“One more? You brought home five kittens?”
“Well, no. Only four. Number five—not a kitten—was going to be put, you know,” he made a slashing motion across his neck. “I couldn’t very well leave him there. He’s actually a dog, which is to say, well, he’s more like an enormous Bratwurst with ears. His name’s Chumley.”
Bailey heard toenails clicking against the hardwood floor and walked over to poke her head down the hall.
Enormous Bratwurst didn’t come close. Waddling toward her, ears dragging, eyes drooping, had to be the fattest, most sway backed, oversized basset hound she’d ever seen. That wasn’t a dog, it was a black and tan barrel with legs. Good grief, the dog looked like a poster child for a Fat Albert cartoon.
Chumley raised mournful, bloodshot eyes toward hers, wagged his tail and kept chugging right along at about half the speed of drying paint, headed straight for her. Every few steps, he’d stick out a leg. “What’s wrong with him?”
Logan shrugged. “Looks like he’s doing the conga.”
She was a goner, it was love at first sight, plain and simple, even if the dog did walk to a Latin beat and needed a Richard Simmons makeover. When Chumley finally reached her, she knelt down with the kitten tucked underneath her shirt and scratched him behind the ears. “Oh. My. God. Chumley, you reek.”
At the sound of her voice, Chumley raised his head, pointed his nose to the ceiling and let out the loudest caterwauling, ear-splitting, bellow Bailey had ever heard. The kitten under her T-shirt freaked. Bailey jumped, the kitten shimmied up her stomach, over her bra, out through the neck of her sweater, scrambled over her shoulder and leaped straight for Logan.
Logan caught the kitten on the fly, then set it down before it climbed up his forearms and asked Bailey, “Are you all right?”
She eyeballed Chumley, wondering if he was going to roar every time she spoke or if the first time was just a rowdy sort of Latin welcome. Chumley looked complacent enough, so she chanced it and said, “I’m fine,” and waited. No sound from Chumley. Then she turned to Logan and smiled, “Nothing that hasn’t happened a million times at the clinic.”
She knelt back down and stared into Chumley’s mournful brown eyes. “Well, zero to six pets in two days. This has to be some kind of land-speed record. Or whatever that equals in pet terms.” Whew, boy, the closer she got to Chumley, the more she realized just how much he smelled like an outhouse.
“I couldn’t very well let them spend the holidays alone.”
Of course not. How like Logan to just bring home four miniature cats and a sausage dog. She muttered to herself about sneaky men and Logan in particular. It wasn’t all bad, but she’d never let Logan know that he’d just shown her all over again another reason why she was so crazy about him.
“If you’re going to keep speaking in Gaelic, the least you could do is start adding subtitles.”
She sighed and looked up at him. “So you’re planning on taking them back after the holidays?”
“Of course not, they’re family now.”
Her eyes rounded, tears welled, and she stuffed her face into Chumley’s neck. She immediately burst into tears, hugging the fat, smelly dog close to her body. He was plump and sweet and warm and probably Latin, and she held him tight and sobbed into his neck. She didn’t care how bad he smelled, he was hers, they were a family, and she wanted nothing more than for Logan to be a part of it.
A real part. A forever part where he came home from work every day at five and they read the Sunday paper in bed together on weekends. Where they took Kelsie on picnics and Logan taught her that swearing wasn’t ladylike. And, oh God, at least a million other things she couldn’t think of at the moment because the dog smell was finally getting to her.
She raised her head. Kelsie looked at Logan and Logan looked at Kelsie. Neither spoke.
Bailey gave one last sniff and ignored them both. At least they had the good sense not to ask her any questions. “I’m going to give Chumley a shower.” She stood, pushed her hair out of her face, and led Chumley down the hall and into the bathroom.
Logan looked back down at Kelsie who had all four kittens crawling and tumbling over her lap, and Shamus who had curled up next to her, keeping one wary eye open in case the kittens got any more foul ideas. “Is she okay?”
Kelsie lifted one shoulder. “I guess so. I think she likes Chumley a lot. She always cries when she’s happy.”
Logan wasn’t so sure. Maybe a dozen roses and some chocolate would have been a wiser choice. No, too generic for Bailey. Bailey needed the Bratwurst. So, why then, buddy boy, did she suddenly start bawling like a kid who’d just dropped her ice cream?
She was upset about something, but for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish