Excerpts from Stella Gale: A Rare Breed

Prologue and Chapter 1
So, now you know even more about the infamous Stella Gale, probably more than you wanted to know. I warned you, and I may live to regret this, but what’s done is done. When you first came here, you said you were seeking revenge and I can understand why. Well, this could be your opportunity. However, before you jump on it—and you’ll need my cooperation if you do—I suggest you put together as many pieces of this complicated story as you can by whatever means necessary, and once you’ve put them all together, see how you feel then. Frankly, I doubt revenge will be foremost in your mind, or maybe it will. After all, what do I know? Not much. I mean look at me—you can’t say “crazy” hasn’t crossed your mind a few times during these two years you’ve known me, and understandably so. Here I am, in a cabin far away from all of it, desperate for glimpses of who I am, who I was meant to be—wondering if they are one and the same and trusting only my three dogs—and now you.
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Excerpt from Chapter 12 - First National ABC Show Preparations
It was Thursday, late afternoon, at the Holiday Inn in Canahog, New Jersey. After two days of show preparation with a few club board members and a handful of volunteers, Margaret Appleman was finally free to take her first long breather, though she hardly considered it that because she could barely breathe at all as she began to walk quickly and deliberately back to her room. The truth was she hadn’t taken much of a breath since she’d said good-bye to Frank and climbed into her Gremlin three days earlier. The breadth and depth of her anticipatory anxiety and excitement regarding this show, was something she desperately needed to keep private. She imagined that if she were to take a large or even medium breath, all would break loose in front of God knows who, and the consequences would be catastrophic. Four years of her doing the grueling work of ‘making nice’ to anyone and everyone, which included bearing abuse the likes of which she had known her entire life—all of it could go up in smoke should anyone catch even a glimmer of what was going on inside
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Excerpt from Chapter 22 - The Show
While Charlene was screeching, Stella roused Oz and together they strolled over to Pedro who was still holding the microphone. She gently peeled his fingers from their tight grip and took it into her possession.
    Stella held the mike right next to her mouth and hissed into it low and loud, “CHARLENE!”
    The screeching ceased.
    Stella pulled the mike back a bit and continued in a more official tone, “You need to stop right now! You are diggin’ a hole deeper than I ever saw. I mean I have heard of diggin’ a hole clean through to China but I ain’t never seen a hole that deep till now.
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Excerpt from Chapter 24 - Ivan Runs Free
Whatever had been keeping her from falling into that hole let go. She didn’t flail or cry or scream, she just froze and dropped like a stone. As she dropped, she felt a sudden warmth brush across the top of her head and thought this must be the way it was meant to be, she was supposed to give in to the inevitable and drop into nothing.
    Then, suddenly, something grabbed hold of one of her feet and she lifted her head. Ivan’s giant warm muzzle was right there, inches from her face.
    He moved in closer as she looked at him. The hold on her foot grew tighter. She glanced down. He had inadvertently planted one of his front paws squarely on top of her boot. His whiskers tickled across her face as he sniffed her eyes, ears, nose, cheeks and chin, all the while warm air pumped rhythmically in and out of his nostrils. She tried to look into his amber eyes, but they were so close they were a blur. She waited.
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