Ice Pick in the Ivy (Lovely Lethal Gardens #9) - Dale Mayer

Chapter 1

Friday Noon …

Three days. All Doreen had wanted was three days of peace and quiet. At least that was what she’d thought she wanted. But by noon on day two, she was bored out of her mind. She had pulled one of her café table chairs off the veranda and onto her little deck, where she could bathe in the sun with a cup of coffee in her hand, but her foot kept tapping the floorboards.

Finally she jumped up. “This is ridiculous,” she announced to Mugs, who was sprawled out on the deck in the sunshine beside her. “We have to get some work done. Either that or I’ll go stir-crazy.” She bounded off the deck steps, wondering where her full-blown energy had come from. Yesterday she’d been dragging her sorry butt around the kitchen, trying hard to put all the random thoughts in her head into the right places. But now? Well, now she was full of energy and ready to go.

She grabbed the shovel and headed to the backyard to start on the next section of garden bed. She kept looking back at the markers still in her lawn to show where the expanded deck was supposed to go. She hadn’t done anything further because, of course, it would not be just her working on this project; it also required Mack. Was a project this size doable on a weekend or several weekends?

Today was Friday, and normally she would be gardening at Millicent’s, but Millicent had again asked Doreen to come tomorrow, on a Saturday instead. After weeks of working on Mack’s mother’s yard, Millicent’s garden was looking pretty good. So, unless Mack and his mom had anything extra they needed Doreen to do, it would probably take about an hour tops of weekly weeding to keep that garden in perfect shape now. And she didn’t really want to drop her gardening income, but she also didn’t feel good about taking money for two hours’ work if she was only putting in one.

With her first kick on the shovel into her backyard, she could feel that same satisfaction rolling through her. She loved working on her own land. She loved working on this place. She looked back at Mugs to see he hadn’t moved from the sunny spot on the deck. “You’re just being lazy.”

Mugs opened his eyes, but he didn’t budge. She spied Goliath sprawled on the grass behind her, his tail twitching.

“Well, at least you’re here beside me,” she said. She bent down, lifted a clump of weeds, gave it a good shake, tossed it off to one side, creating a new pile, and kept working as she headed down the right side of her property. Then she stopped when she realized she had seen no recent sign of Thaddeus.

She turned and looked around. “Thaddeus? Thaddeus, where are you?”

Doreen heard a flutter of wings, and Thaddeus muttered, “Thaddeus is here. Thaddeus is here.”

She spun around again and found him waddling toward her from the creek. “You know you’re not supposed to go to the creek on your own,” she scolded. “Not with it rising like it has been.”

He just squawked and gave a full-winged feathered ruffle. She laughed. “Like you care what I say.”

Looking closer then, she caught a glint of something in front of him on the ground.

“What did you find?” She stabbed her shovel into the dirt and headed toward him. But, instead of being cooperative, he picked up the small object and bounced backward.

“No, no, Thaddeus. We’re not making a game out of this.”

But Thaddeus wasn’t listening; he was too enthralled with whatever