Bitter and Sweet in Dog Town


“Ouch, geez!” A tall man in running shorts lurched backwards. His hand went up to his face. “Did you just hit me with a beagle?”

The jogger’s eyebrows went up. “One what?”

“Heat cycle,” Remi said, her cheeks warming. “Not that Rocky needs to worry about that, I guess.”

The guy looked at Arden. “Your friend is… interesting.”

“Isn’t she?” Arden laughed again. “Rocky’s got her addled.”

“A Tibetan mastiff in Dorset Hills,” Remi said, still on her knees. “I can’t believe it.”

“Just visiting,” the guy said.

Remi stared up at him, shading her eyes. “It’s so hot.”

His eyebrows rose again. “Pardon me?”

“Rocky shouldn’t be running with you. His coat is meant for a cold mountain climate.”

The guy rolled his eyes. “It was just a short lap up and down the boardwalk.”

Sticking out her hand, Arden said, “I’m Arden, and the dog authority is Remi.”

“James. Well, I’d better get Rocky back and put him in the freezer.” He grinned at Remi. “Kidding.”

James’ eyes were the lightest, clearest blue Remi had ever seen. Like a Siberian husky’s. They were so intimidating that it was hard to ask, but she knew she might never get another chance. “May I take a photo?”

“Uh… I could use a shower first,” he said.

“Of your dog!”

Taking her phone, James nudged Rocky over to stand beside her. Leo ambled into the shot as well. After taking the photo, James typed something into the phone and handed it back. “Now I have your contact information in case these scratches go septic.”

“He’s joking, Rems,” Arden said. “Aren’t you, James?”

“Probably.” He backed away slowly. “How’s this, Officer Remi? Slow enough for Rocky?”

“Perfect,” she called after him. “Sorry about your face.”

When he was gone, Arden shook her head. “I wouldn’t count on him asking you out, Remi. You were a little hard on his ego.”

“Fine with me. Not my type anyway.” She didn’t think much of someone who’d put his own needs before his dog’s. Plus, who needed a breed that expensive? It was like driving a Corvette when any beater would do.

“Rich and stunning is exactly my type,” Arden said. “But they’re as rare as Tibetan mastiffs in Dorset Hills.”

“Well, you can have him. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and right now, that’s getting ahead in my career.”

Arden checked her phone. “Let’s grab Marcus’ coffee so that he’s in a good mood later. Leave Leo with me when you pitch him, okay?”

A wave of anxiety washed over Remi. “I need Leo. I don’t want to be alone with that beard.”

“My friend, you got this,” Arden said. “No one keeps Remi in the basement.”

© Sandy Rideout