Skip to main content

Excerpt - GUARD DUTY by Sharon Dunn

Guard Duty
By Sharon Dunn

"If you tell, you die."

As a potential murder witness, rookie K-9 police officer Valerie Salgado is living with a death threat and caring for her young niece. And things get worse when FBI agent Trevor Lewis comes to Sagebrush, Texas. In exchange for her help on his case, Trevor offers Valerie protection, but Trevor has more walls around him than a maximum-security prison. And now Valerie must convince him that she, her niece and her K-9 partner would make the perfect family for him, if they can stay alive….

Texas K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners

Excerpt of chapter one:

"K-9 unit 349. Convenience-store robbery, corner of State and Grand. Suspects are on the run."

As she pushed the talk button to respond to dispatch, rookie officer Valerie Salgado felt that strange mixture of fear and excitement that came every time she responded to a call on patrol.

"Copy. I'm about five blocks from that location. Any idea what direction our perps were going?"

Dispatch responded. "Clerk doesn't know which way they ran. Three males. Two Caucasian, one African American. All dressed in dark clothing."

For the past few months, every call had an extra sense of danger attached to it. A rash of robberies, drugs and murders that had been escalating in Sagebrush for years had recently been linked to a crime syndicate with an unknown leader.

Valerie hit her siren and sped up.

Maybe this was just a run-of-the-mill robbery, but maybe it was another symptom of a city under siege.

In the back of the patrol car, Valerie's K-9 partner, Lexi, paced from one window to the other, emitting an almost ultrasonic whine. The only one more excited to catch a criminal than Valerie was her two-year-old Rottweiler.

Dispatch came across the line. "Clerk says that two of the men were armed."

Valerie took in a deep breath to calm her nerves. "At least we know what we are dealing with, huh, Lex?"

The dog whined as though she understood.

As she neared the convenience store, Valerie scanned the streets and sidewalks for any sign of movement. Now that it was 10 p.m. and dark, it would be easy enough for the robbers to blend into surroundings if they were smart enough to walk instead of run. Traffic was light, and most of the shops were closed. The all-night burger joint up the street had attracted a little bit of a crowd.

Valerie pulled into the convenience store parking lot. The clerk was easy enough to spot, a distraught fifty-something woman pacing by the store entrance. Valerie got out of her patrol car.

The woman came toward her, eyes wide with fear. The unnatural hair color and heavy makeup revealed rather than hid the woman's age.

The clerk wrapped her arms around herself. Her gaze flitted everywhere. The robbery had shaken the poor woman up. Valerie wanted to hug her and tell her it was going to be all right. But that was not what cops did. Instead, she pulled a notebook out of her utility belt.

She hoped her voice conveyed the level of compassion she felt for what the clerk had just been through. "Ma'am, I'm Officer Salgado. Can you tell me what happened here?"

The woman combed her fingers through her hair. "They took over three hundred dollars. My manager is going to fire me." Her agitated state made her south Texas drawl even more exaggerated.

"How long has it been since the robbers fled the store?"

The clerk closed her eyes as though she were struggling to answer the question. "Umm…they made me lay on the floor facedown." She let out a heavy breath. "I waited until I was sure they weren't going to come back. I…I…called as quickly as I could." She put a trembling hand to her chest. "Maybe five minutes."

Valerie felt torn between desiring to comfort the clerk and wanting to catch the thugs who had terrorized her. Picturing her own mother having to go through something like this made her resolve even stronger. The best comfort she could give this woman would be to see that these perps went to jail.

Valerie glanced up the street. Flashing neon signs for budget hotels stood in contrast to the dark Texas sky. In a pursuit, five minutes was a big lead time.

She cupped the woman's shoulder with her hand, hoping to provide some reassurance. "You go back inside and wait. My dog and I will get these guys."

"Thank you, Officer."

Valerie opened the back door of the patrol car, and Lexi jumped out.

"Get 'em," Valerie commanded, leading the Rottweiler toward the entrance of the convenience store. It would take only minutes for Lexi to pick up on the fear odor that people in flight emitted the second they took off running. Though people couldn't smell it, the scent was extremely distinct to a dog trained to detect it.

Lexi placed her nose to the gravel, trotting in wider and wider circles, returning to the store entrance a couple of times.

Across the street, a dark car with tinted windows came to a stop.

As Lexi worked her way toward the edge of the store parking lot, Valerie glanced at the car. No one got out. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end as a chill ran over her skin. For weeks now, she had had the sensation of being watched, of eyes pressing on her from dark corners.

The reality of the long arms of the crime syndicate had come home to roost for Valerie. Though she didn't know it at the time, while heading in to the pharmacy a few weeks ago, she'd seen the woman who had most likely murdered Andrew Garry—a local real-estate agent and one of the crime syndicates middle managers. She'd glanced at the woman briefly as she passed her on the dimly lit street outside a vacant building by the corner drugstore. Valerie didn't act on her suspicions that night, but something about the lady in the hooded jacket seemed off. Though she couldn't ID the woman outright, Valerie had the feeling that she would know her when she saw her and that she'd seen her somewhere before. It was just a matter of time before something in her brain clicked.

The initial death threat had come the next day only hours after Kip the cadaver dog and his handler had found Garry's body, confirming her suspicions about the woman she'd seen outside the vacant building. Her police email had been hacked into. The threat flashed on her computer screen… If you testify, you die…maybe even sooner.

Living with a death threat had become even more complicated. Valerie had recently become guardian to her eighteen-month-old niece, Bethany, after her sister Kathleen's death over two months ago.

The department had offered her protection during her off-duty hours. On duty was a little harder, but she noticed that another patrol car always seemed to be close. Sagebrush P.D. looked out for their own. She felt safe while working as long as she had Lexi with her.

Lexi stopped, lifted her head and barked twice. She'd found the trail. "Good girl. Let's go."

Lexi ran hard, leading Valerie up the street. On the opposite side of the street, the dark car with the tinted windows remained. It was probably nothing. She had to let her unfounded fears go. She couldn't do her job if she was suspicious of everything.

Increasing her pace, Lexi pulled through to an alley that led into a residential neighborhood.

Valerie pushed the talk button on her shoulder mic. "I'm on State Street headed south pursuing suspects. I could use some backup."

"Captain McNeal is within a couple of blocks of your location," came the reply from dispatch.

It was unusual for her supervisor to be out on patrol at this hour. As captain of the Special Operations K-9 Unit, Slade McNeal had more than the lion's share of paperwork. Since his beloved K-9 partner, Rio, had been kidnapped by the syndicate, he had limited his time on patrol, utilizing Rio's father, Chief, when needed. A snitch with a long rap sheet had revealed to police that Rio was taken by the head of the local crime syndicate to find something in the Lost Woods, a huge forest on the outskirts of Sagebrush. The snitch was later found dead. The syndicate's structure was such that no one knew the identity of the leader, a man simply known as The Boss.

The loss of Rio over two months ago had been a blow to the whole department. These dogs weren't just useful resources—they were partners and beloved pets. Even though one of McNeal's well-to-do war buddies, Dante Frears, had offered a substantial reward of $25,000 for Rio's return, so far none of the leads had panned out.

Lexi pulled hard on the long canvas leash. Valerie couldn't trouble herself now with what McNeal was up to. After all, she had criminals to catch.

Lexi led Valerie through backyards and over fences, past living rooms with illuminated television sets and houses with dark windows. Though she saw no signs of the suspects, Lexi's persistence told her they were headed in the right direction. The scent trail that a person in flight left was like a glow-in-the-dark line to a dog's keen nose.

Lexi stopped suddenly in a yard that had stacks of roofing shingles piled on the walkway and a ladder propped against the roof. Valerie had noticed another ladder on the opposite side of the house, as well. The dog circled and sniffed the ground again. She'd lost the scent.

"What's going on, girl?"

In the distance, she heard the alto barking of a German shepherd. That had to be McNeal with Chief. The insistence of the barking suggested that Chief was onto something.

Valerie talked to dispatch through her shoulder mic. "Be advised. I am at 620 Kramer. Something is up with Lexi. The trail may have gone cold."

Agitated, Lexi ran back and forth in the yard, stood by the ladder for a moment and then put her nose to the ground again. What was happening?

She watched Lexi pace the yard, running in all directions. The dog stopped, lifted her head and let out a single "Woof." She still had some kind of scent, but it was confusing her.

Chief's insistent barking reached her. He had definitely alerted to something. But what…? As the realization dawned on her, Valerie pushed her talk button. "I think our suspects split up."

"Copy that. We are sending another patrol unit your way. ETA is about five minutes."

The bushes in the yard across the fence shook. Valerie lifted her head just in time to see a man emerge. The look of fear and guilt on his face told her everything she needed to know.

"Stop! Sagebrush P.D."

The man took off running.

Lexi yanked on the leash, barking and pulling wildly as the man ran around the back of the house. Knowing she couldn't crawl over the fence as fast as Lexi could jump it, Valerie clicked Lexi off the leash. The dog leapt over the fence and bounded after the suspect, her rapid-fire bark a clear sign that she was hot on the trail.

Her heart pumping, Valerie gripped her gun, prepared to run out to the sidewalk and through the gate to meet Lexi. She heard a scraping noise right before something crashed hard against her shoulder, knocking her to the ground.

Dazed by the impact, she stumbled to her feet. Shingles and a busted-open box spread across the walkway. She looked up. Was the second perpetrator on the roof? Had each of the three suspects run in a different direction?

Lexi's barking pressed hard on her ears, but grew farther away. The dog could handle herself. With her shoulder aching and still a little fuzzy headed, she hurried most of the way up the ladder using the roofline for cover.

She lifted her head up a few inches, catching movement by the chimney. "Sagebrush P.D. Drop your weapon." She ducked just as the whiz of a pistol shot shattered the night air. She fired off a round.


She lifted her head a couple of inches. The suspect had come out from behind the chimney, aiming his gun at her.

He slipped on the sharply angled roof, falling on his side and dropping the gun. The gun skittered across the shingles and fell to the ground below. This was her chance. She didn't want him escaping down the ladder she'd seen on the other side of the house.

Valerie scrambled up the ladder, attempting to balance close to the top rung and aim her gun at the same time. "Put your hands up."

The man lifted his hands partway and then dropped them, dashing toward her. All the air left her lungs as fear enveloped her and she whispered a quick prayer. He intended to push the ladder away from the roof. She couldn't crawl down fast enough. She grabbed the ladder with her free hand as the man bolted toward her. It had been a stupid mistake to go up the ladder. She'd break her back if she fell that far.

The suspect's feet seemed to be pulled out from under him, and he was slammed facedown on the roof. Some unseen force pulled him backward away from her. As the suspect scrambled to his feet, she saw the silhouette of a second man, tall and broad through the shoulders.

The second man landed a blow to the suspect's face, knocking him on his back. The perp kicked the man's feet out from under him, and he slid down the steep angle of the roof toward the edge. He caught himself, pulling his body back up toward the suspect who sought refuge close to the chimney.

Valerie climbed onto the roof. Seeking to balance, she lifted her gun. "Put your hands up."

This time, the assailant complied. "I don't want to fall off here."

Neither did she. Valerie looked down and behind her. How on earth was she going to get this guy off here without killing herself and without giving him opportunity to run away?

The man who had helped her apprehend the perp stepped out of the shadows. "Officer Salgado, why don't you crawl down and wait at the bottom?" The man's hand went to a holster on his belt. "I'll stay up here and make sure this guy doesn't get any ideas."

She had no idea who this man was or where he had come from, but everything about him said law enforcement, and he knew her name. Still, this whole thing might have been a setup from the syndicate to get at her. "Who are you?" she shouted across the rooftop.

"FBI Agent Trevor Lewis. I rode in with Captain Mc-Neal and saw that you were in trouble."

He sounded legit. She didn't have a lot of choices and would have to check his I.D. later.

"Okay. I'll go down the ladder first," she said.

Agent Lewis held up his own gun. "I'll make sure this guy doesn't try to get off the roof by way of that other ladder."

She descended the ladder and waited while the suspect followed her. When his feet hit the ground, she pointed her gun at him. "Turn around, on the ground facedown, sir."

A look of hostility compressed his features, his lips curled. "I don't wanna go to jail. I'm innocent." The suspect stepped toward her with his hands out to grab her.

She adjusted her grip on the gun. "I said facedown on the ground, now."

"Do what the lady says," came the strong bass voice from the roof.

The perp tilted his head, grimaced and dropped to the ground.

Valerie pulled the cuffs from her belt. "You're innocent? Like everyone decides to shingle their roof at ten o'clock at night." She was still mad at herself for having climbed up the ladder. She'd broken a cardinal rule of training by putting herself in a vulnerable place.

Agent Lewis climbed to the bottom of the ladder. "At last, we meet." As Valerie stood up from cuffing the suspect, he held out his hand to her.

Why would an FBI agent want to greet her? Along the street, another black and white came to a stop, the additional backup dispatch had sent.

Print books: (Large Print)
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble (Large Print) (Large Print) (Large Print)


You can also purchase this book from any of the stores found at CBA Storefinder.

Also, don’t forget that it’s Free Book Friday over at you order two or more books, you’ll get their weekly featured book for free!

This week, the featured book is The Unspoken by Heather Graham.


  1. I just finished this story over the weekend and yes, the rest of the story is just as gripping as this excerpt. Author Sharon Dun is well worth the read and fast becoming a auto-buy author for me.

    1. That's good to know! I haven't read this yet, but I've loved the other books by Sharon Dunn that I've read!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduce

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

A new tier in my Patreon

I started my Patreon for my fans and for people who didn’t want to buy my books on Kindle. My patrons get each new ebook 2-3 weeks early for only $3 (which is usually the newsletter-only price), and they only get charged when I release a book, not every month. At the moment, I’m releasing my Christian historical romantic suspense series, Lady Wynwood’s Spies. But after I finish that series, I’ll be releasing my Christian contemporary romantic suspense series, the Warubozu Spa Chronicles, and those in my Patreon will be able to get those books early, too. I just added a new $1.00 tier for fans who would prefer to read my books in Kindle Unlimited or buy the Kindle ebook, but just want to support me. Click here to read more about my Patreon. Thank you so much for reading my books!

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 9

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Aunt Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

Follow Camy on BookBub

Follow my author profile on BookBub! You’ll get an email from BookBub whenever I have a new ebook release and when my books are ever featured there. Click here to go to my Camille Elliot page on BookBub.


「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** キッチンテーブルの上にごちゃごちゃと置かれている食べ物を見つけた。フルーツが入ったお皿は、すでに子供たちがめちゃくちゃにしていたが、新鮮なマグロの刺身は、巻き寿司の隣にきれいに並んでいた。天ぷら鍋から取り出したばかりのもち粉チキンは、まだ湯気が立っていて、祖母の自家製たくあんが、その隣の小皿に置かれている。 「わあ、叔母さんか誰かが、エビの天ぷら作ったんだわ」トリッシュはエビの天ぷらを紙皿に取った。 レックスはお皿をつかんだ。ここに来た唯一の理由。祖母ですら、美味しい日本食を食べていると

A List of my Free Blog Reads

Curious about what my writing is like? Here’s a list of all my free books and the free short stories, novellas, and novels that you can read here on my blog. I’ll update this post as I add more free reads. Christian Humorous Romantic Suspense: Year of the Dog (Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, Prequel novel) (Currently being posted monthly on my blog as a serial novel) Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, finally has a chance to buy a facility for her business, but her world is upended when she must move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate. When she stumbles upon a three-year-old missing persons case, security expert Ashwin Keitou, whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier, is tasked with protecting her. However, danger begins to circle around them from people who want the past to remain there. Can they shed light on the secrets moving in the shadows? Christian Romantic Suspense: Necessary Proof (Sonoma series #4.1, n

Just another day at youth group

My Christian contemporary romance, Single Sashimi , includes some of the wilder tales from my and my husband’s stints as youth staff workers at our church. The Steven character in the book is actually the same Steven who’s the associate pastor and youth group leader at our church now, since I wrote Single Sashimi when he was still in youth group. :) He’s a young man in his late twenties (maybe early thirties?), and he’s full of great ideas and lots of energy. On one particular Saturday, my husband and I were at youth group as usual. Steven had bought a tug of war rope—the really long, thick kind that looks like it belongs on a sea trawler. The opening game for the kids was, of course, tug of war. Then we came indoors for a three-song worship set. After worship, we usually split up into Junior High and High School for lessons, but this time Steven had an idea: “Okay guys, we’re going to have a tug of war--staff versus kids. If you guys win, we’ll ditch the lesson and go out t

One-Skein Pyrenees Scarf knitting pattern

I got into using antique patterns when I was making the scarf my hero wears in my Regency romance, The Spinster’s Christmas . I wanted to do another pattern which I think was in use in the Regency period, the Pyrenees Knit Scarf on pages 36-38 of The Lady's Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Work, volume 1, by Jane Gaugain, published in 1840. She is thought to be the first person to use knitting abbreviations, at least in a published book, although they are not the same abbreviations used today (our modern abbreviations were standardized by Weldon’s Practical Needlework in 1906). Since the book is out of copyright, you can download a free PDF copy of the book at I found this to be a fascinating look at knitting around the time of Jane Austen’s later years. Although the book was published in 1840, many of the patterns were in use and passed down by word of mouth many years before that, so it’s possible these are