Perfect for fans of Katie Marsh and Melissa Hill Dara Flood always says the most interesting thing about her life happened before she was born. Thirteen days before she came into the world, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now in her twenties, she lives a quiet life with her mother and sister Angel and works at the local dog pound - she finds dogs much easier to understand than people. But when Angel gets sick and neither Dara nor her mother is a match for the kidney she desperately needs, Dara knows she will do anything to save Angel - even track down the man who left them behind. So with the help of a rather surprising private investigator, Dara steps anxiously in to the big wide world with a dream of finding Mr Flood. But as you know, following your dreams can lead you to unexpected places . . .
Release date: April 28, 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Print pages: 560
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Finding Mr Flood
A huge thank you to the staff at the Renal Unit in Beaumont Hospital who answered all my questions, and to the patients there, who shared their stories with me. At the time of writing, there are about 550 people in Ireland waiting for a kidney transplant. The donor cards are aptly named. Gift of Life cards. Because that’s what they are. I urge all of us to carry a Gift of Life card. By the time we are in a position to donate our organs, I’m pretty sure we won’t need them anymore. This is one, small thing that we can do. It will make a gigantic difference to someone’s life.
Huge thanks to Ger Nichol, my agent who is always in my corner. Your support for the books and your faith in me are things that I appreciate more than you know.
Thank you, as always, to my editor, Ciara Doorley, and to the great team at Hachette Books Ireland and Hodder UK, who care about the books as much as I do and go to great lengths to make sure they are better than I can make them.
My thanks to David Ryan, who put paid to some of the theories I had about private detectives and who provided me with lots of information and some great stories too.
Thank you to the lovely staff at Annaghmakerrig in Co. Monaghan who provided peace and quiet and food which, other than a pen and paper, are the only things a writer really needs. Thanks also to the resident ghost, Miss Worby, who roams the house by night and sits on peoples’ shins as they lie in their beds (according to Kevin Gildea, whose shins she chose to sit on that week, thank God). To ensure that she couldn’t sit on mine, I remained upright during the night and wrote, to take my mind off the creak on the stairs, the shadows moving in the corners of my attic room and the rattle of the wind against my bedroom window. I got a lot of writing done that week.
Thanks as always to my family. My husband who came up with one of the subplots in this book and never lets me forget it. Unfortunately, my publishers wouldn’t entertain your idea. They ‘claim’ that ‘Finding Mr. Flood by Ciara Geraghty and her husband, Frank MacLochlainn, aged forty-one-and-a-half’, as you suggested, is just too long to print on the cover of the book.
Thank you to my sister Niamh, who looks after my youngest daughter with as much love and care as she looks after her own children. Thank you to my mother, Breda, who repositions my books in every bookshop she visits. And to my father, who waits for her as she does it. Thank you to my three children, Sadhbh, Neil and Grace (in age order as opposed to order of preference!). You fill my life with noise and mess and love and, while I could take or leave the noise and the mess, I couldn’t do without the love: keep it coming.
Thanks to my brother-in-law, Brian, for his information on taking photographs of someone from a distant tree at night. Thanks to one of my oldest friends, Elly, for her information on wedges (the shoes, not the food). Thanks to my other brother-in-law, Neil, for his information on weight lifting. Thank you to my friend, Niamh Cronin, who takes the dilemmas of my characters as seriously as I do.
A big thank-you to my cousin, Neasa Jones, who was the link between my sepia-tinted memories of Bailieborough in the ‘olden days’ and the Bailieborough of recent times. Thanks also for being a great advocate of the books and for forcing all your friends to buy them.
Many thanks to all the readers of Saving Grace and Becoming Scarlett. Your feedback, your support, your interest and of course, your hard-earned cash, help to keep me at the kitchen table, keep me ignoring the crumbs and the mess, keep me writing.
Thank you to Mark Anderson, aka The Fuzz, who let me know that Stanley Flinter, standing at five feet five inches, was indeed a short man but not short enough to be refused entry into An Garda Siochána. And for helping me come up with A Better Plan.
I set a couple of chapters of this book in Bailieborough, Co. Cavan. This is where my mother is from. And her mother, my grandmother, to whom I have dedicated this book. Bailieborough is a place where I spent many summers, when I was a child. Things were different in my grandmother’s house. She gave me my breakfast in bed every morning. She bought me jam tarts every Friday after she’d collected her pension. She fried burgers from John Ed’s butcher shop in a pan because she knew how much I loved them. We ate them with huge, floury potatoes and a heap of buttery cabbage on the side. I can still taste it. Nothing ever tasted as good. She didn’t insist on much, but she liked me to be home every day at one o’clock for my dinner, at five o’clock for my tea and at nine o’clock for my supper. She never asked if I’d brushed my teeth but she made me have a bath every Saturday night, whether I needed one or not. She sang ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ every spring and she carried a hankie, sprayed with perfume, in her pocket and held it to her nose, when the slurry truck drove past. She loved walking, rashers, watching Dallas and eating Iced Caramels. She let me do things my mother never did. Like cycle to Virginia with my friends that I called ‘the twins’, and paint the room at the back of the house that everyone called The Chalet. She could make a cake of brown bread with her eyes closed and she recycled shopping bags long before anyone got around to thinking about the environment. My father called her The Big Woman. He cried when she died. We all did. But we laugh now. When we recall one of her tall tales. Or the expressions she had. Or the songs she used to sing. Or the tall tales she used to tell.
This tall tale is for her.
The phone rang at two o’clock in the morning.
Dara Flood was sleepwalking at the time. She never went far, mostly down the stairs, then a slow lap of the ground floor that didn’t take long and back upstairs, careful to avoid the second step from the top that creaked on contact. She knew she did this because Angel – her sister – sometimes followed her, just to make sure she didn’t trip over the loose piece of carpet in the hallway or wake up in the middle of a dream about dying and then keel over with the shock of it. Mrs Flood had heard of that happening to somebody. Or maybe she read about it in one of those magazines she liked with those kinds of stories. The ‘I gave birth to TWINS on my 67th birthday!’ kind of thing. According to Angel, Dara always checked the front door and the back door, pulling at their handles, making sure they were locked. She also checked the windows in the front room and the back room. If the top window was open even a crack – as it sometimes was on rare hot nights – Dara closed it and moved along to the next window. She never woke up. ‘Thank God,’ said Mrs Flood, blessing herself.
Dara was lifting her foot over the second step from the top when the phone rang. She froze, her foot suspended over the offending step, and woke with such a start that, had she not been gripping the banister – or had she been dreaming about death instead of Kimberley, the latest addition at the dog pound where she worked – she would surely have met a troublesome end at the bottom of the stairs. Instead, she brought her foot down with force on that notorious step, and the noise of it, coupled with the shrill insistence of the phone, was enough to chase away the torpor of sleep and jolt her into an adequate state of alertness. She turned and ran down the stairs.
Mrs Flood heard the telephone from her bedroom. She woke with the start of a person who hadn’t realised they were asleep. The remote was still in her hand, the telly tuned to the Shopping Channel. Now they were selling a round-cut, blue topaz solitaire pendant for €15. Worth €80, according to the presenter, tapping the stone with her French manicure. Sterling silver, she said, her voice a breathy whisper, as if she didn’t want anyone else to know. With her wide smile and her small teeth, she reminded Mrs Flood of a crocodile. She swung her legs off the bed. They still ached. Saturday was the busiest day for her mobile hairdressing company, Bobs Away. She ignored the pain and ran for the door of her room.
But it was Angel who got to the phone first. She was in the kitchen when Dara passed by with her arms outstretched, like a proper sleepwalker that you’d see in a cartoon. Angel had smiled at her sister, careful not to make any noise and wake her. Of course she didn’t believe Mrs Flood’s theory about waking a sleepwalker, with the supporting anecdotal evidence. But there was no point tempting fate, was there? Angel was the type of person who went to bed late and got up early. If life was a dishcloth – and let’s face it, sometimes it was: a threadbare, smelly one – Angel was determined to wring it out. Make the best of it. Every day. Until it was bone dry. Tonight, she’d been to the theatre and then a late supper with Joe, her firefighting and generally all-round-fabulous boyfriend. She was setting the alarm on her mobile phone to go off at 7 a.m. the following morning – climbing Lugnaquilla in Wicklow – when she heard the phone ring in the hall. She didn’t allow herself to hope or even to think. She just dropped her mobile and ran.
‘Hello?’ It came out like a question and she held her breath, waiting for the answer. Dara and her mother ran down the short length of the hall and skidded to a halt behind her.
Nobody spoke. Angel stood there, clutching the receiver, nodding her head. Up and down, up and down. Dara tried to catch her eye but the hallway was dark, the only light offered by a narrow sliver of moon glancing through the mottled glass pane of the front door. Besides, Angel’s eyes were squeezed shut. Dara looked at her mother, who did not look back. She concentrated instead on Angel. Dara could tell by the way her lips were moving that she was saying a prayer.
When Angel finally spoke, it was in a high, breathless voice, as if she’d run a long way. ‘Yes, I will. Thank you. I’ll be in as soon as I can. Thank you. Thank you so much,’ she said. She replaced the receiver before turning around to face her sister and her mother. They knew what she was going to say before she said it but they waited anyway. Beside her, Dara could hear her mother holding her breath. Just for a moment, Dara thought about taking her mother’s hand and squeezing it. Tight enough to leave red lines across her fingers when she finally let it go. But she didn’t do that. Instead, she concentrated on Angel and waited.
Angel stood and looked at them. The pearly light of the moon pooled and shimmered against the sallow skin of her face, giving her a ghostly appearance. Dara shivered.
‘They’ve got one,’ Angel finally said, throwing the words up, releasing them like confetti on the wind.
‘Oh Jesus,’ said Mrs Flood and she sank on to the bottom step of the stairs and buried her head in her hands. ‘Oh thank you, Jesus, thank you, thank you.’ She rocked her heavy body back and forth as she said the words and for a moment she seemed unaware of her daughters, standing in the hall in front of her. It was Angel who knelt beside her, then held her hands, pulling them gently from her mother’s face.
‘It’s all right, Mam,’ she whispered, and Mrs Flood glanced up and spread her arms wide and pulled Angel against the soft swell of her chest and rocked her, just as she had done when Angel was a baby. Dara stood beside them and tried to think of something to say. A feeling widened inside her, pushing itself against the narrow cavity of her chest until she felt she might burst with it.
That’s what it was.
Dara was shocked at how physical it was, this feeling. The force of it. Strong. Almost painful. When she spoke, she expected her voice to strain against the size of it. But it sounded as it always did. Hoarse. Gravelly. Worried.
‘We should go,’ she said.
When Mrs Flood looked at Dara, her expression was one of puzzlement, as if she was trying to place her youngest daughter. As if, in fact, she had forgotten Dara was there at all. She released Angel and stood up. She looked down at herself. ‘I’m already dressed,’ she said, surprised and pleased.
‘I’m going to grab my hospital bag’, said Angel, taking the stairs two at a time.
Dara was the only one who wasn’t dressed. She wore pyjamas. Men’s ones. Only because they were warmer than their female counterparts. Also, she preferred the colours. She dragged her duffel out of the cloakroom under the stairs, clamped a hat on her head and tucked the bottoms of her pyjamas into her Doc Martens. ‘I’m ready,’ she said.
That Mrs Flood did not comment on Dara’s appearance was a measure of the moment. When you spend five years waiting for something to happen, and then it does, acerbic comments about the unsuitability or otherwise of attire are brushed away. There is no space for them, in among the happiness.
Mrs Flood ran into the kitchen to get her glasses, as Angel leaped down the stairs. She skidded to a halt beside Dara, her hands covering her mouth.
‘We got the call,’ she whispered, the words muffled against her fingers. ‘I knew we’d get the call.’
Dara smiled and nodded, even though she had known no such thing. She looked at Angel. Her big sister. Although there was barely twelve months between them. Twelve months and a world of difference. Angel’s real name was Angela, but everyone called her Angel. Even now, at twenty-eight, there was something ethereal about Angel, with her fine blond hair and her impossibly blue eyes, wide with the attributes that Angel treasured. Things like faith. And hope. Dara found these things difficult to come by.
‘Come on, we’d better go,’ she said, removing from the corner of Angel’s mouth a strand of the fine blond hair that she tended to chew when she was nervous or excited.
‘Could you ring Joe?’ Angel’s voice was a whisper. ‘I promised I’d ring him when I got the call. He wants to be there. At the hospital, I mean. But I . . .’ She trailed off, and Dara could nearly feel the anticipation in the air between them, bristling like electricity.
‘I’ll ring him,’ she said, running upstairs to grab her mobile.
End-stage renal failure. It sounded so final when you said it like that. But that was what Angel had. That was what the professionals called it. Dara had read everything there was to read on the subject, and that was the expression used in all the literature, usually in capitals and bold lettering, often with a picture of an exhausted-looking kidney slumped against the words.
Her fingers shook as she punched Joe’s number into the phone. She couldn’t find his name in her contacts, even though it was there. She knew it though, as it was a jumbled combination of Angel’s date of birth and her lucky number – six. That was the way she remembered numbers. In patterns. Still, she had to dial it three times before she got it right and she cursed herself and the way she crumbled under pressure.
‘Dara? What’s wrong?’
‘Joe? It’s Dara.’ She cursed herself for telling people things they already knew, another symptom of her crumbling under pressure. ‘Don’t worry. Nothing’s wrong.’
‘Is Angel OK?’ Joe said the words quickly and Dara heard him holding his breath when he got to the end of the question.
She hurried to tell him. ‘She’s fine. We got the call. Just now. From the hospital, I mean.’
‘They’ve got a kidney?’
‘They’ve got a kidney.’ Dara had to sit down when she said that. After five years of waiting, five years of dreaming and hoping and praying to a God she didn’t really believe in, five years of disappointment every time the phone rang, it now seemed to Dara an impossible thing to be saying out loud. For a moment she wondered if she was having one of those daydreams she sometimes had when she ate too much cheese, where the world is golden and bright and everything works out better than you supposed. But there was Mrs Flood, running down the stairs, clutching the bag she called her ‘hair bag’ in one hand (‘because you just never know, do you?’) and punching the air with her fist with the other in a way that was, at the very least, out of character. It must be true.
‘We’re on our way to the hospital now,’ Dara told Joe.
‘I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes,’ he said and hung up.
Dara grabbed Angel’s car keys, her bag and coat, her sister and mother and herded them out the front door.
‘You can’t drive, Dara,’ Mrs Flood said, looking fearfully at the keys in Dara’s hand. ‘We want to get to the hospital in one piece.’
‘I’ll drive’ said Angel quickly, stepping between them, even now. ‘You’re still on your provisional and—’
‘You can’t drive yourself to the hospital,’ Dara told her.
‘But we need to go as quickly as possible and . . .’ Angel tapered off, and Dara knew that she was torn between not wishing to be unkind and desperately needing to get to Beaumont as soon as she could. Since Dara had started learning, she had acquired the tedious habit of driving like a little old lady: slow and anxious. Also, her parking technique needed work, given that her spatial awareness was not what it should be, resulting in a tendency to graze the wing mirrors against inanimate objects, such as walls and other people’s cars.
‘I’ll drive like the clappers,’ she promised, sending up a silent prayer to St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, to save her family – and other road users – from harm.
Mrs Flood said nothing. Her pursed lips said it all. She reached for the font of holy water at the front door, below the little statue of Our Lady. She dipped her index finger into the water and blessed herself, leaving droplets of water like puddles in the deep furrows of her forehead. She wet her finger again in the font and pushed it against her daughters’ foreheads.
‘Bless yourselves, girls,’ she said, as she always did.
From their house on the Raheny Road, it was only a ten-minute drive to the hospital and Dara surprised herself by getting there in just under eight. Mrs Flood held Angel’s hand all the way. Dara gripped the steering wheel, her knuckles straining white against her skin. There was one hairy moment when she approached an amber light at the junction of Tonlegee road.
‘Go for it,’ yelled Angel from the back seat. Mrs Flood said nothing. Just clamped one hand over her eyes, while the other hand tightened around Angel’s arm. Dara pressed hard on the accelerator and roared through the junction, possibly even closing her eyes as she did so, although she couldn’t be certain of this. It seemed a desperately reckless thing to do in the circumstances, but with Angel’s encouragement from the back seat, she felt like she could make it and she gunned it and almost smiled when she cleared the junction with her family intact.
Looking back, Dara found that she couldn’t remember much about the journey. She thinks she skidded to a halt at the main entrance to the hospital. She remembers a man in a dressing gown with an oxygen tank looking up from his cigarette as Angel and her mother raced out of the car. She drove to the car park, where she stopped too far away from the ticket machine and had to get out of the car and walk across the divide between the car and the machine to press the button. The car behind her beeped and she dropped the ticket under the car and had to get on all fours to reach it. She remembers that.
As for the hospital bit, it was impossible not to remember every single detail, however hard she tried not to.
The usual lights: impossibly bright and hot. Ideal for growing tomatoes, Dara often thought.
The nurses. The night-shifters. Different from the daytimers in a way that was hard to put your finger on. But with the same brisk uniforms and slow smiles and gentle hands. Dara decided she could never be a nurse. She cried any time one of her customers had to be put down. And lots of people couldn’t understand how the passing of mangy strays and unwanted dogs could move you to tears. ‘You must be used to it by now,’ they told Dara in cheerful voices, and she nodded without saying anything.
Angel submitted to the usual tests and the usual waiting in her usual uncomplaining way. Joe sat beside her, holding her hand. Attracting the usual looks from passing women and even a couple of men, full of longing and the kind of wishing that never gets anyone anywhere. Joe was the type of man that people coveted, especially when he was in his ‘firefighter’s costume’, as Mrs Flood called it.
It was Dara who saw Dr Templeton first. She saw him through the narrow slits in the venetian blinds and she knew immediately. It was the walk that gave him away: not the sprightly gait of someone bearing good news, but with a heaviness of step that betrayed the bad. Dara looked behind her, into the room where they waited. First at her sister, with her impossibly blue eyes, wide with the things she held dear. Things like faith. And hope. Sitting on the edge of the bed with her long legs dangling, as if nothing terrible was going to happen. And at her mother. Mrs Flood. She sat in an armchair, knitting with the resigned air of someone who was very good at waiting. In fact, she was much better at waiting than she was at knitting. She could only knit scarves and she used only two stitches (plain and purl), because they were the only ones she knew. But she liked to do it. She said it relaxed her. For as long as Dara and her sister could remember, Mrs Flood had knitted them scarves every Christmas and they were always a motley crew of colours and at least two metres long.
For one ridiculous moment, Dara thought about pulling the blinds shut, slamming the door and bracing her body against it so Dr Templeton couldn’t get in. But then what possible explanation could she offer Angel and Mrs Flood and Joe? And was she strong enough to withstand the might of Dr Templeton – a solidly made man – and his team, as they stormed the door?
But of course Dara didn’t do anything like that. In fact, she didn’t move at all and in no time at all, Dr Templeton – despite the heaviness of his step – was inside the room, clearing his throat and not quite catching their eyes as he opened his mouth to speak.
It seemed to Dara that he said a lot of things and that it took him a long time to say all of those things. But really, he only had one thing to say. That Angel was not a match for the kidney. Or the kidney was not a match for Angel. Dara couldn’t remember exactly how he phrased it. Even after he’d said it – this one thing that he came to say – he didn’t stop talking. He was the same that time he told Dara that her kidney was not a match. And when he told Mrs Flood. Full of the same explanations then as he was now. It was Mrs Flood who made him stop eventually. She stood up. ‘Thank you, Dr Templeton,’ she said, wrapping the beginnings of a scarf around her fingers and pushing the sharp ends of the knitting needles into a huge ball of hairy wool. It made Dara’s neck itch, just looking at it.
Angel stood up too. She let go of Joe’s hand. She moved towards the door.
‘I’ll come home with you,’ said Joe, already at the door beside her. He reached out a hand to touch her, but Angel stepped away. She said nothing. Instead, she shook her head, not looking at any of them, and walked out the door and down the corridor. Joe turned to face Mrs Flood and Dara. His face was a question but they had no answers to give him. Not today.
The drive home felt a lot longer than the one to the hospital. Much longer. Dara did her best. She chatted about anything at all that came into her head. Even though her driving instructor had strictly forbidden her to speak at all when she was behind the wheel. This was on account of Dara’s tendency to look at the person she was speaking to, instead of at the road or in the rearview mirror or at the speedometer. Now, she concentrated on driving and chatting at the same time. About anything at all. Ridiculous things. Things like Kimberley and the way Tintin called her ‘Pick ’n’ Mix’ because she wasn’t one breed or another but a hotchpotch of several, which lent her an air of haughty indifference, belying the nature of her that was marshmallow-soft.
When Dara ran out of things to say, she was grateful to Mrs Flood, who took up the reins of the conversation, speaking at length about poor Mrs Butcher. She always called Mrs Butcher poor Mrs Butcher, even though the woman was, it seemed to Dara, quite well-off, living in a lovely home with one husband, three children, two dogs and a guinea pig. Dara thought the title might have something to do with Mrs Butcher’s hair, which tended towards frizzy.
This frenzy of conversation dribbled away like a burst ball somewhere around the Tonlegee road. It was only then that Dara and Mrs Flood heard it. The sound of Angel crying. It was a hard-to-hear cry. A barely-there cry. An under-your-breath kind of cry. That made it worse. That, and the fact that Angel never cried. Not ever. Not when she was a baby, according to Mrs Flood. Not when she found out she’d been born with only one kidney. Not when she’d been told about the end-stage renal failure. Not when she started on dialysis. Not when Dr Templeton told her that neither Dara’s nor her mother’s kidneys were a match for her, because of their blood types, which were common, unlike Angel’s, which was a frustratingly rare one.
Because Angel believed in things. Things like guardian angels. And Fate and Destiny. And things happening for a reason. She was an optimist. A glass-half-full kind of a person.
Except she wasn’t any more. She cried like a person whose glass is not even half-empty. It’s just empty. A glass with nothing in it at all.
Mrs Flood wrapped her arms around her eldest daughter and told her to, ‘Hush now, hush now, alanna, everything will be all right.’ In her voice were equal measures of pain and love. Dara heard them both, as if they were two voices. She gripped the wheel in both hands and twisted the rearview mirror so Angel’s reflection disappeared from view. She concentrated on driving.
Neither Mrs Flood’s words, filled with equal measures of pain and love, nor Dara’s careful concentration on the road made any difference.
Angel cried all the way home.
Stanley finally settled on Newbridge candlestick holders. He felt they were impersonal enough so that nothing could be read into them. And yet thoughtful. He knew Cora was fond of candlelight. She said she looked her best in candlelight and he had to agree that she did look very well. Although, now he thought about it, perhaps they weren’t impersonal enough. Wasn’t candlelight a little intimate? In the circumstances.
By the time he got home, he’d managed to convince himself that the candles were fine. Grand. They would do. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about a gift any more.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ Sissy asked him when he came in the door.
‘Nothing. Why?’ It was difficult to make out what Stanley was saying, as Clouseau got a hold of him and slow-danced him across the kitchen, his massive front legs in their usual choking position around Stanley’s neck.
‘You were sort of smiling when you came in.’ That might be true, Stanley thought. He had a habit of sort of smiling when he felt relieved, as he did now. He wouldn’t have to think about the engagement party again until he had to go to it.
‘It was your idea, remember? Smile, and the world smiles back at you type of thing?’ Stanley wrestled with Clouseau and finally managed to set him down on the floor in the more traditional all-fours stance. To keep him there, he had to pull at the dog’s ears and keep his own face within licking distance of Clouseau’s mouth. He wasn’t fond of the scratchy feel of the dog’s long flat tongue up the side of his face, but he hadn’t worked out any other way to calm him.
‘Yes, but I’ve been saying that to you for ages. You’ve never actually taken me up on it.’
Out of the corner of his eye, Stanley saw Sissy examining him closely. She got off the couch where she had been zinging herself, as she called it, with the Ab Rocker strapped around her middle as she watched EastEnders and ate chocolate fudge ice cream straight out of the tub.
‘You’ve had a good day, haven’t you?’ she said, circling him now, stroking her chin with her fingers.
‘Eh, yes, I suppose so, I mean it was grand, nothing startling.’ Clouseau, bored with the face-licking and the ear-pulling, now pushed Stanley onto the floor with his massive head and stood over him, his four gigantic paws arranged like tree trunks around Stanley’s pinioned body.
‘Clouseau, heel!’ Sissy said in a bored kind of a voice, as if this was something she’d said many times before, which it was. The dog gave her his sullen look before moving away from Stanley and coming to heel beside her. She didn’t even pet him or say ‘good dog’ or give him a dog biscuit, like they tell you to do in all of the dog training books that Stanley read.
‘How do you do that?’ asked Stanley, getting up as quick as he could before Clouseau changed his mind.
‘You’re just too soft with him,’ Sissy told him – and not for the first time either. ‘I’m going to make us some dinner-ding and then you can tell me what that smile is doing skulking around your face,’ she added, leaving the room at a gallop.
Stanley hated ‘dinner-ding’, but with the recent move to the office on Abbey Street, h
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