The Conundrum of Collies (Love & Pets #6) - A.G. Henley

Chapter One


Sitting at my desk in my bedroom, I put the finishing touches on a logo for a freelance client. I take a last look at the the work, stick the files into Dropbox, and pop the link into an email thanking him for his business.

The client, Choppy Carter, the beer-bellied and mustachioed owner of a pool and hot tub cleaning and repair company called Wet & Wild, wanted to “update” his company’s image. The previous logo was a cartoon illustration of a blonde, busty, bikini clad lady leaning out of a hot tub. It was wet and wild, all right, but several clients had complained in recent years, and he felt he was losing business.

After a month of going back and forth with Choppy, I finally persuaded him to narrow down his choices to one tasteful and minimal design using two uppercase Ws and an ampersand that can be easily applied to everything from his invoices to his trucks. Now, the logo is finished, and he’s paid in full, so that should be that. A good day’s work.

I stretch my arms in the air and look around. “Bean? Beanie Weenie? Where are you?”

Wincing at the pain in my lower back from sitting too long, I twist from side to side as I walk out of my bedroom, also known as my office, down the hall and into the tiny bungalow kitchen, looking for my three-year-old border collie, Bean. Usually, she’s asleep on or beside my bed while I work. The fact that she’s not right now probably means trouble.

“Logan? Is Bean with you?” I ask my best friend and roommate who’s shooting someone in the living room. In a video game, that is.

“What?” he yells back.

I roll my eyes and shout my question louder. He wears headphones, so he never hears me the first time I say something.

“No,” he finally answers. “Uh oh, did she get out?”

“I don’t know. Bean?” I call her again.

If she were in the house, I’d hear the clicking of her toenails against our worn wooden floors, coming to me. I don’t hear them. The back door shudders as I yank it open and poke my head out into the yard. It’s early June and unusually misty and cool today. I shiver.


Nothing. No streak of black and white fur as my girl rushes across the overgrown, weedy yard to my side. My heart stutters with panic and then sinks. Did she get into Rosa’s yard again? I hear a shrill bark from next door, followed by a great deal of terrified squawking. Yeah, she did.

I run to my room to grab my black hoodie off the back of my desk chair and shove my feet into my white Converse low top shoes, shouting to Logan at the same time. “Bean’s next door again!”

“What?” He pulls one ear pad off his ear as I careen from the hall to the kitchen door again.

“Bean. Rosa. Chickens!”

“I’m right behind you!”

Dodging our worn patio furniture, I sprint to the gate in our wood fence, throw it open, and dart inside our neighbor Rosa’s yard. I hurry to the chicken coop in back and stop short. I really, really hope Rosa’s still at work and not seeing this.

Her ten backyard hens huddle together in a corner of their pen. The poor things squawk, flap their wings, and their already buggy eyes seem extra buggy as my border collie menace does her best to herd them. Not that they understand her intentions.

As far as the hens are concerned, Bean’s pointy white teeth, set into a horrifying slash of a barking mouth, are bent on death and destruction. The chickens can’t know that herding and chasing are in my dog’s blood, and when she sees their plump, wingy bodies, she can’t help but encourage them to stay all together. Her instinct is inevitable. So is the hens’ fear. They scatter.

“Bean! Come!” I shout the command as Logan jogs up beside me. He claps to get her attention.

My dog glances at us, clearly torn. Herd the chickens, like she’d been born to do, or obey her mistress and that guy who’s always around her mistress who sneaks her bites of meat from his plate and takes her on walks? Hmm, choices.

Logan produces a treat from his pocket. Smart. I should have thought to grab one. Showing Bean the incentive, he strolls over and gently takes her collar in hand while she snarfs the biscuit, then he pulls Bean’s leash out of his back pocket.