Book four of my Poppy Blue fantasy series is still in the works, but I thought I'd share a snippet here and there. It opens with Poppy and pals helping her friend (and ex) Scott ready his brewpub for opening. As they work, a friend feels an itch to explore the basement of the new pub space, and he chances across a wall that crumbles away, leading to a hidden room. When Fiona shows up, she's carrying a stray cat she's rescued (she always likes a fabulous accessory), and she decides to check out what the gang has found.
“What’s this?” Mom, her arms free of Clover, found our evening’s discoveries. She plucked up the bottle of booze we’d all examined and sniffed the contents. “It smells old,” she said, “but like it’s quality whiskey.” She took another sniff, and then held the bottle to her lips and took a sip. “It is quality stuff.” She took another belt, this one a generous amount, before setting it back down.
Roger’s mouth gaped open in shock. “I can’t believe you just drank from a mystery bottle. You don’t know how old it is, or if it’s tainted.”
Mom shrugged. “It’s alcohol. It’s purified as a result.”
“Only if it’s not tainted,” Roger protested.
“He’s right, my little cactus flower,” Tom said, picking up the bottle and uncapping it. He inhaled and shook his head. “Oh, that’s potent. It makes my eyes water it’s so strong. It’s like the booze equivalent of your awful coffee.”
“You’re just out of practice,” Mom replied.
“Well, one of us has to keep a clear head, and drive your little bottom home.” He recapped the container and placed it well out of Mom’s reach. “And it’s obvious you’ve overdone it, considering how bad a judgment call you just made.”
Mom’s response was to blow out a loud raspberry. And nearly topple over.
She quickly righted herself and began to examine the box’s contents. “String? Letters? Hmmm. Postmarked from the 1910s. Oh, and a locket.” She clicked it open and peered at the man and woman. “Hmmm. Unhappy ending, that one.” She clicked it closed and set it back in the box.
“What was that,” I asked, focusing more attention on Clover as he smooched Jordan’s cheeks.
“What was what?” Mom asked, motioning for the teen to hand over the feline.
“What you said. About an unhappy ending?”
Mom shrugged, already bored with the contents of the box. “I don’t know. It came to me. There’s a bunch of problems with that find. Now, I’m going to head home with my new find. Tom, let’s go. I need you to open Poppy’s door for me so I can get the litter and cat food.”
“Wait? What?” I asked. I had recently had my locks changed so my mother wouldn’t constantly barge into my house but I hadn’t told her. “Did you say something, Tom?” He was the one with the spare key, and under strict orders not to let my mother know.
“Oh, he didn’t have to say a word,” Mom’s tone was serene. “I know you had your locks changed in order to keep me out. I’m only respecting it because you’re thirty and you should have a love life.”
“But how did you know?” I asked.
“Maybe I’m all-seeing,” Mom said. “Or, maybe I gossiped with Gavin over at the hardware store.” Her smile was serene.
“Gavin gossiped with you?” Tom asked, scratching his head in surprise. “I told him not to say a word.”
“Like you could stop him from loosening his lips. He has a crush on me and would do anything to get me to slip off those yellow measuring tape suspenders he always wears and explore his tool belt, if you know what I mean.”
I opened my mouth to say something and then thought better of it. “Fine, go and get the cat food and litter. Just be sure to show some respect for when I want to play with a certain someone’s tool belt.”
“Duly noted,” she saluted. “Oh, and Roger?”
Roger turned to my mother, waiting to hear what she had to offer. “Yes, Fiona?”
“Poppy’s ring size is a seven,” she cackled.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Not this again. Please just let it go already.”
“What?” Roger smirked. “You don’t want me to know your ring size?” His eyes were lit with mirth.
I blushed. “Well, it’s perhaps a bit premature to be thinking of such things?”
“Noted,” he said as he gave me a flirty wink.
“Poppy,” Mom slurred, “I have to remind Roger of such things, just like I often have to remind Tom of important things. Men, you see, they have shit memories for when it comes to remembering what a woman likes. Sure, if she wanted a set of power tools they’d never forget, but jewelry or perfume or flowers, and so on, they need frequent reminders. It can’t be helped, so I do what I can.”
“You’re a real pal, Fiona,” Roger smiled, not a hint of snark in his voice.
A moment later Tom, Mom and Clover were upstairs and out the door.
“She’s going to get her hands on that key,” Roger said. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“I suspect so,” I sighed.