apprehend me no flowers
Mad for Mod Mystery #7
Hardcover ISBN: 9781939197887
Paperback ISBN: 9781939197870
eBook ISBN: 9781939197863
Two abandoned bodies lead to a polarized community. Can an amateur sleuth bridge the divide and help catch a killer?
After a lawsuit puts interior decorator Madison Night’s business on indefinite hold, she needs a diversion. A walk in the park with police captain Tex Allen is anything but: they discover two corpses on the property. The bodies are unidentifiable, and inconvenient weather conditions have rendered the crime scene obsolete. With no leads, the case seems unsolvable.
With time on her hands, Madison joins a community volunteer group and discovers a clue that ties the victims to a local florist. A surprise court date catches her off guard, and her continuing involvement in the case may cost her more than she can afford to lose.
Can Madison dig up the evidence needed to catch a killer before the bloom fades on her business?
APPREHEND ME NO FLOWERS is the seventh thrilling cozy mystery in the humorous Mad for Mod series. If you like vintage fashion, edgy cozies, and police investigations, then you’ll love Madison Night’s latest adventure.
Buy APPREHEND ME NO FLOWERS for a fun, petal-pushing mystery today!
The flowers were a nice touch.
“Sorry I’m late,” Tex said, handing me a bouquet of daisies. The grocery store price tag was still affixed to the green butcher paper wrapped around their stems. “Garcia got called to his kids’ school, and until I find someone to cover the front desk, it’s all hands on deck.” He leaned over and kissed me. It seemed a risky move considering we’d been keeping our relationship quiet, but the woods surrounding the White Rock Lake picnic area were relatively private. Rocky, my caramel and white Shih Tzu, and his best friend, Wojo, a Shi Chi puppy, hopped around Tex’s feet, happy to have something new to sniff.
White Rock Lake was about four miles from Thelma Johnson’s house. Thelma Johnson’s house was technically my house, after paying the back taxes on the property a few years ago, but the circumstances surrounding the purchase made it that I’d never been able to view it as mine and not hers.
“It’s fine,” I said.
“How long have you been here?”
“We said six-thirty.” I poured spring water into a blue plastic tumbler and transferred the flowers from their wax paper to the makeshift vase.
Tex lowered himself onto the bench across from me. “I know what we said. That’s not what I asked. You’ve been waiting awhile, haven’t you?”
I handed him a sandwich marked with a piece of blue painter’s tape. We had similar taste in lunchmeat, but Tex had an affinity for vinegar that I lacked. He tore open a bag of potato chips while I uncovered a container of cole slaw and handed him a fork.
There was no point pretending I’d shown up minutes before Tex. His job, captain of the Lakewood Police Department, kept him busy, and short staffing made it worse. My job, owner of a mid-century modern decorating business, allowed me to work as much as I wanted, though a pending lawsuit forced me to shutter my doors indefinitely. Between our two extenuating circumstances, Tex’s were better. Hands down.
“Don’t worry about me. I spent the day organizing the attic. I had no idea how many treasures were left behind.” I pulled the lid off a container of salad and held it while Tex portioned out a serving onto his plate.
“Night, you know this is temporary, right?”
“Which part? Me having too much time on my hands, or you not having enough?” I gave Tex a pause in which to answer, though my question was largely rhetorical. It, like most of the difficulties with our relationship, was something to manage around. “It is what it is.”
Tex and I had planned to meet for a late picnic under the pavilion by White Rock Lake. The temperature was in the mid-eighties, and dark clouds overhead threatened rain at any moment. The combination kept most people in enclosed, air conditioned environments, which made this the perfect setting for us.
“I meant us. This.”
“We’re temporary? Thank you for clearing that up. Nothing like going into a relationship with the expectation that the end is in sight.”
“You know that’s not what I meant. It’s not an easy time to be a cop and I don’t want any anti-police sentiment to rub off on you.”
“We’ve been through this before. I told you, I understand. The lawsuit isn’t exactly making me look good either. I’d prefer to keep you from that.”
We lapsed into silence while we took turns passing Tupperware of food back and forth. It’s possible we were thinking the same thing: if our relationship were destined to crash and burn, it was better that we’d be the only two to deal with the fallout.
It wasn’t my most optimistic thought, but it was about a fifty-percent probability.
“How’s Garcia handling desk duty?”
“He appears to be taking it in stride. It’s a shame things went down for him like they did, but rules are rules.”
Officer Garcia was a rookie cop who was responsible for the most recent blight on the Lakewood Police Department’s public record. Having fulfilled six months of desk duty, he’d been sent on patrol with a tenured officer who had trouble holding on to a partner. On Garcia’s first night in the field, while managing a domestic dispute, his gun discharged, accidentally shooting the resident’s coffee table. Turns out nothing resolves a marital spat quite like a united front against the police. Charges were pressed, an investigation ensued, and Garcia was back behind the front desk, where the most damage he could do was burn the coffee.
Local politics had put the police departments under scrutiny, and Tex, who was better at finding answers than covering up problems, was soon called out for rising crime rates and low police retention. Budgetary decisions from the city reallocated money from Lakewood to Highland Park, the nearby affluent neighborhood where the property taxes demanded protection.
As higher paying positions opened in the neighboring police departments, Tex had no choice but to support the transfer requests of his officers who’d been capped at part-time work in his precinct. Open jobs led to budgetary excess, which led to budget cuts, which led to Tex working sixty-hour weeks.
When Tex and I first started dating, we both tried not to talk about work. For two people whose lives had been defined by our careers, a sudden interest in network TV seemed a poor excuse for common ground. At first, it was uncomfortable sharing my deepest fears about profit margin and now the lawsuit, but Tex proved to be a nonjudgmental listener with a solid counterpoint for every argument and concrete advisor for every dilemma. Fortunately for him, he already knew I was comfortable talking about his daily life.
“What about your meeting?” I asked.
Tex and I were at opposite ends of the problems-with-work situation. The lawsuit temporarily shut down Mad for Mod and left me with too much time on my hands. Tex, on the other hand, was stretched thin. We’d spent last month brainstorming fundraisers, and while the idea of a chili cookoff sounded amusing, it would barely put a dent in the needs of the local police force. Tex figured go big or go home, and reached out to local businessmen with deep pockets. He’d scored a meeting with Winston Burr, a bigshot in the news and publishing industry who had a reputation for giving back to the community.
“How about you?” Tex asked. “Any progress?”
“I defrosted the freezer.”
“So nothing new on the lawsuit?”
“Nothing new on the lawsuit. Nothing new anywhere. I’m not used to having so much free time, and it’s starting to get to me. I thought tomorrow I might get the service manual out of my glovebox and learn how to do an oil change on the Alfa Romeo.”
Tex glanced at my vintage blue and green plaid polyester dress. “You need to borrow an old T-shirt and jeans?”
“I found a box of vintage coveralls in the attic. Apparently Thelma Johnson’s first husband worked in an airplane parts factory.”
Tex grinned. “Your project is already paying off.”
We finished our picnic and packed up the trash. I pulled the daisies out of the makeshift vase and rewrapped the stems. These were fresh and would remain in bloom for a few days if nurtured. “How about we go for a walk?” Tex asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Can you put the picnic basket and the flowers in the Jeep? I’ll toss the trash.”
I looped the two dog leashes over my wrist and carried the trash to the closest bin. An unpleasant, pungent smell hit me as I approached. I glanced around for another trash can, but the next closest was across the park and even from a distance, I could tell it was overflowing. I pulled the neckline of my dress up over my nose and mouth and pulled off the lid.
Inside the bin was a black plastic garbage bag. The top had been knotted, but the plastic had split open. I leaned closer, and quickly looked away. Inside the plastic was the one thing I’d hoped to never see again.
A dead body.