USA Today Bestselling Author
Kyron swore he wouldn’t work with dogs anymore, but, when Badger asks him to go home to Aspen and to track a missing War Dog, who is missing her left leg—as he is—Kyron can’t refuse. Even if it means seeing his brother and his wife again. Not that he had anything against them. Kyron just couldn’t deal with his parents. Finding the dog seems like the easiest part of returning to Aspen, until Kyron realizes a rescue run by a fascinating woman is the one that’s spotted the missing dog, … only the dog isn’t alone …
Miranda spends every waking moment working to keep her animals safe. Two jobs keeps them in food and shelter but not much more. Considering her miserable neighbor is always making complaints about her, she has considered moving, but it is too expensive to make that happen. She has seen a three-legged canine hanging around the back perimeter of her property and had been feeding it, quietly knowing it resembled the dog the neighbor had brought home, until it ran away.
She had no intention of letting her neighbor or anyone else know about the dog, hoping to coax it onto her property, where she could look after it properly. However, then Kyron showed up, searching for the animal, and things got really ugly …
Once again Badger has to convince someone to go look for a missing war dog. This one disappeared a couple of months ago, the adoptive family said the dog was becoming aggressive as well. They didn’t report it either.
Kyron’s the perfect person for this job, he has family in Aspen, Colorado where the dog was last seen. He had left the K9 unit before he was injured, he couldn’t handle the death. Badger had just the right thing to lure him in though, the dog, Beth, is missing a leg, just like Kyron.
Kyron knew he was going to look for Beth, even though the chances of finding any signs of her were slim. It also meant seeing his brother Allen and his wife Sandra, hopefully that would go well. He wasn’t close to his family, he always hung out with his grandfather, and since his parents were angry with the man, Kyron was considered a traitor of sorts. This was made even worse when he went into the military instead of law enforcement like his father.
Miranda Galloway works two jobs to support her unofficial animal shelter. She has a good size property and one of her neighbors lets her use a pasture and barn for the larger animals that were left with her. Her other neighbor, old man Brant Macintyre wasn’t as nice. At some point the man had found a dog with a missing leg. When the dog ran away, he told her in no uncertain terms not to feed it. Of course, she wasn’t going to listen to that nonsense and was actively trying to coax the dog to her. He also made a habit of calling the city on her since she really wasn’t a licensed animal rescue or shelter.
Her grandmother is a big supporter where the rest of her family isn’t. She even has a great uncle out there somewhere who her grandmother has encouraged to help her as well. He’s cut her a large donation and wants to visit as well.
When a pallet of dog food arrives from one of the vendors of the clinic, things start to get interesting. Kyron’s investigation leads him to her as she’s moving the food to her garage. They strike up a conversation about her animals as Kyron helps her with securing the food. He finds Miranda has been looking for the dog and leaving food out for her and they learn much about each other as they share coffee after the work is done.
This is a favorite scene.
“Hey, Beth,” he whispered. “Beth,” he called out softly, “come here, girl.” Her tail wagged, and he smiled gently. “I know. It’s been tough, hasn’t it?”
The other dog stuck very close to Beth, almost leaning into her. Kyron studied it for a moment. A shepherd, larger, and, yet in a way, maybe more dependent. He wasn’t sure what the scenario was. He reached out a hand and called again, “Come here, Beth. Come over here, girl.” He didn’t want to use too many commands that would set her back, in case whatever had been there before had been part of her problem. He just kept talking to her in a calm, quiet voice. “It’s all right, girl. It’s okay.”
In the distance, a series of shots were fired, and both dogs took off immediately, yet still so close together.
Kyron straightened up, his heart in his throat, as he watched Beth take off again. But they had made contact, so, as far as he was concerned, this was just about needing more time now. Yet something about the other dog shook him. He wasn’t sure what was going on or in any way had an explanation or even a theory, but he continued to think about it, as he slowly trudged his way back to the house.
He didn’t know how Miranda would feel if he camped out here several times over the next few days, trying to establish trust with the dog, but that immediately brought up something else.
Having now made contact with Beth, if he did get a hold of her, what was Kyron supposed to do? As he walked across the lawn, he phoned Badger.
“Well, I’ve found the dog,” he stated. “She’s definitely been on the loose for some time, but she’s hooked up with what looks like a German shepherd. The other dog is quite a bit bigger than her, yet dependent somehow, and I’m not sure what the scenario is. I was just making progress when somebody fired some shots in the distance, and they both bolted.” He paused, turned around to look in the direction the two dogs had gone, but he saw nothing. “Yet she was responding, and I know with a little bit of time, I can get her to trust me.” He added, “But that brings up the larger question.”
At that, Badger, his voice excited, replied, “Absolutely, it does. But this is huge, if you’ve actually found her. What kind of condition was she in?”
“Skinny,” he said instantly, “but holding. I’m at the house of a woman who has been feeding her, well, putting out dog food, unsure if it was for this dog or for coyotes, but the food was disappearing. She’d gotten a glimpse of the dog a couple times but never got close enough to get a look at her,” he explained quietly. “This woman is spending every penny she’s got, trying to run a rescue here. She’s got over forty animals, and it appears that she’s the only one suffering for lack of food or at least nutrients.”
“Ouch. So somebody else who’s operating more on heart than head?” Badger noted.
“Well, let’s just say that I’m sure she gets a lot of pushback from family and friends because she’s working two jobs, and everything goes to the animals.”
“Of course,” he replied, “and you can understand that too.”
“Absolutely,” he muttered. “But I’m not too sure what we’re supposed to do with this situation now. What if I get Beth back? I mean, I get that she needs to have a good set of choices and a good life from here on out, but do you have somebody here who can take her, somebody who’ll properly look after her?”
Badger was quiet for a moment. “In that location, no,” he stated finally. “Can you take her to your brother’s place?”
“No, I don’t think I can,” he answered quietly. “I’ll mention it to him, but his wife is not a big fan of dogs, and she’s well along in a high-risk pregnancy, so I don’t want to cause any trouble. In fact, I’m not sure I should even be there myself.”
“Right,” he agreed thoughtfully. “Let me talk to the rest of the team about it and see what we can come up with.”
“Will do,” Kyron said. “I just don’t want to see Beth go to another scenario where she ends up struggling, you know? Plus, she’s broken out of two different places here, so we’ll have to keep that in mind as well. And she seems strangely bonded to this other dog.”
“Right,” Badger noted quietly. “We’ve got to find the right placement. That’s why we took on this K9 project, to make sure all these animals ended up in homes that are safe and sound. We might find a rescue that can take her there or maybe adopt her somewhere within the city itself.”
“And it’s possible,” Kyron admitted. “Certainly decent people are here, but we’ve seen some lately who haven’t been all that easy to deal with. Like the people who got Beth originally.”
“Right, and I can contact the war department and see what can be done about that.”
“Haven’t you come across this problem before?”
“No, not yet,” he said.
“Well, what happened with all the other dogs you found?”
Badger laughed. “You may not want to hear this.”
“What?” Kyron asked. “Every one of them was adopted by the man we sent out to find them.”
Kyron froze, as he thought about it. “Damn.”
“Why damn?” Badger asked.
“Because, I have to admit, it already crossed my mind. She is a dog I can handle because it’s work that I’ve done in the past,” he noted, “but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to settle down.”
“No, and I’m not saying you have to,” Badger answered carefully. “This isn’t a trick. We’re not trying to get you to sign up for something like that, particularly if you’re not ready to put down roots. The dog needs a home where she can stay for good, where she doesn’t have to be rehomed yet again,” he explained quietly.
“More than that, she needs a place where she feels safe, and it’s very obvious, based on her current mannerisms, that she hasn’t felt safe in a long time,” he noted. “I did get a tail wag out of her eventually, but she’s wary, very wary.”
“Do you think she’s been hurt?”
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised, though I don’t have any evidence or any other reason to say that,” Kyron admitted. “Obviously something went on at her placement home that wasn’t at all what we’d hoped for.”
“Of course, and, if she’s been on her own for any time it makes more sense too. It makes me damn angry with the ass who didn’t let anybody know she was in trouble. They were only thinking about themselves and how much trouble they would be in,” Badger snapped. “Believe me. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like that.”
“It’s still wrong, no matter how many times it happens though,” Kyron muttered.
“Sure it is, and being wrong is just one aspect of how these poor dogs ended up slipping through the cracks,” he replied, “but we’re doing what we can. As is the war department.”
“I know. I hear you,” Kyron said. “Let me think about it. I might have some solutions here.”
“Do you know people who are solid and serious in their commitment to handle Beth?”
“Maybe.” Kyron turned to stare at the house. “I don’t know. I’ll have to give it some thought. Talk to you later.” And, with that, Kyron hung up the phone and walked toward Miranda’s house. He knocked on the back door, and she opened it almost immediately.
“You got close to her,” she exclaimed.
“I did, but then some shots were fired or a truck backfired or something. I’m not sure what I even heard,” he explained. “Her reaction does make me wonder if she has PTSD though.”
Miranda winced immediately. “Oh, the poor baby.”
“Exactly.” Hesitating a moment, he began, “Look.
I don’t want to impose, but I’ll need to come back and forth over the next few days to see if I can gain her trust. Also a second dog is with her.”
“I saw that, at least I thought I did,” she added. “I could just see you from my bedroom window. I was up there stripping the bedding to get it in the laundry, to rid it of all the dog and cat hair,” she said, with an eye roll. “I heard you whistle, then looked out, and later saw that you got somewhere.”
“I got somewhere. I’m just not sure where yet,” he admitted. “And honestly, a lot of progress is necessary in order to get her to the point where I can take her home— or to a home.” He hesitated. “I’m not too sure how long that will take.”
“And what about the second dog she’s with?” she asked anxiously.
“That’s the next problem. I wasn’t expecting a second dog, and they seem to be bonded.”
“What about your brother? Would he take it?”
“Well, you need to spend whatever time you can give her,” she stated. “Come on back in again and get warmed up.”
He stepped inside, happy to feel the warmth. “Thank you, and I sincerely mean that. It helps that you’re an animal lover, so I can take time getting Beth’s trust, without pressuring her.”
“As long as you’ll look after the second one as well,” she stated immediately.
He winced at that. “I know. I need to. I called my boss to see what they want to do about this.”
“Well, I can’t have you taking them out of here to a worse situation,” she stated.
“Worse?” he asked, with a wry look.
“Yes, worse,” she confirmed, nodding. “At the moment, now that we’ve found her, we have to move into the second stage, which is gradually gain her trust and get a leash on her, then see what we can do from there.”
She nodded. “And your brother?”
He shook his head. “My brother would probably be okay with it temporarily, as he’s an animal lover, or at least he used to be. But my sister-in-law is not.” She frowned at him. He frowned right back.
“I really can’t condone letting the dogs go into an unhealthy scenario,” she stated, crossing her arms over her chest.
He hated that he immediately noticed how plump and firm her breasts appeared over her arms. He gave himself a mental shake. “I get it. Let’s get all our options together, and I can come back tomorrow.” He looked out the kitchen window at the darkening sky. “Would you mind putting out more dog food for Beth today?”
“I can do that.” She smirked. “As you saw, I have plenty, and thankfully you helped me unload.”
“Right.” He nodded, still in his own thoughts. “I’ll bring a harness, some leashes, and dog food for Beth and her friend tomorrow morning. And see what I can do over the course of the day to hopefully gain her trust.” And, with that, he smiled at her. “Thank you for the coffee too.”
“Thank you for the help moving the dog food.”
“I’m just so glad you found Beth in the first place.”
She gave him a big grin. “Hey, any animal in need.”
“I get it, and I’ll see you in the morning.” And, with that, he headed back to his vehicle.
Dale Mayer. Kyron (Kindle Locations 1210-1299). Valley Publishing Ltd..
For Kyron the family stuff gets worse, for Miranda her neighbor gets more dangerous, for the dogs their lives improve.
After shots are fired, injuring one of the dogs, Kyron is faced with a dilemma. He can’t bring the dogs to his brother’s. Miranda is more than willing but the neighbor is escalating. She’s looking for a larger property and a quick sale to get away from the dangers to herself and the animals. It’s then that Kyron remembers the property his grandfather left him.
For Kyron the family stuff gets worse, for Miranda her neighbor gets more dangerous, for the dogs and the other animals their lives improve.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.