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Barking Up the Wrong Tree (E-Book)

Barking Up the Wrong Tree (E-Book)

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Things in Whynot, NC have gone to the dogs, and that’s just the way the town’s only veterinarian, Laken Mancinkus, likes it. No matter if she’s up when the rooster crows, or working until the cows come home, Laken never leaves an animal in need. So when a gorgeous Yankee comes begging for help herding some wily goats, Laken is up to the task.

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Jake McDaniel is looking for a tax break, and what better way than to take up…farming? This ex-football player turned businessman turned unwitting goat farmer is up to his knees in goat drama. Runaway goats, dehydrated goats, and a baby goat that wants no one other than him, Jake needs more help than he cares to admit. Good thing the sexy veterinarian is right there to coach him on how to be a farmer. The only problem is, Laken’s not looking for anything more than a good time, while Jake is looking for his forever girl.

Will the baby goat, and Laken, be enough to get Jake to stay? Or will he take his tax break and hoof it back to Chicago? One thing is for certain…what happens on the farm doesn’t always stay on the farm.

Read Chapter One


The door to Chesty’s opens, and I’m stunned to see my twin granddaughters walking in. So stunned, I check my watch.

Yup… only three on a Friday. Since they are both local business owners, they rarely take an afternoon off. It’s almost unheard of for them to be free at the same time.

“Not that I’m complaining,” I say as they head my way, “but to what do I owe the pleasure?”

The girls grin as they take the two stools to my immediate right. Sam-Pete is there, putting down two frothy mugs of beer that he started pouring the minute they walked in. Business is slow right now, but it will start picking up in a few hours.

Larkin, the younger of the identicals by roughly two minutes, though seemingly more mature, gives a quick smile to Sam-Pete as Laken pulls a twenty-dollar bill out to hand to him. “Her drinks are on me this afternoon, as are Pap’s.”

Sam-Pete nods and takes the money, turning to the register.

“And take a few bucks for yourself,” Laken calls after him.

At age thirty, the girls are nearly identical. Up until a few weeks ago, they had the same long hair parted on the same side, but then Larkin cut hers off. Past that, though, their faces and mannerisms are the same. Larkin’s a tiny bit heavier than Laken. But in my opinion, it’s so hard to tell that you can’t really use that as a go by. It’s the hairstyles that set them apart now.

“Why are you buying drinks this afternoon?” I ask Laken, who’s sitting between Larkin and me.

“Well,” Laken says after taking a long pull off her beer and setting it down. “You’re my pap and you always buy my drinks, so I’m just pre-empting you today. As for Larkin, I owe her since she helped me out in the clinic today.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because she doesn’t know how to hire competent staff,” Larkin says as she leans forward to look me in the eye.

Laken rolls her eyes at her sister and then admits to me, “Jenks quit this morning.”

“Jenks Peterson was working for you?” I ask in surprise.

He’s a moron.

“I know, I know,” Laken says with frustration, then takes an even larger pull on her beer. “But I’m not a great office manager. I went to vet school to practice animal medicine, not to be an overlord.”

Larkin snickers, but doesn’t say a word. While her sister owns the area’s only veterinary practice, Larkin is also an entrepreneur as she opened the town’s only bakery about five years ago. It’s done amazingly well, and Larkin is definitely more business-minded than her sister.

“Well, as much as I appreciate the beer,” Larkin tells her sister, “I can’t keep coming to your rescue with my own business to run.”

“I know,” Laken huffs out in exasperation.

The door to Chesty’s flies open so forcefully the girls jump on their stools. We all turn to see who could be making such a statement, as most people tend to just politely push the door open in more of a sauntering fashion when entering this bar.

The bright afternoon sun outside doesn’t reveal much other than the large figure of a man standing there, legs planted wide and one arm holding the door open as he looks around inside.

“Can I help you?” I call out, because my gut instinct says he’s not here for a beer.

The man steps inside and lets the tinted glass door swing shut behind him. Laken mutters an, “Oh, my,” as we take him in further.

He’s a big boy. Tall as Colt at least and maybe twice as thick, and I don’t mean fat. I mean muscles that pull and stretch at his shirt and pants.

Oddly, the man is dressed as if he just got off work in a bank. The shirt is a button down and looks expensively tailored, as do his pants. He’s wearing a tie that’s been pulled loose around his neck with the top two buttons of his shirt undone. His hair is wet, his face is drenched with sweat and there are large stains under his armpits and across his chest.

His clothes are filthy, covered with the signature red clay that’s found in this area, along with grass stains. There’s a large streak of dirt on his forehead where he’s obviously tried to wipe sweat away using mud-covered hands. I note his shoes are almost completely covered with wet clay.

“I’m looking for the owner of Whynot Veterinary,” he says in a rough voice, his gaze rolling only briefly over Laken and Larkin, searching the bar for someone who might fit the bill. “There’s a note on the door that said he’d be here.”

Curious, I look to Laken. She’s staring at the man in appreciation of what I’m guessing is his handsomeness. I can’t exactly speak to that, but I’ve seen that look on her face before when she’s been around the menfolk. My granddaughter is a bit of a lady player so to speak.

Still, she doesn’t speak up, but merely turns around to give him her back and starts drinking her beer.

Larkin nudges her sister in the ribs.

Laken doesn’t respond.

The man is irritated when he asks, “Do any of you speak the English language?”

“I do,” I say genially.

Easy question. Easy answer.

“And where is the vet?” he grits out.

I look again to Laken, but she doesn’t even glance at the man, so I give her up by nodding my head toward her.

The guy walks through the bar, his footsteps so heavy I can feel the vibration through my stool. Nudging his way between Laken and Larkin—Larkin scooting her stool over to give him room—he leans forward to demand her attention. “Are you the vet?”

“Depends,” she says without even looking up, her gaze instead pinned to a Pirates baseball game on the TV.

“On what?”

“What you need,” she says blandly.

“Is there a reason you’re ignoring me?” he snaps. “I’m thinking you aren’t all that busy since you’re drinking on a Friday afternoon. I’d think you might want some business.”

“I need an apology first,” she says, eyes still on the TV.

“For what?” he asks, incensed.

“First, for not even looking at me or my sister, Larkin, twice when you barged in here looking for a vet. You dismissed us right away. Second, because you referenced the ‘vet’ as a ‘he,’ it’s clear you don’t think women have the ability to be doctors or something, so I’m not sure I want to help you.”

The man mutters a series of unintelligible curses, and then looks to me for assistance. I shrug my shoulders and turn my attention to the game.

“Um… what seems to be the problem?” Larkin asks the guy.

He turns to face her, the distress on his face evident.

“My goats have gotten out of their fence,” he says quickly, and there’s no mistaking the underlying panic in his voice. “I can’t catch them, and they’re in the road. One almost got hit.”

This gets Laken’s attention as she is not about to let an animal get hurt. She doesn’t bother looking at the guy, but her sharp words are for him alone. “You have no business owning goats if you don’t even know how to keep them contained, or in the chance they get loose, to catch them.”

“Save the lectures,” the man growls. “I just bought the damn farm. Unbeknownst to me, the foreman had quit. I just arrived in town to find this mess.”

Laken jolts in surprise and turns to face the man. “What farm?”

“Farrington,” he replies.

“You bought it?” she asks, eyebrows drawn inward.

“Yes, and now I have rampant goats,” he says heatedly. “Will you help me?”

“Yes,” she says as she picks up her beer and drains it. When she sets the mug down, she stands up from her stool and hardens her gaze. “But it will cost you.”

“I don’t care about the cost,” he grumbles as he turns for the door, calling over his shoulder. “Just help me get the damn animals in the fence.”

Laken turns around and winks at me with an evil grin. “He’s not going to like the price.”

I snicker and raise up my mug to toast her. “Happy goat hunting.”

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Product Release Date: September 14, 2017

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