By: Angi Morgan
SABRINA WATKINS: On vacation we received a phone call from our dog sitter and my husband mentioned that would be a good vocation for someone trying to lay low. Great idea. My heroine would hide from the men trying to kill her by house and pet sitting. It made sense that pet boarding was her background…and that developed the villains.
JAKE CRAIG: On a bike ride at White Rock Lake, we passed a section of park and the first thing that popped into my mind was that it would be a perfect place to find a body. So my hero needed to be a detective. I asked a friend's husband (long-time police officer) if there was something that would make the other detectives resent him--since my detective needed to work alone. And Steve mentioned that retired military received promotions sooner. So my hero was a Marine. The rest of his story fell into place easily.
DALLAS: The black Labrador was originally called Bear in the proposal. I own black Labs and Dallas was a special pup--but she had several problems. She began life with Puppy Strangles, blind in one eye, small for her age, and unexplained seizures. And despite all of these problems, she was fearless and loving. We lost her to a seizure while I was writing THE MARINE'S LAST DEFENSE and I had to change the name and personality of the pup to be like her.
THE CONNECTION: I needed a reason for the hero to want to help the heroine. A dog. Her love of animals, especially the hard-to-place Dallas, tugged at his heart--even though he didn't want it to.
TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, SABRINA WATKINS DOESN'T EXIST. BUT TO THIS COP, SHE IS VERY MUCH ALIVE.
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A black Labrador was under the brush on the other side of the six-foot security fence. Located just below a large yellow-and-orange danger sign, warning that the lake’s spillway was nearby.
The leash must have tangled around a limb, pinning the dog to the cold February ground. The pup yelped, whining louder, visibly shaking from the cold. He dropped back to the ground, obviously tired from his struggle for freedom.
“Hang on, now. How’d you get over there?” Just to his right the section of fence was raised off the ground, easy enough for a dog or person to crawl under.
The stubborn dog refused to budge even with encouragement and a gentle tug on his collar. His young bark did some tugging of its own on Jake's heart, earning a smile from a jaded soldier. He hadn’t thought he had one left.
He pushed farther into the bushes, conceding that the only way to get the dog loose was to get wet himself. The poor mutt shivered hard enough to knock his tags together. He slipped his hand around the dog collar and tugged again, receiving a louder howl and whimper.
The leash was caught on something or the pup was injured. He pulled hard and he still couldn’t get the leash free. Blindly he followed the leather to an icy death grip of fingers, causing him to instantly retreat. His jerky reaction scared the dog, causing her to struggle harder in the dark.
Then it hit him…the smell of death. Faint, most likely because of the cold, but there wafting into his brain and triggering more memories that he wanted to forget. Once experienced, he could never forget.
The pup made a unique noise halfway between a howl and whine.
“It’ll be okay, girl. We’ll find you another owner before too long.” He stroked the pup’s head and she quieted just a bit. Her tags indicated a rabies vaccination and that she’d been chipped, but they’d need animal control to access the information.
The woman frozen to the ground a couple of feet away was dead and had been most of the night. He’d seen the dead before. Many times over and under too many circumstances to remember them all. He didn’t want to remember.
Life was easier when he didn’t.
The pup tipped her soggy face up at him, and then rested on his thigh. Jake looked around the crushed crime scene as he dialed his partner’s cell. “I don’t know about you, Dallas, but it’s going to be a helluva long day.”
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ANGI MORGAN writes “Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love.” She combines actual Texas settings with characters who are in realistic and dangerous situations. Angi's work has been a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award, Romantic Times Best First Series, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Daphne du Maurier.
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Have you ever been stranded in the snow or just stranded?