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Authors: Lyndsey Cole

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Flower Shop

Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 02 - Queen of Poison

BOOK: Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 02 - Queen of Poison
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Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 02 - Queen of Poison
Lily Bloom [2]
Lyndsey Cole
Lyndsey Cole Books (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Flower Shop
Business at Lily’s Beautiful Blooms Flower Shop is growing like weeds after a rainstorm. And she was asked to do the main flower interpretation for the Arts in Bloom opening at the Misty Valley Museum. Everything seems to be coming up rosy until she sees a sleek red convertible drive into the driveway of her neighbor, Ryan Steele, the man of her dreams—and an even sleeker red head climbs out of the car.
She thought that was all she had to deal with until the founder of the museum drops dead in her arms and another body turns up dead with all the flowers pointing right toward Lily.
With help from her mom, Iris, her sister, Daisy and their friends Marigold and Tamara, Lily lays out the flowers and tries to rearrange them to point to the real killer. Can she sort it out in time before a third body—maybe hers—ends up in the perennial garden? Can she get her romance growing again with the handsome police chief of Misty Valley?

 

Queen of Poison

 

Lily Bloom Cozy Mystery Series

 

 

 

 

by Lyndsey Cole

 

Copyright © 2014 Lyndsey Cole

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of
the writer’s imagination and/or have been used fictitiously in such a fashion it is not meant to serve the reader as actual fact and should not be considered as actual fact. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Chapter 1

 

Lily’s phone was ringing nonstop.
I don’t have time for this right now.
“Hello, Mom. What’s the problem?”

Iris blurted out
in her usual dramatic fashion, “Someone stole your father.”

That got Lily’s attention. “What?”
This was more intense than Iris usually managed.

“Your father is gone.”

“Of course he’s gone. Dad died three years ago. Did you just notice this today?” Lily wondered if Iris had overdone it with her medical marijuana again.

“Don’t be
a smart aleck. Someone stole the urn with his ashes.”

Lily picked up her
quilted tote covered with a colorful arrangement of flowers and her appointment book. “Meet me at Beautiful Blooms. I’ll be there in ten minutes.” She hung up before Iris had a chance to say any more nonsense. Lily still missed her father. He had been the mediator between the three Bloom women—Lily, her sister Daisy, and their mom, Iris. He was easygoing and had a great sense of humor which always squashed the tension if the women got too testy. Lily had her father to thank for her Beautiful Blooms Flower Shop too. She’d used the money he left her to buy the building and get it started, against her mother’s wishes. Iris considered it a boring choice, but it had been Lily’s dream, and the town was wildly supportive of her business.

“Come on, Rosie. You can come to work with me today.” Rosie wagged her tail and rushed to the door. Lily let them out the back door and walked to her minivan, still thinking about her dad. She was shocked when she looked up and saw a red Mustang convertible driving into her neighbor’s driveway.
I wonder who is visiting Ryan Steele this early in the day.
A tall, red-headed woman got out of the car and grabbed a suitcase from the back seat.

Lily realized she had stopped and was gawking at the newcomer. The redhead looked up and waved to Lily. “Good morning.”

Lily returned the wave and quickly got into her car. Ryan hadn’t mentioned anyone coming to visit. Ever since he’d been hired as the permanent police chief of Misty Valley, she didn’t see much of him. But still, she thought this would have been newsworthy. He never even mentioned that he had a girlfriend which was odd since she thought he was interested in her.
I knew there had to be a catch. Everyone thought he was perfect
, she thought
.

Iris’s
yellow, convertible VW bug was already parked in front of Lily’s flower shop.
This day is not starting well
. “Come on Rosie. Let’s get this over with.” They walked through the front gate and small garden in front of the shop, opening the door to the familiar jingle from her antique bell.

Iris was having an animated conversation with Daisy about the disappearance of the urn. “I never told you girls, but that urn is very valuable.
It was handed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. I bet whoever stole it is in for a surprise when they discover it’s filled with someone’s ashes.” Iris laughed at that thought. They turned their attention to Lily when she walked in. “Lily, what should we do about it? Call your handsome cop friend?”

“Call him if you want to. He has a tall redhead visiting so he might be busy,” Lily said with disdain as she threw her tote and appointment book onto her cluttered desk in the back work room.

Daisy laughed. “What’s the matter Lily? I thought you didn’t like the handsome Ryan Steele. It sounds like you
’re a little jealous.”

The
brass bell above the door jingled again as Tamara Biotchi made her grand entrance. “You won’t believe it. Someone broke into my house and stole my grandmother’s antique table.”

Lily, Iris and Daisy all stopped what they were doing and looked at Tamara. “Stole your table?”

“It was a small table, but very valuable. Who would do a thing like that?”

Iris sounded furious. “Someone stole my husband. What’s going on in this town?”

Tamara looked at Iris, full of concern. “Your husband is dead. Are you sure he was stolen?”

The door jingled as Ryan Steele and his beautiful lady friend walked in.

“The urn with his ashes were stolen, you ninny. The urn is valuable. And of course the ashes are priceless to me,” she remembered to add.

Ryan looked concerned. “What was stolen?”

Tamara and Iris both started talking about the stolen table and husband, their voices escalating so nothing could be understood.

Ryan held up his hands. “One at a time. Did I hear you say your husband?” Ryan finally got the story straight. “Come to the station and fill out a report. You two aren’t the only ones in town
to have had something stolen.” He turned his attention back to the striking person standing quietly by his side. “This is Jennifer. She’s staying with me for a few days. I just wanted to show her around town before I get busy at work.”

Lily stormed to the back room without any greeting. Ryan
watched her leave and asked Daisy, “What’s wrong with your sister this morning? Did she get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

Daisy smirked. “You’ll have to ask her, I guess.”

“No time now. Come on Jennifer. I’ll walk you to the library, then you’ll be on your own till lunch.” Ryan looked once more toward the back and shook his head mumbling, “I can’t figure her out.”

Tamara and Iris
left for the police station, still discussing the stolen items.

Daisy found Lily
standing at the design table, stabbing yellow chrysanthemums into foam for a big funeral piece. “What’s your problem, Lily? A tad jealous?” She loved needling her big sister about the on-again-off-again attraction Lily had with the handsome and, everyone had thought, eligible Ryan Steele.

L
ily kept working furiously. “So he has a gorgeous girlfriend. Big deal. I have other things to think about now.”

Daisy laughed. “If you say so.”

Lily finally slowed down and looked at Daisy. “Why does he get under my skin so easily?”

“Duh. Because you like him.”

“Not today.” Lily finished the arrangement and put it in the cooler. “Now I have to get going on the arrangement for the Art in Bloom opening at the museum tonight.”

Daisy wrapped a bouquet of roses and baby
’s breath. “Pretty sweet that you got to do the centerpiece of the show. Who’s sitting with us at the reception tonight?”

Lily scowled. “Ryan was supposed to but I don’t want
him bringing that woman. You, Mom, Tamara, Marigold, and Melinda.”


There’s room for Jennifer too. You may as well find out who your competition is.”

Lily looked at Rosie. “Do you want to come and take that seat?”

Rosie wagged her tail, always up for an outing.

Daisy laughed. “She is a celebrity ever since she caught that murderer and saved your life. Maybe you could sneak her in.”

***

The Misty Valley Museum was in an historical building owned by Marion Barry, an eccentric lady with a passion for floral artwork. The brick and clapboard museum was surrounded by a lovely perennial garden on Lupine Lane, just down the street from Lily’s Beautiful Blooms Flower Shop.

Lily had her arrangement all set and ready to deliver by mid
-afternoon. It had tall royal blue delphinium, green bells of Ireland and orange lilies nested in moss flowing over the sides of a dark blue handmade ceramic dish. She had an antique mirror to place it on, giving the effect of an island garden on a pond. “What do you think Daisy?”

Daisy’s hand went over her heart. “It’s stunning Lily. Those colors and the reflection are absolutely beautiful. Do you need help moving it to the museum?”

Lily looked around the shop. “It’s pretty quiet. Let’s lock the front door so you can come too. We can get a quick preview of the other arrangements while we’re there.”

Lily carefully placed the
arrangement in her van and they drove the half mile to the museum.

Elizabeth Stevens, the museum director, was greeting everyone as they delivered the various flower displays for the Art in Bloom opening.
It was an annual event where anyone could pick a painting and interpret it with flowers. The museum had been sponsoring the event for several years and it was very popular.

She fluttered her hands when she saw Lily. “I knew you would make a magnificent arrangement. Follow me. I have a table all set up for you right inside the entryway.” Elizabeth’s high heels clattered on the slate tiles. “Everyone will see your flowers
as soon as they walk in. Marion insisted that her favorite floral painting would be the centerpiece this year. Put it here. Right next to the painting.”

Lily carefully put the mirror and flowers on the small table next to the painting. They all stood back. Elizabeth gasped. “I hope Ms. Barry isn’t upset if her painting gets upstaged by your flowers. I’ve never seen a more striking arrangement.”

Lily blushed slightly from all the compliments. “Thank you, Elizabeth. Do you mind if Daisy and I take a quick peek at the other arrangements?”

Elizabeth patted Lily’s shoulder. “Go right ahead. This is my favorite time of year. The Art in Bloom show brings so many more people into our special museum than any other art show we have. You will be back tonight for the reception, I hope.”

Lily nodded. “Of course. I have a table full of friends and family.”

Elizabeth clapped her hands together.
“That’s great. Ms. Barry is speaking tonight at the dinner. She hasn’t always felt well enough to attend for the last few years. She’s excited about her new painting and since her niece and nephew are coming, she didn’t want to miss this year. I’ll be sure to introduce you.”

Lily and Daisy started to walk away but Elizabeth stopped them
, looking concerned. “Have you heard about the recent antique thefts happening around town?”

Lily was surprised word
had spread so fast. “What have you heard?”

“Tamara Biotchi had an antique table stolen and several other people had antiques taken from their homes.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “I have extra security here at the museum. I don’t think many people know just how valuable these paintings are.”

Lily looked around. “I’m sure you are very busy. We’ll take a quick look around and see you tonight at the reception.”


Thank you, Lily. Your arrangement is perfect. See you tonight.” Elizabeth turned her attention to another person coming with an arrangement, oohing and aahing over their flowers.

Lily and Daisy giggled as they made their way up the grand staircase to the upstairs galleries. “She’s wound tighter than an antique clock. Hope she doesn’t have high blood pressure. This extra stress won’t do her any good.”

Daisy stopped at the top of the stairs in front of a portrait of Marion Barry. “She looks like a dour old lady. This flower arrangement of dark blue monkshood with a white calla and one red rose does capture the mood of the painting quite well. Don’t you think?”

“And the black cloth over the table with a pair of old metal frame glasses creates a somber image for sure. It will be interesting to meet her. She never married
and has always been a bit of a recluse. I wonder who will inherit all her wealth.”

Daisy and Lily stood shoulder to shoulder looking at the painting and flowers. “
I hope the monkshood isn’t some type of foreboding that a deadly foe is near.” Lily shook that thought away and headed back down the stairs. “Let’s get back to the shop and clean up so we have time to get ready for the opening tonight.”

BOOK: Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 02 - Queen of Poison
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