Daisies For Innocence (Enchanted Garden Mystery)

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9781494518233: Daisies For Innocence (Enchanted Garden Mystery)

Elliana Allbright's life has blossomed in Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents & Nonsense, a custom-made-perfume store. Her skills with aromas and botanical essences-some from her very own garden-seem almost supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy. Customers are flocking to the store to buy her wares or just to sit in her beautiful garden, sip tea, and enjoy homemade cookies. But Ellie smells trouble when she learns that her part-time assistant Josie is dating her ex. And before she can tell the young woman to beware of his charms, she finds Josie dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now the prime suspect in Josie's murder, Ellie must search for the real culprit in Josie's past-because it'll take a miracle to nip this problem in the bud.Contains mature themes.

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About the Author:

Bailey Cattrell writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Bakery Mystery series as Bailey Cates. She has studied philosophy, English, and history, and has held a variety of positions, ranging from driver's license examiner to soap maker. She also writes the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

Recipes and Aromatherapy

Excerpt from Brownies and Broomsticks

About the Author

CHAPTER 1

THE sweet, slightly astringent aroma of Lavandula stoechas teased my nose. I couldn’t help closing my eyes for a moment to appreciate its layered fragrance drifting on the light morning breeze. Spanish lavender, or “topped” lavender—according to my gamma, it had been one of my mother’s favorites. It was a flower that had instilled calm and soothed the skin for time eternal, a humble herb still used to ease headache and heartache alike. I remembered Gamma murmuring to me in her garden when I was five years old:

Breathe deeply, Elliana. Notice how you can actually taste the scent when you inhale it? Pliny the Elder brewed this into his spiced wine, and Romans used it to flavor their ancient sauces. In the language of flowers, it signifies the acknowledgment of love.

Not that I’d be using it in that capacity anytime soon.

But Gamma had been gone for over twenty years, and my mother had died when I was only four. Shaking my head, I returned my attention to the tiny mosaic pathway next to where I knelt. Carefully, I added a piece of foggy sea glass to the design. The path was three feet long and four inches wide, and led from beneath a tumble of forget-me-nots to a violet-colored fairy door set into the base of the east fence. Some people referred to them as “gnome doors,” but whatever you called them, the decorative miniature garden phenomena were gaining popularity with adults and children alike. The soft green and blue of the water-polished, glass-nugget path seemed to morph directly from the clusters of azure flowers, curving around a lichen-covered rock to the ten-inch round door. I wondered how long it would take one of my customers to notice this new addition to the verdant garden behind my perfume and aromatherapy shop, Scents & Nonsense.

The rattle of the latch on the gate to my left interrupted my thoughts. Surprised, I looked up and saw Dash trotting toward me on his short corgi legs. His lips pulled back in a grin as he reached my side, and I smoothed the thick ruff of fur around his foxy face. Astrid Moneypenny—my best friend in Poppyville, or anywhere else, for that matter—strode behind him at a more sedate pace. Her latest foster dog, Tally, a Newfoundland mix with a graying muzzle, lumbered beside her.

“Hey, Ellie! There was a customer waiting on the boardwalk out front,” Astrid said. “I let her in to look around. Tally, sit.”

I bolted to my feet, the fairy path forgotten. “Oh, no. I totally lost track of time. Is it already ten o’clock?”

The skin around Astrid’s willow-green eyes crinkled in a smile. They were a startling contrast to her auburn hair and freckled nose. “Relax. I’ll watch the shop while you get cleaned up.” She jammed her hand into the pocket of her hemp dress and pulled out a cookie wrapped in a napkin. “Snickerdoodles today.”

I took it and inhaled the buttery cinnamon goodness. “You’re the best.”

Astrid grinned. “I have a couple of hours before my next gig. Tally can hang out here with Dash.” She was a part-time technician at the veterinary clinic and a self-proclaimed petrepreneur—dog walker and pet sitter specializing in animals with medical needs. “But isn’t Josie supposed to be working today?”

“She should be here soon,” I said. “She called last night and left a message that she might be late. Something about a morning hike to take pictures of the wildflowers.” I began gathering pruners and trowel, kneeling pad and weed digger into a handled basket. “They say things are blooming like crazy in the foothills right now.”

Astrid turned to go, then stopped. Her eyes caught mine. “Ellie . . .”

“What?”

She shook her head. “It’s just that you look so happy working out here.”

I took in the leafy greenery, the scarlet roses climbing the north fence, tiered beds that overflowed with herbs and scented blooms, and the miniature gardens and doors tucked into surprising nooks and alcoves. A downy woodpecker rapped against the trunk of the oak at the rear of the lot, and two hummingbirds whizzed by on their way to drink from the handblown glass feeder near the back patio of Scents & Nonsense. An asymmetrical boulder hunkered in the middle of the yard, the words ENCHANTED GARDEN etched into it by a local stone carver. He’d also carved words into river rocks I’d placed in snug crannies throughout the half-acre space. The one next to where Dash had flopped down read BELIEVE. Mismatched rocking chairs on the patio, along with the porch swing hanging from the pergola, offered opportunities for customers to sit back, relax, sip a cup of tea or coffee, and nibble on the cookies Astrid baked up each morning.

“I am happy,” I said quietly. More than that. Grateful. A sense of contentment settled deep into my bones, and my smile broadened.

“I’m glad things have worked out so well for you.” Her smile held affection that warmed me in spite of the cool morning.

“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s true that time smooths a lot of rough edges.” I rolled my eyes. “Of course, it’s taken me nearly a year.”

A year of letting my heart heal from the bruises of infidelity, of divorce, of everyone in town knowing my—and my ex’s—business. In fact, perfect cliché that it was, everyone except me seemed to know Harris had been having an affair with Wanda Simmons, the owner of one of Poppyville’s ubiquitous souvenir shops. Once I was out of the picture, though, he’d turned the full spectrum of his demanding personality on her. She’d bolted within weeks, going so far as to move back to her hometown in Texas. I still couldn’t decide whether that was funny or sad.

I’d held my ground, however. Poppyville, California, nestled near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, was my hometown, and I wasn’t about to leave. The town’s history reached back to the gold rush, and tourists flocked to its Old West style; its easy access to outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fly fishing; and to the small hot spring a few miles to the south.

After the divorce, I’d purchased a storefront with the money Harris paid to buy me out of our restaurant, the Roux Grill. The property was perfect for what I wanted: a retail store to cater to townspeople and tourists alike and a business that would allow me to pursue my passion for all things scentual. Add in the unexpected—and largely free—living space included in the deal, and I couldn’t turn it down.

Sense & Nonsense was in a much sought after location at the end of Corona Street’s parade of bric-a-brac dens. The kite shop was next door to the north, but to the south, Raven Creek Park marked the edge of town with a rambling green space punctuated with playground equipment, picnic tables, and a fitness trail. The facade of my store had an inviting, cottagelike feel, with painted shutters above bright window boxes and a rooster weathervane twirling on the peaked roof. The acre lot extended in a rectangle behind the business to the front door of my small-scale home, which snugged up against the back property line.

With a lot of work and plenty of advice from local nurserywoman Thea Nelson, I’d transformed what had started as a barren, empty lot between the two structures into an elaborate garden open to my customers, friends, and the occasional catered event. As I’d added more and more whimsical details, word of the Enchanted Garden had spread. I loved sharing it with others, and it was good for business, too.

“Well, it’s nice to have you back, sweetie. Now we just have to find a man for you.” Astrid reached down to stroke Tally’s neck. The big dog gazed up at her with adoration, while I struggled to keep a look of horror off my face.

“Man?” I heard myself squeak. That was the last thing on my mind. Well, almost. I cleared my throat. “What about your love life?” I managed in a more normal tone.

She snorted. “I have plenty of men, Ellie. Don’t you worry about me.”

It was true. Astrid attracted men like milkweed attracted monarch butterflies. At thirty-seven, she’d never been married, and seemed determined to keep it that way.

“Astrid,” I began, but she’d already turned on her heel so fast that her copper-colored locks whirled like tassels on a lamp shade. Her hips swung ever so slightly beneath the skirt of her dress, the hem of which skimmed her bicycle-strong calves as she returned to the back door of Scents & Nonsense to look after things. Tally followed her and settled down on the patio flagstones as my friend went inside. I saw Nabokov, the Russian blue shorthair who made it his business to guard the store day and night, watching the big dog through the window with undisguised feline disdain.

Basket in hand, I hurried down the winding stone pathway to my living quarters. “God, I hope she doesn’t get it into her head to set me up with someone,” I muttered around a bite of still-warm snickerdoodle.

Dash, trotting by my left heel, glanced up at me with skeptical brown eyes. He’d been one of Astrid’s foster dogs about six months earlier. She’d told me he was probably purebred, but there was no way of knowing, as he’d been found at a highway rest stop and brought, a bit dehydrated but otherwise fine, to the vet’s office where she worked. Of course, Astrid agreed to take care of him until a home could be found—which was about ten seconds after she brought him into Scents & Nonsense. I’d fallen hard for him, and he’d been my near constant companion ever since.

“Okay. It’s possible, just possible, that it would be nice to finally go on an actual date,” I said to him now. Leery of my bad judgment in the past, I’d sworn off the opposite sex since my marriage ended. But now that Scents & Nonsense wasn’t demanding all my energy and time, I had to admit that a sense of loneliness had begun to seep into my evenings.

“But you know what they say about the men in Poppyville, Dash. The odds here are good, but the goods are pretty odd.”

A hawk screeched from the heights of a pine in the open meadow behind my house. Ignoring it, Dash darted away to nose the diminutive gazebo and ferns beneath the ancient gnarled trunk of the apple tree. He made a small noise in the back of his throat and sat back on his haunches beside the little door I’d made from a weathered cedar shake and set into a notch in the bark. Absently, I called him back, distracted by how sun-warmed mint combined so nicely with the musk of incense cedar, a bright but earthy fragrance that followed us to my front door.

Granted, my home had started as a glorified shed, but it worked for a Pembroke Welsh corgi and a woman who sometimes had to shop in the boy’s section to find jeans that fit. The “tiny house” movement was about living simply in small spaces. I hadn’t known anything about it until my half brother, Colby, mentioned it in one of his phone calls from wherever he’d stopped his Westfalia van for the week. The idea had immediately appealed to my inner child, who had always wanted a playhouse of her very own, while my environmental side appreciated the smaller, greener footprint. I’d hired a contractor from a nearby town who specialized in tiny-house renovations. He’d made a ramshackle three-hundred-twenty-square-foot shed into a super-efficient living space.

There were loads of built-in niches, an alcove in the main living area for a television and stereo, extra foldout seating, a drop-down dining table, and even a desk that tucked away into the wall until needed. A circular staircase led to the sleeping loft above, which boasted a queen bed surrounded by cupboards for linens and clothing and a skylight set into the angled roof. The staircase partially separated the living area from the galley kitchen, and the practical placement of shelves under the spiraling steps made it not only visually stunning, but a terrific place to house my considerable library of horticulture and aromatherapy books.

Most of the year, the back porch, which ran the seventeen-foot width of the house, was my favorite place to hang out when not in the garden or Scents & Nonsense. It looked out on an expanse of meadow running up to the craggy foothills of Kestrel Peak. Our resident mule deer herd often congregated there near sunset.

After a quick sluice in the shower, I slipped into a blue cotton sundress that matched my eyes, ran fingers through my dark shoulder-length curls in a feeble attempt to tame them, skipped the makeup, and slid my feet into soft leather sandals. Dash at my heel, I hurried down the path to the shop. I inhaled bee balm, a hint of basil, lemon verbena, and . . . what was that?

My steps paused, and I felt my forehead wrinkle. I knew every flower, every leaf in this garden, and every scent they gave off. I again thought of my gamma, who had taught me about plants and aromatherapy—though she never would have used that word. She would have known immediately what created this intoxicating fragrance.

Check her garden journal. Though without more information it would be difficult to search the tattered, dog-eared volume in which she’d recorded her botanical observations, sketches, flower recipes, and lore.

A flutter in my peripheral vision made me turn my head, but where I’d expected to see a bird winging into one of the many feeders, there was nothing. At the same time, a sudden breeze grabbed away the mysterious fragrance and tickled the wind chimes.

Glancing down, I noticed the engraved river rock by the fairy path I’d been forming earlier appeared to have shifted.

For a second, I thought it read BEWARE.

My head whipped up as I wildly searched the garden. When I looked down again, the word BELIEVE cheerfully beckoned again.

Just a trick of the light, Ellie.

Still, I stared at the smooth stone for what felt like a long time. Then I shook my head and continued to the patio. After giving Tally a quick pat on the head, I wended my way between two rocking chairs and opened the sliding door to Scents & Nonsense.

Nabby slipped outside, rubbing his gray velvety self against my bare leg before he touched noses with Dash, threw Tally a warning look, and padded out to bask in the sunshine. A brilliant blue butterfly settled near the cat and opened its iridescent wings to the warming day. As I turned away, two more floated in to join the first. As the cat moved toward his preferred perch on the retaining wall, the butterflies wafted behind him like balloons on a string. It was funny—they seemed to seek him out, and once I’d seen two or three find him in the garden, I knew more blue wings would soon f...

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. Elliana Allbright s life has blossomed in Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents Nonsense, a custom-made-perfume store. Her skills with aromas and botanical essences-some from her very own garden-seem almost supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy. Customers are flocking to the store to buy her wares or just to sit in her beautiful garden, sip tea, and enjoy homemade cookies. But Ellie smells trouble when she learns that her part-time assistant Josie is dating her ex. And before she can tell the young woman to beware of his charms, she finds Josie dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now the prime suspect in Josie s murder, Ellie must search for the real culprit in Josie s past-because it ll take a miracle to nip this problem in the bud.Contains mature themes. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781494518233

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. Elliana Allbright s life has blossomed in Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents Nonsense, a custom-made-perfume store. Her skills with aromas and botanical essences-some from her very own garden-seem almost supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy. Customers are flocking to the store to buy her wares or just to sit in her beautiful garden, sip tea, and enjoy homemade cookies. But Ellie smells trouble when she learns that her part-time assistant Josie is dating her ex. And before she can tell the young woman to beware of his charms, she finds Josie dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now the prime suspect in Josie s murder, Ellie must search for the real culprit in Josie s past-because it ll take a miracle to nip this problem in the bud.Contains mature themes. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781494518233

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