Megan was checking through the folders while Jim maneuvered the truck through Cascade toward the Cascade Arms Hotel.
"So, according to this, this show is really important to the city." Megan lifted the folder slightly.
"Yeah," Jim nodded. "It's been awhile since a AKC national show has been here."
"Politics," Jim shrugged. "You know, politics is politics no matter what the arena. There was some sort of rift between the local and national chapter over god knows what, and as a result the national chapter made sure not to hold shows here for a while."
Megan looked over at Jim. "And you know this because?"
Snorting, Jim shook his head. "When one is a member of a certain class of society, one gets involved in all sorts of things."
"Like AKC shows?"
"Yes, like AKC shows. Unfortunately."
"I see," Megan nodded.
Jim stopped at the traffic light and looked at Megan. "My father got me a pup after –" Jim caught himself and took a deep breath, "– after a mentor of mine died. It was an AKC pup of course. No mutt for the Ellison clan. But of course, the dog couldn't just be a pet, something for me to play with, or whatever. It had to prove its worth. It had to be a championship dog or else."
William looked at the ribbons on his office wall. His chest swelled with pride. In the two years Jimmy and Champ had been showing in the Obedience class, the dog and boy had brought home plenty of prizes. There had not been a show Jimmy had been entered in that hadn't produced a ribbon.
Still, his face creased in a scowl, the last few shows had been either red or white; not the blue that he craved. He paced around the office, looking out at the back yard where boy and dog were playing fetch. Granted, Jimmy was busy in school; holding a 3.75 grade point average and participating in football, basketball and track. It left very little free time for Jimmy to be with Champ which was why – the scowl deepened – what free time they had should be spent practicing to get first place instead of playing silly games.
William checked the latest entrance paper that had arrived several days before. He had pointedly placed it at Jimmy's place at dinner that night. He'd found it the next morning on the floor; somehow Sally had missed it when she'd cleaned up the night before. Or, he frowned, Jimmy had made sure not to toss it until after Sally had retired.
He heard the kitchen door slam shut and the sound of feet pounding up the stairs. William walked out of his office and stood at the foot of the stairs, waiting patiently for his eldest son to come back down. It wasn't long before Jimmy was flying down the stairs. He came to an abrupt halt when he saw his father standing there.
"Something wrong, Pops?" Jimmy asked, his tone sullen. Obviously he was still hurt over the change in summer plans. Well, the boy shouldn't have messed with his prize car.
"Why aren't you and Champ signed up for the show next weekend?"
"Pops," Jimmy's tone was patient but nearly desperate, "I'm on the football, basketball and track teams, in case you've forgotten." He glared at his father. "They take up a lot of my time."
"Watch your tone, son!" William glared back at his son. "You do remember what I said about that dog, don't you? He's not here to eat me out of house and home. He has to prove his worth and he does that by winning shows."
"He's won plenty already," Jimmy said stubbornly. "He needs a break, same as I do."
"I've stopped making you go out of town," William pointed out, trying to show his fairness in the matter. "But I do insist that you keep going to the Cascade shows."
"Pops, I didn't realize that the show was next weekend," Jimmy tried to console his father. "Besides, that's the weekend that –"
"Sign up, Jimmy." William handed the form to his son. "Deadline is coming up."
"But, Pops, that's the weekend that –" Jimmy tried again.
"I'm not repeating myself," William turned on his heel, heading back to the office, refusing to listen to the excuse his son was trying to give him. "Sign up, Jimmy. And," he paused at the door to the office, "I want a blue ribbon. Or else."
"So you know about shows and such because you were showing dogs as a lad?" Megan looked at Jim with a fond smile.
Jim rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I was showing a dog. In Obedience, not Conformation. Champ, my dog, wasn't quite up to specifications for Conformation."
"Champ?" Megan looked at Jim.
"Yeah, well," Jim shrugged. "His official name was a mouthful and damned snooty, if you know what I mean. Champ just sounded better. Fit him."
"So what happened?" Megan asked.
Jim's face shuttered again, and all emotion was removed. "Life happened." He pulled into the hotel's parking lot. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"
Arlo looked at the two dogs that were not getting to know each other better. In fact – he looked at his bandaged hand – if he hadn't interfered, Mimi would have been bitten by the show dog, and vice versa. He'd tied the two dogs up just out of reach of each other, trying to get them to at least start to get friendly toward each other.
Homer was nearly crying as he watched the dogs growl at each other. "They don't like each other, Arlo," he looked at his older brother. "They hate each other."
"Tell me something I don't know," Arlo grumbled. "Thank god that both the mutts had their shots."
"Are you sure Mimi's in heat?" Homer stared up at Arlo.
Arlo rolled his eyes and stared at his brother. "Yes, I am sure she's in heat. I had the vet check her out before we started this, remember?"
"Then shouldn't Midas be all over her?" Homer asked, turning his soulful eyes back to the two growling dogs.
"Yes, he should be. He nearly was, remember?" Arlo stuck his hand under Homer's nose.
"Not the way he should have been," Homer sighed sadly.
"I know, I know," Arlo growled. "And if I hadn't pulled the two of them apart they would have had a piece of each other's hide."
"Mama would have been upset if either dog had gotten hurt," Homer added.
Arlo rolled his eyes again as he tried to remember why he'd agreed to help his brother instead of doing what he wanted to do for his mother's birthday. Then he remembered it had been his mother's wish for her birthday that had made him decide to help his younger brother. Of course, Mama had always preferred Homer over Arlo, probably because Daddy seemed to favor Arlo over Homer.
"Still, he's not acting like Mimi's in heat," Homer went on. "You sure he's still…." Homer's eyebrows raised as he looked at his brother.
Arlo glared at his brother, then at the two dogs. "Yes, I'm sure. He's a show dog. That means everything works. And I do mean everything."
"Couldn't prove it by the way he's acting around Mimi," Homer said sadly.
"I can see that, you dope!" Arlo snapped.
"Uh, Arlo, you don't think he's…well…you know…" Homer held his hand limp-wristed.
"No!" Arlo snapped. "he's not."
"But, Arlo," Homer whined, "he's not…well…he don't seem…I mean…he's not showing he's…interested…in Mimi at all."
"He might still be a bit upset about the way we borrowed him," Arlo snorted. "After all, we did interrupt his morning walk."
"Oh, right," Homer nodded. He sniffed and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Or maybe he don't like your aftershave."
"My aftershave? What the hell does that have to do with how he's reacting to Mom's mutt?"
"Mimi isn't a mutt! You take that back!" Homer hissed.
"Sorry, she's not a mutt," Arlo shook his head. "But what does my aftershave have to do with anything?"
"Well, it does smell kinda funny," Homer said.
"It smells just fine," Arlo retorted, his injured pride echoing in his tone. "The store clerk who sold it to me said it made me smell manly."
"I guess she should know," Homer said, still wrinkling his nose. "You think that maybe it's making Midas there think there's another male trying to get Mimi's attention?"
"No." Arlo snorted. "We'll give Midas a little more time to settle down. But if he doesn't start getting interested soon, we're going to have to take him back and try for another one."
Homer nibbled his lip and stared at his older brother. "It's not gonna be easy to get another one, Arlo. You know that."
"I know! I know!" Arlo snapped. "But we only have so much time to get this whole thing taken care of."
"But what are we gonna do?" Homer whined. "We told Mama we'd bring Mimi back with a litter sired by a champion dog." He looked on the brink of tears and Arlo found himself closing his eyes and counting to ten to stop from hitting his brother. "That's the only thing she wants. And if she knew that they were sired by Midas, well…."
"You told her," Arlo corrected his brother as he continued to stare at the two dogs. "I didn't."
"But you said you'd help," Homer continued to whine.
"I know that too," Arlo grunted. "Should have my head examined for promising that."
"Arlo…" Homer looked at his brother with big hurt eyes.
"I'm working on it," Arlo told his younger brother. "We'll give Midas some more time to get to know Mimi. If they don't get together by then, we'll return Midas and try for another dog."
Homer studied the dog thoughtfully. "Maybe we should put a little Viagra in Midas' food."
Arlo raised an eyebrow. "Why not?" he finally shrugged. "He sure don't seem to want to function naturally. Maybe a little help will get this over with."
Andrew MacDee found himself pacing in his hotel suite. It seemed to be the only way to expend his nervous energy. He could only comb the small black-and-white dog so much before the animal got upset. He couldn't afford to get Midas upset before the semi-finals; not if he wanted the dog to walk off with best of division and best of show awards. Walking, however, let him expend energy and let him be with Midas without upsetting him.
He stopped pacing briefly to look over at his friend, Denton Smith. Smith was frowning again. MacDee shook his head and resumed walking. He knew Smith thought he did nothing but show the dogs; and he had to admit his actions did little to counter that opinion. It was hard to explain to the man who bred and showed dogs as a business, and only a business, how the dogs were a part of his family. MacDee and his wife, who was mercifully still in New York taking care of a new litter, had no children of their own; the dogs had become their children.
The only thing holding MacDee together was knowing the man from the park was on the case. That he was a family friend of Smith's only enhanced his value in MacDee's eyes.
"Andy," Smith finally said. "Sit down. You're wearing a rut in the carpet."
MacDee sighed, but stopped pacing. Midas was panting. It was time to stop to let the dog rest.
"I can't help it, Denton," he sighed again. "I'm worried about Medea."
"I know," Denton nodded.
"No, you don't," MacDee shook his head as he joined Denton on the sofa. "This could ruin her chances in the ring. If I get her back, that is. This could cut down her point value."
MacDee closed his eyes. The two-year-old bitch was just starting to hit her stride. Any little thing could make her fault and lose valuable points.
"I understand that," Smith patted MacDee's shoulder. "But I've seen Medea, Andy, and it takes a lot to ruffle her."
The knock at the door made MacDee jump up and stare at the door. "Do you think that's a ransom note?" It didn't matter the cost; nothing mattered except getting his pup back.
"Andy," Smith shook his head. "We don't even know if she was even kidnapped. It could be room service."
MacDee's valet emerged from kitchen of the suite and walked to the door, opening it after the second rap on the door. He led two people into the room.
"Sir," he introduced the people to his employer, "a Detective Ellison and an Inspector Connor."
MacDee found himself moving into the tall man's personal space, grabbing his hand and pumping it enthusiastically. "I'm so glad to finally meet you," he gushed. He looked at the woman standing by him, a smirk on her face. "So glad to meet you too," he grabbed her hand and pumped it just as passionately. He turned his attention to the tall man. "I just know you'll get Medea back for me."
"Jimmy," Smith moved over to the trio and smiled at the man. "It is you. Thought it might have been when Andy pointed out your picture in Rollins' office." MacDee saw the man stare at Smith as Smith took the hand he'd recently shaking. "It's good to see you again."
"Mr. Smith," Ellison's voice was rough as he straightened up. "It-it's been a while."
"Oh come on, don't stand on ceremony with old friends," Smith grinned.
MacDee was surprised to see the detective glare at his friend with anger. He looked at the smaller woman as she stepped between the two men and held out her hand. She'd obviously seen the hostility sparking from the tall man's eyes. MacDee wondered what had happened between the two men. Later, he decided as the woman shook Smith's hand, he'd find out what had the taller man so irritated.
"Good afternoon." The woman turned from Smith to him and held out her hand. She had a strange accent. "Inspector Megan Connor. We're here to try to get your dog, er, bitch back."
"I know," MacDee nodded, smiling briefly at the woman.
He found himself turning his attention back to the tall man. It wasn't very polite of him, he knew, and if his wife had been there, she'd have kicked him for his behavior, but he just couldn't help it. She wasn't a dog person; he was. He understood.
"Could you tell us what happened?" Megan asked.
"I told those other police officers, and the other detectives what happened," Andy frowned as he looked at the inspector. "Don't they do reports or something that you can read?"
"Yes, but –"
"Besides," Andy peered up at Jim, "you were there; you can tell –"
"We need to hear things from your point of view, sir," Ellison told him with a smile. MacDee found himself returning the smile. "I didn't get as close a look at the perpetrators as you did. In addition, you might remember something that you didn't tell the other officers in retelling the event."
"I see," MacDee nodded. The detective made sense. "Yes, of course. Well," he began, "I was walking in the park with Medea – I walk each dog there, every other day." He knew that others frowned on this practice, but it made the dogs feel less like trophies and more like dogs. He never could convince others of that. "This morning, as I was walking Medea – it was her turn – these two men jumped me. One went for my waist, the other grabbed Medea. I think she might have bitten him. That won't force her into a quarantine, will it?"
MacDee stared at the detective worriedly. It was his one big concern. He wasn't sure how the folks in quarantine would treat her.
"That would be up to Animal Control," Jim stated. "Though, since I'm sure you can prove she's had all her shots, there shouldn't be a problem."
"I just don't need to have her quarantined while I'm trying to show her, if you know what I mean," MacDee sighed.
MacDee blinked when Midas, who'd been sitting by his side suddenly looked up at the two strangers, then got up and walked over to them. He watched as the dog sniffed their legs, starting with the man, then moving to the woman's. He felt his lips twitch when the woman's leg began to twitch. Definitely not a dog person. She must think Midas was going to pee on her leg, and was getting ready to kick Midas. His lips curled into a grin when he saw the glower that the man gave her.
MacDee stared in surprise as the man dropped to one knee and held his hand, back side toward the dog, letting Midas sniff it. He knew that Midas would never have peed on either person. Midas licked the fingers, looked up at Ellison with his keen sharp eyes, as the man's fingers slowly curled around the dog's ears, scratching with an experienced touch.
Midas looked up to the man, then over at MacDee. MacDee looked back at his pet and nodded knowingly.
"He likes you, Detective Ellison," MacDee noted. "He likes you too, Inspector Connor," he was quick to assure her, then turned back to Ellison, "but he really likes you, Detective. He doesn't let too many people touch him."
He saw the Midas let the man scratch the other ear, lick the hand, then move back to sit at his heel.
"Now about Medea –" MacDee began again as the man stood up.
"I understand, Mr. MacDee," Ellison nodded. "But I have no say over what the folks in Animal Control will do."
"I'll take care of it, Andy," Smith promised. MacDee saw Ellison frown a moment. He probably didn't like it that Smith was throwing his political weight around. Perhaps that was what irritated the detective. "As Jimmy said, there might be a formality, but I'm sure we can see that it doesn't interfere with the show."
MacDee continued to describe the attack in the park, clarifying certain points as the detectives asked questions. He concluded, "I only saw the garish purple shirt and green pants on the one who tackled me. I'm not sure if the other one wore a brown shirt or not."
"That's perfectly understandable," Megan said. MacDee noted that she was keeping a close eye on the detective, probably to make sure that the detective's temper didn't get the better of him.
"So now what?" MacDee asked.
"Well, we have what we need here." Ellison dropped down and patted the dog one last time then stood, and shook his hand. "We'll check the arena next. See if we can find out a bit more about these two people."
"We follow whatever turns up." Connor trailed Jim to the door.
"Jimmy," Smith put a hand on Ellison's arm. Ellison stopped and looked at the arm, then at the man. "Don't be a stranger."
"I'll tell my father that you said hello." Ellison's tone was cool, nothing like it had been when talking to him or to Midas. He removed his arm from Smith's grasp.
"Yes, of course," Smith agreed.
MacDee shook his head as the detective walked out the door, leaving the valet and his associate behind.
Blair glared at Harry, Mike and Jack. The fury in his voice was unmistakable.
"Calling people names and yelling at the top of your lungs won't prove anything," Blair continued, his face flushed with the anger he felt.
"Sorry." Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the floor. "Temper got the better of me. As usual."
"I know." Blair continued to stare at Harry. "I've told you before, that's one thing that will ruin things for you no matter how righteous your cause."
"I got the message," Harry glared back at Blair.
"You know, I was under the impression you and Grant were discussing a contract that still has two years to run," Blair went on. "And now you've linked some bodies found at the construction site to the contract. Doesn't make much sense from where I sit."
"Because they are related," Harry insisted. "It proves the university is hiding facts about the land from us and that the university is trying to shaft us."
"Not until the evidence verifies the bodies are in fact Indian and that Rainier was indeed a transient camp and Rainier knew it," Blair countered.
"Even then," Sharon put in, "the contract should be our only concern. It's the only thing you really have to negotiate over."
"Typical response," Mike grunted.
"Right now," Sharon continued, "we're all a bit testy," she paused momentarily as both Harry and Blair snorted, "and could probably use a break. It's nearly lunchtime. Why don't we get something to eat, stretch some cramped muscles, get a little air and come back for round two?"
"Food is not a panacea," Jack grunted.
"No, but perhaps by the time we do all that, we might have some answers for you," Sharon smiled at him.
"Carbon-dating tests take a while," Grant added, "as you all well know. The results might not be ready even then."
"Sounds reasonable." Jack looked at the other two.
"C'mon Jack," Mike snapped at Jack. "Quit caving in."
"It's not caving when it might help us," Jack countered.
"But –" Harry started.
"But nothing, Harry," Jack turned to the group leader. "She's right and you know it. You want answers and she can't pull them out of thin air. Testing takes time and right now we're holding up the testing which is adding to that time. Longer we keep them here, longer it will be before we get answers."
"Damned if he isn't right, Harry," Mike grudgingly agreed. "So is she, unfortunately."
"All right already," Harry threw his hands up in exasperation. "We'll do it her way. But," he looked at Sharon's relieved face, "don't think you're gonna get any other concessions out of me."
"We can always hope," Blair grinned at Harry.
"In your dreams, Sandburg," Harry grinned back. "And only in your dreams."
Blair sighed and leaned back in the chair as the three grad students filed out of the room. He looked over at Sharon and saw her do the same thing, while Grant just lowered his head to the table.
Blair stood up and walked around the room and pulled his cell out of his backpack. He knew he'd never get to the stacks today. After hitting a speed dial, he waited until he was connected to the voice mail. "Jim, uh, I'm tied up at the university, and not in the stacks either. I'm helping Community Relations with a little problem here. I have no idea how long this will take. The way things are going, I probably won't make it to the station at all and I'll probably be home late to boot. So feed Libby for me, would you? And this time, feed her proper food, okay?"
Megan had to trot to catch up to Jim at the truck.
"All right, Jim, what'd you sense?" she demanded as she waited for him to open the door.
"Nothing," Jim said tightly as he got into the truck. "There was nothing to sense."
"Posh!" Megan snorted as she got in the truck. "You were sniffing; I saw you."
"Just wanted to be sure that whatever got me sneezing wasn't from the victim," Jim explained. "And there was nothing."
"I see," Megan nodded. She looked over at Jim, seeing the fists clasped around the steering wheel and his jaw clenched tight. "So, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Jim repeated, his tone sharp and angry.
"Riiight," Megan sat back in the seat as she buckled up.
"Stop it Connor," Jim glared at her, his eyes full of anger. "You're not Blair."
"Not trying to be," Megan returned coolly. "So, who's the bloke that knows you?" Jim turned his head away from her and stared out the window. She saw his hands get even tighter on the wheel. "Jim?"
"Remember the dog I told you about?" His voice was soft. "The one Dad got for me?"
"Champ? Yeah," Megan nodded. "So, Denton Smith is the bloke your dad got the pup from?"
"So if he's such a family friend," Megan frowned, "why the cold shoulder and attitude?"
Dan Wolfe placed the last of the bones on a table, then stepped back.
After the phone call he had recently received from Blair, he was determined to get answers about these bodies. It was important to find out if Harry Payne's claim had any merit, or if, as Blair had suggested, the young man was simply grasping at straws.
He had a total of three bodies here. Three complete bodies, each one laid out perfectly. In spite of the action of the giant excavator, there was little damage to the bones themselves. He could see a few old breaks in a few of the long bones, all well healed.
As Dan walked around the tables he found himself holding his breath. Even though they'd survived the excavator and the removal by the Forensics folks, it was plain to him that they couldn't tolerate too much more handling. As he continued his walk around the tables he noted a lack of insect activity. Well, if they were crime victims, the criminal as well as these possible victims was long dead.
Dan's meandering stopped as Robby Cartwright walked in and handed a clipboard to the pathologist. "Sorry sir," the technician shook his head. "We just couldn't find enough marrow to get a good DNA sampling."
"Don't be sorry, son," Dan shook his head. "You didn't steal the marrow."
"It's not helping you get the answers you need for that lot on the campus though," Robbie said.
"I can still get answers, son," Dan patted him on the back. "I just need to follow a different path."
"Sir?" Robbie frowned in puzzlement at the doctor.
"It's my problem now," Dan smiled as he escorted the technician to the door. Once he was alone again, he walked around the tables again and stared at the bones. "Okay my friends, just what were you doing on the campus? You sure weren't auditing classes. And you sure weren't camping out there."
He walked over to a phone, grabbed a stool and sat down. Looking at the bones, he punched in a few numbers and waited for the phone at the other end to be answered.
"Hello, Mark," Dan said.
"Well hello yourself, Dan," Mark's voice sounded in his ear.
"You free this afternoon?"
"Me? Free?" Mark snorted. "Are you kidding?"
"Nope, but if you're not free, I'm going to have to get someone else to help me with my mystery."
"The bones found on the campus?" Mark's voice sounded eager.
"Yeah," Dan let the word drawl out. "Sure you can't give me a hand?"
"I'll be there in ten minutes." Mark sounded eager. "Well, ten if I can get through afternoon traffic."
"I'll be expecting you," Dan smiled at the phone.
Rafe and Brown were sitting at Rafe's desk, reading the notes of the Forensics technicians and looking at the evidence carefully.
"We have precious little to go on here," Brown sighed miserably.
"Well," Rafe picked up a cement cast, "we at least have this shoe tread.
"Which could match one of a thousand shoes in Cascade," Brown shot him down.
"Ten thousand," Rafe qualified. "But what would it be doing in Olde Towne Cemetery?"
"Good question." Brown furrowed his brow at the thought.
"And what's this?" Rafe picked up some chips. He sniffed it. "Cedar wood?"
"Painted cedar wood," Brown read the report.
"Pretty old wood at that," Rafe read over Brown's shoulder. He looked at some fibers. "And something shredded as well. Only, according to the report, it wasn't found in the graves, only by the graves."
"Wish I knew what that meant," Brown sighed.
Rafe held up the fibers and stared at them. "Didn't I read somewhere that the Native Americans around here used cedar bark for just about everything?"
"You did?" Brown's eyebrows raised in surprise. "You're beginning to sound a little like Sandburg there."
"That's where I read it," Rafe snapped his fingers. "It was in an Anthro book that Sandburg had lying around here." Brown rolled his eyes. "Yeah," Rafe went on, "they shredded the bark and used it for a lot of their daily needs. Even made the hair for their ceremonial masks from it."
Brown stared at his partner. "Think the graves might have been for some Indians?"
"Only if they were converted," Rafe shook his head. "The cemetery was consecrated ground. Only Christians were allowed in; heathens weren't. Same with suicides and murderers. Didn't you notice an area walled off?"
"Oh," Brown shook his head. "So, if they were converts, what would this stuff be doing there? I mean, they wouldn't bury heathen stuff with converted Indians, would they?"
"I guess," Rafe shrugged. "I mean, I don't know."
"Bet Hairboy would have an answer," Brown sighed. "Wonder where's he at, anyway. Haven't seen him all morning."
"He's at the university," Rafe answered. "In the stacks, doing some research, from what I heard."
"Damn," Brown shook his head. "He's never around when we need him."
Rafe looked at Brown, then stood up and headed toward the door. "So why don't we go to him?"
Brown leaned back in his chair and grinned, then stood up and joined his partner. "Why not? Ellison always did; look how many cases he got solved."
"Exactly," Rafe nodded as they headed toward the elevator.
Megan stared out the window, watching the traffic for a few minutes. Jim was still tight, still not very communicative. He'd totally ignored her comment about the family friend. His jaw had worked overtime while they'd driven toward the Cascade Sports Arena. Finally she shook her head and looked at Jim.
"So there was some sort of dustup between the national chapter and the local chapter," Megan summarized, "and the national one decided not to come here for number of years."
"Think I said that," Jim said. His voice was still edgy, but at least he wasn't snapping any more.
"And your friend Smith," Megan asked, "was he part of the rift?"
"Happened after my tour of duty in the ring," Jim admitted. "I wouldn't know. I just heard a few things after I got back."
"So why the bad blood between you and Smith?" Megan asked.
Jimmy looked at the white ribbon that had been pressed into his hand. He knew that he wasn't working well with the dog; perhaps he should have listened to his father and spent more time practicing with Champ. It just felt so good to be able to play with him, have fun with him. He scratched the dog behind an ear as the dog pressed his head into his leg.
William came out of the crowd and glowered at the boy and the dog.
"I said blue," he snarled at his son. "Not red and sure as hell not white!"
"Pops, Champ did his best," Jimmy tried to defend the dog.
"But you didn't," William berated his son. "I warned you…"
"Pops…" Jimmy stared at his father, fear evident in his blue eyes.
"Well, Jimmy, good to see you in the ring." Denton Smith came up behind the boy, slapping him on the back, then holding out his hand for William to shake. "Tough break out there, but the competition was really stiff this time." He looked at the dog staying close to Jimmy. "Damn, Bill, if I had known that that pup would turn out so good, I'd have kept him for myself. Any good in the hunting field?"
Jimmy felt himself put a hand protectively on the dog's head; the two times his father had taken them out hunting, they'd barely managed to avoid the wrath of Ellison. Probably the only reason he hadn't been reamed out was because neither had had hunting classes. Champ had been operating purely on instinct; Jimmy had been watching his father and trying to emulate him. In all probability, hunting would be the next set of lessons that would be heaped onto his already full plate.
"Not bad," William admitted. "Not the best either. Both need a bit more training in the field."
"You've got yourself the makings of a fine dog, Jimmy," Denton grinned at the boy. "Keep up the good work. I'll see you at the club tomorrow, Bill."
"Right." William forced a grin at the man.
Jimmy watched Denton leave with a sinking heart. He looked back at his father and saw the scowl replace the fake grin. "There's another show in three months in Seattle. See he brings home the blue. Or he won't be coming home."
"Bad blood?" Jim raised an eyebrow. "What gave you that idea?"
To Be Continued In Part Two March 17th
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