From Trigger Yappy
“The wine is smooth, right?” the stubbled face in front me
At the moment, it was difficult to discern any qualities the wine
might have to offer. In a few days, I would report for my very first
bookkeeper/purser assignment with Soleado Mexican Riviera Cruise
Line. Last night had been my going away party and, regrettably, I’d
over indulged. But this morning my sister, Rachel, owner of the Wine
and Bark—a wine bar that catered to dog owners and their beloved
beasts—had confessed that she had also indulged a bit too much. She
wasn’t even able to get out of bed.
She’d begged me to meet Hendrick, the proprietor of Verdant
Vines, and select a few varieties to feature at the Wine and Bark. I
suppose the feeling of guilt at abandoning my sister and Pacific Cove
in favor of the Mexican Riviera was too much to bear, so I’d agree to
meet Hendrick and taste test.
I tapped on the laminated sheet of prices that lay between the wine
vendor and myself. “I can’t make any money at these prices.”
Hendrick shrugged. “I can knock a dollar off for you.”
I nearly gagged on the, admittedly getting smoother by the sip,
Merlot. A dollar off would barely put a dent in the price.
Hendrick ignored my expression and carried on with his sales
pitch. “We specialize in green energy. Verdant Vines owns a wind
turbine that harnesses the power of the unique air currents that run
through the Central Valley.”
“Someone would need to be made of green to fork over the kind of
cash you’re asking,” I said.
Before Hendrick could reply, the doors to the Wine and Bark flew
open and Yolanda bustled in. She was the chief organizer of the
Roundup Crew, a group that met every Friday on the beach to walk
dogs and ultimately end up at Rachel’s bar for “Yappy Hour.” She wore
her trademark skintight leather pants, strappy sandals, and an animal
print halter top. Her hair was blown in Marilyn Monroe–style curls
and she cradled her Yorkie, Beepo, in her arms.
Beepo gave a lukewarm yap at seeing me.
Beepo and I had a complicated relationship.
Yolanda held the door for another woman, one I’d never seen
before. The woman was rail thin with dark, straight hair. She wore a
severe expression, but on her head was a ridiculous hat; perched atop
the hat was a chicken with one very long feather decidedly pointing to
Good grief! What was the woman thinking?
The only thing I’d seen in recent history as ridiculous as that hat
were Yolanda’s “designer” chicken purses.
The woman took one look at Hendrick, who was leaning against
the bar, and bristled. He jolted himself up straight, as if he’d been just
been electrocuted. He turned away from her and locked eyes with me.
There was definitely a story there. But before I could probe,
Yolanda rapped on the bar with her long painted nails and said, “Mag‐
gie! What are you doing here? I would have thought you’d be home
packing! Where’s Rachel?”
“Unfortunately, she’s in bed ill.”
Yolanda waved a hand around dismissing Rachel’s illness. “Prob‐
ably a case of partying too hard.” She put a possessive arm around the
woman next to her. “Fran and I will take a table, we have some busi‐
ness to discuss.” She eyed the open bottle between Hendrick and me.
“Is that a new wine you’re sampling for the bar?”
Fran shrugged Yolanda’s arm from her shoulders and Hendrick
took a sharp inhale as if readying himself for attack. Instead, Fran
said, “The Merlot is the best anyone could offer. Take my word for it.”
Hendrick relaxed. “That’s kind of you to say.”
The corners of Fran’s mouth turned downward. “It’s the truth. I
may not miss you, but I do miss the wine.”
A scowl passed over Hendrick’s handsome features, but Fran
turned quickly before she could see it.
Yolanda and Fran clacked over to a private table, and I resisted the
urge to ask Hendrick about Fran. He leaned over and dug into his
wine case, producing another bottle that he plunked down on the bar.
“This is the best wine for your budget. And it’s her favorite. Go ahead
and serve them this one.”
He uncorked the bottle with a flourish and poured out a taste for
me in a clean glass. “It’s a full-bodied wine with a velvet finish.”
I sipped the wine and immediately wanted more. No wonder this
was Fran’s favorite.
Hendrick smiled at my reaction. “If you like fuller wines, I have
some other samples—”
“Are we going to get some service here or what?” Fran yelled,
twisting around in her chair to look at me.
Hendrick pushed a business card in my direction and closed his
wine case. “I hope we can do business together soon, Maggie. Perhaps
you can make it up to the winery tomorrow. I have tastings starting in
the morning. You can sample anything you like.”
There was no way with my full schedule that I could squeeze in a
winery tour, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I smiled and said, “Thank
He nodded and then disappeared out the front without a glance
back in Fran’s direction, leaving me to wonder about the obvious bad
blood between them. I grabbed two clean wineglasses and the bottle
Hendrick had left and high-tailed it over to their table before Fran
could bark at me again.
As I approached, Fran’s phone buzzed from the depths of purse.
She hiked the purse onto her lap and began to sort through it. I placed
the glasses on the table and poured the wine. Yolanda did her best to
ignore me, but I was still able to catch her eye and quirk an eyebrow
in Fran’s direction giving her my best get-a-load-of-that-hat
Yolanda frowned and Beepo growled.
I shrugged. There was no accounting for taste.
Fran produced the vibrating phone from her bag with such a
flourish she knocked the freshly poured wine all over the table.
“Shoot!” she exclaimed. “Why did you put that so close to me? Is
this the first table you’ve ever waited?”
I grabbed the towel hanging from my back pocket and took a deep
breath, trying to hang on to my sanity. After all, the Mexican Riviera
was beckoning. I wiped the table and offered her a sincere apology,
even though it had been clearly her fault she’d spilled the wine. “My
apologies, Fran. Please enjoy a round on the house.”
She barely acknowledged me as she frantically punched in
numbers on her phone. “Yes? What is it, Cornelia!” she demanded into
I had barely escaped their table and reached the relative safety
behind the bar when I spotted Gus DelVecchio making his way across
the shared patio between the Wine and Bark and DelVecchio’s restau‐
rant. My hangover quickly dissipated. Dressed in tight blue jeans and
a snug black shirt, he radiated his usual animal magnetism. My heart
skipped a beat as he pushed open the door and entered. He flashed a
warm smile and approached the bar.
“Hi, Maggie,” he said.
For no good reason, I blushed. “Hi, Gus,” I muttered shyly, like a
schoolgirl overrun with hormones. Gus and I had only met a few
weeks earlier, but we’d quickly struck up a friendship. Only problem
was, I’d struck up an equally quick friendship with Officer Brad
Brooks, and dating two men at the same time was not only completely
foreign to me, it was also a bit treacherous.
After careful deliberation, I’d decided not to invite either to my
going-away party. It had only been Rachel, myself, and our great-uncle
Ernest, aka Grunkly.
Gus reached across the bar and grabbed my hand. “It’s good to see
you. Did you have a nice time last night with your family?”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
Share the love!