Read Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 05 - Hidden by the Hydrangeas Online

Authors: Lyndsey Cole

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Flower Shop - Vermont

Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 05 - Hidden by the Hydrangeas

Lyndsey Cole - Lily Bloom 05 - Hidden by the Hydrangeas
Lily Bloom [5]
Lyndsey Cole
Lyndsey Cole Books (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Flower Shop - Vermont
Lily Bloom can’t seem to keep her thoughts away from marriage. Maybe it’s just because her mom tied the knot with her childhood sweetheart, Walter Nash, but it’s gotten Lily thinking about her own relationship with Ryan Steele and if it’s going anywhere.
But those thoughts are quickly replaced with who is carrying a dead body and who that dead body might be. The only thing Lily knows is that she’s been spotted by the killer, so she has to hope this mystery is solved before she’s the next one in a body bag.
When Walter’s best friend turns up as the likeliest suspect, Lily’s mom is beside herself with worry and convinces Lily that she’s the best person to solve this case. But suspects keep piling up with not quite enough evidence to prove anything. Will Lily be able to put all the pieces together before the killer sniffs out her trail?

Hidden by the Hydrangeas

 

Lily Bloom Cozy Mystery Series

 

 

 

 

by Lyndsey Cole

 

Copyright ©
2014 Lyndsey Cole

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of
the writer’s imagination and/or have been used fictitiously in such a fashion it is not meant to serve the reader as actual fact and should not be considered as actual fact. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Chapter 1

 

“How do I look?” Iris
fidgeted as she smoothed down her dress, turning one way then the other. “I can’t believe I’m doing this. Do you girls think I’m making a mistake?”

Lily and Daisy looked at each other.
“Really, Mom? You’re asking our opinion?”

“Of course. You act like I never listen to you girls.
But that’s just not true.” Iris turned to look at her reflection in the mirror and smiled at herself. She clearly already had her mind made up about how she looked. “Is it okay that I’m wearing white? This dress does look good on me, don’t you think? I want Walter to be speechless.”

Lily grabbed her mother by the shoulders. “What is wrong with you? Since when do you care what anyone else thinks? That’s just not you.” Lily looked at Iris from head to toe. From the wreath of flowers on her purple hair, the mid length white silk dress with an angle cut at the bottom to her white sandals with a small wedge. “
You look amazing. Here. I have something for you.” Lily put a silver heart locket around Iris’s neck and fastened it at the back.

Iris’s hand immediately held the heart. “What is this?”

“Open it and take a look. It’s from me and Daisy.”

They watched as Iris opened the locket and stared at the two photos inside. “My two favorite photos. The two of you hugging each other on Christmas morning when you were five and
eight and me with you both on my lap right after Daisy was born.” Iris’s eyes misted over as she looked up at her daughters. “I thought these photos had been lost forever.” She pulled them both close to her. “You will always come first in my life.” She kissed their cheeks, looking at both daughters intently. “I have a favor to ask.”

Lily and Daisy
waited, wondering what kind of favor was coming.

“Don’t tell your father I’m marrying Walter Nash. He never liked Walter.
” She blushed slightly. “I think he was always a little jealous of him.”

Lily sputtered. “I don’t think you have to worry about that. Dad would want you to be happy. I’m sure he’d understand.”

Daisy nudged Lily. “Maybe we should bring the urn with his ashes with us to the ceremony.”

Iris’s mouth dropped open. “You wouldn’t dare.” She shooed them out of the bedroom, laughing. “I want to be alone for a few minutes before we walk downstairs.”

Lily and Daisy waited in the hallway. “Can you believe it? I never thought Mom would marry again,” Lily said. “Sure, she’s had a few boyfriends and she’s always flirting with everyone, but to settle down?”

Daisy leaned
against the wall. “The way Mom remembers it, Walter was always in love with her and she broke his heart when she married Dad. Do you think that’s true?”

“True or not, it’s a good story. I do think she’s extremely fond of Walter. This will be good for both of them.”

“And both of us,” they said in unison and started to laugh.

The door opened and Iris walked out, more like a march than a stroll.
She twirled, making her dress swirl around her legs. “Guess what I have on under this dress.”

Lily
’s face scrunched up in distaste. “Not a thong I hope.”

Iris’s eyes twinkled with delight. “No, not a thong. I don’t like how they feel, reminds me of dental floss.”

Daisy took a guess. “Your granny panties? Maybe in sexy black?”

Iris slapped her arm. “Of course not. I don’t even own any of those bloomers.” She hitched up the hem of her dress
just enough to reveal her small rose tattoo where her panty line should have been.

L
ily’s hand covered her mouth as she and Daisy gasped and giggled at the same time.

She let her dress settle back into place
, picked up her bouquet of purple and cream lisianthus, and they walked down the elegant hallway of the Lyman Estate. When they reached the top of the curved stairs, Iris looped her arms through an arm of each daughter and looked down into the massive entryway where her friends were waiting. Walter stood at the bottom of the stairs with eyes only for Iris and a smile that rivaled the Cheshire cat. On his left sat Rosie, Lily’s faithful terrier mix, on his right wiggled Poppy, Iris’s foster guide-dog puppy, and in Walter’s arms, slept Ollie.

Only a few
months earlier, Lily and Daisy had found Harriet, Walter’s wife, dead on the sunroom floor. What looked like an accident turned out to be murder, which had put Lily’s and Daisy’s lives in danger. But once Lily disarmed the murderer and all that drama settled, she surprised Walter with a puppy from the FurEver Animal Shelter to keep him company. Ollie was a rugged, energetic golden retriever mix with soft, silky fur and feet that would look more appropriate on a great dane. His face was adorable with one ear flopping down and one ear standing up half way and Walter absolutely loved Ollie. Almost, but not quite, as much as he loved Iris.

Lily’s boyfriend, Ryan Steele, the police chief of Misty Valley, looked dashing in his dark blue suit. It was unusual to see him out of his police uniform and
Lily thought it suited him quite handsomely. He stood with his sister, Jennifer, the owner of the Sunflower Café, and her just turned six year old daughter, Katie. Also, waiting behind Walter, was Adam May, Daisy’s detective boyfriend. He smiled as he looked at Daisy standing at the top of the stairs.

Iris whispered to her two daughters
, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

When Rosie saw Lily at the top of the stairs, she bounded up to be with her. Poppy, on the other hand, stayed sitting next to Walter, a testament to Iris’s training. Iris, flanked by Lily, Daisy and Rosie, walked down the stairs.
The three beautiful Blooms. At the bottom, Iris took Walter’s arm, and they walked out into the sunny fall afternoon followed by their family and friends.

Outs
ide, facing the Green Mountains of Vermont, the trees looked festive with the leaves just beginning to turn yellow and red. Iris and Walter stopped beneath an arch covered with purple asters and golden sunflowers. Walter’s best friend from college, Lance Turner, stood waiting to marry them.

The ceremony was
short and sweet, ending with Walter tenderly taking Iris in his arms to kiss her. A small white tent filled with platters of delicious food, drinks and Lily’s flower arrangements was set up on the lawn and everyone in the small ceremony happily made their way there. Katie threw rose petals as the bride and groom passed, then scampered off with the three dogs in hot pursuit, screaming with delight.

Lily accepted a glass of champagne from one of the girls Walter had hired to serve the guests. It
was an interesting group, she thought as she watched everyone, completely relaxed and content surrounded by so much happiness.

That feeling wa
s suddenly interrupted when she felt warm breath on her neck and a deep whisper in her ear that sent a shiver of surprise down her spine. “You look lovely today Ms. Bloom. I hear your mom is going commando under her wedding dress.” Ryan Steele’s mouth cracked into a lopsided smile. “I hope it runs in the family.”

“I can’t believe Daisy didn’t keep that a secret. And, no, it doesn’t run in the family. At least not today.”

Ryan chuckled and Lily elbowed him, almost making him spill his champagne. “Have you seen Tamara Biotchi?”

He nodded as he drained the glass. “I hope she doesn’t have the same idea as your mother
under that bright pink tent thingie she’s wearing.”

“I so don’t want that image in my head
. It looks like she’s got Walter’s friend cornered. That poor guy looks like he’s ready to kill himself to get away from her.”

“I
wouldn’t feel too sorry for Lance Turner. Have you seen his wife?”

Lily raised an eyebrow
in mock annoyance. “You’re looking at other women, Mr. Steele?”

“No harm in looking. Check her out.” Ryan
nodded toward a tall, gorgeous, dark-haired woman who was talking to Walter’s daughter. “She’s got to be at least twenty years younger than Lance.”

“That’s a mismatched couple if I’ve ever seen one. He’s short, balding and pudgy and she’s, well, she’s the opposite. How do men do it?”

Ryan shrugged. “Money. He owns a big horse breeding farm, some kind of fancy horses. Maybe she’s a trophy wife, or maybe, they are both madly in love with each other.” He looked over Lily’s head. “What’s
she
doing here? Writing an article about your mother’s choice of undergarments?”

Lily saw Ryan’s face turn to stone, then
she turned and saw her friend Nina Baldwin, the newspaper reporter, approaching.

“Hey, you two lovebirds. Nice bash. Except for that dude that
performed the marriage. What’s with him? He couldn’t keep his eyes off my chest and his hands off my butt. What a jerk. And his wife is here, too.”

Ryan asked Nina, “Trolling for gossip?” He left without waiting for an answer.

Nina shrugged. “What’s up with him? Get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

Lily defended her boyfriend.
“You’re always asking him to share police information. He likes to keep work and pleasure separate.”

“Yeah, whatever. He is the police chief, so he’d better get used to it.”

Lily could get annoyed with Nina when she showed her pushy, aggressive side, but she also admired how hard Nina worked for her stories. She was careful to get all the information before submitting her articles.

Daisy and her boyfriend, Adam May, a detective, joined them
with overflowing plates of food in their hands. “You two better get some food before it’s gone. Jennifer outdid herself for this event. And don’t forget, Mom’s got a surprise to share with us. Have you figured out what it is?”

Lily shook her head. “Not a clue. I just hope it doesn’t turn into some
kind of disaster. You know how Mom’s ideas tend to go.”

A crash
suddenly made conversations stop dead in their tracks as everyone turned in the direction of the food. Lily heard Jennifer scream as she sprinted toward the noise. She disappeared into the tent and quickly emerged, carrying Katie who was crying and covered with food.

Jennifer sat down with Katie on a bench under some trees and Ryan rushed to help his sister and niece. There was no need to worry about
who would clean up the mess because all three dogs immediately wiggled out from under one of the tables where they’d been patiently waiting for any crumbs to fall. They acted like it was Christmas morning, gobbling up all of the food that had been knocked over before Lily and Daisy arrived and salvaged anything they could. The dogs even had the audacity to look around for more but Lily called Rosie to her side so she would stop begging when her belly was clearly already full.

On the bench, Katie told her mother what had happened between hiccups that had come after her crying subsided.
“I was just chasing Ollie,” she managed to get out.

“Under the table?”

Katie nodded and licked her fingers, her eyes staring at the cake mess on the ground. “I’m sorry,” her tiny voice said.

Iris took Katie from Jennifer’s arms. “It’s alright. Look, Lily saved most of the cake. There was plenty anyway. How does it taste?” Katie offered Iris a cake covered
finger to lick and wiped her tears with her other hand, smearing cake all over her face. “That’s okay, I’ll wait till we serve cake to everyone. Maybe we better do that now while there’s still some to serve.”

Jennifer
quickly cleaned up Katie, then got busy cutting the cake. Only the top layer had tipped onto the ground, the rest was still intact. Iris fed Walter a piece, restraining herself and not smearing it all over his face. He closed his eyes and groaned with delight. “This is even better than the last cake I had that Daisy made—that carrot cake with chocolate chips. What flavor is this one?”

Iris took a bite. “Pumpkin with chocolate mousse filling. Daisy has come up with another winner with this combination.
This has turned into the perfect day, don’t you think?”

Walter put his arms around Iris and whispered in her ear. “I’ve waited my whole life for this.”

“Are you coming in the hot air balloon with me tomorrow morning? It’s such a wonderful present from Lance and Emma,” she said as her hand traveled down his back and rested below his belt. “It would be romantic to share it with you.”

Walter tensed. “I want to. I really do, but I’m covered in sweat just thinking about it.”

“That’s okay, you can sleep in. I’ll take Lily and Daisy and we’ll have a nice mother-daughter adventure. Tonight will be an Iris-Walter adventure. After what I have planned for tonight, you’ll need the extra rest.” She winked as she saw Walter blush.

***

After a good night’s sleep, at least for Lily and Daisy, the three Blooms were up with the sun and climbed into the wicker basket of the hot air balloon. The securing ropes were released and they rose into the sky, floating quietly over the countryside.

“This is an incredible surprise. Why didn’t Walter come?” Lily asked.

“He’s afraid of heights and he needs to catch up on his sleep.” The girls gave her a please-don’t-tell-us-anymore kind of look as Iris chuckled. “Besides, isn’t this nice? Just the three of us together?”

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