Saturday, October 25, 2008

Special Feature!!


Cleaning lady Belle Blevins dusts off her sleuthing skills when a rash of missing dogs jeopardizes her best friend’s boarding business. Why would anyone go to such extremes to steal a family pet?
When Belle learns the missing animals could possibly be in the hands of dognappers, she trades her vacuum for a detective kit and enters the world of valuable show dogs. Will she win a blue ribbon in the romance category? Or will her curiosity put her on the no-show list for the next round of competition?


Eileen Key, freelance writer and editor, resides in San Antonio, Texas, near her grown children and two wonderful grandchildren. She’s published nine anthology stories, numerous articles and devotionals. Her first mystery novel Dog Gone is from Barbour publishing.
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A lost show dog would reflect on Ginnie's business and hit my pocketbook. The taxes on my property had jumped significantly. And if Ginnie's revenue was cut, she'd not be able to make the quarterly lease payment in June. I certainly couldn't cover it all. I'd risk losing land that had been in my family for three generations.

While Ginnie placed the phone call, I went to the back door and stepped outside. I ran my fingers lightly over the doorjamb by the knob. No sign of forced entry. No shoe prints. I circled to the front door and two windows. Nothing. A thick black wire caught my eye. "Security cameras." I opened the door and hollered, "Ginnie, the cameras."


"Your security cameras. Let's look at the tapes."

"Of course. They're so new I never thought of them. Where's my mind today?"

Mounted in the top corner of two hallways, black cameras gave a view of all the doggie domains. We could pull the tapes and solve our dilemma. Schotzie could be home by dinnertime.

Ginnie met me underneath a camera. "I can't believe I didn't run to them right off. This one would show more."

I braced an arm against the wall, stood on tiptoes, and peered at the camera to check its angle. It pointed toward the first row of doggie boudoirs. I couldn't see well. "Looks like something is on the lens."

"There's a stool inside the grooming area. Let me get it." Ginnie dragged it to the hallway.

"Steady it and let me climb." I swiveled the camera toward my face once I was high enough to reach it and felt a sticky blob covering the lens. My heart sank. Pinching off a bit, I smelled it. "Ginnie, it's bubblegum."

We checked the camera at the other end of the hallway. More gum. Frustration welled in my chest as I dropped to the floor. "Looks to me like these have been intentionally sabotaged."

She covered her mouth with one hand. "Oh no, this can't be happening." She shivered.

I gripped her arm. "Did you call Sheriff Connors?" At her nod, I guided her down the hall, heartsick. I wondered where Scholander's Pride might be-and who would have gone to such trouble to take her.

The sheriff 's dispatcher had promised to send out a deputy to investigate, and Ginnie and I waited in the kennel's kitchen. Ginnie had purchased a glass-and chrome dinette, a black refrigerator, and matching microwave. Pampered Pooch's lounge offered comfort to its employees, too.

"Coffee?" Ginnie motioned to the pot. "I mean tea. I know you don't drink coffee. See how scrambled my brain is?" She filled two mugs with water and placed them in the microwave. I opened a tea bag and dunked it in the cup she handed me.

"Who had access to the kennel last night?"

"Only Charlie Baker, my evening tech. He left before nine." Ginnie dipped her tea bag up and down and stared into space. "I heard him leave."

I reached for a packet of sweetener and stirred it in. "I thought it was his job to walk the dogs."

"Well, it is, but I enjoy doing it sometimes. Keeps the lonesomes away." She batted her eyelashes and fought tears. "I hate bedtime now that Mitch is gone."Her voice strained, "Two long years of emptiness."

I squeezed her hand. "We'll figure this out, honey." I sipped tea and looked at her over the rim of the cup. "Don't fret. It makes wrinkles around your eyes." And it was giving me a pounding headache.

She fingered her eyelids and smoothed out the crow's-feet, massaging her temples. Ginnie's blond curls and perfect makeup were her trademarks. I must admit, she had a touch of vanity. Often she'd tried to get me "to spruce up a bit," as she called it, but I liked my less-than-perfect look. I could smear on foundation and a dab of lipstick and be out the door faster than she could curl her eyelashes.

A car pulled up, and Ginnie popped up to look out the window. "It's Deputy Dawg." A sad smile tugged at her lips. Don Dawson seemed to enter the door behind his protruding belly. He'd earned his nickname with his slow drawl and droopy jowls, but for the many years I'd known him, he'd always proven to be a good friend. I tipped my teacup in his direction and hid my smile as I sipped.

He nodded in my direction. "Morning, Miss Ginnie." He slid his mirrored sunglasses into his pocket. "Coffee smells mighty good." Ginnie pointed to the cabinet, and he grabbed a Styrofoam cup. "Sheriff said to get here quick. What's the trouble?"

"I've lost a dog." Ginnie's forlorn voice sounded childlike.

He sipped his coffee. "Lost him?" He looked around the room as though Schotzie were under the table.

She crossed her arms. "I have searched the premises, Don, and the dog is simply not here."

I spoke up, "What's worse, the security cameras have been disabled." I explained the gum.

"Well, let's take a look-see." He ambled into the hallway and stopped. "Show me around this fancy place." He grinned. "I told my wife you'd opened a hotel for dogs, and she couldn't believe me. I'll get to tell her tonight I took a tour."

"Don, I'll gladly give you a tour, but you're here to help me find a dog." Ginnie practically stomped her tiny size 5 sandal. "Not just any dog, either. A dog worth thousands of dollars."

His eyebrows shot up. "Thousands?"

"Thousands," I echoed. "This is an award-winning show dog. We need to find her." I slid my chair from the table and patted Don on the back. "This way, Deputy."

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1 comment:

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Great chapter, Eileen!! This is one I haven't read yet, but you've certainly whetted my appetite.