USA Today Bestselling Author
Riches to rags. …
Chaos calms. …
Suddenly it’s quiet. …
Too quiet if Doreen’s involved!
What was supposed to be a leisurely stroll through a peaceful cemetery after a recent funeral turns into the start of a new case. Someone clobbers Doreen over the head and leaves her facedown among the funeral flowers.
Is it random violence?
A warning of worse to come?
No one knows, not even Doreen, but one thing is certain: the attack enabled the disappearance—perhaps the abduction?—of Doreen’s beloved African gray parrot, Thaddeus. Frantic, Doreen foregoes a trip to the emergency room in favor of heading straight home, where she hopes Thaddeus will return sooner rather than later.
But when he does, the bird sports an SOS message fastened around his ankle, leading Doreen to a odd corner of town and a curious little boy who know one will talk about.
Now someone is leaving threats on Doreen’s doorstep and then delivering threats in person …
Between birds and boys and Corporal Mack Moreau’s brother, the lawyer looking into her divorce situation, Doreen has her hands full. And that’s before her former lawyer shows up unexpectedly at her home! Off-balance by all these events, Doreen opens her door to someone with a serious grudge to take her down …
As this book opens, Nan and Doreen are attending Rosie’s funeral, as it ends, Doreen feels the need to reflect on that case which took so many lives. After replacing a lily she picked up to smell, she’s straightening up sensing someone approaching. Then she’s out cold.
When Nan can’t reach her, Mack finds she’s not home, her car’s not there either. He takes Thaddeus, Goliath and Mugs to the cemetery where he sees her car, but not her. It’s Mugs who finds her unconscious, quickly joined by Goliath but Thaddeus wanders off. Now Doreen is prickly at the best of times, but injured and learning Thaddeus is missing just makes her more so.
Mack isn’t taking no for an answer, she’s going to the hospital to be checked out and he will take care of Goliath and Mugs. Everyone else will be looking for Thaddeus.
Thaddeus does however manage to find his way home, but not without Doreen assuming he needs rescue from the log he’s riding down the river. Of course she ends up in the river much to Mack’s dismay.
She’s also hoping to delay the meeting with Mack’s brother who’s now her lawyer. Mack isn’t going to let that happen though and the beginning of this meeting is downright hilarious.
This is a favorite scene.
Doreen couldn’t stop glaring at him. Finally Mack sat her down in the living room and told her in a sharp tone, “Be nice.”
She upped the wattage of her glare and shoved her chin even higher. He shook his head and shook his finger in her face. She wanted to reach out and snap it off.
“No, I did not set you up,” he said. “No, I did not trick you either. And, yes, you need to deal with this.”
She gasped. “I was dealing with it.”
“Ignoring the whole thing is not dealing with it,” he thundered.
That shut her up, but she crossed her arms over her chest and tried to glare harder, but she’d reached her limit. When she heard an odd sound, she shifted her gaze. Looking over, she saw Mack’s brother leaning against the front doorjamb. He wore a huge grin on his face, and his shoulders were quaking. She gasped and jumped to her feet. “Are you laughing at me?” she cried out.
He immediately wiped the smile off his face, but he couldn’t hold it and started to laugh again. “No. I’m definitely not laughing at you,” he choked out, “but I am absolutely loving the interaction between you and Mack.”
She frowned. “What has that got to do with anything?”
“Everything,” he said, with a gentle smile. He stepped forward into the living room, then stopped, and, in the softest voice she could imagine from a guy his size, he asked, “May I come in?”
She frowned and then nodded grudgingly. “You’re already here, so you might as well.”
“Oh, gee, how very polite,” Mack said. “You might remember that he is my brother and that you do owe him at least some respect.”
She crossed her arms over her chest again and said, “Fine, but remember. I’ll be true to myself and not to you.”
He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, and said, “What on earth does that mean?”
“It means that I’m no longer listening to what men like you say.”
His eyes snapped open, and he glared at her. In an ominous voice, he said, “Men like me?”
She shoved her hands on her hips and went up on her tiptoes, so she could be a little closer to looking him in the eye. But she had failed miserably and couldn’t even reach his chin. “Okay, men like my ex.”
“Surely you’re not lumping me in with him?”
“Fine.” She raised both hands in surrender. “Of course not,” she said, “but I spent an entire lifetime of marriage being told what to do and how to act.”
“Being polite to somebody who’s gone out of their way to help you is just being a decent person,” he said, obviously striving to keep his temper under control.
She sighed, her shoulders sagging, as the stuffing went out of her. “Fine,” she said. Then she looked at Nick and said, “You’ve apparently caught me at a bad time. I apologize for being impolite.”
At that, Nick burst out laughing. “Nope,” he said, “I wouldn’t miss this for anything.” She narrowed her gaze as he held up a hand. “I’m not Mack, and I’m not your husband. I am simply someone who might be able to help you.”
“Lots of people have helped me in the last few weeks,” she said, clearly trying to be more gracious. “It would be very nice if you could too.”
“I’ll take that as an olive branch,” Nick said. “Now Mack said you make great coffee.” She stared at Nick in shock, then turned to Mack and said, “I make what?”
He sighed. “You do make great coffee now.”
She rolled her eyes at him, as she stormed into the kitchen. “Meaning, after you taught me.”
“Hey, everybody has to learn from somebody. No reason not to have learned from me.”
She groaned, then stepped back into the living room with a glass of water and said, “You can come through to the kitchen.”
“Thank you,” Nick said in that same gentle voice.
“How come you guys come so big?” she complained.
“We’re a matched set,” Nick said, “with two years between us.”
“Are you older or younger than Mack?” She held up her hand. “No, wait. I already know you’re younger.”
“Why would you say he’s younger?” Mack asked in surprise.
She glared at him. “You are far too dominating to let anybody be older than you.” And, on that note, she turned and huffed off into the kitchen. She heard them talking in the background and knew that they were probably laughing at her again. She honestly didn’t have a reason for being so upset, except that she had thought that she could get out of this. She knew she was being difficult, but there was just something about seeing Nick all of a sudden like that, without warning …
Joining them, she looked over at Mack and said, “You know we don’t have time for this now.”
His eyebrows shot up. “We have to make time for this.”
She turned to Nick. “We do have a rather important case to be working on.”
Nick looked at her in delight. “That’s wonderful,” he said. “What’s it about?”
At that, Mack stepped in. “There is absolutely no end to this discussion,” he said, “so we’re not even starting down that path.”
She glared at him. “It involves me, so that makes it important.” Just then, Thaddeus, as if awakened, came from where he’d been sleeping in the kitchen, flying right toward her. When he saw Nick, he stopped, landing on the ground. He looked up at Mack, then at Nick. “Big guy, big guy.”
She chuckled, then bent down and scooped him up, putting him on her shoulder. “Thaddeus, this is Nick, Mack’s brother.”
“Nick,” he said. “Nick.” And then he reached out a foot, as if to shake his hand.
In absolute delight, Nick gently touched his finger to the bird’s foot. “Hi, Thaddeus. Nice to meet you.”
Thaddeus immediately bounced his head up and down, up and down, up and down. “Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.”
Nick chuckled. “He’s quite the character.”
“He is, and he disappeared yesterday for a few hours and came back with a message on his ankle, which was a cry for help,” she said quietly. “So we’re supposed to be”— and she turned to glare at Mack—“ looking for this person.”
Almost defensively Mack said, “Remember? There’s a whole team in my office.” S
he nodded. “But I bet they haven’t done anything about it, have they?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “but we have to trust them to do their jobs.”
“What if the person is dead?”
He thrust his chin toward her. “If they’re dead already, we can do nothing to help them, so we’ve got some time.”
She rolled her eyes. “What if they’re dying? What if they’re gasping for their last breath, just waiting for us to come rescue them?”
“Since we don’t know where they are, that’ll hardly be helpful,” he growled.
She knew she was being ornery again, and it was only the good manners she’d been raised with that slowly pulled some of the stiffness out of her response as she turned to Nick. “Well, we don’t need to air our dirty laundry in front of you.”
“Hey, the fact that you even have dirty laundry is interesting,” he said, waving his hand at her. “Too bad none of this is related to your husband.”
“I only wish nothing were related to that man,” she said, with an eye roll. “I don’t know how much Mack has told you, but he isn’t a very nice man.”
“I’ve learned quite a bit about him in the meantime,” Nick said. “I have to investigate each person before we can make any decisions on what to do.”
“I don’t even have any money to pay you, so I have no business talking to you about it in the first place,” she said. “Lawyers are expensive, and this conversation has got to be costing somebody hundreds.” She stopped, looked at him, and said, “But not me, right?”
At that, he laughed out loud. “No, not you. I’m not charging you for this conversation.”
“Oh, good,” she said, “because otherwise the door is right there. I’ve got no money,” she said. “And, if your brother doesn’t stop drinking all my coffee, I won’t be able to have coffee for myself, much less anyone else.”
“Oh, for the love of Jesus!”
She turned and glared at Mack, as he raised his hands in frustration.
“Yes, I know Thaddeus is listening.”
She nodded. “And you’ve already taught him enough bad language, thank you.” Again Nick burst out laughing. She sniffed, turned, and said, “The coffee is ready.”
Dale Mayer. Lifeless in the Lilies (Kindle Locations 1050-1121). Valley Publishing.
Nick outlines what he’s already done and what he intends to do on her behalf, all she has to do is sign the paperwork. Which she eventually does, then she and Mack head to the station to look at some stills from the cemetery security cameras. What she finds surprises her, but also makes her realize that not only is she in danger but her friends may be as well.
The note they found on Thaddeus’ leg also brings surprises as they investigate further into where Thaddeus had wandered. People from Doreen’s past also start popping up, making her very worried for Mack’s brother.
I love these stories, trouble just finds Doreen even when she’s not looking. The arguments she has with Mack are hysterical in that they sound like an old married couple. Seems everyone realizes there’s something there except them. Of course she’s still not divorced so we can’t expect more than friendship between them yet.
I really can’t wait for the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.