worked at a department store, had provided all of those things. Apparently clothes and cosmetics were her life, so she had plenty to spare and loved equipping others with them, but stillâ¦
It was so good it was almost bad.
Jasmyn giggled. Then she cried. Then she took a shower, slipped into a lavender cotton nightshirt that still had the tags on it, and crawled into bed.
Before any of her tenants had opened the blinds on their bay windows, Liv was out and about, making her morning rounds in the courtyard.
She smiled. Syd, her late husband, had coined the term making her rounds . He said she was doctor and security guard rolled into one. Through the years, other people had called her Mama Liv, angel, prayer warrior, crazy coot, and odd duck. And those were only the ones she knew about.
But, as young people said nowadays, whatever. She was fine with the labels because they suited her. Believing that those who lived at the Casa had been placed there for her to watch over was the axiom she lived by. She began each day with a stroll around the courtyard, a pause before each cottage, and a prayer for the occupant.
Facing the courtyard that still lay in shadows, Liv sat now near her front door on an Adirondack chair, a teapot and cup beside her on a table. All the cottages had similar chairs, their colors chosen to match each front door. Hers was holly red, Sydâs favorite color on her.
Tobi, her RagaMuffin cat, purred on her lap. She was a beauty with her mouth and nose centered inside a triangle of white fur. Her right eye and ear were surrounded by dark fur, the left ones by orange.
Birds chirped their predawn song while Liv jotted notes on a pad. She needed to get to the market and the library and tend to those sad mums under the sycamore. The burned-out lightbulbs in the laundry room and the Templetonsâ drippy faucet were chores for Beau, her maintenance man.
She heard Elevenâs door open and close, a swishing sound nearly lost inthe swelling birdsong. That would be the new girl now, trying not to disturb anyone. She seemed a bit on the mousy side with her soft, small voice. It was a wonder Liv had convinced her to spend the night at the Casa.
Liv leaned forward, eager for Jasmyn to appear. The cottages were not lined up in a straight row, but in a staggered circle around the courtyard. Each front door was set back in an alcove. The lovely design created corners and privacy, an excellent feature for such a compact area. But for an odd duck who moonlighted as a mama, it fostered impatience.
Liv waited her limit of three seconds and called out, âJasmyn, dear?â
The girl peered around the corner of her cottage. âLiv?â
Jasmyn emerged, a mug in her hand and wearing a pale yellow robe that fit her to a tee. âGood morning.â
Liv patted the arm of the chair next to hers. âYou look bright eyed and bushy tailed.â
âDo I?â Jasmyn sat and smiled. Even in the grayish light of dawn her almost-violet-colored eyes shone. Dimples appeared in her rounded cheeks. âI do, donât I?â
âYou must have slept well.â
âOh, I canât begin to tell you how well I slept. Did you know with the window open you can hear the surf from here?â She paused as she heard her own question. âOf course you know that.â
âIt is lovely when the wind blows just right.â
âAnd the scent! Oh my gosh. Sweet flowers are right outside the window.â
Liv nearly clapped her hands. She hadnât thought of the large plant growing near the back corner of Cottage Eleven, the one she had pampered and coaxed into blooming again. âThatâs jasmine.â
âIsnât that funny? Well, between the smell and the sound, the room was so soothing. But still I canât believe I slept. I mean, on a rollaway in a strange house wearing someone elseâs clothes. How