Home > Tell the Stars to Shine (Summer Lake Seasons #6)

Tell the Stars to Shine (Summer Lake Seasons #6)
Author: S.J. McCoy

Chapter One

 


When she came out of the bakery, Amber hesitated. She could turn right and head straight back to Grandma Lenny’s with the pastries or, if she went left, she could take a little detour down along the beach.

It’d been a while since she’d seen the beach. She swung the bag as she walked. Lenny would love the cupcakes. Amber tried to make sure that she ate properly and stuck to a healthy diet since the heart attack. But a cupcake every now and then wouldn’t do any harm.

She smiled when she turned the corner and saw the water. It sparkled in the evening sun. The beach looked to be empty—just the way she liked it. She stopped and turned when she heard a strange sound coming from the trees at the edge of the parking lot. It was like someone was whimpering over there. She approached cautiously, feeling a little apprehensive, and at the same time, a little foolish. She’d probably find a bird or something—she hoped.

The sound grew more urgent as she got nearer, as if whoever was making it could hear her coming and was trying to attract her attention. Her heart raced in her chest. What on earth was going on?

She could see a hole in the ground and had visions of a newsreader on TV talking about a shallow grave. She pulled herself together. Whoever or whatever was in that hole wasn’t dead—they were making even more frantic noises now. She stopped a few feet away and peered over the edge and let out a laugh when she saw a big dog scrabbling at the dirt, trying desperately to get out.

“Hey, fella! It’s okay. How did you get in there? And more importantly, how are we going to get you out?”

The dog stopped scrambling, as if the sound of her voice calmed him—at least, it looked like a him; she’d apologize later if it was a her. He cocked his head to one side and looked at her, and then let out a long, sad whine.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get you out of there.” She set the bag with the cupcakes down and laid her purse beside it.

The hole was maybe three feet deep—why on earth was there a hole like that? She couldn’t even imagine—kids maybe? It wasn’t a pertinent question at the moment. More importantly, she needed to know if the dog was going to trust her if she tried to help him—or if he’d turn on her. She knelt down and held her hand out for him to sniff. He licked it and looked up at her. Okay, then. She was going to take that as a good sign.

She got down in the hole with him. It was deep enough that her boobs were at ground level. She knew she’d be able to get out again, but she’d have to pull herself up and swing her leg over the edge to do it. She looked at the dog. He wasn’t small. She couldn’t tell what breed he was—a mongrel by the look of him—and probably over a hundred pounds if she had to guess.

She stroked his head and he leaned against her leg, panting heavily. The poor thing was obviously stressed out by his ordeal.

“We’re going to get you out of here.”

He looked up at her with trusting eyes.

“We are,” she reassured him. “Will you let me lift you?” She liked dogs, but she’d never had one. She didn’t know them well enough to know if he’d let her lift him or if he’d be more likely to bite her for trying. There was only way to find out.

She patted the edge of the hole. “We’re going to get you up here, okay?”

He tried to jump up, but his paws scrabbled against the dirt, and he slid back down. She cupped her hands behind his butt and tried to lift him. He wriggled away and sat down.

She blew out a sigh. “You’re going to have to work with me here, doggy. I want to help you, but you have to help me, too.”

She patted the edge again, and he stood up. This time when she cupped her hands behind his butt and heaved, he managed to get his front paws up on the ground. Amber heaved again, and he pulled himself the rest of the way.

She swung her leg up and pulled herself after him, grateful that there was no one around to see her undignified exit.

Once she was out of the hole, she got to her feet and brushed herself down. It didn’t do any good; she was filthy. So was the poor dog. He sat there staring up at her, panting—as if waiting for her to tell him what would happen next.

She let out a laugh. “Don’t look at me like that. I don’t know. Where are you from? Where are your people?” He wasn’t wearing a collar, so she had nothing to help her. “You’d probably better come with me. Lenny might know who you belong to. And if not, I guess we’ll have to call the shelter.”

She picked up her purse and the bag of cupcakes. “Are you coming?”

The dog got to its feet and followed her.

~ ~ ~

Austin looked around the office. Everything was shut down for the night. Time for him to get out of here.

He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket when it rang. “Hey, Colt.”

“Hey, bud. Just checking that we’re still on for tonight.”

Austin laughed. “You mean checking that I haven’t forgotten?”

“Yeah. That. I know you get busy, and you can’t control when people call you up and want a last-minute showing.”

“I do. But not tonight. I’ve been looking forward to dinner with you guys.”

“We’ve been looking forward to it, too. Especially, Sophie. She’s been bugging me ever since she got home from school, wanting to know what time you’ll be here, and how much longer she has to wait.”

Austin smiled to himself. Sophie was a little sweetheart. “Well, you can tell her that I’ll be there within the hour. I was about to leave the office when you called. I’m going to stop by the house before I come. I want to check on Dallas.”

Colt laughed. “You can bring him with you if you like.”

“No. Thanks. I love my little brother, but I’ve had enough of his company the last few days. I’m looking forward to my evening with you guys and Sophie.”

“Okay. I get that. Just wanted you to know that he’s welcome.”

“Thanks, bud. I’ll see you in a little while, and I’ll bring a bottle of that Grenache for Cassie.”

“Thanks.”

Austin laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m bringing beer for you.”

Colt laughed with him. “Now I can say thank you and mean it.”

“What about Sophie? I thought it’d be nice to bring her something. You know … Cassie gets wine, you get beer and she gets … what? I don’t know what she likes. I don’t know if Cassie minds her having soda or …?”

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