Today, we have fellow JMS authors D.J. Fronimos and Elke Lakey on the blog. They’re talking about their story, The Four Legs of Fate, that will be out tomorrow. Welcome!
Thank you so much, Ofelia, for having me here on your blog today! I’m excited to share our new release with you, ‘The Four Legs of Fate’, a novella about two women and two dogs and the first novella D.J. and I have co-authored together. As some of you may know already, D.J. and I are partners in life as well as in writing. We met in 2015, and until we started working on our first novel (Watching Cars Go By, released in November 2020), I had only ever written in German. Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment. Having lived in the US since 2000, I was fluent in English, of course, but as I’m sure you will agree, the written and the spoken word are two totally different sides of the same coin, and being comfortable in one doesn’t mean you’ll easily master the other. But there we were, D.J. and I, attempting what neither one of us had done before: writing lesbian fiction worth publishing. Yet, with two full-length novels and one novella published, and two more books in the works, I feel I can proudly say D.J. and I have accomplished our mission.
Like all our stories, ‘The Four Legs of Fate’ was written from two separate points of view. And, also like all our books, it encompasses bits of truth about us and our own lives. Devoted dog-mom D.J. came up with the plot, and she ‘is’ Lisa Fitzgerald, who in the story ends up with adorable Terra, who she believes to be a puppy. Lisa originally doesn’t want a dog, but soon is won over by Terra’s cuteness, and she spoils her no end, just as D.J. has always done with her dogs. A horse-lover and owner in real life, I like dogs as well, and have had at least one for most of my life. But, as I’ve learned from owning horses, spoiling your animals doesn’t necessarily serve you well. In comes Erin, whose German shepherd, Max, is her best friend and trusted companion, but is so well-trained he listens to her every word. I don’t own a German shepherd and never have owned a dog as obedient as that, but if Max were real, I’d take him in a heartbeat. So, while the two women connect over Terra and Max, there’s plenty of room for disagreement. D.J. and I learned to compromise when we moved in together, as did our dogs, but then neither our dogs nor our views on how to treat them were as different as Lisa’s and Erin’s are. Our dogs were pretty easy, too. Shadow, my big, bulky black Labrador retriever who has since crossed the rainbow bridge, was the perfect gentleman to D.J.’s Aria, a blue-heeler mix. With any other dog, Aria’s bossy attitude may not have gone over as well, but Shadow not only let her eat his food, he also gave up his favorite spot to her whenever she wanted it. Terra and Max, on the other hand…Well, you’ll just have to read their story.
Terra picked up speed and suddenly she was pulling Lisa forward. Oh no! A bicyclist was coming straight at them. Terra darted into the street at the same time that Lisa took a step back. Terra’s leash went taut and suddenly there was an ugly crunching sound as the bike’s handlebars met the pavement. Lisa watched in horror as the bicycle’s rider, a woman, toppled forward and slid across the pavement, stopping in a crumpled heap a few feet ahead. Lisa made as if to bend down to the woman and was stopped by the angry snarl of one of the biggest dogs she’d ever seen. Teeth bared, the German shepherd planted himself between the woman on the ground and Lisa with what she could have sworn was an accusing stare. She must’ve let go of Terra’s leash when the bicycle hit it because suddenly Terra showed up on Lisa’s left. Before Lisa could grab her, Terra flung herself at the German shepherd, yipping and growling and biting at the huge beast that could kill her at any moment.
“Stop! You’re going to get bit!”
Lisa, who’d been about to reach for Terra, pulled her hand back. The woman on the ground had pushed up into a sitting position. “Max! Voraus! And then sitz!” The German shepherd lunged forward and Lisa thought she was about to die as it came straight toward her, but went past an inch or so to her right where it stopped and sat. Terra tried to go after him, but the woman had managed to grab her leash and Terra was yanked back mid-lunge.
“How about giving me a hand up?”
“Of course.” Lisa felt her face grow hot. She had stood there helplessly while the catastrophe unfolded and the woman took charge, despite being the injured party. The huge dog remained still as a statue despite Terra continuing to make threatening noises in his direction. Stupid dog. Nothing but trouble.
Lisa pulled herself together and extended her hand to the woman on the ground.
“I’m so sorry. Are you all right?”
“I’ve definitely been better.” The woman grimaced as she examined her right forearm where the skin was scraped off. “And, apparently, so has my bike. My front wheel is definitely out of alignment.” She had taken Lisa’s hand and gotten up and now pulled her bike upright as well. “Guess, I’ll have to push it home. You know, you really shouldn’t allow your dog to get ahead of you like that.”
Lisa took Terra’s leash back and gave her an angry glare as she tried in vain to assert her authority over the recalcitrant dog. The shepherd remained seated but with a tightly coiled air as he gave Terra a look that clearly showed what he was capable of. And yet Terra still pulled in his direction, stupid dog. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I only got the dog yesterday and it seems she hasn’t had any kind of training. Do you live far? Are you able to walk?”
“Of course. I live just one street over. About two blocks down from here. You’ve probably seen the townhouses. There’s a whole row of them. Max and I are in the last one at the corner which gives us a little more backyard. I … Crap!” She had taken a step and now tentatively took another one, followed by a hissing intake of breath. “Looks like I’ve hurt my ankle.”
Max had risen to a standing position and Lisa resisted her inclination to step toward the woman to assist her. “What can I do to help? I’m not far from my own apartment. I can go back for my car and take you home. Your bike and — Max, was it? — should both fit. Don’t worry, I’ll drop Terra off.”
“Yes, please.” The woman flashed her a smile and Lisa was struck by how pretty she was now that she wasn’t frowning. “I would normally hate to put you out like that, but, I’m figuring since my spill was technically your dog’s fault …”
Her tone was more playful than accusatory, and Lisa relaxed. “Honestly, I’m surprised Superdog here didn’t lead you in a graceful leap over the leash, or take the bike in his massive jaws and carry you to safety.” Lisa wrapped Terra’s leash around her wrist several times. “It’s the least I can do.” Never mind that she’d have to take the shortest route home, which meant going past the house with the immaculate lawn Terra had fouled.
“Superdog, eh?” The woman gazed fondly at the shepherd, who at a subtle flick of the woman’s wrist trotted to her side where he stood as if glued to her. “Guess we’ll be waiting right here for you. By the way, I’m Erin.”
Freshly out of a relationship with a woman who decided she likes guys better, Lisa Fitzgerald parties too much and wakes up the next morning with a puppy. Terra, as she names the dog, turns out to be a designer-breed full-grown Pomsky.
Erin visits her long-time partner Cici, who is teaching a guest semester in Paris. But Erin feels out of place in France and they break up when Cici asks her to move there. Max, a well-trained German shepherd, becomes Erin’s sole companion.
Cute little Terra wreaks havoc not only on Lisa’s home and life but also on Erin’s when she darts into Erin’s path as she is bicycling with Max. Lonely for human contact outside of work, Erin makes light of her spill and cons Lisa into spending time with her and Max.
Soon the four of them meet regularly. Their friendship blossoms when Lisa decides to keep Terra, but the women privately yearn for more while at the same time denying their mutual attraction. Having been burned recently, both Lisa and Erin are wary of crossing the line and promptly flounder when they ditch the dogs for an evening together. But their interest in one another persists and eventually they try a second time, only to fail miserably.
Can fate on four legs bring them back together?
About the Authors
Debra J. (D.J.) Fronimos shares a five-acre ranch in central Texas with her partner and co-author, Elke, two horses, and a spoiled blue heeler mix. When not writing, she works as an ultrasound technologist, and in her spare time sings in a women’s chorus that has won medals in annual regional competitions. She has a passion for traveling, especially road trips, and indulges it as often as possible, but hasn’t found a way to drive to Europe yet. Besides lesbian romance, D.J. has dabbled in lesbian erotica, travel essays, poetry, songwriting, and received an award for a professional medical paper.
Elke Lakey, born and raised in the Bavarian town of Augsburg, indulges her lifelong passion for horses by riding with the Tejas Rodeo Rough Riders, an award-winning precision drill team. Growing up her interests were horses, reading and making up stories, and medicine, not necessarily in that order, and she now works in the lab as a medical technologist. Elke has written play reviews and articles for two German fan magazines, and has published fan fiction in both magazines and anthologies. She now vastly enjoys creating lesbian fiction with her partner.
Between them, Elke and D.J. have raised five children (four boys and one girl), and have one grandson.