For my wonderful fans...
Lone Ghost Publishing
"I feel a little guilty," Tate said, wrapping his strong fingers around Amy's hand.
"You shouldn't," Amy replied. Julia fussed in her arms, and she kissed her forehead. "It's okay, baby girl. Won't be long now." Julia giggled and blew bubbles in Amy's face.
Today was Tate and Amy's five year wedding anniversary. It was also the five year anniversary of Evelyn Tate's death.
The older Tate's, in their Tateness, hadn't wanted a public investigation, so her cause of death had been ruled of natural causes.
Amy knew better. She had picked up the pillow, poked Mrs. Tate's shoulder, and waited just long enough for Mrs. Tate to wake up and recognize her. Then Amy had smiled and said, "This is for my momma, Julia Miller," and smothered her.
Mrs. Tate had fought a little but not much. Her weak hands tried to pull the pillow away, but before long she just stopped. She just stopped fighting and died. Like a proper Tate. Maybe she was weary from all those years of being scared. From all those years of waiting for revenge in the form of David Miller to catch up with her. She hadn't expected Ana.
Tate placed a bundle of orchids on Mrs. Tate's grave. The stone was pure white, as tall as Amy's waist, and had the words "Evelyn Tate, devoted governor, wife, and mother" carved into the stone. In that order.
"They were her favorite flower," Tate said.
"God, Amy, I hate that I don't miss her." Amy shrugged. Mrs. Tate had been an evil tyrant. He was better off without her, and he knew it. "I still miss Dad, even after all these years."
"I know," she said, running her free hand over his shoulder to soothe him. Julia giggled again and wrapped her pudgy fingers in Amy's hair.
Five years ago, right before they headed off on their European honeymoon they had attended the funeral, they were Tate's after all, but this was the first time they'd visited Mrs. Tate's grave.
"Look at the gravestone Uncle Frank gave her. She'd be mortified. It's half the size of Dad's." Amy choked on a giggle. "She would've wanted it twice as big!" he exclaimed. "With fancy carvings and some humongous vases and stuff."
"She would've wanted a full time guard dog," Amy said, trying to keep a straight face. "A Doberman on each side."
Tate stifled a laugh. "She would have."
"And a bottle of nerve tonic." He laughed out loud. "Maybe some sort of check gate," Amy added, happy he was laughing, "to make sure only prestigious people could visit her grave, keep the riff-raff out."
He laughed again and wrapped his arm around Amy's shoulders, leaning into her. "That's ridiculous," he said. "So true, but ridiculous."
"You don't need to feel guilty," Amy insisted. "Yes, she would've expected you to mourn and mourn deeply. She would've expected you to visit her grave once a week or more. She would have expected you to name your first child after her."
Tate cringed and kissed Julia's cheeks. "Not you, huh?" he said, voice soft. "You're a pretty baby, aren't you? Sweet as a sugar plum." Julia laughed and grabbed his shirt, pulling herself to him.
"So was that supposed to make me feel better?" he asked.
"No; I was just telling you what she would've expected. She expected you not to marry me, but you did."
"She expected me to run for mayor," he added.
"But you didn't."
"She wanted me to rise through the ranks and be governor someday, carrying on the Tate name."
"You're carrying on the Tate name just fine," Amy said firmly. "Have you ever seen such a pretty baby?"
"No; but I never saw you." He kissed her passionately, ignoring Julia's little fingers trying to push them apart.
"Stop that," Amy scolded. "We're in a graveyard."
"You're still gorgeous," he whispered. "You're gorgeous everywhere."
She blushed, but pushed his hand away. "Focus, Tate. Your mom's dead. You don't owe her anything. You don't have to feel guilty."
He stared at the grave for a moment, perfect brow furrowed in concentration. She wanted to comfort him more, but he had to be the one to realize it. She couldn't make him.
There was a part of him that knew. Knew without a doubt. Knew that if hell really existed, which Amy had on good authority didn't, his mother would be there. Hair perfectly styled, nails perfectly manicured, and perfectly intoned words ordering Satan around.
"Let's go home," she whispered. "I still think you need some practice."
"Practice at what?" he asked, eyebrow raised.
"Carrying on the Tate name."
Copyright © M.M. Boulder 2020