Tyler’s Antiques was his life’s work. He’d built the business from nothing and in five short years, his was the premier antique shop in town, located in the heart of the city’s antique district. The owner and lifeblood of Tyler’s Antiques was Tyler O’Connor. This was no dingy antique store filled with things everyone’s grandmother had thrown away. The items in this shop were high-end, quality antiques from the nineteenth century. There were no fakes, reproductions, or refinished pieces either; only quality antiques in their original condition. The shop was organized into display rooms, with partial walls and half-walls creating the room spaces. Some of these rooms were set up as living rooms, bedrooms, parlors, libraries, and offices. Each display room contained furniture, rugs, lamps, artwork, sculpture, clocks, chandeliers, and display pieces. All were displayed perfectly and all were for sale.
This particular Monday morning, Tyler was walking the floor of the shop as he did every morning, making his to-do list for the day. The shop required constant dusting and cleaning. No piece on display was ever allowed to get dusty. Included on his list were minor repairs that needed to be made as well as errands that he needed to run after the store closed or pieces in the back that needed work completed. Once his morning rounds were done, he opened the store for business promptly at nine each day.
During the week, Gladys would normally come in to work at about one in the afternoon and work until closing. Gladys was approaching sixty and worked for Tyler in order to get away from her retiree husband for a few hours in the afternoon. Having Gladys in the store gave Tyler time to make minor repairs, to work on pieces that needed to be prepared before being put on display, and for client appointments or to see items that people wished to sell. However, Gladys had recently fallen and broken her leg. Tyler missed seeing Gladys every day. She had worked for him for the past three years and was one of a small group of people that Tyler considered as close friends. She had told him she would be back to work in a few weeks, so until then, Tyler was on his own.
With the store open, Tyler knew that it would be slow for the first couple of hours and he decided that he would try to complete as many of the items on his list as he could before noon.
As he walked to the back of the store, he caught a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors. “I still look pretty good,” he said out loud to himself. In truth, Tyler was almost stunningly handsome. He was tall and slim, with a nice gym-built body, sandy hair, and deep blue eyes. He went to the gym five mornings a week before the store opened. Gym time was his time. He hadn’t dated in years and had no real interest in dating. He just wanted to keep himself looking good, and good-looking he was, not that it did him any good at all. Many of his customers were gay and they all thought he would make a great catch. A few had tried to be caught, but Tyler wasn’t interested. No one had managed to catch his eye, or his heart. He’d just never felt that certain connection with anyone, at least not for a number of years.
By noon most of the items on his list were completed and a few customers had wandered into the store. He spoke with each of them. Some he had seen before. One couple was new in town and just wanted to look around. Since no one else was in the store, Tyler gave them a brief tour and answered their questions. They ended up buying a light fixture for their new home, which meant that Tyler would probably be seeing them again.
As he was eating his lunch, the telephone rang. “Good afternoon, Tyler’s Antiques.” Tyler’s phone voice was always upbeat and happy, regardless of how he actually felt.
“Well, good afternoon. My name is Alice Burke and I’m interested in selling a number of antique pieces. I’d like to make an appointment to have you come and look at them.” She sounded formal and stiff even over the phone.
“What type of pieces are they, Mrs. Burke?”
“My mother was a collector of antiques and these are some of her pieces. I don’t know what you would call some of them, but they are very nice.”
“I’m sure they are.” Tyler got calls like this all the time. Usually the people had items he wasn’t interested in because they weren’t up to his quality standards. “Can you describe one of the pieces?”
“Sure. There’s a two-person sofa, you could call it, in medium-colored wood decorated with carved ladies heads.”
That description made Tyler take notice. “Are there other pieces like that?” Tyler realized that she may have some quality pieces after all.
“My, yes. There are eight pieces that match.” This actually had potential.
“All right, Mrs. Burke. I will be happy to set up an appointment with you. When would you like me to come over?” His calendar was out on the desk and he was already checking available dates.
“Can you come this evening at seven?”
Tyler checked his calendar and found that he was available. “Yes, Mrs. Burke. I had a cancellation for this evening and I’m available. Could you please give me your address and telephone number?”
She provided Tyler with the information he’d requested. He thanked her for calling, and told her he would see her at seven that evening.
What Mrs. Burke had described sounded quite promising, but Tyler had learned not to get his hopes up. He spent the rest of the day meeting customers and completing his list of items. At five o’clock, he closed the store and went upstairs to his apartment. Entering the apartment from the antique store was like entering a different world. Where the antique shop was full of items and always changing, Tyler’s apartment was largely furnished with simple, modern furniture. The only exceptions were a large carved Victorian table in the living room and a large walnut Victorian bed.Both of these pieces had been left to him by his grandmother and he treasured them. The apartment consisted of a large living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was his and one was set up as a guest room. In the three years he had lived in the apartment it had been used all of four times.
Tyler prepared himself a frozen dinner, cleaned up the dishes, and got ready to meet Mrs. Burke.
At about six-thirty he grabbed his jacket and headed down the back stairs to where his truck was parked. Tyler had two vehicles. One was a relatively new car, and the other was a truck with a trailer that he used to pick up and deliver furniture as well as transport items to antique shows. He got in the truck and headed to the address Mrs. Burke had given him. The address was in Shorewood, an affluent suburb north of the city on Lake Michigan. The house was quite small and he was worried that he’d wasted the trip.
Parking the truck in front of the house, he went up the front walk and rang the doorbell. The door was answered by a small woman in her late sixties. She had severe facial features and looked like she’d spent her life lecturing children. She invited him inside, and he saw that he hadn’t wasted the trip; the house was full of wonderful antiques.
Tyler introduced himself. “Mrs. Burke, I’m Tyler O’Connor.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. O’Connor. I’m Alice Burke.” They shook hands.
“Please call me Tyler.” She smiled. “So Mrs. Burke, which items would you like to sell?”
“Well, Tyler, I’m moving to a condo and I’ll have much less room. Why don’t we start in the living room and I will tell you which items I would like to sell. We can then move to the next room.”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll write down a description of each item and what I’m willing to pay you for it. If you have a price that you would like to get for an item, please tell me. I believe in being fair and honest. I don’t haggle, and when we’re through you can tell me which items you would like to sell based upon the price I quote you.”
“Tyler,” she beamed, “that sounds completely fair.” She seemed pleased that the process would be easy for her.
As they walked through the house, Tyler was surprised at the number of items that she wanted to sell. Among them was an eight-piece walnut living room set with carved ladies heads, two side tables with marble tops, a small, intricately carved writing desk, four lamps, a glass-fronted bookcase, and a three-piece bedroom set. In all his years in business, Tyler had only had one other parlor set with so many matching pieces. Tyler completed his list of the items along with the price he was willing to pay. Mrs. Burke suggested that they sit down at the kitchen table and discuss the remaining details. When they got into the kitchen Tyler noticed that the walls were covered with religious plaques and pictures and he couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable. They sat down at the table and went over the list of items and the prices, and she seemed surprised at the prices he was willing to pay.
“To be honest, Tyler, this is more than I thought the items were worth.” As she was speaking, a young man entered the kitchen and sat down at the table. She introduced the young man as her son. “Tyler O’Connor, this is my son, Mark.” Reaching across the table, Tyler and Mark shook hands. When Tyler took Mark’s hand it was like a spark shot through him. “Mark, I’m selling some of the items in the house to Tyler.”
Looking at the list on the table, Mark commented quietly, “That’s quite a list. Mom, did you show him the big old table that’s upstairs in storage?”
“No, I didn’t. Would you take him up and show it to him? I just can’t go up the stairs again.”
“Sure, Mom.” Mark indicated that Tyler should follow him, but Tyler was having difficulty concentrating. He was absolutely captivated by the gorgeous man across the table. It had been some time since anyone had captured his interest like that. Finally, he was able to get up from the table.
Mark led Tyler up the stairs and into a small storage area off one of the bedrooms. When Mark opened the door to the room, Tyler found himself staring into Mark’s incredible green eyes and he completely lost his train of thought. “Tyler, that’s the table.”
Tyler pulled his eyes away from Mark and looked at the piece of furniture. He almost whistled when he saw it. Of all the items he had seen in the house, this table was the best by far. Mark turned on the light so Tyler could see the table better. Tyler looked over the table carefully and was trying to decide on a price for it. He was alternately looking at the table and Mark. In the light Tyler could see that Mark was not beautiful, but was definitely handsome. He was slightly taller than Tyler, with dark wavy hair, a handsome face, a young lean body, and those incredible green eyes.
“Well, Mark, I’ve seen what I need to see. Let’s head back downstairs.”
Mark led him back down the stairs and Tyler found himself looking at Mark’s tight bubble butt. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he shook his head slightly to clear his mind and joined Mrs. Burke in the kitchen.
“Mrs. Burke, how much do you want for the table?” Tyler was trying to keep his excitement under control.
“Tyler, it’s just taking up space. How about fifteen hundred dollars?” She just wanted to start clearing out the house.
Tyler knew that price was low. “Mrs. Burke, it’s a really nice table. I’ll pay you three thousand, which seems much more reasonable to me.”Tyler could tell that Mrs. Burke was pleased.
Tyler totaled up the amount for the items he was buying and wrote Mrs. Burke a check. He also wrote up a bill of sale for the items he was purchasing, indicating each of the items Mrs. Burke was selling and the amount she was being paid for each item, and had her sign it. Then Tyler got to work. He packed each item, and loaded them carefully into the trailer.
“Mark, would you be willing to help me load some of the larger items? I’ll gladly pay you for your time.”
Before Mark could say a word, Mrs. Burke chimed in, “Mark will be glad to help you. It’s the Christian thing to do.”
He saw Mark roll his eyes. “Of course I’ll help, Mom.”
Mark helped Tyler load the large items into the truck. Tyler was happy to get to spend a few extra minutes with Mark even if it was just loading the truck. When everything was in the truck, including the table from upstairs, Tyler said good night to Mrs. Burke and thanked Mark for his help. Mark followed Tyler out to the truck and for a second Tyler thought Mark was going to ask him a question, but then he changed his mind.
“Look, Mark, I really should pay you for your time.”
Mark shook his head. “Could I ask you where your shop is? I’d like to see Mom’s stuff when you have it on display.” Tyler handed Mark one of his business cards and told him to stop by the store any time. Closing and locking the trailer, he wished Mark a good night and drove back toward the store.
It was almost nine when Tyler got back to the store. Backing the truck up to the back door, he carefully unloaded the small items into the store room, leaving on the truck only the large pieces of furniture that he couldn’t move by himself. Locking the truck and making sure the store was secure, he headed up to his apartment.
He got cleaned up, had a small snack, and got ready for bed. He couldn’t stop thinking about Mark. He kept seeing those green eyes. Tyler chastised himself. “Look, you’ll probably never see him again, so stop wishing and go to bed.” He cleaned up the dishes from his snack and got into bed. He did allow himself the small luxury of wishing for a second that the bed wasn’t so big and that someday he wouldn’t sleep alone. Then he turned out the light and went to sleep.