When a resident is killed in the middle of a parade, the whole town of Newberry is abuzz and Mia's mother is aghast when Jurgen is accused of the heinous crime. Mia's plan to stay both ‘normal' and out of police business falls apart faster than a Jenga tower built by drunk people.
Can Mia learn to march to the beat of her own drum and embrace her abilities in time to catch the killer or will the parade of horribles claim yet another victim?
Drive Me Daisy is the third book in The Bloomin' Psychic series.
Release date: September 2, 2021
Publisher: Red Palm Press LLC
Print pages: 192
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Drive Me Daisy
Spring in Newberry was apparently the time of year when furry boots and flip-flops co-existed by the kitchen door. To my great relief, the morning temperature was already sixty degrees and I slipped on the black orthopedic flip-flops with metatarsal soles and dragged my aching limbs to the garden. Today I was on a magical mission. If I truly possessed witchy powers, now was the time to put them to the test.
“Where’s that ficus again, Ophelia?”
My gaze swept the massive garden in an attempt to identify the rare growth. Okay, rare growth made it sound like a neck goiter. I meant the rare ficus tree that was currently sprouting in my garden.
The portly tuxedo cat waddled her way across the lawn until she reached the edge of garden. From the back, she reminded me of a drunk hippo. She dropped to the ground and rolled onto her back in the mulch. As I was about to scold her indifference, I spotted the small tree.
“Good job,” I told her.
The cat peered at me with such disdain that I found myself touching my face to check for evidence of dried yolk from the eggs I fried for breakfast. Nope. Nothing there.
I kneeled on a beach towel in the garden and tried to make progress with the tangle of weeds near the ficus tree. If these overzealous weeds strangled the rare tree, I would never forgive myself. Scarlet told me the ficus tree represented enlightenment, which sounded exciting albeit vague. For all I knew, enlightenment could be finally succumbing to the need for an upgrade in reading glasses to improve my vision. Lately I’d been clinging to the lowest magnification strength, knowing it was all downhill from here.
Once I cleared a reasonable path, I put the rest of my plan into action. “Here goes nothing.”
I drew a deep breath and stepped over the cat on my way to the ficus. The back of my shoes flipped mulch in the cat’s direction and she hissed in protest before rolling out of the danger zone, her tail flicking angrily.
I walked three times around the ficus religiosa, so intent on not messing up the count that I failed to hear my neighbor approach.
“This looks like an interesting game.”
I halted mid-step to regard him. Patrick Beaumont was blessed with the sculptured cheekbones of a catalog model and the flare of the Carnival of Brazil.
I continued walking. “It’s definitely not a game. My mother’s coming.”
“And what? You’re letting off steam by pacing the garden like the resident of an insane asylum with an outdoor pass?”
“No, this is perfectly sane. If you walk around this tree three times, it’s supposed to ward off evil.” I finished my third complete circle and stepped out of the garden. “Maybe now she’ll cancel.”
“While I appreciate your magical ambition, from what you’ve told me, it sounds like only an apocalypse would keep her from visiting.”
My brow lifted. “Is there a spell for that?”
“You’d plunge the entire world into an apocalypse just to avoid your mother?”
“Maybe not the whole world. Can we limit it to the tri-state area?”
His arm swept outward. “What do you think she’ll say about the mess out here?”
I contemplated the dilapidated state of the gardens. “Can I just throw a blanket over everything? That’s what I used to do in the apartment to hide the clutter.”
“Honey, there isn’t a quilt in the world big enough.”
I inclined my head toward the small potted plant in his hands. “What do you have there?”
Patrick thrust the pot toward me. “In the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, ‘I will survive.’”
“Oh, thanks. I’m feeling pretty good. I mean, she’s only here for a long weekend. It might require copious amounts of alcohol and a bottle of ibuprofen, but I’ll muddle through.”
Patrick frowned. “I was talking about the plant. I’m trying to boost your confidence. You’ve been doing a good job keeping Wilson alive, but any moron with access to water can keep an aloe plant alive. I figured it was time to up the stakes.”
“Because the dying plants out here aren’t enough? At this point I’m beginning to think I’m some kind of garden necromancer.”
“Like I said, confidence booster.”
Reluctantly, I accepted the offering.
“Why don’t you take your mom and her husband to the Flower Moon Festival? That will keep them busy and it will be too noisy to hear her criticisms.”
I pinched his sculpted cheek. “Patrick, you’re a genius. What’s the Flower Moon Festival?”
“The full moon in May is known as the Flower Moon.”
“Because of the season?”
He nodded. “It signifies all the flowers that will bloom this month. The festival is basically a celebration of spring and an excuse to throw a parade.”
My mind ran through the possibilities. “So theoretically I could lose them in the crowd, inhale a half gallon of ice cream, and then conveniently find them again once I was bloated.”
“I would suggest tequila shots over ice cream, but whatever works.”
“I knew we were friends for a reason.” I hugged the pot. “I’ll need to keep Dane as far away as possible during their visit. I don’t care if I have to feign illness.”
Dane Fairfax was the local lawyer I’d been casually dating and the last thing I wanted was to frighten him away by introducing him to my mother.
“I’m surprised he hasn’t mentioned the festival. Everybody in town turns out for it.”
Hmm. I’d have to find a way to keep them apart.
Patrick seemed to read my expression, which wasn’t hard because my poker face needed a complete overhaul. “Would it really be so awful if he met them?”
“Do you remember those nature videos where Orcas leap out of the water and attack unsuspecting baby seals?”
He cringed. “Why would you put such a horrible image in my head?”
I folded my arms. “To set the scene for you—because this would be worse.”
Patrick rolled his eyes. “Fine. What about me? Do I get to make their acquaintance?”
“Let’s play it by ear. Her mood dictates a lot of my choices and it can change drastically by the time she makes it over the bridge from New Jersey.”
“Sounds like a healthy mother-daughter relationship.”
I wore a deadpan expression. “There’s a reason I ended up unemployed, homeless, and proposing marriage to someone who’d already moved on to a new relationship.”
He folded his arms. “In your defense, you didn’t know he’d moved on.”
True. I’d been oblivious about more than just the state of my relationship. It was only after moving into Red Clover, the cottage in Newberry that I inherited from Aunt Hazel whom I’d never met, that I acknowledged certain…abilities that I’d previously dismissed. Patrick and our friend Scarlet York referred to me as a witch in the best possible sense of the word, although I was happier being a plain old psychic.
On second thought, I wasn’t comfortable with being a psychic either. I was forty-two and uncomfortable in my own skin. That explained a lot.
“Want to come inside?” I asked. “I’m about to tackle the inside of the house.”
Patrick grimaced. “Gee, as much I’d love to see how cobwebs complement the print on my shirt, I think I’ll bid you adieu.”
“I have a duster and I’m not afraid to use it.”
Patrick glanced at Ophelia. “The cat’s tail doesn’t count.”
“It’s not only her tail. It’s her whole body.”
The ancient cat was so big and fluffy that she rubbed against whatever surface she traversed. A natural duster. If only I could get her on top of the cabinets without the risk of injury.
The sound of gravel crunching in the driveway drew my attention to the front yard where a white postal truck now sat. Frank O’Dell appeared with a packet of what I presumed was junk mail and bills because, really, what else came in the mail anymore? I couldn’t afford to make online purchases unless it was absolutely necessary. That would hopefully change soon, now that I was gainfully employed at the local newspaper, The Newberry Free Press. I needed a few steady paychecks under my belt before I’d feel comfortable splurging on anything.
“Morning, you two. Wonderful day, isn’t it?” For a short, balding man in his sixties who spent his days delivering Bed, Bath & Beyond circulars and sewer bills, Frank was surprisingly cheerful. Nothing seemed to get him down. Sometimes I was tempted to raise downer topics for the sole purpose of observing his response. Yesterday I’d complained about three days of rain in a row and he’d smiled and said ‘that’s why the grass here is so green.’
“My mother’s coming,” I blurted.
Frank lit up. “Even more wonderful. I guess she’s heard all about the Flower Moon Festival and wants to see it for herself. Can’t say I blame her. It’s a treat for the eyeballs.” He handed me the packet of catalogs and junk mail secured with a rubber band and I tucked them under my arm. “A few interesting pieces today. An offer for life insurance you might want to consider. Once you get past a certain age, they jack up the premiums. And there’s a women’s clothing catalog in there with a real pretty blue top on page five.”
He tipped an imaginary hat and returned to his truck.
Patrick suppressed a smile. “You’d better nail down that premium before your age catches up with you.”
I’d already started receiving letters from the AARP. What was next—casket circulars?
“I don’t need life insurance. Who am I going to identify as a beneficiary?” I was in the same position as Aunt Hazel, except without a relative like me to inherit it all.
“I can’t relate. I have nieces and nephews coming out the wazoo.”
“I thought the wazoo was a euphemism for your butt.”
He gave me a speculative look. “Good point. That’s kind of gross. Anyway, I’m heading home but call me later if you want to run through more tests.”
Patrick seemed more invested in my abilities than I was. He’d taken it upon himself to see how many psychic skills I possessed. He had written a list of the possibilities and we were slowly making our way through them. I found the effort draining and there was also the small matter of acceptance. I was like a yo-yo when it came to my abilities—one minute I was walking around a ficus tree three times and the next minute I was denying I was any more gifted than the fake psychic Shawn Spencer in the TV show Psych.
“Maybe next week,” I told Patrick. “I feel like I need to focus on my mom and Jurgen until they’ve safely returned to their side of the Delaware River.”
I retreated to the house and placed the potted plant next to Wilson on the windowsill above the sink. “Wilson, I’d like you to meet Gloria. She’s going to share your place in the sun.” I leaned forward and whispered to the aloe plant, “Don’t worry. You’re still my favorite.”
I flicked through the mail and tossed each piece into the recycling bin almost as quickly as I saw it.
“Nothing good in the mail today, Wilson,” I said.
Scarlet had encouraged me to express positive thoughts to the plant, which was taking a bit of effort. I didn’t realize how negatively I spoke to myself until I started saying things out loud to the plant.
“What I mean to say is I’m so glad people care enough to send me junk mail.” Hmm. I’d have to work on that.
But not now. Right now I needed to investigate the cottage with a fresh pair of eyes—mainly the eyes of Madeline Albrecht, purveyor of criticism. What passed as acceptable to me would not necessarily pass muster under Madeline’s scrutiny and she and Aunt Hazel definitely didn’t share the same taste. Technically, Hazel was my father’s aunt not mine, but my dad died when I was twelve and my mother considered eccentric Aunt Hazel to be off limits, as though I’d absorb her weirdness by osmosis. As her only heir, she left everything in her possession to me. I only wished she’d left a How to Survive Being Different guide along with the house and gardens. That would’ve been the most valuable gift of all.
I went to the front door and started the process from the doorstep. This would be her first impression of the house and I had to look for anything that might catch her critical eye. Part of me hated that I cared and still craved my mother’s approval. I was a grown woman and her opinion shouldn’t matter.
Everything appeared acceptable from the doorstep view. I stepped into the foyer and continued through the cottage, noting anything out of place or mismatched or too cluttered. My mother was a known snoop, so I started opening closet doors to see whether I’d missed any of Aunt Hazel’s stash. Unfortunately, I didn’t mean pot. I debated whether to hide her collection of herbs in the kitchen pantry, but the task would prove too arduous and the odds of my mother walking into the pantry were slim to none. She wasn’t the kind of mother who took over the kitchen and cooked. In my house, she’d expect to be waited on. After all, if she cooked the meals, how could she then criticize them later? The trick was to eat in restaurants for as many meals as possible. I’d already identified good options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Thanks to small apartment kitchens in New York City, I had years of restaurant experience.
Once I finished my tour of downstairs, I examined the upstairs rooms of the cottage through Madeline’s eyes. In the closet of the guest bedroom, I discovered a loose wooden panel painted to match the rest of the wall. Interesting.
Before I had a chance to remove the panel and investigate further, the alarm on my phone interrupted me, signaling the dawn of a new era. It was time to get ready for work at my new job.
Reluctantly, I tore myself away from the panel. “I’ll deal with you later.”
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