This book is a contemporary sweet (clean) romantic suspense suitable for young adults and up. It is a mystery under the definition of: something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain and not a mystery novel with clues.
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Sweet Cravings Division
Cindy A Christiansen Author
Duston Cooper unlocked his gun shop door, removed his folksy ‘Gone to Lunch’ sign, and led Ruger into the backroom. He unclipped his leash and got him a fresh bowl of water. Ruger lapped sloppily. Duston slipped off his jacket and hung it on one of the coat rack hooks.
“You know the rules, Ruger. Stay here even if you hear someone come in.”
He gave Ruger a pat on the head and skulked out into the shop. He had several guns he needed to repair, a number of calls he should place to order parts, at least four calls to make to customers to pick up their guns, and he should dust the decoys since he hadn’t done it in about a month.
He sighed. His mind just couldn’t focus on anything today though. If today were a color, it would be a drab boring gray. So would yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that. He wished he could pull himself out of this funk, but so far he hadn’t been successful.
Taking over the Bird Dog Gun Shop from his dad and running the business on his own had always been his dream, but he never imagined Dad would retire early and he and Mom would move to Florida to a retirement community. Dad spent his days fishing and Mom volunteered for various organizations. Something was missing in Duston’s life, and it wasn’t just the fact that Mom and Dad had moved away.
He had made attempts to fill his life by studying all about Karelian Bear dogs and even purchased a seven-month old pup from Finland and had her flown in. Sure, it had cost him a bundle, but he planned on being the first Utahn to train one of the dogs to help the police department. Washington and Alaska were the only two states he knew of that used Karelians to help with law enforcement. Already this season in Utah, they had had a number of black bear attacks in the bordering mountain communities. The state could use a good dog, and he hoped his dog would train well. With the shop, training, and helping out the police on cases from time to time, his life should be full, but instead his heart felt empty, void, full of dust particles.
He picked up the .22 rifle his last customer before lunch had been looking at and placed it back in the rack on the wall. He couldn’t deny his loneliness, but he refused to get entangled in a relationship. He knew he wasn’t his brother, but he couldn’t fathom what might happen should he get involved and things turned out bad.
Aidon. Did his brother have any idea what damage his actions had caused the family? Probably didn’t care. Anger rose in Duston at the thought of Aidon, his fists clenching. And there lay the problem. He wanted to physically hurt his brother for what he had done, and yet that would make him no different than Aidon. Also, he knew it was best to let life run its natural course and not interfere or intervene with providence. If love was meant to happen, it would. On the other hand, waiting was a lonely business.
The bell jingled over the door, and Officer Malloy and a conservation officer came in, frowning.
“Howdy,” he said, studying their pinched faces. “How are you, Officer Malloy? What can I do for you?”
Malloy pushed back his hat on his forehead, exposing a curly lock of brown hair. “Well, I’m afraid it isn’t good news, Buck. This is conservation officer, Rick Tulley. I’ll let him tell you what has happened.” He placed an elbow on the counter and leaned his side into the glass display case. The handle of his 9mm Beretta scraped the glass and Duston scowled.
Meeting Officer Jack Malloy had been the only good thing that had come out of Aidon’s arrest. Malloy had referred him and Ruger on a number of cases to help solve wildlife crimes, and Duston had felt good about helping out. His only concern was Malloy’s current involvement with his twice-divorced sister, Jordon.
Rick Tulley hooked his thumbs in his belt and took a deep breath. “We found the body of the fisherman who had been missing for two weeks. We suspect foul play.”
Duston swallowed hard. He liked working with Ruger to help the police find evidence, but didn’t enjoy dead bodies, murders, or crime. He looked at Malloy’s bulging hard biceps and rock-solid frame. His much smaller frame and red hair and freckles did little to intimidate the criminal element. His weak stomach didn’t help much either.
Malloy pulled the toothpick from his mouth and cleared his throat. “A hunter saw what he thought was a deer, running toward him. He drew his gun and realized it was a Great Dane. The dog turned out to be the fisherman’s. The dog led the man directly to the body, and he called 911.”
“Wasn’t this up Big Cottonwood Canyon somewhere?” Duston asked.
Tulley nodded, his double chin wagging. He attempted to suck a lunch particle from his teeth. “Near Silver Lake, but the body was some six hundred yards away from the lake. His wallet was intact. He used a cane and it was nowhere to be found.”