Hi. I’m Mae December. I’m 31 with blonde curly hair, dark eyes and according to Ben Bradley, my fiancé, a nice, round butt. He’s been forbidden to say that to anyone but me. If you have a dog you probably know that I run ‘Mae’s Place,’ a dog boarding facility in Rosedale, Tennessee. I used to breed the Porgi, a combination of a pug and a corgi. With all the interest in non-shedding breeds, I decided to start a line of “Cortese” by breeding Tatie, my young female corgi, to a Maltese two weeks ago. I think she’s ready to be a mom.
I wasn’t ready for motherhood, but in the first month Ben and I were together, he found out he had a son. His former fiancé kept that little piece of information from him until she moved back to Rosedale. It was a bump in the road, but I just fell in love with Matthew (or Matty as I call him). He’s five and a half now and the proud owner of his own little basset hound named Cupcake.
I could have bred Tatie 6 months ago and I’m so glad I didn’t—she was too young, and our crazy fall would have been even crazier with a litter of puppies in the house. I remember one October day in particular. I had just walked into my house after a long morning distributing flyers for Ben’s re-election campaign. Did I mention that my fiancé is the sheriff? Anyway, even in October, it was still very warm here. If you’re blonde, curvy and a few pounds over your ideal weight, you have to dress the part by looking professional. My one and only business suit is wool. Need I say more?
I had put flyers up in every restaurant in town, all the schools and everywhere else I could think of. The flyers featured Ben’s campaign slogan, “Ready to Protect and Proud to serve—again. Re-elect Ben Bradley Sheriff.” I came up with the slogan and Ben’s picture was front and center. It didn’t hurt that my fiancé is very photogenic and looks great in his uniform.
Despite the usually low crime rate in Rose County, we’ve been hit in recent years with several murders. Between Ben and I and the sheriff’s office staff, they’ve all been solved quite quickly. But Ben’s opponent was a verbose attorney named Ramsay Tremaine, who insisted that the citizens of Rosedale weren’t safe with Ben as Sheriff. In fact Ben and his staff are incredibly competent and crime was at an all-time low—except for those pesky murders.
Ben and Mr. Tremaine were set to have a debate right before Halloween, and as his campaign manager I was almost as busy as Ben with publicity and helping him with debate prep—my fiancé can be a bit terse in his communication style. I feared he’d be no match for his wordsmith of an opponent.
I also had another pressing matter to deal with before Halloween. Matty’s costume had been the subject of much discussion. His mother, Katie Hudson, wanted him to be Batman. I was pulling for a fireman costume. I had already purchased a Dalmatian costume for Cupcake, and she was going to be Matty’s sidekick. I had appealed to Ben to make the final decision, but he just threw his hands up in the air. He hates mediating between me and Katie.
I called Katie and proposed a compromise. She agreed that he could be a fireman for his school parade and when we take him trick-or-treating from 5:00 to 6:00. Then Katie would come get Matty and he could change into his Batman costume for her portion of Halloween. Ben and I planned to do some last-minute campaigning in Rosedale’s historic downtown after she picked him up. I thanked her, and she reminded me that it was my day to pick Matty up from school. Good thing she did, because it had completely slipped my mind. Of course I didn’t mention that to Katie…
I quickly changed into jeans and an orange V-neck shirt, checked on my dogs as well as my boarders, and jumped in my car. When I arrived at school, Matty’s kindergarten teacher and her aide were supervising the loading of kids into parental vehicles. I was expecting him to be in his usual sunny mood, and excited to tell him about the costume compromise, but he had a very serious set to his mouth. It made him look even more like his father—in a stubborn mood.
“Hey Matty. How was school?”
Matty said nothing. The Teacher’s Aide fastened him into his car seat. It’s a maneuver normally loaded with objections, but that afternoon he was silent. Just as we turned on to Little Chapel road he came out with it.
“Miss Mae, could you stop calling me Matty, please?”
“Why honey? I love your nickname.”
“But the big kids tease me about it.”
“Oh Sweetie, I’m sorry. What do they say?”
“That Matty is a GIRL’S name.”
Oh the horrors being called a girl’s name when you’re a five-year old boy. . .
“You should call me Matt,” he continued. “It sounds more grown-up.”
He had obviously given this a lot of thought. I felt a pang letting go of his baby nickname, but had to agree. He’s growing up. I had figured out by then that change is the only constant with kids. I shook my head, remembering the rest of the events of that tumultuous time. We’d worked together to solve another murder, and the election was a roller coaster. I looked out my window onto a frosty field, glad to be in a new year, with a litter of puppies and my wedding to Ben Bradley to look forward to. No potential drama there, right?
Four Dog’s Sake is the fourth book in the “Mae December” mystery series, published by Camel Press, December 2015.
All comments are welcomed.
About the author
Lia Farrell is the pen-name for the mother/daughter writing team of Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, and the author of 4 cozy murder mysteries featuring Mae December. Her latest is called ‘Four Dog’s Sake’ and was released December 1, 2015. You can find them online at liafarrell.net.