Posted in Monday, mystery on February 11, 2013

If you haven’t read any of the Flower Shop Mysteries by author Kate Collins, you should pick up these books!    The first book in the series is Mum’s the Word and was published in 2004…wow, I didn’t realize how long I had been reading this series!  The latest book is Nightshade on Elm Street and is another winner in the series!



Hey, I’m the bride! Shouldn’t I get to plan the ceremony?

Enjoy her wedding shower…or receive a cold dunking?

In addition to running her flower shop, planning her wedding, and juggling two mothers who both want to host an elaborate bridal shower, Abby Knight is facing another complication. Her ditzy cousin Jillian asks her and her longtime beau Marco, a private detective, to find a woman who’s gone missing from the exclusive beach house belonging to Jillian’s in-laws, the Osbornes. The missing woman is also the fiance of Pryce Osborne, a wet noodle with a big bank account who dumped Abby at the altar several years ago. And merely being anywhere near Pryce makes Abby’s insecurities grow like kudzu…

Then a woman’s drowned body surfaces, and Pryce becomes a prime suspect in her death. Unless Abby and Marco can get a killer to come clean, their bridal shower will turn into a complete washout…and Pryce will be exchanging a sunny beach for a prison cell.

Excerpt (from the author’s website)


Monday, August 1st

Dear Euphorbia,

Half an hour until the flower shop opens, so I’m grabbing a minute to update you. Sorry to have been MIA, but, hey, life is never dull here at Bloomers, even after the chaos of the wealthy dowager’s murder died down. So far today ,luckily, things have been quiet. We started off with Lottie’s traditional Monday morning scrambled egg and toast breakfast, and Grace’s gourmet coffee and fresh blueberry scones, so how bad can the rest of the day be?

Wait. What am I saying? Today is Monday – the day Mom always brings in her latest art project for us to sell. Last time it was a whole box of sea glass sunglasses, with frames studded so thickly with sea glass chips that they became instruments of torture. Still, I’m going to remain optimistic because I really want to have a pleasant day, so I’ll imagine myself loving whatever debacle Mom bequeaths us. It’ll be my new challenge, and you know how I love a challenge.

On the good news front, I’ve taken back my bridal shower! Euphorbia, you’ve been listening to me complain since I began this journal three months ago, so you know what would have happened if I’d allowed Mom, with her outrageous ideas, and Marco’s mom, with her take-no-prisoners approach to any kind of event, to pull it off. And heaven help me had my cousin Jillian been allowed to choose my shower outfit from one of the haute couture boutiques she frequents.

Being 5’ 2”, with red hair, way too many freckles, and what my mom refers to as an ample bosom, I don’t fit into the kind of garb Jillian’s ultra-chic customers do, but she never seems to get that. Well, actually, no surprise there. For a Harvard grad, Jillian doesn’t get much. Luckily, Marco, my groom-to-be, the malest of all males, the man who causes women of all ages to drool with desire, likes the way I look, freckles and all. So why should I spend mega-bucks on an outfit that would only make me look like an upscale fireplug?

A voice interrupted my train of thought. My assistant, Lottie, swept back the purple curtain that separated the flower shop from my workroom and handed me a slip of pink paper, which, coincidentally, coordinated with her cherry blouse, white denims, primrose Keds, and the rose colored barrettes in her short, brassy curls. It took courage for a tall, big boned, middle-aged woman to pull off all that pink.

“Sorry to interrupt, sweetie, but I thought you’d want to know about this phone call.”

I read the message — twice. “Pryce called here? For me?”

“Disgusting, isn’t it? He claimed it was extremely important that he talk to you right away.”

Determined not to let anything or anyone ruin my day, I dropped the paper in the wastebasket beneath my desk. “Everything Pryce does is extremely important, Lottie, because Pryce is extremely important. Just ask him.”

Not that I harbored any lingering ill will toward the heel who had jilted me two months before I was supposed to march down the aisle with him. Now that I looked back, I’d dodged a bullet — make that a hail of bullets – although at the time, Pryce Osborne II had seemed like the answer to my prayers. Indeed, according to Pryce, it was a privilege to be joining one of New Chapel, Indiana’s dynasties. His family tree had branches that reached back to the founding fathers of our country.

I had nothing to bring to that table. All my family tree had were nuts.

Still, I’d been living at home with my parents, struggling to get through my first year of law school, and Pryce had purchased his own condo, was about to take the bar exam, and had a high-salaried job all lined up. What logical-minded woman wouldn’t go for that? Plus he had a plan for us: after I got my law degree, we would rule the justice system.

Only one problem. I flunked out.

With swift vengeance, Pryce’s parents stepped in and decreed me an Untouchable for doing the unthinkable. Pryce, who never ever crossed his parents, quietly asked for his ring back. My pain was unimaginable.

But as my other assistant, Grace Bingham, liked to say, when God closed a door, he opened a window somewhere. And that window had been humongous, because if Pryce hadn’t dumped me, I wouldn’t have become the poor but happy owner of Bloomers Flower Shop. Nor would I have met Marco Salvare, the bravest, most sincere, loving, and, frankly, the hottest guy in town. So merci beaucoup, Osbornes, for not ruining my life.

“Why don’t you let me call Pryce for you?” Lottie asked, rubbing her hands together as though anticipating the chance to tell him off. “I’ll let him know you’ve got more important things to do.”

“Perfect.” I fished the message from the waste can and gave it back to her. “Thanks.”

But . . . on second thought, maybe I should return Pryce’s call. It would be a great opportunity to let him know I was getting married in a month-and-a-half. Plus, I was nosy. Erase that. I was curious as to what was so important that Pryce would be forced to phone me. Was he writing a book on how to crush a woman’s self-esteem?

“Wait, Lottie. I think I’ll return that call after all.”

Lottie shook her head as she handed me the pink slip. Her view of Pryce was that he was lower than a snake’s belly. It was one of those sayings she’d learned growing up in the rolling hills of Kentucky.

I reached for the receiver, then changed my mind and put the message aside. I didn’t want Pryce to think I was eager to talk to him. Picking up my pen, I wrote:

Euphorbia, I will have to tell you about my phone conversation with Pryce later, but only if it’s worth memorializing. Otherwise, where was I? Oh, right, preparing for the shower.

Okay, in keeping with my carnival theme, I’ve purchased plastic cups, paper napkins, and coated plates with a colorful pinwheel design on them. I’ve ordered carnival masks, flower pinwheels, flower lei garlands and hibiscus toothpicks. I want this shower to be an afternoon of flowers and fun, not the boring cake, punch, and present opening event everyone else does.

Marco agreed to attend only if I promised that there wouldn’t be any games whatsoever, so I still have to come up with another form of entertainment. I’m thinking of a flower-arranging contest. Or maybe a juggling act. Jugglers who juggle flower pots? I’ll have to investigate this further.

I also have plastic utensils, paper table cloths in bright yellow – my favorite color, as you know — and I’ve ordered a chocolate sheet cake that will have candy flowers in the shape of a pinwheel on top. Let’s see, what have I forgotten?

“Abby,” Lottie said, peering in, “Pryce is on the phone again. Now he’s saying it’s exceedingly urgent.” She snickered. “Maybe his manicurist moved away.”

I held up my short, unpolished nails. “I wouldn’t be much help there, but thanks, Lottie.”

I set my journal aside, then inhaled and exhaled a few times before picking up the phone. I didn’t want to sound angry when, in fact, I should want to hug him.

“Hello, Pryce,” I said in a cool-yet- not- unfriendly voice.

“Abigail, I need a favor.”

No preamble, no warmth, and he’d called me by my proper name, knowing that I’d always preferred Abby. So I didn’t respond.

As though he hadn’t even noticed, he continued, “One of my friends is missing. I wouldn’t bother you except she’s been gone for twenty hours now, and I’m starting to fret.”

Osbornes never worried. They fretted. It was the superior emotion. “Missing from where?”

“The lake cottage. I’ve checked her condo and her office repeatedly but there’s no sign of her. I’m at my wit’s end. She could be in a hospital somewhere or she might possibly have been abducted. She does have a rather large stock portfolio.”

“If you think something serious happened to her, Pryce, I’d recommend calling the cops.”

He let out an impatient sigh. “You know Mother and Father won’t allow me to involve the police unless I’m one hundred percent sure it’s a life or death situation.”

“How do you know it’s not?”

“Because of circumstances that I’d rather not divulge into over the phone. I have to keep this matter hush-hush, Abigail. That’s why I need to hire Marco. Would you contact him for me?”

“Yes, but just so you’ll know, it would be Marco and me taking the case, Pryce. We work as a team.” Rub it in, Abby. That a girl.

“That’s fine,” he said dismissively. “I just want Melissa found.”

“So her name is Melissa?”

“Yes, Melissa Hazelton. She owns Pisces, the interior decorating shop on Lincoln. You know her. I introduced you to her at one of our country club functions back when you and I were, well, you know.”

About to make the biggest mistake of our lives?

“I vaguely remember a Melissa. Tall blonde with legs like a weight lifter? Interior decorator more noted for her enthusiasm than her talent?”

“Did you know I’d planned to marry Melissa?”

Oops. Foot-in-mouth moment. Why hadn’t he mentioned that at the outset? “So I guess congratulations are in order?”

“Yes, well . . .” He let it hang there and went on, “I’d like to have Marco – and you, I suppose – come out to the cottage as soon as possible while my house guests are still here. I’m not sure how much longer some of them will be able to stay.”

“Do you think one of your guests may have had something to do with Melissa’s disappearance?”

“I have no thoughts on the matter. I merely intuited that you would need everyone who was here this weekend to be present so you can interview them. Isn’t that how it’s usually handled?”

He was showing off. “I’ll call Marco to see if he’s interested in the case.”

“Let him know I’m prepared to pay half again as much as his usual fee, and I’m positive he will be.”

Ah! The Osborne philosophy: You can make anything happen if you throw enough money at it. “I’ll fill him in and get back to you with our decision.”

“Grand. I’ll be expecting your call, say, within the quarter hour?”

“All I can do is pass along the message.” I wasn’t giving an inch. Let the worm squirm.

“You’re being awfully stilted, Abigail.”

“Am I?”

“I hope you’re not harboring any ill will toward me.”

In as innocent a tone as I could muster, I asked, “For what?”

There was a moment of silence, after which he said, “I’ll await your phone call then. Good b–Hold on a moment. Jillian is signaling — I believe she’s waving hello to you.”

My cousin was there? Great. Now I had even less desire to get involved. Not only was Jillian married to Pryce’s younger brother Claymore, but also, whenever she was around, things got crazy.

“Pardon me,” Pryce said. “My error. She’s signaling for you to come quickly.”

The line went dead. I hadn’t even had an opportunity to slip in a mention of my engagement.

Oh, well. I could do that when I called to tell him that there was no way we’d take his case.

“Pardon me,” Pryce said. “My error. She’s signaling for you to come quickly.”

The line went dead. I hadn’t even had an opportunity to slip in a mention of my engagement.

Oh, well. I could do that when I called to tell him that there was no way we’d take his case.