Callie Melville was wanted by the law, but to put it that way made things sound worse than they were. She hoped. The rumors she’d heard about the new police chief didn’t make her look forward to their meeting.
Callie stood in the shadow of the Granger Falls police department with her auburn hair blowing and lamented the way her day was going. The trouble had started even before she’d woken up, but she wasn’t going to think about the premonition right now. She had a bigger issue at the moment. A seventy-five-pound-dog issue.
Rufus had never cared for police stations, which Callie felt was irrational. Despite some reckless choices on Rufus’s part, he wasn’t the one the police had summoned. In fact, the only time the police had looked for him in the past, it had been to give him a medal usually reserved for police dogs.
Callie stood with an arm resting on top of the open car door and looked down at him. It was impossible to tell what unholy mongrel mix of breeds he was. In addition to really unattractive features, his troubled puppyhood had left him with several starbursts of scar tissue and only half of his left ear. Even as a pup he’d caused young children, who usually adored puppies, to pause and take a step back.
The vet suspected he was part bull terrier, possibly mixed with mastiff and something else. He had a huge skull and a wide, flat face, making his head a two-tone bowling ball of dirty white and muddy gray. It was safe to say that Purina commercials weren’t in his future, but Rufus had other qualities.
“Seriously, Ruf, if I close this door and go in alone, you’d better not change your mind and go nuclear on this car.”
Rufus liked riding in the car, provided it was moving. He didn’t, however, care to be left in it when it was parked. Callie suspected it made him feel imprisoned, which Rufus had no patience for. He had been known to tear seat covers and puncture the dashboard as many as forty times in the span of fifteen minutes. He also didn’t care for collars, leashes, or fences.
Rufus stared past her at the police station, making no move to escape the car.
“Ok, I’ll be right back.” She took the bone from the dash and set it at his feet on the seat. “Be cool.”
She closed the door, popped the trunk open and took out the large shopping bag. She’d met Chief Pell once before at the retirement party for his predecessor. Physically, the new chief was a mechanical pencil of a man, tall, thin, rigidly straight and precise. His painfully thin frame was probably due to a high metabolism and was definitely none of Callie’s business, but she couldn’t resist bringing her wares to the meeting. She carried a large handle bag filled with her honey-glazed ham and goat cheese turnovers, honey-toasted vegetable popovers, and honey hazelnut fudge.
Inside the station, she set the largest box on the police chief’s desk before handing the bag filled with four smaller ones to a grateful deputy who hustled out.
“No need to bring food, Miss Melville,” Chief Pell said, setting the box to the side without a second glance. “I know that you were friendly with the former police chief, but I plan to run things my way. We won’t be needing any help from supposedly psychic beekeepers.”
“That’s not up to you,” she said calmly, channeling her cousin Lotus, who was rarely offended when someone insulted her. Lotus didn’t rattle because she just didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of her. Callie admired that talent, especially today.
“It certainly is up to me. I’m the chief of police,” he snapped.
She blinked, thinking it was a good thing that Rufus had stayed in car. Unlike Lotus, Rufus was easily offended. Raised voices directed at Callie were high on the list of things Rufus did not tolerate.
“Listen, Chief Rudy was a great old guy in a lot of ways, but I know he was a little too free with his praise. He thought it added to the region’s charm to share some wild stories about the Mystical Melville cousins, as he called us. The truth is that I’ve never sought recognition. None of us has. So if that’s your concern, please understand that no one has to know that I’m providing information—”
“You’re right. There will never be another story about Honeycakes Melville and her faithful hound helping the law find missing children. This isn’t a cartoon.”
“He’s not a hound. As least not as far as the vet can tell. And my business is called—”
“Whatever! We don’t need your so-called information. We’ll collect our own information from verifiable sources. That’s called investigating, and it’s what we’re trained to do as policemen. No need for Ouija boards or crystals.”
She rolled her eyes. “Listen—”
“No, you listen,” he said, raising his voice again. “Unless you witness a crime in person or are the victim of a crime, I don’t expect to see you in this office again.”
“Fine with me,” she said, swiveling and striding out.
“Hang on,” he said, pursuing her. “You also won’t be showing up for any search parties or at any crime scenes.”
She shoved the door open and walked outside. She didn’t think he could legally block her from joining a volunteer search party, but she had no intention of arguing about it. She didn’t take orders from the police chief or anyone else. There was only one power that she had to answer to. The one that sent the visions.
“Did you hear me, Miss Melville?” Chief Pell demanded.
Rufus jumped to attention, his paws on the passenger window glass as he growled and bared his teeth.
“Don’t yell. My dog doesn’t like it.”
“Good God, that’s an ugly dog. What kind of dog is that?” he asked, momentarily stunned, as most people were, at the sight of Rufus.
“Loyal,” she said. “As the day is long. And accomplished. He’s found two missing kids. That’s two more than you, right? So the best, that’s the kind of dog he is.”
“And violent. You’d better keep him under control.”
“He’s not violent.”
“Didn’t he bite Larry McIntry’s dog?”
“Self-defense,” she said flatly.
“Bull! And doesn’t he tree every cat within a twelve-block radius?”
“Provoked? Exactly what do these cats do to provoke him?”
“Cat things,” she said with a shrug.
“I don’t care that you and your dog got lucky and discovered a couple of lost kids that I’m sure would’ve been found by other searchers eventually. The days of your dog running wild are over.”
Rufus barked madly and butted his head against the glass like he’d come through it any second.
The chief made a show of unsnapping his holster and glaring back at Rufus.
Callie stepped in front of the passenger door to block their line of sight. “To shoot Rufus, you’d have to go through me, and gunning down an unarmed beekeeper might be hard to explain your first week on the job.” Callie reached back and rapped her knuckles on the glass, saying over her shoulder, “Rufus, relax. I’m fine.”
The dog growled, but the wild barking ceased.
“See you around, Chief.”
He glowered, but eventually, when she did nothing but wait, he turned and walked away. Only when he was safely back in the station and out of sight did Callie walk around the car and get in the driver’s seat.
Rufus sat back, but his gaze stayed fixed on the building.
“That went great, Ruf.” she said, starting the car. “I think we charmed him as no other citizens have in a long time.”
Callie pulled away from the curb, shaking her head. It had been the former chief’s idea that she come to him immediately whenever a new recurring dream began. He’d wanted to brief his men on the details and alert them to be vigilant. Chief Rudy thought it might uncover evidence that could prevent or at least lead to rapid resolutions of impending crimes. It had almost worked. The police had mobilized and been within a mile of where she and Rufus had ultimately found the lost two-year-old child eight months ago. The little boy had wandered out in the dead of night. He was already hypothermic when she found him.
If she hadn’t woken from the dream and known to start a search, it would’ve ended in tragedy. Tommy Walker had been the one she’d seen face down in the creek. He’d only been six feet from the water when Rufus had caught up to him. They’d barely made it in time.
Her dog had blocked the little boy’s progress and then bumped him down to the ground, lying over him to keep him warm until she’d gotten there. The exhausted little guy hadn’t even screamed about the smelly dog’s heavy bulk on top of him.
“Rufus, you beautiful beast,” she’d exclaimed, hugging her dog before dragging him off the disheveled bundle. “It’s steak all week for you,” she’d said, so relieved she’d been teary-eyed. They’d saved a toddler from drowning.
The new police chief was a jerk, but Callie doubted there’d be a way to avoid him. The universe had things to say, and the Melvilles knew to listen. Each of them that had a gift had learned the hard way that to ignore or abuse a mystical gift led to terrible consequences.
Most days, Callie was a beekeeper and casual organic farmer. She spent her Friday nights baking honey cakes and making fudge or roasting vegetables for a variety of flavored popovers and pot pies. Saturdays and Sundays, she ran booths at farmers’ markets. Her booth was popular, and she loved seeing her regular customers and meeting new ones. Callie chatted, drank coffee, took suggestions for new recipes, and sold every bit of whatever she made. It was a great way to spend a weekend, and she never missed setting up her booth. Unless, that is, a dream became reality.
When a premonition event happened, she wasn’t a beekeeper or organic food artisan. She was a Melville who’d survived a storm. When called, storm survivors had to stop everything and answer the universe’s dark message.
She’d been dream-free for eight months. Then the night sent her a new vision. And this one didn’t have a lost toddler who’d pushed open an unlatched door and wandered away from home. This dream featured a hulking man and a teen girl. Callie hadn’t seen enough yet to know what would happen, but she knew the possibilities left her in a cold sweat. The timing of Chief Rudy’s retirement was the worst. If ever Callie could’ve used the police’s help, it was now. Instead, all she had were visions, a newly purchased stun gun, and a rough, ugly dog named Rufus.
Callie see the future. The universe expects her to deal with it...
Callie Melville doesn't know the first thing about solving crimes. Especially one that hasn't happened yet. But Callie has a mystical power, and a premonition has led her to the prime suspect in the upcoming abduction of a pretty teenager. At first the sizzling chemistry between Callie and the attractive ex-Marine makes investigating him easier, but the more personal things get, the higher the stakes become.
Add in a massive mutt with bad manners, a nasty new police chief who’s gunning for her, and an irrepressible octogenarian, and life becomes pretty complicated. Will she rescue the teen girl in time? Or will Callie become a casualty of the vision herself?
No one ever said being Mystical Melville was easy.
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