Abby has just arrived in Summerville, Ohio, with her placid Newfoundland, Bowser. Her tightly would world spins out of control when she discovers the chaos within and meets a mysterious dog trainer whose teaching style is definitely hands-on. What on earth is going on in the unearthly little town? Oh, and their ancestors served the ancient Mesopotamian Goddess of Life, Kammani Gula, whose sacred animal was the dog. In southern Ohio.

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Abby Richmond's ancient two-toned station wagon shuddered to a stop in front of the dust-covered windows of the Temple Street Coffeehouse, and the Newfoundland beside her sat up and barked.

Bowser tried to lumber to his feet, but even in a full-sized station wagon there wasn't enough room for a full-sized Newfie, so he settled back down again, looking up at her with his dark, gentle eyes. Let's reconnoiter. Bowser replied with the low raspy sound that meant agreement. Bowser tended to be a very agreeable dog.

Abby pulled back out into the sparse traffic on Temple Street, managing to just miss clipping a Lexus, and drove around the corner in search of the elusive alleyway that belonged to the building. She pulled in and parked, then let Bowser out. There was a small, brick-walled courtyard in back, and Bowser rushed toward the thick green grass with a muffled yelp of gratitude as Abby wandered over to the stone bench.

The only piece of litter was a yellow flyer, and she picked it up and shoved it in her pocket before she sat down. The smell of honeysuckle was in the air, and the June sun was bright overhead. She'd always thought of Ohio as flat and brown compared to the lush ripeness of landscaped Southern California, but this courtyard was an oasis of greenery. She looked up at the back of the three-story building she'd inherited. It looked in decent enough shape, and her mother, the Real Estate Goddess of Escondido, would doubtless be able to sell it quickly and profitably.

If Abby decided to let her. Does the building look like it's worth anything? I've got connections in the Ohio real estate market, and the sooner we move on it, the better. Abby looked up at the building. The back was painted lavender, the bricked courtyard was lush and overgrown, and a wide set of stairs led up to the French doors.

The roof looked solid, the windows a little dusty. All in all, it looked like home. You don't belong in the flatlands. Her mother's silence was evocative of her disapproval, but Amanda Richmond hadn't become the Real Estate Goddess of Escondido without learning how to play her clients.

And her daughter. Apparently my mother promised him cookies, or something equally ridiculous. I didn't want to give him your cell phone number, but he was quite insistent. She was probably sleeping with him. Neither had I, for that matter, but I doubt she'd have changed her spots before she died. What are you going to do about the building? Another moment of angry silence. Professor Mackenzie will be looking for you. Be prepared to deal. Only her mother could slam down a cell phone, Abby thought, pushing up from the bench.

Bowser ambled over to her, his plumy tail swishing back and forth. The first floor of the building was like a railroad flat — two long and narrow rooms. The French doors opened up into a kitchen, with a wide island in the middle, a series of commercial ovens and a storeroom on one side, semi-enclosed stairs on the other. The front room was dusty, chairs piled haphazardly around the room, the afternoon light filtering through the fly-specked storefront windows, but even with the musty, closed-up scent, she could still find the faint trace of cinnamon and coffee on the air.

That part of the building was at least relatively dust-free, and she tried to imagine her grandmother moving around the room, an apron tied around her waist. Maybe something like Chocolat with Johnny Depp lurking around the corner. According to the lawyers, two of the three apartments upstairs were empty; she ought to grab her duffel bag and find out where she was sleeping. She turned to the stairs at the back, then let out a shriek.

Someone stood there, silhouetted against the bright sunlight, and as Bowser made an encouraging woof, she wondered whether it was the ghost of Granny B.

Then he moved into the room, and he most definitely was a far cry from a little old lady. He was tall, lean, and much too good-looking to be showing up at her back door. Damn, he was pretty. In a disagreeable, uptight sort of way. He was wearing a suit — Abby hated men in suits. He was in his late twenties, maybe early thirties, with dark blond hair pushed back from a too-clever face. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, and he was looking at her like she'd shot his dog.

Except he wasn't the type to have a dog. I'd like to know whether you're going to fulfill that contract or if I need to make other arrangements. Abby glanced around her. Your mother assured me you'd either return the deposit or fulfill Bea's obligations. Why are the gorgeous ones always assholes? Abby thought with a sigh. He didn't look particularly pleased that he'd gotten his way. She'd made Christmas cookies in the past, hadn't she? Burned half of them, but she could be more careful.

You'll get your cookies, Professor. She waited until he closed the French doors behind him and disappeared down the wide back steps. She followed him, determined to lock the back door before she had any more unwanted visitors, and her eye caught the yellow sheet of paper on the floor. This two-week immersion course will teach you to communicate with your dog while commanding complete obedience.

Learn the ways of the goddess Kammani Gula, whose sacred animal was the dog, under the tutelage of Noah Wortham, anointed Kammani Gula instructor. Bowser gave a small bark of assent, and Abby rubbed his massive head. It's Slim-Fast for me and ground round for you. She opened the back door, and a sheet of yellow paper came swirling in on a breeze in the otherwise still afternoon, smacking her in the face like flypaper. She pulled it away and stared at it. Another dog-training flyer.

You think we ought to go to this dog-training class so I can learn to be a goddess? Maybe see if anyone there happened to know Granny B? We can always go shopping afterward. Daisy Harris watched as seventeen pounds of Jack Russell terror leapt into the air, snapped at either a hallucination or a wish, and landed with a circus performer's Ta-da!

Bailey darted forward, dragging her a good three feet and seriously aggravating her tiny person's complex. She dug in her heels and pulled back, but then he decided to run back to her, taking away the opposing force she was straining against.

Daisy landed on the grass with a thunk just as Bailey charged her, licking her face over and over again with sloppy, stinky dog tongue. Bailey hopped back, panting, then jumped up in the air again, did a half twirl, and landed at Daisy's feet. Her mother's voice trilled from behind her, and Bailey barked and strained against the leash, a little bundle of excitement and mayhem. Daisy pushed up off the grass just as her mother approached, a tiny, platinum blond Jackie O, right down to the scoop neckline and the pillbox hat.

It was over. Two days of incessant barking and chewed-up shoes and her things knocked out of place and picking up poop with little plastic Baggies It was almost too good to be true. Daisy sighed; she should have known it wouldn't be that easy. Christians in ancient Rome had escaped lions with less trouble than Daisy had escaping her mother. I'm done. I don't know how you suddenly get allergies to a dog you've had for three years and I don't care, but —".

How did I come from this woman? You said the doctor had some kind of shots for you and I have a CD rack to re-alphabetize thanks to him, and some couch pillows that will never be the same, and —". Roommates don't shed or, ideally, poop in your bathtub. Which reminds me: have you ever thought about obedience —". She pulled on Daisy's arm, but Daisy resisted. A lifetime in Summerville, four years attending college there, and another ten working in the humanities department, and Daisy had managed to never set foot in that temple.

It was about half the size of a city block at the base, and clicked upward in diminishing squares for three formidable stories, looking like a tremendous, ugly stone wedding cake. It was a notable claim to fame for Summerville College to have a genuine Mesopotamian ziggurat in the center of campus, sure, but the thing wasn't exactly welcoming.

Bailey barked and danced at their heels as they walked. Peg didn't seem to mind her leash arm being yanked around from side to side; just watching it drove Daisy crazy. Scratches in my wood floors, those are new. My inability to sleep through the night because Bailey barks at the door, that's new. Oh, and let me tell you about the newly violated ficus plant at the office —". Peg stopped walking, shooting a horrified look at Daisy.


Dogs and Goddesses

Abby has just arrived in Summerville, Ohio, with her placid Newfoundland, Bowser. She's reluctantly inherited her grandmother's coffee shop, but it's not long before she's brewing up trouble in the form of magical baked goods and steaming up her life with an exasperating college professor. And then there's Daisy, a web code writer, and her hyperactive Jack Russell, Bailey. Her tightly-wound world spins out of control when she discovers the chaos within and meets a mysterious dog trainer whose teaching style is definitely hands-on. Finally there's Shar, professor of ancient history at Summerville College, who wakes up one morning to find her neurotic dachshund, Wolfie, snarling at an implacable god sitting at her kitchen table, the first thing in her life she hasn't been able to footnote. What on earth is going on in this unearthly little town? It's up to Abby, Daisy, and Shar to find out before an ancient goddess takes over Southern Ohio, and they all end up in the apocalyptic doghouse


Don't be put off by the talking dogs; clever human dialogue and sassy heroines make this joint novel an amusing standout. After meeting at a local dog obedience-training session, coffeehouse owner Abby, Web writer Daisy and history professor Shar become fast friends. They also discover that the dog trainer is the Mesopotamian goddess Kammani, determined to rule the world like she did 4, years ago. Chosen as Kammani's priestesses, Abby, Daisy and Shar aren't quite ready to support the goddess's destructive goals, even when she grants them magical powers including the ability to understand their dogs. During the Covid crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below. View Full Version of PW.

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