Murder in the Marigolds by Dale Mayer



Prologue





Saturday Morning …

Three days later Izzy and Isaac, after promises were made to stay in touch, had been dispatched to Vancouver and a family who awaited their joyous reunion. Martin would be in jail for a very long time. He had finally confessed that he couldn’t take his eyes off Izzy, when he was down on the coast for a trip stocking up, and had managed to snatch the girl from her parents and had kept her with him ever since. Nobody had been any the wiser, and, when Isaac had been born, Martin just made up lies about how he’d arrived, and everybody had basically accepted it.

If Izzy hadn’t caught Thaddeus and hadn’t put that message on his leg, she might still have been a captive there. It just didn’t bear thinking about.

As soon as she got dressed and made her way downstairs, Doreen made coffee. Three days had passed since all that. Three days and her shoulder was finally nowhere near as sore. It still hurt to lift her arm above her head, but at least the oozing of blood had stopped, and it wasn’t the gut-wrenching agony that she’d been dealing with. The pain was much lighter now, much softer, more distant. As she sat outside on the deck, she heard a vehicle drive up. Mugs immediately woofed a welcome. She looked down at him and laughed. “It’s Mack, isn’t it?”

Mack, instead of coming through the house, walked around the back, then smiled at seeing her. He had something large in his hand. She looked at it and asked, “What the devil is that?”

He lifted it up, and she saw that it was a table—he’d been carrying it sideways. He plunked it down on the deck beside her, and she cried out, “Where did you get that from?”

“One of the guys at work was getting rid of it,” he said. “I said that you needed it, and he immediately offered it up. I’ve got the chairs in the back of the truck too.” He disappeared and made two trips, carrying two chairs at a time. She just froze. Finally she had a table with four chairs sitting on her deck. She stared in amazed delight.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said. It was glass and acrylic, and it looked lovely. It was also the nicest outdoor set she’d ever had since living here. She immediately moved to sit down at the table with her coffee and grinned up at him. “Now, if only there was something to eat. And more coffee. I’m almost out.”

He sagged into the chair beside her and stared at her. “I doubt it’s that bad but if it is, I can stop and pick up a pack,” he said. But something was strange about his voice.

“I’m really happy you came,” she said, “and thank you so much for the table and chairs.”

He nodded, but he was slightly distracted. He motioned at her shoulder that had been nicked by a bullet. “How are you doing with that shoulder now?”

“I’m better,” she said, cheerfully lifting her cup and taking a big drink. Mack just glared at her. “Okay. It still bothers me. But not like it did.” When he remained silent, she worried. “What’s the matter?” she asked, her gaze sharpening. He shrugged and wouldn’t meet her eyes. “More coffee’s in the kitchen, if you want a cup.”

“I’m fine,” he said.

“Uh-oh.” Something was really wrong. “And that means something pretty ugly is going on.”

He nodded. “There is, and you’ll hear about it soon enough,” he said, his fingers tapping the table.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Have you—” And then he stopped.

“Have I what?”

He sighed. “You know the marigolds in the flower garden down at the big Welcome to Kelowna sign? The old one? There’s talk of a new one north of the airport.”

“Yeah, the one that I spent a lot of time on, trying to design a layout for the city? It was a pretty bunch of flowers, as I remember. I can’t remember all of them, but some lovely marigolds were there, I think. They are tearing that one down? So that’s why the contract didn’t go through. Or maybe I misunderstood, and they were designing the new one.” She frowned at that thought. It did explain why that scenario never moved ahead.

He nodded. “Yeah, that one. We found a body there this morning.” He shrugged. “It’s the first I’ve been there and was quite surprised the sign was gone.”

Her eyebrows shot up, and she had to admit—even though it was ghoulish and wrong of her—that she was definitely curious as to what was going on. “I am too. I’ll have to follow up on that garden design bid. And of course, I’m sorry for whoever it is,” she said, “but don’t keep me in suspense. Who was it, and what’s going on?”