Play Fetch: An Avery Barks Dog Mystery (Avery Barks Dog Mysteries Book 3)

Play Fetch: An Avery Barks Dog Mystery (Avery Barks Dog Mysteries Book 3) by Mary Hiker

Book: Play Fetch: An Avery Barks Dog Mystery (Avery Barks Dog Mysteries Book 3) by Mary Hiker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Hiker
Chapter 1
     
    I’m so tired, but it was so worth it .
    My head rested on the wood slab table as I dozed off out of pure exhaustion.   I had spent a long night kneeling on some prickly hay to stay warm while I watched the local veterinarian help a cow birth a beautiful brown calf.  It was the first time I’d ever watched the miracle of birth and it was something I would never forget.  I witnessed the little guy stand for the first time on wobbly legs and learn how to get his first drink of milk.  I looked forward to watching him grow up.
    Right now though, I just wanted to cuddle with my dog and get some sleep in my soft warm bed.  That wasn’t going to happen.  It was already five in the morning, and I only had time for a quick pick-me-up nap before going back to the animal sanctuary to finish my morning chores.
    I drifted off to sleep at my table in the diner, until a crying two year old child on the other side of the otherwise quiet restaurant jolted me awake.  A mother’s high pitched voice demanded the kid to “be quiet and eat,” but it didn’t work.  Nothing like fighting over cereal choices to bond a family, I thought.
    The comforting smell of farm animals hung on my clothes and mixed with the aroma of steak and eggs.  I slowly raised my head, made a ponytail out of my wavy brown hair and slipped it through the back of my dark green ball cap. There had been no reason to get cleaned up or put on make-up, since I would be headed straight back to the sanctuary to help feed our animals.
    I covered my sour dough French toast with sweet Vermont maple syrup and dug in.  Two large diet colas disappeared from my glass almost as soon as they arrived, and the remaining ice cubes reflected the soft lighting from the rustic fixtures that decorated the local diner.  It wouldn’t be too long until the false energy of the sugar and caffeine would give me a second wind.
    I felt at home in this place and came here often since I started working for Ben at the small animal rescue barn a few miles down the road.  The strong wooden beams and solid wood furniture felt like a cabin and the staff treated me as family.  The nature pictures on the wall were soothing, and the place was always clean and the floor swept, even though most customers came in directly from working some type of outdoor job. 
    The peaceful place was still being disturbed this morning by some outsiders.  The unfamiliar woman criticized the man after tiring of battling with the child.  I needed out of this toxic bickering, the family’s fighting started to make my own back tense.  I left my money on the table and thanked the staff as I got up to leave. 
    As I made my way to the door, I glanced over my shoulder toward the table of people who shouted their misery to world.  I gasped as I recognized my ex-boyfriend sitting with a crying toddler on his lap.  It had been about five years since I last saw him, but it looked like he had aged ten during that time.  His brown curly hair was now cut short, the blue jeans he used to wear were replaced with business attire, and his face looked pale and tired. 
    When he looked up, his eyes caught mine and his posture stiffened when he realized who I was.  His eyes quickly lowered toward the table and he bounced the toddler on his knee.  A wedding band on his left hand broadcasted his current marital status. A beautiful and thin bleached blonde woman, dressed like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine, continued badgering him as she shook her long slender finger in anger. 
    A wave of sadness flooded over me when I saw such a drastic change in his demeanor.  My memories of Travis Biltmore were filled with his laughter and sense of adventure.  But in this moment, laughter was nowhere in sight. I stepped forward to give a warm greeting, but thought better of it and turned on my heel.  No reason to give his wife another reason to be angry with him. 
    I deliberately turned my back on their strife

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