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Old Books & New Flames

Chapter Text

“Are you arranging by subject or Dewey Decimal system?”

The deep voice startled Molly Hooper as she was struggling to reach the spot on the shelf where the book needed to go. She felt her footing on the stool waver and almost as instantly, two hands on her waist that lifted her up easily a few inches so she could reach the spot she needed. As soon as the book was in it’s designated spot the hands gently lowered her back to the step stool and she turned to look at the man who had helped her.

She’d only had the Olde Tyme Books open for two months now, but there had been quite a bit of interest in the old books she carried in stock. She specialized in hard to find and out of print volumes with a few more modern books on a few select subjects, mostly classic literature and history. She was quite content running it with her friends Sally and Mary, but she could always use a helping, strong hand.

Especially when attached to a handsome ginger man with striking blue eyes. A strange juxtaposition, yet...well, rather lovely.

“Um...subject,” she said, using a hand to straighten out her skirt.

“If you’re encouraging scholars to browse your wares, you may want to switch to the Dewey Decimal system. They’d be more used to it.”

She gave him a smile. “I’ll consider it. Are you looking for something in particular?”

“A job?” he asked, grinning back. “I...” He trailed off. “I’ve just been let go from Her Majesty’s pleasure. It’s a bit hard to find a decent position.”

Her mouth moved into a small circle, but then she shook her head. “Would you like to rearrange the stock in the system you recommended? I can start you at ten pounds an hour for this job and then we can see what other work there is for you. I know it’s not much, but...”

“It’s enough,” he said, his tone grateful. “I just need to find a place to bunk down and then I can give you an address. Phone number I’ll have to work on.”

She pursed her lips for a moment. “I live outside of town. And I have a spare room. But I just...”

“I accidentally killed someone, when I was pissed and behind the wheel of a car I shouldn’t have been driving,” he said. “I had a problem with the drink, but I’ve been sober three years now.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Won’t hire me?” he asked, his voice having a defensive edge.

“Oh, no!” She said, her eyes wide as she shook her head. “I’m just sorry that’s what it took to get you sober. It’s not the kind of thing one should have to endure to hit rock bottom.” She fiddled in the pocket of her skirt, one she had designed herself specifically to have pockets, and pulled out a set of keys with an AA chip. “My brother. When he passed from cancer, he was ten years sober. It was a very brave thing for him to do, and he made sure I got his thirty-day chip for supporting him in his will. I had it put on a keychain.”

The man’s gaze softened. “I should apologize. I’m very used to have opportunities given and then taken away just as quickly.”

“Well, I’ll extend maybe different housing, as I have too much temptation at home. My friends are wine snobs,” she said. “There’s a small flat upstairs. Nothing very fancy, I was planning on using it as an office, but if you give me to the end of the day, I can get a bed for you, and at least a nightstand. There’s already a wardrobe there that I couldn’t figure out how to haul away.” She shifted her hold on the books to put the keychain back in her pocket and then extended her hand. “I’m Molly. Molly Hooper. I’ve seen you for weeks but never caught your name.”

“Moran. Sebastian Moran.” He reached over and shook her hand, his grip firm and warm. “Thank you. I appreciate the chance at...well, a second chance.”

“I think everyone deserves one,” she said with a smile as she let go of his hand. “If you want to start, I can have Mary explain where everything is and leave you to sort it?”

“Well, the re-shelving may take some planning, and if I’m bunking upstairs I can work on it tonight. Is there anything else that needs to be done?”

“Some maintenance issues we were going to call out for help for,” Molly said.

“I’ll take care of it. I’m pretty handy with a wrench. Mary’s the blonde, right?”

“Right,” she said, giving him a warm smile.”

He grinned again and inclined his head towards her. “I’ll go talk to her, then. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. She watched him walk away, mesmerized, and then shook her head. She did believe in giving people a second chance, it was true. Sometimes it had bitten her in the arse, but she fervently hoped on this occasion it did not.

Chapter Text

“Sebastian seems like a nice enough bloke,” Sally said as she picked up a cracker to dip into the hummus. Molly had rather hired Sebastian without any input from Sally or Mary, so she felt at the very least she should have them over for supper to discuss the arrangements that would need to be made. She was worried they’d be pissed at her, and rightfully so, but both women had taken the opportunity before they met up at Molly’s home that they approved. They’d noticed him too and even knowing he was an ex-prisoner, they seemed to like him.

She hoped they didn’t mind he was staying at the shop. That bit she hadn’t mentioned, though they’d probably seen the bed and nightstand go in that she got from a villager nearby who was giving it away.

“Well, he’s going to stay on the premises. Room and board for security work, so to speak,” Molly said. “And I was thinking we could feed him for a bit until I can get one of those mini fridges upstairs and a few other things to make it...homey.” She bit her lip while she waited for a reaction.

“Think it will keep our shoppe from getting burgled like some of the others in the area?” Mary asked, tilting her head as she uncorked a bottle of wine.

“I’m hoping,” Molly said.

“Well, we’re doing a civic service and getting something in return, so I think it’s a good deal. I mean, you know that we’ve gotten burned before but...I don’t think Seb will do that to us.”

“Seb?” Sally asked with a smile.

“He asked for me to call him that while we were chatting. He is fairly handy with a wrench and he showed me a few things I can do to get that one light fixture to turn on, but he said we’ll need an electrician to come on sight and maybe rewire the switch and some other things. The shoppe is in mostly good condition, but we got cheated.”

Molly made a face. “And our landlord is more interested in getting into my knickers than anything else,” she said, jabbing a cherry tomato so hard it squirted out its insides. “Bugger.”

“Moriarty is a prat, but hopefully we can make the most of having Seb around,” Mary said, smiling. “He seems to have taken a shine to you, Molly.”

“I’m just being nice,” Molly said, blushing slightly.

“I don’t think Seb has had a lot of nice in his life,” Mary said. “He was a soldier for a bit, saw some horrible things and got into the drink. That didn’t help matters, and then there was prison...nice is something he should have more of, all things considered.”

“Just no alcohol at the shoppe,” Molly said. “He’s sober and I know how hard it can be to deal with temptation. We want drinks, we have them here or at the pub.”

“I can agree to that,” Sally said with a nod.

“Me too,” Mary said as she began to pour the wine. “Though if we invite him to dinner, no wine.”

“Good idea,” Molly said with a nod. “I may take some of the lamb to him tonight, just so he has something. I have no idea when the last time he had a decent meal was.”

“I know it’s not particularly filling, but Greg always keeps microwaveable things around for his daughter to make when she gets home from school if he’s busy at the pub,” Sally said. “I can see if he’ll give some to me and we can get a Seb a microwave of his own too so he can have something without relying on us.”

“Sally, you’re a saint,” Molly said with a smile. “I’m sure this will be a good thing.”

The women lapsed into other conversations soon after, and Molly noticed none of them had seconds on anything so there was plenty to take back to the shoppe for Seb. Molly gathered it all up when Mary and Sally left, and a few other things that were easy to make plus some fruit and vegetables to make things healthier, and then loaded it all into her car and drove back tot he shoppe. She could see the upstairs light was on, so Seb must still be awake. She knocked on the shoppe door, and after a few minutes he came down. “Molly?” he asked.

“I have food. Leftovers from dinner, microwave things, fruits, vegetables...” She trailed off as she realized he was bare to the waist. “You’re more than welcome to run downstairs and use the break area until we can get you more settled upstairs.”

“The bed and nightstand and lamp are more than enough,” he said with a grin. “But I appreciate it. Let me take some of this off your hands.” He easily got the basket of food and then headed towards the break room with her following after she locked behind her. “I hope it’s alright if I read some of the merchandise?”

“Well, we allow customers to so I don’t see why you can’t,” she said warmly. “Anything in particular caught your fancy?”

“A book on the history of classical language,” he said.

“Interesting choice.”

“I did a lot of reading in prison. I enjoyed the classics, so learning more about the originating language is interesting.”

“Is it the one by Donner?” she asked, and he nodded. “I have a second copy in the back. Feel free to keep the one you’ve got now even after you finish it. I mean...Mary and Sally and I have a half off discount on our books, and we can extend it to you too when you get some of your wages to spend. But for now, things we have duplicates of that catch your eye, feel free to borrow and keep if you like.”

“That’s more than generous,” he said once they got in the break room and he set the basket on the worktop. “I’ll pay you back.”

“Only if you insist,” she said, placing the bag of bread she’d carried in with the makings of some sandwich goodies in it next to his basket.

“I do,” he replied with a nod. “A second chance is all I really need. Everything else I’ll work for.” He nodded to the food. “I’ll get something to eat and then start figuring out how to rearrange the shelves.”

“Just make sure you get some rest tonight,” she said. “It’s not a large shoppe but there are a lot of books.” She looked around and then decided he could make do on his own. “I’ll leave you to it, but I’ll be here at six for the early morning news delivery.”

He nodded. “I’ll see you then,” he replied before turning to the basket and beginning to unload it. She watched for a moment and then turned to leave. It felt right, all of this, she thought to herself. He would be a good fit for her motley family if he let himself get that close to all of them. And she rather hoped he would...

Chapter Text

She arrived out in front of the shoppe to find the newspaper delivery waiting, as well as a rather unwelcome guest. Jim Moriarty was there, wearing his usual expensive suit and smartly polished shoes, reading the top of the stack of newspapers. “You have to pay for that, James,” she said, trying to sound only have as aggravated as she felt. In the two months that she’d owned the shop he’d been so much more of a nuisance than a help.

Jim gave her his usual smile, one that rather reminded her of a weasel, and then put the newspaper under his arm and pulled out twenty quid. “Keep the change,” he said.

“Anything in particular you want today?” she asked, taking the money and slipping it into the pocket of her skirt.

“A date,” he said.

“I’m not interested,” she replied, bending over to pick up the newspapers.

“Then an explanation. The light was on last night, I was told.”

“I have an employee living upstairs,” she replied as she picked up the papers. It was always a right handful but she wasn’t about to let Moriarty help. “New employee, just hired, settling in as a security watchman.”

“If you wanted security you could have just asked,” he said with a pout.

“He’s doing more than just security. That was an added bonus with the robberies.” She got the stack in a rather good grip but realized Moriarty had rattled her and she forgot to open the door. Fortunately, Seb chose that moment to open it for her. “Thank you, Seb.”

“No worries,” he said before looking at Moriarty. “Is he bothering you?”

“No. James Moriarty, this is Sebastian Moran. James is the landlord, Seb is my new hire.” Sebastian moved out of the way, making no attempt to shake Moriarty’s hand, and no advance was made in the other direction, either. “We have a lot to do today James so if you’d be off...”

“We’ll see how it all goes,” Moriarty said in a huff before turning, leaving the newspaper under his arm on the ground as he left. Sebastian moved past Molly to pick it up, and then when he was done he took half the stack from her.

“He’s not a nice man,” Seb said, stating it as a fact as opposed to a question.

“No, I suppose he’s not,” Molly said. “He keeps trying to get in my knickers but all I can think of him as is a weasel or a shark.”

Seb cracked a grin. “Apt descriptions, both of them.” He moved to set the newspapers on the counter and then began sorting them into their appropriate places. “There’s coffee left over if you’d like some. I assumed all of you drink coffee by the sheer amount of flavoured creamers in the break room refrigerator.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of our vice,” Molly said with a grin as she set her stack of papers next to his. “I can get some for you, too, if there’s one you want?”

“I’m a black coffee person,” he said. “But thank you for the offer.”

“That’s good to know,” she replied. “Sally has a stepdaughter that is nearly on her way to uni so one of those creamers is her stepdaughter’s when she comes into the shop to study and help out. Amelia decided this was better than her dad’s pub.”

“Lestrade?” Seb asked. Molly nodded. “He was the one who recommended I ask for a job here. Seems a decent bloke.”

“He is. Used to be village police but he got injured and retired about six years back. He’s run the pub and I used to work there till I got gifted the shoppe in the will of one of my dear friends, Martha. I introduced him to Sally, actually. I knew her in London.”

“And Mary?” he asked as he kept working on sorting the newspapers.

“Mary just arrived in the village with her husband one day as their car had broken down, and they were so enamoured they never moved on. Her husband’s a writer and she has a daughter that he takes care of. John’s a good bloke too.” She started to hand him newspapers to make the job easier, two or three at a time. “Rosie will come by on occasion when John decides to step away from the laptop. But with busy lives, they both need their coffee.”

“And your life is just as busy, I’d imagine.”

“Well, it’s just me at home, but I have to do the business work outside of the times the shoppes open, so it’s a lot of numbers crunching and inventory lists and whatnot, but I love it.” She gave him a smile as they finished his stack and went on to hers. “Mary said that we’ll need to get an electrician?”

“Well, the wiring is a bit wonky, like it was done to fix a few minor problems but never took care of the main problems. Might have to shut down the store for a day or two as they’d need to shut off the electricity. I could manage the upkeep but fixing that problem is beyond me.” He looked up at her. “The rest of the on-site maintenance, though, I should be able to handle.”

“Then if you want to show me what I need to have the electrician be on the lookout for I’ll make the appointment and we can have a bite while we go over what else you’d like to do here?”

He nodded. “Sounds like a fair plan.”

“Good.”

Chapter Text

Molly ran to the local bakery and picked up a few things for her and Seb to much on as they went about opening up the shop. There weren’t many businesses open this early, but she had a deal with the local baker that she would bring him newspapers free of charge for some scones every morning so they could be there for the early bird customers to peruse at the bakery while they ate their breakfast inside. The baker must have noticed the light on as well because there were extra muffins and scones and she gave them to Molly with a smile on her face.

It was one of the few drawbacks of living in a smallish village, she knew, but she would much rather be here than in London. In London, she had been on track for a career in the medical profession before her friend Sherlock had asked her to check-in on his old landlord, Martha. He was busy with a blossoming career as a private investigator and he was in the middle of an open case for Scotland Yard, but he was worried.

What was supposed to be a one-off visit had become multiple visits as she and Martha bonded. Eventually, Molly settled for becoming a live-in nurse, to an extent, and helping to run the bookstore and work in the pub when she needed a bit of extra money, as all she got from Martha was a roof over her head. Sadly, Martha had succumbed to cancer three months prior, and she found she had inherited Martha’s home and business when the will was read. Sherlock had said Martha had made the right choice, as he was the only other person Martha had considered family and he wouldn’t have had a use for either the home or the business.

She made a note to call Sherlock and tell him about Seb but insist he run no background check unless she specifically asked, but also to ask him about looking into Moriarty. She wasn’t fond of her landlord, as he had done dodgy things when Martha had owned the business, and maybe there was something in his background she could use to her advantage. If anyone could find it, it was Sherlock. When she got back into the shop she scribbled a note to herself.

“You know Sherlock Holmes?” Seb asked from behind her, giving her a start.

“Yeah,” Molly said with a nod. “He’s an old friend.”

“I used his services once, to find the family of...” He trailed off. “I had gotten a payoff from work I’d done before the accident and I wanted to give it to them, but I had no idea who to give it to or if they’d even want anything from me. Turned out the man I killed was a bastard, though I didn’t know that. He’d left his family nearly destitute. His widow appreciated the gesture.”

“Sherlock would take on that sort of case,” Molly said with a smile. “He says he’s lacking a heart but it’s utter shite. That’s why I’m here...he asked me to check on an old friend and I just stayed.”

“He mentioned this village might be a good place for a second chance,” Seb said with a nod. “It seems to be, so far.” He motioned to the food. “Can I get a muffin?”

“Oh! Yes. Apparently, it’s already known around the village I have someone staying upstairs,” she said, her smile widening. “These were extra from the baker. She usually gives me two to three scones for one of each newspaper to put in her shop, but this is definitely more.”

“I think we should save some for Sally and Mary,” he said.

“I’m sure they would appreciate it.” She took one of her usual currant scones and took a bite. “Anyway, I was thinking I might contact Sherlock about running a check on our landlord. I’m sure he’ll do something with minimal probing as a favour if I ask nicely and promise to send him one of Conan Doyle’s books.”

“I never pegged him as the type to like lost world series,” Seb said with a grin before taking a bite from his muffin. “And a background check on me too, I’d assume.”

“No, I was going to hold off,” she said.

“It would be the prudent thing to do. You have a kind heart, Molly, and I’m not going to take advantage but others might. You want to have a background check run on me, I have no problems with that. I encourage it.” He had more of his muffin. “I doubt Moriarty will feel the same way.”

“Which makes you a better man by far,” Molly said with a soft chuckle. “Alright. I’ll tell Sherlock to run one on you too, just because you insist. But while we’re munching on our breakfast, why don’t you show me the wiring problem? It’s too early to call someone to come to take a look, but if the electricity is to be off for a bit we can start seeing when we can arrange to close and make sure everyone still gets paid. Speaking of which!” She went to the till and opened it to get her cheques, and then changed her mind and went for the cash, pulling out about a hundred quid. “An advance until next pay period, as I just paid Sally and Mary yesterday and it will be a week until the next one. This should give you the ability to get whatever you need to settle in aside from a microwave and kettle. Mary insisted she and her husband are bringing those by later today.”

“I appreciate it,” he said gratefully. “I look a bit haggard without a razor to shave.”

“I don’t know,” she said, studying him. “Stubble is a good look on you.” Then she blushed slightly. “But you can go when the market opens and pick up a few more things. I think Sally is bringing more microwavable meals with her from home, and she said she’d talk to her husband about clothing since you and Greg are almost the same size, so no worries on that.”

“I don’t think I’ve had this much kindness my entire life,” he said, his tone humble. “I’ll make sure I live up to it.”

“You do that and that’s all the repayment we need,” she said, gifting him with a wide smile. She picked up her scone again and moved away from the till. “Now, on to some work for the day.”

“Yes ma’am,” Seb said with a grin of his own, finishing off his muffin and wiping his hands. Molly joined him on the other side of the till and followed him to the circuit box. Hopefully, he would stick around for a little while. She rather enjoyed his company, something she was quite surprised by. And hopefully, she’d learn more about him, and not just from the background check, because he seemed an awfully interesting man to her.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take Seb long to start settling into village life. Within a week she’d overheard two women asking him to come over for a cuppa and offer to bring him food. She would admit she felt a teensy bit jealous but other than being his employer and landlord she had no claim over him. He was a grown man and if he wanted coffee or tea with someone else in the village she couldn’t fault him.

She, Mary and Sally talked and decided to give him a key so he could go to and from the shop when it was technically closed. He seemed touched and very surprised by the key, but Mary said he shouldn’t be a prisoner in his room and he grinned at that and pocketed the key. Molly made a note to get him a keychain of some sort later if she gave him other ones the business needed in his role of doing maintenance.

It was a rather lazy day when Sally’s mobile rang and she had an amusing conversation with someone before hanging up. “Seems like you aren’t the only one with a crush on Seb,” she said as she came up to Molly.

Molly flushed at that. “I do not,” she said, quietly but insistently.

“Mm-hmm. Well, it looks like the girls in Amelia’s class have all decided to write topics for their next paper on subjects requiring old books, and Amelia said they can come in and drool if they actually buy something.”

“Bless your stepdaughter,” Molly said with a laugh. “Until we get the online catalog and bookstore set up, we can use all the help we can get.”

“Doing badly, are we?” Sally asked with a frown.

“No, not that. But Moriarty doesn’t want to cover the electric work and it’s going to take a lot of money to fix the mistakes the cheapskate he hired before we opened made. At least we still have the books from Martha at my home. I can take the really valuable ones into London if need be to cover it.”

“I miss her,” Sally said. “She’d have been all over Seb.”

“Oh yeah. She’d have flirted like there was no tomorrow, then offered him an herbal soother, even if he is trying to stay sober.” Molly sighed. “She was such a lovely person. I’m glad Sherlock pushed me out in her direction. I don’t even want to know what kind of life I’d be living in London now.”

“A very lonely one, probably,” Sally said. “Lord knows that’s what I was geared towards before you introduced me to Greg. Speaking of which...” She leaned in with a warm smile. “Guess who’s late?”

“No!” Molly asked, her eyes wide. “Are you…?”

“Amelia is bringing a test from one of her friends. She told her friend it was for her, bless her, because she wants it to be a surprise if I am.” Sally smiled. “I never really thought I’d want a child of my own but raising Amelia has given me that urge.”

“Well, I hope you are and I hope Greg is thrilled and doesn’t suspect Amelia is pregnant first,” Molly said.

“I’ll temper his rage at Charles,” Sally said. “Especially if I wake the test in front of his eyes and tell him congrats, you’ll have a little one to take care of once Amelia goes off to uni.”

“Has she still got her heart set on something in Oxford?” Molly asked.

Sally nodded. “It’s nearby and she can easily commute if she keeps the upkeep on her car current. I never thought I’d have a mechanic for a stepdaughter but it pays off in the long run.”

“A woman who can master physics and a tricky engine is the best kind of woman, and you both should be proud of her.” Molly was going to say more but the bell over the door chimed and in an instant, the giggles of schoolgirls could be heard. “Go get the test from her and take it now. I’m dying to know.”

Sally nodded and moved away, leaving Molly to tend the register by herself. She was happy for her friend, she was, but she’d hoped by now she could have found love and had a family of her own as well. It was a fading hope, but it was still there in the embers. As she glanced at Seb working among the shelves and the girls queuing to get a look, she smiled slightly. At least, perhaps, she stood a chance there, slim as it was. But she’d focus on the business first for the moment and everything else after.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t much in the way of keychains, just a small rounded bit of leather with a shamrock embossed on it. Seb was Irish and she had seen it when she’d gone up to London to sell off a book or two and talk to Sherlock for a bit. Everything Seb had told her was exactly what Sherlock reiterated, and when he asked if Seb was as good a fit as he’d hoped, he openly admitted to playing matchmaker, something that caused her to punch her friend in the shoulder, albeit lovingly. He said he was laying odds by the end of the year he’d have to go to the village for an engagement party and she told him to stuff it.

The news about Moriarty wasn’t quite so pleasant, but there was enough there that if she needed to she could blackmail him into doing the repairs to the shop. In the time it had closed when Martha had died and reopened under her watchful eye, it seemed that there had been some instances of robberies that had never been reported and covered up rather well, but things that Sherlock knew had been in the shop had been surfacing in London. She had gone into the city with the books to sell and come back with so many more that had been stolen from her wares, and a righteous fury burned inside her as she realized the only person who had keys and could have just taken them was Moriarty.

But blackmailing him could be dangerous, as Sherlock was not at all hesitant to tell her. He was a dangerous man and she shouldn’t willingly choose to cross him. He said if it would keep her temper in check he would cover the repairs himself, and as much as she wanted to turn him down, it would be an absolute godsend to not have to worry about the shop burning down from faulty wiring.

It was late when she got back to the village but she saw the light in Seb’s room was on as she let herself in to deposit the books in the shop. She’d go through them in the morning and decide what was worth putting back into stock, what was worth saving solely for the online catalogue and what would be best to hoc if she needed more funds.

Seb came down the stairs, a cricket bat in his hands that he held up until he realized it was her. “How was London?” he asked, lowering the bat.

“Informative,” she said. “I have found out the landlord robbed us blind during the transfer of the shop from Martha to myself, and I got some of the books back thanks to Sherlock. He’s also offered to cover the cost of the electrician and the man should be here on Monday.”

“Good that it’s covered, but the prat is a thief?” he asked, leaning against the doorjamb. It was only then she realized he wasn’t wearing anything more than a pair of pants, and she averted her gaze.

“Yes. These are the books we got back,” she said, indicating the stack she’d set on the counter. “Or some of them, at least. There’s more in the boot.”

“I’ll put some trousers on and get them. Have you eaten recently?” She shook her head. “Mary gifted me with a portable electric cooktop her husband had found, so I can make you something if you want.”

“There’s no need,” she said with a smile, taking in the sight. Lord, he was as handsome as she had supposed, with a lean, muscular frame and chiseled muscles.

“You’re sure?” he asked, a bit of a twinkle in his eyes. “I can cook like this if that means you might stay.”

“Oh my God, I’m drooling, aren’t I?” she said, shutting her eyes and shaking her head. A moment later she felt two fingers gently lift her head up and she found herself staring into Seb’s blue eyes when she opened hers. Her mouth was suddenly dry and all she could get out was a breathy “Seb...”

“I find myself in a position where I find my boss cute, and adorable, and lovely, and I would like to kiss her,” he said softly.

She couldn’t speak, just gently bobbed her head up and down, and he gently pressed his lips against hers, the kiss soft, and she sighed into the kiss as she wound her arms around his neck and kissed him back just as tenderly. His arm looped around her and a moment later he easily lifted her up onto the counter so they were almost looking right at each other, and he pressed in a little more. She had the feeling it wouldn’t go much more than this kiss, and perhaps dinner tonight, but she found herself kissing him back more deeply, opening her mouth for him and letting her tongue touch his bottom lip.

The rap of a knocking at the door made her jump back, and Seb reluctantly let her go. She hopped off the counter and then smoothed her skirt down first, then her shirt, and made her way to the now empty door. She opened it and looked around, but no one was there. That was definitely...not good. “I...could you get the books while I hide in the back a bit?” she asked.

He nodded. “I’ll get trousers on and you go to the break area. I’ll make us something to eat and you can stay until the fright is out of you.” She nodded and then hesitated a moment and kissed his cheek before brushing past him to the employee area. She had the feeling one kiss had just changed everything...and she didn’t know if it was for good or for ill.

Chapter Text

She ended up staying quite late and Seb insisted on making sure she called when she got home. She knew everyone in the village; who would want to scare her like that? Just knock on the shop door and then leave? Of course, she and Seb had been snogging and there were a few women who’d love to get in his pants but...nothing other than a snog had happened. She didn’t even know if there would be another one, all things considered.

She had trouble sleeping after she got off the phone with Seb, assuring him she was home safe, but it wasn’t until the morning that she realized she might be in over her head. She got dressed to go get the bakery goods and exchange it for the papers when she saw her car had been keyed, the air in the tires let out and the windows and windshields smashed. She ran back inside and got on her phone, calling the shop.

“Seb,” she said as soon as the phone was answered. “Someone wrecked my car. Air out of tires, smashed windows, key marks in the paint...”

“Slow down and take a deep breath,” he said. “I’ll go get you and we’ll walk here together. You can ask Sally’s stepdaughter about the car. She’ll probably give you a steep enough discount, if not do it for free. And when you go home tonight, I’ll come with you.”

“But that leaves the shop unattended,” she said.

“Which would ruin your livelihood if something happened to it,” he said in an agreeing tone. “Then you’ll stay here. The bed is big enough we can share if you trust me not to do anything.”

“I do,” she said.

“And perhaps you can see if Mary or Sally will housesit for a bit.”

She took another deep breath and felt calmer. “I was just so shaken, with the knocking last night and now this...”

“We’ll get through it,” he said. “I promise. But you might want to alert Sherlock to it as well, have him do his bit and look into it.”

“Alright,” she said. “Thank you.”

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Just stay inside and I’ll knock three times.” He hung up then and she did as well before calling Sherlock. He was awake, as usual, and she told him what happened. He asked for the names of the women who’d shown a romantic interest in Sebastian and said he would look into all the angles, which could only mean, to her, that he meant Moriarty as well. He’d fancied her; he could do something drastic.

She felt cold even though she had a jumper on under her coat until she heard the three knocks at the door. She opened it and Seb was there, looking solid and just a bit upset. “I saw the damage. I’m just thankful it wasn’t the house or you that got hurt.” He pulled her close and she wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest, talking in his heartbeat to calm her down. They stood like that for a bit until he let go. “Let’s get a start to the day, alright?”

“Alright,” she said. She left the house, locking up afterward, and then he took her hand in his as they walked. Even the act of intimidation wasn’t about to stop whatever it was they were thinking of becoming, she noticed, and she felt relieved at that. She wanted to give a relationship with Seb a solid go and if he was still willing, so was she.

They got the newspapers from the stoop and she took the share that went to the bakery over. Already it looked as though news of not only the damage to her car but her newfound relationship with Seb was going to be the big news in the village, as she was asked a ton of questions by the woman giving her the baked goods, but it also made her feel perhaps it would be harder for more acts like that to happen if everyone was aware. This was a good village filled with mostly good people.

Sally and Mary came in early, both of them worried, but Molly assured them she was fine, it was just the car that was damaged, and she was going to stay at the shop with Seb for a bit since she didn’t feel safe. Mary immediately called her husband and asked him if he could write at Molly’s home as well as theirs, and when he said he could he offered to go keep an eye on her house in the daytime. Sally said Greg had already offered to stay the night there as long as needed and Amelia was already planning on going over and having the car towed to the shop for repairs, free of charge, and it was those acts of kindness that made Molly burst into tears for the first time since she’d gotten back and the scares had happened.

Eventually, Sally and Mary went off to their duties and it was just Molly and Seb alone. The store wasn’t open yet but as much as she wanted another hug she didn’t think it was a good idea. But as soon as she wrapped her arms around herself he pulled her into an embrace. “it will be fine,” he said. “During the lunch break, we’ll go get your clothes and some of your comfort foods and anything else you feel the need to bring.”

She looked up. “I don’t know how you feel about cats?”

“Well, I had a lovely calico as a boy?” he said. “Named him Patches.”

“My cat is named Toby. We can keep him upstairs so he’s not in the way, but even though I know there’s going to be someone there, I’ll feel better if he’s here.” She unfolded her arms and embraced him back. “Thank you.”

“It’s what any person who sees someone they care about being targeted would do,” he said. She smiled into his shirt and relaxed a bit more. She felt safe with him and she had the feeling he would do everything he could to keep her safe. She trusted him, and she knew that he was glad for that and frankly? So was she.

Chapter Text

John came over before the lunch break with Toby and his litter box and food bowls, and also properly introduced himself to Sebastian. The two men got along rather well, and John went back to her home satisfied she was going to be well taken care of, she could see that. There was a lull in between the actual business the shop was doing and the people who just wanted to nose about to find out the gossip, and what was true and what wasn’t, and Molly went upstairs to what had become Seb’s bedroom in the shop. Toby had made himself quite comfortable in the middle of the bed, curled up in a patch of sunlight from the window. She sat near him, stroking his fur and watched as he stretched and then batted at her hand, saying enough was enough.

“Do you think we’ll be alright here, Toby?” she asked her cat, not expecting an answer.

“I think you’ll be just fine,” Mary said from the door. Molly started and Mary looked sheepish. “I thought I’d knocked loud enough.”

“No, I’m just out of sorts today. The knock may have startled me even more.”

Mary looked around. “He made it homey, which is good,” she said approvingly. “I feel better knowing he’s at the shop and you’re with him.” She came in and sat on the bed next to her. “Have you talked to Sherlock?”

“Yes,” she said. “He’s looking at everyone who showed they fancied Seb, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s worse. I think it was Moriarty.”

“Oh, dear,” she said, putting an arm around Molly’s shoulders. “Seb told us he’d stolen from the store before the transfer was complete,. He’s an absolute arse, isn’t he?”

“And he fancies me and I fancy someone else,” Molly said. “I’m honestly just as worried about Seb as I am me. And he has a record! I mean...what if Moriarty does something to get him tossed back in jail? He’s got fingers in so many different things in this village...he could, you know.”

“Then you need to stick close to Seb, and you need to make sure you stay in contact with Sherlock and whoever is dealing with the vandalism issue.” She pulled Molly closer. “You did a good thing and yes, while bad things happen, I believe in karmic payback. Moriarty will get his, for the thefts and the damage and all of that. And you’ll be blessed.”

“I wish I could have your point of view about this,” Molly said.

“Well, I came upstairs to tell you that Greg and Sally are inviting all of us to dinner tomorrow to celebrate their good news.” Molly opened her mouth and Mary looked at her. “John is staying at your place until we’re done and then Greg will take over keeping an eye there. I’m going to have to bring Rosie to the shop for a bit tomorrow because Sally wants her there and your home isn’t exactly babyproofed.”

Molly frowned. “Where has she been so far today?”

“With Amelia at my home.”

“Oh, Mary, go be with Rosie. With Seb here, we can manage with a bit smaller staff for a few days. Sally can show him how to run the register and all that if we need him to. Family is important.”

“And you’re family,” Mary said. “Don’t think you’re not. But if you’re sure, I’ll take a few days and stay with Rosie. But if you need me I can find a sitter if Amelia isn’t available. Don’t hesitate to call, alright?”

“Alright,” Molly said with a nod. Marry pulled her in again and Molly rested her head on Mary’s shoulder. She was incredibly lucky, and she knew this deep down in her bones. Most people would never be this blessed in their entire lifetime.

She just hoped the blessings lasted.

Chapter Text

He left the room and changed in the loo when it was time for them to get ready for sleep. She’d gotten some pyjama bottoms and a few camisole tops since it was warmer this time of year, even at night. Nothing provocative but still comfortable. She hoped that would temper her nerves, and when Seb came back into the room in men's pyjama pants and a T-shirt instead of the pants he’d worn the night before, she felt the knot of anxiety loosen.

“Do you normally go to sleep this early?” he asked, giving her a small grin.

“No, but I didn’t sleep well last night with everything,” she admitted. “There’s paperwork to do, and accounting to look at, but I thought I could just do it in the morning. The till’s been counted and the profits for the day deposited at the bank, and that’s the only thing we really need to do in the evening that I can’t put off.” She moved to the bed and urged Toby off of the quilt. “Do you have a side?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you have a side, take yours and I’ll take the other one.

She got in on the right side of the bed and he walked around and got in on the left. They faced each other for a moment before Molly left out a nervous chuckle. “This isn’t a very comfortable position to sleep in, is it?”

“Do you want to rest your head on me?” he asked. “I usually sleep on my back anyway.”

“I’d like that,” she said. He turned so he was on his back and she scooted closer, resting her ear just over his heart. His heartbeat was a nice, lulling sound, and she shut her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her. “That’s nice, too.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Have you ever shared a bed with anyone before?” he asked.

“Not as in sleeping through the night, but...I’m not a virgin,” she said.

“Neither am I,” he said with a chuckle. “But nothing will happen until all of this is over, or you decide otherwise.”

She nodded against the fabric of his shirt. “Sherlock told me something.”

“That I swing both ways?” he said.

“Yeah.”

“Does that bother you?” he asked.

“Not really?” she asked. “I mean, should it?”

“I wish I’d told you before he did, but I had to assume he’s talked to a few exes of mine of both sexes,” he said, running his fingers up and down her arm. “I’ve always been careful, no matter who I’ve been with. I get tested every six months for just about everything and I’ve always been clean. I mean, I can’t give blood or anything, but I try and do my part to make sure I don’t give anyone the wrong idea about bisexuals.”

“Do you have a type? I mean in general, not between men or women,” she asked.

“I’ll answer that if you do,” he said. “Deal?”

She smiled slightly and stretched her arm across his waist. “Deal.”

“When I was an actively drinking alcoholic, it was mostly anyone with dark hair and a wicked sense of humor. When I had my wits about me and was looking for something with more permanent hopes...kind people. Looks never mattered too much, though I do like brunettes.”

She smiled. “Fair enough. I liked bad boys growing up, but then I fell for a good boy, or so I thought. We’d decided we were going to wait for our wedding but one night we had a bit too much wine and things...happened.” She paused. “It was all consensual, so don’t get the wrong idea. But I felt guilty afterward. He kept saying we’d done it once, we could do it again but I refused. So he left me.”

“Prick,” he said.

“Yeah. Tom was not a very nice person after all. But he’s the only person I’ve ever been with, and to be honest, the shag wasn’t even very good.”

Seb turned and pressed a kiss in her hair. “Then I definitely won’t push. You want to wait until it’s serious, or even until we get married, if we do, then that’s what we’ll do. I’m in no rush.”

“Good,” she said, bringing one of his hands to her lips and kissing the knuckles before beginning to be lulled to sleep by his heartbeat and the warmth in his arms. It felt like this was all being done a bit out of order but at the same time? She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chapter Text

She woke up when the alarm went off to go get the papers from downstairs. She also woke up to an empty bed, but the smell of coffee told her Seb had perhaps already gotten up and taken care of the papers and had something planned. She waited a moment and sure enough, there was Seb with a cup of coffee and a plate of scones from the bakery.

“I take it you already took the newspapers over?” she asked, sitting up.

He nodded. “She was a bit surprised to see me but I think she figured out rather quickly you’d stayed here last night. She included an extra few of the currant scones and said she hoped everything worked out.”

“That was lovely of her,” she said with a smile, taking the plate and the mug of coffee. She set the plate on her lap and had some of the coffee, which he had made with Sally’s creamer instead of her favorite, but that was alright. It was the thought that counted more than anything else. “When I’m done with this I’ll do the paperwork from last night. We’ll close a little earlier tonight so we can go to dinner at Sally and Greg’s together.”

“Are you sure I shouldn’t stay here at the shop?” he asked.

“If anything happens we have a fairly good idea of who’s behind it,” she said. “I doubt any of the women are too upset at losing your attention, but Moriarty...he wouldn’t take it well. Still, it would be foolish to try something so soon after destroying my vehicle, and he has to know that.”

“I don’t know,” he said, sitting on the end of the bed next to her. “He did steal stock while he thought he could get away with it and then sold it to the shops in London. That doesn’t make me think he’s very bright.”

She thought about it a moment. “Maybe we can ask if someone in the village will keep an eye on things. I know one or two people who might feel comfortable sitting outside if I offer them a rare book in exchange.”

“That could be a sound thing to do if you can spare the loss of stock,” he said.

“Oh, no, these are people that are interested in Martha's collection of books that I pawn off when we need an increase in funds. Or I could pay them outright from the last batch I sold.” She tilted her head for a moment. “I’ll make the offer to Amelia’s boyfriend first. He’s a trustworthy lad, was always around when Martha was alive. I doubt he’d want anything to happen to this place just as much as we wouldn’t.”

Seb nodded and then picked up one of the scones off the plate. She gave him a curious look until he grinned. “It’s chocolate chip, not currant. It was mine all along.”

“Ah,” she said, giving him a soft smile. “Never would have guessed you had a sweet tooth.”

“I like my chocolate and my candies,” he said. “Wouldn’t mind getting some Jaffa Cakes next time I’m out, actually.”

“Oooh, we should stock up on those. They’re Mary’s weakness, too.”

“Then I’ll buy some for everyone and some for us if you’d like some.”

“I would,” she said, her smile widening. “And maybe I’ll buy you a box of chocolates for being so kind to me.”

“I think that sounds like an excellent deal,” he said with a grin of his own before biting into the scone. She felt better this morning, far better than she had hoped she would, and she knew a lot of it was Seb’s doing. How she had gotten so lucky that he had come into her shop and asked for employment, she’d never know, but she hoped that luck held out until they were out of this sticky situation.

Chapter Text

That evening, after the shop closed for the day and some time was spent getting the place covered by a watchful eye, Molly and Seb walked around to the back side of the pub where Lestrade, Sally, and Amelia lived. That supposedly had been the way it was constructed, to have housing in the back, but you would never guess there was a pub there with how quiet and courteous the villagers usually were. When the last call sounded, out they went, and there had rarely been a brawl so long as Greg had run it.

According to Sally, he was an ex-copper out of London, like she was, except he’d been injured and pensioned off, and when he heard about the chance to buy into the pub by a certain mutual acquaintance of theirs he went for it. Eventually, he bought his partner out and ran the place with Amelia’s boyfriend’s father as the other bartender. The two kids had hit it off immediately and the idea was that if she didn’t take over the mechanic shop or do something else after uni if they were to marry they’d inherit the pub.

And Sally had walked into their lives almost by accident, but after having had a suspect die in her custody and being shaken by that, she’d been looking for a different avenue in life. The fact that Greg understood had influenced her decision to stay and eventually marry him and adopt Amelia, and they were now one happy bit of Molly’s extended family.

She wasn’t at all surprised that there was no wine at the meal. Not just because Seb was in recovery, but Sally had said Greg wanted to make sure the pregnancy went well so no alcohol whatsoever. She was sure there would be wine again later, once everything was a more settled with Seb and Sally’s had the baby, but tonight the pressed non-alcoholic cider and the coffee had been enough. Greg had cooked, as he was quite skilled with the pub meals and other things, finally getting to devote time to coming up with new dishes, and the meal had been eaten with much cheer and happiness throughout.

Greg leaned in his chair and looked at Seb, pointing at him. “You know, you’re the type of man I appreciate,” he said.

“Oh?” Seb asked.

“You paid your debt and you’re doing your best to be a part of society in the best way. What you’re doing for Molly...I know I appreciate it, and Sally does, and we’re glad you’re here.” He picked up his cup and raised it. “To Sebastian’s arrival in the village!”

“To Seb!” the others said, raising their glasses, and Molly looked over to see Seb looked happy. She reached under the table and grasped his hand, squeezing it, and getting a comforting squeeze in return.

“To you,” she said quietly, taking a sip of the drink that was in her other hand.

“Thanks,” he said, having some of his coffee after raising it towards Greg. “This is a good village. I’m glad I’m settling here.”

“And it would be better if it wasn’t for Moriarty,” Sally said. “She turned to Molly. “I was telling him about the theft of the books and really, once Sherlock gets them back, we should confront him.”

“It would just make it worse,” Molly said. “He’s...slippery, like a snake? He’ll just squirm out of it and then make our lives hell at the shop. No, we’ll just get the books back and put them in the online shop for sale like Martha had intended. Moriarty can just...leave us alone.”

“Molly’s right,” Greg said. “But I can talk to a few people in London. If Sherlock is looking into his activities, I can have him give the evidence to certain friends f mine and maybe we can get him out of your hair once and for all.”

“One could only hope,” Molly said.

Greg turned to Seb. “You know, if you want to have some time to actually court Molly as she deserves, Charlie can watch the shop more. I trust him with my daughter, I’d trust him with the shop. There’s going to be a village faire next weekend and I could persuade him to cover a night for you.”

“Are you going to let him take Amelia into Oxford for that film they want to see?” Sally asked with a smile.

“And let them stay overnight,” Greg said. “If he’ll do us this favour.”

“Oh, that’s a big step,” Molly said with a smile.

“They’re good kids, and she’s about to go into her gap year. If I don’t trust her now, then what’s the point? Soon she’ll be an adult and can do what she wants, and if she wants to stay in a hostel overnight with her boyfriend so they can see a special film, then that’s not so bad, is it? At least I know they’d be careful.”

“Oh, you are a good father,” Seb said with a grin. “When I was a lad we had the fear of God put into us any time we were going to be around the lasses, even if it was completely chaperoned.”

“That’s how I was raised,” Greg said. “But it’s new times. New parenting rules should be implemented, and if they work with Amelia hopefully they’ll work with the new one.” He turned and grinned at Sally. “Though I have to say, Sally’s been a good influence on me as a parent. I couldn’t do it without her.” He reached over and took Sally’s hand in his, pulling it up to kiss her knuckles.

“Damn straight,” Sally said, and the table laughed at that.

The conversation continued for a bit longer and then as they were going to start the dessert there was a knock at the door. Greg went to go get it and then a few minutes later came in with the head of the village police. “As I said, he’s been here since he left the shop,” Greg said, gesturing to Seb. “So there’s no way he was the driver.”

“What’s going on?” Molly asked, gripping Seb’s hand.

“There was a report a drunken driver hit some of the cars on the high street,” the head of the police said. “It had been mentioned that Mr. Moran had been arrested for vehicular homicide, and...”

“No, he’s been here with us since we started dinner, and at the shop with me since it closed for the evening,” Molly said. “I’ll swear it on a bible.”

“Between you and me, Molly, I doubted it was him,” the man said. “I recognized who called in the report and I swear, he’s just trying to stir up more trouble.”

“Moriarty?” Greg asked, and the man nodded. “Bastard.”

“We’re not even going to consider Mr. Moran for this, in all honesty, and focus on Jim. He’s taking this dismissal of your affections all wrong.”

“Yes, he is,” Molly said softly. This was the last straw. Maybe she’d go against her own thoughts and have a word with him about this. That might be what was needed after all...

Chapter Text

She waited until the store was busy the next day to say she had to go out and run an errand by herself. Moriarty’s office that he used for the various landholdings he had in the village was within walking distance, and as much as she would love Seb to come along, that would only make the matter worse. Mary was still taking time to be with Rosie while John was at her home, and Sally didn’t need anything to happen to her while she was pregnant. So it was up to her to do it alone.

She gathered up the files Sherlock had given to her and made copies on the copy machine before she left, taking the copies with her. She wanted to show him she had proof, let him see for himself it was genuine, and then let him sweat a bit that she might take it up with the authorities, or at least the others leasing business space from him. That would not bode well if others thought their inventory could be stolen out from under their nose.

She avoided wearing a dress that day, instead wearing smart trousers and a matching jacket and a simple shirt. She wanted to look as professional as possible when she confronted him, and as he heels clicked on the wood floor when she entered his office space and he took an interested notice from his space behind the desk, she’d realized she’d made the right decision in attire. “You’re going to leave me alone, Jim,” she said, thankful her voice wasn’t wavering much. “Me, Seb, the shoppe...you’re going to leave it all alone.”

“And just why would I do that?” he asked, lazily playing with the pen. “I could do far worse to Seb’s reputation, run him out of the village. Then your big, bad protector wouldn’t be there to keep you safe.”

“You do that, I’ll turn this over to the authorities and have you brought up on charges,” she said, moving closer and handing him the file. He set the pen down and opened it, the amusement on his face soon switching to incredulity, then concern, and then anger.

“How did you get...no, wait. Your pet private investigator,” he said, scowling at her.

“I have the books back in my possession, but there’s more. People willing to give statements that you were the one who sold them. And I can prove these specific books were part of my inventory as well, so it will be quite obvious you stole them from me.” She patted the folder onto his desk. “Those are your copies, by the way.”

“Get out,” he said, his voice low and dangerous. She didn’t need another prompting, leaving in a steady paced but quick step, and as soon as she was out of the office she started shaking. She made her way down to the pub to find Greg and maybe have something to calm her nerves, but as she turned that way she saw Seb there.

“Sally saw what you copied,” he said. “I didn’t want to interfere but why?”

“Because he can’t try it again. He can’t...he can’t steal from me and try and frame you and hurt me just because he can’t have me. I won’t be his possession, Seb. I won’t. And if he thinks he can ruin my happiness and there won’t be consequences he needs to know he’s sorely mistaken.”

Seb nodded slowly and then reached a hand out to her. She went one better though and moved into his embrace, encircling her arms around him while he did the same. “He won’t hurt you,” Seb said softly. “We won’t let him.”

She nodded and shut her eyes, feeling a small measure of comfort seep into her bones. Her friends...her found family...Seb...they would make sure she was safe, she knew that.

She just hoped it didn’t cost them too much.

Chapter Text

She went to sleep that night slightly troubled that Moriarty would try something to her home even though she knew that he had to know she was staying at the shop. That seemed even worse now that it was so apparent he was going to cause trouble; while he couldn’t evict her he could cause all sorts of problems and ruin her financially, and until the online store went live, that could put her in a terribly precarious position.

Poor Seb probably didn’t get any sleep, she thought to herself when she woke up to an empty bed and smelled coffee downstairs. But then she heard the murmur of familiar voices and got dressed quickly before heading downstairs. Munching on the daily delivery from the bakery was Seb, Greg, and John, and she could hear Sally and Mary out in the shop proper. How long had she slept? “What time is it?” she asked the assorted men.

“Half past ten,” Seb said. “You weren’t sleeping well so I went and got Sally to open to let you get a little more rest. Mary came in with her and John and Greg came in after I said we should all talk.” It was then she realized Seb was holding Rosie in his arms. He passed the little girl to Molly after a moment and Molly set her cheek on Rosie’s blonde curls.

“We were thinking maybe this isn’t the best arrangement,” Greg said. “Now that we know it’s Moriarty behind the poor frame-up job and the thefts and likely behind the damage to your car, we think you should go back home.”

“What?” she asked, surprised.

“It does more sense for him to do something to the shop, so you’re going to take some time off for a bit,” John said. “Go home and work on the online shop. Greg or Charlie or I will stay upstairs every night, and Amelia’s said she’ll pitch in to help Sally and Mary run the place.”

“But…” Molly began.

“If you’re worried about the temptation, I can handle myself,” Seb said. “Or we can have Greg keep everything separate at the pub, but honestly, I don’t ever want a drink again. I should be fine.”

“Are you all sure?”

“Molly, he trashed your car and tried to set Seb up for vehicular damage to other people’s cars. We want you safe and sound, and it’s best if we handle keeping the shop safe while you and Seb hold down the fort at your house,” Greg said. “And we’ll have some of the villagers run by and check at times, both here and there, to make sure nothing’s going wrong outside.”

“I just don’t want your lives any more uprooted,” Molly said.

“Well, if you’ll watch Rosie for a bit I can write here just as well as your or my home,” John said with a grin. “And it’s been years, but I can run a till just as well as my wife.” Molly raised an eyebrow and John chuckled. “Well, I have a charming personality, at least.”

“Thank you,” she said, going over to John and hugging him with one arm while transferring Rosie back to him. “Won’t take long to really childproof the place so we’ll take Rosie tomorrow.”

“That works,” John said with a nod. “I already started while I was there so there isn’t much more to do. But take a day with just the two of you and we’ll be fine here. But don’t be surprised if my wife makes the upstairs part more of a home for you by the time you move back in, Seb.”

Seb nodded. “I’ll get my things in the bag Greg bought and we can walk to your home and settle in for the rest of the day,” he said to Molly.

“Do you want the stuff you’re planning on selling online brought over?” Greg asked Molly.

“No need. I have the inventory list on the laptop, as well as what the competitive prices to sell them are. I’m still working on the behind the scenes portion of the website, though, so it will be some time before I even need to add the inventory to it.” She reached over and took a cruller. “But they’re safer here than at my home, I think.”

“I think so too,” John said. “Maybe I can swing by and pick up what you’ve got at your home and bring it here in a few hours?”

“That would be good,” Molly said with a nod. “Thank you.” She took her food and went upstairs to gather everything, feeling a sense of relief, and a bit of trepidation. She hadn’t expected to have Seb at her home just yet, and not after someone else had been staying there for a few days, but there was no point in arguing with the plan. It was a sound one, and they all had a point; it was her that Moriarty was obsessed with, and the shop was the livelihood of three families. Keeping it safe was just as important as keeping her safe, and it was easier to do that if she was home. Hopefully, it would be just fine and this case of nerves was just a small bump in the road.