Home > Offed in the Orchids (Lovely Lethal Gardens #15)

Offed in the Orchids (Lovely Lethal Gardens #15)
Author: Dale Mayer



Chapter 1



Saturday, Mid-July; Kelowna, BC

Corporal Mack Moreau, a local RCMP detective, had become Doreen Montgomery’s close friend. Mack was right, this outing was a perfect idea.

Doreen could feel a budding excitement at the thought of going out, not only with Mack at her side, but to the orchid festival. She’d never had any experience with growing them herself, although they were plants that her husband had deemed appropriate for her to oversee and had his gardeners keep several in the greenhouse. But she had never really tried to do anything with them. They appealed, but they also almost repulsed her because they had such a strong connection to her soon-to-be ex.

But this was the first time to potentially enjoy them without his presence, and she would see some really rare ones today. As a gardening enthusiast, she knew just enough to get herself in trouble, so deemed it necessary to not get into any conversations about orchids, outside of asking questions regarding the long-held fascination she’d had over the unique plants. Many people did really well with orchids, and others found them incredibly difficult to grow. They were so special and had captivated people for centuries.

Doreen waited on her front porch with her three animals. She had even coerced a leash onto Goliath, a Maine coon, who didn’t seem to be arguing too much about his leash today. Her huge beautiful blue-gray parrot, Thaddeus, sat on her shoulder, and she heard Mack’s truck rumbling toward her.

“Alright, guys, here he is,” she said to her critters. Mugs, her pedigreed basset hound, was on a leash too and barked excitedly, his tail wagging in great joy as the truck pulled up into the driveway. Goliath lay on the top porch step and looked about with disdain. As the truck rolled to a stop, Mack opened his door. “Do you need help to get in the truck?”

She shook her head and walked down the last few steps and onto the sidewalk toward him. “No, we’re ready to go.” She walked around to the far side, opened up the passenger door to his truck, and urged Mugs up onto the seat. He was beside himself with excitement, so getting him into the footwell of the truck was one thing. But he was bound and determined to get onto the seat, where he could completely lick Mack’s face.

Mack was laughing, as he tried to calm down the excited dog.

Thaddeus, on the other hand, appeared to be happily nestled against her neck and just content to be going with the flow. Goliath hopped up onto the dash and sprawled out in front of them. Then Doreen climbed in and sat down comfortably, closing the door. “We’re ready.”

“I guess you don’t go anywhere without the animals, do you?”

“Not if I can help it,” she said. “It’s nice to have them. And they love these outings.”

“And this one is outside, so animals are allowed.” He backed out of the driveway and went around the cul-de-sac.

“Exactly,” she said happily. “I can’t express how much I’m looking forward to this. I hadn’t realized how depressed I was and in need of something fun and different in my life.”

He glanced at her in concern.

“I’m fine.” She shrugged. “It’s just—well, this was a good idea, and I’m really looking forward to it.” Something was almost lame in her response, but she wouldn’t go into it too much.

“Depressed?” he asked.

“I should have known you’d lock onto that.”

“That’s because it’s so unlike you.”

“And it’s not typically me,” she said. “I don’t know. It’s just been kind of a downer the last few days.”

“That last case was rough. I know.”

“It was,” she said. “Seeing that side of humanity wasn’t an easy thing. Dealing with Denise and her mind games, it was a bit much.”

He agreed. “You know that it’s likely to be really busy at this outing.”

“And that’s good too.” She rubbed her hands together. “I haven’t seen very many people lately, and I’m ready.”

He laughed. “Good enough. I thought you would ask Nan to come too.”

“She’s going already,” she said. “The retirement home already booked one of their buses full of people, but they’ll go before the general public.”

He rolled his eyes at that. “That sounds like a good idea.” He sighed. “Your grandmother can create all kinds of chaos.”

“She sure can, but she can also calm it down,” Doreen said. “So she’s an asset to have, when the rest of them get going.”

He chuckled. “I haven’t seen too much of that aspect of her. Ever.”

“No, but you will over time.”

“Did she help smooth things over with your ex?”

She glared at him. “We’re not talking about him.” His eyebrows popped up, and she winced. “A little too forceful, huh?”

After a few seconds of silence, he continued. “Is that part of the depression?”

“I have no wish to see him, and I wish he’d stop calling me.” At that, Mack stared at her in surprise. She shrugged. “Sorry, I haven’t been telling you about it. You’ve had your hands full already, and I didn’t want to bother you.”

“You need to tell me about things like that.” His tone was serious. “I can’t have Mathew getting out of line.”

“He lives out of line,” she muttered. “And don’t worry. I have told Nick every time.”

“Maybe I need to find out what my brother is doing about it.”

“Maybe.” Doreen gave him a tiny shrug. “It seems like absolutely nothing’s happening. Mathew refuses to sign the document Nick drew up.”

“Ah, I’m sure we can trust Nick to deal with that.”

“I just wonder if he’s asking for so much money that my ex will never agree.”

“He’s not asking for more than what anybody else would ask for.”

“I don’t need all his money.”

“And you aren’t getting all of it,” Mack said. “I think Nick’s asked for 50 percent, plus something to make up for all the stress Mathew’s caused you since the separation.”

“Well, that I approve of.” She laughed at the idea. It sounded good but would never happen. It was a nice dream. If she could get something until Nan’s houseful of antiques sold, she’d be golden. “It’s been brutal.”

He chuckled. “It has been, but you have done very well for yourself.”

“Maybe, but I think that has more to do with Nan’s generosity.”

“Your bank balance is not the point,” he said. “It’s all about how you emotionally and responsibly handle things, and you’ve done really well with that.”

She smiled, appreciating the kind words, and she appreciated him. They had such a nice relationship, and she hadn’t realized where this closeness came from, but somehow those warm feelings were there, and she didn’t even know what to do with them. Yet she refused to act on anything with him, not until she settled up with her ex. The thought of getting into another relationship and dealing with those issues made her wince. It wasn’t her style at all. But then again people rarely waited, and she knew that she was being old-fashioned about it. But still, she had to do what felt right for her.

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