“Yes. Of course, I’ll do it. For science.” She smiled, really smiled. If it had been any brighter I would have needed sunglasses.

I gave Ivy Mr. Mosley’s address in Norwood Young America and directions on where to find it, along with his phone number. I gave her my address in St. Paul and phone numbers—home and cell. I wrote out a personal check in her name for $2,500. She took off her glasses like she didn’t want them coming between her and the number. Forget Sandra Bullock. I swear she looked just like Nicole Kidman.


Shelby Dunston didn’t look like anyone in particular. Instead, she always reminded me of a southern Minnesota wheat field, all golden and windswept. She met me on the old-fashioned wraparound porch of her pre—World War II Colonial wearing a white sleeveless shirt and khaki capris. She probably hadn’t dressed to look sexy but managed it just the same.

The Dunstons lived across the street from Merriam Park in St. Paul in the house that Bobby had grown up in; he and Shelby bought it from Bobby’s parents after they retired and moved to their lake home in Wisconsin. There was a low-slung community center in the park with a decent gym, plus baseball fields, and in the winter there was a hockey rink where Bobby and I played when we were kids. There was also an enormous hill dotted with large oak trees. When we were teenagers—before driver’s licenses—we spent many a pleasant summer evening wandering from the top of that hill to the Burger Chef on Marshall Avenue, where thirty-nine cents’ worth of Coca-Cola bought us loitering rights in a corner booth, and then back again in an endless search for friends, acquaintances, and any kind of excitement. Some nights we’d make the trip several times. Occasionally we would venture to the other side of the hill, out of sight of Bobby’s front porch, and make out with the Catholic girls from Our Lady of Peace and Derham Hall high schools. It was there that I kissed Mary Beth Rogers—the most beautiful girl of my youth—for the first and only time. Glancing up at it now, I wondered for a moment if Bobby had ever taken Shelby over the hill, but I didn’t ask.

Shelby’s daughters were delighted to get a jar of honey from “that cool beekeeper guy,” even though it had been four days since my visit with Mr. Mosley and one day since meeting Ivy Flynn before I had found time to deliver it. They were even happier with the small bags of mini-donuts I doled out.

“Where did you get these?” Victoria wanted to know.

“I made them.”

“You made them?” Katie asked, her mouth full. “These are just like the donuts you get at the state fair.”

“I should hope so.”

“How did you make them?” asked Victoria.

“I bought a mini-donut machine.”

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“Really?” echoed Shelby.

“I bought it off the Internet,” I told her. “Belshaw Donut Robot Mark I. It can make up to a hundred dozen mini-donuts in an hour.”

“One hundred dozen mini-donuts?”

“No home should be without one.”

“If you say so.”

“Let’s go to your house right now,” Katie said.

“Let’s do your homework right now,” Shelby said.

“Ahh, Mom,” both girls replied in unison.

“Ahh, Mom,” she repeated, folding her arms across her chest, giving her daughter the don’t-mess-with-me look that she claimed was being challenged more and more as the girls grew older. To me, she said, “A mini-donut machine. To go with the sno-cone machine you bought last fall, I guess.”

“Four flavors, no waiting.”

“Uh-huh. What’s next? Cotton candy?”

“I was thinking one of those machines that make corn dogs. I was never much for cotton candy.”

“Oh, I love cotton candy,” said Victoria. “The pink kind, not the blue kind.”

“Really. Well, I’ll have to give that some thought.”

“You would buy a cotton candy maker just for me?”

“Sure I would.”

I think she would have hugged me except both hands were filled with donuts.

“Homework,” Shelby said. “Go.”

Victoria left for her bedroom, muttering, “What a grouch,” just loudly enough to be heard.

“What did you say?” Shelby asked.


Katie, who was younger and consequently more cautious, followed her older sister out of the room without a sound.

“Honestly, McKenzie,” Shelby said when they were gone.


“You’re trying to buy their love.”

“Hey, if it’s for sale, I’ll take it.” I held out a small paper bag for her. “Donut?”

Shelby took the bag and the jar of Mr. Mosley’s honey and went into the kitchen. I followed.

“How is Mr. Mosley?”

“Okay, I guess. It’s just that he seems so … old.”

She set the jar on the counter and turned toward me. “What is he, now? Late sixties, early seventies?”

“Seventy—two. He’s as old as my dad would have been.”

“My dad just turned sixty-five. He thinks that’s young.”

“I just turned thirty-seven, and I don’t.”

Shelby popped a mini-donut into her mouth. She closed her eyes while she chewed.

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