“Did you know, detective, that my blossoms are the only roses in the city to have a natural perfume? Commercial producers breed for bud size and stem length. They give no thought to the most essential part of a rose’s beauty.”
“Ma’am,” the plain clothes officer said, his voice betraying a lack of patience. “We have over a dozen people in the hospital. One of whom is fighting for her life. The only connection between them is that they all received or bought flowers from this shop in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
The petite woman tilted her head to one side as she spritzed a fine mist over the deep scarlet buds in the counter display.
“I’m afraid I’m not sure how I can help you, detective. I’m not in the habit of keeping tabs on my customers,” she said, ducking behind the register.
“Ma’am. Uh, ma’am?” the detective called, leaning over the counter.
“Flora,” she answered, straightening up, a pair of wickedly sharp shears in hand. “You can call me Flora.”
“No, just Flora.”
“Um, the point I’m trying to make here,” he said, clearing his throat and taking a step back. “Is that your shop is the only factor linking these poisonings. Is there anything you can think of, a fertilizer, a chemical, anything you might have used or that might have come into contact with your patrons or the roses?”
“I’m afraid not, detective. All my flowers are organically grown. I don’t keep any chemicals on the premises.”
Flora sauntered from behind the counter and ran a gloved finger over the plump petals of a rose from the display. The detective watched in fascination as she pulled the bud forward and with vicious efficiency snipped it free.
The odd woman turned around, a shy smile on her face as she handed the flower to him. He returned her smile and accepted it, anything to keep her on his side. He needed her permission for a forensic search of the premises.
“Doesn’t it smell lovely?”
He brought the rose close and breathed in deeply. She was right, he had never smelled anything quite like it. The scent was intoxicating. His eyelids drooped at he ran the silky tips of the petals across his lips.
“It’s almost a compulsion, isn’t it, detective?”
“Whenever people smell a flower, they inevitably brush the petals against their skin. Not the safest practise when one considers all the toxins floating around the world, is it?”
“Oh dear, detective, you’ve become quite flushed. Are you feeling alright?”
The detective swallowed hard, and drew a ragged breath. His head was spinning, and he could feel his pulse throbbing in his temples. The rose fell from his fingers as he clawed at the collar of his shirt.
Strong hands gripped his shoulders as he sank to the floor. He fought to move his leaden limbs, but could only produce a weak twitch.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, detective.”
I don’t often write shorts, so let me know in the comments below what you think. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
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