Today's animal excerpt comes from Miracle of Love, the holiday novella in my Hometown Heroes series. All the Hometown Heroes books stand alone, so you don't need to read them in order. Miracle of Love takes places during a blizzard on Christmas Eve, in a favorite local bar where some hometown heroes, and some strangers passing through town, have gathered for the night. And it just so happens that some unexpected animals show up to join them; namely, two donkeys who've lost their way in the storm:
“No,” Finn said as he opened the door. “You are not bringing Doc Eller’s donkeys into my bar.”
“One of ‘em’s got a lame foot,” Lucas said. Snow swirled in eddies around their feet, and Annie shivered. “And they’re not blanketed.”
Julia looked from the guys to Annie and back again. “Donkeys?”
“You might think this is unusual,” Annie said, “but you’d be wrong.” She shook her head. “Finn, you have to put them somewhere,” she called across the room. She turned back to Julia. “They get out every so often. Jerry Eller has a farm up past Franny’s bed and breakfast.”
“And he has donkeys?” Brady asked.
“They’re guard donkeys.” Annie’s cheeks flushed.
Finn stormed back to the bar, jaw twitching. “Try not to let them mess up my place too badly, will ya?”
Mick held open the door while Lucas led the animals inside. Annie grabbed a handful of towels from behind the bar and went over to help. The poor creatures, only about as tall as her shoulder, looked up at her from baleful eyes. She handed Mick a towel and together they began to rub the snow from their soft brown coats. He bumped her arm a couple of times, and sparks went all the way north to her shoulder and south to her girl parts.
“Unbelievable,” Finn said from behind the bar. “Welcome to Crazytown, everyone. We are officially off our rockers here.”
Julia smiled. “I don’t know about that. Looks to me like you’re kind-hearted people who take in any strangers from a storm, man or beast. Like I said, Lindsey Point’s a place I’d like to live someday.”
Finn shook his head, but he pulled two pots from a cabinet and filled them with water. “They okay?” he asked.
Annie finished drying one donkey and looked at its hooves. “I think so. Any of you have Doc Eller’s cell number? So we can tell him they’re here again?”
“They break through their fence every so often and take a walk down Main Street,” Lucas explained. He took the pots of water from Finn without a word and set them on the floor near the door. “Doc bought them a couple years ago to guard his cattle herd.”
“Now that I’ve never heard of,” Gabe said. “Guard dogs, yes, guards with rifles, yes, but guard donkeys? That’s a new one.”
“They’re pretty effective,” Lucas said. “Doc said he’s thinking about getting two more next year.”
“Then he better build a stronger fence,” Finn grumbled.
Annie stroked one donkey’s side, feeling its solid warmth. It snuffled her hand as if seeking food. “Sorry, buddy,” she said in a quiet voice. “I think you’re stuck with water for now. If we ask Finn for anything else tonight, he might go ballistic.”
Mick smiled and ran his hand over the other donkey’s head. “Guess this is one of the stranger things that’s happened in the Great White recently.”
“It’ll make a good story to tell your little one,” Annie said. She leaned down and spoke to Julia’s belly. “A few days before you were born, your mommy ended up in a small town bar where the power went out and the locals danced to the Beach Boys and rescued two wandering donkeys.”
Super-cool announcement!! Miracle of Love is on a limited-time $0.99 sale, so you can read this story in its entirety for less than you'd probably spend on a cup of coffee. Find out more at any of these retailers:
Barnes & Noble