By Devin O’Branagan
My upcoming novella, THE TWILIGHT BONE, is a prequel to my bestselling SHOW DOG SINGS THE BLUES, which was nominated as best humor book of 2011 by the Dog Writers Association of America. This new installment of The Show Dog Diaries continues the tale of Talisman (known to her friends as Tali), the prissy, pampered Australian Shepherd, who was first introduced in my comic Red Hot Novels mystery series. Told entirely from Talisman’s viewpoint, we learn a lot about life as a dog—one very eccentric, but lovable, dog.
As this is a prequel, Talisman is younger than she has been in any previous books featuring her; she is a teenager, with all the angst that implies. A couple of firsts for her in this novella include her first romantic crush and an introduction to her first cat. When her person’s partner moves in with his cat in tow, Talisman has some serious adjusting to do. Please enjoy this scene.
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My person, Val, invited Peter to move in with us. Along with Peter, came his delicate little silver tabby cat named Princess. I had never met Princess until the day she arrived at our townhome in her cat carrier. Like Peter, Princess was shy, and after she arrived that day, she refused to leave the security of her cage. I don’t think she had ever met a dog before, and I had never met a cat before, and everyone involved was—
“As nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof,” Val said.
Inside her crate, Princess trembled; I could smell her fear. “Mowr?” she kept asking us. What’s going on? I understood her to say.
This is your new home, I explained.
Why? she asked me.
Because our people want to live together.
Her bright green eyes blinked as she processed the information. She peered out between the slats of her open cage and looked up at Val and then Peter, who regarded her with a big frown plastered across his face.
She sighed and placed a tentative paw outside her cage. Then another.
We all held our breath.
“That’s right, Princess,” Peter said encouragingly.
She came completely out of the cage, which provided me the opportunity I’d been waiting for to sniff from the tips of her ears to the end of her twitching tail.
Her trembling returned.
“You’re frightening her, Tali,” Val said.
Oh, but she smells so interesting! Fish, and flowers, and a special scent I could only interpret as femininity.
I grunted and flopped to the floor so Princess and I could commune nose-to-nose. I didn’t mean to frighten you, I told her.
“Mowr,” she said. I know. It’s just all so overwhelming.
Val glanced out the window at the darkening sky. “Damn Colorado weather! It looks like that storm is moving in fast. We need to get the rest of your things moved before it hits.”
Peter regarded me nervously. “Is Princess going to be okay with Tali? I mean, shouldn’t we leave her in the carrier until we get back?”
I was offended. Like I would ever hurt a little cat. “Huh!” I grunted with displeasure.
Val reached down and rubbed my ears. “Tali’s a good girl and it’ll be fine. They should have some time alone to bond.”
Princess looked up at Peter and batted her eyes coquettishly. “Mew,” she said in a soft, sweet voice. Please don’t leave me here, she begged.
“Come on,” Val said and dragged Peter back outside where Val’s best friend, Toby, waited in his van.
Princess and I were alone for the first time.
Now this would have been fine and dandy if thunder hadn’t shaken the townhome the minute I heard the van pull away.
I yelped in horror.
Princess mewled in terror.
Trembling overcame us both.
Thunderstorms were the bane of my existence and, apparently, Princess shared my fear. She scrambled to try to get back into her carrier, but in her haste slammed the door shut, locking herself out. She shrieked.
Follow me! I told her. I have a safe den!
I started toward the small, dark laundry room right off the kitchen where Val kept my carrier prepared just for this type of emergency. However, when I glanced back I noticed Princess frozen in place, her eyes wide, her body flattened against the floor with its fur sticking up as if lightning had made a direct hit. Another crash of thunder rattled my teeth and I skidded to a stop. What should I do? I couldn’t leave her. Whining, I raced back and picked her up by the scruff of her neck. I sensed her shock, but she didn’t fight me. Instead, she went limp. Moving carefully, I headed into the laundry room as quickly as I could, deposited her in my den, and crawled in after her. A thick bedspread to muffle some of the sound covered the large crate. Inside I enjoyed a soft bed of blankets, and some of Val’s unwashed clothes lent the comfort of his smell. I dug for while and created a little nest for the two of us, but Princess kept mewling and shaking.
It’s okay. I’m here, I said.
I want Peter!
My mind raced and I stuck my nose outside the den. In a pile of dirty clothes next to the washing machine, I caught a whiff of Peter’s scent. Nervously, I ventured out in search of its source. I rooted around until I found a shirt that Val had worn on a recent date with Peter and it carried the strong smell of both men. I dragged it back to the den and incorporated it into our nest. Immediately, Princess began kneading the shirt and within moments she was buzzing.
I tensed, uncertain what was happening.
Princess looked at me quizzically. What?
Princess cocked her head to one side. Oh! I’m purring.
I let out a sigh of relief and snuggled closer to her. I found the buzzing comforting.
After a few minutes, she stopped kneading and lay down, pressing herself tightly against me.
It felt good not to be alone in the presence of the evil thunder monster.
I thought about how feminine both Peter and Princess were and decided that it might be a good balance for Val and me. Although I was a girl dog, I was a bit gender-confused. I lifted my leg like a boy dog, and lately Val and I had been dancing a lot to “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog” while doing our best Elvis imitations—I sneered while Val shook his hips, both of us quite macho in our performances. Since I was a show dog, it wouldn’t hurt if I developed a bit more grace and feminine charm. In the dark, I practiced batting my eyes like I had seen Princess do earlier. Come hither, I said for no good reason I could imagine while I batted my eyes in an alluring manner.
What did you say? Princess asked.
Embarrassment filled me. I decided I should probably work on experimenting with my feminine wiles when I was alone.
Copyright © 2013 – Devin O’Branagan – All Rights Reserved
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Devin O’Branagan is a bestselling author who writes novels about uncommon heroes. Her genres include young adult urban fantasy, paranormal thrillers, comic mysteries, and fiction about dogs and cats. She is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and many of her writing projects support animal rescue. Her books have been published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books in English, Heyne Verlag in German, and Dogan Egmont in Turkish. All of her books are available in both print and eBook formats. Visit her website at DevinWrites.com, and check her out on Facebook and Twitter.