Chapter 33: The New Librarian
The villagers of Hearthshire were shocked to learn their librarian, Ms. Emily and her son Kenneth Randall were responsible for the twenty-six-year-old murder of Nanna and Ameara Fairland. Many of the locals stopped by the flower shop to express their sympathy. Case closed, was the lead cover story in the Hearthshire Ledger for two consecutive days. Thankfully, Chief Bevin was able to keep Samantha and Zen’s involvement out of the paper, for their privacy.
This afternoon, Samantha and her family were attending the library’s reopening, and more importantly, Samantha was looking forward to meeting the speaker for the event, Ms. Taylor, author and Nancy Drew collector.
There were bouquets of flowers decorating the windowsills, and a basket of cookies placed at the information desk.
Well, the new librarian sure has changed the mood in this place. Samantha also noticed a large number of people gathered. “Everyone must be here because of the guest speaker.”
“Yeah, but they're all older people, there’s no one here our age,” Zen pointed out. “I thought Nancy Drew was a kid’s book.”
“A lot of these older people probably grew up reading Nancy Drew, Zen,” Anna explained. “These books have been in circulation for a long time.”
“I’m gonna go and get some cookies,” Zen said, eyeing the basket. “Then I’m gonna find a nice quiet place to take a nap.”
As Zen walked off, Kitchet joined them. “Where’s Bess?” Samantha asked, noting her absence. In fact, she noticed her Oma hadn’t been around the house a lot lately.
“She’ll be here soon,” Kitchet promised.
“Samantha, let’s go meet Ms. Taylor before her presentation begins,” Craig suggested.
Ms. Taylor looked to be in her thirties. She smiled warmly when Samantha and Craig approached her. She had her table set up with several copies of Nancy Drew books that Samantha would love to get her hands on.
“Ms. Taylor, I’m Craig Keen and this is my daughter—”
“Don’t tell me,” Ms. Taylor stopped him. “This must be Samantha.”
“How did you know?” Samantha asked.
“The librarian told me.”
“The librarian, but how did she know—”
Just then, Mayor Jasper started talking, welcoming everyone to the library.
“Come back and see me after my presentation,” Ms. Taylor said. “I have something for you.”
Grinning from ear to ear, Samantha hurried to look for a seat, which all seemed to be taken when she spied an empty chair next to a young girl about her age. The girl waved to Samantha to come sit by to her.
“Go ahead, take it,” Craig said. “I’ll go stand in the back with your mom and Kitchet.”
The girl was wearing a knitted pink pageboy hat backward on her head with a white star crocheted on the side. The hat covered the girl's shoulder-length raven hair that was so black it made her fair skin appear alabaster. Her pink and white that matched her pink track pants, and a long sleeved white tee shirt. She grinned at Samantha when she said.
“Hi, I’m Laney, your name?”
“I was sure glad to see you when I came in. I thought I was gonna be the only kid here.”
“That’s what my cousin thought too.”
“There’s another kid here? Where is she?”
“It’s a he, his name is Zen. He’s off somewhere…eating.”
“Cool, he likes Nancy Drew?”
“Not exactly, Zen does not—”
“Oh wait, I think the mayor is about to announce the new librarian. I hope she’s nice. That old librarian gave me the creeps. Oh not yet, sorry I cut you off. I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“That’s okay. I didn’t think you were being rude.”
“My friend Jocelyn, she’s not here today. Well, my friend Jocelyn is always telling me how I can be rude sometimes.”
Samantha’s first impression of Laney was that she liked her right away. Then again, maybe she took to Laney so quickly because she was the first girl she’s met since moving to Hearthshire, and she was starting to feel desperate to talk to any kid, other than Zen.
“She’s going to introduce her now,” Laney said, craning her neck to see past the people sitting in front of her.
Samantha sat up too. She wanted to know who this librarian was who seemed to know so much about her.
“I am happy to welcome,” Mayor Jasper said. “A woman that came highly recommend by our local florist.”
“My mom?” Samantha said.
“Your mom’s the new librarian?” Laney asked.
“No, my mom’s the local florist.”
“Bess Kitchet,” Mayor Jasper finished, as everyone in the room began to clap.
Bess Kitchet! Samantha turned and looked at her parents who were smiling and clapping. Well that explains the baked cookies and the touch of flowers everywhere. I’m gonna live in this library!
“Thank you, Mayor Jasper,” Bess beamed. “I am thrilled to have been invited to be Hearthshire’s new librarian.” Bess was wearing a pretty Rose print dress that complimented her rosy cheeks and rosy disposition. “I hope everyone stays after the presentation, to look at some of the new books I’ve added to the shelves. There’s a suggestion box near the basket of cookies for anyone to ask for books that are not already here at the library. Thank you,” Bess finished, waving to Samantha.
“She seems to be very sweet, do you know her? She seems to know you?” Laney asked.
“Yeah, Bess is my Oma.”
“Oma, that’s grandma in German. I speak German, do you speak German?”
“No. Oma and Opa are the only words I know.”
“If you like I can teach you German. Your Oma, huh that’s way special. I’ll have to make a point to come to the library more often,” Laney said, in her rapid way of speaking. “I’m sure I’ll see you here too since your Oma is the librarian.”
“How many Nancy Drew books have you read?”
“Well, I’ve only read one of them so far, The Case of the Twin Teddy Bears, but I really liked it.”
“Oh, that’s a newer one, released in 1993. It’s a good one.”
“Boy Samantha, you really know your Nancy Drew books. I love to read too.”
Yeah she’s nice. I think we could become good friends.
During the presentation, Samantha pointed out the Nancy Drew books she owned Ms. Taylor had on display, and Laney shared with Samantha other books she’d read.
“Thank you all for coming and I hope I get new Nancy Drew fans signing onto my website,” Ms. Taylor ended her presentation after an hour.
This was the best day Samantha felt she had in a long time. A crowd gathered around Ms. Taylor, so Samantha went to look around for Bess.
“Where are you heading, Samantha,” Laney asked. “Don’t you want to go up and talk to Ms. Taylor?”
“Yeah, but I wanted to find my Oma first. You want to come and meet her?”
They found Bess behind the front desk telling people where to find the new books she added. “Nice surprise?” She asked, when she spotted Samantha coming her way.
“Yep, did everyone know except me?”
“You and Zen, we didn’t want him to tell you.”
“This is Laney,” Samantha said, pointing to the girl by her side.
“Nice to meet you, Oma Bess,” Laney said, as she plucked a cookie from the basket at the counter. “You’ll be seeing a lot of me in here. Hey, I’ll catch up with you later, Samantha, I see my father over there, or my vater, as it’s said in German.”
“Nice meeting you, Laney,” Bess said, as Laney disappeared into the crowd.
“Can we go eat now,” Zen asked, coming up behind them, reaching for another cookie.
“Zen, you cannot be hungry.” Bess pushed his hair away from his forehead to get a better look into his eyes.
“Ignore him. He always looks for food when he’s bored. Come on Zen, the crowds thinned around Ms. Taylor.” Before taking off, Samantha stepped behind the information desk to give Bess a hug. “Thanks, I love you.”
Bess stared off after Samantha and Zen, rubbing a bit of moisture away from her eyes, before turning to greet more people.
“Can you image Zen? A signed copy of Ms. Taylor’s book, and a first edition of Nancy Drew’s The Witch Tree Symbol,” Samantha gushed, as they walked through the crowd.
“Big whoop, more books, I thought you were done reading those.”
“Samantha, hey Samantha,” Laney called, hurrying over.
“Laney look, a copy of The Witch Tree Symbol.
“Whoa, can I come over and read it with you?”
“Not another Drew head,” Zen sighed loudly.
“What’s the matter kid, don’t you like Nancy Drew?”
“No, and I’m no kid.”
Swaying back on her heels, Laney laughed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you.”
“Laney, this is my cousin, Zen,” Samantha introduced them.
“Nice to meet you, Zen,” Laney stuck out her hand.
“It’s Alexzender,” Zen corrected.
Samantha rolled her eyes feeling her cousin was being the biggest jerk to her new friend.
“Sorry again, Alexzender,” Laney smiled. “Hey I want you to meet my father.”
They followed Laney to a man standing off by himself. The closer they got, Samantha recognized him as Officer Roberts out of uniform.
“Samantha, Zen how have you both been doing?” Officer Roberts asked.
“Officer Roberts is your—” Zen started to ask.
“My father,” Laney finished.
“Officer Roberts, fancy seeing you here. Are you getting caught up on your Nancy Drew reading to help solve your next case?” Craig teasingly asked coming over.
“I’m more of a Sherlock Holmes bloke myself. Your wife told me, Ms. Taylor would be here today when I stopped by the flower shop. I’m here with my daughter Laney. She’s a new Nancy Drew fan, as I see Samantha and Zen are.”
“Not me,” Zen said, “I live mystery and adventure, not read about them.”
“I see.” Officer Roberts arched his eyebrows. “I hope you’re talking about mountain biking or hiking adventures, and maybe a game of Clue for a little bit of mystery? Remember, Zen, leave the real mystery solving to the police from now on.”
“Of course, Officer Roberts, Sir, I always leave the real hard crimes in the fine hands of the Hearthshire Police Department.” From his tone, Samantha couldn’t tell if her cousin was being sincere or sarcastic. Judging from how long it took the police to solve Ameara and Nanna’s murder case, with the help of her and Zen, she thinks he was being sarcastic.
“So this is your daughter Laney, Officer Roberts?” Anna asked, coming to join them.
“Yep, this is my Laney, and please you can call me Zachariah, or Zach. I’m not on duty.”
Samantha observed how relaxed and friendly Officer Roberts appeared to be out of uniform, and away from Chief Bevin.
“That’s why she acts like a know-it-all, she’s a cop’s brat,” Zen whispered, standing directly behind Samantha.
“You’ll see. She has bratty girl written all over her,” he warned, waving his hands in wild circle motions behind Laney’s back.
Samantha didn’t understand why Zen was acting so weird. “Stop that,” she whispered back at him, “What’s wrong with you?”
“What are you doing,” Laney asked, spinning quickly. “Is that some form of martial arts? I take martial arts classes.”
“He doesn’t know martial arts, Laney,” Samantha said. “Zen was just being… a boy.”
“Did you say you take martial arts, Laney?” Anna asked.
“Yes, Ma’am, my mom teaches here in the village.”
“Yes Ma’am, who does she think she’s fooling?” Zen said, under his breath.
“Craig, we should sign Samantha and Zen up for classes.”
“I don’t think Mom would approve of me taking those types of classes, Aunt Anna,” Zen protested. “She doesn’t condone violence of any kind.”
“No, Zen, it’s all taught in a safe environment,” Officer Roberts explained.
“I think I may be too busy to fit in more classes, but thanks for the info,” Zen said, through a forced smile. He then faced his aunt and uncle asking, “Is it time for dinner?”
“Yes, we should discuss this over dinner. Would you and Laney like to join us, Zach?” Anna asked. Samantha’s noticed her mom didn’t pick up Zen’s clue that he was trying to get away from Officer Roberts and his daughter. “I’m sure the kids would like that. We’re just going over for pizza.”
“Oh please can we? I want to talk to Samantha some more about her book collection,” Laney begged.
Zen plopped himself in a nearby chair, letting his head drop back like a rag doll. The look on his face when Laney mentioned book collection, Samantha knew dinner was going to be torture for him. Leaning over him, she said, “Come on, she’s not that bad. Besides, the pizza place has game machines. I bet Laney won’t talk too much about books if we get her playing games.”
“All right,” Zen said, stomping to his feet.
“Here’s my wife now,” Officer Roberts said. “Let’s just check with her about dinner.”
Samantha saw that Laney’s mom was a tall lean woman with pale blond hair and piercing gray eyes, just like her daughter’s eyes.
“Leeza, this is Anna and Craig Keen, their daughter Samantha, and their nephew, Zen,” Officer Roberts introduced everyone. “They’ve invited us for pizza.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Roberts,” Anna said. “If dinner is no good, we can get together another time. I wanted to ask you about your martial arts classes for the kids.”
Displaying an even set of perfectly white teeth, Laney’s mom answered. “I would love to join your family for dinner, but please call me Leeza. I don’t go by my husband’s name. I’ve kept my maiden name, its Simms, Leeza Simms.”