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Authors: June Whyte

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Muzzled

BOOK: Muzzled
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Table of Contents

Copyright

Muzzled

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Muzzled

By June Whyte

 

Copyright 2012 by June Whyte

Cover Copyright 2012 by Ginny Glass
and Untreed Reads Publishing

The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold, reproduced or transmitted by any means in any form or given away to other people without specific permission from the author and/or publisher. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

Also in This Series, by June Whyte and Untreed Reads Publishing

Chasing Can Be Murder

 

http://www.untreedreads.com

Muzzled

By June Whyte

1

I was in a ten-plus lip lock with Ben Taylor, the guy I’d want to be having sex with if ever the world came to an end, when the phone rang.

Ben’s steamy lips lifted half an inch from mine. “Do we have to worry about that?”

This question didn’t rate an answer. Instead I forced his wayward lips back into their favorite position—velcroed to mine. Then, just as Ben’s tongue and fingers became so-creative and oh-so-hot I was on the verge of a scream, the high-pitched shrill of the phone let loose again.

Frustrated, Ben broke contact. Arms slumped to his sides, he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, and, ignoring my small whine of disapproval, took a step backwards. “Go on,” he growled giving me a small push in the direction of the irritating sound. “Answer the damn thing. Whoever it is obviously isn’t going away.”

I swung across the room toward the kitchen table where the handset of my cordless phone vibrated and trilled like a love sick dove. Damn. Damn. Damn. Why hadn’t I performed mass murder and drowned all my IT appliances in the goldfish bowl when Ben dropped by to see if I could
lend him
a bowl of sugar?

Before snatching the phone from the table, I turned to fire a mock scowl at Ben. “Do. Not. Move,” I told him and waved an admonishing finger in his direction. “Give me two seconds. I’ll inform whoever this is that I don’t need any of whatever they’re trying to flog and I’ll be right back. Okay?”

Ben’s grin of acquiescence was pure unadulterated Wicked. Sent shivers to places where shivers shouldn’t go. He draped himself in a languid,
I’m-waiting-wench-so-get-your-ass-into-gear
pose against the closed door of the pantry then folded his arms across his snug fitting black T-shirt. A T-shirt that declared him King of the Rats. His muscles bulged, stretching the material across his chest like a second skin. Not fake gym muscles like you see on ads for taking vitamin pills or selling Stairmasters and treadmills. These were
Real Man
muscles. Muscles acquired outside in the rain, wind, and sun, training greyhounds, helping his brother Nick with the cows, chopping wood, or any of the multitude of jobs associated with running a working farm.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, Ben and I were nothing more than
mates
. You know—the sort of mate who makes up a foursome at cards on a Friday night when one of the regulars can’t make it. The sort of mate who fills you in about the newest treatment for bone fractures advised by some expert on the online greyhound forum. The sort of mate who steps in and helps catch a killer when your life is threatened.

A damn good mate.

Yep. That’s how it was before Ben noticed I had
womanly
attributes. Like boobs. Admittedly not poke-your-eyes-out boobs—more the pancake variety that improve when I remember to wear my Wonder Bras—but definitely female boobs. And that under my workday attire of jeans and baggy sweatshirt lurked a woman who had designs on taking
mate-ship
several levels higher.

Consequently, while snatching the phone’s handset up from the table, in my mind I was already ripping Ben’s body-hugging T-shirt over his head and exploring the highs and lows of the six pack and other delights lurking beneath.

Almost salivating, I placed the phone to my ear, eyes still feasting on the man most likely to end up in my bed—or on my kitchen table, within the next ten minutes. “Kat McKinley,” I snapped, eager to murder the cold caller before he/she got started on their rant.

“Hi, you don’t know me.” The young male voice on the other end of the line sounded hesitant. “I’m calling about your sister, Elizabeth.”

“Liz?” I hadn’t heard from my sister in almost a year. Her way of saying
I love you and I’m thinking of you
was to send a Christmas card fashioned from something resembling toilet paper each year. Last I knew she was living in one of those modern-day communes somewhere in Queensland.
Somewhere
being the operative word. “Okay, what trouble is Liz in this time?”

“She’s disappeared.”

“Like in
poof
or she just up and moved on without telling you?” I sighed. Like she normally did.

“Um… I’m not sure.”

This was getting us nowhere and Ben had shifted from the cupboard and was now bending over, head in the fridge, the denim of his jeans cuddling his gorgeous rear end. I gritted my teeth. “Okay, where exactly did my sister disappear from? And who the heck am I talking to?”

“Sorry. I’m Liz’s friend, Scott Brady. We were paired off at the Rainbow Commune up near Townsville for just over a year and when she got bored and moved on, I thought, why not, and moved on with her. We hitched rides with truckers for awhile and then, about three months ago, stopped wandering and settled down.”

“And where exactly did you settle?” Ben, eyes burning hot coals as he watched me, was now licking a strawberry flavored ice-cream off a stick.

“Port Augusta,” said Scott. “I’m helping out at the greyhound track here and Liz is squatting in an empty rabbiter’s shack, about ten miles out of town—”

“You’re joking!” I broke in, dragging my eyes from Ben’s assets as anger kindled and burned in my chest. “My sister has been living in Pt. Augusta, in South Australia, in the same state as me, for the last three months and she hasn’t bothered to contact me?”

There was a shrug in his voice. “You know Liz.”

“I certainly do.” Anger at how little my sister cared about me made my voice harder than I intended. “And believe me Scott, there’s nothing to worry about. What’s happened is my kid sister just woke up one morning, thought the grass was greener somewhere else, and left you. I’m sorry. Nothing personal. She does it to everyone.”

“But—”

“Don’t worry about Liz. She’s a survivor. Manages to do so by caring for no-one but herself. If you want my advice, for free, go find yourself another girlfriend. Forget Liz. She’s evidently forgotten you.” By now, Ben had removed his top and was slowly rubbing strawberry ice-cream across the smooth contours of his chest.

Oh. My. God.

“Sorry, Scott. Gotta go.” My fingers loosened their grip around the hard plastic and the phone slid to the floor.

Within seconds my T-shirt had joined Ben’s on the kitchen lino and my body was plastered like wallpaper against his hard toned torso.

Oh yeah…and strawberry ice cream had never tasted so good.

2

An hour later, like a kid on a soda-high, I danced along the dusty track leading to the temporary dog shed that housed my team of racing greyhounds. The birds were singing. The bees were buzzing. And it felt great to be alive. After sixty sizzling minutes spent exploring mind-blowing
Kama Sutra
positions with Ben, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my lips.

I did a shuffle-ball-change beside the abandoned ride-on-mower pushed to the side of the pathway, and twirled like a ballerina. And why would I want to lose my smile? I’d fancied Ben as more than a good mate for over a year. Now he was my lover and I couldn’t get enough of him. Like a leading lady from one of those soppy musicals on the Movie Channel, you know,
Singing in the Rain
or
West Side Story
or
Oklahoma
—I burst out singing.

“Oh what a beautiful morning…”

An ugly feral cat, peering furtively up at me from the middle of an overgrown geranium bush, hissed her disapproval. This was the cat that constantly hung around the property, her sole ambition in life to tease my dogs, get them riled up and barking. She gave me a narrow-eyed sneer, flicked her half-a-tail in the air and scuttled off in the direction of the wood pile.

Evidently didn’t appreciate my unique singing voice.

Undeterred by the cat’s display of negativity, my thoughts returned to Ben. Big Ben. Agile Ben. Naked Ben. After claiming his
bowl of sugar—
in
fact make that
three bowls of sugar
—Ben had gone home. Reluctantly. Said he had to prepare his team for the afternoon’s racing at Gawler.

I ran a nervous hand through my already messed up hair. The thought of today’s race meeting, in which I had four dogs nominated, immediately brought my euphoria down several notches. After an enforced spell, it was imperative my dogs started winning races again. If not, I’d be getting a visit from my crusty faced bank manager—not for a cup of tea and a chat—but to confiscate the keys to my house. In his will, my father had left me enough money to put a healthy deposit on my property, but there was still the bank loan to pay off.

Due to a psychotic ex-owner, Peter Manning, who not only tried to murder me but also set fire to my beautiful brick kennel house, burning it to the ground, my greyhounds had been temporarily out of work and consequently, at the moment, money was in short supply.

The memory of that all-consuming fire followed by an attempt on my life, still peppered my dreams at night. Peter locked me inside a coffin at his father’s funeral home, his plan to press the button that sent me and the coffin on a one-way journey to the crematorium. Not only was I lucky enough to survive Peter’s dastardly plans, but after he’d been charged and incarcerated, my friends pitched in and knocked up a temporary dog shed to house my racing team until the insurance company got around to building a new kennel house in the blackened rubble.

Mind elsewhere, I glanced up in time to see Jake, my young dreadlocked kennel-helper, wave as he wheeled his five-speed racer through the front gate. I waved back. After closing the gate behind him, Jake propped his bicycle against a pepper tree and went to check on Stella, one of the two rescue greyhounds I currently cared for from the Greyhound Adoption Program. There were two kennels near the front gate, built to house GAP dogs waiting to be re-homed as pets. Jake was probably checking to see if the greyhound bitch was comfortable after yesterday’s spaying operation.

I’d collected Stella from the vet’s surgery the night before and would drop her brother Stanley, the other GAP dog off as soon as he came back from being ‘cat tested’ at his current foster home. All greyhounds in the program are neutered and socialized before being placed in their new homes. That way the dogs settle down and aren’t tempted by the smell of a local bitch in heat, or in Stella’s case, be a problem because she
is
the local bitch in heat.

BOOK: Muzzled
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