A cat, a turtle, and a stranger face off in the garden. The stranger blinks first. Right. The joke still needs some work.
“Do you always let your turtle and cat out in the garden together?”
“They’re friends. They like to gossip.” Motts set her trowel to one side and got to her feet. She dusted the grass and dirt off her knees. “They both need fresh air and sun in moderation. Are you lost?”
The man didn’t seem lost despite having popped up beside the back fence around her garden. He looked like a police officer. Though not quite as broad-shouldered, he stood as tall as Teo Herceg, the detective inspector she’d met in April and had been dating for over a month.
“I’m hoping to speak with Pineapple Mottley.” He sounded like a policeman. His suit, while nice, appeared rumpled from driving; his short grey hair, however, was gelled and styled perfectly. “I’m Detective Inspector Dempsey Byrne with the Metropolitan Police’s cold case unit.”
“Cold case?” Motts’s heart stuttered in her chest. She rubbed her fingers together nervously. “Jenny. You’re here about Jenny.”
Jenny Cleverly had been her lone best friend through her early childhood. Motts had stumbled across Jenny’s lifeless body on her way home from primary school while walking through a park, hidden behind a hedge. She still had nightmares about finding her.
The unsolved crime had haunted Motts. She’d developed an obsessive curiosity about cold cases as a result. And at least once a year, she searched online to see if anyone had been arrested for Jenny’s murder.
“Motts.” She had a sudden sense of déjà vu; she’d had a similar conversation with Teo in April. He’d been investigating the murder of a Rhona Walters, who’d been buried in the garden behind her cottage. It had been an auspicious start to her life in Polperro. “Cactus.”
Her beloved Sphynx cat had leapt onto the fence and then over to the detective’s shoulder. Detective Inspector Byrne didn’t bat an eyelid. He simply reached up to pat Cactus on his head.
Well, he certainly approves of the random strange man intruding on our afternoon.
Intruding inspector intrudes introspectively.
Not my best alliteration.
“I don’t often see a flowerless garden.” He glanced slowly around at her rows of fruits and herbs. “None at all?”
“My allergies try to drown me if I’m around them for too long.” Motts kept flowers far away from her cottage. Real ones, in any case. She made and sold origami and quilled floral arrangements as part of her small business, Hollyhock Folded Blooms. “Why don’t you come in for tea? Cold case curiosities can converse comfortably.”
Don’t frighten the fancy London detective with your peculiarities.
The judgmental voice in her head sounded suspiciously like her mum, who meant well but couldn’t always relate to Motts’s more unique traits. She didn’t understand her wayward autistic and asexual daughter. Motts had given up trying to fit into neurotypical moulds.
I am who I am.
Alliterations and all.
Oh, fun accidental alliterations are the best.
“I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Wouldn’t you?” Motts stared blankly at the man, unable to decide if he was being polite or not. “You drove from London. At least a five-hour drive on a good day. Tea isn’t imposing. Sleeping in my garden and trampling the herbs would be.”