Picture - #10
DISCLAIMER: Story mine, Characters not.
Jen's day at her pet supplies store was almost over. She sighed internally as she checked Kate, her current customer, through - and out. The woman was a knockout, nearly 6 feet tall with short black hair and brilliant blue eyes. Jen thought she must have a lot of cats - or one very spoiled one - as she had been in frequently at the end of the day over the last two months buying toys, catnip and other cat paraphernalia. Jen didn't mind that: after all, she needed steady customers.
What she did mind was that the Fates were teasing her by dangling such a hot woman in front of her, who obviously was already taken. Jen had often heard her on her cell phone on her way out talking to one 'Britney' who also was addressed as 'honey' and 'sweetie', telling her she'd be home shortly, leading Jen to conclude sadly that said Britney was the woman's partner.
Jen knew, though, that her shyness would never let her ask someone like that out even if she knew she was single. That shyness had plagued her her whole life, keeping her in the relatively small town where she was raised rather than going to a bigger city in search of romance.
She had only one customer in the store after the hottie left, Mrs. Alston, who had been her third grade teacher. "Let me help you put those sacks of dog food in your car," she offered to the elderly woman. "And then your granddaughter can help you get them out once you get home."
"Thank you, dear," Mrs. Alston replied. Jen pushed the cart out the door and unloaded it into the lone car in the lot. She waved goodbye as the woman drove away then went back inside and closed and locked the front door. She took up a pushbroom and started sweeping the floor, warbling a Christmas carol in an off-key voice as she swept. She came around the end of an aisle and frowned as she saw a cart with a sad-looking puppy in it sitting there. She recognized the puppy as one she'd seen in the store earlier, thinking at the time that its owner was just looking at something in another aisle.
"Who do you belong to, sweetie?" she asked as she lifted the tag on the yellow Labrador's red harness. She frowned again as she saw the tag was blank. She sifted through the sack sitting in the cart next to the puppy, hoping to find a clue, but discovered it only had newspaper stuffed in it. Blonde brows rose over suddenly angry green eyes as she said to the puppy, "You know, I think someone didn't forget you, they abandoned you here!"
Ironically, her apartment complex didn't allow pets, but it was what she could afford for now. She smuggled the puppy in for the night when she went home. She put a note on the store's door describing the puppy and giving the store number, which she forwarded to her cell phone, hoping despite her suspicions that someone had just forgotten the dog and would return, frantic to find it. No call came though, and she and the puppy returned to the store together the next day, where she built it a little enclosure behind her checkout counter, stocking it with food, water, and toys. The day wore on and still no one came.
As the afternoon passed she sadly decided that she needed to call the police, who acted in lieu of animal control when needed. "Sweetie, I hate to do this," she told the puppy, "but I can't keep you, and maybe they can find you a home." She didn't add that though the officers would try to do that, they would have to take her to a shelter in the nearby city if they couldn't find someone to adopt her quickly.
She called dispatch and Shirley there told her, "I'll send officer Mathos over right away." Jen had had few customers that afternoon, which she once again blamed on the Fates, as she kept looking up from her activities and seeing the puppy happily nosing around her enclosure. Her eyes teared up now as she hung the phone up, wishing there was some way she could keep the puppy.
About 15 minutes later she heard a car pull up out front and looked out to see a police cruiser. A tall figure wearing a hat and the obligatory reflective shades stepped out and came into the store. As the officer removed the hat and sunglasses, Jen realized it was her hottie. "Oh! I didn't realize you were on the police force. I mean, I thought I knew everyone, but obviously not since I didn't know you," Jen found herself babbling.
"I've only lived here about two months," Kate replied. "After my brother died and I became the guardian for my niece Britney, we decided living in a smaller town might be best for us, and I looked for an opening. One came up here, and we moved here."
Britney? Niece? Jen thought. To her shock, she heard herself saying, "Oh – so you don't have a girlfriend after all?"
"No," Kate smiled down at Jen. "And how about you?"
"No, no I don't."
"Oh, good," Kate said. "I've been afraid to ask you out, so I just kept coming in buying things for our neighbor's cat, hoping to lead the conversation that way sometime. He's up to his ears in catnip by now." She caught sight of the puppy scrambling to reach them, and said, "Aww – she's so cute. Do you suppose anyone would mind if I took her home as a Christmas present for Britney? She's been asking for a puppy."
Jen grinned. "No, that would be great! And maybe I could visit her there?"
"We can call it our first date, ok?" Kate said.
"Ok!" Jen happily replied.
Story by: MERETSEGER
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