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When Jennet Greenway rescues a wounded collie from a snowy country road, her winter vacation takes a deadly turn.
A band of dognappers, the murder of the town's beloved veterinarian, and a sinister enemy place Jennet in danger and threaten to derail her romantic weekend getaway with Deputy Sheriff Crane Ferguson.
As I walked up to the Caroline Meilland Animal Shelter, in a swirl of blowing snow, I saw a Christmas tree in the bay window of the old white Victorian house next door. It was a massive balsam, whose branches filled the entire window, and the multi-colored lights wound around them shone like individual jeweled beacons, still and brilliant.
With Christmas a week away, festive decorations livened up the little hamlet of Foxglove Corners, but here, a block beyond the Corners, the deserted park across the street and the animal shelter were in plain white dress.
The Christmas tree was the only bright touch in the stark, monochromatic scene. Shiny ornaments weighted down its branches, and icicles dripped and sparkled among the decorations. I was impressed. I had stopped decorating with tinsel several years ago when the city of Oakpoint decreed that it had to be removed from discarded trees.
I couldn’t resist one more admiring glance at the lights in the window, before setting my grocery bags down on the porch and ringing the doorbell. I was no more ready for the holiday than I ever am, but instead of going Christmas shopping, I had stopped at Blackbourne Grocers to buy an assortment of treats for the shelter dogs.
Letty Woodville opened the door. "Hello, Jennet," she said. "What’s all this?"
As she bent down to pick up one of the grocery bags, a splattering of wet snowflakes landed on her gray-streaked hair. She peered inside, politely pretending to be surprised. I knew that she couldn’t be. I had brought several such bags to the shelter on previous occasions.
Before I could answer, a small black puppy raced toward the entrance. With her left hand, Letty lifted it high into the air to prevent it from running out into the street. She stood in the entrance, awkwardly balancing grocery bag and squirming canine baby, managing to hold on to both competently. The pup was now chewing the sleeve of her long denim dress.
"Meet Charcoal," she said.
I reached out to pet his silky head. "I brought some rawhide chews and dog treats with real bone marrow for your foundlings."
"How sweet of you. I’ll put them in their Christmas stockings." She looked up at the sky. "I wonder if it’s going to keep on snowing."
"According to this morning’s forecast, only flurries. The wind makes it seem like more."
I pushed back my hood and stamped the snow off my boots on the doormat before following Letty inside.
"I hope we’ll have a white Christmas," she said, voicing a sentiment I’d heard several times already today. In fact, I’d said something similar myself.
"You look like you could use some help," I said. "Is it all right if I…"
Letty handed me the puppy before I could finish my request. With her free hand, she closed the door. Then she smoothed her chewed sleeve and ran her hand through the melting snow on her hair.
I held the little canine body close to my face. It was so soft and incredibly warm that I felt the winter chill stealing away. I breathed in the sweet puppy smell and whispered his name and friendly nonsense to him, while he licked my cheek earnestly. He was new since my last visit. When his squirming grew frantic, I set him down, and he scampered away.
"Lila will want to see you," Letty said.
I picked up the other grocery bag and followed her through the dining room into the kitchen where Lila, Letty’s older sister, was rummaging through boxes stacked on the countertop, table, and floor.
It looked like an ordinary afternoon at the shelter, but something was troubling me. The place was unnaturally quiet. I listened for the usual raucous barking that would make conversation difficult. All I heard was the rustle of tissue paper.
Dorothy Bodoin lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, with her black collie, Holly, who appears in the Foxglove Corners cozy mysteries as Halley. After attending Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English, she taught secondary English for several years. Now she is a full-time writer of cozy mysteries and novels of romantic suspense. At present she is working on a novel of romantic suspense.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 280
Paper Weight (lb): 11.8
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