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Fanfic: Family and Friends

Chapter 1: Arrival

Claire opened the door as the figure on the other side raised its hand to knock again, and smiled, "What can I help you folks with?"

The redhead gave a sweet smile, "Claire Suffolk?" Claire nodded. "I'm Micki, and this is Ryan. We're from Curious Goods. You answered our mailer?"

Claire smiled, "Of course, Sugar. Why don't you two come in - it's unseasonably cold."

Claire led them into the living room, "Can I interest you in a cup of hot coffee before we go back outside to the barn?"

The young man and woman exchanged glances, "Some coffee would be wonderful," Ryan answered finally.

"Cream and sugar for you both?"

"Just cream," the two answered, almost in unison.

Claire left to get their coffees, leaving them in the cozy living room. Claire lived in a country farmhouse, out of which she ran a mail-order business making crafts, and every room in the house kept some of her supplies - yarns, felts, fabrics, and miscellany.

When Claire returned with a tray of three coffees, Claire saw that the two had sat on the sofa together. She set the tray down on the coffee table, and sat in the single chair, "You two didn't make the trip out here just to see little old me, did you?"

Micki smiled, taking one of the coffees, and wrapping her cold hands around its warmth, "No...well, kind of. While we're here, we're going to be doing some buying from local antique stores, thrift shops, and anyone else who has something to sell."

"Well, feel free to ask about anything else in the barn, most of it's junk from my dad's farm."

Ryan sipped his coffee, "Thank you so much, Claire. We really appreciate your willingness to sell the milk can back to us."

"Well, I bought it for my dad, before he passed away, and I don't have any use for it."

"I'm so sorry to hear about your dad," Ryan said sympathetically.

Claire smiled, "Thanks, but it's been almost two years, now, and it's not so hard any more."

"How did he pass away, if you don't mind my asking?" Micki spoke softly.

"He died of a heart attack while he was out in the fields, trying to fix a busted fence. He was supposed to be careful, he knew he had a bad heart, but he was a stubborn old goat."

"I'm so sorry," Micki repeated.

"Thank you, Sugar."

15 minutes later, Claire swung open the barn door, and led them inside. It was a clean barn, with stuff piled up around the edges, antique farm equipment and other junk. Ryan rubbed his hands together, "So, where is it?"

Claire pointed upward, over the door. There were 10 shelves, and the first 8 held milk cans. The last two were empty. Claire frowned, "That's weird, it's supposed to be right there."

"Are you sure it's not one of the others?" Micki asked.

"No, it's not. I bought it, and another replacement, for my dad. The one you wanted was in the number 9 spot. They each represented one of the original 10 cows that made this farm a success. He put them on the wall, and that's where they stayed."

"When's the last time you saw it?"

"When I got your mailer, I came out to see if it was here, and it was. That was three months ago, now."

Micki and Ryan seemed perturbed, "Who would have taken it?"

"Who would want an old milk can? Nobody uses them any more - they're anachronisms. I'm so sorry, I don't know what happened to it. Are you going to be around for a while?"

"A couple of days, maybe a week," Ryan said slowly.

"Check back with me before you leave - I'm going to see if I can't find out who took those two cans. It was probably some high school kids out for a good time."

Micki smiled, "Well, thank you, Claire. We really appreciate it."

"You're welcome, Sugar."

 

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