Birdsong drifted across the green hills of Walnut Grove Memorial Gardens.
Located fifteen minutes outside Sweet Lake, the expansive, tree-dotted grounds served many of the smaller towns in southwestern Ohio. Frances approached her husband’s grave with pride quickening her strides. Before his unfortunate passing, her beloved Archibald had owned a construction company in Sweet Lake. His success had allowed her to secure a plot on the cemetery’s high, central hill.
Silvia, less impressed by grand gestures, plunked down the mason jar of flowers they’d brought. “Hello, Archibald.” She glanced at the unmarred grass on either side of his gave. “I see you’re still lonely up on your perch. What’s that? No one else in these parts can afford to join you?”
“He has Demeter to keep him company,” Frances said. Her sweet Persian had trotted off to the Great Beyond one short year after the terrible loss of Archibald.
The comment put sparks in Silvia’s dark eyes. “We are not discussing your deceased pet. I still haven’t forgiven you.”
An old complaint, and Frances calmly went about the business of restacking stones for the feline’s grave. “Demeter, Silvia says hello.” The groundsmen never failed to mow over the tiny memorial, sending the stones flying every which way.
“I’ll put up with these nutty conversations with Archibald, but only because he mixed a mojito nearly as well as I do. I am not offering salutations to a dead animal.”
“Hush, now. Demeter will hear you.”
“Frances, you’re playing with half a deck.” Catching herself, Silvia regarded the marble headstone. “I’m sorry, Archie. I’d give her my last pint of blood if she needed it, but she wasn’t this off-center when you were alive.”
Frances located the last stone, a heart-shaped beauty of silver granite. “I’d give you my last drop of blood.” Rising, she arched a brow. “But only if you were bleeding to death.”
“Sneaking in here to bury a cat—I should’ve put you six feet under.”
“What did you want me to do, toss her out by my lilacs?”
“She could’ve fertilized your lilacs for three years straight. Small dogs were afraid of your Persian.”
The part about small dogs Frances didn’t mind, but comparing Demeter to compost was deplorable. She angled her chin. “You aren’t a cat person, Silvia. How could you possibly understand?”
“Guess I should thank my lucky stars you aren’t a dog person. How would we have hauled a Great Dane over? I nearly broke my hip vaulting onto the grounds.”
“We didn’t vault.” They’d brought a ladder for the midnight excursion, climbing easily over Walnut’s Grove iron gate. Silvia took a bit of a tumble going over, but she’d done more harm to her festive capris than her bones. In Frances’s estimation, if her voluptuous friend traded a burrito for salad occasionally, she’d remain more nimble.
Look for the debut of Christine’s new Sweet Lake series in February of next year. This excerpt is from the second book in the series, tentative release date: July, 2017.