USA Today Bestselling Author
Rhys hadn’t expected a trip to Cottage Grove, Oregon to start with a house being shot up with bullets. If it had stopped there it would have been manageable. A drive by shooting that the cops should be able to chase down. But nothing was easy in his world. And this case went to hell right from the beginning…
Taylor, an army vet herself was struggling to regain a normal life after she was injured by friendly fire in Iraq. Taking on a war dog appealed as it gave her a connection that they could both relate too, but she had to pass some kind of interview before she could keep Tallahassee. An interview with someone with a prosthetic just like hers. Only he was far more capable than she was.
Still that was the least of her worries as things go from bad to worse and she realizes these attacks were very personal… and very close to home…
Rhys Gorman had some reservations about going after a War Dog, but the lure of a new prosthetic made by Kate makes it hard to resist. What he doesn’t expect to see as he pulls up across from the residence is a drive-by shooting.
Taylor more heard the shots but wasn’t sure they were shots. Her PTSD kicked in and now she isn’t at all sure what she heard. Her dog scratching at the door to come it snaps her out of it and when she lets him in, he does a search of the house before returning to her. Taylor doesn’t quite understand it, but she appreciates what the dog has done. She’s managed to fix a cup of tea and make her way to sit outside on the porch with the dog when Rhys pulls up in front of her house.
This is just one of many favorite scenes.
She wanted to be healthy and whole; she wanted to see her way through all this, and yet all she saw was more nightmares, more pain, more intolerances that she struggled with, and how the hell was she supposed to find anything that made her happy about that? If only there was another answer, if only … she hadn’t gone to the military police to turn him in.
Was it his fault where she was at now? Not likely. But he was ultimately the start of all this. And that was something that she found almost impossible to deal with. As she sat here on the porch, a truck pulled up to the front of the house. Immediately the dog stood up and studied the approaching vehicle. When it parked, and the engine turned off, she wondered idly which neighbor was visiting her.
When the man stepped out, making absolutely no attempt to hide the prosthetic on his leg, she stared. And then her heart sank.
“Better not be coming here,” she muttered to herself.
Almost immediately the dog beside her growled.
She looked over at him. “Is that because of me or because of him?” she muttered to the dog.
The dog didn’t say anything but watched with a hawk’s eyes. As the man approached the small gate and unlocked it, stepping forward, he looked around carefully, catching sight of her. And then, with a nod, he called out, “Good afternoon.”
She shook her head. “There’s nothing good about it. I don’t know what you’re doing here or what business you think you have, but you’re not welcome.”
He stopped, stared, and then nodded. “And maybe that dog beside you has a different greeting for me.”
And, sure enough, she looked down to see the dog, his tail going like crazy, a whine starting to come out of the back of his throat.
The stranger entered the gate and slowly approached. “I mean you no harm.”
She looked from him to the dog, who was straining at his leash. Immediately the man held up his hand in some sort of a command, and the dog’s butt hit the porch floor, but it couldn’t stop wiggling with joy. And, with that reaction, she unhooked the leash. “Well, isn’t that just something?” Her heart sank, as she realized that this man had a claim to this dog that she could never hope to have.
The dog barreled toward him, jumping up on him, knocking him backward against the fence. Instead of being upset, the man just laughed, wrapped his arms around the dog, and held him close. At least as close as anybody could during such a wiggling embrace. When the dog finally got free again, he jumped down, doing zoomies all over the front yard.
She’d never seen him act like this before. Didn’t think it would ever happen again. It was such normal dog behavior that she was happy for him, but, at the same time, she was sad because she hadn’t given him that sense of confidence, that sense of freedom, to be who he needed to be. And yet here this stranger walked up, opened the gate, and there he was, giving her dog what he needed.
He looked at her slowly, took a couple steps forward, and asked, “May I come up?”
She stared at him resentfully and then shrugged. “You’re already in, so you might as well.”
He nodded and walked a few steps closer. “Thank you.”
“What for?” she asked suspiciously.
“For looking after Tallahassee here,” he replied.
“He’s your dog?” she asked.
Immediately he looked at her and shook his head. “No, but he was part of … a training unit that I worked with when I was in the navy.”
“Navy?” She frowned.
“I was part of a special unit that worked with dogs,” he added. “Tallahassee was one of them.”
“And how do you know his name? I’ve been calling him Fred.”
“Fred?” He shook his head, whistled, and called out, “Tallahassee, come.”
The dog immediately raced over and jumped up again.
At Rhys’s command, Tallahassee stopped jumping. Rhys turned toward her. “His name’s Tallahassee,” he repeated. “As you can see, he responds to it quite well.”
“Did you know he was here? Is that why you’ve come?” she asked suspiciously.
He immediately took a slow step back, as if realizing something in her world was flipping, and he understood that he was causing it.
She shook her head at the stranger’s retreat and his lack of an answer. “Why are you here?” she repeated, her heart in her throat at the thought of losing the dog. She could only take so many losses in life— although she’d been prepared to lose this dog if it didn’t work out for her, which was selfish on her part. She hadn’t in any way expected somebody else to show up with a prior claim. But, after what she’d seen, it was obvious this man definitely had a prior claim.
The man looked at her gently and said, “Before we discuss any of that, can you tell me if you’re okay?”
She looked at him. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“What I mean,” he stated, “is about whoever shot into your house. Did they hit anything? Are you hurt?”
She stared at him. “Shot?” Her voice was faint, her heart slamming against her chest.
The stranger’s eyes narrowed, and he nodded slowly. “You didn’t hear it?”
“I, … I did,” she confirmed, reaching a hand to her temple. She closed her eyes. “I just wasn’t sure if it was real or not.”
“You didn’t imagine it,” he declared, his voice harsh. “Somebody drove by and shot into your house multiple times.”
Dale Mayer. Rhys (Kindle Locations 183-228). Valley Publishing Ltd..
The realization that someone was shooting at her house, forces Taylor to focus on things she’d rather forget. Rhys isn’t going to leave until he’s sure she’s safe.
There’s much to uncover and evaluate as this tale unfolds and the relationship between Taylor and Rhys becomes more than just friendship.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
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.