Ophelia considered this an auspicious start to their shopping expedition. "Shall we go in, Auntie?"
"Rafael, those are the customers I would like your help with," Zoe said firmly. "The girl's style is absolute perfection, and I want her seen around town in clothes from THIS store. So, I'll chat her up, and YOUR job is to enchant her aunt, who the niece says is interested in buying LOTS of clothes. So please make that happen, if possible."
Rafael knew that Zoe was annoyed with him (for some reason that he did not understand), so he decided to make it his mission to pamper the old lady. "I assure you, Corazon, I will give this task my entire attention!" he said very seriously.
Not surprisingly, Andromeda had headed for the first outfit she saw that included a cardigan sweater.
"Hello, elegant lady!" Rafael addressed her. "Please let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to assist you--anything at all!"
'Yummm,' Andromeda thought to herself, 'hubba hubba!' "And your name would be?" she inquired.
"Hello again," Zoe greeted Ophelia, while casting a nervous eye at Rafael. "How did your nephew's birthday party go?"
"He's my second cousin, actually," Ophelia replied, while casting a nervous eye at Andromeda. "And everyone thought my dress was divine, so thanks again for your help."
Contrary to what one might expect, Rafael was always DELIGHTED to meet a woman who had no idea who he was. He considered winning over such a woman to be a challenge worthy of his many gifts.
"I am Rafael Santos, at your complete service!"
"My name is Andromeda Musico," she responded coyly.
"I see by your wedding ring that you are married -- surely he is a VERY lucky man!" Rafael cooed. "But may I have your kind permission to call you 'Miss Andromeda'?"
"Of course you may!" Andromeda answered, as other women started to flock to Rafael.
Rafael ushered her away from the crowd.
"Please consider this dress -- I think it would look exquisite on you," he urged.
Andromeda tried on the dress. "Does it come in any other colors?" she asked. "I'm not sure that this yellow particularly flatters my delicate skin tone."
"Let me check for you, Miss Andromeda," Rafael told her, taking her hands in his, then heading into the storeroom.
"So, here's my idea," Zoe said to Ophelia. "I can give you a serious discount on anything you want to buy here, and I can also let you borrow clothes for any time you're going out for the evening, or otherwise being out in public. All you have to do in return is to tell people -- and only if they ask -- that you got the clothes here."
Rafael returned to Andromeda. "The dress also comes in blue-violet, red-violet, orangey-pink, aqua, and periwinkle," he informed her. "I have taken the liberty of dressing this mannequin in the periwinkle, as I think it would best compliment your lovely coloring."
"Oh, I like this one MUCH better," Andromeda agreed.
Rafael managed to convince Andromeda to buy several outfits.
"This will be quite nice for taking a walk around my new neighborhood!" Andromeda observed.
"But I have bought so many things that I worry they will not all fit in the Uber car with my niece and me!"
"Do not worry, dear lady," Rafael assured her. "I will send both you and your niece -- and all of your purchases -- to your home with my limo and driver."
While Rafael restocked Andromeda's purchases,
and called Cristobal and readied Andromeda's packages, the older woman informed Ophelia that she was nearly ready to go.
"Did your shopping go well, Auntie?" Ophelia asked. "Did you get all the things you wanted?"
"Oh, all that and more!" Andromeda exulted.
"I fear your uncle will be SO mad at me for all the money I spent!"
Ophelia knew that wasn't at ALL true.
Zoe, having finished ringing out her umpteenth customer of the day, came over to say hello to Andromeda.
"Miss Andromeda!" she greeted the elderly woman. "I certainly hope you had a pleasant day of shopping."
"What an interesting outfit you're wearing," Andromeda mused. "You look like a little Indian slave girl."
'Jeebus,' thought Ophelia.
"Umm, I'm actually Greek," Zoe responded.
"Greek? Really?" Andromeda perked up. "Do you know my son, 'Dude' Musico? He lives on Willow Lane with his wife, Alice, and their son, Daedelus III. Who was named for my husband, of course."
Ophelia suddenly realized that she had overlooked something major.
When Alice had sent Ophelia to Zoe's Boutique to find a dress for D3's birthday party, Alice had given Ophelia a head's up. "FYI, Dude and Zoe used to date," Alice said. "And she was NOT happy that he ended up with me. Maybe don't mention your last name."
So, Zoe had paid cash for the dress instead of using a card.
"I met them at their friends' Kelly and Derek's wedding -- I was the the pianist for that ceremony," Zoe said, having quickly decided on a classy -- and business-friendly -- approach.
Note from the author: Andromeda assumes that every Greek in the U.S. knows every other Greek in the U.S.