Laina Turner, Author
L.C. Turner, Author

Tiger Lilies and Tragedy – A Petal Pushers Flower Shop Cozy Mystery

Chapter 1

Jared arrived in town the night before, having decided to come to Hunter’s Hollow and give it a real chance after sub-letting his place in the city. The company he worked for had gone under and right now he was at loose ends. I was happy he was here and was making it my mission to convince him to stay. He was a graphic designer, and since there wasn’t one in Hunter’s Hollow, I thought he’d be a great addition to our community. I had mentioned it to him a couple of times, and though he wasn’t too enthusiastic initially, I just needed him to fall in love with the town, and then staying would be a no-brainer. That’s what happened with Willie. I knew it could happen with Jared too.

“Thank you for coming to help me with the flowers. I couldn’t have done this by myself.”

“They look amazing, though I’m flabbergasted a dog show needs so many flowers. Do the dogs really care about flowers?”

“I don’t disagree. When they first placed the order for all these floral arrangements, I thought it had to be a joke. I couldn’t fathom why flowers were necessary at a dog show, but I’ve never been to one, so I lacked a good frame of reference.”

“Me neither, so I guess we’ll learn together today about dog shows and why the dog owners like flowers so much, because I doubt it’s the dogs who care. In fact, flowers almost seem like they might be a deterrent around all those dogs.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I can’t imagine dogs caring too much about flowers. I hope they don’t put any low enough at tail reach or they might have a mess on their hands.”

“Funny,” Jared said. “What else do we need to do?”

“We’ve set up everything here in the main area. There are a few flower arrangements for the main dressing room we need to set up and then we’re done.”

Jared gave me a puzzled look. “Did you just say dressing room? The dogs have dressing rooms?”

I held up my hand. “Their words, not mine,” I said, glancing at the order paper for confirmation. Jared took the page from me, looked at it, shook his head, and handed it back.

“That’s insane. VIP dogs with flowers and their own dressing rooms?” he repeated. “Here I thought Bella and Topknot were spoiled.”

“Yeah, the kennel club spent a pretty penny on all these flowers. I guess they really want to give them the VIP treatment.”

“Bella doesn’t ever get flowers and you own a flower shop. Look at what she’s missing!”

“I think Bella cares more about treats than flowers,” I said, thinking of my English mastiff. I doubted flowers would matter one bit to her or any of the dogs here for that matter. My husband, Cooper, constantly scolded me about spoiling her, but I couldn’t help it when she looked at me with those soulful brown eyes.

The dog show was set to start in an hour, and the arrival time of the dogs and their owners was now. The venue had opened an hour ago, so we needed to hurry and find the dressing rooms and set up the arrangements before there were dogs in them. If they contracted me to do this next year, I would need to allow more time. It took us longer to set up the arrangements than I expected. This place was huge.

We managed to get the arrangements for all ten dressing rooms finished just in time before the VIPs arrived. When our job was done, the kennel club offered us tickets to watch.

“What do you think?” I asked Jared, holding up the two tickets the organizer had given me. “Do you want to stay and watch?”

“I think we should at least check it out. It could be really interesting, but I’d actually like some coffee.”

“I would too. I think I saw a sign that said concessions back down the main hall. They weren’t open when we went by, but they should be now.”

We headed toward the concessions, and they were open, thankfully. Jared wasn’t the only one ready for some coffee. As we walked away, I asked, “Something wrong with your latte?”

“Yeah, it’s not as good as Betty’s. I’ve missed them and that’s saying a lot with how many coffee shops there are in Chicago.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Step one in getting Jared to stay permanently. Get him addicted to the lattes at Betty’s Baked Goods, which was easy. Her lattes and pastries were amazing.

“I know. That’s one of the best things about Hunter’s Hollow—her lattes taste better than any I’ve had anywhere.”

As we made our way back toward where the dog show would be held, we passed by the dressing rooms again. The place was bustling with activity. Dogs were getting special grooming, with stations set up for them. I saw someone blow-drying a poodle, and others were even painting their dogs’ toenails. It struck me as people going to extreme lengths for their dogs, but I guessed appearances mattered in winning a dog show. What amazed me was how calmly the dogs sat through it all. I struggled trying to give Bella a bath and cut her nails, and she wasn’t cooperative—it was always an ordeal.

“Does it make you want to run home and paint Bella’s nails… or maybe Topknot’s?” Jared whispered to me.

“I was actually just thinking that. There’s no way she’d sit still, unless someone fed her endless treats and allowed me to do it while she was eating.”

I was about to give him my opinion on Topknot’s toes when I heard a woman’s bloodcurdling scream. Jared and I both turned in the direction the scream came from. A portly woman in her late fifties or early sixties was standing outside dressing room one, shrieking.

“Wonder what her problem is,” Jared said.

“Maybe she ran out of the right color nail polish for her dog,” I joked.

Darnell, the dog show organizer, approached her, presumably to ask what was wrong. He was talking to her, but I couldn’t hear much over her screaming.

“Lord Bentley is missing. Someone stole Lord Bentley,” she repeated.

“Is that her husband?” Jared asked.

“No, it’s her dog.” I remembered the name from the dressing room order form for VIP room one.

The dog show was turning out to be more exciting than I expected, and it hadn’t even started.


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