This story features characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.
How much more determination would it take to get that dog to do what Belinda wanted? “Pull the cart, you big oaf,” she said with hands on hips to the sad-eyed beast who panted up at her.
The shaggy brown and black dog was hitched up to a lightweight wooden cart filled with cupcakes. Belinda was experimenting with an idea for a party Cake Diva was catering. Her cousin’s friend had even agreed to lend her dog for the job. But it would only work if Rixton cooperated.
A breeze combed through Rixton’s fur, the tree branches above them waving up and down. The event would be outdoors, and Belinda’s front yard was the best place to test it out. She dragged a hand over her flaxen hair, pulled up into a loose bun, sighing loudly.
Bennett stood off to the side, watching in amusement as usual, his arms crossed. “Maybe he’s not pulling the cart because you’re hurling insults at him.”
Belinda narrowed her eyes, glancing over. “He’s not pulling the cart because he knows he doesn’t have to pull the cart to get a treat.” She looked at Rixton pointedly, but he just plopped his furry bum on the grass.
Belinda sighed, walking over and rubbing the dog’s head. “Maybe I should take Victoria’s suggestion and rent a miniature pony.”
“Or you could just set up the cupcakes on a table like normal.” His eyes shifted to Rixton. “I don’t think your client expects a circus.”
Belinda pursed her lips, but she was starting to think the same thing.
Bennett dropped his arms and came over. “If you scrap this idea, you won’t have the extra worry. Will the animal behave and pull the cart? Will the cupcakes survive the journey? Will the dog eat the cupcakes? That sort of thing.”
“I know, I know. You’re right.” She relaxed, straightening out a lock of Bennett’s almost-black hair that swung to the wrong side in the wind. “I just thought having the cupcakes delivered via a fluffy, cute animal would be more memorable.”
“Based on what’s already happened with this dog, the party might be a little too memorable.”
Belinda’s lips suppressed a grin, remembering Rixton dragging Bennett through her grandmother’s yard when she borrowed him for a case they were working on. That was definitely memorable.
Bennett frowned, never pleased when she mentioned that incident. “Please don’t bring that up again. Though that is why I think this is a bad idea. What if he hears a squirrel in the woods and takes off after it–with your handcrafted cupcakes trailing behind him?”
Belinda had to admit that was a distinct possibility. The fluff bag had managed to hurl Bennett from his chair. What would he do to a cart of cupcakes? Or, for that matter, to her client’s guests? “Alright. You’ve made your point. We’ll scrap it.”
She shrugged, clapping her hands together. She would go the normal route and create a pretty tabletop display for the cupcakes instead. With that settled, and images of what the display could look like starting to formulate in her mind, Rixton heaved his backside up and started shuffling along at a moderate pace, dragging the cart behind him.
Belinda set her hands akimbo and glanced at Bennett. He shrugged, a glint in his gray eyes. “Maybe it was the pressure.”
“Or the fact that he’s more like you than you think and doesn’t want to do as he’s told.” Belinda smirked at his eyebrow raise. “Maybe he’ll behave if I use reverse psychology.”
Bennett folded his arms, straightening out his shoulders. “Or, like me, he’ll know what you’re doing and mess with you instead.”
Belinda pursed her lips, like she’d tasted something sour. As much as she hated agreeing with him on that point, he was probably right. And she didn’t need a dog outsmarting her right now. If he couldn’t be a cupcake delivery dog than maybe he could provide entertainment. “I could–”
“No.” Bennett shut his eyes, shaking his head definitively.
“I didn’t tell you my idea yet.”
“I still don’t think it’s a good idea. If you want the dog around, borrow him once in a while for yourself. But I’m begging you to leave it at that.”
Rixton stopped, his floppy ears curling up and body tensing. Then came a woof that practically shook Belinda’s bones.
Rixton took off, jerking the cart into the air and on its side, the six cupcakes shooting into the air and onto the ground. Most of them upside down. One rolled all the way under Bennett’s car.
Rixton ran toward the trees on the other side of the driveway until his leash yanked him back, barking into the wooded patch instead.
Bennett turned back from the spectacle, his lips curved up, eyes almost twinkling. “You were saying?”
Belinda opened her mouth, then closed it again, rethinking her response. “I was saying that I think a fixed display sounds like the best option for the cupcakes.”
Rixton stopped as suddenly as he began, trotting back over with the cart dragging behind him. He passed them like nothing had happened and crashed under a tree, gazing up at Belinda in perfect innocence.
Belinda sighed. So much for trying something new.
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