Thursday is one of the busiest and best days in my week. Busy, because my yarn shop is the only one in town—and I have the most amazing collection of cashmere and alpaca, cotton and wool, that you’ve ever seen.

Best because it ends with Thursday night knitting and sitting in the cozy back room of my shop with my three closest friends, my Aunt Nell, Birdie Favazza, and Cass Halloran—and, of course, A magnificent ‘thrown together,’ she always says, dinner that Aunt Nell spreads out on the old library table. Usually seafood with pasta, always garlic and wine and cheese, and sometimes a surprise. Birdie brings a favorite wine, and we close out the world, basking in friendship, a little bit of gossip, and solving all the problems occurring at that moment in Sea Harbor, MA.

But Thursdays sometimes bring unexpected people into the shop. Like this one. It was like all the other Thursdays, except it wasn’t. Take a look and tell me what you think.

It was shortly before closing when a small girl wandered in. Cass and Nell were already there for knitting night. Birdie hadn’t yet arrived.

“Hi,” I said. “May I help you?”

The girl looked to be about nine or ten. Her hair was blue-black, like a raven’s feathers–shoulder length and wildly curly. It was held in place—barely—by a crochet green beanie with an enormous orange flower in the center of the brim. Long, skinny legs bore bruises of various colors and sizes, and hanging over one shoulder, held in place by a wide canvas strap, was the likely source of the injuries—a battered skateboard. I knew most of the kids in Sea Harbor, but I had never seen this girl before.

“This is the yarn shop, right?” she asked.

I told her it was. Did she want to buy some?

The shop cat, Purl, jumped down from a pile of new summery cotton yarn and rubbed against the girl’s leg. That was a good sign; Purl is an extraordinary judge of character.

Gabby leaned down and rubbed Purl’s back, chewing on her bottom lip. She looked at the tables of soft yarn, the neat white cubbies filled to the brim. “Actually,” she said—her manner of speaking was very adult for a child, I thought. “Actually, I don’t have money right now. But I’ll come back. Or maybe when Nonna comes …”

Nonna… Nana? Nell asked her, “So you’re vacationing here with your grandmother?” We thought of Esther Gibson’s granddaughters. She had so many that we never could tell them apart from one summer to the next.

“Yes. No. Well, sort of, I guess.” She grinned, then followed it up with a shrug. “It’s very confusing, isn’t it?”

Confusing was an understatement. Little did we know how connected to us Gabby already was. Nor how she would worm her way directly into our hearts. Into our lives, really. Yes, into our lives.

And it wasn’t only the four of us. By the time Gabrielle Marietti left Sea Harbor a few weeks later, she’d have befriended an old fisherman named Finnegan, touched more lives than I can count, and walked with us through the sad and troublesome path of solving a murder. Two, in fact.

And it all began on that Thursday. My favorite day in the shop.
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To read more about how the holidays brought an enormous change into Izzy Chambers’ life, A HOLIDAY YARN, the fourth book in the “Seaside Knitters” mystery series is now available in paperback and e-book and you can read more about Gabby in THE FATAL FLEECE, coming in May 2012.

Sally Goldenbaum is the author of more than two dozen novels, most recently the national best-selling Seaside Knitters Mystery Series. In another life she taught philosophy, edited bioethics journals, and once, long ago, worked for WQED public TV where Mr. Rogers lived in his wonderful neighborhood. When not writing she spends as much time as possible with four amazing grandchildren. She lives with her husband in Prairie Village, KS. Visit Sally at www.sallygoldenbaum.com

** To celebrate the paperback release of A HOLIDAY YARN, I’m giving away one copy of the book, thanks to the publisher. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. This is only open to US addresses at the publisher’s request. Contest ends on November 10th at 6pm EST. Winner will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

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