"I don't know how we ever did anything without her," Nancy said to Dan one morning. "She could sell water to the fish. She just smiles at some people and they double their order. Yesterday a couple came in wanting to buy a pie and left with two pies, two cakes, three loaves of bread, and a dozen cupcakes. We're going to have to triple all our baking time just to keep up with her."
Dan pulled a couple of tatsoi leaves out of his hair. He opened his mouth but before he could say anything, Darren yelled, "Is anyone expecting something?"
Darren was standing in the front room, looking out of the windows of the main building. A big UPX truck had pulled up the drive and the driver was now unloading boxes onto the porch. Lots of boxes. Lots of big heavy boxes.
Dan looked at Nancy. She shrugged. He yelled upstairs. "Are we expecting any parcels?"
"Not that I know of," Ken called back.
"Does anyone know where Luna and Sal are?" Dan asked.
"I think they're in the EcoGreenHouse with Viv and Chuck," Nancy said. "But they never said anything to me about ordering stuff."
Dan looked at everyone, but they just looked back at him. He took a breath and walked out the door. He regretted it as soon as he did it, wishing he had thought to grab a jacket. His breath was coming out in big white clouds.
"Can we help you?" he asked.
"Give me a minute," said the driver, and he went back and grabbed another box. There were seventeen boxes on the porch already and this made eighteen. Eighteen identical boxes stacked up in two small pyramids of nine boxes each.
The driver went back to the truck again but this time he came out with a clipboard.
"Sign here," he said to Dan.
"Wait a minute," Dan said. "What is this stuff?"
"How the heck should I know?" the driver said. "You didn't order this?"
Just then Ken came out onto the porch. "I know these boxes," he said. "They're the ones that my uncle packs books in."
As if she'd heard, Nancy came flying out. "The cookbooks!" she yelled. "They're here!"
"Well," said Dan, turning back to the driver, "I guess I'm going to sign for them."
After Dan, Luna, Nancy, and Sal spent a little while figuring out where to store all the boxes of cookbooks, they brought a box each to the produce stand and the bakery stand and tried to find prominent places to display the books in each. Within a week, they needed to trudge out boxes again--in fact, they had to take two boxes to the "Chthonic Baked Goods and Yggdrasil Cupcakes" where Barbara was especially adept at getting customers to buy a cookbook along with the pastries.
That Saturday a car pulled up to the main house. An older woman got out and knocked on the door.
Marge answered it. "Yes?" she asked tentatively. She thought the woman looked like a schoolteacher or a librarian.
"I heard you were selling cookbooks," the woman said.
"Oh," said Marge, "if you want a cookbook you should go over to one of our farm stands." She gestured in their direction. "We're selling them there."
"I don't want a cookbook," the woman said. She laughed at Marge's confused look. "I want a box of them. I'm from the Statewide Bookstore, down by the capital. We'd love to carry your book. We're trying to support local authors."
"Let me see if I can find Luna or Sal," Marge said.
Marge found Luna just coming in from the EcoGreenHouse. "We've got a customer for the cookbooks," she told her.
"Send her to one of the stands to buy one," Luna said.
"That's just it. She doesn't want to buy one, she wants to buy a box. She's from a bookstore."
Luna brightened up. "Have her come here. I'll talk with her."
And, in fact, the woman from the bookstore left with two boxes of books.
When Luna told Nancy, Nancy said, "I knew it would be a hot seller."
"I didn't ever think we'd sell eighteen boxes of books," Luna said. "Now I'm wondering when we'll need to order a second printing."
"Considering how long it took for the publisher to get us the first batch," Nancy said, "I think that we should reorder soon."
Dan had walked in on the conversation. "Congratulations," he said to Nancy. "That was a great idea."
Luna turned to him, "It's amazing. The EcoGreenHouse is in full bloom, the winter farm stands are flourishing, and now we're selling cookbooks left and right. We're doing incredibly well."
"Yeah," said Dan. "That's what I'm worried about. Don't you think things are going too well?"
"What could go wrong?" Nancy asked.