I hope you guys have been enjoying these excerpts from my current work-in-progress! Now it’s time to meet Daisy the goat, Snowberry Springs’ best escape artist and all-around agent of chaos!

Chapter Two : Baa-d Behavior: Snowberry Spring’s Most Wanted

Snowberry Springs, Montana
August 8


Is there a goat somewhere behind me? Deputy Sheriff Matt Parker paused, his brow furrowing.

Nah, that can’t be right. He glanced toward the Children’s Petting Zoo, a temporary corral standing at the edge of the town square. And decided it must’ve been some kind of weird echo from the tall brick storefronts surrounding Town Square Park on three sides.

He turned his attention back to the immediate event at hand.

The morning sun beat down on Matt’s neck as he adjusted his uniform hat and surveyed the bustling crowd. He stood sentry at the back of the audience, scanning for troublemakers among the sea of cowboy hats and sundresses.

Tall trees cast welcome shade over the rows of folding chairs set up on the grass in front of the white gazebo band pavilion that served as a stage.

Behind the pavilion, the town’s recently renovated nineteenth-century train station stood as a testament to both the past and the future of Snowberry Springs.

A cool breeze carried the smoky aroma of barbecued ribs and tri-tip. Matt’s stomach rumbled, reminding him he’d skipped breakfast to help with the festival set-up.

Then Autumn Snowberry attracted his gaze like a moth drawn to a bright light.

She sat at the back of the pavilion, next to the mayor, fire chief, and other dignitaries. A ray of sunlight illuminated her auburn hair, making it glow like embers. Her sleeveless dress’ plunging V-neck showed off a tempting triangle of creamy skin.

As Matt watched, the handsome young CEO of the Livingston Vintage Railroad leaned over and said something to her.

She laughed in reply, her eyes sparkling.

Matt scowled at the tech-bro with his expensive sunglasses and perfectly groomed stubble.

Once, Autumn had smiled at him like that. Now, Matt was just another anonymous face in the crowd.

Never mind that he’d spent the past months trying to ignore her return to Snowberry Springs.

“Eyes front, deputy.” Someone’s elbow nudged him sharply.

When Matt turned his scowl on his younger brother, who was also the newest officer in the town’s tiny force, Gabe just grinned back at him. “Geez, just ask her out already.”

“No way,” Matt growled. “She had her chance and dumped me for that prick.”

He still couldn’t understand what she’d seen in Phillip Garthe. He was at least twenty years older that she was.

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Whatever, dude. Just keep staring at her like a stalker, then.”

In the pavilion, an elegant silver-haired woman in a cornflower-blue chiffon dress stepped up to the microphone. It was the festival’s chief sponsor, Mrs. Abigail Snowberry. The audience fell silent as she cleared her throat and tapped the microphone.

“Baa!” The bleat definitely sounded closer this time.

Matt looked around again, but couldn’t spot anything out of the ordinary.

“Thank you all for coming to Snowberry Springs’ first annual Vintage Railroad Days Festival!” Mrs. Snowberry began. “We’re here today to celebrate the resumption of train service to Gardiner and the North Entrance of Yellowstone after nearly seventy-five years.”

Applause and scattered whoops interrupted her momentarily.

She smiled benignly over the rows of seated people, then continued. “Snowberry Springs has come a long way in the past year, and so many people have helped us. I’d like to start by thanking the Renovation Channel and HomeRenoTV for putting us in the spotlight with Reviving Snowberry Springs.”

More applause. Mrs. Snowberry waited until it died down before resuming. “And of course, special thanks go to Alex Montgomery for reopening the old Livingston-to-Gardiner rail line. His beautiful vintage rail cars have been bringing tourists through Paradise Valley and to our town since the Fourth of July.”

As the crowd clapped and cheered, the rich bastard sitting next to Autumn smiled and nodded and waved like a politician.

“Next, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my granddaughter Autumn, who not only started our town’s Tourism Board but also spent countless hours this summer organizing this very festival!”

“That’s my girl!” shouted Bob Snowberry. He and the rest of Autumn’s family were sitting in the front row of the audience.

They whistled and whooped up a storm, and everyone quickly joined in.

Since her return to town last winter, Autumn had made herself very popular by using her marketing and social media skills to help various local businesses cash in on the popularity of Reviving Snowberry Springs.

Matt saw Autumn’s blush all the way from his place behind the last row of seats.

“Not only that, but Autumn provided jobs to dozens of local teens at this festival,” Mrs. Snowberry added. “And she’s recruited an army of social media-savvy young volunteers to provide continuing content for the Tourism Board’s social media feeds and website. Now, let me say a few words about the new Yellowstone rail service…”

As Mrs. Snowberry’s speech droned on, Matt’s gaze—and thoughts—returned to Autumn.

He remembered the way her curves pressed against him at their high school dances. The taste of her mouth. The sweet weight of her breasts filling his hands as they made out in his old pickup truck.

And the way she’d broken up with him—over the fucking phone—halfway through her second semester at Montana State.

His lips twisted at the sour memory. A sudden commotion somewhere behind him jolted him back to reality.

He and Gabe both spun toward the noise.

Then Gabe snorted. “Uh-oh, bro, looks like Daisy’s escaped the petting zoo!”

Matt craned his neck and caught sight of the Snowberry family’s pet goat. She was already on the other side of the square and prancing down Main Street like a queen on parade.

“Of course it’s that fucking goat,” Matt muttered under his breath.

He was well-acquainted with the little monster. She was a notorious escape artist. And always hungry.

The roasted corn-on-the-cob stand was her first victim. In a flash, half-eaten cobs lay scattered like fallen soldiers.

Unfazed by the corn vendor’s exasperated shouts, Daisy then made her way over to the gourmet popcorn booth.

“Get that thing outta here!” the red-faced popcorn vendor yelled, brandishing a broom like a weapon.

But his attempts to shoo Daisy away only seemed to encourage her naughty antics.

She dodged around him, reared up, and snatched one of the paper sacks filled with seasoned popcorn. In doing so, she sent a half-dozen other bags flying to the ground in a fluffy white explosion.

Meanwhile, the festival guests were snapping photos and recording videos, their laughter filling the air.

“Go, Daisy, go!” the Stinson twins shouted, high-fiving each other as they captured the mayhem on their phones.

Gabe bent over, howling with laughter.

Matt clenched his fists, trying to suppress his own amusement. They were on duty, after all.

“Cut it out, Gabe,” he ordered. “We need to do something about that damn goat before things escalate any further.”