(1 of 4. Originally posted on December 02, 2022 for the prompt “Candy Canes and Things.”)
Read Part 2 here.
Nancy straightened her back and donned her most charming smile whenever the bell above the shop door announced a customer. When Peter Clement walked through the door, the smile broke out on its own. Along with a tinge of warmth in the cheeks. Even Princess interrupted the washing of her fuzzy black rear end to give him an admiring slow blink.
“Morning, Nancy,” Peter smiled, but didn’t look at her. His eyes scanned the shop, taking in the shelves of candy canes and lemon drops and homemade fudge. Princess hopped off the counter and trotted over to rub against his leg. Her purr could be heard all the way across the shop.
“Morning, Peter,” Nancy swallowed a lump of envy as Peter leaned down to shower Princess with caresses. “What can I get for you today?”
Princess licked Peter’s finger, then looked at Nancy with her mouth curved up in a feline smile.
“I’m curious about the special you’ve been advertising.” Peter gave Princess one last pet, then stood. “It says something about a ‘perfect match guarantee’ but never explains what that means. But it sounds interesting. So, what is it all about?”
“I couldn’t explain it in the ad, because nobody would believe it,” Nancy slid out from behind the counter and bounced over to a wall of caramels. “It’s this incredible new system that can match you to your perfect candy. You have to see it in action. Watch!”
She laid her palm flat against a hand-sized panel next to a row of classic salted caramels. Half a second later, the panel blinked red. Nancy repeated the process for each variety of caramel and two different types of lemon tart. When she touched the panel next to a creamy chocolate confection, it flashed green. “See, it knows these are my favorites. Now you try!”
Peter squinted at the unobtrusive panels that accompanied each display. “What if it’s wrong? Or if it can’t find a match for me?”
Nancy laughed. “It’s never wrong, and it always finds something. That’s the guarantee! If it doesn’t find something you love, you can take any one thing in the shop for free. Come on!”
Nancy grabbed Peter’s hand before she could talk herself out of it. She giggled as she pressed his palm against the chocolate confection panel. Red.
Peter let her pull him from sweet to sweet, pressing his palm to displays of lemon drops and lollypops and gingerbread treats.
One by one they flashed red, but Nancy’s smile only grew with each one. She pressed his hand against the Divinity panel, the last option in the store. It flashed red.
Peter drew his hand back and raised an eyebrow. “I guess that’s it. No match for me. So, now I get to take one of anything in the store for free? Anything at all?”
Nancy tilted her head back and smiled at him, eyes half-closed. “Anything you want. Just take it.”
Peter smiled for the first time since entering the shop. “Well, I can’t pass up this chance to take the sweetest, prettiest little treat in the whole town.”
Nancy blushed. “Aw, you’re pretty sweet, yourself.”
“Thanks! It’s been a pleasure.” Peter leaned forward, picked up Princess, kissed the top of her black furry head, and walked out with her.