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New Story with a Border Collie! And a Reader's Review

Border collies are so smart. I think that's why Kelly is such a star in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series!

And the word challenge piece I wrote for this month's meeting of the Uxbridge Writers' Circle features an intelligent, you guessed it, border collie! The words we had to use in our stories are in italics.

And there's a new book review at the end - thank you, Susan!

Nothing to Lose

Tim wasn’t impressed with the front door of the old red-brick farmhouse. The green paint was blistered and peeling, and it had deep scratches between the door handle and the floor of the wooden verandah. A large dog must have often had difficulty gaining access.

Tim didn’t believe in extrasensory perception, but he thought this visit would be a good move. As he knocked on the clairvoyant’s door, he told himself there was nothing to lose.

Her blue jeans had the fashionable rips, and her flannel shirt was the type that was back in style. Tim would have preferred a long, flowing, colourful skirt, and a fancy blouse in red perhaps, and large, gold, hoop earrings. This wasn’t the image he had in mind, and he wondered if this meeting would accomplish what he’d hoped for. His optimism wavered a little.

Tim shook her hand, which was limp and sweaty. She explained she’d just come in from feeding the chickens, and not to mind the excited border collie who was darting around so that all Tim could see was a black and white blur.

“You regret coming,” Madam Belle said, as she brought two mugs of freshly brewed coffee to the large, solid wood table. Although the hard-back chairs had cushions on them, Tim didn’t feel comfortable. “You’re facing a dilemma. Do you stay just in case, or do you listen to your inner doubts and excuse yourself?”

He didn’t know how to respond. But after all, his body language would have given him away.

“You’ve decided to stay,” she said, as she sipped her coffee and peered over the rim of her mug. Her blue eyes sparkled with a hint of mischief, as if she was enjoying herself. “I often meet with people like you.” She put her mug down, reached out her hands, and took hold of his. Her hands were cooler and dryer now and delivered a caressing sensation.

She didn’t close her eyes. He’d expected her to go into some sort of trance.

“Don’t be disappointed. I don’t do theatrics. But I have to touch you.” She gave his hands a gentle squeeze and smiled at him. The border collie sat next to him. Tim glanced down at the dog whose big brown eyes gazed back at him in such a way that he almost thought the collie could see into his heart.

“I call my dog Puppet because he acts as if he’s an extension of me. He has amazing intelligence and instinct. He’s an extraordinary dog.”

Tim looked at his hands. It felt like little needles were pricking them.

“I understand why you’re here. You deliberately sought me out, but with a different intention than you want others to believe.”

Tim shifted in his seat and looked down at the well-worn table with its rings and scratches and stains.

“You think you’re on the cusp of proving something important. You’ve followed several carefully plotted paths to this point.”

He looked at the dog, whose large, shiny eyes held their gaze on him. Tim shivered. Not only did Madam Belle give him the willies, but Puppet unnerved him, too. It was as if the dog knew the truth.

Tim couldn’t understand what was going on. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen.

“I know where she is.”

Tim yanked his hands away. “I don’t believe you,” he yelled.

“Your anger won’t help you.” She reached for his hands again. “Breathe. Inhale, exhale. I mean it. Take a deep breath through your nose and release the air through you mouth. You’ve come, so you should give this a chance, right?”

She watched him. The dog watched him. He felt glued to the chair and couldn’t move.

“Okay. We’ve established an equilibrium. I can proceed. Look at me.”

Tim looked into her blue eyes, which seemed to have become more intense and focused. He wanted to shift his gaze, but it was as if he was entranced and caught in a spider’s web.

“You followed the wrong leads. And you know that. You had to fool everyone into believing you want to find your sister, but you know where she is.” Without taking her icy stare off him, she shouts, “Puppet, go fetch!”

Tim turns and watches the dog trot out of the kitchen. A slight tremor of fear tingles up and down his spine.

“You made sure everyone knew you were coming here. Your plan was to fool them into believing you love your sister and are desperate to find her.”

Tim wanted urgently to let go of her hands, but he couldn’t.

“You murdered her and dismembered her and put her remains in garbage bags and dumped them with other trash piled at the bottom of Cook’s Ravine. You did this so you’d inherit your late father’s fortune. You’re too greedy to share the wealth and you want to run his pharmaceutical company. Your father had appointed Emily as President and CEO. He didn’t trust your judgment. I’m right.”

Tim lunged across the table just as two armed police officers emerged from the adjacent room with the dog leading the way.

Madam Belle was a smart, intuitive woman. She sometimes helped the police. She simply presented her theory based on what she’d deduced from the facts, and then observed the reaction. Sometimes, she’d say “I’m wrong”, and put forward a different scenario. It wasn’t often that it didn’t work.

But her incredible powers of extrasensory perception also aided her. She made little of this extraordinary ability. She and Puppet had helped several people, and they’d also brought some to justice, including people like Tim. This was what brought her the deepest satisfaction.

Tim had thought he’d nothing to lose when he visited Madam Belle.

But he’d been wrong.

Vicky Earle copyright 2022

And a big "thank you" to reader Susan for this new review of What Happened to Frank?:

"I just recently finished What Happened to Frank?

I enjoyed your novel very much.

The characters were very well developed and full fleshed and all of the horse and racetrack tidbits were well done and fun.

I've read all of Dick Francis for the mystery and the horses and enjoyed your story every bit as much. I appreciated the female touches, adds to the story.

Hoping you are well and working hard on the next book!"

I love reviews! Please email me and/or post on amazon. I will include in my social media posts. Thank you!!!

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