Best in Show

Best in Show by Laurien Berenson Read Free Book Online

Book: Best in Show by Laurien Berenson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurien Berenson
Tags: Suspense
You just never quite explained how it came about. Who’s taking care of your dogs?”
    A not inconsiderable question. One thing about being a professional handler: you had to love your job because you never got time off. Even on those days when everyone was home with no shows to attend, the string still had to be fed, and exercised, and cleaned up after. Those who didn’t truly enjoy the sport, and the dogs, simply burned out after a couple of years and went off to find regular means of employment. Easier means of employment—like digging ditches or painting bridges.
    â€œFrank’s in charge of the kennel.” Bertie grinned. “Can you believe it?”
    â€œSince you asked,” I said truthfully. “No. Whose idea was that?”
    â€œHis, which makes it even more amazing. He volunteered, told me I was looking tired. Asked if I felt like I needed some time off.”
    â€œI think impending fatherhood has sent my brother around the bend.”
    â€œCould be, but I wasn’t about to argue. Of course, the problem was that we both couldn’t go away at the same time. Plus Frank’s been pretty busy at the coffeehouse. But then I remembered this was PCA week. I figured I might as well come down and pick up a few pointers. So I hopped in my car and here I am. Frank thought it was a great idea. He’s under the impression that you and Peg are going to keep an eye on me.”
    My brow lifted. Bertie was one of the most self-sufficient women I’d ever met. “Do you need keeping an eye on?”
    â€œNo.” Her hand drifted to her stomach. “But try telling your brother that.”
    â€œI wouldn’t dream of it. Actually, I think his concern is rather sweet.”
    â€œFor now. Check back with me in six months and see how I feel.”
    I thought back to my own pregnancy. “By December, you’ll probably want to throttle him and anyone else who looks at you cross-eyed. By the way, are you hungry?”
    â€œAre you kidding?”
    That was what I’d figured.
    â€œLet’s go find some dinner,” I said. “On the way, I just need to stop by the grooming room for a minute and check out the facilities, so I’ll know how to set things up for Eve’s bath.”
    â€œGrooming room? What grooming room?” Bertie waited at the door as I explained the situation to Eve, telling the puppy that she’d have to stay and be quiet, and that I’d be back soon. Several minutes later, we walked out into the hallway together.
    â€œHere in the hotel. PCA books a conference room for the exhibitors. The club lines the floor with plastic, makes sure the lighting’s good and that there are plenty of outlets. Especially for this show, where everyone wants their Poodle to look perfect, there’s a ton of grooming going on. This way we have a legitimate place to do it.”
    â€œGreat idea,” said Bertie. And how.
    The grooming room was located on the basement level of the hotel, just off a hallway that led outside to the exercise area. Walking past, Bertie gazed out the door at the Poodle-filled field. She wrinkled her nose. “In a day or two, nobody will be able to set foot out there without stepping in something. How many of those people do you suppose are cleaning up after themselves?”
    â€œI’m serious. PCA mandates it and, believe me, it happens. Club members take it upon themselves to patrol with pooper-scoopers to clean up after scofflaws. Everybody pitches in. When we leave on Saturday, that field will be spotless.”
    â€œReally?” Bertie still sounded dubious. That was because she’d just arrived. PCA wasn’t like all the other dog shows she’d been to. It was special, different. Bertie just hadn’t figured that out yet.
    â€œReally. You’ll see.”
    The wide double doors that led to the grooming room were standing open. As

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