My new mystery, A CUT ABOVE, goes on sale May 3rd. I pre-loaded it, but this week, I’m going through it one more time to tighten and tweak it for its final version. Karnie works in her family’s butcher shop. She’s worked there for years and knows all of the customers, and they know her…maybe too well. Here’s a snippet from it:

Chuck gave her a wink.  He started to whistle as he went back to the cutting room.  Why was everyone so stinking cheerful this morning?

She finished her prep and a few minutes later the first customer walked in the shop.  Bald with only a fringe of gray hair, Woodrow Datlow stalked to the counter, looked her in the eye, and smirked.  “Give me two pounds of bacon.” 

She crossed her arms, glaring at him.  “You’re not supposed to eat bacon.  What would your wife say if she was still alive?  You were only fifty-nine when you had your heart attack and stents.”

“That was over ten years ago, young lady, and I’m still here.”  He pulled himself up to his full height.  “I worked until I was seventy, so if I want some bacon, I’m buying it.” 

“Your wife wasn’t happy you didn’t retire at sixty-five.”

“Because she worried about me.  I worried about our money—our stocks and investments.  Besides, right after I retired, my wife left me.”

Karnie snorted.  “She died.  Not the same thing.  How she put up with you that long, I don’t know.”

A smile threatened, but Woodrow pushed it down.  ”I like bacon, darn it.  And pies.  And sweets.  I’m retired now.  I can enjoy life.”

“Not for long if you clog your arteries.”

“Stuff it, girl!  What else have I got to live for?  My Lizzie’s gone.”

“You have two sons who still like you and three grandkids.”

Woodrow waved that away.  “If I’m gone, they’ll get all my money.”

“If they haven’t murdered you by now, they must like you more than an inheritance.  Why?  I’m not sure.  You can be awfully crotchety.”

“And you’re all smiles and rainbows?”  He raised his eyebrows.  “I can’t imagine what you’ll be like at my age.”

“Healthy, that’s what.  Now rethink what you want.”

He looked smug.  “No, because my daughter-in-law sent me in to buy this for her.  She’s making some kind of big breakfast casseroles for her church group.”

Karnie heaved a frustrated sigh.  “Why didn’t you just say so?”

He threw back his head, laughing.  “And miss dueling with you on a Thursday morning?  Haven’t had so much fun for a while now.”

Giving him a dirty look, she went to wrap his order.  He took it and hummed a little tune as he went to pay for it. 

Blast the man.  A pain in the fanny.  That’s what Woodrow was.  She listened to him harass her mom at the cash register because she hadn’t made a banana cream pie to sell this week.

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