by: Casey Griffin
Series: A Rescue Dog Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
A TAIL AS OLD AS TIME…
Addison Turner has scripted a perfect future for herself, complete with a fairytale ending. She will become the name in doggie fashion design and live happily ever after with the husband of her dreams—and her dachshund, Princess, by her side. Just when her plan is on track and she’s gaining recognition at the local dog show, Addison is hit with some Oscar-worthy drama. A group of prize-winning show dogs are stolen from under her nose, and she’s stuck asking for help from Felix Vaughn, an infuriatingly hot bartender who is the exact opposite of Prince Charming.
When more dogs go missing—and Felix becomes a suspect—the two team up to clear their names. Although Felix and Addison fight like cats and dogs, there’s an undeniable spark between them. And as the trail to the missing dogs heats up, so does their red-hot chemistry. Can Addison be persuaded to throw away her script to find an ending that just might be better than she ever expected?
Fur flew through the air under Addison Turner’s skilled touch as though she were born holding a pair of scissors, as natural as Edward Scissorhands, sculpting purebred pooches into masterpieces. Her current muse came in the form of a fluffy bichon frisé named Elvis whose hair clippings were getting stuck in the glittering details of her black sequined dress. Stray dog hair sticking out of the tight number wasn’t exactly the come-hither look she was going for.
Addison’s assistant, Melody, noticed the wardrobe mishap. “Oh no. Your dress. How are you going to hook your man now?”
“It’s okay,” Addison said with a wink. “I can make anything look good. Even dog hair.”
Melody grabbed a brush and began working any excess hair out of Elvis’s coat. “You keep talking about this perfect guy, but I don’t think you’ve told me his name.”
“That’s because I don’t know it … yet,” she added.
As Addison trimmed around the dog’s face, her normally steady hand shook. Not with nerves, but with irritation. Elvis’s owner, Kitty Carlisle, hovered behind the two of them, twitching with each clip of the scissors as though Addison was going to accidentally slip and cut a jugular vein.
Kitty continued to pace back and forth across the stage they were working on. Addison tried to ignore her, but twelve pairs of eyes watched the woman’s anxious movements with interest. Addison already had a full list of clients currently lounging on colorful bohemian pillows in various stages of her patented Pampered Puppies Program. She’d already completed puppy pawdicures, Shih-Tzu shiatsus, bow-wow bath and brushes, and hound hydrotherapy, all free of charge in order to promote her business.
That night’s cocktail mixer was being held in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Regency Center on Sutter Street. The neoclassical surroundings created the perfect romantic ambiance for the elite dog lovers of San Francisco to rub elbows, not to mention size up the competition before the Western Dog Show in two weeks’ time.
Addison sighed just thinking about it. The glitz, the glamour, the extravagance, the beauty. Nobody showered their four-legged friends with more affection and luxury than hopeful winners of the coveted Best in Show award. That was something she could certainly relate to—puppies were her passion. Now that was a client list she wanted to tap into. She was going to be the Coco Chanel of the four-legged world, and the next two weeks were going to make her or break her.
Unfortunately, Addison was stuck behind the scenes. Literally. She’d been allotted the ballroom’s built-in stage to set up her portable grooming station and pamper the party’s furry guests. While that should have allowed her the best view of the night’s event, they’d closed the stage curtains. Apparently one of the guests had complained. Maybe they didn’t like witnessing all the hard work being done while they enjoyed their escargot and champagne.
Kitty flinched again, looking ready to lunge for Elvis and protect him from Addison’s abuse.
“Mrs. Carlisle,” Addison addressed the nervous woman hovering over her shoulder, yet again. “Are you certain you wouldn’t feel more comfortable out in the ballroom enjoying the cocktail mixer?”
The older woman shook her head stiffly, not a single white hair from her beehive stirring, like she’d used a full can of hairspray on it. “I’m perfectly fine here with Elvis.” She cringed as though Melody’s brush was going to grow teeth and bite her dog. “You just never know who you can trust during competition season.” Her puglike eyes bulged conspiratorially.
Addison bristled at the comment. Surely, Kitty wasn’t suggesting that Addison would ever do anything to risk a show dog’s chances. That would be the death of her business before it even had the chance to take off. She was only just beginning to break into the niche show dog market.
One last snip of the scissors and Elvis’s traditional show cut was complete, resulting in his head looking like what Addison could only describe as a round ball of white cotton candy. Two black eyes blinked out from the sphere of fur. It mirrored Kitty’s ’60s beehive hairstyle almost perfectly. Or perhaps Kitty modeled herself after her dog.
For the pièce de résistance, Addison fastened a formal bow tie and tux collar around Elvis’s neck. There was a hidden metal ring where a leash could be attached. Fashion, meet function, Addison thought.
The ensemble was one of her many creations she was giving away for free that night, a way to garner attention for her new line of designer doggy duds. At the stroke of ten o’clock, the curtains would part to reveal a small taste of her upcoming fashion line. She hoped it would have the owners begging to be placed on her fashion show RSVP List.
Wiping away the mounds of white feathery fur, Addison unclipped Elvis from the grooming arm above the table. She stood back and held her arms out Vanna White–style, to display Kitty’s little white dog. “What do you think?”
Kitty reached out and straightened the bow tie. “How charming.”
Was that an actual smile? Addison felt giddy, like she was on an ice cream sugar high.
“It’s part of my premiere fashion line for four-legged fashionistas. It’s called Fido Fashion.” Addison whipped out a sparkly pink flier and held it up. “I’m launching the line on the same weekend as the dog show. You and Elvis should come check it out. In fact, I’m still looking for volunteers to model the designs. Maybe Elvis would like to be involved.” She gave Kitty a hopeful smile, trying her best not to come off as a slimy used-car salesperson.
Kitty clung to Elvis like a mother on her kid’s first day of school. “I don’t know,” she said uncertainly.
“He’ll get to keep any outfits that he models,” Addison offered.
Biting her lip, Kitty plucked the flier from Addison’s hand. “I’ll think about it.”
Backing away slowly, like she wanted to keep an eye on Addison, Kitty finally made a break for it. She cradled Elvis to her chest and whisked him across the stage. His black eyes bored into Addison over Kitty’s shoulder as they ducked through the heavy stage curtains and out to the ballroom.
The thick drapes parted, and classic jazz music drifted into their workspace, punctuated by the clink of glasses and murmur of voices. Wandering up to the front of the stage, Addison peeked through a gap.
People were dancing across the blond hardwood flooring, flirting on opulent camelback sofas, and showing off their sure-to-win purebreds near the cocktail bar. Men in tuxes, women in beautiful cocktail dresses, and most important for her business, some of Dogdom’s most prominent authorities.
Addison assessed the state of her own cocktail dress, picking at the tufts of fur clinging to it. It wasn’t the most sensible uniform for dog grooming—her high heels were not the most comfortable—but a good PR campaign for her business wasn’t the only reason she’d been looking forward to this dog show for months. She’d also wanted to build a few personal relations of her own.
Addison’s life was perfect. Her business was doing well enough that she could afford to hire an assistant, and she was about to launch her new fashion line. Everything was unfolding like a blockbuster Hollywood movie, except for one thing. Her leading man had yet to be cast. She was more like the makeup artist than the leading lady, but after the fashion show turned out to be a hit and her business reached a whole new level of success, that would all change. It was time for her Cinderella story to begin.
Addison could feel the night slip away as she hid behind the scenes. She’d been so busy, she hadn’t had a chance to enjoy the evening herself. Maybe she could get away for a little while, she thought.
She glanced back at all her equipment waiting to be dismantled and stored in her car, the fur that needed to be swept, the dogs that needed to be arranged for the big reveal. That’s when she noticed her own object of affection saunter across the stage: a beautiful longhaired, cream dachshund.
Like a movie star, the doxie strode imperiously down the length of red carpet rolled across the stage to join the lineup of other stars of the night. The beaded flapper-girl dress that Addison had designed especially for her glittered beneath the lights. As she passed each dog show contender, she eyed up the competition. Her ample chest swelled with confidence—which said much about her belief in her own beauty, as these particular pups were the crème de la crème of the Western United States.
Finding her adversaries wanting, the beautiful blonde huffed, and with a flick of her long, wavy locks, she returned to her pink velvet pillow embroidered with her name in gold: PRINCESS.
Addison walked over and scratched Princess behind the ears. “What do you think of our customers?” she asked her. “Do they pass your rigid beauty inspection?”
Princess yawned, seeming unimpressed.
“Of course they don’t even come close to your caliber, your highness.” Addison gave her a little bow. “You don’t need to bother competing in the dog show. We already know you’re the best.”
“Woof,” Princess agreed, and then bestowed a lick upon Addison’s hand.
Addison took this to mean “You have pleased us.”
But she didn’t mention the real reason she wouldn’t enter Princess, because despite deserving every award there was, in the end, she would sadly lose.
An angular limb deformity had left Princess with one leg shorter than the rest. Her previous owner had been devastated to discover her precious Princess would never be eligible to compete in a conformation show. So devastated, it seemed, that the first chance she got, she dropped Princess off at a shelter.
Addison recalled the day she met Princess at the San Francisco Dachshund Rescue Center where she volunteered regularly. Maybe the doxie’s deformity was why she’d felt such an instant connection with the abandoned show dog. It meant they had something in common. Only, Addison’s defect couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. No one could see what was hidden beneath all that makeup, hair, and stylish outfits. To everyone else, Addison was perfect, and her life seemed perfect.
But beauty was only skin deep. It was what was on the inside that mattered, right? Although Princess would never reach the pinnacle of pooch perfection sought after by show dog enthusiasts, she was certainly number one in Addison’s heart.
Now if only Addison could find that special someone who saw Addison the same way. Preferably one with two legs.
Addison scanned the collection of aspiring dog show champions lined up on the stage, all pampered and ready to be shown. “Well, I think they look pretty good.”
“Good?” Melody said. “They look amazing! Everything’s perfect.” She gave Addison a reassuring smile. “You’ve outdone yourself tonight. I think everyone really took notice. Just wait. There won’t be a seat left in the house at your fashion show.”
“You think so?”
“I know so.”
A Pekingese named King Winky Von Rainbow Valley, or Kingy for short, was wandering around Addison’s supply bag. He’d obviously sniffed out her treat stash. Plucking him up into her arms, she carried him back to his pillow and snuck him a treat anyway.
“Don’t tell the others okay?” she told him.
She fluffed the cubic zirconia–encrusted bow on his back. The elegant brocade was arranged in the traditional form of a Japanese obi, accenting the orange coy on the blue kimono nicely.
Addison picked up a half-inch barrel curling iron, ready to get started on a silky terrier’s bangs.
Melody stopped her with a look. “Back away from the curling iron,” she said. “Everything is ready for the reveal. Just go out there already and advertise a little, promote, rub elbows, and most important, enjoy yourself.”
Addison looked around at all the equipment again. “But there’s still so much to clean up.”
“I’ll get the stage ready for ten o’clock. Don’t worry.” Melody waved Addison away. “You need people to put a face to your infamous name, and your work. Now go.”
Addison sighed and put the iron down. “You’re right. Thanks.”
After checking on a Maltese whose nails were currently drying with Rainbow Frenzy nail polish, Addison brushed off what dog hair she could from her dress and grabbed the leash belonging to a pinscher named Rosie. She clipped it to the collar around her neck designed to look like a gold and ruby necklace. Addison created it for the pricier end of her line, and it was one she knew would blow her hot owner away.
As she prepared to leave, Princess pranced over, ready to shake her tail on the dance floor.
“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t leave you behind,” she told the doxie. “Are you ready to go make some friends?”
In response, Princess spun in a circle, already getting her groove on.
Addison fastened Princess’s hot pink lead to her Art Deco pearl collar and waved to Melody. “I’m going to return Rosie to her owner.”
“Good luck. I hope he likes it.” Melody gave Addison a wink that told her she didn’t mean the grooming they’d done on his pinscher.
“Who wouldn’t?” Addison threw her a flirtatious smile. She checked her hair in one of the mirrors placed around their makeshift salon, ensuring it was perfect, and whipped the thick curtains aside.
The moment Addison emerged, the smell of wet dog was replaced by expensive cologne, and the sounds of barking faded beneath the calming clarity of classical jazz floating over from the band in the far corner. From thirty-five feet above, teardrop chandeliers cast a warm glow onto the guests circulating the ballroom. It was as though she were Alice passing through the looking glass. It was an entirely different world.
Using the dog show circuit to promote her business was a two-week-long ticket to a parade of high-class events around San Francisco—and Addison had a VIP backstage pass. Sure, it wasn’t a singles mixer, but it was a social event, nonetheless. Something she hadn’t seen much of since she opened up shop two years earlier.
For two weeks, she would be surrounded by well-dressed, classy men. Men who held doors for ladies. Men in tuxes. Men who cared about grooming themselves as much as they did their dogs. Men with style. Addison was nothing if not stylish.
Her Prince Charming would be the perfect addition to her perfect life. Her happily ever after.
Now all she had to do was go out there and find him.
Copyright © 2017 by Casey Griffin and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
Purchase Beauty and the Wiener from:
The Rescue Dog Romance Series:
(Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon.)
Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.
Places to find Casey Griffin: