The Final ReveilleOccupation: Director of Barton Farm

My day began each morning with an argument with a five-year-old about what to eat for breakfast, and usually I didn’t win the argument because I was outnumbered.

“Hayden,” I said to my son that morning. “Eat your breakfast.”

He turned up his nose at the scrambled eggs and bacon I had diligently cooked for him.

“I wanted this for breakfast yesterday. Today, I want Fruit Loops.”

“Fruit Loops sound good to me too this morning,” my sixty-something father agreed. Dad, who was a college drama professor nine months of the year, lived with Hayden and me in our little cottage on Barton Farm’s grounds during the summer. He was a great help to watch out for Hayden during the busy tourist season. At least he was most of the time, not so much when it came to breakfast. He had a five-year-old’s taste buds.

I frowned at the pair of them. “You wanted eggs and bacon yesterday too.”

“That was yesterday,” Dad said. “Today is Wednesday. I believe a person must have Fruit Loops on hump day. It’s the longest day of the week.”

“Me too,” my towheaded son chimed in.

I was about to argue more when the radio clipped to jeans crackled. “Kelsey? It’s Ashland. Do you copy?”

I removed the radio from my hip. “Yes, Ashland?”

“You’re going to want to come to the visitor center. We have situation.” There was a pause. “With Shepley.”

We always had a situation with Shepley. My temperamental master gardener was one of my biggest headaches as the director of Barton Farm, a living history museum and village nestled in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley just a half hour south of Cleveland.

I clipped the radio to my belt. “You two are going to have to figure breakfast out on your own.”

Before I left the cottage, they gave each other a high five.

I walked out the front door of the cottage and was greeted with the smell of the forest. There was a faint scent of burning wood too as the historical interpreters working on the village side of the Farm prepared their hearths for a day of nineteenth century style cooking demonstrations for the visitors that would arrive when we opened at ten sharp.

Outside the cottage, my corgi, Tiffin, sniffed to the ground and kept an eye on the trees for squirrels. Tiff and the squirrels were sworn enemies. When he saw me, he shook his tail-less rump and stood at the gate that led out of our fenced front yard.

I opened the gate, and he galloped down the path that led through the maple grove from my cottage to the visitor center.

As soon as I emerged from the woods and the visitor center came into view, I saw what the problem was. Shepley and Ashland stood in front of the visitor center with another man. A few feet away an enormous riding lawnmower hummed.

Shepley spotted me first and pointed at my chest. “What are you going to do about this?”

I straightened my shoulders and joined the fray. “What’s going on?”

Shepley scowled at the other man. “He’s the problem. He’s mowing were he shouldn’t be. In his haste to finish the mowing, he ran over my thistle with that monster.” He pointed at the lawnmower. “What are you going to do about it?”

“I thought they were weeds,” the other man protested.

I looked at him. I had hired him to mow the grounds from a local lawn service. “Technically, they are weeds, but we keep them to show off native plant species in the area.”

“Who cares if weeds are native?” he asked.

Shepley shook with fury. No one insulted his plants, especially his native plants.

I stepped between them. To the man, I said, “Please finish your mowing and stay on the grass. Don’t mow anything other than grass whether you believe it should be there or not.”

The man shrugged and walked back to his lawnmower without another glance in Shepley’s direction.

After the man rode away on his mower, Shepley glared at me. “I’m holding you accountable if the garden is ruined.” He stomped away.

Ashland clutched her notebook to her chest. “Every day starts with an argument.”

I sighed. “It’s just another day at Barton Farm.” And it was. At the Farm, there was always a fire or two to put out. Sometimes, it even involved a murder.

You can read more about Kelsey in The Final Reveille, the first book in the NEW “Living History Museum” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on May 15 for the chance to win a copy of The Final Reveille. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. She also writes as National Bestselling Author Isabella Alan.

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