USA Today Bestselling Author
Riches to rags … Chaos has calmed … At least while out on the lake … Until poison is found, blowing up the peace again …
Enjoying a beautiful day on the lake, while Doreen tries her hand at paddleboarding, ends up on an odd note after finding poison in a bed of pansies. She garners a tidbit of information out of her BFF, Corporal Mack Moreau, about a man who’d recently walked into the emergency room, complaining he’d been poisoned.
Only on a threat of good behavior (surely it doesn’t count if given under duress), Doreen agrees to stay out of his case. But, as it happens, the mention of poison to her beloved Nan brings up another recent death and an old woman who’d been saying someone was poisoning her for months. Only no one listened. Now she is dead.
When Doreen’s case and Mack’s collide, she’s delighted, and so is he. Not. But, when Nan decides to join in the sleuthing, with her pal, Richie, it’s Doreen’s turn to worry—and with good reason!
Aside from the prologue of this book setting up the title and crime, it also shows a real fun date with Mac, Doreen, Thaddeus, Goliath and Mugs.
Unfortunately, shortly after Max gets called to work, leaving Doreen more than a little curious.
The ever-vocal Thaddeous is getting more so, picking up new words, phrases and even mannerisms. This is amusing for the reader and annoying for Doreen, especially the he-he-he-he.
I also love when Mac comes over and fixes dinner, this time veggies and steak on the barbeque.
This is just one of many favorite scenes.
He looked over at her. “Rough day?”
“I don’t know.” She gave him a lazy one-arm shrug. “Kind of an off day. Didn’t know what I should be doing really. So I did some cleaning.”
Mack chuckled. “That’s like everything to do with applying on the internet nowadays,” he noted. “It’s almost anonymous, and you put in all these applications, like deep-sixing it into the garbage can.”
“I get it,” she agreed. “I just … it’s so different from when I was a teenager, applying for work.”
“You have been going in person to places though, haven’t you?”
“I have,” she replied. “And I even asked at the Chinese food place, when I was there a few days ago. I went and treated myself to one dish,” she shared. “And I asked him if he was looking for help. He gave me such a horrified look that I realized he didn’t think I would be good for business.”
When no answer came from Mack, she looked over to see his face working hard, as he tried to hold back his laughter. When she’d caught him, and he knew he had been caught, he burst out laughing.
“I didn’t consider that I would be bad for business.” She raised her hands in surrender. “I just thought I could help out.”
“And you could,” he agreed. “But he’s right too. I mean, people might just come because you’re an oddity. People might just come to get your autograph or to see the animals. However, I doubt you could bring your pets to work every day,” he noted. “I’m not sure that having you working there will make anybody come to get more Chinese.”
“What if they just came to get Chinese food and not more than Chinese food?” she asked in a confused voice. “Surely that would be okay.”
“Maybe, maybe not. I hate to say it, but a lot of people are very superstitious. And you’re dealing with a lot of murders. Maybe they think being around you will just invite more bad news to come in their direction. People make illogical links all the time. They could link you with sending them to jail because you do that, as you close these murder cases.”
She stared at him. “But that’s not fair,” she cried out. “How can people hold that against me?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because you keep getting involved in all these murder cases.”
She glared at him. “That would still be very narrow-minded thinking on their part.”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulled her close, and gave her a big hug. “See? This is why I like coming over here.” He grinned. “Don’t ever change.”
She leaned back, looked up at him. “I don’t even know how to change.”
He dropped a kiss on her temple. “I have to get the veggies on.” And, with that, he headed to the deck again and quickly popped all the veggies onto the barbecue.
She watched with interest, still standing pretty close to him, wondering at the camaraderie and that connection that always seemed to exist between them. She sighed. “Nan says we’re getting really close.”
He looked over at her. “Of course Nan would say that. Has she put bets on our love life yet?”
She stared at him, nonplussed. “She wouldn’t …”
His eyebrows went up, questioning her.
“At least I would hope not,” she replied in dire tones. And then she stopped, looked at him, and asked, “She wouldn’t, would she?”
“Yes, she would,” he stated, his voice firm. “Nothing you and I can say will change that.”
She sat down on one of the nearby deck chairs and stared glumly out at the river. “She’s really got a problem, doesn’t she?”
“It’s a problem, yes, but it’s a good-hearted problem and not one that any of us will go after her for,” he noted gently. “As long as she keeps it friendly and is not getting people in trouble, then we’re willing to overlook a certain amount of this bookie stuff that she’s got going on.”
At that, Doreen sighed. “I hope she doesn’t do anything like that to me. It would feel very much like a betrayal.”
Surprised, he sat down beside her. “Why would you say that?” he asked. “You know that she loves you.”
“Sure, but she also knows that I don’t like being talked about or being the center of attention.” At that, his lips twitched again. “Hey.” She crossed her arms and frowned at him. “Okay, fine. So nothing I’ve done involving the cold cases makes it seem like that’s how I feel. But I do.”
“Maybe you should tell her that.”
“I have,” she replied. “Well, at least I’ve told her that I would be very unhappy if she did do something like that with my love life.”
“It will be interesting to see,” he noted.
“We won’t know anyway. They’ll keep it to themselves.”
“Of course they will,” he agreed, “and, even if she isn’t betting on us, you might want to consider the fact that somebody else there will, and that person won’t care about your feelings anywhere near as much as Nan will.”
She stared at him. “But that just means—” And then she stopped, her voice dropping away.
“It just means that you should let Nan run with it because, otherwise, somebody else will,” he noted, “and Nan at least will do it in such a way as to honor your feelings.”
Doreen groaned at that. “No, you’re right.” She paused. “Dang. I didn’t think of that.”
“No, it’s easy not to think about,” he replied. “And I don’t think it’s a big issue right now anyway.”
She nodded. “That’s because I don’t have a love life.” At the silence beside her, she looked over and then winced. “I guess that didn’t come out quite the right way, did it?”
He stood at the barbecue pit, watching the veggies so they didn’t burn, and didn’t say anything, but his back was unnaturally stiff.
And she realized that she’d hurt him. “You see? That’s why I don’t have a love life. I always put my foot in it,” she explained. “Since leaving my ex and being able to say things on my own, it’s like I have to learn all over again what to say and what not to say and how it impacts people.”
He looked over at her.
She shrugged. “Before,” she noted carefully, trying to explain how she felt, “he controlled everything, so I didn’t get to say things a lot of the time. Any natural ability I might have had to say the right thing at the right time from before I married him just became locked down into this really hard say nothing more rule, so I didn’t piss him off,” And then she frowned. “That’s not making any sense.”
“No, it doesn’t. You might want to try again.” He stared at her.
“Okay. You know when I was growing up …” She shook her head, stopped for a moment to gather her thoughts. “I mean, obviously you learn to say things, and you try hard not to hurt people, blah-blah-blah. But when I got married, I couldn’t say anything. It was that, you know, I was fed the lines I was supposed to say, and these are the things that I had to do, and these are the married people I had to meet, so I didn’t really get a chance to joke around and actually be me.
“And now that that ruling influence is gone, it’s like I’m a teenager again, trying to figure out what to say, what not to say, and how not to hurt people’s feelings. And I keep messing up.” She turned to face Mack. “So I’m sorry.”
He looked at her. “And what are you sorry for?” he asked quietly.
And she knew this was momentous. “Because I think I just hurt you.”
His eyebrows shot up, and she realized that the think part was the problem.
“So I know I just hurt you, and I didn’t mean to.” She felt the tears gathering in the back of her eyes. “And even now I feel like I’m messing up.” She brushed away the moisture from the corner of her eyes. She stared out at the river, shook her head. “This is why I don’t do relationships.”
“Why would you say that?” he asked. “You have to learn to walk before you learn to run.”
Dale Mayer. Poison in the Pansies (Kindle Locations 422-487). Valley Publishing.
So the current case Mac is working on is a poisoning, and as it turns out Nan knows of someone at the home who believes she was being poisoned too. Unfortunately, no one believed her.
Lots of intertwining of these cases as Doreen finds out about Mac’s case as well as her own.
I totally love the dynamic between these two and of course the animals are the best pets ever!
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.