Nipped in the Bud

Nipped in the Bud
Garden Gate Mysteries – Bk 1
October 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 1602605734
ISBN-13: 978-1602605732

Life in full bloom, landscape designer, Paige Turner, scores her first landscaping contract to spruce up the park, her radio talk show shoots to number one, and her retail shop is simply blossoming. Yes, her life is a bed of roses. Until she finds City Manager, Bud Picklemann served up on the blade of her favorite shovel mere hours after she’s threatened to have his head on a platter, then the thorns come out. And there is none thornier than the local police chief declaring Paige the one and only suspect and threatening to plow her under.

Paige teams up with dashing attorney, Adam Hayes to weed through the list of suspects, and clear her soiled reputation. A bigmouthed Parrot who often spouts Mr. T-isms, and a giant pickle mascot join in quirky Paige’s quest to once again cultivate control of her life.

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Chapter One

“This is Harly Davison, your host of KALM’s exciting new show, Wacky World of Motorcycles, hoping you’ll join us every Wednesday morning at ten and reminding you that Hogs, not dogs, are man’s best friend. Now we return to the locally acclaimed show, Through the Garden Gate, with host Paige Turner.”

Weed Whacker! You can’t possibly want to kill your husband!” I yelled into the boom microphone and looked for advice from my producer and best friend, Lisa Winkle.

Tucked safely in her little booth adjoining mine, Lisa shrugged and twirled her finger in our signal that meant I should say something before dead air killed the show.

I shook my head. Her finger picked up speed as if she possessed the power to spin me around and force words from my mouth. But what could I say? What could an unmarried gardening expert know about killing a husband?

“Paige, are you there?” Weed Whacker’s tone bordered on desperation, elevating my concern.

I gave up on Lisa offering any assistance and punched the mute button then searched through the middle drawer of the ancient metal desk. If I could locate the station’s talk show schedule, I could refer Weed Whacker to the self-help program.

“Paige,” Lisa said through my headset. “What are you doing? We can’t have dead air like this.”

“You’re not helping,” I said. Words from my mother with her many years of advice, my pastor’s weekly sermons, and God, already fought for space in my head. I had no room for anything Lisa was saying. I punched the button again and adjusted the mike. “Perhaps you would like to call into our self-help show. If you hold on, my producer will give you the broadcast time.”

“Please, Paige. I can’t wait. I need your advice.”

“Don’t do anything drastic,” I blurted before she changed her mind, disconnected, and did something crazy. Eyes on the drawer, my fingers fumbled around for the laminated schedule. If I gave the wrong advice, how would I recover from being implicated in a murder? “There has to be an amiable solution to your problem.”

She sighed. “We’re way past working things out. It’s bad enough I have to do all the yard work myself, but to face the same thing inside the house? I’m losing it, Paige. I tell you, I’m losing it. I’m so tired of my husband sprouting up every Sunday in the same place, just like the weeds you described.”

I gave up on the search for the schedule and closed my eyes to think. Weed Whacker needed a counselor, not someone like me who only knew how to handle a plant’s 911. Wait. . .counselor. I was a peer counselor in college. If I remembered right, I should repeat what I heard the distraught person saying so she’d know I was listening.

I cleared my throat, a no-no on radio, and charged ahead. “I can certainly empathize with your concerns, Weed Whacker. I understand that your husband pops up in the recliner every Sunday and watches football games. And yes, technically, this type of sprouting in an unwanted place week after week, no matter the effort you put in to stop it, sounds like most weeds.” I raised my fist in the air and shook it in victory over my professional counselor speak.

“Paige, please. I called for advice, not to hear you repeat everything I say.”

I slowly lowered my arm and gave in. If my suggestions ended with my incarceration, so be it. “If you need my advice, then I must caution you. This morning we’ve discussed two successful methods of removing weeds. The first is digging a hole the width of the crown and pulling roots and all from the soil. The second is applying one of the many available herbicides on the market. We both agree your husband might be exhibiting weed-like tendencies. Still, I must ask you to think long and hard about removing this particular species. If you have no other choice but to act, I recommend the plucking method, as the use of herbicides in this particular application could be misconstrued as murder.”

As my words aged on the airwaves like a pile of compost, I cut my gaze to Lisa. She slashed her hand across her throat, either telling me I was dead or to wrap it up. I chose to believe the second one. Barely able to contain my joy over the end of this Monday morning disaster of a show, I nearly shot up like a daffodil on a warm spring day. Weed Whacker was our last caller, and if another show tanked like this one had, she could be the last caller—ever. I needed to stick with plants. They didn’t conspire to kill each other. Sure, some of them were more aggressive than others, choking out their neighbors, but unlike Weed Whacker, their wayward tendencies were never premeditated.

Oops, right. Weed Whacker. I needed to close the show.

“Thank you for calling, Weed Whacker. I hope my advice has been helpful. Unfortunately we’re out of time.” I stifled a sigh then dug deep for my cheery broadcaster’s voice. “Thank you for

listening. Join me again tomorrow at nine as we take another trip Through the Garden Gate. Be sure to stay tuned for Success Serendipity Style, where host Tim Needlemeyer brings you up to date on all the exciting activities planned for this weekend’s Pickle Fest. But first, Ollie Grayson and the Farm to Market Report.”

I flipped the switch that kicked off the prerecorded agriculture show and tossed my headset onto the desk.

“And we’re clear,” Lisa shouted, like some big-time producer, though it was just the two of us in a closet-sized studio.

On my feet, I charged toward her and kicked open the door separating our work spaces. “Where are all these wackos coming from, and why aren’t you screening them out?”

“Maybe it takes a wacko host to attract wacko callers,” Lisa said with a slight shrug of her perfectly postured shoulders.


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