Skip to main content

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 5

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 Christian home. What’s more, his brother Dusty also needs a place to stay after being kicked out of his apartment—with a dog in tow. And guess who the dog’s owner is?

But then Ashwin gets a request from an old friend, Edytha Guerrero, a private investigator who also runs a day spa on O’ahu’s north shore. A strange bit of “vandalism” at Marisol's facility had led her to find a purse belonging to Edytha’s sister—who had disappeared three years ago. Worried that Marisol might be in danger, and finding out that security expert Ashwin already knows her, Edytha asks him to covertly keep an eye on the busy young woman

Ashwin is reluctantly attracted to the lively, easy-going dog trainer. She reminds him too much of his happy-go-lucky mother, whose betrayal had caused him to keep people at a distance. Marisol sees past Ashwin’s cold exterior to a man who is loyal to his family, unlike her own mother and sister, who only criticize her career choice.

In the midst of Marisol’s disjointed family and Ashwin’s disruptive home, 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?

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 5: Crimson Roiling Emotions

Marisol had tried to time this confrontation with her sister carefully, but it looked like Jenessa had been late coming home from her volunteer work, so Mom was still at her sister’s house keeping an eye on the kids. Any other day, and Mom would be long gone back home.

So instead of facing one dragon, Marisol would have to face two.

No, Marisol, you really shouldn’t think of your family as dragons.

Except that she remembered how Mom had been before Dad’s sudden heart attack, and how her parent changed so much afterward. Marisol had been a confused ten-year-old, trying to understand why her mother suddenly found fault with everything she did and everything she was—like she was being attacked by a fire-breathing dragon.

Jenessa, only a year older at eleven, had done as she was told, same as she always did. But she’d also become more bossy, lecturing Marisol about their dramatically changed income level, but pretending to her friends that nothing had changed. And getting angry at Marisol more often, whenever she did something to embarrass her big sister at school.

And Marisol? She’d tried to be obedient and meek, but unable to smother that yearning inside of her to do something different. It caused her mother and sister to come down on her like thunder.

So … two dragons.

Mom spotted Marisol’s car on the street outside Jenessa’s house and waved to her to come inside. Even now, Marisol wanted to be a dutiful daughter, to please her, to not rock the boat.

Except she was about to drop an S-bomb on the Jenessa and William Carnival Cruise.

Marisol got out of her car slowly, drawing out her last moments of peace.

Jenessa emptied groceries from her SUV and passed them to Mom. Arms full, her mother approached her car. “New paint?”

Mari brightened. “Yup. Do you like—”

“It’s so garish.” Mom frowned.

Well, that answered her question.

Mom peered into her backseat. “Where’s your dog?”

“Pepper’s at home.” And probably unhappy that after going jogging with her late this afternoon, he’d been stuck back in his crate so that Marisol could go help Lana with training Ralphie at the park. And instead of being let out, he was still cooped up because Marisol had to come here to talk to Jenessa. Poor puppy. She’d only had him for three months or so.

“Aunty Marisol!” Kendall, her thirteen-year-old niece, spied her and ran out the front door. “We did the most disgusting stuff in biology class today.” She sounded positively gleeful.

Mom gave a visible shudder.

“Why don’t you tell me all about it now, before dinner.” Marisol flung an arm around her niece’s shoulders, making sure she spoke loud enough for her mother to hear.

The relief on Mom’s face was almost comic.

Kendall chatted about frogs while Marisol made her way to where Jenessa was unloading grocery bags from the back of the car.

“Here, Kendall.” Jenessa handed a bag to her daughter, then one to Marisol. “Why are you here?” Not unfriendly, but not welcoming, either.

“I, uh … I need to talk to you.” Marisol pitched her voice low.

“Talk about what?” asked Carl, her eight-year-old nephew, who appeared at her elbow like he’d teleported from the front door. Which he might have—he wouldn’t have come out to help his mom, but if he suspected juicy gossip, he always found a way to lurk.

Jenessa dispatched him with a grocery bag, and he shuffled away slower than a turtle.

Marisol waited until he was far enough away. “It won’t take long.”

“I bought pizza for the kids. Did you want to stay for dinner?” Again, not unfriendly but also not welcoming. She wasn’t making this any easier for Marisol.

There was no way she was going to tell her sister her husband was a cheating turd and then eat dinner with her. “No, I’ve got something to eat at home.”

Jenessa gave her a strange look. “Okay. Well, give me a minute to get these groceries put away.”

Pain started to pound behind her eyes, throbbing in conjunction with waves of nausea in her stomach. You’re doing the right thing. And sometimes, the right thing hurts.

This was going to hurt like a whale landing on her head.

She followed Jenessa into the house, dropping her grocery bag on the island in the center of the minor principality-sized kitchen. Jenessa paused at the sink, so Marisol started unloading her bag.

All during the drive to her sister’s house, Marisol had thought about what she should say, and she still hadn’t decided on the words. Should she ease into it gently? Jenessa, I happened to be in this parking lot today, and it was a nice day, and there was a Corvette with the top down, and I wouldn’t have even noticed the people in it except that I had to pass them to get into a parking space …

Or maybe she should just come out and say it? Jenessa, I saw William kissing another woman today.

She looked up. Jenessa still stood at the sink, staring at a bill.

“Is everything okay?” She couldn’t believe they’d be in financial difficulties—William made a generous six figure income and Jenessa was a frugal housewife.

Jenessa turned, slowly, like the ballerina doll in a music box. Her face, however, looked like those frighteningly dead-eyed Japanese noh theater masks.

Marisol’s heart beat heavy and deep like a Taiko drum. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Jenessa said nothing. She walked around the island like a sleepwalker, straight up to Marisol, and then slapped her across the face.

There was a stabbing pain as the blow cut the inside of her cheek against her tooth. “Ow!”

“Jenessa!” Mom stood in the doorway to the kitchen.

“Mom!” Kendall peered around her grandmother, eyes as round as eggs.

“Cool!” Carl took out his cell phone, probably to take video or pictures.

Jenessa raised her hand again, but Marisol grabbed her wrists. An unearthly wail erupted from her sister’s open mouth as they struggled, which frightened Marisol more than the slap.

Mom stepped between them, getting a few cuffs to the jaw. “Stop it, you two!”

Jenessa reached out, trying to scratch Marisol’s face, but she was no match for a woman who spent several hours a week reining in 100-pound labradors and German shepherds.

“Hey!” Carl cried out.

Mari glanced in his direction. She saw that Kendall had snatched his cell phone away from him and held it high out of reach.

Her moment of distraction allowed Jenessa to clamp a hand around her throat. “It’s all your fault!”

Marisol twisted away as Mom tried to hold Jenessa back, but she still felt the pain of her fingers against her throat. She’d have bruises tomorrow. What in the world had she done? “What is wrong with you?!”

“Don’t yell at your sister,” Mom reproved her.

The old frustration roared up inside of her, the feeling of being slammed by a huge wave of misunderstanding and blame. For years, her mother had been quick to assume Mari was always in the wrong—why should it be any different now? “Me?!” Her voice was louder and higher than she intended. “I’m not the one doing the slapping here.”

Jenessa suddenly dissolved into violent tears. She collapsed onto the marble floor in a heap.

Marisol felt a squeezing pressure around her heart, and it took her a moment to realize it was panic. What should she do? Would Jenessa attack her again?

Carl and Kendall had stopped fighting over the phone and stood staring at their mom in silence. Even Carl looked a little pale.

“Now look what you’ve done.” Mom glared at Mari just before she bent over Jenessa’s form. “What’s wrong, honey? Talk to me.”

Marisol stood to one side, only a few feet away, but the distance between her and her sister and mother was more like a yawning canyon. This is how it always was. Dad had understood her. Dad had taken her side. Now that he was gone, she was just the screw-up daughter who never lived up to expectations.

“It’s all her fault,” Jenessa moaned. “Everything’s her fault.”

The accusation made a few of Mari’s vertebrae suddenly fuse together like molten steel. “What’s all my fault? What have I done?” She wasn’t going to take this like a punching bag.

“You had to go snooping. You had to stick your nose in other people’s business.”

Marisol flung her arms out. “Again, clueless here.”

“Why’d you have to spy on them?” Jenessa rocked back and forth, mascara tears streaming down her face. “If only you’d never found out. You’ve ruined everything. I’d have been happy to turn a blind eye for years.”

The pieces slowly clicked—Jenessa standing at the sink, looking at a piece of paper. Oh, no. That hadn’t been a bill she’d been reading. “He wrote you a note?!”

“Don’t yell at your sister,” Mom scolded.

Why did her mother always feel the need to participate with Jenessa in a two-pronged attack against Mari? Mom didn’t even know what Jenessa was talking about.

Come to think of it, Marisol wasn’t sure even she knew entirely.

She dropped to her knees in front of her sister and spoke low. “Unless you want to say it out loud in front of your children, give me that note so I can read it.”

Jenessa thrust it at her.

Dear Jenessa,
By now, Marisol has probably told you she saw me with Bambi today. I didn’t want to tell you because you’d only be hurt, but I’m in love with Bambi.

So keeping a secret from his wife and children was so much better?

(And what was up with the name of his girlfriend? She sounded like the ditzy heroine in a bad 70s horror movie.)

I have left the house for now and will start divorce proceedings immediately so Bambi and I can be together. I won’t make a fuss about your keeping the kids, since Bambi doesn’t like children much.
William

The paper trembled in her hand, and Marisol had to put it down before she lost it and shredded the horrible thing.

“What’s that?” Carl piped up, reaching in to grab it.

Marisol snatched it from him and handed it to Mom. “Out!” she ordered the kids.

“Aw, Aunty Marisol …”

Ignoring his whining, she treated him like a recalcitrant dog and body-blocked him out of the kitchen. Her alpha dog persona worked just as well with eight-year-olds as with puppies.

Kendall followed in his wake. “I’ll challenge you on the PS3,” she said to her brother.

Bless that girl. Marisol honestly didn’t know how Kendall and Carl were related.

Marisol returned to Jenessa and knelt on the floor in front of her. Jenessa’s wailing had muted into shuddering sobs.

She was so defenseless. It reminded Mari of eight years ago, the last time she’d seen her sister like this. Marisol had accidentally interrupted Jenessa in the midst of her pain and tears, and it felt like she’d done the same thing all over again.

Strangely, the sight of Jenessa curled into a ball, suffering so intensely, made Marisol want to reach out and give her a hug like Mom was doing. But no matter her good intentions, she’d be more likely to be pricked by thorns. “I wasn’t spying, Jenessa. I happened to see them when I went to visit a client. They were in the parking lot in broad daylight.”

“Don’t lie. You always hated William. You just wanted to prove to me how bad a choice I made.”

Marisol flinched. The words stung more than the slap had. “What? I would never—”

“It’s all your fault. And her fault. He was happy with us the way things were. But now you ruined everything. Now he feels like he has to marry her instead of just keeping her on the side.”

“What? You would rather he cheat on you?!”

“You made him decide to forsake his own children. He’d have been fine just the way things were. Why can’t things go back to the way they were?” Jenessa dissolved into a fresh round of crying.

The way things were? Jenessa had been happy with a two-timing husband as long as they both pretended it wasn’t going on?

She didn’t know her sister at all.

“You’re only making things worse,” Mom hissed as she clutched Jenessa closer. “Just go.” It was like a physical shove.

Marisol stood up. She glanced down at Jenessa and Mom, suddenly detached from the crimson, roiling emotions there on the floor.

She walked out of the kitchen, into the living room.

“Aunty Marisol?” Kendall’s face was calm but her wide eyes betrayed her fears.

“Just keep Carl away from your mom. Your dad’s not coming home tonight. Call me if you need anything.”

Kendall nodded.

“What?” Carl piped up. “Dad’s not—”

Kendall shushed him and whispered something in his ear.

Marisol exited the house and got into her SUV. She sat there in the dark of early evening, feeling the quiet seep into her bones and freeze there. Her emotions were cold, too—dead and still. Her mind was blank except for one phrase repeating over and over:

Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough for them.

***

Comments

Popular Posts

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Spinster's Christmas

As a Merry Christmas gift to all my blog readers, I’m going to be posting my Christian Regency romantic suspense, The Spinster’s Christmas , for free on my blog! I’ll be posting the book in 1000-1500 word segments every Tuesday and Friday. (When I do the calculations, it’ll finish around the end of May.) Why am I posting a Christmas story when it won’t be Christmas in a week? Because I can! :) The Spinster’s Christmas is the prequel volume to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series . Right now I’m editing volume 1 of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, and it’s on track to release in 2020. (If you’re on my Camille Elliot newsletter , you’ll be sure to hear when it’s available for preorder.) I anticipate that the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series to be about ten volumes. I think the series story will be a lot of fun to tell, and I’m looking forward to writing up a storm! Below, I’ll be listing the links to the parts of The Spinster’s Christmas as I post them. (I created the html links by hand so please l

Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 4: Betrayer is here!

The latest volume in my Christian Regency epic serial novel is released! Here’s the back cover description of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer : A Christian Historical Adventure set in Regency England with romance and a supernatural twist Part four in an epic-length serial novel Beleaguered spies Lady Wynwood’s team of spies are trying to heal from the physical and mental wounds recently dealt to them. However, their investigation into Apothecary Jack’s mysterious group has turned up only a few strange, disjointed clues, and the dangerous Root elixir continues to circulate in the London underbelly. It is only a matter of time before the Root is sold to Napoleon, which would give him overwhelming dominance in the war. Sudden threats Then Laura, Lady Wynwood, is unexpectedly attacked by a man she had trusted. Although Phoebe and her household staff manage to protect her, her life is now in danger and she must go into hiding. Dangerous mysteries Laura uncovers more

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th

How can I pray for you?

Photo credit: lalalime.blogspot.com 日本語訳は下をご覧ください。 I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, taking time to be still and remember God’s grace. My IBS has gotten a little better, but I’m still not entirely in control of my symptoms. There are simply too many things I don’t know if I can eat or not, and when I try things, if they affect my IBS, then I’m out for about a week at a time. My writing has slowed down more than I’d like. Please pray for God to heal my IBS, and for me to learn what God wants me to learn by allowing these struggles. Just as I’m struggling, if you are too, remember that God is with us and has a reason for everything that happens to us. Lord, thank You that You are always with us and have control over everything that happens to us. Help us to surrender to You and do Your will, no matter what is going on in our lives. Amen How can I pray for you today? Please leave me your prayer requests! Prayer requests can sometimes be private things, so to keep your

ひとり寿司第25章パート2

「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。 *** ビーナスはベンの視界をさえぎった。「ここは大丈夫だから、もう帰っていいわよ」 「でも——」 ビーナスは、また彼の目の前でドアを閉めた。 「何——」 ビーナスはレックスの言葉をさえぎり、ドアの隣の窓から外をのぞいた。「よかったわ、レックス、エイデンが来てくれて。あなたの巻き爪を全部切ってくれるわよ」ビーナスの声が小さい部屋に響き渡った。 どうやって礼儀正しく答えようかと決めかねているように、エイデンの表情は少し硬くなった。多分、(そうなの?)とか(それはおもしろいね)とでも言う

Camy Tang's November newsletter

My Camy Tang (Christian Contemporary Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out this week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, there’s an update on my personal life and publishing schedule, and I also linked to a blog post about what the TV show Supernatural has to do with GONE MISSING, the 6th book in my Sonoma series Click here to read my Camy Tang newsletter for November. I also forgot to post the link for the October newsletter, so you can click here to read it.

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

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

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 Archive.org. 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 p

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 7

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