Last Week of March Already: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I have four authors I need files from and the authors are set up. Hooray! We have 72 authors, a publisher, historical society, literacy organizations, it’s going to be great. We have booked the duo Windstrum. We have two separate rooms where we’ll have children’s story times, entertainment and author presentations. We’re also looking for sponsors. Putting on a festival of this size costs money and if you can support us, we’d love it. You can find an on-line fillable form on http://www.paysonbookfestival.org/sponsor-levels/.

April’s Camp NaNo starts Saturday and my plotting for the next Zoe Ohale story isn’t going any better than last week. I’m going to have to plot heavily this week or write “Into the Dark” as Dean Wesley Smith, says. Have you read the first Zoe Ohale book, Troubled Streets? Where do you think Zoe should go next?

Apple Blossoms and Bee by Randy Cockrell

Not much on the gardening front. A cold snap came in and for the last week we’ve been getting cold, frosty nights and two days ago it was hailing. However, the local stores have been getting in tiny plants and I’m eager to put something in the ground. I just found out about the flower, borage. It helps keep hornworms off of your tomatoes. I’m going to get at least a couple of borage plants to put in the tomato bed. I also learned about pruning my tomato plants of the suckers. I’m going to try it out and see if it helps. My tomatoes are usually running amok and taking over every square inch of space for two feet around the outside of the bed. Hopefully, this will help.

Sadie – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Have you been reading my serial, Mystery at the Dog Park? The last episode is coming up this Friday. I’m using pictures of dogs up for adoption from the Payson Humane Society to illustrate each section. Links to each section are at the top of each post so it’s easy to go back to the first episodes and catch up. Enjoy.

I’m prepping the April flash stories so I can focus on the Camp NaNo story. The first one is a riff off my Gulliver Station series. The rest is a fantasy serial I started two days ago. I have no idea where I’m going with it right now but there’s an elf princess, so it has that going for it.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is now over. I’ll be contacting the winners soon. In a few days I’ll have the spring giveaway up. If you missed out on the last one, the next will be your chance to win.

 

Shout Out:

I don’t have an Author Interview scheduled this week. So let me give a shout out to Anita Stewart. A speculative fiction (SciFi and Horror) author, she’s a major mover and shaker in the below noted B2BCyCon. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/afstewart, to learn more.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. I’ve added some content. Please feel free to comment on the posts. Are you a Goodreads user? Love to see you there. If you aren’t a Goodreads member, here’s your chance to find a ton of books, chats with other readers and even ask an author a question. Me included!

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 6 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Dos – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

 

Part 6 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here.

Trigger warning: Dog violence.

 

Jean was in her black jeans, a black t-shirt and a black sweatshirt, which she’d just bought today. It could be chilly out in the woods and she wanted it with her. She’d spent Saturday afternoon reacquainting herself with her big camera. Usually she used her little hiking camera or just her cell phone to take pictures. She made the house as dark as she could to practice shooting without a flash. Frustrated, Jean had to download a YouVid how-to video to get it right. She had a sandwich for supper and fidgeted as she stared out of her patio window watching the sun go down.

It was after six when Karen pulled up in her Jeep. “Ready?” she asked as Jean hopped into the car.

“Yes. I thought this afternoon would never end.” Jean buckled her seat belt. “I have everything. We just need to get there and not get caught.”

Karen pulled away from the curb. “That’s the trick. Isn’t it?”

They rode in silence, even after turning onto Forest Road 222. Jean watched behind them. “I see lights two switchbacks back.”

Karen nodded. “We’re almost down.”

Jean twisted in her seat to watch more comfortably. “Hurry, but don’t crash.”

Karen snorted. “Thanks.”

A minute later, “We’re down, now to find that spot.” Karen crept along, not wanting to miss the turn off. “Got it.” She pulled in and around the bushes and turned off the car and lights.

Jean spun around in her seat and watched out to the road. “They’ll be right along.”

They sat, hardly breathing, staring through the bushes. Even in the Jeep, they could hear the roar of a diesel truck engine. A moment later, they watched the lights pass, engine loud enough to make the Jeep shake. They sighed at the same time, then giggled with nerves. “Okay. Let’s get out and do some sneaking.” Jean gathered the camera and her sweatshirt. “Ready? Open doors, get out, close doors so as little light as possible shows.”

Karen nodded.

“One, two, three.” Jean opened her door, slid out and closed it as fast and as quietly as she could. “You there?” she asked into the dark.

“Yep. I’ve got my flashlight and a hiking stick.”

“I’ve got my camera and my flashlight.” Jean pulled the camera strap over her head. “I guess we’re ready.”

“We should cross the road here. Then keep to the woods along the way. If we turn off our flashlights when we hear a car, they’ll never see us.” Karen came around the end of the Jeep and waited for Jean.

“Sounds like a plan. I’m ready.”

The two women picked their way to the road and hearing nothing, crossed it, moving as far away from the forest road as seemed prudent. They kept their flashlights pointed down. It meant that they could only see a couple of feet in front of them but better than making themselves a target.

Jean’s heart pounded. Every step they made sounded like it could be heard in Greyson but without being able to see too far ahead, there wasn’t much they could do about it. As they moved forward, more and more cars passed on their left. Each time they shut off the light and hunkered down. With every car that passed, they grew more comfortable. “They can’t see us.” Karen whispered.

“They’re not looking.” Jean whispered back as a pick-up truck, every external light known to man lit up on the truck, passed by. It’s very hard for the human eye to pick out shapes in the dark unless they’re looking for them, are lit up in some way or are moving. It’s when we get to the ring that we’ll have to be careful.”

By the time they made the third of a mile, festivities were in full swing. From the edge of the woods they could see trucks surrounded the ring, lights on. At the moment, it was empty. One guy was selling beers from coolers off of his tailgate. Men and women were standing around the fence, laughing and joking, while others sat on the truck hoods, able to see over the heads of those standing.

Men and dogs were at the poles Jean and Karen had noted earlier, one dog tied per pole. People wandered among the tied dogs, as men debated the merits of the dog or the dog in relation to some other dogs. Jean took pictures of the dogs and their owners as best she could without a flash.

Karen pointed out that the men were giving their dogs rubdowns and checking their paws. “They’re treating them like boxers.”

“Yeah, but a boxer has a choice.”

She saw a number of smaller dogs, ones that didn’t look like fighting dogs at all. “I wonder why the little dogs?”

“No idea,” Karen whispered back.

They were interrupted by an announcement. They looked at the ring. From the back of a huge white pickup, a man stood with a microphone. “To start the evening, a demonstration by Bill Munson on training your fighting dog.

The gate farthest from them opened. Jean moved to get shots of the man in the ring. He led a German Shepherd. Behind him another man led a small terrier on a leash. Jean moved closer, standing on a fallen pine to get higher. Karen followed.

The man in the ring spoke without a microphone. He slipped the leash off the shepherd and began to talk. She was too far away to hear. Jean could see Karen straining to hear. The second man let the terrier loose. The first man called a command. Before she knew what was happening the shepherd ran straight for the little dog. She began snapping. The dog grabbed the terrier by the neck and with only a small squeal, the shepherd shook its head and tossed the small dog in the air.

The man called the dog back and snapped the leash in place. Jean stopped snapping and got off the log. Her hands were shaking so hard she was glad she had the strap around her neck. Karen was bent over, retching.

 

Thank You!

1025 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

 

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Book Festival, Brain To Books Cycon, Gardening: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I’m finalizing the author registrations for the Payson Book Festival. That involves tracking down the authors who owe me files and getting them up on the website. We have a wonderful group of authors lined up covering every genre in fiction and non-fiction that you can think of. We’re also looking for sponsors. Putting on a festival of this size costs money and if you can support us, we’d love it. You can find an on-line fillable form on http://www.paysonbookfestival.org/sponsor-levels/.

There’s only a couple of weeks left before April’s Camp NaNo and my plotting for the next Zoe Ohale story isn’t going well. I’m just writing scene cards and it all seems trite and done before. Sigh. I’ll keep working at it. Have you read the first Zoe Ohale book, Troubled Streets? Where do you think Zoe should go next?

All the roses are trimmed and the canes disposed of. The oregano and lavender dead stems were trimmed. Compost has been restarted. I dug out the broccoli stems and planted potatoes. The apple tree I thought I’d lost last spring has a shoot coming up from the root stock. That’s pretty exciting! I’m going to let it grow and see what it is. I failed to trim the peach tree and now it’s in full bloom. I guess I’m going to have to do it now. The nectarine tree is also in bloom and between them, my rosemary is blooming. The pink and blue flowers look so nice together. The garden is looking good!

This is Dos. He’s ready to be adopted.

Annie Bamber

Outreach Programs Coordinator

(928) 474-5590 ext. 100

annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org

www.humanesocietycentralaz.org

  Like us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/

“Because They Matter”

Have you been reading my serial, Mystery at the Dog Park? The episode is coming up this Friday. I’m using pictures of dogs up for adoption from the Payson Humane Society to illustrate each section. Links to each section are at the top of each post so it’s easy to go back to the first episodes and catch up. Enjoy.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is now over. I’ll be contacting the winners soon. In a few days I’ll have the spring giveaway up. If you missed out on the last one, the next will be your chance to win.

 

Shout Out:

A shout out this week to my poet friend Carena del Uno. She’s releasing a book of poetry this week, Echoes Within the Wondrous. Carena’s Amazon author page is https://www.amazon.com/Carena-del-Uno/e/B00JHZ4XH0 where you can find her other books, too.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. I’ve added some content. Please feel free to comment on the posts. Are you a Goodreads user? Love to see you there. If you aren’t a Goodreads member, here’s your chance to find a ton of books, chats with other readers and even ask an author a question. Me included!

I’m also on a scifi webinar panel discussion on March 22nd at 1pm Eastern time titled The new age with Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars? Are we looking at a new audience? This webinar will be conducted early and recorded then replayed during the con so you have two chances to listen in! How cool is that! I’ll publish more info as I get it.

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 5 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Captain – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Part 5 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here.

 

It was Friday after school before Summer had something to report. Jean and Karen had continued to search for Sandy without luck but they became more observant of all the handyman and other contractor trucks parked in neighborhoods. They were especially suspicious of a truck just parked and the contractor sitting inside. Sometimes he was on the phone. Sometimes eating. None of them looked like they were casing the neighborhood where they were parked but who could tell?

Karen called Jean with the information. “It’s outside of town, to the south, down Forest Road 222 about three miles.”

“We should check it out.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.” Jean switched the handset to her left hand. “This is a chance to check out the place while it’s daylight.”

Karen took a deep breath. “What if somebody is there?”

“Put your hiking stuff on. We’ll just say we’re looking for new hikes?”

“I don’t know, Jean.”

“Better to go prepared, right? We don’t want to go tomorrow and not know what we’re up against. In the dark!”

“I guess. I’ll drive. Your Prius won’t like a dirt road.”

“Okay. See you in a few.” Jean hung up and hurried upstairs. This is perfect. We’ll scope the place out when it’s deserted and be ready for tomorrow night. She put on jeans and a tee-shirt. Then kicked off her flip-flops and put on hiking socks and her boots. Karen’s car horn sounded as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door.

“You were quick.” Jean put on her seat belt.

“I already had jeans and a tee on.” Karen backed out of the driveway and headed down the street. Just had to put my boots on.

“This is great.” Jean tapped a tattoo on her thighs with both hands. “We’ve gotten dull since summer.”

“We’ve not gotten into a fight with a crazy woman, you mean.” Karen shook her head. “I’m starting to think you’re an adrenaline junkie.”

“Nah. I just like things to be interesting.” She watched out of the window as Karen drove them south, out of town. “This is nice. I get to look around. Why is it I always drive?”

“Because you’re a control freak.” Karen laughed. “But I do drive sometimes.”

“True.” She watched another three blocks pass. “Do you know this forest road?”

“No. There are so many leaving the highway, unless it’s for something specific, I don’t try them all.”

Jean nodded. “So we’ll just cruise down the road, try to spot the place, take a look around.”

“Sure. Let’s say that.” Karen licked her lips. “I just hope no one is there.”

“Me, too.” Jean watched the scenery go by as Karen drove. It was six miles south of town where Karen slowed down and put on her turn signal. Jean perked up. “Alright.”

Karen waited for northbound traffic to pass, then pulled across the highway and onto the dirt road. “So far, so good.”

“It’s going to be hard to spot in the dark.”

“Yep. Probably a good thing we’re checking it today. Even if I am being a worry-wart.”

Jean grabbed the hand hold over the window as Karen’s Jeep hit a pothole. “Glad I didn’t bring my car.”

Karen nodded. “Sometimes the dirt roads are in really good shape, sometimes, like this one, not so much. Anyway, I set the trip odometer to zero so we can tell when we’re close.”

“Good idea.”

They traveled along the road without too many bumps until the odometer read 2.8. “We’re almost there. Keep an eye peeled.” Karen slowed down.

“That must be it.” Jean pointed to the right. The road had dipped down into a canyon about a mile from the spot. The landscape changed from high desert to wooded in the protected canyon. The spot didn’t have much to recommend it. There were no buildings. A chain-link fence circled the ring with a gate on opposite sides. Karen stopped the car and they got out. “Well, it’s secluded.”

Jean nodded. They walked around the fence. “What are these?” Away from the fence was rebar or pipes sticking up out of the ground, each one separated from the others by several feet. She crouched down to look as Karen walked up to her. She studied the dirt. It was rocky and pitted with small holes. She lightly touched a spot. “This is a chain mark. I think this is where they tie the dogs.”

Karen had her arms around herself. “I can’t help but think about these poor dogs.”

“Me, too.” Jean stood up and brushed the dirt off her hands. “Makes my stomach roll.” She looked around the barren area. “So we can’t drive up and park and come in. They’re going to know we aren’t fans. Did Summer say if they charged admission?”

“No. Just where it is. And you’re right. We can’t just walk in. We’ll have to park up the road and hike in. Then come around the back in the trees.” Karen pointed to the forest edge away from the road.

“That’s going to be tricky, the drive into the canyon was kind of narrow. We’d have to park at the top.” She turned to look down the road. “You know what’s that way?”

“Nope. But I brought the maps. Let’s see.” They went back to the car and Karen pulled USGS maps out of the cargo compartment. “Here’s the one.” She put the rest down and opened the map on the cargo compartment floor. She traced a line from Greyson to the forest road then along the thin line of the forest road. “We’re about here.” She pointed at a spot on the map. “If we keep going,” her finger traced the road, “we end up…nowhere. The road just ends. Probably at a canyon.”

“Darn it.” Jean leaned over the map. “Look, as the road reaches the canyon bottom, it opens up. We could park here.”

Karen studied the map. “Maybe. We’ll check it out on the way out.” She folded the map. “I know I’d rather not have to hike down that narrow road with traffic coming up behind us.”

“Or hike back up it. Let’s check it out.”

They closed the cargo door and got in. Karen drove slowly so they could check out possible hiding places along the way. “Look here.” Jean pointed to her right. We could pull the Jeep in behind that stand of trees. The shrub oak would hide it, especially at night.”

Karen pulled off and drove the Jeep into the spot. “Let’s look.” They got out and walked back to the forest road and then back at the Jeep. “Not hidden well for daylight but at night, no one is going to be looking over there.”

“I think it will work and it’s only a third of a mile back to the ring.” Jean stuck her hands in her jean pockets. “We’ll want pictures. Of the people, of license plates.”

“The dogs?”

Jean sighed. “I don’t know if I want to see that. Or get too close. I’ll bring my camera. It will be better than our cell phones.”

Karen nodded. “Yeah. Makes sense.” She scrubbed her face with both hands. “We’re going to regret this.”

“No we won’t. We’ll be helping to shut down this horror.” Jean pulled her hands out of her pockets. Her voice grew hard. “And send these jackwipes to jail.”

“True.” She headed back to the Jeep. “Let’s get out of here.”

 

Thank You!

1254 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 4 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Bowen – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Part 4 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.

 

“See you then.” Jean hung up and got up to put the water on to boil. Karen would want a cup of tea when she came.

They took their tea out to the patio where Karen read what Jean had written. “Hmm.” She dunked the teabag in her cup. “A good list. But I had a different idea.”

“What’s that?”

“We ask Summer and the kids if they know about it.”

“About dog fighting?”

Karen nodded. “Summer still has those links to her old life. She may be able to find out.”

Jean chewed her lower lip. “It won’t get her in trouble, will it?”

“I don’t think so. If she thinks it will, we won’t let her do it.”

“Okay. When she gets home from school, we’ll ask.”

Karen grinned. “Good. Finish your tea and get your hiking boots on. We’re going to go out looking for Sandy again.”

“I’m good with that.” Jean fished her teabag out of her mug.

They spent the hot, sunny morning traipsing around every pond, pool of water and stream bed with water in it but no Sandy. “It’s not looking good, Karen.”

“True.” Karen wiped the sweat from her forehead. The car unlocked and she got inside. “Ahh. Feels good to get off my feet.”

“Yep.” Jean cranked the air conditioner. The car was stifling. “Ready for lunch?”

“I am. Dog hunting is hungry work.”

Jean laughed. “Okay. Where to?”

“Sammy’s? We were just at the Highway Diner.”

“Sounds good to me.”

At the diner, they discussed garden clean-up for the end of the year until their food arrived. As they ate, they could overhear four men in the back-corner booth.

“Yeah, it was a good take last week but we need better dogs.”

Jean froze, fork halfway to her mouth and she stared at a wide-eyed Karen. She started to turn to see the men when Jean put her hand on Karen’s arm and shook her head. Karen nodded. They listened, Jean’s eyes on the table.

“You gotta get bigger dogs. Those 30 pounders just don’t cut it. The people want to see big dogs fighting it out.”

“They’re the warm-up rounds. They get bets.”

“No, they don’t. No one bets till the big dogs come out.”

One of the men lowered his voice. Jean couldn’t make out the words. It must have been a joke because at the end they all laughed. She realized she had a death grip on her fork, her nails had dug cuts into the palm of her hand.

“I’ve got a guy comin’ Saturday. He’s got a Rottweiler that will take out Morgan’s German shepherd for sure.”

“No way.”

“Way. You wait and see.”

“I gotta get back to work. You boys keep it clean.”

They all laughed and got up from their booth. Jean and Karen pretended to eat as they passed. It wasn’t until the men paid and left the building that Jean dared to breathe. “Oh, my God!”

Karen nodded, face white as her napkin. “They just talked about it like it was no big deal.”

“We need to find out where the ring is. Saturday is in two days.” Jean dabbed at the cuts on her palm with her napkin dipped in her glass of water.

“Do we tell Paul?”

“What do you think?”

“I think we should. These are not nice guys.”

Jean nodded despite wanting to track it down. “When he gives us his missing dog report, we’ll tell him.”

She picked up the check the waitress had left on the table. “I’m not hungry. Are you?”

Karen shook her head. “Not anymore.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

When they got to Jean’s house, the phone was ringing. She dashed to pick it up. “Hello?”

“Jean, it’s Paul Oliver.”

“Hey Paul.” Jean waved Karen over. “I’m putting you on speaker so Karen can hear. Okay, go ahead.”

“Glad I caught you two together. Let me say, I didn’t realize there were so many missing dogs.”

“How many?” Jean asked as she nodded to Karen.

“Just this year, fifty-three. All kinds of dogs.”

“That’s more than one a week, Paul!” Karen said.

“It is. Here’s what gets me. Many of these reports say they don’t know how the dog got lost. They were in a secure back yard or in a kennel in the back yard or like your missing dog, at the dog park. I went over to the dog park and checked out the fence. No dog is getting through there.”

“Dog-napping. Margaret over at the Humane Society was telling us. The thieves dress like workers, walk right into the yard and take the dogs. No one pays any attention to those vans parked in the neighborhoods.”

“I’ll talk to Margaret. I thought you two were being over-dramatic.”

“Not this time,” Karen gave Jean a glance. “We have some more news for you.”

They could hear him sigh. “What is it?”

“We overheard four men at Sammy’s diner at lunch. They were talking about dog fighting.”

The line was silent for a moment. “In what way?”

“Like there was a fight last Saturday, with betting. One of the men said the betting could be heavier. He has a guy coming this Saturday with a Rottweiler that would take out the current reigning German Shepherd.” Karen looked to Jean, who nodded.

After a pause, “You don’t know the men?”

“No,” Jean said. “We did our best not to draw attention to ourselves.”

“Probably for the best. Don’t you two go sticking your noses into that. These guys are dangerous.”

Karen nodded.

“Do you hear me? I’m taking this to Nick. He will not like it if you two get involved.”

“Okay, Paul.” Jean rolled her eyes.

“I hear you,” Karen said.

“Good. I’ll email the report on the missing dogs to you. There’s nothing classified about it.”

“Thanks, Paul.”

They hung up.

“Well. Isn’t that a fine thing. We bring him this news and he shuts us out.”

“Don’t you think we’ve been attacked enough?”

“I suppose.” She put the phone back in the cradle. “But let’s see what Summer can find out, anyway.”

 

 

Thank You!

1023 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

 

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Things are Moving: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

The weather has been unsettled. Probably not a surprise for the end of winter and early spring but still, it’s interrupted plans for walking around the neighborhood and testing out my plantar faciitis. Oh well.

I did edits on Tested, the fourth book in the Brown Rain series. I don’t want to send it to the editor, though, until I get Mystery at the Book Festival published. It’s coming, may be end of May before it’s published though.

I’m already thinking about a Nook promo for Mystery at the Book Festival. I’ll make the ebook of Mystery at the Fair free, for a time, to encourage people to get into the series. I’ll be working with some other authors on that promo so you’ll get the chance to try out new to you authors at little to no risk. Good deal for you.

The unsettled weather has also delayed getting my roses cut back. Sigh. Now they’re really starting to bud out. I need to get out there this week! Hold my feet to the fire, would you? I want to stop by one of the hardware stores or the local gardening store to find seed potatoes. I can plant them now and harvest in July. Then dig them up and plant carrots afterward. I love gardening in Arizona.

Have you been reading my serial, Mystery at the Dog Park? I’ve had some wonderful comments from KD Clark. The story is based in the Jean Hays series and as an added bonus, I’m using pictures of dogs up for adoption from the Payson Humane Society to illustrate each section. I had fun writing the story. Links to each section are at the top of each post so it’s easy to go back to the first episodes and catch up.

Speaking of free books, this week is Read an eBook Week. I have several books on special pricing for the event. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/ and search on my name. I have put Mystery at the Fair up for free for this week. Other books are just .99, some are $2.99. Enjoy and spread the word. If you do get one or more of my books, remember to write a short, honest review. It really helps an author out.

 

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is going strong. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. Get in on the opportunity to win $100 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 35 authors, that’s over 70 prizes! Hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight March 17th.

 

Shout Out:

I’d like to mention humane societies. They do their best for the creatures brought to them. However, some dogs or cats end up living there their entire lives. If you are thinking of getting a pet, please consider your local humane society. A wonderful dog or cat will thank you forever. Annie Bamber

Outreach Programs Coordinator

(928) 474-5590 ext. 100

annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org

www.humanesocietycentralaz.org

Like us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/

“Because They Matter”

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

This week, March 9th at 10am, I’ll be interviewed on KPJM-FM by host Pam Newman. We’ll be talking about Mystery in the Woods and the Payson Book Festival. You can listen here: http://www.kpjm-fm.com/listen-live/

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the above mentioned Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 2 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Azula: Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

If you’ll notice, the picture illustrating this week’s serial section is of a local dog, Azula, currently at the Humane Society awaiting her furever home. The next 5 sections will also feature one of the many dogs awaiting a home. If you’re looking for a new member of the family, please consider contacting the Humane Society.

 

Part 2 of 7  See Part 1 here.

 

After lunch, Jean and Karen drove over to the radio station instead of calling. In the office they talked to the secretary, Barbara.

“Dogs for sale?” Barbara asked.

“Yes.” Jean showed her the lost dog flyer. “We’re trying to find this dog. The Humane Society told us there’s a market for stolen dogs and that they get sold through the newspaper and radio, sometimes. So we thought we’d look.

Barbara’s eyebrows went up. “I had no idea.”

“Us either.”

“Let me look.” She pulled up a list on her computer. “No.” She shook her head. “No dogs for sale. Sorry.”

Jean saw the woman slump a little, then she brightened. “Let me make a copy of the flyer. I’ll keep my eyes open for an ad that resembles the dog.”

Jean handed her the flyer. “Thank you.”

When they left, Karen propped her arm on the window and tapped her fingers. “Why don’t we do the same thing at the paper. Go over and give them a copy of the flyer and have them keep an eye out for a dog sale?”

“Good idea.” Jean grinned. “We can get the whole town looking for the dog.”

After they finished at the paper, Jean drove Karen home. “Maybe the dog is really just lost. Keep your eyes open for Sandy on your walk, tonight.”

Karen got out and held the door open as she leaned in. “Sure. You too. If she did wander off she could be anywhere by now.”

“Talk to you tomorrow.”

Karen nodded and closed the door.

At home, Jean stood and looked out of her garage door. It was late summer and hot. If Sandy was lost, she was going to be thirsty. There were a few water sources, ponds and such, in town. If the dog was going to be anywhere, it should be around the water. She went inside and closed the door. Something to do with Karen tomorrow.

#

The next day they hiked around every pond and stream in town. After a long, hot morning, they stopped at the Highway Diner to eat. Jean bought a paper from the newspaper box despite the fact she knew one was lying in her driveway. She opened it to the want ads and skimmed the page. “Darn. No dog.”

Karen sipped her iced tea. “Well, Margaret did say thieves wouldn’t advertise to sell a dog in its own area.” She sighed. “The dog is probably gone.”

Jean nodded. “Probably down in Phoenix or even Tucson by now.”

“Maybe the police have a handle on this. We should check with Nick.”

“I like checking the police department but I don’t think the Chief of Police is going to be aware of every lost dog report in town.” Jean thought he’d laugh himself silly at them.

Karen shrugged. “Then we’ll ask Paul. He’s not so prickly as Nick is. Anyway, they owe us for helping them with the last murder.”

Jean laughed. “I don’t think getting beaten up by a crazy woman counts as helping.”

“You know what I mean.” Karen laughed too.

“Sure. We can stop by there after lunch and see if Paul can help us out.”

#

At the police department, Lieutenant Paul Oliver came to the window to talk to them. “You want what?”

“We want to see a report on the number of missing dog reports you have.” Karen told him.

He raised an eyebrow. “We don’t track that.”

“You should,” Jean said. “The Humane Society said it’s becoming a problem.”

“Lost dogs?”

“No, stolen dogs. The owners just don’t realize the dogs aren’t lost, they’re stolen.”

Paul rubbed a hand over his sandy-brown crew cut. “Sounds nuts but let me dig around. I’ll let you know.”

Jean and Karen both grinned at him. “Thanks, Paul,” Karen said.

“Talk to Margaret over at the Humane Society. She has the whole story.”

“I’ll do that.”

Jean and Karen left. Jean felt pretty good as they walked to the car. “That’s progress, don’t you think?”

“I do. Paul has always been a good guy. If there’s something, he’ll find it.”

“But what do we do now?” Jean got in the car and clicked the lock to unlock the door for Karen.

Karen got in and put on her seat belt. “How about animal control? We could call them and ask questions.”

“I like it. Your house or mine?”

“Mine. I’ve got a roast in the crockpot I want to check.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

At Karen’s, it took only a second for her to check on her food. She brought the phone book over to the kitchen table with the phone handset and sat down. “Glad I made fresh iced tea this morning.”

Jean nodded. She’d already drank half of her glass. “Me too. I’ve started making fruit water.”

“Fruit water?”

“Yeah, a two-quart pitcher of water, some apple slices, or mint, or lemon, or orange or a mix. Let it set for a bit. Then drink whenever. I get tired of iced tea all the time.” Jean wiped condensation from the glass onto a napkin.

“That’s a great idea. I’ll have to try that.” Karen opened the phone book to the page with town listings. She ran her finger down the page. “Here they are, Animal Control.” She dialed the number and put it on speaker.

 

Thank You!

899 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

 

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Mystery at the Dog Park 1 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Little Dog by Randy Cockrell

Hi,

I had this idea for a Jean Hays story but it wasn’t enough of a story for even a novelette so I’ve decided to make it a serial short story. Not every section is 1000 words or less. Some run over to 1200 but I didn’t think you all would mind too much.

I hope you enjoy it.

Mystery at the Dog Park

Part 1 of 7

Jean pulled the leash around her body as the lab-pitbull mix lunged forward.

“She’s giving you a run today.” Karen laughed

“It’s not funny.” Jean puffed. The dog was wearing her out. “Can’t wait to get to the dog park and let her run.”

“I hear ya.” Karen stopped to untangle the two Chihuahuas and the Yorkie mix she was walking.

They arrived at the park and herded the dogs through the gate. Karen took her dogs to the small dog enclosure while Jean let her dog loose in the large dog area. They stood next to each other on opposite sides of the fence to talk as the dogs played.

A woman left the group of dog owners at the picnic table provided and came over to them. She handed them a flyer with a picture of her caramel colored cockapoo, Sandy. “Have you seen my dog?”

Jean took the flyer and held it so Karen could see. “No.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I haven’t.”

Karen shook her head, too. “No. How long has she been gone?”

“Since yesterday.” The woman sniffed, eyes red, as she scanned the area. “I was talking with the usual people yesterday,” she waved her hand at the group around the table, “while Sandy and the other dogs played. Then, she was just gone when I looked for her.” Her voice quavered. “I don’t know how she got out of the dog park.”

“We’re walking the humane society dogs,” Jean explained. “But we’ll keep an eye out for Sandy.”

Shoulders slumped, the woman nodded. “That’s my number on the bottom. Call anytime if you find her.”

“We will,” Karen said. “Good luck.” They watched her shuffle back to the table. “How awful. I wonder what happened?”

After hearing the woman’s story, Jean looked for her dog, Arthur. She spotted him chasing a squirrel on a tree trunk around and around the tree. It looked to her that the squirrel was teasing the dog on purpose. “It’s not a big dog, probably got through a hole in the fence.”

Karen turned around to watch the dogs she brought. The Chihuahua’s were chasing each other while the Yorkie dug a hole. “Poor woman. I hope the dog doesn’t get caught by a coyote or a hawk. One of my neighbors lost her little dog when an eagle swooped in and plucked it right out of the backyard.”

Jean’s eyes went wide. “That sucks.”

Karen nodded. “Yep.”

Back at the humane society, the women turned the dogs in. It broke Jean’s heart to make Arthur get back in the kennel. They stopped in the office. “Margaret,” Jean pulled the flyer from her pocket and unfolded it. “Have you seen this dog come in?” She handed the shelter manager the paper.

Margaret looked at the picture and shook her head. “Nope. Poor little thing. I had a call from this woman this morning.” She sighed. “I told her to do the flyers. And talk to the neighbors around the park. What I didn’t tell her was that the dog may have been stolen.”

“Stolen? Who would do that?” Jean asked.

Margaret handed the flyer back to Jean. “People who then sell the dog on Craig’s list or in a newspaper ad.”

“Oh no!” Karen looked horrified.

“Yep.” Margaret went back to her desk. “Happens all the time in the bigger cities but we’ve been seeing it more and more up here. There’s a market, especially for little dogs like that one. And the bad guys just scoop up the little ones when no one is looking.”

“They don’t take big dogs?” Jean leaned on the counter.

“Oh, they do. They’ll disguise themselves as handymen or maintenance people and take dogs right out of their backyards. No one pays any attention to those guys coming or going in the neighborhood. Purebred dogs are the target, German Shepherds, Labs of any sort, those kinds of dogs.”

“That happens here?” Jean couldn’t believe that people would just go into someone’s backyard and take another person’s pet.

“Not that one, so much. That’s more in the big cities, too. Also, they disguise themselves as animal control and knock on the door. They tell the owners that a complaint of abuse has been filed and they’re taking the dog under protective custody. They show the owner some sort of legal looking document. In confusion and fear, they hand the dog over planning to go to court and get it straightened out but it’s too late. The dog and the thieves are long gone.

“I would be so ticked!” Karen said.

“Me too. Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Jean asked.

“Not usually. They don’t advertise the dog in the area where it was stolen from so you can’t even check the paper or anything to try and find it.”

“How awful.”

Margaret nodded. “Yep. Unfortunately, little Sandy, there,” she nodded at the flyer in Jean’s hand, “wasn’t microchipped. If she had been, there would be some chance of finding her.”

Jean and Karen said their good-byes and left. “Who knew there was a market for stolen dogs?” Jean drove them both to lunch as was their habit after their turn at walking the humane society inmates.

“I had no idea. I mean, you see dogs up for sale in the paper and on the radio all the time. It never occurred to me they might be stolen.”

“Let’s grab a paper and see if there are any dogs for sale in there.”

Karen nodded. “Good idea. Though the current paper came out Friday and Sandy was stolen yesterday. Tomorrow’s paper would be a better bet.”

“You’re right. Tomorrow we’ll look. In the meantime, let’s call the radio station and see what they have on their ads.”

“Great idea. After lunch though. My tummy’s growling.”

 

Thank You!

974 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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A Flattering Lizard: Flash Fiction Friday Post

little_lizards_by_fauxhead-d8mplla-cropped

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Little-Lizards-521875342 by Fauxhead

 

“You seem nice.”

Michella’s eyes flew open and her head whipped around to where the voice came from her right. How could she be so stupid! She was supposed to be watching the sheep but the gentle sun and warm breeze caused her head to nod.

At first, she saw nothing, then, at a slight motion, her gaze dropped to a nearby rock. There, a green and gold lizard sat, it’s tongue flicking in and out as it’s black eyes studied her.

“Oh,” she breathed a sigh of relief. “A lizard.”

The lizard hissed. “I’m a dragon.” It flared the ruff around its face and raised its tiny wings, making the lizard seem larger and fiercer.

“I beg your pardon, dragon.” She turned to face the creature. “I’m Michella.”

“Forgiven.” The dragon nodded its head, ruff and wings dropping. “I’m Jynryn, future dragon queen. You come up here every day.”

“I watch the sheep. Papa would be very cross if he knew I’d fallen asleep. Bandits could have come, or a wolf.”

The dragon’s tail whipped back and forth. “There is a band of bandits not far from here. You are wise to be cautious.”

The news made the hairs on her arms stand up. “Where are they?”

“In the hills above us. I spy on them, just for practice, you know.” The dragon bobbed her head. “They know you come up here.”

That did nothing to ease her fear. “I should leave.” She jumped up from the soft meadow grass and with her staff, began herding the sheep down the hill.

“Wait!” Jynryn flew beside her. “I can help you rid the hills of these bandits.”

Michella stopped. “How.”

Jynryn told her. Michella nodded. “I’ll tell my papa.”

Two days later, Michella led her father and a group of the lord’s soldiers to the meadow. There, she picked up Jynryn, put the dragon on her shoulder under her hood, and in a whisper Jynryn led the group to the cave where the bandits hid. There was a battle, of course, the bandits had seen the soldiers coming. Michella with Jynryn hid behind some rocks. The soldiers won and all the way back to the village, praised Michella for leading them to the cave and ridding the area of such bad men.

The next day Michella was back with the sheep. Jynryn flew to a nearby rock. “So you are a hero now?”

Michella shrugged. “I suppose, though all the credit is yours. How can I repay you?”

“Keep my secret. I won’t always be tiny. I will claim the bandit cave for my own. Visit me.”

“I can do that.” It will be fun to have a secret dragon, she thought. “Nothing else?”

Jynryn, chuckled. “Nothing for now. But someday we will do great things.”

Michella smiled. It was a good dream for a simple shepherd girl. “Of course, Jynryn. We will.”

 

Thank You!

483 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Black Dog: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Black Dog

Black Dog

The pounding rain nearly drowned out the sound. Milla stopped, rain splashing up her stockinged legs, listening. A tiny sound coming from the alley. She went in and heard it again, coming from a pile of cardboard boxes. There, huddled, wet and shivering, a puppy. Milla didn’t stop to think. She scooped up the bundle of wet fur, tucked it inside her rain coat and hurried home.

Dry, warm and fed, the black puppy with white markings slept in a box in a blanket nest. A mutt, maybe some black lab, maybe some collie, Milla raised the dog, now named, Mave, and trained her well. The only thing Milla couldn’t do was break Mave of growling at people. Not everyone, it seemed, but it was a detail that Milla didn’t like. There was no way to tell why Mave growled at some people and not others.

Two years later, Milla was walking Mave in the nearby park. She was enjoying the soft spring evening when she was knocked off of the path, the leash flying from her hand. A man, full-faced knit cap over his head, was on top of her, fumbling at her clothes. She screamed and from the left, she saw all seventy-five pounds of Mave leap onto the man, teeth at his throat and growling in a way that made Milla’s blood run cold. The man rolled off her, fighting Mave and now screaming in fear himself.

Heart racing, Milla stood up and grabbed Mave’s leash, pulling the dog from the man. Two uniformed bicycle officers rode up and took the man into custody. Shaking, Milla told the officer what happened and left her contact information. Mave stared at the attacker until the police took him away, shouting, “Keep that dog away from me!”

At home, Milla gave Mave an extra treat. “Good girl.” She gave the dog a hug. “What a good girl you are.”

The next day a police officer visited Milla to ask follow-up questions. “Your attacker said your dog’s eyes were glowing red.”

Milla laughed. She looked at the dog at the officer’s feet, on her back, tail wagging, looking for a belly rub. “I’ve never seen her eyes glow red. I think the guy is just trying to get out of confessing that he attacked me.”

The officer closed his notebook and gave Mave a belly rug. “Most likely. The dog hardly seems capable of attacking anyone.”

“I found her as a very young puppy. She’s protective but I’ve never seen her attack anything.”

The officer stood up. “There are no complaints against your dog on file so I don’t think there will be any more trouble.”

Milla walked the officer to the door. “I appreciate that Officer. Have a good day.”

“You too, Ms. Parker.”

She talked to a dog expert. “She’s protective of you. Dogs can sense things we can’t. It looks like Mave thinks some people are a threat.”

Milla stroked Mave’s big lab head. “I can’t have her growling at random people. Someone is going to call the dog catcher on us.”

The expert nodded. “Keep an eye on who she growls at. You may be able to see a pattern.”

That didn’t seem helpful but on their walks, Milla took notice of who Mave growled at. There didn’t seem to be a pattern. Men, women, children, all ages, all social strata, were all growled at. Milla did teach Mave to growl softer, so only she could hear. But it made her nervous that her beloved pet might attack someone.

One Halloween, she was giving candy out at the apartment door. The usually friendly Mave snarled, her hackles up, at a parent.

“Keep that mutt under control or I’m calling the cops.”

Milla closed the door to just a small opening. “My apologies. I don’t know why she does that.” She closed the door and looked through the peephole. She saw the man cuff the boy with him so that the boy crashed into the wall. Grabbing her phone, she called the police. Throwing on her coat and putting Mave on a leash, she followed the man and boy, now crying.

“I have a man, abusing a boy,” she told the dispatcher. “I’m following them.”

Despite pleas from the dispatcher, Milla followed, Mave growling deep in her chest. Milla provided her location at every corner. She saw the man pinch the boy, slap him, and once, knock him to the sidewalk. “Clumsy brat.” He hauled the boy up by the arm and dragged him to the corner.

A few feet back, Milla could hear the man verbally abusing the boy, crying uncontrollably. Mave strained at the leash. “Hurry,” Milla whispered into the phone. “I think the man is going to really hurt that child.”

It was too late. Milla watched in horror as the man said, “I’m sick of you,” and slapped the boy on the back. Mave launched at the man as Milla grabbed for the child. She snatched the boy out of the path of a taxi as Mave latched onto the man’s arm. She saw him spin, Mave still biting his arm, flying through the air. Bystanders screamed. The man punched Mave and slammed her into the side of the nearest building. Milla screamed, “No!” Police charged up. Mave dropped her attack as soon as the police arrived.

Holding his arm, the man pointed at Mave. “That dog attacked me! I want that dog put down.”

Milla’s stomach rolled as she cradled the boy, still sobbing. “No! She was defending the boy.”

The police officers questioned each person. Child services took the boy. Milla turned over her phone. She’d taken pictures of the man hitting the child. She never mentioned Mave’s red eyes. It took some time but both Milla and Mave were released. She gave Mave a big hug and an extra treat. “I’ll have to pay more attention, girl, won’t I?”

Mave gave her a lick and wagged her tail.

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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