Winslow had indeed grown since Cory’s last visit. Main Street now boasted not one, but two coffee houses, a book store, a Mexican restaurant, an office supply store and a pet store. The new chamber manager’s efforts at promoting tourism must be paying off.
He stopped outside the pet store and studied a window display of dog toys and beds. Through the glass, he caught a glimpse of a woman inside. He had an impression of a slim figure with long dark hair, wearing a long, dark-colored dress. Icy sweat beaded on his forehead and he fought to suck in a breath. Not here! Not in this one place he had thought to find peace.
He shut his eyes so tightly white light flashed behind his lids. When he opened them again, the woman wasn’t there.
He told himself he should walk on, but he opened the door to the shop and went inside. Hands in his pockets, he made a quick tour of the place, glancing down aisles and around the display for some sign of his phantom.
“May I help you?”
He turned and saw a pretty woman with shoulder-length curly brown hair, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt, regarding him curiously. “Cory, is that you?” she asked.
He frowned. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
“You don’t remember me, do you?” She looked more amused than disappointment. “I’m Amy Spencer. We used to play together when we were little.”
He blinked and looked harder at her. She was about his age, with a slim, athletic figure and dimples at the corners of her mouth when she smiled. He had a sudden memory of a little girl with dark pigtails who had lived behind his grandparent’s house. “Amy,” he said softly.
“You do remember!” She clapped her hands together, clearly delighted. “I read in the paper that you were coming back to town.”
“How long have you been back?” he asked. Her family had moved away when he was ten or eleven.
“I moved back nine months ago.” She gestured around them. “This is my store.”
“Nice place.” He pretended interest in a display of different kinds of dog treats, but all the while he studied her out of the corner of his eye. Her hair had lightened with age, and maturity had sharpened her features to beauty. She smelled of some kind of fruit – strawberries, maybe.
“It’s nice to see you again,” she said, smiling again. She had a great smile. It warmed places in him he hadn’t even realized were cold.
He returned the smile. “Yeah, it’s good to see you, too.”
The cowbells attached to the door jangled and a woman and a small boy entered with a black lab on a leash. Amy glanced toward them, then back at him. “If you don’t need anything special, I’ll help them,” she said. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
He nodded. “Yeah. Maybe.” A smart man would have asked her out right then, but the memory of the other woman –the one in black who haunted him – held him back. As long as she was around, there was no sense getting involved with anyone else.