A Doggie’s Christmas Past

Buddy's Christmas Visitor

            JINGLE BELLS, JINGLE BELLS, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF …. Is my human mom’s way of singing that Christmas song. The carol doesn’t sound like that on her tapes or on the radio. Mom likes to play Christmas music when she bakes or decorates the tree.

            It was my sixth or seventh year at the farm where I live with my human family. My mom decorates me too! I’m kind of into the holiday routine, and have learned to take the jingle bell that she attaches to my collar in stride. Soon after Thanksgiving I ring like the proverbial belled cat until the New Year. I try to humor Mom by woofing along with her rendition of Jingle Bells. It makes her happy, and I usually get a treat for my participation.

            It began to snow the week before Santa’s expected arrival. The storm was so bad that the horses didn’t go out that day, and the barn cats didn’t budge from their warm spots in the hayloft. I took up my position as official cookie tester. Mom is a great cook, but always managed to break a few cookies, which she gave to me. She would ask me, “What do you think, Bud?” I would bark enthusiastically, and she would give me another taste.

            Dad put on his snowsuit, snagged a handful of cookies and went out to clear the walks and drive. I tagged along. I love the snow. While dad was plowing the drive and a path back to the barn; I rolled in the snow and dove into the drifts. We had finished, and Dad was putting the tractor back in the garage attached to the horse barn when Patty pulled into the drive. We helped her bring in her luggage and gifts. I sniffed each one perhaps one of the wrapped packages was for me.

            Both of my human parents were relieved that their daughter had made it safely; she’d traveled from a place called Virginia. The weather was getting worse. It was snowing harder, and the wind was blowing. The lights flickered a few times, so the lanterns and flashlights were collected. Dad went out to give the horses hay and water. He also went into the shed to check something called a generator. I visited with each of the horses, and then followed him out.

            While he was working in the shed, I heard a strange rumble followed by a huge flash of light. I trotted up to the front of the house to check it out. Dad must have heard it too; he followed me up to the drive. I saw a hole in a tall drift near the road, I was on my way to investigate when a huge truck with flashing lights roared down the street pushing snow to the edge and into the driveways.  Smack, Crack, down went the mailbox and news box. Dad used a few words that will probably move him to Santa’s naughty list. I barked a few nasty words of my own; that contraption nearly buried me!

            While I was telling that snowplow a thing or two, I heard a faint call for help. I began to dig in the drift where the noise was coming from. Dad came over to see what I was doing. He helped me dig. We found a half frozen puppy! He was difficult to locate. The more he wiggled the deeper he went into the pile of snow, and the little guy was white as the snow.

            I thought that I detected a movement, so I plunged my head into the expanded opening. The small snow tunnel began to collapse around my ears, as I desperately grabbed for a squirmy ball of fur. Not very gently, I hauled that pup out of the bank, and fell backward onto the cleared portion of the drive. Dad picked up the shivering refugee and carried him into the house.

            The puppies cry for help brought back a cold winter night from long ago when I and the rest of my litter were tied in a burlap bag and tossed into a dumpster, but that is a tale for another time. Suffice to say that I have abandonment issues, and for years I have enjoyed being the only canine on the farm. I drive off stray dogs and cats that don’t belong here. All in all, I am not a very hospitable fellow. Maybe, it was the Christmas Spirit that made me save that puppy and share my home and family with him.

            The fuss that my family made over little Chris had me rethinking my heroics. Mom and Dad decided that the puppy must belong to a neighbor. Chris was the name on the little gold tag attached to his red collar. He was only about two months of age, and sure did a lot of tail wagging. He also figured out the cookie begging routine in the blink of an eye. He also barked out Jingle Bells in a harmony that I was unable to accomplish. I sure hope that Mom and Dad had some luck locating his owners.

            Day Two of the Chris invasion: Mom brought home some puppy chow and a set of red bowls. Patty got a doggie coat to fit Chris that looked a lot like the suit that Santa wore on many of the cards that Mom hung up every year. They even got him a red and white doggie bed. My eyes were beginning to take on a green cast. You bet, I was a bit envious of all the hoopla over our guest.

            Chris wasn’t in any danger of getting lost in the snow with his bright red coat and silly Santa hat. At least he had the dignity to refuse to wear the little black booties. He shadowed me everywhere; I mean, he was in jeopardy of getting watered when I went out to make yellow spots in the snow. I introduced him to each of my equine charges, and he wasn’t the least intimidated by their size. He licked each muzzle as it bent down to sniff and nuzzle him. The barn cats also treated him like one of them; they purred and rubbed against him. What the heck? This wasn’t normal doggie behavior.

            Not a soul in the surrounding area had lost a Labrador puppy, and it became apparent that Chris would be with us for a while. He didn’t make use of his new bowls, but preferred to mooch from mine. He drug his little bed under the tree. There amid all the wrapped gifts he would take naps. Of course all my humans thought that presented a great photo op. What they didn’t know was that at night he snuggled up to me on the big quilt that Mom had put down for me. I sighed and consoled myself with the thought that Chris would perhaps go back to Virginia with Patty. She sure seemed to like him.

            Day five arrived, and the sun warmed the air. Patty decided to take us on an outing that included a walk in a nearby park. We ended up at the pet store in town where we got our pictures taken with Santa. Chris whispered that the man in the red suit was only a stand in for the real Santa. I was about to ask him how he knew that tidbit when a big drooling dog interrupted.

            “Hey little sissy dog. How do you know he isn’t the real Santa? It’s not like you know the guy.”

            I took in his bowed legs, muscular build, and belligerent attitude, and hoped that Chris would just stay in the seat of the shopping cart where Patty had placed him as we left the Santa photo session. “Yes, Bruiser, I do know Santa.” That did it. The Bulldog got his back up over Chris’ claim.

            “Bull farts! You don’t know Santa, and little liars go on the naughty list.” He sneezed, licked his drooling choppers, and growled at the little Santa clad puppy in the cart. “And how do you know my name?”

            Chris cocked his head. “Would you believe that I am able to read your name tag?”

            “No. I don’t believe you can read. You probably heard my human say my name.”

            Chris wagged his tail and then wished Bruiser a Merry Christmas. I was grateful that it all ended peacefully, and I didn’t have to take on Bruiser to keep Chris from becoming his afternoon snack. I kept my questions to myself until we were safely away from any other eavesdroppers. “Okay, Chris, how did you know Bruiser’s name?”

            “I know every dog’s name. Those who are in shelters, those that live on the streets, those who are abused, and those who are lucky to have good homes with people who love them. You have a lot to be thankful Buddy.”

            “How can a little puppy, like you, know that?”

            “It is my job, but I’m only an apprentice. My dad knows the name of every animal in the world.”

            I got out of the car at home, made yellow puddles, and went to visit with Dad who was working in the barn. I ignored the puppy’s boast, and chalked it up to a youngster’s imagination, but how did he know the other dog’s name? I was there and Bruiser’s human never once spoke his name. I sidled up to Dad for a scratch between my ears and a reassuring pat.

            Our human family had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner that evening. Mom always makes extra meatballs for me, and I was drooling almost as badly as the skeptical bulldog that we’d met that afternoon. Great! In addition to being a bottomless cookie pit, Chris was inhaling my meatballs. “I held on to my temper and only growled a little. Mom to the rescue; she gave me a few more meatballs from her plate. I guess the meatballs didn’t agree with his tummy. Chris started tooting from the back end and leaving a trail of foul smelling air behind him. I was hoping that he got over the results of his gluttony before we bedded down for the night.

            December twenty-fourth started out like most days on the farm. We got up early and Chrisand I played in the new snow that had fallen overnight. The horses went out while Dad cleaned their stalls. I chased and barked at them as they bucked and played in the snow. Chris sat on the drive near the barn and watched me. “Come and play Chris!” I barked.

            “Sorry, Buddy, but I have to keep a watch.”

            I stopped my play, walked over to where he sat, and asked, “What are you watching for?”

            “I’m keeping a lookout for my ride home.” I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to crush his hopes that his previous human would come to claim him.

            Dad was returning to the house, and we tagged along with him. “Hey, Chris, why don’t we go try to talk Mom into giving us a cookie or two?”

            He wagged his tale and his eyes twinkled with anticipation. “Christmas Cookies are my favorite treat in the world!”

            Things began to take on a different spin after lunch. Dad secured the horses in their stalls, and gave them hay. Mom decorated a huge tray of cookies, wrapped them up, and put several containers of food into boxes that were loaded into the car.

            Early that evening, my human family deserted us. Before they departed Mom filled our bowls, and Dad told me to guard the house.

            Chris barked a goodbye, and Patty stopped to pet him. “Now you be a good puppy and listen to Buddy while we are gone.”

            We ate a little out of our bowls—I should say my bowl. Chris still preferred to share my bowl than to eat out of his own.  Next we wandered from room to room patrolling the house. It seemed that my family had left eons ago, and I missed them. I walked over to my quilt on the floor, then looked over my shoulder to the inviting couch. The sofa won out, and I curled up on the soft cushions near the fireplace. I suppose Chris was worried that I was doing something naughty.

            “Buddy, should you be doing that on Christmas Eve? I mean Santa hasn’t arrived, yet. You don’t want to get bumped to the naught list, at the last minute.”

            He sounded distressed. The kid sure took this Santa thing to heart. “It’s okay, Chris, I do this whenever I have to guard the house. I can see all three entries from here.” That little white fib seemed to placate him, and he sat there for hours gazing into the fireplace. He was still sitting there when our family returned.

            Dad went out to give the horses their 10PM feed. We tagged along to decorate the snow. Chris kept stopping to scan the sky, the rooftops, and the drive. “Are you still looking for Santa?” I asked.

            “I thought he would be here by now to take me home.” He sounded so disappointed.

            “Well, perhaps Santa gave you a new home when you arrived here. This is a good place, and you can stay here with us—aah, with me.”

            “Really? You would share your home and family with me? I had heard that you didn’t like interlopers.”

            I was a bit embarrassed to have my scrooge like behavior pointed out to me by this youngster. I yawned closed my eyes and pretended to sleep. Chris was still staring into the fireplace when I dozed off.

            Christmas morning I woke and stretched. That is when I realized that Chris wasn’t sleeping next to me. I checked his doggie bed under the tree. It was gone! I trotted over to my food bowls, and his little red bowls were nowhere to be seen. I ran down the hall checking on the sleeping humans. Everyone was accounted for. Patty was still here, so Chris didn’t go with her.

            Everyone searched for Chris, after I roused the household. “Okay, Chris, quit fooling around and come out here. Hiding on Christmas morning is really naughty.” I barked, scolded, and pleaded with him.

            Gift giving was put off until after chores and breakfast. Patty played Santa and handed out the gifts. Every one of us was worried about Chrisand we were kind of just going through the motions. I usually ripped open my gifts, but I just laid my head on the stack in front of me. Patty found it at the back of the tree-skirt, It was a package wrapped in red with white puppy sized paw prints on the paper. I opened the yummy smelling package. Inside were four gingerbread cookies that were shaped like puppies. There wasn’t a name on the package, but I knew it was for me from Chris. Then Pat found one more package under the tree, and she read the tag. “This last package is for Buddy from Santa Clause.”

            Okay, little Chris believed in Santa, but I knew better. Every year there were always a few packages from Santa or Mrs. Clause, and they always had the sent of my human family on them. Pat handed me the package, it smelled strange, and I refused to open it. Mom took it from me. She opened the package and read the note inside.

            Thank you all for taking care of Chris, and making him part of your family. He is a rambunctious puppy and fell from the sleigh while we were training some new reindeer. Buddy, the shiny new bell is to remind you of Chris and your new Christmas attitude.

SC

            Patty said what we were all thinking. “Wow! The nametag makes sense, at last. It said ‘Chris’ and underneath ‘return to S.C.’ No wonder we couldn’t find his owners; he belonged to Santa.”

            I hope you liked my Christmas story.

            Merry Christmas!

 Buddy

Sox shares a Holiday Tale…

Howdy Everyone,

         I was chosen to share a few of my memorable Christmases with you. My name is Sox, and this is my Holiday Tale.

         Christmas at the boarding stable was different from the same holiday at home. It was my third Christmas there, but Santa still found me every year. He brought me a new winter blanket, and he filled the new fuzzy red stocking that hung on my stall door.

         I was a little worried that he might have put my name on the naughty list, and it would remain empty. Last year one of the stable hands just rolled my door over while he emptied and cleaned my water bucket. In a flash, I used my muzzle to roll open the door and snatch my stocking! It was mostly empty by then, and I pretty much shredded it trying to get at the last of my goodies.

Sox Christmas 2013         My Christmas stocking was always filled with carrots, dried apple slices, and peppermints. My treats lasted for a couple of weeks, only because Katie miserly doled out only one or two per day. Mom was stalled next to me,

         “I noticed that Emma is not as stingy with your ration of treats,” I complained. Don’t you know, Mom caught me tearing up my stocking!

         “Sox! How is Santa going to fill that next year when you trashed it?” I tried to hide the evidence under the bedding in the back of my stall, but Katie found it.

         Great! Then I had to listen to another lecture. You are going to have to be very good the remainder of the year, Sox. It is the only way to get off of the bad boy list so Santa doesn’t pass you by next Christmas.

 

         I guess that I was a good boy the rest of that year. My new fuzzy stocking was larger than the old one, and it was stuffed with more goodies. One other Christmas Season that has etched its self into my mind is the year that we headed south.

         I was prepared to spend another winter at the boarding stable, and it looked like Mack was going to accompany me.

         My first clue that something was different was when I heard Buddy’s excited bark. It was the same sound he made when Katie let him travel to the shows with the rest of us. The second clue came when Slim turned the wrong way out of the drive. Our winter boarding stable was in the other direction.

         “Where do you think we are going, Mack?”

         “I quit worryin’ ‘bout where I was goin’ a long time ago, Sox. Ain’t like we got a choice. F’rinstance, I went to a reinin’ show with some a mah buddies from mah ol’ home, and ended comin’ back here with lil’ Patty,”

         “Don’t you like it here?” I thought maybe he was homesick. I knew I would be.

         “Shucks, the grass is good eatin’, and I do like Patty. But y’all sure have cold weather ‘round here.”

         “Oh, this is just the beginning. It will get way colder and snow a heck of a lot more before winter is over,” I laughed.   Mack didn’t reply. He just groaned, rolled his eyes, and then busied himself with browsing through his hay bag.

         Most of my travels had been confined to Ohio and neighboring states. This time we traveled all the way across the Ohio River, through Kentucky and Tennessee, with their steep roads that wound through mountains. It was such a relief to hit the long flat stretch of road through Georgia and into Florida.

         Our first night on that trek was spent with some horse friends in Tennessee. Our winter blankets were shed the next morning. By the time we stopped for the second night, we were traveling with our windows down. Florida was a strange and different world!

         Heavy snow and ice pellets had made it a slow start from home, and here it felt like summer! How could that be? Cold breezes from the Great Lakes were replaced by soft, warm, winds from the Atlantic Ocean that sometimes lifted our damp manes. From our temporary home we could smell oranges. A local horse, we met, told us that what we smelled was really just the aroma of the orange blossoms. Florida had some strange looking trees that Katie called palms. People there decorated them with Christmas lights, just like our humans did to the pine trees back in Ohio.

         Santa found us in Florida! Imagine that! Our usual stockings with dried apples, carrots, and peppermints were hung on our stall fronts. The Christmas stocking was a huge comfort to me. I was a bit home- sick.

         It surprised me when Mack said, “ Reckon I ain’t never had a Christmas stockin’ before!”

         “Seriously? I always thought all horses got Christmas stockings! Don’t they have Christmas where you came from?”

         “Maybe? But we never got us stockin’s on our stalls.“

         The following year Mack’s ears perked up, and his eyes twinkled at the sight of his Christmas stocking.

 

         I hope you liked my Christmas memories. Parts are excerpts from my book. “Backyard Horse Tales: Sox 2nd Edition.”

Happy Holidays!

From all of us Backyard horses, Sox, Frosty, Love, Doc, Anna, and Bella.

 

Check out last weeks post for e-book savings good until Christmas day.

Stop by next week for a doggie’s story of a strange Christmas visitor. Keep your family close, and don’t forget our animal friends.

Adult Reads 18+ for your gift list…

Thanksgiving Day is nearly a week in the past, and shopping days until Christmas are whizzing by. Pick one of these books in print or as an e-book for the adult readers on your gift list. All are available on Amazon or Smashwords.                                                                                                                                       Memoirs are not one of my usual genre, but I found the account of Micki’s life humorous at times, and laughed out loud. I also had to find a box of tissues to keep at hand.

000_bookcover for email normal (3)It is amazing to read the hope, faith and courage this author maintained through the tragic loss of a child. This is a story that should be required for every driver who has a drink and gets behind the wheel, or those who pilot vehicles of death while texting. There are a multitude of distracted and impaired driver offenses that contribute to the early passing of beautiful young people, like Micki’s fourteen-year-old daughter.

“And the Whippoorwill Sang” is and emotional read with many up and downs, as well as twists and turns that rival a winding mountain road. I found myself getting angry on the author’s behalf, chuckling, or out right laughing at her antics, Lucile Ball could have played Micki.

As a mother, indeed a human being, I felt her heartache and sense of loss.

Not a quick read, but well worth a readers time. I found a lot of formatting issues on the kindle version, but the story is well writtenand I highly recommend it.

Author Contacts:

E-Mail: mallie1025@aol.com

http://mallie1025.blogspot.com/

www.linkedin.com/in/mickipeluso

www.facebook.com/micki.peluso

Altercations by Reynold Bowen

ALTERC~1

Review Excerpt

 by Jackie Anton

Copyright © 2011 Reynold Bowen

Raider Publishing International

ISBN: 978-1-61667-362-8

     Altercations is a science fiction novel that immerses the reader in the corrupt governing body of the Core. The author presents the question “Is the Government worth being saved?”

Mr. Bowen’s descriptions of the inner and outer planets, their environments and inhabitants make it easy to imagine the book’s futuristic setting. He successfully delves into the age-old battle of good versus evil as well as the uncaring attitude of the extremely wealthy to the daily struggle of the working and poor of society.

In the year 2998 the royal DeMarlonia family over sees a large part of the known galaxy. Intrigue abounds. Power hungry politicians have spies everywhere, but so do the revolutionaries. Within the seat of power lurks the Black Widow who is responsible for the death of millions in the Veiled Grottos. Lesser peoples and political opposition alike are consigned to this painful death.

Take a trip with our reluctant hero from the outer planet of Qwiasrio to the seat of power on what was once known as earth. The new space drive developed by Lobby Leader LeGray has shrunk the distance to the outer planets and their sources of wealth.

Altercations is well written, and keeps the pages turning. I enjoyed the rebirth of the ancient craft of photography as an art form. A photographer himself the author shares this form of recording history with his character Ganen. Characters are well developed and believable.

If you like science fiction, you will love this scifi mystery novel. Bowen keeps you guessing to the very end. I would describe this book as having an interesting cross of a Stephen King and Star Wars flavor.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Altercations-Reynold-Bowen/dp/1616673621/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386091883&sr=1-3&keywords=ALTERCATIONS

Barnes &Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/altercations-reynold-bowen/1107864235?ean=9781616673628

To Dance in Liadron

Brigid O’Flynn loves to dance, but her priest frowns upon the practice. Not only does she have to suffer the superstitions of the villagers who think she is cursed by the Faerie Folk, but she struggles to avoid the Lord of the manor each time she works within its walls. To top it all off she is being forced into a marriage that she is not ready accept.

Adrianne has created a wonderful fantasy adventure for young adult and older readers. At seventeen our heroine struggles with the urge to leave her harsh life behind and enter a world of music and dance. This book is also suitable for young adults.

Cover_ToDanceInLiradonBLURB:

Seventeen-year-old Brigid O’Flynn is an outcast. A chance encounter with the Faerie Queen left her tainted in the eyes of the villagers, who blame the Faerie for the village’s missing women and children. Desperate to win the village’s acceptance, Brigid agrees to marry her childhood friend: Serious, hardworking, Connell Mackenna. But when Connell disappears before their wedding, Brigid’s hopes are shattered. Blamed for her fiancé’s death, Brigid fears she will suffer the same fate as the other village outcasts, the mysterious Willow Women. Lured into Faerie by their inhuman lovers, and cast out weak and broken, the Willow Women spend their lives searching for the way back into Faerie. When Connell suddenly reappears, Brigid is overjoyed, but everything is not as it seems. Consumed by his desire for beauty and celebration, Connell abandons his responsibilities, and Brigid soon finds herself drawn into a passionate, dangerous world of two.

When Brigid discovers the truth behind Connell’s transformation she’s forced to choose between two men and two worlds. Brigid’s struggle leads her into glittering, ruthless Faerie, where she must rescue her true love from a terrible sacrifice or lose him forever.

Buy Links:

Amazon: US: http://www.amazon.com/To-Dance-in-Liradon-ebook/dp/B009F94I3W/ref=la_B009HWWMT4_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349915685&sr=1-1

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/To-Dance-in-Liradon-ebook/dp/B009F94I3W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1349972228&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-dance-in-liradon-adrienne-clarke/1112975145?ean=2940015710045

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/To-Dance-in-Liradon/book-J5YVsQBAyU26uuplRq4VrQ/page1.html?s=KS-iLsIhp0GoqVUvE-QpvA&r=1″

Fantasy not quite the ticket? Bama Bride was selected for Romance fans:

Cover_BamaBrideBLURB: Neal Sinclair meets David Bankston in a college town bar. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, and wears a Stetson like nobody’s business.

 When they dance, inner passion heats up while inhibitions melt away. Neal quickly discovers David’s not a Southerner at all. He’s a Boston architect, in Tuscaloosa for only one night. The next morning, they struggle to walk away from something that caught them both by surprise

 Time doesn’t diminish the ache they feel in each other’s absence. Unable to stay apart, David arranges to take Neal to watch her beloved Crimson Tide play in a football bowl game. Reunited, they’re determined to make it work. When separated, they perfect the art of open communication. They each know that true love is a long shot.

But distance isn’t the only thing standing in their way. Unbeknownst to her, Neal’s overprotective father is, too. With so much conspiring against them, can a natural disaster turn the odds in their favor?

BUY Links:

AMAZON:   http://www.amazon.com/Bride-BookStrand-Publishing-Romance-ebook/dp/B00CT35YFW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369583017&sr=8-1&keywords=bama+bride

BOOKSTRAND PUBLISHING:    http://www.bookstrand.com/bama-bride

 

My Contribution this week is multi fold:

A tale of romance, conflict, and a helping of humor in

Fateful Waters

BLURB: Follow Melinda Potter and Alexandra Parker, across the country, as the friends travel from their home on the shores of Lake Erie to the drought-stricken state of Texas. After graduation from The Ohio State University, Melinda has a date with an online Romeo. Lexie, who is supposed exert a moderating influence on her impulsive friend, winds up in a hospital where she wakes to everyone calling her Mrs. Ross.  She doesn’t have a clue how she got there, or who Mr. Ross is.

Fateful Waters 600_819 Final

Be sure to check out the e-book coupons at the end of this post:

 

EXCERPT: The mud-covered woman stared at him as if he was the headless horseman. He had to ask her twice if she needed some help. With Jim’s rope securely around the small critter to keep its head above the mud hole, he plucked the calf’s would-be rescuer out of the deepening mud and set her on her feet by her Cadillac. Then he went back to help Jim haul the newborn out of the mud. Jim took the calf up across his lap and rode a safe distance from the rising water before releasing it. The calf was none the worse for its experience, largely due to the little lady keeping its head elevated. Cutter turned around to check on her, and was amazed to see her sitting in the mud, her back propped against the side of her mud-splattered ride. She continued looking at him like he was the devil incarnate. He approached her slowly. Her up swepthairdo was falling down on one side. Soaking wet and covered with mud, he would be surprised if she weighed a hundred pounds, her soaked once white silk blouse clung to her petite form affording an enticing peek at a lacy bra that hid her pert breasts. Obviously chilled her nipples were puckered and erect. Cutter needed to get a grip, and stop ogling the stranded little woman with the mistrustful blue eyes.

He took precious moments to walk around the vehicle as far as possible, and wiped off the front license plate that declared the Cadillac was from Ohio. Curiosity took hold, “Are you lost?”

“What makes you think I am lost, cowboy?”

Her voice was an octave above a whisper, shaky, and thin, but she definitely had a Yankee accent. He tried again, “My name is Cutter. What’s your name?” She looked at him as if he were speaking a foreign language.

“I lost it.”

“You lost your name?” She wasn’t making any sense.

“Of course not. I lost my shoes, and my phone, not to mention a mangy cow killed my car, but I haven’t lost my name.”

She spoke to him as if he were a little slow on the uptake. Okay, I will give it one more try.

“My name is Alexandra,” she volunteered, before he could ask again. It was obvious she didn’t trust him. It could be she had caught me scrutinizing her physical attributes. Cutter tried to be patient with her, but the nearby stream was quickly becoming a raging torrent, and he couldn’t let her stay where she was.

“Alexandra, we need to move away from here, or we are both going to drown.”

She just shook her head looking at his big black stallion with huge terrified blue eyes when he suggested that she mount his horse to ride out of there with him. He took the decision out of her hands. The rising water was lapping at the right side of the Cadillac, and they were out of time. Cutter plucked her out of the mud one more time and carried her over to deposit her on his saddle. She had the presence of mind to straddle it, and he quickly mounted behind her, spurring Rowdy to higher ground. Her silk blouse clung to her small frame, and she shivered uncontrollably. Opening his duster, he pulled her close to him and closed the front over her. She objected at first, but then relented out of concern for Rowdy when Cutter scolded her, “Quit wiggling. You’re making it harder for my horse to pick his way through this muck.” She settled down immediately. He’d expected her to be cold, when he pulled her against him, and had been concerned about hyperthermia. Of even more concern was the fact that she was burning up and becoming lethargic. It would probably be a good idea to get her to focus by talking to him.

“Alexandra? I’ll bet that they call you Alex.” Her voice was fading and becoming weaker, but she responded.

“Wrong. My friends call me Lexie. However, you can call me Alexandra.”

He suppressed the urge to laugh. He had a hunch that under normal circumstances, she was a handful. “What were you doing out here Alexandra?”

“Playing in the mud with your cows. They were your cows, weren’t they?”

“Yep, they’re mine. You like cows, Alexandra?”

“I like them just fine, served up as a medium rare porterhouse.”

Her response surprised Cutter, given the effort that she had put forth to save the calf, and he told her so. “You must really like steak, to jump in the mud with a potential dinner.”

“Well…it’s just a baby. You really ought to make hamburger out of that cow, once the baby is weaned.”

“You don’t think she would make good steaks?”

“She doesn’t deserve to be steaks. She is a lousy mother, parking her baby in the middle of a road. It is like a human telling their kids to go play in traffic!”

He was not going to laugh at her or set her straight about cattle tonight, but it was a strain to keep the laughter from becoming audible. Thankfully, the house was in sight, and Jim had already alerted Maria, who was ready to take over the care of their unexpected guest. Alexandra was barely lucid, but he knew Maria would be able to handle the situation. He left her in his longtime cook and housekeeper’s care. “Maria, this is Alexandra.” Then he was back out the door to take care of his exhausted horse.

Maria was amazed that the small girl hadn’t slid through Cutter’s hold, like a slippery little fish, as he deposited her in the mudroom off the kitchen. Maria automatically guided her shivering charge to the adjacent room that housed a small tub and shower stall. She didn’t like the way Alexandra looked: she could not seem to communicate, and could barely stand on her own. A shower was out of the question, so Maria opted to use the tub.

Once the mud was washed off in the warm bath, their houseguest stopped shaking like a leaf in an early winter Norther. It was obvious to Maria as she assisted the slightly built blond from the tub that none of her own clothes would work for Alexandra. She estimated they were approximately the same height of five foot and three or four inches, but that was it. Clothes intended for Maria’s ample bosom and rounded physique would wrap around this slim girl twice, or fall off completely. Only her tall wool socks fit, but her charge would most likely expire from shock if she got a glimpse of herself, considering the expensive, fashionable clothes that she had been wearing when she arrived. Maria didn’t think the young woman’s clothing was salvageable. The best she was able to do was fetch one of Cutter’s flannel shirts. At least the blue plaid covered her to her knees, and Maria was able to roll up the long sleeves on the girls limp arms. Alexandra was barely conscious. Maria set the tea to brew, and then was able to coax Cutter’s foundling to accept an oral thermometer. Cutter was always carting home strays or injured animals when they were children, but this was no abandoned puppy. He had really outdone himself this time. Maria retrieved the thermometer as she placed the cup of tea in front of Alexandra, who was slumping in her chair and listing a bit. Maria kept a close eye on the young woman while she read the results. One hundred and four!

While her charge sipped her tea, she punched in the number for Doctor Joe. After summoning the doctor, she contacted her husband Jim. His cell only rang twice.

“I need you, Jim. This girl is really sick. She is running an extremely high temperature. You or Cutter will have to carry her to the other end of the house and put her to bed until doctor Joe gets here.”

Maria had a premonition that this rescue was going to backfire on all of them.

  Smashwords.com coupon code to use at checkout for a 50% discount good until Christmas Day. Code XD77F

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You can win a free paperback of Fateful Waters by following the instructions for the Wind River Giveaway. Indicate FW for this book.

Wind River Refuge Cover 4613“Wind River Refuge” is only available as an e-book; the print edition will be available January of 2014: Two free copies will be awarded to randomly drawn reviewers. (US Only) Every review post receives an entry; review on smashwords = 1 entry, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and LibraryThing earn an extra point= 6 entries for all five review postings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Early Reviews:

Review by: Joan Adamak on Nov. 23, 2013: on Smashwords.com and Amazon.

WIND RIVER REFUGE
By J.M. Anton

Loaded with action, danger and romance
This novel is a page turner from beginning to end. Jax is the beautiful, petite, fiery foster daughter of Maggie and Dex McBride. Dex’s Cousin, Garrett McBride is to pick Jax up at the Denver airport. Garrett is a large, handsome, strong male, although suffering from PTSD as a Nam Vet. He becomes angry quickly and has little patienceand he meets his counterpart in Jax.

From the very first, there is a continual friction and admiration between these two, but neither wants to admit this weakness. Their on-again, off-again romance heightens the danger for Jax as there is a murderer on the loose, whom no one can identifyand it is only through attempts on Jax’s life that this becomes obvious.
The author does a tremendous task of character building with her several actors in this story so that you feel you know each main character thoroughly, and this plot is different than most plots because of this particular essence of danger always lingering.
I highly enjoyed this story and recommend it. I was given this e-book free for an honest review.

Review by: Reynold Bowen on July 18, 2013 on Smashwords.com & Book Reviews Only Blog.
Review of Wind River Refuge
by J. M. Anton
©2013 J. M. Anton
Smashwords Edition
Cover photo by Kellie
Anton
Graphic design by S. Shipley
Thesis: This book is a story about Jax, a young woman who is about to graduate from a university in North Carolina, but decides to go home to her step parent’s ranch in Wyoming for Christmas break. It takes place in the 1970s when the Vietnam War was the basis of many family hardships.
The Story: The prologue begins the book by telling the short story about Cindy, a high school cheerleader who decided not to take a ride home from her new boyfriend. Her old boy friend’s cousin stepped in and offered her a ride, but as she would not do the things he was expecting her to do, she escaped his clutches, and ran from the car. As she tried to find her coat in the falling snow, she thought of ways that she would make him pay for his ill manners when she saw him again. Unfortunately, she never made it home.
The actual book begins when Jax, the heroine, is on her way home from Raleigh, North Carolina, to the Double D ranch in Wyoming. Dexter’s ill-mannered cousin Garret McBride, now back from Vietnam after being badly wounded, has been sent to Denver to pick her up for the final leg of the journey, and he has been told that there is a very angry step mother with a shotgun waiting for Jax, so she had better arrive in perfect health.
Jax, and Garret start off on the wrong foot, and their non-relationship goes downhill from there. This becomes even more worrying as Jax returns again in the spring after graduating, and someone attempts to murder her.
How Jax finds out who her assailant really is, and how she resolves the problem keeps the reader occupied, and on the edge of his or her seat throughout the story. It is well written, and the realistic characters have the right dialog to keep the story going while the narrative constantly reminds the reader that the author’s heart lives out in the west. The author describes winter, and spring in the Rocky Mountains so well, and with so much enthusiasm, that it is difficult not to want to move there instantly.
J. M. Anton’s last book used Texas as a background, while this book moves a few states north, and makes the reader want to read her next adventure not only to follow the exciting story, but also to see where she will go next. Finally, this adventure takes place towards the end of the Vietnam War, and again lets everyone know just how many problems the soldiers of that era brought back with them.
This book is a good story, with a plot that always keeps the reader on track until the climax. J.M. Anton, please keep this quality of work coming in your future books.
RB

The above reviews were by published authors who received the e-book in exchange for their honest opinions. Joan’s review is particularly satisfying; her first review on “Fateful Waters” helped me revise that book to an award winning status. Your reviews don’t have to be this extensive, a few lines will do. Go to my e-mail talesbyjackie@gmail.com list the spots for your reviews; I will verify the reviews and enter your name accordingly. Winners will be notified on January 30th.

The smashwords.com coupon for 50% off Wind River Refuge is good until Christmas Day. Code ZZ49P

DIRECT LINK: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/328170

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E-Mail: talesbyjackie@gmail.com

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Happy Holidays! Check back in the next two weeks for a few Christmas tales.

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