Death By Flowers
Dante Meadows closed her eyes and let the sweet scent of her flowers wrap their fragrance around her. A cool whisper of a breeze played across her skin sending, a wee shiver down her arms. The cell-phone’s urgent ringing interrupted the silence as Dante sat sipping peppermint tea in her gazebo. It echoed through the garden as she reached for the, sometime annoying, instrument.
“Dante, I need your help,” Melissa said.
Dante could tell by the sound of Melissa’s voice something bad occurred. “Slow down. Take a deep breath, then tell me what happened that got you all riled up.”
“Uncle Vic died last night right in front of Chloe, Brandon and me. That stupid copper told me he died from natural causes, yet I know better. Someone murdered Uncle Vic!”
“Why do you believe that, Melissa?”
“I don’t think people who suffer heart attacks then die, turn colors. I mean their lips and skin tone,” Melissa said. “I need for you to figure out who killed Uncle Vic and why?”
“Whoa! I don’t know the first thing about investigating a crime. I grow and sell edible flowers for a living,” Dante said.
“Dante, you always know half way through a mystery whodunit, sometimes sooner, depending on how clever the author hid the clues. That makes you an excellent detective. Only difference, you don’t get paid like the coppers.”
“Solving a made-up crime from a novel is a lot different than solving one in real life. Beside, the police would throw a fit if I horned in on their turf. I might even get arrested.”
“I already told you they said, ‘natural causes killed Uncle Vic’, and closed the case.”
“Give me a minute to think,” Dante said. Her hand shook as she drained the last of her tea from the cup.
“Okay. Where did the police send Victor?”
“Nowhere. They told me to call a funeral parlor to come and get Uncle Vic. I sent him to the hospital morgue until I could talk with you and get your opinion on what I should do.”
“Good. Call Victor’s doctor and see if he or she will perform an autopsy. If he or she can’t do it or refuses since the police already ruled his death by natural causes, ask the doctor to suggest an independent pathologist who will do it. We may not know if Victor died from natural cause for about six weeks.” Dante wished she was having a different conversation than one about autopsies.
“Six weeks?” Melissa voice broke.
“It takes that long to get toxicology done.”
“An autopsy from an independent pathologist may cost as much as two grand. Do you have the money?”
“I suppose I can get it. Then what?”
“While you do that, I shall go and talk to the detective who investigated Victor’s death. I need to check on poisonous flowers.”
“It’s just a hunch. Victor was a good customer and loved adding flowers to his salads.”
“I know. Are flowers really safe to eat?”
Dante knew that Melissa was twisting her hair around her finger and more than likely tapping her foot as she talked on the telephone. “Yes, yet one needs to exercise a bit of caution. They are poisonous flowers that are quite deadly if eaten.”
Dante entered the Key Largo Police Department. Surprise filled her, the station looked more like an office than a cop shop.
The sergeant behind the front desk asked, “What can I do for you, young lady.”
“I need to speak with the detective who investigated the death of Victor Hess. His niece doesn’t believe Victor died the way the detective claims.”
“Austin Rhymes rarely, if ever, makes a mistake,” the sergeant said. “Take a seat over there while I see if he can spare a few moments for you. Your name?”
An hour almost passed before a gentleman poked his head into the waiting room. “Dante Meadows?”
Dante looked up from the magazine she was flipping through to find a gent the size of a muscular bear watching her. He towered at least six-and-a-half feet high. A Roman gladiator seemed to fit nicely. She eyed the guy with suspicion. For a cop he made her pulse dance. Stop letting his looks affect you, Dante chastised herself. I came here to help a friend, not find a man.
“How can I help you?”
“Detective Rhymes, I presume.”
He nodded. Dante’s twilight purple eyes jerked as he flipped his waist length, black hair. She noticed a silver clasp held it in a ponytail that hung down his back to his hips. She longed to run her fingers through the silky mane.
“Melissa Rivers told me you investigated the death of her uncle, Victor Hess.”
“True. Why the interest?”
“Melissa believes someone killed Victor.”
An easy smiled pulled at his mouth and surprise filled Austin’s grey eyes. “Does she have someone in mind? If someone did kill Victor Hess, why do you care?”
“Melissa’s my best friend. We’ve known each other since third grade. Afraid I’ll make you look lazy and stupid?” Dante said a bit harsh.
Dante saw anger flash through Rhymes’ eyes. He gave her a look that sent chills skating down her spine. She knew she said one to many things and now he wouldn’t help her even if she needed it. Way to go big mouth! Just because I have an ax to grind with stupid cops, that doesn’t mean Rhymes is one of them.
“You shouldn’t insult people you want and need a favor from.”
“Since when is doing your job a favor to me?”
Austin just stood there. A lop-sided smile replaced the fury on his face.
“Why do you think Victor died from natural causes?”
“Victor Hess loved to indulge himself with expensive liquor and rich food. He threw wild parties and stayed up half the night. I’m surprised it took this long for a man his age to have a massive heart attack.”
“Melissa claims Victor’s lips and his skin tone changed colors.”
“Melissa Rivers only saw what she wanted. Just another hysterical female who screams over nothing. An open and shut case. The coroner signed off on it as a death caused by natural causes. No homicide.”
“Did the coroner even look beyond the obvious?”
“Victor showed all the signs of a massive heart attack. Why waste the resources?”
“Then you don’t care if I poke around a bit just to satisfy Melissa,” Dante said.
“What makes you believe you can do a better job than me?”
“It’s personal for me, not case number such and such.”
“If you want to waste your time, go right ahead.” Austin walked away.
Dante wanted to throw the magazine at him. Actually something a bit heavier would do. She almost said something stupid before she caught herself. Arrogant jerk!
Seven weeks later, Dante read the autopsy report. What she discovered surprised her. When Austin Rhymes sees this report he may think I killed Victor. Someone poisoned him.
The report stated an extremely deadly poison caused cardiac failure and respiratory paralysis leading to asphyxiation due to gross blood circuit failure. She dropped the report on her desk in the greenhouse. Could that kind of poison come from a flower? If so, what kind of flower? I’ll need to do some research to discover which flowers contain poisonous parts. Who hated Victor enough to use such a violent poison? Love, money or power. Maybe a combination of all three. Knowing that detective, he’ll think I snuffed Victor for some crazy reason. Why did I let Melissa talk me into poking my nose where it doesn’t belong.
“Melissa, I just received the autopsy report. I need to talk to the last people who saw Victor alive. Can you tell me who saw him last?”
“Brandon Yates, Chloe Whitman and me.”
“I need their cell numbers. Please ask if they mind if you give me their numbers. If they mind ask them to call me.”
“Brandon knew you’d want to talk with us and said he’d meet you anywhere you wish,” Melissa said.
“My garden at three, then ask Chloe to meet me there at four-thirty.”
“What about me?”
“Come with Brandon. I can talk with you each separately.”
“Does the report say how Uncle Vic died?”
“Yes, I shall tell you when I talk to you later.”
Dante stretched, then moved among the plants and gave her flowers a good dose of tender loving care. Several hours passed, then someone cleared their throat. She glanced up to find Austin Rhymes watching her. “What a fancy place for flowers. Tis a bit much don’t you think?”
“I make a decent living growing and selling edible flowers. If you came to insult my livelihood please leave.” Dante moved to sit behind her desk.
“I came more out of curiosity rather than need.” His look said he had other things on his mind. Solving Vic’s death wasn’t one of them.
“Make some sense when you talk, Detective Rhymes,” Dante said.
“A Dr. Gordon O’Neal sent me a copy of his autopsy of Victor Hess. How did you know someone murdered him?”
“If you remember I told you Melissa, his niece, said his lips and skin turned a strange color.”
“Since Victor Hess died as the results of eating poison from flowers, your knowledge of those kind of flowers and poison make you a suspect.”
“What would I gain by killing him?”
“You tell me.” Austin’s eyes bore right through her.
“I met the man one time only. I believe Melissa Rivers inherits everything he owns.” Stop! Why make Melissa a suspect? Why would I even think she’d do something like that?
“Where were you the night Victor died?” Austin kept trying to sneak a peek at her computer screen. Plus his eyes darted to the desk drawer that sat open a crack or so.
“Doing paperwork. No there’s no one who can prove I was sitting at this desk. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t need to be anywhere near the house at the time of his death. All I had to do was added the flowers in question to his salad fixings and have a nice handy alibi all lined up.” What am I doing? I need to stop letting this man’s looks affect me, or I just might end up in jail. Why was I foolish enough to tell Austin I didn’t need to be present in order to kill Victor. I’m in over my head. I knew this was a bad idea from the start. Yet did I listen to my inner voice. OH NO! I’m smarter than that. “Do you need anything else?”
“No, I invited Melissa Rivers, Brandon Yates and Chloe Whitman over for tea. Care to join us?”
Austin declined and left. Dante showered and changed into a faded pair of 501 Levi and a purple polo. She placed her favorite, Peppermint tea and ladybug shaped gingersnaps in the gazebo along with four teacups and saucers. Melissa and Brandon arrived around two-forty-five.
Melissa reminded Dante of a China doll. If she stood five foot it would amaze Dante. Melissa might weigh all of ninety-five pounds if she wore two sets of heavy wool clothing. Brandon on the other hand seemed gigantic next to Melissa.
“Melissa said, ‘you want to ask a bunch of questions about the night old Vic kicked off’,” Brandon said.
Melissa looked as if she wanted to cry from the harsh remark Brandon made about Victor’s death. The girl blinked then plastered a fake smile onto her face.
Dante didn’t like the look of Brandon. Nice looking enough, yet she couldn’t quite put her finger on the vibes he gave off. His dark brown, almost black eyes darted around the garden as if he hunted for someone or something.
“Melissa, why don’t you take a short stroll while I talk to Brandon,” Dante said.
The second Melissa left, Brandon turned to Dante. “Don’t go trying to put any stupid ideas in Melissa’s head about me killing Victor because she gets everything the old goat owned.”
“Why would I do that?” What a strange remark to make? Why would he assume that I’d try turning Melissa against him? What sort of person he is, where he’s suspicious of the actions of others? People who have something to hide act like that, and so do criminals. Whoa! Just because he’s giving off a strange vibe doesn’t make him a killer, yet he’s hiding something that he wants desperately to keep hidden.
“You look like a trouble maker.” An unidentifiable emotion flashed through his eyes for a split second. He kept clinching and unclinching his hands and acted as if he wanted to pound something or someone.
“I’m only poking around because Melissa asked me to check into Victor’s death. Do you have something to hide?”
“Why I ought to . . . What do you want to know?”
“When did you see Victor last?”
“The night he died. Melissa, Chloe and I joined him for dinner. Halfway through eating his salad he began choking.”
“Could you see what the salad contained?”
“Not really. It looked like Victor ate a purple flower and wee white bell shaped flowers before Victor said, he felt a burning sensations inside his mouth and his head ached. He stood up. We could see he was dizzy. He vomited then, he began gasping for air. His body started jerking like he was having a fit of some kind. He collapsed and stopped breathing.”
“Any idea of who may want to kill Victor?”
“Chloe maybe. Susan might or even Tate.” Dante will probably think I’m trying to divert attention from myself as a suspect. Oh how I wish I had the guts to kill Victor, yet I’m not sure if he really had any proof of my somewhat illegal activities. Until I can discover that, I need to stick to stupid, little Melissa.
“Susan and Tate who?”
“Susan Kelsey and Tate Saunders.”
“Do you remember anything else that might help?”
Brandon shook his head. Several minutes passed before Melissa rejoined Brandon and Dante in the gazebo. Brandon drained three cups of tea, then told Melissa he’d see her later and left.
“Tell me about Victor,” Dante said.
“He loved surrounding himself with beautiful women. He never wanted a serious relationship until he met Chloe. She changed his outlook on life by telling him she wouldn’t become one of his trophy girlfriends. She wanted a serious, permanent relationship,” Melissa said.
“Tell me what happened during dinner the night Victor died.”
Melissa repeated almost verbatim what Brandon told Dante about Victor’s death. Almost as if they had rehearsed it so their answers would match. “What did the autopsy report say caused his death?”
“Someone put an extremely deadly poison in his salad. Who would want to kill Victor?”
“Susan Kelsey or Chloe,” Melissa said. “Oh, I almost forgot, Tate Saunders.”
“Why would these ladies want Victor dead?”
“Uncle Vic dumped Susan for Chloe, and she threatened him. She said, ‘he’d be sorry he ever laid on eyes on her, let alone for making a fool out of her’.” I guess you didn’t listen very well when Brandon told you about Susan and Tate. Perhaps I made a mistake by asking you to help. You’re not as smart as you think you are, Dante.
“She discovered Uncle Vic lied about stop seeing other women, which made her quite furious.”
“Did you kill Victor, Melissa?” Dante watched as the color drained from her friend’s face. She dropped her teacup as big tears formed in her eyes. Guilt swept through Dante. I ought to be ashamed of myself for asking such a thing of her. She cringes every time she kills a bug. Some friend I am. Accusing her of murder. Why don’t I learn to think before I open by big mouth and insert my feet?
“Dante!” Melissa sniffled and wiped the tears from her face with the back of her left hand. You hateful BITCH! I always knew you were jealous, yet I never dreamed you’d accuse me of killing Uncle Vic.
“I’m sorry, Melissa.” Dante hugged her friend. “I don’t want anyone saying I didn’t consider you a suspect because we’re friends.” She squeezed Melissa’s hand after Melissa pulled from the embrace.
Chloe arrived as Melissa ran from the gazebo. A tall and deadly thin redhead. A razor blade with legs. A professional model from her looks. “What upset little miss perfect? Dante Meadows, I presume.” She looked down her nose as if she were examining an insect and deciding whether or not to swash it.
“Would you like some tea?”
“I only drink mineral water, yet thank you for the offer. Did Brandon and Melissa tell you what happened the night Victor died?”
Dante nodded. “Can you add anything they didn’t tell me or forgot to tell me?”
“I saw Tate Saunders skulking around right before dinner.”
“Tell me about him.”
“An ex-con Victor hired to do odd jobs. Tate loves to creep up on people without them noticing and scare them. He’s always lurking about. He got into a vicious argument with Victor only hours before Victor died. He broke a priceless figurine. Victor threatened to kill Tate.”
“What can you tell me about Susan Kelsey?”
A frosty glare entered her eyes. She straightened and tugged on her skirt. “Only that Victor dated her before me,” Chloe said. “She threatened to kill him because he dumped her for me.”
“What’s your reason for wanting Victor dead?”
A startled look flashed through her eyes. “Straight to the point. How quaint. Who said I killed Victor? Let me guess. Melissa?” That ungrateful brat. I’ve always treated like a friend even if I can’t stand the little fool. That’s all Vic talked about when he wasn’t suggesting all sorts of naughty things we could do in bed. His precious niece. Melissa this. Melissa that.
“Why would you say that?”
“The girl hates me. Afraid Victor might disinherit her and leave me everything.” Chloe kept examining her nails and avoided looking Dante square in the eyes.
“Why would he do that?”
Anger flared in Chloe’s large doe brown eyes. “If you don’t believe anything I told you, then why ask the questions.” Chloe jumped up, slammed several tea cups to the ground and stomped off.
Dante tried reaching Susan and Tate, yet failed.
Dante couldn’t believe her luck when she went poking around Victor’s house. In the kitchen she found the cartons that contained the flowers, yet couldn’t find anything else that might tell her whodunit. She dialed Austin’s cell. After a dozen rings he answered.
“I just found the cartons that contained the flowers in Victor’s kitchen. Don’t laugh, can a CSI investigator lift fingerprints from them?”
“Ask them to check for poison. Where do I take them?”
“No where. I need to collect them so the chain of evidence isn’t compromised or the DA won’t be able to use any fingerprints found as evidence.”
Dante called Melissa while she waited for Austin. “Melissa, do you know where I can find Tate Saunders or Susan Kelsey?”
“Tate lives in the garage apartment at Uncle Vic’s house. Susan lives in the house Uncle Vic bought her while they dated.” Melissa gave Dante Susan’s address.
The next day, Dante sat sipping tea thinking how to proceed when a strange man approached her. His face held a hard cold look and his green eyes seemed to bore right into Dante.
Dante hoped the wee shiver that touched her back didn’t show. From his distrusting eyes and the way he stood, the man would take offense.
“Where can I find Dante Meadows?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Don’t get cute with me, lady. I just need to talk with her. She thinks I murdered someone. I don’t want or need that kind of trouble,” he growled.
“Yeah.” He shifted his weight foot to foot and appeared ready to bolt.
“You found me.”
“What’s with the game of pretending you weren’t who you are? Think you’re cute don’t you.“ He spit. Wiped his mouth with his sleeved. “Why do you believe I killed Victor Hess?”
“I never said that. I only asked Melissa where I could find Susan Kelsey and you. I don’t have enough evidence to blame anyone for murder at the moment.”
“Good, cause I didn’t hurt Victor. He helped me after I got out of prison.”
“Where were you when Victor died?”
“At an AA meeting.”
“I heard Victor threatened to kill you because you broke an expensive figurine,” Dante said.
“Yeah he did, yet he cooled off and told me not to worry about the stupid statue. He hated it and always wanted to break it, yet couldn’t because Chloe gave it to him.” Tate started pacing back and forth. “How did Vic die?”
“Someone put poison in his salad.”
“I warned Vic that eating flowers would kill him someday. The old fool just laughed.”
“Not all flowers contain poison, one just needs to exercise a wee bit of caution same as with mushrooms. Besides you didn‘t need to be at the house when Victor ate the salad in order to poison him.”
Tate glared at her with pure hatred before stomping off.
Later that afternoon, Susan Kelsey called Dante. “Glad you called. I need to ask you some questions about Victor’s death.”
“No way. I know you’re not a cop so I don’t have to talk to you.”
“Why not answer my questions. Do you have something to hide?”
“No! Vic got into something he shouldn’t. What I don’t know. The last time he came over he received a call that shook him up real good.”
“When was that?”
“Two nights before Vic died.”
Susan slammed the cell in Dante’s ear. Susan sounded spooked. Did she tell me the truth or . . . Another unanswered question. I wish I never allowed Melissa to talk me into investigating Victor’s death. I don’t know what I’m doing. If what Susan said is true, my poking around might put Melissa, Chloe and anyone else who knew Victor in danger. That caller who shook Victor up could come after me. Stop! I’ve seen one too many detective shows. I’m letting my imagination run away with me.
Dante called Austin and told him what Susan claimed. “Victor loved to gamble and usually lost big time. He hated paying up. The call more than likely came from his bookie, yet I seriously doubt that bookie would off Victor, yet I can check it out.”
Dante spent several days poking around trying to learn everything she could about her suspects. She learned that Melissa told her the truth when she claimed Chloe discovered that Victor still saw and slept with several other women after he promised he wouldn’t. Brandon couldn’t wait until old man Hess croaked so Melissa could inherit everything. He made big plans for Victor’s money. Melissa shall get a rude awakening. Do I tell her or keep my big mouth shut. Melissa, Victor’s only living relative inherited everything the man owned, yet claims she doesn’t want it. She told him to leave everything to charity, that way she would know whoever she decided to marry loved her not Victor’s assets.
Dante sat behind her desk thinking about everything she learned about Victor’s death. She decided to flip her computer on and do some work that pertained to her business. Dante couldn’t believe it. Someone used her computer to do an internet search on poisonous flowers that would kill someone if eaten.
As she sat there staring at the computer screen Austin entered her office. “I received a call saying you killed Victor Hess, and your computer and desk hold the proof. Here’s a warrant for your computer and desk.”
“No need for a warrant.” Dante turned her computer around so Austin could see what she discovered. In her center desk drawer they found the receipts for the edible flowers.
“Can you explain these?”
“No. Can those CSI investigators work their magic and pull fingerprints off those receipts?”
“I hope so. I hope if they can, the fingerprints belong to someone other than you. I’m growing fond of you. You’re turning out to be a fairly decent detective for an amateur sleuth. Shall I start calling you Miss Marple?”
Dante couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She knew male ego being what it was, Austin would never admit he was wrong about her being the killer. Even if he thought that, he would never, ever say it, and especially to her. I’m surprised his ego isn’t bent out of shape. I made him look incompetent. Any other man who be foaming at the mouth. What’s the catch? I better watch my step. More than likely, Austin is setting me up to take the wrap for Victor’s murder, even if its just to save face with his fellow cops. WHOA! First, I accuse the man of being stupid and lazy, now I’m thinking he’s a crooked cop. I’ve been watching way to much television, and have read one to many detective novels.
“What’s with the strange look?”
Dante shrugged. I wonder why Austin is still so friendly even though there’s evidence suggesting I killed Victor. Is he trying to earn my trust, hoping I’m foolish enough to confess to a crime I didn’t commit. I hope he’s not one of those cops you hear about that makes the evidence fit the first person who comes under suspicion. Why hasn’t he arrested me or at least haul my fanny down to the station and give me the third degree? What’s he up to?
Susan hovered just out of sight, and smiled with a malicious grin as she watched that stupid cop take Dante’s computer along with the receipts. That shall teach that nosy witch to stay out of my way. She waited until the cop left then tried sneaking out, yet stumbled and knocked over several flower pots that shattered. Dante found her lying on the ground next to the broken pottery.
“Who are you? Why are you sneaking around in my greenhouse?” Dante asked.
“Susan Kelsey. Melissa told me you were looking into Victor’s death. I thought the police decided he died from a heart attack or something.”
“The police got it wrong. Someone poisoned Victor.” Dante noticed the rash on Susan’s hands.
“If anyone killed Vic, it was more than likely you.”
“Me? How did I kill Victor?”
“With poisonous flowers.”
Dante realized that Susan might have poisoned herself accidentally when handling the Monkshood, yet the girl fainting didn’t prove a thing. Dante needed a medical report to prove why Susan fell.
“How do you feel?” Dante helped Susan to her feet.
“Dizzy and a little nauseous. Why?”
“I think someone may have poisoned you. We need to get you to the ER to be safe.”
Susan’s fear allowed Dante to take her to the ER. Sure enough the doctor told Dante he found minor traces of poison on Susan’s hands.
I wonder why Susan handled a poisonous plant without taking precautions? Perhaps she didn’t realize the danger she was putting herself into. Or was she in a hurry and simply forgot? Why would she even have such a dangerous flower in the first place? Why was Susan really sneaking around? Yet her explanation seem plausible. Could it be . . .? No, there’s no reason to believe that.
A week passed while Dante waited to see if the CSI techs could do anything with the receipts and her laptop. She nearly jumped out of her chair when Austin approached her in her greenhouse. “Must you sneak up on people like that.”
He gave her a lop-sided grin. “Your hunches were right about Tate Saunders and Susan Kelsey. Tate’s alibi holds for the night Victor died. He has an alibi for when your computer was used and when the poisonous flowers arrived.”
“Did your techs find anything on the receipts?”
“Several smudged fingerprints, yet one was clean enough to identify who it belongs to.”
“Whomever the print belongs to isn’t in the system, yet from the size my techs believe it came from a woman. I need to compare your prints against those we found.”
Several hours later, Dante felt a bit relieved. Her fingerprints didn’t match those on the receipts, yet she knew by Austin’s reactions he still thought she killed Victor. Right before she left the police station Austin received the report on her laptop. Someone from another location tapped into her system and used it to do the internet search. The techs discovered that the computer used to hack Dante’s was located at the Cryptic Cyber Café.
A small coffee house that had free Wi-Fi for its customers to use. So that was a dead end. All that prove was Dante hadn’t used her own computer.
Dante drove home and found Susan pacing out front. “Where have you been?”
Dante walked to the gazebo in the garden and sat down. Susan followed her. She kept looking over her shoulder.
“At the police station clearing my name. Austin Rhymes, the detective, who believed Victor died from natural causes now believes I murdered Victor, yet he can’t give me a good reason why I would,” Dante said.
“I bet he has a good theory as to why you killed Victor since he found out you used Bing to research poisonous flowers. I can’t believe you of all people are that stupid to use your own computer. Plus leave the receipts from the flowers in your desk. Melissa shall hate you when she learns you killed Victor,” Susan said. “Then you were even stupid enough to give the flower containers to that idiot of a cop. I can’t believe you actually hung yourself out to dry.”
“Touché with the cliché. The lab techs proved that someone else tapped into my computer from another location.”
“That doesn’t prove it wasn’t you. Anyone can go into a coffee house and use the Wi-Fi system to tap into someone else’s computer. It’s easier than you think. What else do the cops have?”
“My fingerprints don’t match those found on the flower containers or the receipts. Can you say the same?”
Susan’s eyes narrowed.
“Why would you think I killed Victor? You don’t even know me.” Dante asked.
“To get control of Victor’s money.”
“Melissa inherits. I’m not even mentioned in his will.”
“With Victor dead you can manipulate Melissa to do what you want.”
“Interesting theory,” Dante said. “There‘s no proof I did anything wrong, or that I’m the one who murdered Victor. I‘m not even sure how the man died.”
“Victor ate a salad that contained the flowers and leaves from a Candy Flower, the leaves and flowers of several Nasturtiums, and the purple flowers from a Western Dog Violet. All of those are edible flowers. Victor’s salad also contained several poisonous flowers. The white, bell-shaped flowers, orange-red berries and leaves from a Lily of the Valley. The dark blue flowers and leaves from a Monkshood flower. Several purple, blue and yellow larkspur flowers. He ingested an alkaloid delphinine from the larkspurs. The poison aconitine from a Monkshood, one of the deadliest and most formidable poisonous substance known to man.”
“Where did you hear that those where the kind of flowers used?”
“From Melissa. She told me that’s what the autopsy report said.”
I never told Melissa that poisonous flowers were used to kill Victor with. How does Susan know?
Without warning Susan pounced on Dante. She grabbed Dante by the throat and began squeezing until Dante’s lips parted slightly. Susan tried to force a purple flower into Dante’s mouth. Dante bit Susan’s hand, and she screamed letting go of Dante.
The two women struggled for several more minutes before Dante knocked Susan out. She called Austin after she tied the girl up.
Austin started to pick up the purple flower. “Don’t touch that without gloves. The petals contain minute amounts of an extremely deadly poison.”
“I guess I owe you an apology,” Austin said.
“Thinking you were a nosy female pretending to be a cop.”
Austin collected the Monkshood and took Susan to jail.
A couple of days later Austin called. “The DA charged Susan with Victor’s murder. When she realize she could receive the death penalty, she confessed.”
“Did she say why she tried to frame me?”
“She panic when she realize you would figure out who really killed Victor. She was hoping that the false trail she laid would lead the police straight to you, which it did. She didn’t count on you fighting back.”
Several days later, Dante and Melissa sat eating lunch. “How did you know Susan killed Uncle Vic?” Melissa asked.
“When she came to accuse me of Victor’s death, she show signs of being poisoned. Her hands were irritated from touching the petals of the Monkshood and not washing them properly afterwards. She told me she felt slightly dizzy and a wee bit nausea.”
“Is that all you have tying her to Uncle Vic’s death?”
“No, the final clue came when she told me what kind of poisonous flowers where used to kill Victor. I never told anyone, even you, what kind of poison the killer used.”
“A good detective always holds something back to confirm the identity of the real killer,” Dante said.
“Why did she kill Uncle Vic?”
“She didn’t say. She claims Brandon framed her. All the evidence I discovered pointed to her,” Dante said.
“Thanks for finding out what really happened to Uncle Vic.” Melissa hugged Dante before heading home.
Dante entered the house only to discover a new mystery to solve. On her kitchen table she found a fresh brewed cup of peppermint tea in her favorite teacup and two ladybug shaped gingersnaps on her favorite plate.