Home > Lifeless in the Lilies (Lovely Lethal Gardens #12)

Lifeless in the Lilies (Lovely Lethal Gardens #12)
Author: Dale Mayer




Saturday Late Morning …

The funeral for Rosie happened Saturday morning, two days after the last debacle. Doreen walked away from the graveside. Rosie’s ashes had been laid to rest, and the crowd had dispersed. Her autopsy stated her death a suicide, having ingested the remainder of her husband’s old heart medicine and a cocktail of other drugs she’d hoarded.

That wasn’t why she would be remembered though. No, Rosie had been accused of killing the three little old ladies—the kiwi clique—and her husband, David, which had the entire community up in arms, not to mention the added news of Marsha going to jail for murdering her husband too.

Doreen had quietly stepped out of the hype reverberating around town. She watched as Nan walked away ahead of her. Her grandmother would go to a celebration-of-life ceremony, which Doreen had also backed away from, hoping to go home and to just relax.

The last few days had been more media sensation than anything. The police were still piecing together the bits and pieces from Rosie’s life, but it was a pretty simple case, where the same drugs had been used in all three of the women’s deaths, the first one being an accident, and Rosie using that as an opportunity to point fingers at Marsha and to take out the other women Rosie considered her enemies.

The return of Rosie’s cancer had apparently given her the freedom to make a few changes in her life—such as getting rid of the kiwi clique that had been a pain in her butt. And gave her a supposedly God-given opportunity to point the finger at the one other woman who could ruin her life by telling everyone what their husbands had done. Rosie had never wanted her grandson to know and had lived in fear of what he’d do if he found out. And the police had found the same drug had been given to her husband, who she’d killed years ago. It looked like it was a pretty simple open-and-shut case, but the end result had left the community in shock.

And, of course, the local fair would never be the same again.

As Doreen walked by the multiple fresh graves, she stopped to look at various stones and monuments, seeing patches of lilies at various places.

Finally she ended up in a complete circle, as she stood over Rosie’s grave. “I hope you’re at peace now,” she said sadly. “It’s not the end I would have wanted for you.”

She reached out and picked up a lily and sniffed it, wondering why lilies always represented death. As far as she was concerned, flowers should be for life and rebirth. But so often they were used for funerals. She placed it back into the vase and straightened them out.

She didn’t have her animals with her, out of respect for the others attending the ceremonies dotting the cemetery. It’s a good thing she’d left them at home, as No Pets Allowed signs were everywhere. But being without them? … Well, she felt a little lost herself.

Not to mention how worried she was about the upcoming meeting with Mack’s brother, the lawyer. But she’d dragged out as much time as she could here. She needed to go home and to eat before the two men arrived, and she had to face the unpleasantness of her now-defunct marriage.

She stared at the lilies for one last long moment, sighed, and turned to step away. As she did, a shadow fell over her side, and she felt somebody reaching out for her. She turned with a smile, only to cry out at the blow that came out of nowhere and struck her on the back of her head. She didn’t hear anything but the sounds of footsteps thundering away, as she crashed into the pile of lilies at the graveside.

The pain was crushing.

Poor Mack. He would be the one to find her.

Lilies. How appropriate.

Her last thought before the blackness took her over? She had already come up with a name for the investigation into her own death.

Lifeless in the Lilies.



Chapter 1



Saturday Noon …

Doreen woke to sunlight and blue sky, which was immediately overlaid by chaos and a confusion of barks, snaps, yells, and growls. She groaned and rolled, shoving blades of grass into her face. A heavy hand landed on her shoulder. “Stay where you are. You’ve been hit.”

Her eyelids fluttered open to see Mack crouching beside her. She frowned at him. He immediately frowned back. She closed her eyes and whispered, “What happened?”

“That’s what I would ask you,” he said, his tone grim.

Her eyelids shifted open again, but it was a struggle to keep them that way. “I don’t know,” she cried out, only to shudder, as her voice added to the din. “It’s so noisy. What’s with the noise?” She moaned as the cacophony around her increased.

He leaned over and whispered, “If you’ve got the energy, you’ll want to call off Mugs.”

Immediately her eyelids snapped open, and she struggled to sit up. But, as she did, Mack struggled to hold her down. “Stay still,” he ordered.

She growled at him. “Let me go.”

Hearing another bark beside her, she twisted her head to see Mugs, snapping at a crowd of people and keeping them all back. She whistled only once, yet Mugs caught the sound in his floppy ears and raced toward her. She collapsed back in the grass and stretched out a hand, placing it on his head. But that wasn’t enough. Mugs buried his face and his snout against her neck and in her hair, snuffling all up and down her side.

She chuckled. “I’m okay, buddy. I’m okay.”

A collective sigh of relief came from the crowd around her. Something else warm and fuzzy was up against her other arm. When she shifted to look, she saw Goliath curled at her side. She looked up at Mack. “Well, at least they’re here, looking after me.”

He nodded, but his tone was grim, as he said in a quiet tone, “I haven’t seen Thaddeus. He’s gone missing.”

Her eyes popped open. “What do you mean?”

He shook his head. “Either he’s gone walking or somebody has taken him.”

She stared up at him, her heart already filled with joy at having Mugs and Goliath here, then shifting to panic-stricken mode after realizing that Thaddeus may not be. “That’s not good,” she whispered. Yet something else shifted in her brain. “I didn’t have them with me.” She shrugged and said, “Or maybe I did. I have no idea.”

“Let’s leave that for the moment. Tell me. What are you doing here?” he asked.

She focused on him, but her mind went blank. “What am I doing where?” she asked cautiously.

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