the leather binding. One word was pressed into the cover. Jacqueline. It obviously had been intended for her. She lifted it gently out of it’s casing and opened to the first page. Blank. The second page, also blank. A beautiful new empty journal. She had hoped at least for a dedication to know who or where the book had come from.
The clock banged and Jacqueline almost dropped the book. Realizing the time, she hastily placed it behind the counter. She opened the shop and spent most of the day tending to busy-bodied customers and trimming nearly-finished hats, only pausing for a few minutes to eat and to paw at the mysterious book.
As Demitrius began to set, she locked up the shop and hurried upstairs to join the new book with her collection. The navy seemed vibrant against her well-worn books. She fell asleep gazing across the room at her new journal.
Jacqueline awoke in the morning, not to singing or sunlight, but the the creak of the last step to the shop and the sound of scraping floorboards. She rose and closed her window, and again she found her tortoiseshell comb unusually wedged underneath her new journal. It fell to the floor, as sometimes she was careless. The book revealed a scribbled message that hadn’t been there the night before. “Good Morning, Jacqueline.”