My name is Melvin Mouse and I’m different from most other mice. It’s all because my mom had a near-death experience right before I was born.
I can talk and read minds. That gets me into a lot of trouble.
On top of that, I’m addicted to cheese. Trust me, that gets me into even more trouble.
That’s how I met her. Elspeth, a nine-year-old girl with a broken heart. She offered me a piece of cheese. I would have helped her anyway—I knew she needed help—but I might not have gotten close enough for her to kidnap me!
Before I knew it, I was living in a bakery, where the food was to die for, and I had agreed to help Elspeth find something she lost. I’d never had an indoor home before, where I was protected from the rain and cold. I never had humans who cared about me.
I’d never even had a family. Not really. Mom died right after me and my siblings were born.
This was the first time I ever felt loved.
I could really get used to this.
Except that’s when I found out what Elspeth lost.
Her Siamese cat!
A cat! My sworn enemy!
The only creature in the world impervious to my mind-reading ability. I never know what a cat’s going to do, until it chases me and tries to eat me!
Everybody knows a mouse and a cat can’t live together.
Still, I’m still going to help find Elspeth’s cat, even if it means losing my new home. Because I can’t disappoint my new friend.
USA Today bestselling author Merrie Destefano’s Lessons In Latte is an enchanting and heartwarming tale of friendship, courage, and the boundless love that can blossom in unexpected places. If you enjoyed Wonder by R.J. Palaio or Kitty Confidential by Molly Fitz, you’ll love the captivating story of Melvin Mouse and the magical journey he’s about to undertake.
Lessons In Latte is one of three delightful tales about magical mice. This series also includes Mouse In The House by DeAnna Drake and Paws On The Pier by M.G. Wetherholt.
Chapter One excerpt:
This was all a mistake.
And it happened because I can never say no.
To cheese. Any kind of cheese. Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, brie, gouda, or camembert, the stinkier the better. I don’t even care if it’s old and crumbly and moldy.
My name is Melvin Mouse and I’m an addict.
I know what you’re thinking.
If I’m a mouse, then what’s the problem? Cheese is good for me, right? I should be able to eat it all day long.
Well, you’ve never seen what I look like on a diet of cheddar for breakfast, mozzarella for lunch, and gouda for dinner. I get as big as a rat and not one of those cute rats you see in pet stores. Nope. I get as big as a city rat that lives on a pier and can beat up the neighborhood raccoons. It might sound fun to be the biggest, strongest mouse on the block, but I was born to be adorable, not fat.
And I do live on a pier, just not in San Pedro where the ships dock. I live on the Beach City Pier, where surfers and hippies and tourists enjoy year-round sunshine—and they all think that a sweet, mostly tame mouse is the best part of their trip to California.
There are even postcards of me.
I’m called Pier Mouse and Tame Mouse and, my favorite, Melvin Mouse. I liked that one so much I chose it as my name.
“Melvin Mouse, pleased to meet you!”
That’s what I would say with a deep bow.
I probably should have mentioned that I can talk. And maybe that was another reason why there were so many photos and postcards of me. And yes, that’s probably why so many people give me cheese.
Nobody ever knew what I might say next.
Because I can talk and I can read minds and I always know when trouble is brewing.
So I should have seen it coming when I met her. She didn’t mean to scare me.
She was just desperate.
She’d recently had her heart broken, and I could feel the pain, radiating off her in waves, and it almost broke my tiny heart.
So, everything that happened was my own fault because I approached her, tears in my eyes, my little head cocked to one side, my big ears standing up to hear her thoughts better.
Elspeth was an adorable nine-year-old girl with one brown eye and one blue eye. We were both lonely and in need of the comfort that comes from having someone to take care of you.
And, of course, there was the fact that she had a piece of cheese in her outstretched hand.
I’ve tried to give it up, I’ve done all the twelve-step programs, I flunked out of Mouse Anonymous just like I flunked out of middle school. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and I’ve always had a weak spot for girls in distress.
Lord, help me, I love cheese.
I know other mice have nice warm homes with regular meals, but I had California sunshine and ocean views. I had seals and seagulls for friends, and the occasional pelican who thought I should be his next dinner. I got scraps of yellowtail and spotted sand bass every day, pieces of hot dogs, the occasional chunk of baklava (oh, it was to die for!), and once in a blue moon, a sweet, seventy-year-old hippy vegetarian would share her salad with me.
But no one had ever tried to pick me up, pet me, or put me in their pocket.
Until the day I met Elspeth, who was originally from Chicago, Illinois, and who now lived with her grandmother above a coffee shop on Main Street.
Elspeth smelled like smoke, but it was just a memory. I often get current events mixed up with memories when it comes to humans. She’d been in a fire and when she looked at me with those sad mismatched eyes, I could almost see her engulfed in flames and smoke.
I coughed and blinked and then I whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Her eyes widened and her pink lips opened.
“You can talk?” she asked. At that point, I was still on the ground and safe. I could have run away.
“Promise me you won’t tell anyone?” I asked her quietly. Lots of people know I can talk, but I still try to keep it on the down low. Some people like to take advantage of creatures like me.
Some people already had.
Elspeth nodded and I could feel the excitement flowing through her. The clouds of smoke around her disappeared. Now, we had clear skies overhead and a wide expanse of Pacific Ocean below and the soft salty spray from the water as it bounced off the pylons holding up the pier.
We were both safe. No one was chasing us, although I could tell that they might be soon. This little girl was trouble, I could feel it, almost like she had a big neon sign above her head with flashing pink lights that said, Danger, Danger, Run Away!
But she knelt down, her hair smelling like lavender shampoo, her right hand holding a stack of posters—that I couldn’t read, of course. I’ve never learned to read. All of this might have been prevented if I’d only known what her posters said.
Her left hand stretched out toward me, palm open.
There was no cheese this time.
Still, I crept closer and closer until I sat in her palm, staring up at her, my whiskers twitching.
“I’ll never hurt you,” she said, like it was a solemn vow and what I needed to hear.
I did need to hear it, by the way. If you didn’t already know this, a lot of humans are sketchy. I’ve even heard that some people do experiments on mice. Well, okay, rats mostly, but maybe mice too.
“You’ll always be safe with me,” she said.
Now here comes the scary part. You might want to close your eyes.
That was when she put me in her jacket pocket, zipped it shut, and started to run away.