"Mom", Jenny Brady shouted, pounding on the bathroom door. "Come quick."
Joanna Brady, half-dressed in her slip, bra, and panty hose, stood in front of the steamy bathroom mirror.A mascara brush was poised in her hand.Jenny's frantic pounding startled her enough that she left a smudge of mascara under her green eyes as she hurried to throw open the door. " What is it?"
"Tigger did it again."
"Got into another porcupine.Look," Jenny said, kneeling next to the panting dog. "He's got quills all over his face, even in his tongue this time."Joanna knelt beside her nine-year-old daughter to examine the injured dog. Tigger's mixed bloodlines, half golden retriever/half pit bull-had left him looking more comical than fierce. He had the blunt nose and the white eye patch of a pit bull combined with a lush, flowing golden retriever coat. Now he stood there, patient and dejected, letting Joanna study him. His head resembled a pincushion, only the pins in question were three-to-four inches long and a quarter of an inch wide. Threads of bloody drool dangled from his mouth and dripped onto the tile floor,
"What about Sadie?" Joanna asked, referring to their other dog, a female bluetick hound.
"Sadie's fine." Jenny struggled to hold back her tears. "She's eating and Tigger can't, so I brought him inside."Joanna Brady, sheriff of Cochise County in the farsoutheastern comer of the state of Arizona, glanced at her watch and then back into her daughter's blue eyes. There wasn't much time. The last thing she needed was some new crisis on the home front as she set off to fight her department's budget wars. still, theseriousness of the quills embedded in Tigger's nose precluded any delay.
"That was good thinking," Joanna said, touching Jenny's shoulder and trying to reassure her troubled child that she had done the right thing. "If we hurry, I'll have time to drop him off at Doc Buckwalter's on my way to the board of supervisors meeting. Do you think you can load him into the Blazer while I finish getting dressed?"
Jenny nodded wordlessly and started toward the kitchen, with the dog trailing obediently at her heels. "And, Jenny?"
Jenny stopped and turned back to her mother. The tears were flowing now, sliding down her cheeks, dripping onto her blouse. It wounded Joanna, made her heart hurt, that Jenny had tried so hard to keep her tears from showing.
"What?" Jenny asked.
"Make a bed for him in the backseat with some Of those old clean blankets from the laundry room," Joanna cautioned. "Otherwise he's likely to drip all over the carpet."
Nodding again, Jenny set off.
The new Blazer Joanna drove was, after all, a county owned vehicle. She wasn't eager to explain to the guys in Motor Pool how bloodstains found in the back of her vehicle came from a dog so terminally dumb as to go after a porcupine-most likely the same one-for the third time in as many months. Back in the bathroom Joanna repaired the mascara damage and ran a brush through her red hair. It was getting too long, she noticed. She'd have to have it cut soon, although she had delayed going back to the beauty shop because she was still irked about Jenny's awful and unauthorized permanent.While Joanna had been off in Phoenix attending a police officer training school, her mother, Eleanor Lathrop, had engineered a trip to Helene's Salon of Hair and Beauty for her granddaughter as a "surprise" for Joanna with disastrous results. Jenny's fine blond hair had been chemically fried to a crisp in the process. Two months later, she still looked as though she had put her finger in an electrical socket. And although Joanna held her mother primarily responsible, she was still peeved at Helen Barco, the beautician, as well.
Hurrying into the bedroom, Joanna grabbed clothes from the closet.Since most of the day would be taken up with meetings with the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, she was tempted to leave her body armor at home. Supervisor meetings were held in an overheated conference room and the soft body armor always made the heat that much worse. But Joanna was a sheriff who was determined to lead by example.Since she was trying to convince her officers of the advisability of wearing bullet-resistant vests whenever they were on duty, she put hers on as well. Besides, considering the fact that the new sheriff's honeymoon period with the board was already over, maybe wearing body armor to the meeting wasn't all that bad an idea.
Jenny came back into the bedroom and dropped onto the bed. Her eyes were stiff red, but she was no longer crying. "Can I go with you to drop Tigger off?" she asked.
Joanna shook her head. "I don't think so, sweetie. Look at the time.If I take you by the clinic and then to school, we'll both end up being late. If you want to, though, you can ride with me as far as the bus stop."
Joanna thought her reply was perfectly reasonable. Jenny's response was not. "I hate school!" she lashed out with an unexpected vehemence that took Joanna by surprise.,"And I hate meetings, too! You always have to go to meetings. You're always in a hurry!"
With that, Jenny turned and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Joanna hurried after her. "Jenny"..."I don't want to ride with you!" Jenny yelled angrily from the laundry-room door. "I'll ride my bike to the bus stop, and I don't care if you take Tigger to the vet or not.Just leave him here if you want to. That way you won't be late."