A tingling sensation overwhelmed Hal Spears’s nose as soon as he stepped inside the florist shop.
“Achoo!” he sneezed extravagantly.
“Bless you,” the woman behind the counter chirped.
Her hair was dyed as bright a pink as the peonies on display behind her.
“Thank you,” Hal nodded and continued browsing.
His first date with his new lady friend, Louise, had been a romantic dinner for two at a historic homestead.
Problem was, however, it had ended in a murder mystery so Hal was desperate to make things up to her.
Flowers are a good place to start, he’d thought.
But just as he reached the roses on display, a woman came bursting through the staff door all in a fluster.
“Daisy!” she barked at the girl behind the register. “What happened to this morning’s shipment of sunflowers?”
“W-what do you mean?” Daisy stuttered. “They arrived right on time and I left them out the back.”
The woman shook her head and sighed.
“Well, this is the third week they’ve gone missing,” she said. “And if you don’t find them, your job is on the line. Do I make myself clear?!”
“But Petunia, please…” Daisy started to explain.
“And don’t think I won’t fire you,” Petunia snapped, cutting her off. “I’m barely making ends meet as it is without you losing our stock every week.”
Then as quickly as Petunia had stormed into the room, she was gone.
Having organised to see Louise for coffee that afternoon, the last thing Hal wanted was to investigate a case of missing flowers. But Daisy’s downturned face changed his mind.
“My name’s Hal,” he said, walking over to the counter. “I’m a private investigator. I can help you if you like, free of charge.”
Daisy’s pink head looked up and her face brightened.
“Oh, thank you!” she exclaimed.
The bell over the door to the florist shop jangled and before Daisy had a chance to say anything else another young woman walked in.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said, looking annoyed. “I was at the dry cleaner’s. Can’t believe she makes us pay to have our uniforms cleaned. At least they let me change into mine there or I would’ve been even later.”
“Hal, this is Jasmine,” Daisy said, “one of my colleagues. She doesn’t start work until 11 o’clock so she wasn’t here when the flowers arrived.”
Distracted by a bee circling a small patch of pollen on her collar, Jasmine didn’t stop to acknowledge Hal but moved straight behind the counter and put an apron on, flapping at the insect as she went.
The door to the staff room swung open again and this time Petunia returned with a short, plump man in tow.
“All right, this is Basil, the supplier of our sunflowers,” Petunia explained, oblivious to Hal’s presence.
“I am telling ya Petunia,” insisted Basil, gesturing wildly with his hands, “I’ve been delivering those flowers every week and every week Daisy’s been signing off on ’em!”
“Have you been waiting until Daisy goes back into the shop,” demanded Petunia, “then stealing the sunflowers to sell to another customer?”
Basil squirmed under her intense gaze.
“Now why would I do something like that?” he pleaded. “You’re a valued customer. You fork out some good money, even if you are a pain in the neck.
“Besides,” he continued, lifting his chin at Petunia, “how do we know you haven’t been nicking ’em yourself? Setting yourself up for a nice insurance claim.”
Petunia glared at Basil, then suspiciously at Jasmine and Daisy. Returning to Basil, the two continued carping at each, but Hal tuned out. He knew who had stolen the flowers and he was about to catch the green-thumbed thief.
Who stole the flowers?
- A) Petunia
- B) Jasmine
- C) Basil