Sebrina stepped into the office and closed the door. The room resembled a family living room more than it did a real estate office. Blankets draped over couches, deer antlers hung on the wall, surrounded with horse and cattle paintings. Maybe she stood in the wrong office. Sebrina turned around to read the lettering on the door window: Home and Farm Real Estate. She stood in the right office. She stepped forward and glanced into the extra rooms.

“Hi, how can I help you?”

Sebrina turned toward the lady and stood straight. Smiling she said, “I’m interested in buying the old feed store.”

“Oh.” The lady stopped mid-office and studied Sebrina. “Have a seat.” The lady motioned toward her desk.

Sebrina nodded and followed her to the desk. “How much is the owner asking for it?”

The lady adjusted herself on the chair and placed her hands on her lap. Scanning the top of her desk, she said, “A lot.”

“I’d like to know the exact amount.”

The lady nodded. “Uh-huh.” Leaning forward she asked, “Where do you work again?”

Sebrina smiled. “You might have seen me at Benny’s café as a waitress.”

“Yes, I know your sister.”

What did that have anything to do with this? Did the lady know that she got fired? How could she already know? Sebrina hadn’t even told her sister yet.

The lady sat up straight. “She’s a very smart business woman—your sister.”

“She is; I’m hoping it runs in the family.” Sebrina smiled.

“Mmhmm.”

“So, who’s all interested in buying the store?” Sebrina scanned over the papers on the desk.

“I can’t tell you that.” The lady leaned back in her seat. “Would you be running the business?”

Sebrina’s eyes landed on the desk calendar. Celeb Johnson—four O’clock on the 27th—feed store: Sebrina looked at her phone. The 27th—that’s today. Why would Celeb want to buy the feed store?

“Sebrina? Sebrina?”

Sebrina jerked her head up. “Yes.”

The lady stared at Sebrina. She licked her lips and placed her hands on the desk. “I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you that running a feed store is a lot of work. The last owner went bankrupted. And even if it would succeed, you still have to have enough money to buy it first. I think it might be too much to chew for your small mouth.”

The lady smiled as she shook her head.

Sebrina stood up, hands on her bag. “My mouth’s big enough to chew whatever I bight off.”

The lady tilted her head, crinkled her nose and shrugged her shoulders.

Sebrina inhaled deeply, and lifted her shoulders. Well! Sebrina began walking toward the door. “Last I checked, anyone with money can buy a building.”

“But sweetie . . .”

“I’ll figure it out.” Sebrina pushed the door open and stepped under the warm afternoon sun. She unlocked her vehicle and climbed inside. She sighed as she put the keys in the ignition. How could she compete with Celeb or April? Especially with April. Competing with Celeb would be fun, especially when she won. “When” she won. She wasn’t even in the competition.

***

Sebrina glanced over her shoulder, biting her lip. Her sister mouthed the words she typed into her laptop. Probably another business email. Sebrina stacked the dry plates on the counter, as she unloaded the dishwasher.

“Have you heard: the feed store’s for sale?” Sebrina put the cups in the cabinet.

“Yeah I’m buying it.” April continued typing.

“You’re putting up a restaurant already, maybe you could let someone else buy this store for once.”

“You thought I was taking on too much when I bought the lot for the restaurant, now I’m doing this yet. Isn’t that great?” April glanced at Sebrina, smiling.

“I think you should let someone else run this business. You’re already working to much.” Sebrina closed the dishwasher and leaned against the counter.

“You can never have to much work.”

“When Paul said whoever doesn’t work, shouldn’t eat, he didn’t mean you should never take a break.”

April closed her laptop and stacked her books on top of it. “I take breaks. Look, I’m quitting for the day.”

Sebrina poured herself a glass of water. Swirling the water in her glass, she said, “I want to buy the feed store.”

April laughed. “You can’t even keep a waitressing job, now suddenly you want to own a business?” April grabbed her phone from the table and walked into the living room. “Is this a way of turning your life around.”

Sebrina followed her sister to the couch. “I’m not turning anything around. I’m continuing with my life.”

April grabbed the magazine off the coffee table, then plopped down on the couch. “You haven’t kept a job longer than eight months and you still live with your sister.”

“I’m twenty-two,” Sebrina stood up straight and placed her hands on her hips, “I think I’m early to the party.”

April laughed as she flipped through the magazine pages. “Get a steady job first, Sebrina. Then think about buying a business.”

Sebrina shook her head and plopped down on the lazy boy. Why would Celeb want to buy a feed store? Even though Celeb was a likeable, kind adult now, to her he would always be the boy who bullied her in high school. Something that happened over and over wasn’t easily forgotten. The nicest thing he ever did for her was leave for college, but after veterinary school he came back. Celeb and April both had their own business, why did they need another one? Why couldn’t she run one for a change? But without a co-signer or a partner no one would loan her the money. And without a loan she didn’t even stand a chance. There had to be someone who would co-sign for her.

Sebrina lifted her shoulders and swung her feet onto the floor. She stared at the floor, twiddling her thumbs.  Yes. It could work. Sebrina reached for her phone. She shook her head, then walked to the office, holding her phone. The phone book had to be around there somewhere. Ah-huh! She flipped through the pages until she found their town, then slid her finger down the Johnson phone numbers.

“Uh-huh! Celeb Johnson.” Sebrina dialed the number and tapped the back of the phone, waiting for him to answer. “Hi, Celeb? Yeah, this is Sebrina. Would you have time to meet me for coffee tomorrow?”

 

To be continued . . .

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