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Josie Shepherd loves running free, with no one and nothing to tie her down—until a new job at a kennel introduces her to both an unexpected friend and a vicious, abused dog named Cain.
When Josie stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman, she runs to Deputy Gordon Wolfe, a disfigured man hiding behind his badge. His shy smile and affection for dogs make her reconsider what she’s running from.
Now she’s on the run from a serial killer and her own heart. But when her friend is abducted and Cain appears to be the murder weapon, Josie’s attempt to save them both lands her in the killer’s lair. Josie’s strength and Cain’s loyalty are tested to the limit as they fight for their lives. Facing a killer is one thing, but facing her love for Gordon is Josie’s greatest challenge.
The big dog whined when I said his owner’s name. Coincidence? Possibly, but I didn’t believe that. I attempted to touch his mind the way I could touch Fletcher’s. It was an ability I always had, since my first puppy when I was four or five years old. I could sense what my dogs were feeling. Their thoughts came as images and impressions, rather than words. Most of them were based on scent, and didn’t translate well. Still, I could pick up on most of their feelings, especially strong emotions. I didn’t know it then, but I had a connection with certain dogs far beyond the usual canine/human relationship. Cain was the first dog that made me realize I had a true gift. That it was something greater than empathy, intuition, and the ability to read canine body language.
It was Cain, with his herringbone scars, Raggedy Andy ears, and haunted eyes, who taught me how to use my gift. Later, it was Cain who showed me the power I possessed.
The Mastiff was miserable and worried. What we had perceived as aggression was in fact fear. The big dog had been hurt, mercilessly beaten countless times. Had he been used for dog fighting? The thought chilled me. No dog deserved that.
The kennel walls were concrete blocks, three feet high, and topped with chain link panels bolted to the ceiling. I leaned one hip on the block divider. Cain gazed at me, mere inches away. I hooked my fingers through the chain link and he licked them. I was staggered by how much he was sending me. It was like being in a theater. One that can project not only images and sounds, but scent and emotion as well. Cain showed me the things he desired. I saw the big dog playing in a wildflower meadow and sleeping in the deep, cool shade. Great sadness accompanied the yearning for loving hands to stroke his head. Those images morphed from Cain’s dreams to his reality. I saw iron bars in a dark room, heard the crack of a whip, felt the burning agony as it lashed his back. I suffered with him as his guts twisted with hunger until the desperate, overpowering need for meat took command of his mind.
My thoughts circled closer together, closing in, and went to the Mastiff. I was nearly in a trance, chanting the words. “Good boy, good dog.”
Cain’s nose pressed into the chain link. Our eyes were less than six inches apart. He stared raptly, searching my face for the truth.
“Good boy, Cain. You’re a good dog.” I had the certain knowledge Cain had never heard these words, or felt the meaning behind them.
DJ Davis is a Colorado native and the rugged high country sets the scene for her stories. When she's not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, photographing the wildlife, or camping with her husband. A Great Dane runs her life.
A portion of each sale of her novel "Courageous Cain" will be donated to Big Bones Canine Rescue in Windsor, Colorado. Help us help big dogs in need.
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