I came up with the title "Naughty or Mice" before the story itself, and it was so cute I had to think of something to go with it. When I thought about mice, of course I thought about classroom varmints. When our daughter Joanna was in fourth grade, she was always bringing home the class's fuzzy guinea pig. Schmoopy had to stay closed in her room or in my husband James's office since we had cats. I always worried something would happen.
In this story, a little girl brings home her class's pair of pet mice to take care of them over the Christmas break...and something happens.
Dan Callahan's daughter was supposed to take care of her fourth grade class's pet mice over the Christmas vacation—or so she claimed. Melissa Logan, the little girl's teacher, wondered why she had gotten close with the handsome single dad, only to have him back off unexpectedly. But when the mice went missing, the truth about everything came out, and the search for the elusive creatures led not only to unexpected secrets from the past but also to the answers that two lonely people had been seeking without even knowing it.
NAUGHTY OR MICE is a heartwarming Christmas novelette from award-winning author Livia J. Washburn. Funny, poignant, and romantic, it's a charming "tail" you won't soon forget.
"Roxie? Where'd you go?"
"I'm up here!" she called from the upstairs hall. "I thought I heard something!"
He started to tell her that the mice couldn't have gone upstairs, but then he thought, why not? Mice could climb. Those stairs would have been a pretty formidable ascent for them, but if they had gotten out of their cage soon after Roxie left them in the utility room, they would have had plenty of time to reach the second floor.
Then Roxie let out a little shriek and cried, "There's a mouse hole!"
They hadn't had time to chew a hole in the wall, Dan thought. Had they? Surely not. But honestly, he didn't know how long it would take a mouse to chew through the wood, and there were two of them, so they could take turns or maybe even work at the job at the same time, if they were smart enough. Who knew with mice?
It was worth taking a look, he decided. He started up the stairs and called to Roxie, "All right, I'm coming."
He hoped it was just an old hole he had overlooked. If Brewster and Chuck were in the walls, that wouldn't be good. He might not ever be able to find them.