T he first thing Kaylie thought was coffee. The green and gold of Starbucks gleamed right by the entrance; people, noise, the smell of sweat and energy and cinnamon buns.

She sighed happily. The place was vibrant and colorful.

“It’s noisy, hot, and it stinks,” Mimi said.

Kaylie snorted. “Stop complaining. You go right, I’m left?”

They split up.

Kaylie was on a mission today. She would find something, something big, that would make Daddy pause, crinkle his eyes, and whistle.

Rows of exotic and richly colored booths branched down and around the huge hall. Kaylie stopped at a booth where a guy waved a stainless steel basting spoon and flaunted his wares. “Pasta steamer, one in the world!” he declared in accented English, “And this, my cocktail shaker.”

The smells could knock you over. There was bread baking, and pizza, and donuts, and steak — the next exhibitors were showing off their grills for some hungry onlookers — and griddles, which meant bacon, yuck.

Kaylie moved on.

A father-and-son duo in red aprons were presenting their juicer to a little crowd. Down the aisle was a vintage display of carving boards and heating lamps, followed by several passionate ladies in suits talking up a storm over their restaurant personnel uniforms.

Kaylie gave her head a tiny shake. Nice. But not good enough.

She got stuck at a corner booth, an aromatic world of spices — sun-dried tomato basil, habanero garlic peppers. Her phone dinged. Mimi.

Presentation on restaurant software in a few. Farthest left, adjacent booth 2700. Coming?

She inhaled, the little pit of pressure sawed against her chest. They were four hours in, what did she have to show?

I guess, Kaylie typed.

She spotted Mimi from afar. In a textured sweater and gray suede skirt, black sheitel falling in soft rings on her shoulders, she stood out in a sea of Caucasian blondes and Asians and Hispanics. Coming closer, Kaylie saw Mimi was talking with a woman in a gray pants suit, with a blue silk scarf. She was beaming at Mimi, gesturing with her hands, tapping something into her tablet.

Kaylie swallowed. Who was this elegant woman, and how did Mimi get so chummy with her?

Just as Kaylie reached them, the woman excused herself.

“Who was that?”

Mimi’s cheeks were bright. “This is amazing, Kaylie. Look at this.” She waved a brochure. “She’s from this huge flooring company, BIX, and they have the craziest designs... ceramic art tiles, color spotlights. This is not just modern, nice. These are rich and gorgeous and will make everything pop!”

Kaylie accepted the brochure. Glossy, color-swept tiles, concrete veined with gold. She swallowed. They were... stunning. Breathtaking.

“Wait ’til we show this to Daddy,” Mimi said happily.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Kaylie said sweetly. “These are very pretty. But they’re probably expensive, and besides, I already picked out floor tiles.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 584)