A BLACKMAILER returns to sell a deadly cure.
A MOTHER’S DENIAL dooms millions of children.
AND A DOG shows true loyalty…when he runs away.
With her stalker finally caught, animal behaviorist September Day’s PTSD has abated and she’s begun to trust again. She dares to hope Detective Jeff Combs might become more than a friend, until his investigation into a dog fighting ring leaves her reeling.
Shadow wrestles his own demons. A German Shepherd autism service dog before losing his-boy to a health crises, Shadow found love and his true purpose working with September. Now his-boy is back–but changed–and Shadow fears he’ll be forced to choose.
When a desperate mom demands help, and Combs’s son disappears with his dog, September and Shadow must find the children before a devastating storm hits. But the children have a secret plan of their own. Only when September shows true courage, and a good-dog tells the truth, can they find their way home again.
EXCERPT from CHAPTER 9
Shadow braced himself in the back seat. The big car jolted down and up again when it lurched off the regular car-path. He stuck his nose in the window crack, making wet streaks on the glass with his nose. A low tree branch switched against the car, and he flinched back.
“Sorry, baby-dog.” September reached through the metal bars that separated him from the front seat. He slurped her fingers. “Just chill. When we get there, we’ll play Frisbee.”
He thumped his tail to show he understood. Shadow loved fetch-games, but the happy words couldn’t change his disquiet.
He’d growled at the scary woman. Oily acrid scent rolled off her gloves in waves, covering up the clean dog smell underneath. He wondered why she needed guns when she had dogs to keep her safe?
Gun stink made his lip curl. Guns made ear-hurting noises, and could reach out and bite dogs and their people from far away. He didn’t like or understand guns. Teeth were better, even for show. Good-dogs don’t bite, not ever, even when scary strangers deserve biting. But instead of listening to a good-dog’s warning, September shushed him. She knew best, but he remained alert until the stranger drove away with the crying lady.
Despite her rude intrusion into his house, the weeping woman hadn’t worried him. When he smelled the salty wet on her face, he knew she posed no threat.
September couldn’t enjoy the scent-colors that filled the world. He did his best to show her these hidden treasures, wanted to share his joy. Usually she listened to him, reading the lift of his ear or shift in his posture, but sometimes Shadow didn’t know how to explain. If dogs detected smells and sounds hidden from people, then humans must know things dogs couldn’t understand.
People knew names for so many things, and he loved learning new names in the show-me game. People made cars run faster than any dog, and he relished wind-taste that blew through car windows. Shadow half closed his eyes, licked his nose, and stuck it further out the window to catch the scent-stream. Bliss.
The car slowed, and tires crunched when they made a turn. He stared ahead, tipping his head to one side for a better view. The path unraveled in front like the paper roll Macy-cat liked to steal.
Shadow saw a small wooden-sided house, its yard messy with tall uncut brown grass all around. He stood on the seat, wagging as the car came to a stop.
To one side, a chain-link fence with a cement floor enclosed half the yard, empty now, but he smelled two dogs. He wagged harder, his tail raised with excitement. He couldn’t stop the small whines of anticipation when September released her car-harness to get out.
“Sorry, Shadow. Wait.”
He yelped in protest. He knew what wait meant, his least favorite word. He needed to do his job, lead the way, check-it-out for danger the way he always cleared their house when they returned home.
“Everything’s fine. Scariest thing here is the stray kitten BeeBo rescued, and a frightened kitty won’t appreciate you nosing around.” September took in the empty dog yard and frowned at the mud-crusted truck parked under a nearby carport.
Shadow wagged again, and whined hopefully. He loved September talking to him, even if he didn’t understand all the words. He understood the emotions and intent, so the words didn’t matter.
“His truck’s here. Maybe BeeBo’s out with Dot and Teddy. Can’t have them come back and discover you baptizing their personal space, so you have to wait. I won’t be long, I promise.” He panted and pawed the window. “Give me a break, you’re not hot. Okay, I’ll leave the blower on. How’s that? She restarted the car and flipped a switch so that wind from the front of the car ruffled his fur. September slammed the car door, and stuck one hand to the barely opened window for him to nose-touch. That made him feel better. A little.
Shadow sighed, and watched her walk up the path to the front door, climb the stairs, and knock on the door. And wait.
She knocked again and called out. “Hey BeeBo, you home?”
An eerie keening howl rose from behind the door. Shadow came to full attention with the DANGER! cry from the strange dog. His fur bristled when September’s back stiffened. She glanced at him, and he woofed and stood up, willing her to return, let him out to protect her from DANGER! the dog’s howling fearful threat DANGER! inside the house.
“BeeBo? Everything okay?” September’s voice shook.
A second dog joined the first’s lament. Hysterical woofs mixed with frantic yelps and mournful howls. September reached for the door handle, but before touching it, pulled her hand away as though from a flame.
Shadow added his bark to the chorus, wanting, needing to reach September. He barked louder, but she ignored him, stepped off the porch, and disappeared around the side of the house.
He whined, frustrated. She’d left him behind. He paw-slapped the window, clawed the door, frantic. Dot and Teddy’s horrific howls of loss infected him with worry.
Shadow howled. He braced one paw on the door-ledge and wedged his nose further out the window. The glass abruptly scrolled down, and he didn’t hesitate. A good-dog protected his person. Shadow vaulted from the car window, and dashed to join September.
Winners of the NAME THAT DOG/CAT contest that appear in the book SHOW AND TELL are featured on this poster. Enter to win your paw-tographed poster and bonus chapter! LEARN HOW HERE!