TITLE: DEATH OF A FLORIDA PURSE
GENRE: COZY MYSTERY
Elsie stepped out of the airport shuttlebus and stumbled to a stop. Cars lined both sides of the wide street in front of Mama’s house. There were only two reasons for so many cars—a party or …a death.
Mid-afternoon in a Florida retirement community. The stillness and silence were absolute. It wasn’t a party.
She barely noticed the shuttle driver dropping her suitcases and cat carrier on the sidewalk beside her. Surely she wasn’t too late? Tears filled her eyes as she stared at the front garden Mama had worked so hard to create—coral-flowered hibiscus, violet bougainvillea, even orchids growing in a magnolia tree. It was flourishing, while Mama…
A short, sturdy woman hurried out Mama’s front door. Watching her hustle down the path, Elsie felt as wooden and heavy as an old oak tree. She didn’t move until the woman flung her arms around her and said, “Sweetpea, I’m sorry—”
Elsie Leabeck, librarian, gardener, equestrian and mature adult, gulped in a deep breath of the soft Florida air and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Mama, how could you?”
Mama’s hugging arms had the strength of a woman who dug deep planting holes and hauled bags of peat and manure around her garden. But Mama wasn’t supposed to be strong.
“You said you were on your deathbed with pneumonia,” Elsie yelled. “I broke the lease on my townhouse, quit my job, put Emberly on a horse van and rushed down to take care of you.”