Grave Instinct by Bev Pettersen

Grave Instinct

Grave Instinct by Bev Pettersen (K-9 Mystery #1)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.8 MB

Belated justice can be the most satisfying.

For almost ten years, Nikki Drake struggled to deal with her sister’s mysterious disappearance. When another teen vanishes from the same riding stable, the details are too eerily similar to ignore, and she vows to uncover the truth.

No longer a child but a newly minted private investigator, she now has additional weapons in her arsenal, including a re-homed police dog and an enigmatic detective with ties to the horse stable. However, digging into her sister’s case erodes old trusts and brings dark secrets bubbling to the surface. And this time they could be fatal…for her.

“Give them a swift kick,” she said, clipping on a lead line and eyeing the bay mare’s massive feet. “Bet then they’d leave you alone.”

“I bet they would too.” Justin Decker’s amused voice sounded behind her. “But size doesn’t equate to toughness. Just look at you and Stormy.”

Nikki gave a wary smile at her boss who was standing by the stall door. She’d had a little fight on her first day—not a fight, more of a dust-up really—but Justin never forgot how she’d stood up to one of the biggest boys. She used to be intimidated by Justin. He was a great instructor and could ride the wildest animals, even Diesel, who pinned his ears and shook the ground whenever he bucked.

At first she’d thought Justin was one of the privileged boarders but later learned he was working his way through university and had been around horses all his life. The stable owners trusted him completely and rarely visited the barn when he was around.

His half smile turned to a frown. “What are you doing with that mare?”

“Turning her out so I can clean the stall.” Nikki’s words came out a bit defensive but she wanted to prove she could handle the big jumpers almost as well as Erin. Sure, maybe the big horses dragged her around a bit but she’d never once let go of the lead rope, no matter how far they pulled her. And she didn’t need anyone looking out for her.

“But this is Erin’s section,” he said. “And your hands are already rope burned.” She gave a silent groan. Justin noticed everything. He’d already turned toward the sound of giggling, his eyes narrowed. Three of the four girls were boarders—they paid to keep their horses here. They could laugh and laze around all they wanted. But Erin wasn’t a paying customer. She was supposed to be working.

“I promised Erin I’d clean her stalls today,” Nikki said quickly. “And my hands are much better today so I can work really fast.”

Justin didn’t like animals standing in dirty stalls longer than necessary and always worried about the horses. He’d fired a girl for feeding an hour late although one rumor said the real reason was that was because she’d shown up wearing a swim suit top.

Nikki made a mental note to keep an eye on Erin’s clothes. Lately her sister had been changing at school and wearing her riding clothes on the bus. It was weird to wear an expensive pair of breeches to shovel manure, but Erin seemed to be copying the rich girls, from their hair and makeup right down to their clothing.

But what if the boarders started wearing skimpy tops? Justin couldn’t kick out the boarders but he was in charge of barn help. And he was a stickler for rules. He was still frowning, looking back and forth from Nikki’s hands to the cluster of girls at the far end of the barn.

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