Chapter 1. Phantom Figurines

JOHN OUELLET

She was a widow with three grown sons. Her late husband left her with a tidy inheritance that would have been sufficient for most women, but not for Eleanor Wallace; she was far too motivated and independent. At a mere 63 years old, she wanted more from life than idle contentment.

He was unhappily married and living on the western side of Michigan, some 200 miles from Eleanor. Like Eleanor, Roland Granger was not one to let life pass by without noticing him. He was two years younger than her, with a head for business and an eye for women.

Eleanor was refined; Roland was brash. She was tall and slender; he was compact with a burgeoning belly. She took great pride in her appearance and kept her hair smartly colored and coiffed. He was gray, balding and often disheveled. She chose her clothing carefully, for appearance and fit, while he kept the appearance of a weekend golfer in mid-July on the 18th green. In a bit of a character turnabout, it was Eleanor who preferred the informal "Ellie." He insisted on "Roland" for its formality, because most nicknames lacked respectability, and others he thought were just plain silly.

They met at an antique show. He was a seasoned pro, having been in the business with his wife for several years, and Ellie was still green. She used the money left to her by her late husband to start up her own business. Her sons warned her against such a venture. After all, she was getting on in years and had no experience — ...

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