Excerpt from RISK FACTORS– Released 3.4.13 from Lyrical Press, Inc. Re-released 3-4-14 from Kensington-Lyrical Press Imprint
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Vivian glanced around at the sound of the small voice, pushing thoughts of her father’s
call out of her mind. The frog alert remained silent beside the open door. Rising to examine the
reception area, Viv started at the sight of a tiny girl on the other side of the desk, then smiled.
“Are you the doctor?”
“We need help.” The child ducked down out of sight and a cage rattled.
“I see.” Hoping to stop the little girl from releasing her pet in the lobby where it could
escape, Viv rounded the desk, then froze.
“Skittles has a tummy bug.”
“I see.” Did she? Was she honestly staring at a skunk in the child’s arms? “Honey…I
think…ah, Skittles, is it?”
The child’s blonde head bobbed.
“But she won’t eat. I gave her her favorite cereal, Strawberries-n-Oatmeal, but she won’t
“Well…maybe she would rather find her own food today.” How in the world had this
tiny girl managed to pick up, never mind carry around, a half-grown skunk without smelling like
Eau de Stinkee?
“I don’t think so,” the mournful voice disagreed. “She always eats Strawberries-n-
Oatmeal or Cheerios. Last night she didn’t eat. Ask Daddy, he’s talking to Grampa in the car.”
“Last night?” Obviously Skittles was a pet. How long had the little girl homed a skunk?
The child spoke as though she expected Vivian to go outside and talk to the man in question,
which she would not do. “I’d like very much to speak to your daddy.”
Viv turned to move behind the desk and stepped on her shoelace–the too-long one she
meant to fix, but kept forgetting–and then she went down.