MAYHEM MEETS MISTLETOE–
Trouble, the Sherlock of black cat detectives, finds himself in Turnout, MS on Christmas Eve. Teddy Adamson, that heart breaker, has just walked back into Billie Dean Bailey’s life. But more dire happenings are going on under the mistletoe. Who ends up dead and why? Was it the maraschino cherries in the Tizzington sisters’ fruit compote? Or was it something more sinister?
No clue will go unturned by the suave, savvy, and sleuthing black cat! Find out all the answers in this short story of Trouble’s latest escapade in the Familiar Legacy Mystery Series.
Yes I know it’s July but everyone does a Christmas in July don’t they?
Trouble is staying with Billie Dean a cousin of his beloved Tammy Lynn. This time it’s Christmas and of course we need a mystery for him to solve.
Billie Jean works at her father’s used car lot. Trouble is waiting for her time there to be done, when a surprise visitor appears.
This is a favorite scene, through Trouble’s eyes.
I RAISE MY head from the countertop where I lie in languid splendor and a post lunch semi-stupor. Who would have thought I’d be spending Christmas Eve at a used car dealership but here I am, patiently waiting for Billie Dean to call it a day and close up shop.
The jangling of the bell above the door of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to the man in military fatigues entering the show room. My whiskers twitch as he zeroes in on first me, then Billie Dean.
Billie Dean reads to the end of the sentence of the novel, places her finger to mark her spot, and looks up. She stands abruptly and the book slips to the floor.
“Teddy.” The name is barely a whisper.
“Billie Dean.” He stops on the other side of the counter. “Merry Christmas.”
Well, now, what’s this? Who is this fellow that makes Billie Dean breathless? Tammy Lynn left her in my charge and I take my responsibilities quite seriously. I twitch my tail, waiting to see which way the wind blows.
“So it would seem.” He says
“How…I didn’t know.”
He smiles. “I didn’t tell Mom just in case things didn’t work out.”
Billie Dean takes a breath and releases it on a soft sigh. “She’s happy then.”
“She will be. I haven’t been home yet.”
The clatter of rapid footfalls on the metal stairs that lead to the upper story gallery and the offices of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to Evan Russell, the number one salesman at the dealership.
“Oh,” Billie Dean says again.
I look from Billie Dean to the man she calls Teddy, and lastly at Evan. This could prove to be interesting.
Evan stops in front of Teddy, gives him a quick once over, and extends his hand. “You must be Mr. Higgins. I’m Evan Russell. How can I help you?”
Teddy shakes hands. “Hello,” he says. “But I’m afraid I’m not Mr. Higgins. I just dropped by to see Billie Dean.”
I detect a subtle change in Evan’s expression. So Tammy Lynn’s suspicions must be true. Bubba’s number one salesman is interested in Bubba’s daughter and only child.
Evan indicates Teddy’s uniform with a slight nod of his head. “You active duty?”
“Not today,” Teddy replies.
Evan looks from Teddy to Billie Dean, then back again. When no introduction is forthcoming, he gives another nod. “Well, Merry Christmas,” he says as he walks away and climbs back up the stairs. At the landing, he looks down at Billie Dean and Teddy once more before disappearing into his office.
Into the silence that falls between Billie Dean and Teddy, I rise from my prone position and walk along the counter on velvet paws to investigate the newcomer who renders Billie Dean speechless and Evan pea green.
Teddy runs his hand along my back. Ohhhh, I do like that.
“When did you get a cat?” he asks.
Billie Dean tickles me under the chin. “He belongs to Tammy Lynn.”
“My third cousin once removed.”
I do believe I detect a note of humor in Teddy’s voice.
Billie Dean smiles. “She and Aiden have gone to New York on the Jingle Bell Tour.”
“I won’t ask.”
“They’re staying through New Year’s Eve.”
“So you’re cat sitting.”
Billie Dean laughs. “Not exactly. Let’s just say I feed, groom, and otherwise cater to the wishes of Trouble.”
“Difficult, is he?”
“Not difficult, just determined, and he knows his own mind. Among other things.”
“Sounds like my kind of animal.”
Another awkward silence makes Billie Dean blush and Teddy look down at his boots before giving her a lopsided smile and saying, “Well, Merry Christmas, Billie Dean.”
He turns toward the door and she finds her voice. “You’re coming tonight aren’t you? To the Christmas Eve party?”
He looks back at her. “You want me to come?”
The color in her cheeks deepens and she nods. “It’ll be nice. Like old times.”
Teddy watches her a moment. “Sure. If Mom wants to come, we’ll be there. Same time?”
“Same time, same place. Just like always.”
Rebecca Barrett. Trouble Under the Mistletoe: A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery (Kindle Locations 22-61). KaliOka Press. Kindle Edition.
It’s at the party where things get crazy, and I do mean crazy. With a spiked fruit salad most folks avoid, and plenty of fun. Including a murder.
I did a lot of laughing in this one, Trouble is a character for sure. There’s that romance with Teddy and Billie Dean, that her father wishes was his lead salesman Evan. Yeah so not happening.
Plenty of suspects, romance and suspense. A wonderful short story.
Oh, and rumor has it there’s a new book in this series coming out next week, watch for it!
5 Contented Purrs for Rebecca!
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Rebecca Barrett writes historical fiction, romantic mysteries, post-apocalyptic fiction (writing as Campbell O’Neal), children’s stories, and short stories of life in the South. An avid reader all her life and a product of “front porch” socializing, she became a story-teller at an early age.
Her current novel, Trouble in Paradise, features that handsome, sleek, black cat detective, Trouble. The game is afoot in Key West, Florida and there’s a dead body in the Toucan Suite of the Paradise B&B. This is Rebecca Barrett’s second book in this series written by multiple authors (The Mad Catters) who follow the antics of super-sleuth Trouble as he lands in first one crime scene then another. Of course, the humans help a little. These romantic mysteries are fun and light hearted and just perfect for a beach read or a rainy day.