16. The Pretty Penny

16. The Pretty Penny

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



The elderly gentleman gave Mrs Bookworm a very telling look and turned ln his heels to march out.

Each to his own!” he snapped, and disappeared up the road, pausing briefly and peering in shop windows until he was out of sight.

Well I never!” exclaimed Mrs Bookworm, “I thought Amy Lovewise was the sort of writer anyone, irrespective of gender, could get to love, but he seems to have very different ideas!

Romances do appeal more to we ladies than to men,” pointed out Jennifer, “men are more for cowboys and Indians and space adventures. They like derring-do and spies and guns and not the gentle pursuits of Doctor Flynn and his romantic nurses!

Well, you can keep those rough types as far as I’m concerned!” snapped Mrs Bookworm, and she might have continued along the same vein and dismissed all male-orientated books to the seventh pit of hell, but the door opened with its melodic jangle and her face smoothed itself from being taut and angry to having just a broad welcoming smile as she cast her eyes on the newcomer.

It was a young woman, probably still in her twenties, with the most beautiful face Mrs Bookworm had seen since she’d looked in the mirror at that age. The newcomer’s hair was long, worn over one shoulder and almost reached her waist in wave after wave of light mahogany tresses, her skin was unblemished and her eyes shone with a light that Mrs Bookworm decided must surely be intelligence. And as for the rest of her, well perfectly proportioned, thought Mrs Bookworm approvingly, one of the few women who could carry off such a short frock without looking tarty or in any way indecent. This was the kind of customer she approved of, young, bright and inquisitive. She was quite clearly a light of hope for tomorrow, and Mrs Bookworm always liked to think of the future in positive terms.

The newcomer smiled at her and murmured “what a beautiful little shop!” and to Jennifer she smiled warmly and added “I love book shops, don’t you?”

Whilst Jennifer nodded and replied that she most certainly did, Mrs Bookworm got to thinking that it was really odd that this young and obviously engagingly intelligent young woman should grace her shop at the same time as she’d received a communiqué on the subject of there being a book signing in her very shop by the authoress of her favourite books in a week’s time, and she got to wondering...

Do you have anything to do with it?” she asked..

The newcomer smiled a brilliant white-toothed smile and asked what ‘it’ might be.

It’s a book signing we’re having next week. Amy Lovewise, you know, one of our better sellers,” said Mrs Bookworm importantly

The young woman, for no obvious reason, blushed and nervously muttered that she probably didn’t and hoped it would be fun.

But I came in because I thought I saw my father leaving here,” she said, “he loves book shops, especially small intimate ones like this one. In actual fact, he loves books. A real bookworm he is!”

That’s my name!” laughed the proprietor of the much praised shop, “my late husband, who came from somewhere near Russia as a baby and had a most unpronounceable name, so when he was old enough he had it changed by deed poll, and that was years before we were married. He passed away not so long ago and I wanted to have him stuffed so that he could keep still an eye on his shop, and stuffed, I might add, by a proper taxidermist, but they wouldn’t let me. Some laws are so petty don’t you think? But he’s in here with us; as least his ashes are, in that lovely little jar in that alcove,” and she pointed.

What a wonderful story!” enthused the young woman, “let me introduce myself, I’m Penelope Stanton. Penny for short, and you might find me in this shop quite often very soon! My father and I are sharing a two-bedroom flat down the road. He needs a quiet life. Things have been much too hectic this past few years and his doctor has said that he‘s got to look after his heart.”

I see,” murmured Mrs Bookworm doubtfully, “now if you’ll excuse me I need to set up a window display. We’re having a great author signing her latest book in a few days and I want to make the place look at its best.”

Lovely,” smiled Penny, “then I’ll leave you to your labours whilst I catch daddy up. He’s got to stay clear of the bookmaker’s because he’s a devil when it comes to the horses and loses more than he wins, betting on losers!”

You’d best run then,” said Jennifer, “it’s the last shop in this row!”

Toodly-pip then,” smiled Penny, and in a moment she had swept out of the shop and was seen half-running down the road the way her father had gone.

Now she’s a breath of fresh air and quite a contrast to her father,” decided Mrs Bookworm, carefully opening a parcel that had arrived earlier. She was used to parcels, publishers sending her copies of new books in the hope she would order many more. But this one was special: it was publicity material for the latest book by Amy Lovewise as well as several copies for that authoress to sign and hopefully sell in a few days’ time.

Fancy that lovely young woman having such a dreadful father,” she said to Jennifer, “saying what he did about the creator of dear Doctor Flynn...”

Is that a poster showing what the romantic medic looks like?” asked Jennifer as Mrs Bookworm unrolled a picture that had come with her parcel.

When the poster was unrolled Mrs Bookworm held it up and the two women looked at it. Jennifer shook her head.

No,” she said, “when I read the books he’s nothing like that! Less rugged, somehow, and with twinkling eyes. No, my doctor Flynn is more of a Romeo and less of a rogue!”

I see what you mean,” sighed Mrs Bookworm, “and maybe I agree and maybe I don’t. I like the look of his face, the designer stubble and the assured look in those eyes….”

I suppose everyone has her own mental image of what the good doctor looks like,” murmured Jennifer, “that’s why books are better than films: we make our own pictures and don’t have someone else’s images thrust into our heads.”

Mrs Bookworm nodded. “Well let’s put the poster up. There are half a dozen people who always buy the latest book by Amy Lovewise and I’ll ask them what they think when they call in. We might even have a little suggestions box so they can put their ideas in, and I’ll forward them to the publisher when this wonderful event is all over! You never know, some of the suggestions might put this little shop of mine on the map!”

The front of the shop had two windows that faced the street and Mrs Bookworm decided to make a Dr Flynn exhibition in one of them, with a mountain of books as the centre piece and the promotional material sent by the publishers tastefully arranged round it. The large poster showing the doctor himself was placed well to the right so that it wasn’t in any risk of being hidden by the books,

When the two of them had finished they went out onto the street to judge their work, and nodded to each other, quite satisfied that if anything could sell a few extra copies of the books, this was it.

Excuse me,” came a plaintive voice as they patted each other on the back.

It was Penny Stanton, and she had a trickle of blood running down one nostril, and her face was smeared with drying tears.

What on Earth?” demanded Jennifer putting one arm round the younger woman, “what’s happened?”

Oh, it’s nothing,” stammered Penny, “I bumped into a lamppost, that’s all. Silly me. I must learn to keep my eyes open, I really must...”

© Peter Rogerson 08.07.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 8, 2020
Last Updated on July 8, 2020
Tags: old man, daughter, pretty young woman


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..