Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Lost Savannah Excerpt

The Lost Savannah is the second novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

Alex is hired to find a lost Savannah, a rare and expensive cat breed. She quickly learns the cat isn’t just missing. The cat was stolen. The main suspect is the next door neighbor who is obsessed with Savannahs and the game of golf.

Soon Alex discovers a black market ring in the world of fanatic Savannah cat breeders. She has to dust off her rusty investigative skills to solve the mystery of the lost Savannah.

The room was neat and orderly. Books in straight stacks and toys arranged very precisely. I couldn’t see in the closet, but I had a feeling the hangers were all exactly the same and evenly spaced.
“Brian’s autistic,” Grace said softly.
The little I knew about autism was reinforced by Brian’s behavior. It also explained Grace’s anxiety and urgency. Many people with autism often do better with animals. Horses and dogs were more commonly used as therapy pets, but some cats have proven useful as well.
“Sammie helps?” I asked as I looked around the room.
“Yes,” Grace replied as she crossed her arms and ran one hand up and down the other arm. “Brian hadn’t responded to any animal when he was first diagnosed, but when he was about four he wandered away. We searched for hours. Had called in the police, everything. Eventually, we found him next door. Our neighbor raises Savannahs. Brian was sitting in front of their enclosure talking to one of the cats.”
“A breakthrough of sorts?”
“Oh yes. It was.” Grace smiled. “The cat he bonded with was an older one. We persuaded, Lorraine, our neighbor, to part with her by purchasing a higher generation to replace the cat. Most Savannahs are very active, but Jessie was really good with Brian. Unfortunately, she died last year. It took us almost five months to find another Savannah that could cope with Brian and that he responded to. We’ve had Sammie about four months. The two of them are inseparable.”
“You didn’t get her from your neighbor?”
“No. Brian didn’t like any of Lorraine’s cats. We got Sammie from a breeder in New Mexico named Paul Kingman. She cost us a fortune as she is an F1, and Paul didn’t want to part with her.”
“That’s a first generation Savannah,” Grace explained. “They’re very rare. An F1 is fifty percent African serval and fifty percent domestic cat. Each next generation has less serval. Jessie was an F5. Because Sammie is so rare, we agreed to allow Paul to breed her one more time. But recently, he told us he had gotten another F1 female who is already pregnant.”
“So Sammie isn’t spayed?”
“No. Is that a problem?”
“No, but it may explain why she’s gone.”
“We intend to have her spayed. We have an appointment with the vet later this week.” She paused before saying softly, “I don’t know what Brian will do if she is really gone.”
“Is that Sammie’s bed?” I asked pointing to a cat bed under the window.
“Yes,” Grace replied. She moved over to the bed. “Sammie sleeps there sometimes, but mostly, she sleeps on this blanket.”
Grace pointed to a small throw at the foot of Brian’s bed. I walked over to it. It was made of some type of soft material, and I could easily see how a cat would make it its own. I picked it up and held it out to Hero. I gave him the command, and he obediently sniffed the blanket. Once I was sure he had the scent, I turned to Grace.
“We need to leave the room. There will be too much of Sammie here. We’ll start in the hall.” As we walked out of Brian’s room, I asked. “Are you sure Sammie isn’t in the house?”
“As sure as we can be. Savannah’s are very agile and can open doors and cabinets, but we searched every room multiple times. We even searched the attic. I hope she’s somewhere in the house, but I don’t think she would stay away from Brian for this long.”
I didn’t think so either. I gave Hero his search command. We followed him down the stairs, back through the family room where Brian and the girls were, and then into the next room which was a mudroom. Hero walked over to the back door and pawed at the floor.
“Well, Sammie’s not in the house. She definitely went out the back.”
There was a gasp behind us. I turned to see Hannah and Natalie standing in the doorway. Hannah had a stricken look on her face.
“The door was unlocked yesterday,” Hannah said softly. “I noticed it when we were looking for Sammie.”
“What?” Grace exclaimed. “Hannah, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I forgot!” Hannah said. “I didn’t think anything about it. I just opened the door to go outside to look.”
“Is the door normally locked?” I questioned.
“Yes. We seldom use this door. We enter the house through the garage or the front door.”
“No one uses this door?”
“No,” Grace said slowly. “Not usually. There’s a door in the kitchen that leads to the back yard.”
“Humm,” I said and then unlocked and opened the door.
Hero continued the search out the back door, across the patio, and onto the lawn. He led us over to the fence. As we walked, I noticed drag marks in various places in the grass. They were minor imperfections as the lawn was thick and green, but if you looked closely, you could see them. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“How much does Sammie weigh?”
“Let’s see. She’s big, even for a Savannah. Probably close to thirty pounds.”
Big enough to make it difficult to carry her if a person was carrying something else. Like a gun. I had a really bad feeling that I wasn’t going to find Sammie anywhere near this house. We went through the gate, and Hero continued all the way to the street. There he stopped and lay down. That was his signal he had lost the trail. I knelt down beside him and gave him his treat.
“What is it? What happened?” Grace asked sharply.
I turned around to see Hannah and Natalie had followed us from the house. I glanced back at the street and then down at Hero. There was only one explanation.
“Someone stole Sammie.”


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