If You Were Mine - Bella Andre Page 0,2

her door, jarring her out of her dark thoughts. “Come in.”

Agnes Mackelroy, a pretty middle-aged woman whom Heather liked a great deal, poked her head in the door. “Good morning, Heather. I was hoping you had a few minutes.” Despite Heather’s smile, the woman seemed to sense something was wrong. “Is everything all right?”

Heather nodded quickly. “It’s always so lovely to see you.”

And it was true—she couldn’t be happier to see Agnes and her dog, Joey, especially if it meant she didn’t have to think about her father anymore.

Agnes had been one of Heather’s first clients at Top Dog when the ink was still drying on her business cards. Over the past few years, she’d made dozens of referrals for Heather to work with her family’s and friends’ dogs.

Heather knelt to say hello to Agnes’s Chow Chow. “Look at you with your fancy new knee,” she said as she scratched the dog under his chin, right where he loved it. Atlas soon bumped her out of the way to say hello. “I take it he’s been doing well since surgery?” she asked Agnes.

“Just splendidly! He’s back to his old self, out digging up my garden morning, noon, and night.”

Heather had to laugh at that, even though stopping that behavior was something she’d worked on long and hard with Agnes and Joey last year. “Would you like me to drop by later this week see if we can get him to celebrate in a different way?”

“No, I’m perfectly happy to let Joey have his fun. I didn’t much care for the color of the begonias anyway,” Agnes said with a toss of her hand. “I’m actually here on behalf of a very good friend with a new puppy.”

“Perfect timing. I’ve just finished up a group training class and have several new trainers who would love to get their feet wet. Why don’t I give you a few of their numbers?”

“I was hoping,” Agnes said, “that you would be available to help him personally.”

Heather’s business and dog-training staff had grown so much over the past three years that she spent most of her time managing the business. While she still loved to pop out of her office to play with the dogs that came in and out of her training campus, at this point she rarely took on one-on-one training clients. But she couldn’t possibly say no to Agnes, who was responsible for so much of her early success.

Mentally reshuffling her busy schedule, Heather said, “What’s your friend’s name?”

“His name,” Agnes said, “is Zach.”

Something akin to a warning skittered down Heather’s spine at the woman’s almost worshipful tone. Then again, she knew Agnes was happily married.

“And I know how much he’d appreciate it if you could meet with him this morning at the garage where he works. I’m afraid the little Yorkie is running the poor man in circles.”

Heather wrote down the address for Sullivan Autos, then gave both Agnes and her dog hugs as they said goodbye.

She couldn’t imagine a mechanic’s boss being too happy about a madcap puppy running around in an auto shop. Not to mention that it definitely wasn’t the safest environment for an untrained dog.

“Ready to go play with a puppy?” she said to the dog lying at her feet.

Atlas’s ears perked up at his favorite word. It had always amused her how much her two-hundred-pound Great Dane loved to play with puppies, even though they tended to nip at him with their sharp little teeth and use their sharp nails to climb onto his broad back with no concern whatsoever for their own welfare.

She suspected the reason had to do with the fact that the early part of his own life hadn’t been at all carefree. Clearly, he thrived on being around a puppy’s untamed wildness.

It was a warm day out and she pulled her long hair up from her neck into a ponytail as she grabbed her training bag and headed out to her car. Atlas bounded into the backseat, immediately sticking his head out of the window in anticipation of wind in his fur, his tongue flying free.

Ten minutes later, Heather pulled up outside Sullivan Autos and slipped on Atlas’s leash. She could see a half dozen men onsite and even though her dog was worlds better around men than he had been when she’d first taken him home four years ago, she was concerned that so many big men in one place might overwhelm him. She wasn’t surprised when he stuck close to