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Belly Up in the Koi Pond, страница 1

 часть  #2 серии  Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery


Belly Up in the Koi Pond

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Belly Up in the Koi Pond

  Belly Up in

  the Koi Pond

  A Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery

  Book 2

  Cheryl Zelenka

  Belly Up in the Koi Pond

  A Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery

  Book 2

  ©2016 by Cheryl Zelenka

  All rights reserved.

  This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means without prior written permission of the author or publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

  Cover Design: Jonna Feavel

  Illustrations: Ben Gerhards

  Interior Layout: Daniel Mawhinney

  Also available in eBook publication

  The following is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, to factual events or to businesses is coincidental and unintentional.

  Printed in the United States of America


  Also by Cheryl Zelenka


  CHAPTER ONE: Mr. Knightly and a Scholarship

  CHAPTER TWO: Le Pigeon

  CHAPTER THREE: The Ginger Haired Man

  CHAPTER FOUR: The Black Boot

  CHAPTER FIVE: Convention Center After Hours

  CHAPTER SIX: Positive Identification

  CHAPTER SEVEN: A Chance Encounter

  CHAPTER EIGHT: The First Murder Suspect

  CHAPTER NINE: Blackmail

  CHAPTER TEN: 72-Ounce Sirloin

  CHAPTER ELEVEN: Ashland Calls

  CHAPTER TWELVE: Award Ceremony

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Soup and Arson




  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Tire Tracks and Another Arrest

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Red Fingernail


  CHAPTER TWENTY: The First Interview



  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Bosco Bill Is Found Out


  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: BBQ Makes Everything Better

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: Show Me Those Pearly Whites

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: Misty Water-Colored Memories

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig!

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: An Official Charge and Wild River

  Please enjoy this excerpt from ‘Cavemen in the Park’, Book 3 of the Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mystery Series

  Author Bio

  Also by Cheryl Zelenka

  Divine Interruptions:

  A Bible Study through the Book of Job

  Facing Trials

  Facing Storms

  Facing Adversity

  The Sadie Sunshine Cozy Mysteries

  School Lunch is Murder

  Belly Up in the Koi Pond


  For every teacher who has found refreshment in a personal garden

  CHAPTER ONE: Mr. Knightly and a Scholarship

  Sadie Sunshine didn’t know how to pack lightly. Her large suitcase was filled beyond capacity. Looking over at her yellow lab she hinted, “If someone would just lay on this thing I could get it zipped.”

  Catching Sadie’s intent, Willow made a quick exit out the bedroom door and headed for the kitchen. “Why should I help mama stow her things? She’s leaving me and Bosco behind, with a stranger!” Willow found the white maltipoo curled up in a ball, sulking. In fact, Bosco Bill had been pouting in the very same spot for the past two days. When Sadie said the new neighbor would be hanging out at the house, while she took a fun trip with her girlfriends, Bosco got mad. He was very talented at stewing and Willow knew to give him a wide berth during his mood attacks.

  Usually, Sadie wore leggings and a long tunic sweater or blouse. However, this trip required some dress up clothes. She was attending the annual Portland Yard, Garden, and Patio Show, a three-day extravaganza of landscape design, exhibits, booths, educational lectures, and cooking demonstrations. A former student, Zachary Fry, was receiving a scholarship on the first day of the convention and leggings would just not do for the ceremony. She didn’t know what to wear for the ceremony, so she packed four different outfits just to be safe.

  “I guess I’ll have to sit on this thing myself!” Huffing and puffing, Sadie sat on her bag and bounced up and down. She had no luck. Her suitcase on wheels still wouldn’t zip. Despairingly, she removed a pair of red high heels and tried again, this time with success.

  Since Sadie was a member of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, she was able to purchase event tickets at a greatly reduced price. Thinking a girls’ weekend in the big city would be fun, she invited her friends, Detective Dora Flores and Lilly Pierce, to come along. They were all gardening enthusiasts with a shared interest in becoming Master Gardeners.

  Wheeling her bag through the kitchen and into the living room, she ignored Bosco’s pout and Willow’s sad puppy eyes. “They’ll be fine,” she told herself. “Mark likes dogs. He promised to love on them while I’m off playing in Portland. Who knows, Willow might even grant him a belly rub or two.” Drifting off inside a daydream, she added, I sure wouldn’t mind a back rub from that man! He’s a cool drink of water for this parched Foxyglove!

  The doorbell rang, bringing Sadie back to earth. “I bet Dora’s at the door.”

  Sure enough, Sadie’s best friend and neighbor, the one and only detective on the Rogue Valley police force, was standing on her front porch. She was sporting a gigantic smile and her long black hair was down and curled.

  “I hardly recognized you without your uniform and hair up in a bun!”

  Dora shook her locks while stepping into the foyer. As Sadie closed the front door, the detective took in the gigantic suitcase parked in the living room. “You do know we’re in Portland for just three days, right?”

  “And three nights!” Sadie chimed. “I want to try some high-end gourmet restaurants while we’re in the big city. I hope you packed something other than jeans,” she needled.

  Amused with Sadie’s attempt to get her goat, Dora replied, “I do own a few skirts and even a dress or two. You don’t have to worry about me, Chica, I’ll be turning heads tonight!” Dora shook her hips and posed for a virtual camera shoot.

  “I’m sure you will, dearie, just keep your hands off our neighbor, Mr. Mark Sportly!” Sadie did the best she could to snap her fingers with some attitude. “Good men are hard to come by and I actually think our new neighbor has potential. He’s retired, loves dogs, enjoys gardening, and owns ocean front property. You know how much I love the ocean.”

  Sadie splurged on a weeklong retreat at O’Brien’s lodge over Christmas. The ocean stay was her reward for accepting a long-term subbing job at her former school, Fort Follyfield. She never imagined she’d discover a dead body on her first day back to work! Remembering Dora was still in the room she added, “I think I’ll invite him to church next Sunday.”

  “Inviting him to church is a great idea, you should also ask him to treat you to breakfast at the Powderhorn. That café is great! Don’t you just love their cinnamon rolls?” Sadie agreed the cinnamon rolls were delicious. “You always have such great suggestions, Dora.”

  Dora was thrilled her friend had a crush. Sadie’s last serious relationship ended years ago, so she was hoping the new neighbor would shower her best friend with a lot of attention.

  Dora recalled Mr
. Sunshine, Sadie’s dad, mentioning a chance encounter with Mark. He was in the produce section at the local Safeway. While selecting tomatoes for his prize-winning salsa, he came across another man grumbling over the poor quality of off-season produce. The topic of hydroponics came up and then Sadie’s name was mentioned. They put two and two together and within 30 seconds they realized Mark was Sadie’s new neighbor. Later that week, Jerry Sunshine dropped Dora a hint by saying he liked their new neighbor. “I hear he likes to garden and has a home by the coast. Those are things Sadie would appreciate in a man.” Jerry’s wink was intentional and not at all subtle.

  Sadie often jested she wasn’t the marrying sort, but Dora knew better. “She just won’t settle for a lukewarm Christian or a toddler disguised as an adult.”

  “Dora, I’m gonna run a house key over to Mark. I won’t be long. I’ve already explained how to use the remote for my big screen and when to feed the dogs.

  Trying to hide her smirk, Dora thought, like any man needs a tutorial on how to use a TV remote!

  While opening the front door, Sadie continued. “Thankfully, I have a doggie door, so Mark won’t have to let them out every few hours. I sure hope Willow and Bosco warm up to him. They’re both in a bad mood and moping in the kitchen.” Dora said she’d check on them while Sadie ran next door.

  Walking up to her neighbor’s craftsman style home, Sadie laughed out loud when she saw the words on Mark’s new doormat. It read, “The neighbors have better stuff.” Taking a few seconds to gain back her composure she adjusted her sweater, took a big breath, then rang the doorbell. In no time at all, a handsome man in his late fifties opened the door. He was wearing faded jeans and an old rugby shirt. Mark flashed Sadie a friendly smile, which quickly melted her heart. She had always found tall men attractive, despite herself being vertically challenged. “Howdy neighbor!”

  “Howdy right back at cha’!” Sadie sputtered. “So, I guess you’re telling future burglars to pass on your house and visit Dora’s instead. Have you been inside her house? If not, how do you know she has better stuff? Have you been looking in her windows at night?” Mark laughed while Sadie continued to rib him. “And let’s see, you wouldn’t be suggesting they check out my house too, would you? I like the idea of sending thieves to a detective’s home a lot better.”

  “Well, maybe both ideas crossed my mind,” Mark smirked. “If they did decide to forego Dora’s house and go directly to yours, I’d have an opportunity to rescue you. Actually, I think you should have my phone number…in case you’re the victim of some spontaneous robbery. I make a terrific knight, but I carry a baseball bat, not a jousting lance.” He bowed to Sadie and she played along by returning his bow with a curtsy.

  “I think that’s a great idea, Mr. Knightly, um, I mean Sportly. I have my cell phone handy so let me type your number in right now. I’ll call you later tonight to check on things, then you’ll have my number too. I’m afraid I’m leaving you with some pretty grumpy dogs. Willow and Bosco are mad at me right now. Both are pouting in my kitchen.”

  “Don’t worry about them, Sadie. Enjoy your ladies’ weekend. I’ll be over to your place within the hour. I’m planning to watch a movie on your big screen and I’ll feed your fur-kids a cookie or two. Later on, I’ll toss Willow’s Frisbee around. You’re looking at their new best friend.” Mark again smiled his special smile while Sadie handed him her extra house key.

  “I sure hope so, Mark. I’ll call you after our dinner at Le Pigeon. I can’t wait to try the Beef Cheek Bourguignon and Crème Brulee! I hardly ever eat French food and I just love it.”

  Mark nodded. “Me too! Something else we have in common. I’ve enjoyed several meals at Le Pigeon. I especially like their Foie Gras Profiteroles with Caramel Sauce. You might consider ordering that instead of the Crème Brulee. Or, hmm, maybe not, I have a better idea. I’ll just have to take you on a dinner date and treat you myself. They’re amazing, both savory and sweet. You do know the restaurant was featured on the Food Network, right?”

  Sadie nodded and tried not to blush at the not so subtle dinner invitation. Glancing at her watch, she was again surprised by the time. It was already 2 pm. Time flew whenever she was with Mark. They’d be late picking Lilly up if she didn’t get a move on. Saying a speedy goodbye to Mark, she walked briskly back home. She was greeted by Dora’s questioning look as she walked through the front door.

  “Later girlfriend! Lilly’s gonna wonder what happened if we don’t leave soon. Sadie stepped into the kitchen and said goodbye to her dogs. They offered a few half-hearted tail wags but no friendly kisses. Grabbing her overstuffed bag on wheels, she led the way out the front door, almost forgetting to lock it. Dora helped Sadie load her suitcase in the back of her Jeep Cherokee and then took off towards 6th Street.

  When Dora arrived at Lilly’s historic home, they found her waiting in the driveway with a medium sized overnight bag and a purse of equal size. Throwing them both in the backseat, Lilly asked, “What took you gals so long? You’re 15 minutes late!”

  “Sadie was having a conversation with her Mr. Knightly and it was just too fascinating to cut short.” Dora teased.

  Turning around to glance at Lilly as she fastened her seatbelt, Sadie added, “Mr. Sportly agreed to watch Willow and Bosco while we’re in Portland.”

  Buckled in, Lilly noticed Sadie’s red complexion. “Are you blushing? Sadie, do you like this Mr. Sportly?” Lilly knew the house next to Sadie’s had sold just after Christmas and a new neighbor had moved in about three week ago. Other than that, she didn’t know much else, so Dora filled her in on the retired oceanographer and freelance writer. Sadie endured probing questions from Lilly until they reached Eugene. Tired of all the attention on her love life she announced, “Ladies, Mark is no longer a topic open for discussion.” Dora and Lilly felt the tension rise and decided to discuss their dinner plans and garden itinerary for the remainder of the car ride.

  Hoping to ease the tenseness, Lilly blurted out, “I’m so proud of Zachary Fry. He had such a difficult home life when he was our student at Fort Follyfield. I’m glad it didn’t interfere with his goal to attend college. I remember he did his fourth-grade science project on how to graft different fruit trees. Knowing he’s about to receive a scholarship from the Oregon Nursery Foundation delights me to no end.”

  Sadie was thankful Lilly had switched her focus over to their former student.

  “Yes, Lilly, he was such a clever child. Do you remember how the school greenhouse mesmerized him? I still remember the time he told me he wanted to study horticulture when he grew up. That was a pretty big word for an eight-year-old!” Lilly agreed.

  Sadie then added, “I’d often run into him at Wal-Mart. He worked in the garden center until recently. The last time we chatted, he told me about his $2000 Oregon Nursery Foundation scholarship and his plans to attend Oregon State, studying ornamental horticulture.

  I informed our former student that attending the Portland Yard, Garden, and Patio event was something I looked forward to every year. I also told him I’d make a point of being present for his award ceremony. When I mentioned how proud I was of his accomplishment, he just beamed. As you know, he never got much praise from his parents. His dad died a few years back from a drug overdose. I’m not sure his mom will attend the ceremony. Their relationship is still pretty rocky. I guess she hasn’t kicked her alcohol problem.”

  Lilly and Sadie continued to reminisce over other fond memories of their former student while Dora drove her Jeep through Portland’s rush hour traffic. Before arriving at The Embassy Suites, the conversation drifted to the day ahead. All three wanted to attend several of the free classes offered by OSU Master Gardening experts. After a heated debate, they agreed their first class would be Building Your Own Koi Pond. Dora was hoping to update her front yard by building a Koi pond into her landscape. Although Sadie had a serious fish phobia, she agreed Dora would need some helpful hints and ideas before starting the late spring project. She gave
Lilly and Dora a thumbs-up, with their assurance she could pick the afternoon class.

  “Good thing you don’t own a cat, Dora. Koi aren’t cheap!” Sadie taunted. “You better hope our neighborhood cats stay clear of your water garden.” She knew Dora was partial to cats, even though she loved dogs nearly as much.

  Dora pretended she hadn’t heard Sadie’s vexing needle and kept her eyes focused on the road ahead. She made good time, only using her portable police lights three times.

  They arrived at the Embassy Suites at a quarter to six. It was a boutique-style hotel located in historic downtown. Sadie booked it since the location was perfect. They’d be within walking distance to shops and restaurants, not to mention a seven-minute drive to the Portland Convention Center.

  Once the car was parked, Sadie and her friends moved their luggage into the hotel lobby. After checking in at the desk, they walked over to the elevator and pushed the button. When the doors opened, they were met with a pleasant surprise, Zachary Fry—in the flesh!

  “Ms. Sunshine! Mrs. Pierce! You’re here. I mean, wow, you’re actually here! You’ve come for the garden show, right?”

  Sadie noticed Zachary looked extremely tired. There were dark circles under his eyes. Letting the handle of her gigantic suitcase slip from her hand, she stepped over to hug her former student. “Of course! In fact, we even enticed our friend Detective Flores to come along too. You look like you’re in a big hurry. Where are you off to and are you staying at the Embassy Suites?”

  “Yes, I am. The scholarship came with a free four-day reservation. I’m in room 212. They also gave me some meal vouchers for the Convention Center. I’m running over there now to grab a bite before helping Professor Drainer with the Koi pond exhibit. He’s a Master Gardener and teaches ornamental horticulture at Oregon State. He’ll be giving a talk tomorrow at 8 am.”

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