Mayor of Macon's Point - By Inglath Cooper
MAYOR ANNIE MCCABE WAS LATE.
Her meeting with Jack Corbin was not the kind of meeting a person was late for. It had taken three weeks of unreturned phone calls to get it. And in less than thirty minutes, she would be sitting across a table from the one man who had the power to prevent the town of Macon’s Point from drying up and blowing right off the Virginia state map.
The population sign standing guard at the Langor County line read 3,032. Anyone passing through would likely label the town nothing special. True, there was no hubbub of cultural activity at its center, no opera or art museum. Only a farmer’s market and a once-monthly Friday night bluegrass jamboree. But Macon’s Point had become home to Annie in the past three years.
And to her that meant something.
In the year since her divorce, Annie had found peace in this town, a certainty that she would be perfectly content to spend the rest of her life here. It was that kind of place.
The only problem?
If Jack Corbin auctioned off Corbin Manufacturing, half the town would have to move elsewhere. Somehow, tonight, she had to find the words to make him look for another solution to the company’s problems.
Meanwhile, her hair was still wet, and her blouse was missing its middle button.
“What, honey?” Annie wrestled a comb through her tangled hair, glancing up with a distracted smile at her six-year-old son’s reflection in the bathroom mirror. Sometimes it shocked her how much he looked like J.D. His hair was a shade of blond women tried to emulate in the priciest salons. His blue eyes had lashes thick enough to generate the same kind of envy. The one concession to cuteness over outright beauty was the dimple in each cheek.
In the father, those dimples had once made her knees go weak. In the son, she was similarly unable to frown on even the most mischievous of deeds when he turned them on her.
“Cyrus sure does like chocolate cake,” Tommy said.
“Did he tell you that?” Annie gave up on the comb and grabbed the hair dryer from the second drawer of her vanity. Tommy was always telling her something Cyrus had said. She sometimes thought the two of them had a language of their own.
“No, but he ate it real fast. Wasn’t it s’posed to be my birthday cake?”
Tommy’s birthday was on Friday. Annie had made the cake early to freeze in an effort to be a step ahead of herself. She dropped the blow-dryer on the sink counter, grabbed her son’s hand and bolted down the stairs. “Cyyyyrus!”
With Tommy still attached to her hand, she skidded to a stop in the kitchen doorway, a run popping up in the right heel of her stockings. Too late. In the middle of the floor sat Cyrus, all one-hundred-plus pounds of him, his nose looking as if it had been dipped in chocolate, the plastic plate on which the cake had been sitting as clean as if it had gone through the dishwasher’s pot-scrubber cycle.
“See, Mama. I told you he liked it.”
“Bad, Cyrus. At least you look guilty,” Annie said, picking up the plate. Chocolate. The cake had been chocolate. Wasn’t chocolate bad for dogs? She struggled to remember what she’d heard about it, but only came up with the vague recollection that it could damage their nervous systems.
Annie’s own nervous system was well on its way to meltdown.
Cyrus hung his head and plopped down on the floor with a whine. Whether it was guilt or the beginnings of the stomachache that was his destiny, Annie didn’t know.
“Is Cyrus sick, Mommy?”
Worry lines knitted her son’s forehead. Six-year-old boys shouldn’t have worry lines. But more often than not, Tommy did.
“I don’t know, honey. He’ll probably have a bellyache.”
“He’s not gonna die, is he?” The lines on Tommy’s forehead deepened.
Alarm jangled along Annie’s spine. Cyrus was Tommy’s best friend. As much as she had been against getting the dog, she had to admit he had been good for her son at a time when he’d desperately needed a diversion. But then if J.D. hadn’t run off with his young girlfriend, Tommy would have no need for a diversion.
Giving a five-year-old boy a Saint Bernard puppy was just the kind of thing J.D. was famous for. At least in the context of their marriage. Tommy had seen one in a dog-food commercial and asked his father if he could have a puppy like that. J.D. had gone right out