by Doranna Durgin
$1.99 (Story Collection) ISBN 978-1-61138-385-0
The Right Bitch x3: one blue-ticked bitch, three stories, & three times the irreverent adventure.
A Bitch in Time: With her handler, Shiba patrols her territory for illicit magic. But Shiba has just lost her lifelong partner, and his replacement doesn’t trust her. With nasty illicit magic sneaking across the border, what’s a bitch to do? Of course, the real question is, will she do it in time…
The Right Bitch: Shiba isn’t your average bitch in chain mail…she’s a linehound with a very special skill for tracking illicit magic. But Shiba isn’t alone on the border line; she now shares the territory with Sabre, who would rather leave her in his dust. Two hounds, two handlers, and a new kind of magic rising…someone’s got to figure it all out. Who else but the right bitch?
Bitch Bewitched: As a linehound, Shiba protects the borderlands from spellrunners–but she never thought she’d be protecting her puppies from their magic!
(Originally published in Did You Say Chicks?!, The Chick is in the Mail, and Misspelled; also currently available in The Heart of Dog, available at retailers and soon to be a BVC book.)
A Short Sample:
A BITCH IN TIME
The three stories from the Right Bitch series were all a blast to write—I got to play with hounds (my favorite!) and magic (my favorite!) and a slightly twisted sense of humor (my favorite!).
First published in Did You Say Chicks?! of the popular anthology series edited by Esther Friesner, “A Bitch in Time” was a whole lot of fun to write, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
Also, this is for Strider the WonderHound— the varmint hunter extraordinaire with whom I first got to use the words, “Strider! Come down from that tree!”
Shiba sat on the bare wood planks of the cabin porch, wiggling her posterior away from a persistent splinter. Chain mail hung heavily on her shoulders and across her back, and the leather-lined helmet chafed her across the ears despite its custom contours. Across her broad chest hung a short row of service pins and one smooth, polished medal.
Shiba would have ripped it off if she’d been given the choice. What good was valor when it wasn’t enough?
Good for a thorough rolling-on, that’s what.
Beside her stood the Line Mate, the man in charge of the border cabins representing the first line of defense against illegal magics. “Patience,” he said, resting his hand on the skirt of mail that hung over her long ears. “He’ll be here. Naught for you to worry.”
Shiba made a grumping noise and lifted her nose to the air, expertly sorting it for any taste of stranger-odor. There! Was that..? She whined, licked her lips, and tried again. Definitely!
“Coming, is he?” the Line Mate asked, eyeing the path that led from the woods. His other name was Eldon, though Shiba thought he ought to pick one name or the other and stick with it. “All right. Just you keep in mind that he’s recently lost his own partner. That does things to a lineman, you know.”
Shiba’s tail quivered, and her forehead furrowed into furry wrinkles. The scent of her new partner was strong in her nose, stronger than any words Eldon might say. People talked all the time anyway, whether they had something to say or not.
She strained her eyes—not the strongest of her senses—and yes, there he was! Just visible through the trees at the edge of the cabin’s small clearing, a tall walking stick in one hand and a full satchel slung over his shoulder. Shiba whined as he emerged from the woods.
“Easy,” said Eldon, as Shiba’s new partner approached. The man’s easy stride seemed a tad too casual.
“Tallon,” Eldon said. “Welcome. You made good time.”
“Good enough,” the man said. Shiba liked his voice. It had a roughly furry texture not unlike her own. He nodded at her. “See you musta spent some time getting ready for me. Wasn’t necessary.”
“I didn’t do it for you,” Eldon said. “She was strongly attached to the old man. It’s good for her to have a little ceremony, something to mark your arrival as out of the ordinary.”
Tallon dropped the satchel and looked thoughtfully at his new linehound.
Shiba gave him her Noble Beauty pose. After all, she was of the best bloodlines and strikingly marked. The black of her back was glossy beneath her chain mail, and her chest, belly, and legs were white, so heavily ticked with black that from any distance they looked blue-silver. The black of her head and ears was divided by a neat ticked blaze that spread out to take over her muzzle, and her eyebrows were punctuated by deep brown. Her body was sturdy, her tail strong and graceful, and her ears fell long and soft, the perfect compliment to her hanging flews. Best of all, her legs—long, heavy-boned and angular—were up to the task of following her incomparable nose.
She knew all this because Jehn, her former partner, had told her so. She believed him utterly, just as she believed everything he said.
Tallon just shrugged. “We’ll get along fine,” he said. “Jehn’ll have trained her right, and beyond that, a dog’s a dog.”
Eldon’s amiable expression froze into speechlessness; he gave Shiba a quick if somewhat furtive glance.
A dog’s a dog? Shiba’s Noble Beauty stiffened into I-Did-Not-Just-Hear-That. Her ears, previously cocked forward into floppy wings, flattened. She rose and circled the man, eyeing him with cold brown eyes. A dog’s a dog?
Well, this dog was a bitch.