Thursday, January 31, 2019

January's Releases


We've almost made it through January, and we're celebrating by showing off! All of these books are new from us to you, released this month. This is 49 minutes of audio for your ears from hard working narrators Colin Darcy, Drew Bacca, John Solo, Nick J. Russo and Seb Yarrick. Let us know which of these books you want to warm up with, and you could get it free!  Happy listening, and happy February eve!



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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Favorite Genre? by BA, ,Julia, Kiernan and Sean (and a contest)


What's your favorite genre, y'all?

Is it romance? I don't consider MM a genre, really, but I know some folks do.

BA and Kiernan like horror, which might surprise some folks. Stephen King. Dean Koontz. BA's biggest pet peeve? When nothing really happens or someone breaks the rules. Kiernan's? When they get the setting wrong, or when the monster has no chance of winning.

Sean likes fantasy and sci fi. Little known fact, Sean once wrote a Nanowrimo novel that was a fantasy, and it was really fun to read back in the day!

I love mystery. Agatha Christie. Elizabeth Peters. Ellis Peters. Cozy mystery. True crime. Love them all. I also love historical conspiracy books like The Eight, by Katherine Neville.

Tell us your favorite genre for a chance to win an ebook of your choice from Evil Plot Bunny. www.evilplotbunny.com Has to be from one of us four, natch. (excludes TC Blue and Kris Norris

Can't wait to see your responses!

XXOO

Julia

Visit our websites:

Sean's is http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com

BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Kiernan's is www.KiernanKelly.com

Evil Plot Bunny: http://www.evilplotbunny.com/

Julia's Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurtlehatStudio

Facebook:

Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites

Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Kiernan -- https://www.facebook.com/kiernan.kelly

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Knowing Things I Don't Need To Know By S.C. Wynne


Good morning!!

As an author I'm sort of forced to have a presence on social media. I don't know that that small group I interact with on SM exactly translates into sales big enough to pay all my bills, but it does help keep my name out there for anyone who might be interested in what I write. (Most of my sales come from thousands of people I'll never meet.) But I can admit, it looks weird when a full time author has zero social media presence. So, I do make the effort and it can sometimes be fun.

But it also puts a lot of pressure on me.

I'm not a hugely social person. I know, blah, blah, blah, the poor anti-social author forced to socialize. lol But I'm not a shut-in or anything. I can be very social, and I do love hanging out with certain people. But I'm not someone who has ever needed tons of friends. I tend to choose carefully those I let get close. Not because I'm so amazing, but because I find social interaction exhausting if I'm not around people who truly get me. I'm an acquired taste, and I'm well aware of that. :D

One thing I've noticed about social media that mystifies me is just HOW open some people are. I occasionally see things on Facebook or Twitter that I don't think I should see. On Facebook, I once saw a photo of a person's dead spouse minutes after they had died. I did not need to see that! Under no circumstances did I ever need to SEE THAT. To me, that is too much. I get sharing your life with your friends and followers, but not to that extent.

I find it depressing to see everyone posting about people who have died, pets who have died, bleeding wounds, rants about their marriages or friendships imploding. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the weird one and that is exactly what social media is for? I know that sharing parts of yourself builds intimacy in a relationship, but is it realistic to think your three thousand Facebook friends are truly your friends? Or at least, friends who you're close enough to share that intimate stuff with? I'm probably that close with twenty people total, lol, not three thousand.

But it's a fine line. To be close to people, you do have to share parts of yourself. Not only the good parts, but some weaknesses too. People can't relate to you or be open with you if you put on a facade of perfection. I understand that. But when you use your social media for promoting yourself as a business, should you still be quite so open?

I'm not sure I want to know all the dirty details of someone whose books I enjoy. I never like to know too much about celebrities I enjoy because it kind of ruins the fantasy for me. I prefer to think of them as the character they write, or act as. I don't want to know that they have bad breath or acne. lol

Does that make me shallow? Weird? Immature?

What do you think? Do you think people should just share it ALL? Every bad thing, awful thing, personal thing?

S.C.
www.scwynne.com



Friday, January 25, 2019

New Release by Felice Stevens


What do an agoraphobic, blue-blood trust fund guy and a poor Albanian porter from the Bronx have in common? Much more than either of them ever imagined. One of my favorite things to write about is opposites attract, and on the outside, you couldn't find two more different people than Jesse Grace-Martin and Dashamir Sadiko. But when their paths cross, each learns that they might not be so different after all, and an unlikely friendship springs up.

I also enjoy writing slow burn romances. I know that MM romance gets slammed quite often for being all about the sex, and if you read my books you know I enjoy writing sex scenes, and I sure enjoy reading well-written ones, but I think if we want to continue to grow and appeal to readers, the challenge is to create story lines that can survive without the need to have a sex scene in every chapter. My most favorite books are the ones which focus on the emotion of the scene: the touch of skin, the brush of lips. The wanting, longing, all the pent up desire the couple has for each other...even the setting adds to the heightened excitement of the moment. Other wise it's like reading a manual.

Jesse and Dash become friends over shared lunches but the longing for each other intensifies each time so that when they finally do kiss, it's a resolution of the sexual tension that had built up over weeks. First kiss scenes are a great way to show all that UST. I love it and they are my favorite things to write. When Dash asks Jesse if he can kiss him for the first time, he surprises himself with how much emotion there is behind their kiss.

I hope you enjoy their story. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited:
Amazon US: http://bit.ly/HisUptownGuy
Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HisUptownGuyUK
Amazon Ca: http://bit.ly/HisUptownGuyCa
Amazon Au: https://amzn.to/2CD5Ssd


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Narrator Interview with Colin Darcy



Good morning Cafe!  This fine morning, we are joined by narrator Colin Darcy to discuss some of his newest projects, narcissism, and unicorn horns. We'll also be looking at what's on the books now, and giving away his latest, Rocking the Cowboy, by Skylar Cates. Enjoy!

FSC: Good morning!  First things first, what is your coffee house beverage of choice?

Colin: White chocolate raspberry mocha. Although, in the winter, a white chocolate peppermint mocha. I like my coffee tasting as little like coffee as possible.
FSC:  Can you talk a little about your professional background? What are some of your 
favorite projects you've worked on?

Colin:  I have a background in music. I sing, and I play a few instruments. I also grew up doing community theater. Kind of combining the two, recording, and acting as been a lot of fun and has certainly helped me to grow in those areas individually as well. I really enjoyed working on the Waking the Dragons series, by Susi Hawke and Piper Scott. Victorious was my favorite for sure. Getting to narrate about unicorns getting ‘horn jobs’ has certainly been the highlight of this short career.
FSC: How did you get started as a narrator?

Colin: I was introduced by another narrator to the fine people at Falcon Sound Company and it’s been a wonderful crash course into this whole world that I knew nothing about a year ago. I learn so much from them constantly and am incredibly privileged to be able to bring a voice to these characters that people love so much.
FSC: One thing that surprises many audiobook listeners is how long it takes to create an audiobook. What's the longest day you have spent recording?

Colin: Recording, for me, isn’t even the longest part of the job. Because I am so new, I spend a lot of time cleaning up my mistakes. The actual recording part I enjoy a lot, but because it’s so important to be able to bring that same enthusiasm and energy and really commit to the voices in the beginning chapter as well as the last, I don’t think I have recorded for more than 5 hours at a time.
FSC: How long did your most recent project take you, and how long is the finished book?
Colin: Generally speaking, I’ve found that a 200 hundred page book is roughly 7 hours of finished audio. To record 7 hours, I would estimate takes at least twice that long, and then to clean it all up takes about three times as long again. A rough estimate would be 40 hours of work into a 7 hour finished product. Now that I’m really doing the math, I think I need to call my agent!
FSC: Uh, your agent says these are not the droids you're looking for and stop doing math. 
When you record, how do you break it up? Do you, for instance, read multiple chapters in one sitting?

Colin: Some authors like Susi Hawke, who I think is wonderful, writes these short under 10 pages chapters that read almost like scenes in a movie. As a narrator, I love this. I will do two chapter in a row generally, step out of the booth, drink some water, stretch, and then go back in for another two. When the chapters are 30 pages or so, that’s a lot for me to do it at one time and can sometimes be a struggle.
FSC: How do you decide what kind of tone to take with each new book? What is it like reading different characters' dialogue lines?
Colin: It’s absolutely fascinating how so many different people can read the same words and
interpret them, and the characters, so differently. That’s a lot of pressure as a narrator because you’re then deciding that for the listener. It’s no longer up to interpretation. I want all of my characters to be likeable, to a degree, even if they’re the antagonist, because I’m placing them inside the listener’s ear. Sometimes there will be some instruction from the author as to what they’re envisioning, but more often than not, I am attempting to articulate exactly what I liked about each character.
FSC: What do you enjoy the most about narrating?
Colin: My mentor told me that this is a narcissist’s dream, to be able to be play every character on stage. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a blast, but it’s also so much pressure. When I was acting, I loved being able to sit back and watch a scene I wasn’t in, and really be aware of the other actor’s choices. I don’t get that luxury here. Again, I see it as a privilege to give a voice to characters that the author undoubtedly grew a connection with, and then help translate that beautiful relationship so that so many others can grow a connection with the character as well.
FSC:  When can we expect to hear from you with a new book?
Colin:  I’m waist deep into the Team ALPHA series, by Susi Hawke and Crista Crown and it
 has been incredibly challenging giving voice to so many great characters in these books.  The authors have done such a wonderful job creating these awesome back stories and really developing them individually, and I hope listeners enjoy me bringing them from the page to their ears.



Check out Colin's newest narration, Rocking the Cowboy, by Skylar Cates. Join us at Falcon Sound Company on Facebook for your chance to listen free!

Find more of Colin's narrations on Audible  Happy listening! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What we're working on, and Happy Birthday to Sean Michael!


Happy Birthday to Sean Michael!

And congratulations on your new release in the Mannies Inc. series, Family Portrait!

Sean Says

The latest Mannies Incorporated comes out today - I wanted it out on the 22nd, because it's my birthday!

I'm also working on a few things. There are bodyguards and babies and assasins, as well as dragons and imps, not to mention triplets who are all going to get their own story. There are lots of men in my brain and they are all clamoring for their turn at getting a story. I just need more hours in a day!

Family Portrait

Ashton Grumfeld is a photojournalist who has spent a lot of years embedded with the troops in Afghanistan, only coming home to visit his sister Amy and her family for a few days at Christmas every year. When Amy and her husband are killed in a freak boat accident, the guardianship of their four children falls to him.

Darren Swanson has been nanny to the Grumfeld’s children since just before nine year old Diana, the eldest, was born. When their parents die, he’s left on his own with four kids until their uncle can make it out of Afghanistan and get home. It takes almost two weeks before that happens, two weeks of having to deal with newly orphaned children all the while wondering what’s going to happen when Ashton finally arrives on the scene.

Will Ashton and Darren be able to make a new family as they figure out how they fit together in the children’s lives, and each other’s? Find out in Family Portrait.

https://www.amazon.com/Family-Portrait-Mannies-Incorporated-Novel-ebook/dp/B07MKBYCJ8/

Julia: I'm working on the next Club Endless for Changeling Press and the first book in a new series for Dreamspinner. The Curse of the Mummy's Heart!

BA: I'm working on a magical realism cowboy romance called Truth or Consequences

Kiernan: I'm working on a new YA in the Repeating History line and the sequel to Seti's Heart.

XXOO

Julia

Visit our websites:

Sean's is http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com

BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Kiernan's is www.KiernanKelly.com

Evil Plot Bunny: http://www.evilplotbunny.com/

Julia's Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurtlehatStudio

Facebook:

Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites

Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Kiernan -- https://www.facebook.com/kiernan.kelly

Friday, January 18, 2019

Happy New Year-Audiobook release, a new release coming and what's coming soon by Felice Stevens


Hello everyone! Happy New Year and happy Friday. I've been terribly lax in my postings lately for Cafe Risque and I plan to change that, now that I've got my trusty planner, so look for my posts here every Friday. 

This past week saw the release of the audiobook for James—Uncontrollable and if I loved the book, the audiobook is a new level, thanks to Kale Williams and his amazing ability to capture all these guys. You can now purchase the entire Man Up series in audiobook and the are all Whispersynched, so if you already have the ebook (which I hope) than the purchase price is $7.49. You can purchase James—Uncontrollable HERE


I have a new release coming on January 24th, unless the button gets pushed early! His Uptown Guy, one of my Landmarks series books, is the story of Jesse, the sweet, slightly damaged rich guy who because of certain life events, has been unable to leave his apartment in the fabulous landmark Dakota apartments. His love interest Dasamir—Dash—is a porter in the building and the two of them have a chance meeting that leads to an unlikely friendship, which is my favorite kind of love story. I loved writing their story because I got to research not only the mysterious Dakota, but Albania and their customs and food. I love learning new things as I write and sharing them with readers. You can add His Uptown Guy to your Goodreads shelf HERE

I have a few teasers to whet your appetite:


I promised you all a little update. After His Uptown Guy, I wasn't quite sure what was coming next when two guys knocked me down, took over my brain and basically wrote their story for me. I'm not the type to tell you how much I love the guys and their story because really, what author doesn't? But I feel like this is the story I was always waiting to write. I don't have a release date, but The Coincidence will be here in the Spring.

And after that? Well. I have another Landmarks idea for a tour bus operator and a businessman who keeps riding his bus when he comes into town. Sort of a Same time Next Year vibe. Then maybe a series based on Vice, the Florida club James from the Man Up series ran. So lots of ideas to carry me into the year.

I hope you all have a great weekend and Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Narrator Interview with John Solo


Greetings and happy 2019 to all!  This week, we're talking to FSC founder, narrator, John Solo.  Funny sounds, monsters and hunters, selkies and selfies, and DARK chocolate chips await us.  Enjoy, and join us on Facebook to request a review copy of one of John's newest releases.  Have a great Thursday!



FSC: What is your coffee house beverage of choice? 

John: Black. But maybe with some creamer. Or creamer and sugar. Or milk and sugar. Can a brother

get a cookie ‘round here?

FSC: Can you talk a little about your professional background? What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on?

John: I have been a narrator and audiobook producer for 6 years. I am also one of the founders of Falcon Sound Company. We (FSC) have produced over 400 audiobooks, countless e-learning courses, several cartoons, a few apps, and a lot of funny sounds. It is hard to name a favorite project… typically it is the one I’m currently working on. So… this week I’m finishing up “Shades of Grey - A Bubba the Monster Hunter Novella” by John G. Hartness, “The Selkie Princes Unexpected Omega - The Selkie Princes Book 3” by J.J. Masters, and prepping “Roommates” by Ann-Katrin Byrde. And I love all of them!

FSC; How did you get started as a narrator?

John: A friend referred us to a website called ACX. Several of us submitted auditions to a few books and received offers to produce said books. I acted as more of a producer in the beginning, while learning off of some of the fantastic narrators that we hired to come in and read. Slowly, I made the transition from producer to narrator, although I still often times wear both hats (to cover my bald head).

FSC: One thing that surprises many audiobook listeners is how long it takes to create an audiobook. What's the longest day you have spent recording?

John: Actually recording (he asks to no one in particular)? 10 hours. But that is very much not the norm. A normal day of recording is 3-4 hours of actual recording, which, with breaks, takes approximately 5-6 hours.

FSC: How long did your most recent project take you, and how long is the finished book?

John: I just hit send on “Shades of Grey - A Bubba the Monster Hunter Novella” by John G. Hartness yesterday. It came out to around 3.5 finished hours. Production took around 20 hours, about 7 of which were spent “in the booth”. That 20 hours doesn’t include preproduction time (prereading the book, prepping voices, research, etc…).

FSC: When you record, how do you break it up? Do you, for instance, read multiple chapters in one sitting?

John: I try and record for 30-45 minutes at a time, but I will only stop at a logical break in the story
(scene break, chapter break). So… if I’ve been recording for 45 minutes and I’m not to one of those things, I keep going.

FSC: How do you decide what kind of tone to take with each new book? What is it like reading different characters' dialogue lines?

John: How do you decide what constitutes ONE question? Jeesh! Hahahahahaha. I determine what the point of the story is during my preread. Is it a romance? A comedy? A farce? A drama? A mystery? That is not a hard and fast rule; some romance’s have a lot of comedy, some drama has a lot of mystery, and so on. But that will help me determine the overall tone of the book. As far as reading different characters’ dialogue lines… Being an audiobook narrator is like getting ALL of the acting roles in a play or movie, so for me, I get to make believe that I am ALL of the characters. It helps that I already hear multiple voices in my head.

FSC: What do you enjoy the most about narrating?

John: The travel. The adventure. Crazy days and wild nights!!! No, seriously, there are spans of days when I don’t change out of my pajama pants. I guess what I like most is that I get to tell stories all day long. I have been a fan of storytelling since I was a child. Now I get to do it for a living. What could be better?

FSC: When can we expect to hear from you with a new book?


John: Just calm down. It’ll be alright. I will have a new release next week! Hahahahaha. I had a very, very busy December, so I would imagine January should be filled with new audiobook releases from me. Also, don’t forget to check out some of my friends, Drew Bacca, Seb Yarrick, Nick J. Russo, Kenneth Obi, Colin Darcy… Did I forget anyone?


Check out this new release from author K.C. Wells. John Solo narrates "Truth and Betrayal.". Happy listening!


Find John and Falcon Sound Company on Facebook or on Audible.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ask Andrew - Stress


Dear Andrew

What do you do to destress when you're on a deadline?

Dawn

Dear Dawn

When I'm on a deadline, which is almost always, I set daily goals for myself and then break the down into manageable pieces to work on during the day.  When I achieve each writing step, I allow myself some time to relax.  Often I get to read for half an hour or I work in the yard.

But quite often, yeah I know I'm showing my nerdy side, I play Pokémon Go.  I find it fun and it gets
me out of the house to walk and search for Pokémon.  I have been playing almost wince the game was released and I have two accounts.  The one account has collected one of almost every Pokémon available and the other isn't far behind.  Dominic thinks I'm completely nuts and obsessed, but it lets my mind relax and I have walked nearly 5000 kilometers playing the game.

I have a group of people in town that I play with.  We do raids together.  They're my Poke-friends, and one of them is going to have a baby soon, so he's the Poke-daddy.  You get the idea.  After playing for a half hour or so, I'm ready to go home and back to work.






Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Happy Birthday to BA from BA, Julia, Kiernan, and Sean


Tomorrow is BA's birthday! Wish her a happy!

XXOO

Julia

Visit our websites:

Sean's is http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com

BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Kiernan's is www.KiernanKelly.com

Evil Plot Bunny: http://www.evilplotbunny.com/

Julia's Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TurtlehatStudio

Facebook:

Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites

Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Kiernan -- https://www.facebook.com/kiernan.kelly

Saturday, January 5, 2019

BookBub Sale for Memories Follow By S.C. Wynne





Morning friends!
I have a book on sale right now that's only 99 cents for a few more days. It will go back up to $3.99 on Monday, January 7th. This story was written in Felice Steven's Kindle World.


Blurb:
Scottie Kinland works as the Kennel Manager for the Paws For Care veterinary clinic. Spending his days with animals is the only way he can feel safe. He has first-hand knowledge of how cold and calculating humans can be. How could he ever forget? He wears the scars on his face and his heart.

Lance Franklin likes to play the field. Still reeling from a lying cheating fiancée, he’s plowing through men like aspirin; only the pain of betrayal still stings. When he takes his mom’s dog in to the Paws For Care clinic, he’s immediately drawn to the quiet loner Scottie. But Scottie wants nothing to do with Lance.

Lance persists and he manages to forge a fragile relationship with Scottie. But just as both men begin to believe perhaps fate has something beautiful in store for them; the past collides with their future in a shocking way.



Chapter One

I knew better than to stick my hand anywhere near a frightened stray, so I kept my distance. I held the terrified German shepherd’s wary gaze, hesitating to push him too far in case he bolted past me into the street.
“It’s okay, boy.” I kept my voice calm and steady as I wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans. “I don’t mean to scare you.” I had the dog boxed in between me and the trash bin that he apparently called home, but I knew he could get around me if he really tried.
“You gotta get this mutt out of here,” the shop owner behind me grumbled.
“Shhhh.”
“He’s scaring all my customers.” The man glared at the dog. “He’s been here for two days, and he’s a public menace.”
“Keep your voice down,” I hissed. “Go back inside.”
“Why? Maybe I can help.” The guy sounded breathless.
“No, thanks.” His energy was all wrong. No way would he make the situation any better. “Let me handle this,” I growled.
The dog shifted and lowered his head. His black-and-caramel-colored coat was matted, and his hip bones jutted through the fur. He’d obviously been on the streets a while, and from his skittish behavior, I had a feeling he hadn’t been treated with kid gloves even before that.
“What are you, some kind of a dog expert?”
“Sort of.” I wasn’t a professional with a degree, but I worked as the kennel manager at Paws For Care, a veterinary clinic just down the street. “You made it worse by throwing that soda at him.”
“He barked at me.”
“He’s terrified. Can’t you see that?” I shook my head and tried to tune out the man. Jesus, humans were a pain in the ass sometimes. A thought occurred to me, and I spoke to the shop owner, who still hovered behind me. “Do you sell dog biscuits by any chance?”
“No.”
Damn.
“How about bagels?” I said the first food item that came to mind. Probably because I was starving and would have loved to have had a fresh cup of coffee and some breakfast before wrangling freaked-out dogs this early in the morning.
“Oh, yeah, I have some of those.”
“Could you get me a pack?”
“Cream cheese?”
I scowled. “What? No. Just the bagels.”
“Wait. Are you going to feed them to the dog?”
“I’m gonna try.” If I ever get them.
“Who’s going to pay for that?”
I turned my head and gave him an exasperated glance. “I’m trying to help this poor dog.”
“Buddy, bagels don’t grow on trees.”
I counted to ten and spoke as calmly as possible. “I’ll pay for them as soon as I have the dog in my custody. Okay?”
“Deal.” The guy disappeared around the corner toward his store.
Now that it was just me and the dog, I felt like maybe I would have more success. “Hey, boy. It’s okay. I promise.” The dog flicked his ears toward me, and he sat down. I took that as a good sign that maybe I could get through to him. His calmer demeanor also gave me comfort that he wasn’t a dog mad with rabies. I tightened my grip on the leash I held and inched closer. The dog cocked his head and pinned his golden gaze on me. “I’m not gonna hurt you. I just want to take you somewhere safe.” I knew my boss would never turn away any stray I brought in. Dr. Rafe Hazelton had a soft heart toward animals and people.
The dog stayed where he was as I took another step closer. He didn’t growl, just watched me with suspicion. The store owner stomped up behind me, and I tensed my muscles in case the animal tried to race past me.
“All I had left were blueberry bagels.”
I shot him a look over my shoulder as he held the bag out to me. “I don’t think he’s choosy.”
I took the food from him and tore through the plastic with my teeth. Then I tucked the package under my arm, pulling out one of the bagels with the hand that held the leash. The little clip on the lead jangled loudly and the dog shifted uneasily. I moved a step closer and dropped slowly to my haunches. When I held the bagel out, the dog licked its lips and stood up.
“Come on, baby. Give me a chance. I’m a nice guy when you get to know me,” I muttered.
A string of drool hung from the dog’s mouth, and he licked his chops again, whining softly.
“That’s right. Come to Uncle Scottie.” I pushed the bread closer to the dog. He stretched his neck and tried to get a bite of the bagel without coming closer. I grinned and pulled the food back a little so he’d have to get nearer to me. “Nice try.” He whined again and stomped his front paws as if he was annoyed.
“Ain’t you afraid he’s going to bite you?” The guy’s grating voice made the animal take a step back.
I clenched my jaw with irritation. The guy was useless. Why was he still hanging around? “No.” My tone was clipped. “Why don’t you go inside your store? I’ll come pay you when I’m done here.”
“Hey, if he rips your throat out don’t you want a witness? The dog ain’t going to call you an ambulance.”
“He’s not going to hurt me.”
“Famous last words.” He snorted. “I guess we’ll see.”
Go away, you annoying buffoon.
“Feel free to leave the area,” I said between gritted teeth.
“I don’t need a wild dog and a dead body near my store. I ain’t going anywhere until you have that crazy beast on the leash.” He exhaled roughly. “In fact, maybe I should just call animal control.”
“No!” I scared the dog when I spoke sharply and he retreated a few spaces. I licked my lips and tried to continue more calmly. “Please don’t do that. I have this under control.” Sweat broke out on my forehead as I spoke, and I tried to focus all my positive energy toward the shaking dog. The worst thing that could happen to this poor dog would be if he was taken to the pound. There was little doubt in my mind they’d put him down. He was a slightly older dog, and all anyone wanted were puppies.
“Calm down. I’ll give you a few more minutes.”
“Thanks,” I said curtly. What kind of an asshole called the pound on a dog? I took a bite of the bagel, and then I held the rest out to the dog. I knew it wasn’t typically how you got a dog to eat. But I was desperate. I’d seen Rafe do that with his son, Dylan, before to get him to eat, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. The dog licked his lips but stayed where he was.
My shoulder muscles burned from holding the food out to the animal, but I kept coaxing him softly and wiggling the bagel under his nose. I could feel impatient vibes coming off the store owner, but I did my best to ignore him. Animals took time to win over, and I wasn’t going to give up on this dog. I could tell he wasn’t a bad dog; he was just starving and overwhelmed.
Car horns honked and people yelled on the street, but the dog and I continued to face each other in a battle of wills. Perspiration rolled down my face and my arm ached, but still I held the bagel out to the dog. He inched closer, minute by minute, licking his lips and whining.
“I don’t blame you for not trusting me. I wouldn’t trust a stranger either.” I swallowed hard. “That’s probably why you’re still alive,” I muttered under my breath.
When the dog stepped forward and started nibbling on the bread I felt like I’d won the lottery. My chest tightened as the dog gnawed on the soft bread, watching me intently. “That’s it… that’s right.” I slowly raised the lead and slipped it over the dog’s head. I expected him to start jerking and going crazy, but he didn’t. When I dropped the bagel on the ground, he just kept attacking it hungrily.
“I’m glad that’s over.”
I jumped when the store owner spoke. I’d almost forgotten he was there. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill. My face warmed when the guy’s gaze dropped to the six-inch scar on my cheek that ran along my jaw. “Here.”
The guy grabbed the cash. “You want change?”
With him staring at me so intently, I was too embarrassed to say yes, even though it was the last five dollars in my wallet. “No.” I just wanted to get out of there. The dog had devoured the bread, so I tugged gently on his collar and clucked my tongue. “Come on, boy. Let’s go.”
He licked the ground and looked up at me expectantly, his eyes locked on the package of bagels still tucked under my arm. I laughed and turned to leave the alley. He followed me hesitantly, jumping at the car horns and raised voices. I kept talking to him quietly, keeping the lead short so he didn’t have a chance to slip off. When we reached the clinic, I opened the door and breathed a sigh of relief that the waiting area was empty. It was still early enough the patients hadn’t started arriving yet.
“Morning, Scottie,” Patty the receptionist greeted me cheerfully. She’d worked for Dr. Hazelton for years and years. She’d once told me it was the best job she’d ever had, and unless she died or got fired, she was never leaving. Her gaze dropped to the dog I had with me. “Who do we have here?”
“I found him.” I hated that I sounded stiff and unfriendly. It wasn’t my intention. Patty was one of the nicest people I’d ever met, but I just had trouble talking to people. That was one reason I liked animals so much. They didn’t care if I said one word or not.
Patty didn’t seem to notice my tone. She just came around the counter and spoke softly to the dog. “Aww, poor baby. You look like you’ve had a hard time of it.” She winced. “He’s so skinny.”
“I know.”
“Hey, fella,” she cooed to the dog.
“I’m… I’m gonna separate him from the other animals and keep an eye on him for ten days. Make sure he’s not sick.”
“Okay.” She sighed. “He certainly doesn’t look like a sick dog. He’s filthy and thin, but his eyes look clear.”
“That’s what I thought too.” I gestured to the dog. “If he checks out okay, Dr. Hazelton probably won’t mind if we fatten him up and try to find him a home, right?”
Her eyes twinkled. “I’ve never known Dr. Hazelton to turn anyone away. Man or beast.” She smiled at me, and her gaze dropped to the bagels. “Did you bring breakfast?”
I grimaced. “I bribed the dog with food.”
“Good thinking.” The phone rang and she moved to answer it. I led the dog toward the back of the clinic where the kennel area was.
I put a muzzle on the dog just in case, and I bathed him gently in warm water and flea shampoo. He shook like a jackhammer as I rubbed his ears and lathered him up thoroughly, but he didn’t behave aggressively at all. He was horribly lean, but I could tell he was most likely a purebred. I wondered how such a fine animal had ended up starving on the busy, noisy streets of New York. Once he was rinsed off, I towel-dried him and pulled off the muzzle.
He wagged his tail and jumped around like a puppy for a few seconds, which made my heart happy. “I knew there was a real dog in there somewhere.” He flicked his ears and moved away from me to sit in the corner. He obviously wasn’t a hundred percent sure about me yet. I smiled and nodded knowingly. “I get it, boy. Trust is earned.” I pushed ugly memories away. “And even then, sometimes it isn’t deserved.”
I took him to a large clean cage and then headed off to tend to the rest of the animals.


Hope you enjoyed that! If you're interested in buying the book I'll drop some links below!
S.C.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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