On Tuesday I am heading north to Alaska myself to be a volunteer for the Iditarod Trail sled dog race, one of the main inspirations for my writing this story. Of course I am wild with excitement! I expect that I will be writing some more stories set in this unique environment in the future.
Here is the cover one more time. If I was an ordinary reader I think I would almost buy it for the cover alone--with the story thrown in extra LOL.
And here is one more little snippet of an excerpt:
It was the next day before Dylan could talk the doctors into releasing him. Then he faced the problem of how to get to his place—and how to manage once he got there. The doctor had not wanted to cast his leg yet, but Dylan insisted, promising to return at once if he experienced any unusual pain, redness, sign of infection or other issues.
He could walk, but it was damned hard, and his foot felt like it weighed a ton. A mukluk, at least his normal ones, would not fit over the cast, which created another problem. How would he keep his toes from freezing? He ended up calling a cab to take him home, glad for once that he lived no farther from the city than he did. Usually he cursed almost being in town and having neighbors crowding too close, but this time it was a blessing.
cabs were mostly four-wheel drive SUVs; this one was no exception and easily handled
the icy roads. Fairbanks
When they got to his cabin, he saw his dog truck parked between the cabin and the kennel building. He also heard dog voices, a greater volume of sound than could be made by just the eight he’d left in the care of a neighbor boy interested in learning the musher’s trade.
They must’ve all made it home. He couldn’t wait to see them.
The cabin door swung open and a slim figure in an unzipped parka loped out to meet him. Too tall to be Sammy, the neighbor kid. Who then? Dylan struggled to find his balance, sorry he had not opted to borrow a walker or at least a crutch or cane. Even with the ribbed metal heel plate, he found the cast wasn’t made for walking on snow and ice. Before he knew what was happening, the still-unidentified person had a shoulder tucked under his arm on the right side to help him along the path and into the cabin.
Once inside, Dylan shrugged free and skidded to a stop. Everything looked neat and clean, in a lot better shape than he’d left the place in the last-minute urgency to get to the starting area for the race. From beside the stove, two mottled gray piles of fur stirred and jumped up, coming eagerly to greet him. They almost knocked him down as he tried to pet both of them and still keep his balance.
“Damn dogs aren’t supposed to be in the house,” he muttered. “What’s the deal here?”
Only then did he really look at the man who had apparently moved in and made himself at home. Who had Portola found to watch things? Did this guy know what he was doing?
The truth was, Dylan often let Freya and Thor and sometimes one or two of the others come in and share his space, just for the company, but that was contrary to custom and not the way real mushers were supposed to manage their sled dogs. They were working animals, not damned mollycoddled lap dogs or pets! Ha, don’t try to tell most mushers that bunch of bullshit! Most of them had one or two house dogs, if not half the pack.
Turning his attention to his unexpected guest, he watched as the other man shed his parka. All at once he recognized the untidy shock of dark brown hair, the narrow face, and luminous dark eyes that watched him now with a bit of deer-in-the-headlights anxiety.
“I—I felt like I owed them some special treats. I mean, they got us to the checkpoint. They worked for me, even if I didn’t know shit about what to do. And they’re the alphas, so they deserve some special perks.”
Dylan grinned. He couldn’t help it. The guy was so earnest, so anxious, and he had obviously done the best he could, taking on a responsibility not really his.
“Did Sammy help feed and stuff? He knows the routine and was caring for the dogs I left behind.”
The other man nodded. “Oh, yeah, he’s in the kennel right now. He’s been here most of the time since we made it back yesterday—well, actually, the night before when we got here. He told me how you feed them and stuff, and we worked on it together.”
Dylan nodded. “Sammy’s a good kid. At first, he was a pest, hanging around and bugging me to teach him about this stuff, but he’s picked it up fast. He’s a natural.” He took a moment to study the other man. Up close, he saw more age in the face than he’d realized. No, this wasn’t a kid looking back at him, but an adult, a man. He wasn’t sure whether that came as a relief or a new source of concern. He could deal with kids to some extent, but…
“I’m sorry—I know you told me your name, but it just didn’t stick. I gotta have something to call you, and maybe a name to make the check out to for stepping in and taking care of things for me.”
“I’m Grey Trammel, and there damn well isn’t going to be a check. You saved my stupid ass and it cost you the race, not just this one, but now others you can’t make while your leg heals. I owe you a hell of a lot more than a couple of days here with the dogs. I owed them that, actually, not even considering what I owe you.”