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“One of our trainers was involved in a car accident and can’t make it,” he said grimly.

“Which one?” she asked. “Are they okay?”

“It’s Rivers, and yeah, she’s okay, but her car is mangled.”

Double shit. Rivers was an attractive blonde woman scheduled to lead out the third dog during the auction.

“Okay, we just need someone to fill in. Someone who has experience with dogs . . . ” She racked her brain, willing herself not to panic.

“Maybe we can just have one of the trainers double up with a second dog,” Sergeant Sparks suggested.

Eve hated that idea but didn’t say it. They could probably scrounge up another male trainer, but there were so few female members of the Alpha Dog program . . .

“Megan!” Eve hadn’t meant to shout, but she was just too excited. She’d asked Megan to come along and help, so she was here somewhere. She had MP training and had done guide-dog training in 4H.

“Megan who?” Sparks asked.

“Never mind, I’ve got it covered.” Oliver would have to wait a minute or two until she talked to Megan.

Near the vendor tents, she found Megan grabbing a deep-fried Twinkie.

“I need you,” Eve said, panting.

“Aw, I know. That’s why I stick around,” Megan said.

“I need you to stand in for a trainer who can’t be here,” Eve said.

“Ha-ha, you’re funny,” she said.

“Come on, you have the experience. You can smile, charm them, an

d show a couple basic behavior tips. Just go home and get your uniform.”

“Girl, I am not—”

“Do you remember the time that I picked you up from that bar in Bakersfield you weren’t supposed to be at when your car wouldn’t start and you didn’t want to call your parents?” Eve asked.

“Oh come on, that was nine years ago!” Megan said.

“And it’s time to pay the piper, baby,” Eve said.

Megan bit into her Twinkie aggressively and mumbled, “You are an evil wench.”

“Yes, and you love me for it. Now hurry up! I need you back here in”—Eve checked her phone—“an hour and a half.”

Megan threw her container away and stomped off, but Eve wasn’t worried about her friend staying mad at her.

And now, to find Oliver.

“WILL YOU HOLD still?” Oliver griped at Beast, who looked a lot like the dog version of Frankenstein. The veterinarian had stitched up several large lacerations on his head and neck, but the shaved skin and wounds still looked gnarly. Oliver had picked up a doggie turtleneck at PetSmart per the vet’s suggestion as an extra barrier in case he tried to scratch at the stitches on his neck. The trouble was getting it on Beast, who, after two days of pain meds and antibiotics in hotdogs, had become a spoiled brat. And he hated the shirt.

“Dude, at least its green camo. I could have gotten the pink one, so count your blessings,” Oliver said. They had just picked up Beast’s Alpha Dog jacket, but the turtleneck had to go on first or he was afraid the strap would irritate Beast’s neck.

Since Oliver couldn’t leave Beast on his own, he’d been switched from the auction to selling raffle tickets. It wasn’t such a bad deal, especially since it gave Beast a job, and he wouldn’t have to spend an hour trying to make small talk with a stranger on how to make a dog sit. Wandering around the event also gave him the best opportunity to take pictures and videos to share online, since according to the very curt text message from Eve, he was still her right-hand man.

At least the job would keep him from obsessing over wanting more.

Finally getting the shirt over the dog’s head, he lifted one paw and then the other into the sleeves until it was finally in place. Smoothing it down over Beast’s body, Oliver grimaced. “I’ll tell you, buddy, I never thought I would be the type of guy to put clothes on his dog.”