Authors: Lyndsey Cole
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Flower Shop - Vermont
Roads, farms, fields, trees,
and horses all flowed by under them. Sometimes someone looked up and waved or Iris pointed out a sight they should all check out. One was a stone house surrounded by several cottages. “That’s where we’re staying tonight—the Stone House Inn. Lance knows the owners and got us the Honeymoon Suite. I think Walter will be pleasantly surprised. Although, it may be hard to beat the surprises from last night.”
This time, both girls yelled. “Too much information.”
Iris giggled. “He was excited when I told him what I had on under my dress.”
Lily elbowed Daisy and pointed. “Hey, look over there, coming out of one of the cottages. What is that person carrying?”
ked over the edge of the basket and her hand covered her mouth, stifling a gasp. “It looks like a body.”
The basket soared away, but not before they saw the person look up at the balloon.
Iris pointed to a wide open field full of galloping horses. “Look at that. Wouldn’t it be fun to go riding?” She looked at her daughters when they didn’t respond. “What’s wrong with you two? Did you eat something rotten?”
Lily felt the butterflies in her stomach start to settle down
as she gripped the edge of the basket. “You won’t believe this, we just saw someone carrying a body out of one of the cottages behind the Stone House Inn.”
Lily, you see bodies under every nook and cranny. How could you tell from way up here?”
Lily pushed some stray blond hairs behind her ears. “Thanks for
the support. I know what I saw—arms dangling down someone’s back, legs flopping in the front. It was a person, either dead or unconscious.”
Daisy started to get some color back in her cheeks.
“I saw it too, Mom. Definitely weird and creepy. You said Walter’s friend Lance, the guy that performed the marriage yesterday, knows the owners of that Inn?”
Lance is a great guy. Well, I only met him a couple of times, but very charming and charismatic.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “That’s not what I heard about him. Nina said he could
n’t keep his eyes off her chest and he got a little grabby too.”
Iris flicked her hand
, dismissing the comment. “He’s just being a man, dear. Don’t tell me Nina doesn’t like a little attention.”
t from someone who could be her grandfather, for crying out loud. Plus he’s pudgy and balding. I don’t think that’s going to be attractive to someone in her twenties.”
Enough of this talk, let’s have some refreshments.” Iris opened her picnic basket and offered the girls and the pilot a piece of the pumpkin wedding cake. She poured mimosas for herself, Lily and Daisy, but not for the pilot, he got straight orange juice.
Lily raised her glass. “
Cheers to you and Walter, he’s a great guy. And the way he looks at you? It’s like his life is finally complete.” They clinked their plastic glasses, which was more of a dull thud than a clink, and drained the mimosas. Biting into the leftover wedding cake, Lily said to Daisy, “You completely outdid yourself with this cake, where’d you get the recipe?”
Daisy blushed a little. “I made it up. I wanted something to go w
ith the fall season and I knew Mom wanted chocolate so I played around with a bunch of recipes. I was afraid no one would like it.”
Iris patted her shoulder. “You need to have more confidence in yourself. This
is the best cake I’ve ever had and everyone raved about it. I’m thrilled that your cake business is taking off and you’re finding your passion. It’s important to figure out what it is that you love to do because you never want to look back and say you wish you had tried something but didn’t because you were afraid you might fail. If you love it and work hard, you won’t fail.”
“Thanks. You’ve always encouraged us to try anything and I’m grateful for that.”
Daisy swung around in a circle of joy before hugging her mom.
leaned back, looking up at the clouds. “Remember when you made me try ballet, but I wanted to do gymnastics? I fell off the stage during that first recital but I learned to laugh at myself instead of being embarrassed, and you learned to listen to me and finally let me try gymnastics. You learn from everything, the good and the bad.”
They were so caught up in their happiness,
the delicious cake and the mimosas, that they were startled when the pilot interrupted their conversation. “This cake is incredible, thanks for sharing a piece with for me.” He finished every last crumbs and wiped his mouth. “I’m curious, how do you all know Lance?”
“He was my husband’s roommate in college.”
Iris took the plates and piled them back in the picnic basket. Looking at the pilot she asked, “How do you know him?”
“Kind of a random meeting actually. I was shopping for boxers
at the mall.” He grinned at Lily and Daisy who had glanced in the boxer region of his anatomy. “Lance noticed my baseball cap with a horse on it. I got it at a rodeo when I was out west. Anyway, he started talking to me, just being friendly while his incredibly, beautiful, much younger wife was shopping. I think he was probably bored to death. I told him I was working in New York as a pilot doing scenic tours, which intrigued him. To make a long story short, he decided to get his own helicopter and hired me as his private pilot.”
Daisy looked up at the red, yellow and orange balloon above them. “This isn’t a helicopter.”
The pilot laughed. “Good observation. I got my hot air balloon license too, for some side jobs, like this. Hope you’re enjoying the ride.”
The three Blooms nodded.
“This is a wedding present from your boss but my husband is afraid of heights so he didn’t come.” Iris hugged her daughters. “It’s a special adventure for the three of us so I’ll forgive him this time.” Iris picked up the champagne bottle. “There’s a little more, shall we finish it?” She divided the rest between the three glasses and gave the pilot the rest of the orange juice.
They glided over the trees, feeling the breeze in their faces and feeling content.
Iris asked the pilot, “What do you know about Lance’s wife, Emma? They seem like a mismatched couple.”
The pilot looked out over the landscape. “
Emma? Not much to say about Emma. She’s a beauty. I think Lance has his hands full with her.”
Lily pulled her hair out of her face. “What about you? Quite the change coming to little Misty Valley from the
Big Apple. What’s your story?”
pilot smiled, “I like it here–the mountains, the fields and the more relaxed pace. Lance gives me a very nice apartment to be at his beck and call but I have a lot of down time too when he’s traveling. I like to hike, ride horses, check out the women.” With that last comment he gave Lily a good look from top to bottom.
turned her face away from the pilot hoping the breeze would cool down the heat rising in her cheeks. “I know someone I could introduce you to.” She admitted to herself that she enjoyed his gaze, and like Ryan had told her yesterday, it doesn’t hurt to look.
His fingers combed through his long
sun bleached hair. “How would you girls like to go on a trail ride? Lance has plenty of horses that are easy to ride. You could bring your friend along.” He raised an eyebrow, waiting for a reply.
Daisy squeaked with excitement. “That would be so much fun. I’d love to go.”
Lily agreed too. “Let us know when and I’ll check with my friend.”
The pilot pointed to a field.
“There’s our landing spot. It looks like someone is waiting to take you girls back home. Did you have a good time?”
“Good time? That’s an understatement, if I ever heard one
,” Lily said as Daisy and Iris nodded in agreement. They all looked over the edge of the basket and waved wildly to Walter. Lily thought,
A good time and another mystery to figure out. And a sexy, hot guy too.
overjoyed to see Iris’s feet back on solid ground. “I should have come. Worrying about you was worse than facing my fears.” He hugged Iris as if he would never let her go.
squeezed him with all her strength, then jumped up and down, flushed with excitement. “Thank you so much for that wonderful adventure. It was spectacular gliding over the countryside. Next time you have to come. Is that a deal?”
Walter spun Iris around with her feet sailing out parallel to the ground as if she was a little kid. “It’s a deal.”
Now that they were safely back on firm ground, Lily couldn’t wait to tell Ryan about what she and Daisy had seen. Maybe the body had already been discovered and she could provide a little extra information.
Lily tried to herd the others to Walter’s car
, her impatience getting the best of her. “Are we all set? Let’s get going.”
Lily’s hand away. “What’s the rush? I want to watch our new pilot friend take the balloon apart.”
kidding? I need to get to work,” Lily lied to her mother, well, not a complete lie, but not her real reason for the big rush.
Walter offered to take Lily back and return for Iris and Daisy
which seemed to satisfy everyone.
Walter’s car, he patted Lily’s leg. “Did you girls have fun?”
“It was fantastic.
You can’t imagine how peaceful it is floating over everything. The mimosas Mom brought helped too.” Lily laughed. “And the pilot was very friendly. Did you know that he works for your friend as his private pilot?
Walter chuckled. “Of course. Lance set this all up for me.
The pilot invited us to go trail riding with him. Do you think that’s okay with Lance?”
Lance is extremely generous, I’m sure it will be fine. Do you want me to check with him for you?”
, that’s okay. I’ll leave the planning up to the pilot.
Walter glanced at Lily. “
I had a bit of a fright after you left.”
“Oh? What happened?”
“Well, Ryan stopped by right after you all left in the hot air balloon to see if you wanted to have breakfast with him, but he was called away for some kind of emergency. Of course, I thought the worst and assumed the balloon had crashed and I was beside myself.” Walter laughed now at that panic attack.
Lily was thinking it must have something to do with the body.
She felt herself getting jittery, impatient to find out more. Her previous encounters with murders had certainly trained her to be overly curious. “Did he tell you what the emergency was?
“No, he just rushed off. I was thinking
I should have gone with Iris—better to crash with her than worry for all that time.”
Lily looked at Walter. “
You must be excited to have the honeymoon suite at the Stone House Inn tonight.”
Walter actually blushed. “I’ve heard it’s quite nice.
Lance arranged that for us, too.”
I was thinking,” Lily paused, “maybe Daisy and I could meet you and Mom for dinner? A surprise for her?”
Yes, absolutely, that would be lovely. We’re planning to eat at seven so I’ll call and make sure they set two more places.”
Lily smiled. “Don’t worry, we won’t invade your honeymoon suite.”
Walter’s face turned two shades deeper pink before he pulled into the gates of the Lyman Estate. “Thank you for welcoming me into the family. I know I can’t replace your father, who was a special guy, but I will do my best to make your mom happy.” Walter stopped and watched the three dogs run over toward the car. “Here you are. See you tonight and don’t worry, I won’t say a word to your mom about our secret for dinner tonight.”
slid out of the passenger seat as Rosie ran over, jumping up on her, licking her hands, and smiling her goofy doggy smile. The two puppies weren’t far behind, tumbling over each other and climbing on Rosie, trying to get to Lily too. Lily crouched down and gave them each pats and belly rubs. “Is it okay if I leave Rosie here while I’m at work?”
Walter laughed at the pile of dogs. “Of course, w
ith any luck, Rosie will teach these two puppies some manners.”
“I’m not sure about that. Mom is doing a better job with Poppy than I ever did with R
osie in the manners department. Do you want to take them back with you?”
“Sure. They all love riding in the car.”
Lily opened the door of Walter’s car, and without any encouragement, the three dogs piled inside. She waved before she headed to her minivan with the recently repaired sign on the side. Someone had turned her Beautiful Blooms sign to Beautiful Dooms, but everything was back to how it should be now.
Lily fumbled in her tote for her cell phone, anxious to talk to Ryan about the body she and Daisy saw when they were in the hot air balloon
soaring over the Stone House Inn. She was dying of curiosity to know if the body had been discovered yet. She hit number three, the speed dial number for Ryan’s cell phone. “Come on, Ryan. Pick up.” She said to her phone as her feet tapped impatiently on the car mat. It went to voicemail so Lily left a message to please call her back ASAP then slammed her phone shut.
Lily threw the phone onto the passenger seat, annoyed that Ryan never answered his phone. As she drove to Beautiful Blooms, she was hoping beyond hope that he would get her message and call her back soon.
She parked in front of her flower shop, gathered up her tote, and headed through the gate to the front door. Walking in, she inhaled deeply and let the mixture of lavender and lily scent flow through her body, helping to relax her.
Sweet Pea, Lily’s cat,
rubbed against Lily’s legs, happy to have company. “Are you hungry?” Lily asked as she bent down and picked up the soft ball of fur. Sweet Pea purred in response and waited patiently while Lily poured food into her bowl. Lily checked her answering machine for orders and unlocked the cat door so Sweet Pea could come and go as she pleased. Most likely to find a sunny spot outside to curl up in for the day.