Cinderella Busted

By: Petie McCarty


A huge thank you to Debby Gilbert, my fabulous editor, who polished Cinderella Busted until it shone like the legendary glass slipper.

I also owe special thanks to my wonderful husband, Patrick, whose professional landscaping skills provided the horticultural background for Lily’s eclectic landscape nursery.

Chapter 1

“Want to help me choke a couple zoning commissioners?” Lily Foster asked as she strode into the nursery office.

Her sales manager’s eyes went wide. “Wow! Look at you.”

She halted mid-step. “What?”

“Don’t give me that. You look gorgeous! I knew that sundress was perfect for you the minute we spotted it in Dillard’s.”

“Evidently not perfect enough,” she grumbled and dropped into a chair near Tammy’s desk.

“I take it the zoning meeting didn’t go well.”

“Much worse.”

“And you couldn’t sway the commissioners in your little yellow sundress?”

She gave Tammy a don’t-go-there look.

“Okay, so what happened downtown? Do you have to move out of your cottage?”

“I don’t know.” Lily shook her head. “Turns out it wasn’t a new zoning proposal like we first thought. The City of Jupiter changed the residence-at-commercial-properties zoning law over a decade ago. At the time, the city council ruled a residence could exist on the second floor of a business—due to the heat they received from folks living over the shops on Antique Row—but single-structure residences at commercial properties like mine were out, and no one ever stood up and complained.”

“They can’t force you out now, can they?”

Lily hoped not. Bloom & Grow was the only home she had ever known. Lily’s father had started the nursery three decades earlier on a hundred-acre parcel bordering the famed Intracoastal Waterway, and when her mother had succumbed to cancer shortly after Lily’s birth, Hank Foster had built a small cottage on the back five acres and raised Lily there.

She shook her head. “I wasn’t sure, so I went over to the Code Enforcement department, too, and the manager claimed some attorneys had formally challenged my grandfathered status—already living in my residence prior to the code change. He even thought it odd that I’d been singled out.”

“I bet it’s that real estate attorney who wants to buy your property,” Tammy said.

Lily nodded. “I think so, too. The manager said I needed to appear before a Special Code Compliance Magistrate—she used her fingers to make quotation marks and give the title extra weight—at the end of the month and bring proof of the date of my residence prior to the promulgation of the new zoning law.”

“You think that’ll do it?” Tammy asked.

“The Code Enforcement manager seemed certain, although he did say the attorneys had filed legal briefs in Tallahassee about my commercial property.”

“This whole business worries me.”

“I know. Me, too,”

“Are you’re going to hire an attorney?”

“We don’t need one. The Code Enforcement manager said we could easily fight this on our own. I’m not dipping into my nest egg for an attorney we don’t need. If I can provide proof of my residence prior to the passage of the new law, the Code Enforcement manager promised to appear with us at the Special Magistrate meeting, and he will attest that my cottage is grandfathered. So you see? We’ll be home free. An open and shut case.”

“I don’t know, Lily. Things always get complicated when attorneys get involved.”

“Have faith. We’ll be fine.”

“But it’s not like you can’t afford an attorney,” Tammy argued.

“Like I’ve told you before, I’m not touching that nest egg Hank left me unless I have to. I’m determined to do this all on my own.”

“This being?”

“To make the nursery a success.”

“It’s already a success, hon. You don’t want to risk that, do you?”

Lily gave her a pointed look. “I’m not. I can do this without Hank’s help or any outside help. I know I can.”

“I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I’m going to do exactly what the Code Enforcement manager said to do. He promised to be there at the meeting with me. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

Tammy gave her a resigned nod.

“Now, you called and said you had sample brochures for Rob’s new interiors line.”

Tammy handed over three booklet-style color brochures. “A courier brought the three samples after you left for the zoning meeting. If you’ll approve one, I’ll place our order with the printer and have the brochures placed in every hotel and resort office in the tri-county area.”