Dixie got up early the next morning and sighed when she looked in the mirror. Stress from finding a dead body could wreak havoc on the skin, she thought. She wondered how many layers of moisturizing cream she was going to need today. After a second application and a swipe of under eye circle erasing cream under each eye, she began to realize it was going to take a lot of effort putting on her face today.
After a half-hour session applying concealer and spray-on makeup, she emerged from her beauty table looking refreshed, even if it felt a little like wearing a mask. At least she would look like she was ready to take on the world, and the homicide detective she had met yesterday. He had been a little annoying when he had questioned her, okay, maybe he was very annoying, she thought. It was hard for her to believe that anyone would think she was a cold-blooded murderer.
While she was lost in thought about the blue-eyed detective, she slowly walked into the kitchen where her cat greeted her. Louie was a five-year-old orange tabby that she had rescued from the local animal shelter. He was laying on the counter near the coffee maker, looking as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“Alright you old furball,” she said. “Time for breakfast.”
Louie yawned, stretched, and sat up, waiting for her to pet him and rub his cheeks. It was their morning ritual, and it always ended with a bowl of milk and a can of his favorite food. He had landed in the lap of luxury when she adopted him, and by all accounts, it appeared as if he knew it.
After she had fed Louie, she made herself a small pot of coffee and searched for something to eat for breakfast. She decided to make an English muffin and placed one in the toaster.
After she had begun thinking of yesterday’s unfortunate event, she lost her appetite. When the toaster popped, she left her breakfast sitting in it.
Dixie sat down at her small breakfast table in front of the kitchen window and opened her laptop to check the day’s work schedule. She hoped that she didn’t have any appointments today because she wasn’t feeling like a bright-eyed and enthusiastic Beauty Maven. Maybe she could get by with dropping a few brochures off at the beauty salon and dentist office and then call it a day.
Before she could take a sip of coffee, her cell phone rang. She pulled it from the charger on the table and saw that it was her aunt, Angie Parks.
Angie was just north of 65 and thought she was 35. She had a quick wit and had her thumb on the pulse of the town of Friendship. Dixie liked the way Angie handled herself, and her appearance. While some women Angie’s age had given up, she had decided to keep her hair longer and blonde, skipping the customary short, curly and blue-tinted hairdo.
Dixie hesitated before answering because she wasn’t sure that she was up to answering questions about Miss Holly’s untimely death. She loved her aunt, but she had a very persistent way about her that could be off-putting.
“Hello Angie,” she said in what she hoped was a pleasant-sounding voice. “What can I do for you today?”
“Well hello, dear! How are you doing? The town is just abuzz about Miss Holly! And to think you were right there when it happened!” Angie said enthusiastically.
Dixie was quiet for a moment. Angie seemed to think that she was in the house with the attacker and had somehow survived. She suppressed a laugh.
“Angie, I found Miss Holly, but that is about it. I don’t think the attacker was still in the house, at least I don’t think they were. The police didn’t find anyone.” She thought about the odd noises she heard in the house, but she was somewhat sure that the noises she heard were from Miss Holly’s cat and a creaky old house.
“I think that you are just so fortunate that you weren’t hurt. I mean, can you imagine if we had lost you? Where would I get my makeup from – the mall?” Angie said, and then laughed.
“Thank you, Angie. I know that I’m one lucky lady, but I feel just awful about Miss Holly. She was a lovely person and didn’t deserve what happened to her. Do you, by any chance, know if her daughter will be managing the funeral? I heard that she lived in New York,” Dixie said.
“No, I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m sure I will. My friends always know what is going on over at the funeral home, you know, because of our age,” she said in a conspiratorial tone.
Dixie smiled. Angie belonged to a group in town that was fondly referred to as the ‘Casserole Crew.’ They knew everything about everybody, or so it seemed. She also knew that local funerals attracted this group like a bee to honey. Most funerals in the town of Friendship were well attended, due in large part to the potluck dinners served afterward. Whether the deceased had any friends or not in town didn’t matter. The ladies made enough funeral casseroles to share that practically guaranteed a huge turnout.
“Dixie, do you have any men in your life?” Angie asked, a little too bluntly for Dixie’s taste.
“No, Angie. I don’t have time right now. I’m busy with my new business,” Dixie replied, clenching her jaw.
“I know of a few eligible bachelors…” Angie began.
“I’m not interested in dating anyone right now. I want to get my business off the ground before I do,” Dixie said, cutting Angie off.
“Don’t wait too long, honey. You don’t want to be the last flower picked at the end of the season,” Angie said.
Ugh, Dixie thought. She loved Angie; she had known her since she was a little girl. She was the auntie voted most likely to be like the character “Mame.” Unfortunately, she was always trying to run Dixie’s love life. When Dixie’s mother had passed away, Angie had taken it upon herself to get Dixie hitched.
“I know that you would love to get me hooked up with an eligible bachelor in town. It will happen when I’m ready for it, and not a minute before, okay?” Dixie pleaded.
“You can always say “no,” but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep looking for Mr. Right for you. Someone has to keep their eyes peeled while you’re busy being a Beauty Maven,” Angie said. “If you had the right man, you wouldn’t have to work at all!”
“Maybe I like working,” Dixie said, knowing full well it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
Angie groaned. She would never understand anyone who wanted to work every day if they didn’t have to. She was from a generation when men had worked, and the women stayed home. When Angie’s husband died from a heart attack, he had left her with his pension and a home that was paid for. If she played her cards right, Dixie surmised, she would never have to work.
There was a knock at Dixie’s door, and she was instantly thankful. She could end the conversation before things got out of control.
“Sorry Angie, I have to go. Someone is at the door,” Dixie said.
“Who is it?” Angie asked.
“I don’t know, but I’ll call you later, okay?” Dixie said as she quickly disconnected before Angie could prod for more information.
Another loud series of knocks began to irritate Dixie as she made her way to the front door. She looked through the narrow window of the front door before opening it.
Detective Granger stood in the doorway, staring at her for a moment, taking it all in. He had never seen a woman at that hour of the morning totally pulled together and in full makeup.
“Can I help you?” Dixie asked.
“I’m here to ask you a few more questions about yesterday’s events and to have you sign your statement. You could come down to the station later if you want,” Detective Granger offered.
“No, no, that won’t be necessary. Please, come in. I just made some coffee. Do you want some?” Dixie asked.
Detective Granger stood awkwardly in the doorway and waited for her to lead the way. Dixie smiled and led him into her small kitchen and offered him a seat.
He sat down and watched Dixie walk towards the coffee maker. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She was perfect, even when she was walking away from him.
When Dixie turned around, she caught him staring at her. He blushed. She smiled.
“How do you like it?” Dixie asked.
“Um, well…” he stammered, looking down at the table.
“I mean the coffee, honey,” she said, waving a coffee cup in her hand.
“Sorry,” he said, blushing a dark shade of pink. “A little sugar and a little cream.”
Dixie smiled while she poured him a cup of coffee. After she had given it a little stir, she handed it to him. He took the cup from her, but not before touching her fingers for a moment.
It was as if an electric shock zapped her fingertips, and she pulled away abruptly. “Wow, lots of static in the air,” she said.
He grinned again and looked down at his coffee, and hoped that he wasn’t making a complete fool of himself in front of her.
After she had refilled her cup, she sat down across from him at her table. She leaned in a little, picked up a spoon and stirred her coffee. Her morning was turning out to be a little more interesting than she had thought it would be. She checked his hands for signs of a wedding ring. Nada.
“So Detective, shall we get down to business?” she asked in what she hoped was a sexy voice.
“Absolutely,” he replied, his blue eyes twinkling. “And you can call me Harlan.”