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It's in His Touch

By´╝ÜShelly Alexander

Chapter One



“Drop the panties, or the octopus gets it.” Angelique Barbetta held out the plush doggy toy, a bottle of bitter anti-chew spray pointed at its overstuffed head. She used the predatory tone usually reserved for courtroom opponents as she glared at her four-legged adversary.

A soft breeze whispered through the trees, wrestling autumn-hued foliage to the ground. The draft of cool air caught the silky neckline of her robe and sent a chill racing through her. Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the shedding branches, and a silhouette of the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains glittered in the background. Her long black hair was up in hot rollers, and a sudden gust pulled a thick tendril loose. She blew it out of her eyes, refusing to lose a staring match to a dog.

The ten-pound weenie dog’s posture tensed, his tail wagged a fraction, and his jaw clamped tighter around the black thong panties he’d snatched from her suitcase while she was unpacking. Hence, the reason she’d scurried outside half-dressed and sporting curlers so big they could pick up a radio frequency from three states away.

Why’d she bring skimpy panties on an extended vacay to Red River—population 475? Pfst. Insulated long johns would’ve been a more practical choice.

She shivered against another nippy gust of autumn breeze.

It wasn’t like she’d ever wear the string bikinis currently lodged between her dog’s teeth. They’d been part of the risqué honeymoon trousseau given to her by her best friend, Kimberly, and the horde of female Barbettas. Of course, that was before she caught her fiancé, Gabriel, cheating. While Angelique was recovering from breast cancer.

Asshole.

Come to think of it, she should let the dog have them. Let Sergeant Schnitzel chew up the underwear and every last memory of what she’d thought she had with Gabriel.

Just like she’d accidentally let the dog chew up Gabriel’s Armani jacket. And his Tumi briefcase. And the crack in his brand-new fifty-five-inch widescreen—a testament to his insecurity and belief that size really did matter—may or may not have been an accident. Golf clubs sometimes slipped out of one’s hands mid-swing. It happened.

Sergeant Schnitzel whined, his tail wagging at lightning speed.

“Come on, Sarge. Drop ’em. Please.”

Jeez, she was pathetic. Had she really been reduced to begging a dog?

Okay, admittedly, destroying Gabriel’s personal property had been a vindictive reaction, but her momentary lapse in emotional restraint was understandable. While she was in the process of moving out of their rented condo, Gabriel announced his shotgun wedding to her legal assistant, whom he’d knocked up. Now with the wedding just a few weeks away, he actually expected Angelique to attend, along with the rest of their law firm, because cohesion would look good for the junior partnership he’d just landed. So much cruelty at once probably would’ve pushed Mother Teresa over the edge. That was Angelique’s story, anyway, and she was sticking to it, because Gabriel deserved it times ten.

She drew in a tremulous breath, the familiar sting of loss pinging off the walls of her stomach like a pinball.

Now instead of standing toe-to-toe with a skilled criminal prosecutor, she was throwing down with a weenie dog. Definitely pathetic. She glared at him.

The cocktail-sized wiener growled, enticing her to give chase.

“Sergeant Schnitzel, don’t you dare run off again,” she warned, eyeballing him with her best menacing look. That stare wilted even the most seasoned district attorneys and brought witnesses to tears on the stand. Unfortunately, it didn’t intimidate this little pilferer of women’s underpants. “I swear, no more satin pillows to sleep on, and no more fancy chew toys.” She shook the octopus, its legs flouncing in the air. “And no more bacon-flavored treats either.”

Sergeant Schnitzel whined and cocked his head to one side.

Victory within her grasp, Angelique stepped closer and slipped the spray bottle into the pocket of her red silk kimono—another installment of her intended honeymoon wardrobe. When she stretched out a hand to retrieve the slobbery undergarment, the dog charged, making a quick circle around her Sesame Street slippers. The dark-brown dachshund’s lightning-fast movements stirred up a cloud of dust and autumn leaves around her legs and made the hem of her robe flutter. Sergeant Schnitzel darted across her toes, his collar snagging the hem and pulling the front loose.

“Hey!” She grabbed at the gaping front and cinched it closed to hide the black lace camisole and matching panties. What the heck. She might as well get some use out of all those lingerie shower gifts, even if no one but her and Sergeant Schnitzel would ever see them. “That’s it! You’re the main course at my next weenie roast!” Angelique yelled after the dog as he raced across the vacation property and disappeared over the wooden footbridge that joined her one-acre lot to the next.

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