Connecticut Fashionista turned Country Gal
I’m Eve Appel, and I now live in rural Florida. People who knew me when I lived in Connecticut believe I’m temporarily insane living here, but I feel I’ve found myself. Finally. I didn’t come here as a destination. I came to get away from my now ex-husband Jerry. Everywhere I went I ran into him with some bimbo on his arm, and I was just sick of it. I knew he was trying to make me jealous, but what I was feeling was more like disgust that I’d ever married him.
My dear friend Madeleine Boudreau had inherited a house in Florida from her aunt. We talked daily on the phone, and I believe she got tired of hearing about my Jerry-and-girl sightings. When he brought one of his blondes to my birthday party and I ranted about it to Madeleine, she said, “I’d divorce the lout, but then I’m not you. Why don’t you come down here for a visit and get some distance.” A thousand miles seemed like about the right distance, so I hopped a plane and landed in West Palm. Madeleine and I had also talked about our setting up a business together in Sabal Bay, Florida. I was thinking tea shop; she was thinking bait shop.
As she drove me from the airport towards Sabal Bay, I watched the scenery change from gated communities with pruned plantings of palms, banyans, bougainvillea, and lantana to fields of scrub palmetto and pastures filled with funny lop-eared cows.
“What’s wrong with those cows?” I asked. “It looks like their ears are broken.”
“They’re a Brahman cross,” Madeleine replied as if that explained anything.
We crossed a high bridge over a canal which allowed me a view of a huge body of brown water. Logs were washed up on the shoreline, or so I thought.
“I thought water in Florida was blue.”
Madeleine looked at me with some concern. “That’s the Big Lake. And it’s shallow and brown. Great lake for fishing, but you wouldn’t want to swim in it. Did you see the alligators?”
“I wondered why those logs were walking.”
I thought Sabal Bay would be a city like West Palm, but as we drove up its main street, all I saw were feed and tack shops, fast food places, a large supercenter, two supermarkets, fishing camps and a whole lot of bars.
“So where are the shopping malls?” I asked
Madeleine tried a nervous laugh and her expression of concern deepened the lines on her forehead.
She braked as a pair of large birds ran into the road. I later learned they were sand hill cranes. Nice birds. I understand they mate for life, unlike Jerry and me.
We pulled into a bar and restaurant called the Burnt Biscuit.
“It’s late. Let’s grab a bite,” said Madeleine.
Inside karaoke night was in full swing and a cowboy was crooning a tune about lost love. Gosh, he was handsome. I wanted to make him forget about that little gal that done him wrong.
“I know this isn’t what you expected,” Madeleine said as we tucked into a rack of barbequed ribs.
“No. It is not.”
“So you can see why I don’t think a tea shop would work here.”
“Righto.” I watched the collection of men at the bar all wearing cowboy hats and boots, many with spurs. Some of them stared back at me. One winked. I smiled. Some of the others grinned and tipped their hats to me.
“So maybe you’re thinking you’d prefer not to consider a business here?”
I was thinking so hard I’m sure my punked blonde hair must have been twitching with excitement.
“Madeleine, my dear, these people need me. I can save the women in this place as well as the society matrons from West Palm who are looking for some pin money after their husbands lost millions in Bernie Madoff schemes. It’s simple. We bring used clothing from the matrons in West Palm straight to the wilds of rural Florida where everyone can shop in relative obscurity, and the women from Sabal Bay can upgrade to haute couture without a high price. I know I love cowboys. Don’t you think the wealthy would love sneaking off to dance here with some of those handsome dudes wearing hats and tight jeans?
Madeleine looked back at me and her face brightened. I could tell she was filling in my vision of the shop with her own ideas.
And that’s when the idea for a high end consignment shop in rural Florida was born. Eve and Madeleine, two country gals with big ideas.
You can read more about Liz in A Secondhand Murder, the first book in the new “Eve Appel” mystery series, published by Camel Press.
Meet the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.
Lesley is author of several short stories and several mystery series: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley (A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings) and a rural Florida series, Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Killed and Chilled. She recently signed a three-book deal with Camel Press for The Consignment Shop Murders including A Secondhand Murder. For something more heavenly, try her mystery Angel Sleuth. Several of her short stories have been published by Untreedreads including one (Murder with All the Trimmings) in the original Thanksgiving anthology “The Killer Wore Cranberry” and another (Mashed in the Potatoes) in the second anthology “The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping”.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.