She thanked the heavens that a reprieve from her self-created misery was on the way.
Mel shuffled from her home office to the living room to wait for her cousin Miki’s arrival. She plopped down on the plush, cushiony window seat in her cozy neutral-toned D.C. townhouse and lifted her face toward the sun raining in from the bay window; it was the feature that made her outbid three buyers to snag the place. She closed escrow and filled the rooms with décor fresh from the Crate & Barrel catalog, right before realizing her true passion, impulsively quitting her marketing day job, and declaring that her blog would be a success by the age of thirty. Now, her little slice of heaven might soon be a memory with the loss of her biggest account. As her gaze shifted to the wall calendar with a red line circling February 14th, Mel reconciled herself to the fact that the gamble hadn’t paid off, and her thirtieth birthday was upon her. The dreaded day, an exclamation point on her failure, was now only one week and a day away and promised to hold all the excitement and romance of colon surgery.
Mel thanked the heavens for the distraction of dog sitting Mack, her favorite pup, while Miki and her globetrotting husband, J.B., tripped the light fantastic for a week in gay Paris for the second time in a year. She didn’t know what she loved more about Miki’s adoptee, his cottony soft, black-spotted white fur, his innocent dark eyes, or his ability to leap a small feeding dish in a single bound, but he made for great company on lonely days.
After once more glancing at the clock, Mel dashed into the bathroom and tried to minimize her scruffy edges. That's when she heard the thump of Miki's car radio in the driveway. Seconds after she returned to her window, Miki sashayed to the door dressed in black Prada from her head to her toes, while toting Mack's carrier in her hand. The sight of Mel caused his tail wags to increase in speed; she flung the door open to greet them.
"Don't you look gorgeous!" Mel said as her big cousin practically floated inside. Mel loved Miki dearly even though a surge of ineptness always surfaced in her presence. They equaled one another in height, build, and hair length, and she’d been blessed with more than her share of the Vincent intellect, but she lacked her cousin's style and finesse. Miki had always been tall, svelte, graceful, her every outfit coordinated to perfection. She could've easily graced the cover of Cosmopolitan or Vogue on her worst day. Mel, on the other hand, with her four eyes, messy kinky coils, and wardrobe fresh from NFL.com, was more suited for the cover of Towel Boys Weekly. While Mel lacked all fashion sense, she’d been endowed with a cute set of jealousy-inducing dimples; so, there was that.
"Right...back...atcha?" Miki replied, much less convincingly, eyeing her cousins overly casual gear with a smirk. She’d used her sizeable inheritance to gift Mel with a New York runway wardrobe, but her tomboyish cousin still refused to wear them.
After a warm, welcoming embrace, Mel thrust her hand in the air and yelled, "Release the Kraken!" signaling Miki to let loose her favorite doggie. So happy to see Mel, he nearly tipped himself over excitedly dancing on his hind legs.
"Oh, I missed you, too!" While Miki watched in amusement, Mel gathered the pup in her arms and admired his sweet face. After a licking frenzy left her cheek soggy, she stilled him by locking her eyes on his. "First one who blinks, wins," she said to Mack, who blinked immediately. "You got me, again. Let's go. I know what you want."
She set him on the floor, and he took off at the sound of her fax machine, typical for the peculiar pup. She trotted down the hall behind him and opened her office door. Then she waited for him to hop up on the roomy, high-back leather chair. She didn't know how the dog learned to type, but he loved the iMac. Every time she played dog sitter to Master Mack, she'd open up a blank page in anticipation of his arrival. Maybe the click of the keys on her mechanical keyboard or the blinker on the screen held his interest. As his little paws tapped away, she made her way back into the living room.
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