Bee came over and stood next to me then. I could tell by the look on her face something was wrong.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she said softly.
“Feel free to browse,” I told the women and then turned to Bee. “What’s wrong?”
“Did you make any sales today?”
What a strange question. “You’ll need to give me more direction. I sold a few spots for Wednesday’s scone class, and people are going crazy for your bumble bee cross-stitch kits. The cute as can bee, bee happy, and bee-utiful are almost sold out. Assemble more when you have time. We’ll sell them. Ruby wants some for The Twisty Skein too.”
Bee pushed her shoulders back proudly. “Benji and Abner are putting together more for us. Keeps the old codgers out of trouble.” Her husband and neighbor were always getting into mischief. “I’ve designed a few new ones that Ruby can sell. Bee good, meant to bee, and bee mine.” Her expression shifted from proud to perplexed. “Anyway, I think an item is missing.”
Missing? “You’re sure one of the customers isn’t carrying it around?”
She shook her head. “I checked.”
“What item is it?”
“Do you remember the pair of fluted muffin tins?”
Of course I remembered them. They were quite unique. The cups were molded with narrow channels that started at the bottom center and curved up to the top rim. Muffins or cupcakes baked in the pans would come out looking like miniature Bundt cakes but without the hole in the middle. I believed they were from the mid-1900s so definitely vintage, but my primary rule for any item I acquired was that it either made me smile or gave off a good vibe. I wasn’t concerned with monetary value. An item didn’t need to be expensive to be perfect for one’s home. These little pans hit high on the good vibe and smile scale the moment I saw them.
“You did cleanse them,” Bee confirmed, “right?”
“I did before putting them on the shelf like I do everything.” I glanced toward my retail shop and spotted Erica peeking at me from around her mother. “Did you check the little girl?”
Bee sputtered, “You think a child stole from us?”
“I reprimanded her during the blessing. She wasn’t happy with me about that.”
“Well, she’s not carrying a bag or backpack. She’s wearing shorts and a T-shirt so she couldn’t be hiding them in her clothing.”
“You’re probably right, then. They were stolen.” I’d need to cleanse the room before leaving tonight. Other than the obvious, a theft was concerning on multiple levels and left a great deal of negative energy behind.
“Maybe whoever took them loved them so much they simply had to have them despite not having the money to pay for them.”
Dear Bee. Always trying to put a positive spin on things. “Whatever the reason, there’s never a valid excuse for stealing. And you know I believe that a stolen item is a cursed item.”
“Nothing will bake properly in those pans now.”
Even though she didn’t follow Wicca, Bee respected the religion and my personal beliefs completely.
“When did you last see the tins?” I asked her.
“Yesterday,” she recalled, staring at the ceiling, her habit for remembering details. “I’m positive. I straightened and dusted the shelves before I left yesterday and remember seeing them. They’re just so cute.”
I smiled. “They are. That makes them easy for customers to notice.” I closed my eyes and pictured myself doing the morning candle blessing. I was focused on the shop as a whole and wasn’t paying attention to the inventory. “Yesterday was Sunday. You left at noon, and there was little business those last two hours. I spoke with everyone who entered and hung out in the retail room to answer questions. Those pans must have been on the shelf this morning. No one broke in overnight. I’d know if they had. That means it happened since we opened.”
“This is very upsetting.” Bee worried her hands together then flapped them at her sides as though shaking off her upset.
Even more worrisome was that baked goods were often shared with others. If the thief got them to cook properly, sharing muffins with this kind of dark shadow hanging over them could lead to trouble.