Milo is the proprietor of the wine cellar- a real cellar deep under the roots of the village oak tree. A wooden staircase winds its way underneath the cheese shop at ground level, opening into the wine cellar below. A medium size space with rounded walls lined in wooden casks, shelves, urns and bottles, surmounted at the back of the room by an oak bar surrounded by chairs.
“Ladies- what can I get for you this fine morning?” Milo turned from arranging bottles on a small shelf by the bar and wiped his paws on his spotless apron. Cecily and Aubry set about unwinding themselves from their scarves while Cally dug out her shopping list. “I’m in need of a bottle of white spirits, Milo- something suitable for making lavender and rose water?” Milo’s eyebrows shot up to his brow in surprise, then he smiled briefly and pulled a good sized clear bottle from the shelves. ”And for you Cecily?” he asked- although he had a pretty good idea of what was to come next. “I’m running low on vanilla flavoring Milo. But this time I wanted to try something a little bit more…flavorful?” Cecily looked at him hopefully. He thought for a bit, then reached around the bar and handed her a small dark brown bottle of plain rum. “This ought to do the job nicely” he told her, then turned to Aubry, who had been folding her wraps over her arm and pacing around the shop while he helped her friends. “What can I get for you today, Aubry?” he swiped at his nose in an attempt to hide the grin breaking out as he noticed her fingering a flask of almond essence. “Have you any more of that lovely blackberry cordial Milo?” she asked wistfully. He looked up in surprise, then moved into the back to check. “Let me see Aubry- I’ll be just a second.” While back there he pulled out a tiny bottle of the almond essence and tucked it into a small basket with the cordial.
“That popular was it?” Milo said as he came back into the room. Aubry had just taken a few bottles at the Fall Festival. “No” she said mournfully, “well, I suppose yes- with the mice it would seem.” Everyone exclaimed in dismay and regret. “Oh no” Cally gasped. ”Not mice! How bad is it?” she shuddered as she imagined Aubry’s Inn overrun with the pests. “Oh, not too bad I think, I’ve only just noticed, and the cats haven’t told me of anything out of the ordinary. I’m thinking a good cleaning will take care of it. I just wish they hadn’t gotten to the cordials before I’d had a chance to sample them!” she grinned, then sighed dramatically. Everyone laughed, then it was time to wrap their purchases up in baskets and bags, wind up in scarves and wraps, and thank Milo for his time and patience and head out into the snow again. “No, no- thank you ladies!” Milo said heartily. He took the broom out as they all headed up the stairs. “Come again anytime!” he called, then began sweeping up the bits of debris that had come inside with them. Not a bad days work, he reflected. He put away the broom and locked up his money box. Not bad at all!