Regina would rather face a mob of angry clowns than admit that she wasn’t partial to puppies. After all, what kind of lunatic didn’t like puppies? So, when her friend and (lucky for her brother) sister-in-law, Claudia, asked if she’d watch their puppy while they took a sneak trip to Chicago for a weekend of theater and dancing, who was Regina to say no?
“Suuure—” She tried to toss a happy exclamation mark into her voice, but it cracked at the crucial moment.
Claudia packed in such a hurry she wouldn’t have missed a question mark streaking through the room buck-naked.
“Should I check in on him—her?—a couple of times a day?”
If Claudia had slammed her chest any harder, cardiac arrest would surely have ensued. “Oh, no! That won’t do. Not at all. The Timster needs around the clock care. You’ll take him to your place for the weekend. After all, he’s our little baby!”
At that moment, said baby was snatched from happily chewing a pink slipper on the rumpled bed into mommy’s arms. And rocked.
To its credit, the mutt had sense enough to look sheepish.
Regina would know her brother’s voice if he was a penguin returning from an iceberg in the frozen north. It was that distinctive. Rog didn’t so much call as bellow. She honestly didn’t understand it. No one else in the family bellowed. Must go back generations. She’d have to ask mom—without sending the woman into fits of my-family-is-perfect hysteria.
Rog’s eyes lit up like a master criminal sizing up a safety deposit box. He even rubbed his hands together. “Hey, Regina! Glad you could make it! We’ll head out before traffic gets crazy! Thanks for taking our little boy!”
Despite the contagion of exclamation points flung into the air, said boy was now transferred to daddy so mommy could slam her bag shut, snatch a faux fur coat off the chair, and toss a kiss in Regina’s direction.
“You’re a lifesaver, dear!”
Rog dumped his four-footed progeny into his sister’s arms before skedaddling out the door.
Regina held the squirming puppy and wondered what it ate besides slippers.
Safely ensconced in her favorite chair, a novel on her right, a half-finished ghostwriting assignment on her left, a cup of hot cocoa warming her hands, she watched the puppy chase a ball of colored yard across the floor. Regina decided that life—despite a twenty-minute I-will-be-calm-no matter-what-your-mother-says conversation with her dad—was pretty good. For her, at least.
A chime lifted her gaze from the miniature acrobat skidding into her coffee table to the green apartment door.
The rest of the apartment—painted Sahara tan—made the eye-catching door stand out like an oasis in the desert. Maybe that was the point? Dismissing the ever-present conundrum, Regina paced across the floor and peered through the peephole. “Yes?”
“It’s me! Goofy. Let me in.” Doing her signature cross-eyed, tongue out look, Janet wiggled two fingers.
Regina smothered a sigh, considered hiding the puppy in her bedroom, imagined her computer cords chewed to frazzled ends, clutched the door handle and let her friend in. “Hey, Janet.”
“Hey to you.” Janet paraded into the room. The woman simply could not walk normally. Her hips swayed, her shoulders danced, her eyes romped. Sexy coolness personified.
Then she saw the puppy and melted into a puddle. “Ohhhh…a puuupppyyy!!!” She scooped the suddenly terror-stricken critter into her arms.
Fear soon gave way to annoyance. The Timster squirmed like a child on a dentist chair.
“When did you get a puppy? Why didn’t you tell me? I thought I was your best friend—”
“It’s my brother’s and his wife’s. I’m baby—I mean—dog-sitting for the weekend. Don’t tell anyone. I’m not sure how my landlady would react since she enforces a No Pets law throughout the kingdom.”
Janet smirked. “Couldn’t get a date with a guy, huh?”
Regina dangled colored yarn in front of the frolicking mutt, making them both dance.
In an attempt to regain some measure of dignity, the puppy snatched the yarn and ran to the kitchen.
Regina returned to her chair and retrieved her cocoa from the end table. “I’m off the online sites, and I have no plans.”
If prohibition had made a comeback, Janet couldn’t have looked more horrified. “What happened? I thought you liked some of the guys.”
“Liking and making a life together are two different things.”
“So what do you want?”
“A friend first. Then we’ll see.”
“But you already got me.” Janet started for the kitchen. “Well, Tuesday through Thursday.”
Regina drained her cup and followed the swaying hips. “So, what are you doing here? It’s Friday. You should be out on the town with…”
“Yeah. I’m going. I just wanted to ask you something first.”
Regina set the cup on the kitchen counter, faced her friend, and raised her eyebrows
“Gerry asked me to marry him.”
Regina’s heart flipped. Jealous? Nope. Well, maybe. A little. “Yeah? So…?”
“Should I say yes?”
The puppy sauntered across the tiled floor, head up, chest out, clutching the skein of yarn in his teeth like a wolf carrying venison home to the pack.
Regina lifted her gaze to the older woman and for the first time, she really looked. And saw. The too-bright lipstick, the heavy makeup, faint shadows under her eyes, the long-suffering expression.
“What do you want, Janet?”
Janet shook her head. “I want what you got. With puppy. And your books. Work. Your bellowing brother, your persnickety mom and worn-out dad. Your damn—contentment.”
Regina laughed. It felt good to laugh. At her friend. At herself. At the silly puppy. “Goofy indeed, you are rightly named! Tell me, do you enjoy getting hungry?”
Janet turned her head, glaring from one eye. “Generally, before meals.”
“So being fed all the time wouldn’t suit you any more than being content all the time. You just haven’t learned to be content with periodic—”
“Well, Gerry’s not perfect, but he loves me, and I—” The hips relaxed, her shoulders settled, and her eyes softened. “I rather like the guy.”
“Can you make a life with him?”
“We can try. If there’s a will—right?” She looked down as the doggy trotted near. “But what about you—and your temporary little friend?”
The Timster dropped the defeated yarn at Regina’s feet and peered up adoringly.
Regina scooped the puppy into her arms and chuckled all the way back to her chair.
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend
OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
HeartBeats—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd0z
It Might Have Been—And Other Short Stories https://amzn.to/2XXdDDz