Author's Note:  For most of this to make sense, you should read Hammer and Nails first.  This sequel takes place six months after the end of Hammer and Nails.


Sex:  Sure!
Violence:  Not really
Language:  Some bad, some good!

Drop me a line, let me know what you think!  Don't worry, I have thick skin, just don't be rude! :)

Thanks to all of those who read Hammer and Nails.  Your encouragement has earned Jump and Bernadette further adventures.

Strong Foundation




Chapter 1  Wedding Bells

     Bernadette looked lovingly over at Jump who was brushing back a tear.  She is so beautiful, thought Bernadette.  Caught looking, she grinned shyly and turned her attention back to the minister who was performing the simple ceremony on the beach.  What did the minister just say?  Oh right the rings!  She quickly produced them from her linen pant pocket and handed them to a clearly nervous, sweating Matt.
    "Thanks," he whispered as he took them from her with slightly shaky hands.
    She gave him her best Best Man/Sister supportive smile and brushed his sleeve as he turned to Sue.  Jump saw the exchange between the two and lifted a corner of her mouth in touching amusement.
      The ceremony continued as the early May sun made its slow and colorful decent beyond the Pacific Ocean.  Both Maid of Honor and Best Man/Sister looked on as they watched their best friend and brother make promises of undying love and commitment.  The couple looked deeply into each other's eyes, their words soft and solemn.
     Soon the minister was announcing Sue and Matt husband and wife to the small number of family and friends.  As they started down the aisle following behind the bride and groom, Bernadette took Jump's hand.  "You look wonderful," mouthed Jump to Bernadette.  Bernadette squeezed her hand in response.  Her eye caught Mark's in the front row.  She smiled at him and gave a little wave to Ryan who was sitting on his lap.  Mark returned the smile with genuine warmth.

     "Wow, what a beautiful ceremony!"  Beamed Carrie as she joined Jump and Bernadette out on the deck of the beach house.  In order to save money for a house, Matt and Sue wanted a small and simple ceremony. They knew they would only be inviting a small number of people and didn't want to have to rent out a church or reception hall so they were delighted when Bernadette and Jump offered up the beach house for the wedding and reception.
      "Yeah," added Bernadette as she propped her elbows on the deck railing and faced out at the now dark ocean.  It had been perfect day.  The weather was mild, no wind, everyone showed up on time, the caterers had done a great job setting up in the house.  Matt hadn't passed out or puked.  The day went off without a hitch.  She smiled in relief realizing she just might get her house back now that all of the frantic party favor making, last minute phone calls and decoration duty was over.  Jump had been every bit the Maid of Honor and took care of a lot of the wedding planning as Sue was such a nervous wreck.  As for Bernadette's Best Man/Sister duties, she just had to keep Matt out of the way, and from running away.  No chance of that, the boy is whipped, she thought with a smile.  Like I am.
    She had been concerned at how Mark would take the news at him not being Best Man at Matt's wedding.  Luckily her concern was unfounded as she discovered it was he who had actually brought it up over the phone a month before the wedding.  He'd actually suggested it to Matt saying she had been there for him more than he had.  Bernadette had the suspicion though that it was also Mark's way of poking fun of Bernadette's 'butch' attributes.
    Through their sarcastic and dry senses of humor, Bernadette and Mark found a sort of truce with each other.  They'd tease each other and give each other nicknames as a way of accepting the situation neither felt in control of.  Their easy banter and comfort around each other hadn't returned completely but they both knew it was on the right track.  There was hope.

    The sound of clinking glasses got everyone's attention and they gathered around the bride and groom who were standing just outside the kitchen inside the house.
    "I think it's the Best Man that is supposed to make the first toast, but I'm gonna do it."  Announced a stupidly grinning Matt.  He took a deep breath and squeezed Sue's hand.  She looked at him with such affection and love it made some of the guests smile with benign envy.
    "If someone were to tell me five years ago that I'd be getting married today I would have told them…bullshit."  That got a round of laughs and snickers and a playful slap from Sue.  Matt sobered and turned fully around to face Sue.  He took both of her hands.  Swallowing a rather large lump in his throat, he continued.  "I know I'm young, baby, but I promise every day that I will try to be the best man I can be, for you.  I thank God I found you so early in my life and I look forward to spending the rest of it with you."  The small gathering broke out into applause, whistles and 'ahhs' as the couple kissed.
    "Now for you…"  Matt said, pointing directly at Bernadette.  She figured it was her turn and she cleared her throat to speak.  Thinking frantically about what she would say, she heard him continue.  "Bernsy, you have always been there for me.  When mom died, you held the family together and probably saved my life more than once…literally and figuratively."  That got a private smile between the two and slight nods in affirmation from both Carrie and Mark.  "You were the voice of reason and the can of 'whoop ass' when ever I needed it.  When it comes down to it, sis, words cannot express how much you mean to me.  You are a big part of why I'm standing here today and I…I thank you."  The last words were hard to hear as Matt's voice cracked with emotion.  But Bernadette heard them.  They held each other's eyes for a few seconds, hundreds of memories being relived in that instance by the two of them.
    Bernadette was aware of Jump's hand resting loosely around her waist as she listened to Matt's speech.  She was surprised, humbled and boundlessly touched by what he had said.  She had no idea how much she had impacted his life.  It filled her heart.  As Matt finished she felt Jump's hand tighten on her side.  She turned now to her and saw that Jump had tears coming down her cheeks.  She smiled through them and looked at Bernadette with infinite pride and love.
    With a steadying breath, for it was completely quiet in the room after that, Bernadette opened her mouth to speak.  The room was so heavy with emotion she wasn't sure what to say.  "Wow.  I guess you were paying attention all those times!"  She said with overstated revelation.  That got everyone laughing, especially Matt, who was grateful for the lightening of the mood he'd suddenly created.  "Matt, I couldn't be prouder of you.  You have grown into such a fine young man.  You have found a wonderful woman to share your life with.  You've done all right, bro.  Congratulations, you two."
    "Here, here!" came a chorus of shouts as each person lifted their glass and toasted the bride and groom.


    Jump had just finished putting the last of the enormous amounts of food in the refrigerator when she heard a deep rumbling noise coming from Ryan's room.  Curious to see what it was, she walked down the hall and into his room.  The sight that welcomed her warmed her heart…and made her snort with laughter. Bernadette had fallen asleep in the rocking chair that was situated next to the crib.  Her body had slumped over and her head was now resting against the rungs of the crib. Ryan was sitting in his crib, pulling at strands of Bernadette's dark hair through the rungs and sucking on them with abandon.  Then she heard the noise that brought her there in the first place.  Bernadette's mouth opened emitting a deep, loud snore.  So loud in fact, it woke her up instantly.  She looked around, clearly confused.  She lifted her head and winced as she felt her hair being pulled.  "Hey, I need that." She said with a tired smile.  Ryan began to whimper until she stood up and promptly swept him out of his crib making him giggle.
    "Oh, man, my hair is crusty!"  She sang in mock anger.  It made him laugh even more.  Suddenly she realized a presence at the door.  "Hey, babe… I was just…"
    "Reading him a story?"  Jump finished with a wry smile.  She crossed the remaining space between them and laid her head on Bernadette's shoulder.  She reached out to ruffle Ryan's hair as Bernadette brought him closer to her chest.
    "I had no idea weddings could be so tiring."  Mused Bernadette through a yawn.
     "Yeah and it wasn't even ours." Jump sighed.
     "Do you wish it was?"  Bernadette responded without thought.  Where did that come from?  She held her breath.  They'd never talked about something like that seriously.  She knew Jump was of the opinion that if it didn't count in the eyes of the law, it didn't count.
     "Uh…" Caught off guard, Jump didn't know how to respond.
     "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that.  Tired and emotional I guess."  She offered as a way of explanation.  Quick change the subject, Rand.
     "Is there any more chicken?"  Bernadette asked suddenly.
     "You still hungry?  Laughed Jump, a mixture of relief and disappointment that the subject had been dropped.  She had no idea Bernadette had even considered them having some sort of ceremony.  But the way she asked if I wished it was ours… Maybe I should rethink the ceremony thing.  If it would mean a lot to her then it should to me too, right?


     "It sure is quiet without Sue, " observed Casey as she helped Jump with opening some shipments that had come in that morning.  Jump gave an unconscious grunt of agreement as she tried to figure out how to reconfigure the space for the new board shorts.  The ones she had already on the shelf were not selling as fast as they had last year and she wondered if she should have order the same amount she did last year.
     After deciding what to move she took stacks of shorts out of the shelf and rearranged them.  She then responded to Casey's statement.   "Yeah, but take advantage of it while you can.  She'll be back on Wednesday."  Jump nodded in satisfaction at the new configuration of shorts.  She began tagging the new merchandise and separating them by sizes.
    As a wedding gift, Jump, Bernadette, Mark and the Rand's father, Frank, pitched in to send them up the coast to a B&B for a few nights.  The couple hadn't expected it and were genuinely touched at the gesture.
    "I hope I can be that happy someday," mused Casey as she began breaking down the empty boxes.  "Speaking of being happy, how are you and Bernadette doing?"  Asked Casey with a good-natured grin.  She had become a friend as well as an employee and some time babysitter during the course of a year and Jump had grown to like the young girl a lot.  She was responsible and 'had a good head on her shoulders' as Bernadette pointed out once.  She freed up a lot of Jump's time for doing the accounting and day-to -day business of the shop.
    "We are doing really well.  I can't believe we are coming up on a year already."  Replied Jump.  She really couldn't.  Moving in with her last November had been an easy decision and it had worked out wonderfully.  She sensed it took some time for Bernadette to get used to two other people living with her as she'd been on her own for so long.  But she adjusted quickly and enthusiastically, taking some of her stuff to storage to make room for some of Jump's books and furniture.  The office was turned into a work place for both of them.  Bernadette even spent hours 'baby-proofing' the house the first time she realized Ryan could start opening cabinets and drawers.
    "Yeah, time flies, huh?" Casey agreed as she helped Jump with the tagging and folding now.  "Have you guys ever thought of having a ceremony, or anything?"  Casey asked curiously.  She realized by Jump's heavy sigh that she might have been prying.  She began to apologize for asking when Jump responded.
    "Well, since it isn't legal yet, I guess not.  I mean what is the point?  Spend a bunch of money on something that isn't even real you know?"  Jump said as she finished tagging the last pair of shorts.  She stood up and stretched her back muscles.  She looked at Casey pointedly and felt the need to explain further.  "I would love to, but I don't know.  I guess it shouldn't matter what the law says as long as both people wanted to."  She thought back to the previous night when Bernadette brought up the subject.  "I think I'd rather wait until it was legal."  She finished.
    "I guess you are right.  It sucks though, huh?"  Casey said as she began picking up the boxes to take them to the trash.  She heard Jump over her shoulder.
    "Yeah, it does suck.  A lot."

     "And that is how you fix a leaky faucet."  Bernadette concluded dramatically to the oblivious toddler as she grabbed a dishtowel to wipe her hands.  Ryan was happily chasing lime Jell-O around his high chair tray trying to put the little squiggly treat into his mouth.  He banged the tray in frustration and Bernadette took pity on him.
     "Don't worry, son, your motor skills will kick in soon."  She chuckled as she scooped up a glob and put it into his open mouth, deftly avoiding the two very sharp teeth coming in.  Son… thought Bernadette with a smile.  I wish.
     Unbeknownst to Jump, Bernadette had begun wondering about the legalities of trying to adopt Ryan.  Obviously she was his aunt, but that came with no legal benefits.  If her and Jump were for real and both were in it for good, there should be some legal protections, reasoned Bernadette.  She'd like to be able to add him to her insurance and be able to make decisions on his behalf if for some reason Jump or Mark couldn't.  She was beginning to feel like a full-fledged parent to Ryan and Jump had made it very simple to fall into that role.
     They'd discussed it when Jump had moved in.  They'd talked extensively about child-rearing philosophies and what each would do in certain situations.  It wasn't a surprise to either that they'd found out they would handle most situations just the same.  They were reasonable, down to earth people who had had good enough childhoods to draw from.
     If Bernadette had stopped and really thought about what she was taking on, it might have scared her.  To go from living alone for so long to having an instant family in everyway but on paper was a huge leap.  But she loved Jump and Ryan so much that it was an undertaking she was all too happy to take on.
     She smiled down at the yellow-green tinted face with affection.  "Let's get you cleaned up before your mom thinks you have some kind of weird disease."


    Jump poured through the last two month's sales receipts again.  It couldn't be right.  The numbers from last year's same months were much higher.  She looked back to the year before that and saw they were about the same as last year.  She had noticed less people coming in to the shop, but she figured it was because school was still in session.  Looking at the discrepancy in this month's numbers, she wondered if there was more to it.  Maybe it is time to do more advertising, she thought as she closed the books and began to pack up to go home.

    As Jump left the shop, the sun was just beginning to set.  She loved the light at this time.  Objects took on a glowing, almost ethereal pink and yellowish tint that seemed to make them look clean, sharp and new.  She just wished she'd remembered to grab her sunglasses.
    Her thoughts then turned to her and Bernadette's impending one-year anniversary.  That brought a little grin.  It was coming up in a little less than a month.  She wondered what she would get Bernadette.  She mentally ran through a list of things she could get, discarding each one as being too practical or too impersonal.  She wanted to get her something special and meaningful, she just wasn't sure what yet.  Then suddenly, it came to her.  I know exactly what I'll give to her!

    "Look who is home, little man!"  Bernadette crooned as they were coming in from the deck.  Jump had just set her stuff down on the counter when a wobbling, slobbering Ryan greeted her.  He wrapped his arms around her legs for balance, as he'd come in a bit fast for his tiny legs.  Bernadette chuckled as she picked him up so he could give his mommy a kiss.
    "How have his teeth been?"  Jump asked as she looked at her slobbering son.  He'd been teething for the last couple of months and some days were better than others.
    "He was fine today.  Just a whole lot of slobbering…obviously."  Bernadette said as she leaned in for a kiss of her own.  It apparently lasted too long for Ryan's taste as he began to clap and yelp loudly into Bernadette's ear.  "All right, I get it!"  She laughed.  He then began wiggling out of her arms.
      "What is it?"  They both asked in unison as he made a beeline for the T.V.  He began pointing at it saying "Boo…Boo".
     Jump looked at Bernadette who was also puzzled until she remembered what had been on T.V. that morning.  "Oh…. BoohBah."  She said.
     "Yeah it is this really warped children's cartoon with these dancing blobby things.  Think of the Tele-Tubbies on LSD."  Bernadette explained.
     "Uh huh."  Jump said slowly.
     "I turned on the T.V. and he was like instantly hooked.  It was the damnedest thing.  They must send out some sort of brain waves to children. WATCH ME…WATCH ME…" Bernadette said in a zombie like voice.  Her eyes got big and unfocused like she was in a trance, making Jump start laughing.  The commotion caused Ryan to start jumping around animatedly shrieking, "Boo-Boo!"  until both of the women were doubled over laughing.

     "How was your day?"  asked Bernadette as she watched Jump undress and put on her customary sleeping shirt.  She pulled down the covers for her to slide in.  Jump smiled at the unconscious act.
     "It was okay.  Got a new shipment of shorts.  Enjoyed the quiet while Sue was away."  She paused debating whether to bring up the recent sales numbers.  Hiding it seemed stupid.  "The last two months' sales numbers were down though.  Considerably."  Jump said as matter-of-fact as she could.
     "Yeah?  Why do you think?"  Asked Bernadette as she sat up a bit.
     "School not being out yet.  Weather.  Not really sure."  Jump said off-handedly.  "I'm sure it is nothing to stress over."  Jump said, trying to make herself believe it.  She suddenly had this very foreboding feeling.  She tried to shake it off.
     "Well, I'm sure it will pick up once school gets out."  Bernadette offered.  She wrapped around Jump and pulled her down to rest against her.
     Feeling Bernadette's steady heartbeat brought her a bit of relief and optimism. It's amazing how one person can bring such peace to another, thought Jump as she drifted off to sleep.  Things will be all right.

Chapter 2  Snatch the Dog



    Bernadette was so excited.  She hadn't been up to the cabin in a year and she was looking forward to showing Jump the place that held so many memories for her.  She had lucked out and been able to rent the cabin on their anniversary weekend.  Now all she had to do was convince Jump that Casey could indeed watch Ryan for the weekend.  It would be the longest time she'd ever been apart from him, Jump pointed out numerous times.        Finally, Bernadette had suggested they not go.  In the end though, Jump had agreed it would be good for them to spend some time together, just the two of them.  Especially after Bernadette mentioned the large claw foot tub she had helped the owner install a few years back.
    "The car's all packed!"  Shouted Bernadette from the truck as she tied down the last of the food boxes, luggage and bikes.  She debated going back in to save Casey from Jump's compulsive instruction routine, but decided it was what made Jump feel better about leaving Ryan.  Besides, Casey was quite used to it and put up with it with the most amazing display of patience.
    Finally, after a few more minutes of Bernadette tightening down the load, making sure all the paper coffee cups were cleared out of the cab and an adequate supply of CDs were available, Jump emerged from the house.  Bernadette tried to read her mood by her facial expression but had a hard time.  She looked at her partner tentatively and was finally rewarded with an easy smile.
    "I'm okay Bernadette.  I know Ryan is going to be fine with Casey."  Jump said with assurance as she made her way to the passenger side of the car.  Bernadette looked back at the house to see Casey with Ryan in her arms, both waving with big smiles on their faces.
    "What does Ryan have in his other hand?"  Asked Bernadette.
    "Casey's collection of Boohbah episodes."  Jump said as she waved back at the two, blowing kisses to Ryan.  Bernadette just looked at her with a slightly stricken look on her face.  "Don't worry.  She began taping them when I told her how much he loved them.  She has a week's worth."
    "Oh, okay."  Bernadette said with relief.  She too waved back at the two waving as they pulled out of the driveway.

    The drive was a pleasant one.  Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of traffic and the weather was clear and mild.  Each woman took turns talking about various childhood memories and the benefits and drawbacks to growing up in California.  Neither had lived anywhere else and couldn't imagine moving from this beautiful state, despite it's sometimes unfriendly small business atmosphere and packed freeways.
    "Out of curiosity, if you had to live somewhere else, where would it be?"  Asked Jump after a bit of comfortable silence.
    Bernadette thought for a few seconds.  "I think I'd like to stay out West if I could.  Maybe Arizona or New Mexico.  I've been to New Mexico a couple of times.  It isn't as gay family friendly as California though, and California still has a long way to go."  Bernadette paused for a moment.  "Then there is the East Coast… I've always wanted to visit out there… So much history and culture, you know?  How about you?"
    Jump was taking Bernadette's answer in.  She was pleasantly surprised that Bernadette had referred to them as a family.  Yeah, I guess we are, she mused.  "Hmm.  I don't know, I'd like to stay out west, but the East Coast would be an option.  They actually have 4 seasons there."  She laughed.  "And it is absolutely beautiful.  I've been to Vermont a few times visiting my mom and I just loved it."
    Bernadette nodded and smiled without taking her eyes off the road as it had become windy due to the ascent up the mountain.  "Perhaps we should take a trip out there.  Visit your mom.  I know she'd love to see Ryan."
    "Yeah, that would be nice.  I know we are pretty overdue for a visit with the her."  Jump reasoned.  "Later this summer, maybe?"
    "I think I might be able to swing a few days off."  Bernadette replied.  She began thinking of her upcoming building projects.  "Perhaps the end of August or beginning of September?"
    "Let's try and plan on that."  Jump said, now beginning to get excited by the prospect of seeing her mom and showing Bernadette the East Coast.

    They arrived at the cabin a little before dinnertime.  There was still an ample amount of sunlight so Bernadette decided to give Jump a tour around the place after checking in and getting the key.
    They walked hand in hand towards the river, which was about 30 yards from the cabin.  Bernadette would point out the different plant life she'd remembered learning about while growing up.  Her mother had had an interest in being able to name them so her kids had to also.  Jump loved to hear stories of Bernadette growing up with her three siblings.  It gave her even more insight into the woman she was still finding things out about.  Like her inability to back down from a dare.  She'd heard about the tree incident and jumping into a semi-frozen river on a dare.
    In fact, she was still laughing when Bernadette stopped and pointed to a boulder.  "This is where it happened."  She reflected.  "This is where I realized that I was most likely in love with you."  Jump looked at her with curious amusement, then revelation.
    "The bear?"  Jump remembered the story told in vivid detail by Bernadette when she'd returned.  The perfectly timed phone call she had made to Bernadette that day might have saved her life.  'In more ways than one', Bernadette had told her.  She thought she was just being silly, when she'd seen the serious look in Bernadette's eyes.
    "You know, I expected the 'life flashing before my eyes' routine, but all I could think about was the fact that I'd never get to tell you how I really felt about you.  That I loved you."
     Bernadette looked furtively at the ground.  Jump stayed silent, thinking she'd continue speaking, but she didn't.  Bernadette kicked at the boulder lightly and it was at that moment Jump realized Bernadette's nose was a little red at the tip, a telltale sign she was beginning to tear up.
     "Hey, baby." Jump said quietly as she took Bernadette's face between her hands.  "You are here now, with me."  She brought Bernadette's forehead down to rest on her own and then a second later brought her lips up to meet the taller woman's in a deep, affirming kiss.
     When the kiss broke, both women pulled back only enough to look into each other's eyes. Encouraged by the other, their shy smiles formed in to big beaming ones.  "You know, it really is a wonder."  Jump started.  "I can barely remember what life was like before you and Ryan.  It seems like two lifetimes ago."
     "I know what you mean."  Bernadette said as she took Jump by the hand and led her to the cabin.  She had quite a special evening planned for them and it involved a small fire in the fireplace and a claw foot tub.


    Jump awoke to the wonderful smell of pancakes and coffee and the sound of Bernadette singing loudly in the kitchen.  She smiled at the memory of last night. I had no idea the hot water heater was that large for a small cabin… she thought idly as she began to make her way to the bathroom and then to the kitchen to greet her love.
    "Hey, I was going to serve you breakfast in bed."  Bernadette said loud enough for Jump to hear her in the bathroom.  She set the tray down on the nightstand and ambled into the bathroom.
    "Happy anniversary."  Crooned Bernadette as she kissed Jump's neck as she leaned, over washing her face in the sink.  Jump turned around, wet face and all and kissed Bernadette.
    "Back at ya."  Smiled Jump as they both dried their faces off.
    "Come back to bed and eat breakfast with me."  Smiled Bernadette as she led the way back to bed.  Jump happily complied.
    "You are so good to me."  Said Jump as she settled down into a sitting position in bed.  She crossed her legs so Bernadette could sit in front of her on the side of the bed.  They both shared a stack of pancakes, feeding each other every once in a while.
    "Wow.  I can't believe it has been a year already."  Bernadette mused.  Abruptly she stood and went to her small suitcase and pulled out a wrapped box, no bigger than her palm.  "I got you something…"  She said as she handed Jump the box.  Jump took it slowly.  "You can open it now."  Bernadette smiled.
     Jump looked at the box for another second and began unwrapping it.  She opened the small box and saw that it was a beautiful watch.  As she lifted it out of the box, Bernadette said, "There is an inscription on the back too."  Jump turned it over and read:  Loving every minute … B.
    Jump smiled at the saying.  It was so Bernadette.  "I love it, Baby.  Thank you."  Jump said as she cleared her throat.  And she did love it.  She remembered telling Bernadette almost six months ago how she'd lost her favorite watch at the beach when she'd moved here.  This watch was pretty darn close to what she'd described too.  Jump smiled at how fitting this situation was in regards to her gift to Bernadette.
     She put on the watch, which fit perfectly and gave Bernadette a kiss.  "I've got something for you too."  She announced as she ambled off the bed and went to her backpack.  She took out the envelope and walked over to Bernadette.  She handed it to her saying, "It's not a present or anything…"
     Bernadette took the envelope with a small quizzical smile on her face.  She opened it and saw that it was a poem, written by Jump, dated a week ago.

I love the way you look at me in the morning,

I love the way you call me at lunch just to say hi,

I love the way you put the right amount of sugar and cream in my coffee,

I love the way you play 'peekaboo' with Ryan,

I love the way you put on your socks,

I love the way you hum when you think I'm not listening,

I love the way you remember what I wore three days later,

I love the way you kiss me,

I love the way you give me the bigger slice of cake at parties,

I love the way you listen,

I love the way you moan,

I love the way you say my name,

There are so many ways I love you I can't count,

But most of all,

I love the way you love me.

    Jump watched patiently and attentively as Bernadette read her poem.  She was reading it slowly, a small tear the only thing betraying her emotion.
    Finally, she looked up from the paper.  She looked at Jump intently and then hungrily.  Jump looked back a little wide-eyed.  "You like?"  She asked needlessly. Bernadette's answered her anyway, but not with words.


    Hours later, they were on a meandering dirt trail.  Jump had convinced Bernadette to bring their mountain bikes so they could get in some riding.  Jump missed it desperately.  She just hadn't had the time to go lately.  Looking at the smile on Jump's face, even on the tame trail, Bernadette decided she'd try to give Jump more opportunity to get out on the trail at home.
    Jump was enjoying the view of the gently sloping glen when she heard a loud, raspy growl followed by what sounded like teeth snapping.  Then out of the corner of her eye came a black and gray blur, about the size of a small dog.   If she'd been a less experienced biker she would have dumped her bike in panic.  Quickly assessing that it was in fact a dog and not a wild beast, she slowed down and slipped quickly off of her bike so that she had the bike between her and the dog.
    Bernadette, who was a few yards behind her, jumped off of her bike and began walking quickly towards them yelling and clapping.  The dog paid no attention to her, suddenly grabbing Jump's tire and shaking it violently like it would a small animal.
    "What the hell?"  Shouted Jump as she tried to pull the tire out of the dog's mouth.  Bernadette now approached the dog slowly crouching low.  "Be careful, hon, the dog could be feral."  Jump said as she continued to shake the bike.  The only thing that did was cause the dog to puncture the tire.
    "I think he's trying to eat my tire!"  Jump bellowed incredulously.  She was no longer fearful of the little mongrel, just angry.  She'd paid a lot for the tires.  Anger turned to amusement quickly though and soon she and Bernadette were laughing at the dog's tenacity.
    "Hey I have some jerky in my pack."  Bernadette said as she took off her water pack and sifted through the small pocket.  She waved it near the dog and after a moment, his keen smelling picked it up and he relinquished the tire and snatched the jerky, choking it down in two bites.
    Both women looked at each other in wonder as the dog sat up on its haunches and began barking.  "Is he begging for more?"  Asked Jump.
    "I think he is."  Bernadette said as she tore off another chunk.  He did the same thing, only taking the jerky a little more politely.
     "Does he have a collar?" Asked Jump as she approached the dog with her hand outstretched.
     "Careful." Warned Bernadette.
     Jump nodded as she slowly placed her hand in front of the dog for him to smell.  He sniffed cautiously and then began licking her fingers enthusiastically.  Soon she had him on his back in the dirt.
     "Huh."  Bernadette breathed.  She then reached down to pet the dog.  "Well, he's obviously not wild.  I wonder how he got out here."  She pondered.
     "Maybe he was dumped by someone."  Jump reasoned.  "He is pretty skinny."  She said as she felt his sides.  "Poor thing."  She cooed as he sat up and continued licking her fingers.
     Bernadette took a minute to look at the dog's ears and teeth and feet.  "Well, his ears and teeth look pretty clean.  His pads and nails are worn down though."  Jump looked at her a little quizzically.  "We used to find strays all the time growing up.  The vet we took them to shown me how to tell if a dog had been on the streets a long time.  Or in this case, out in the wild."
     "Oh."  Jump said.  I learn something new everyday about her.  She thought.  Bernadette continued looking through the dog's mottled black and gray fur, looking for ticks or fleas.  Surprisingly, she found only one tick and no fleas.
     "What should we do with him?"  Bernadette asked.  Jump looked at the mutt and thought.
     "Well, we can't very well leave him out here.  There is no one for miles and he's pretty dirty so I'd say he didn't just wonder off…"  She said.
     "Right."  Bernadette said as she stroked the dog thoughtfully.  He looked at her with big brown, pleading eyes.  Yep, I'm a sucker… she thought.  She turned to look up at Jump, silently relaying that Jump would be making this decision.
     "Okay.  Let's take him back and give him a bath.  We'll keep him with us until we head back and then take him to the animal shelter."  Jump said reasonably.  Bernadette looked at the scruffy tire and jerky snatching dog.  He was adorable, matted hair and all.  The wheels began turning.  All right, big guy, all you need is a bath and a brush.  She'll fall in love with you too, don't worry.
    "Well, since he shredded my tire, I'll carry him and walk my bike."  Jump announced as she bent to pick the dog up.  He couldn't have weighed more than 10 pounds.  He settled happily in her arms.  She sighed but smiled good-naturedly at Bernadette who just laughed as she jogged back to her bike to pick it up.

    "Huh.  He is pretty cute."  Said Jump as she began towel drying him.  He'd been very gracious during the bath.  Sitting still as they both bathed him in the large kitchen sink.
     They'd decided he was some kind of terrier mix.  His ears were small and his nose was square and short.  He was covered with a wiry but soft gray and black coat.  His legs were rather stubby suggesting he might have a bit of dachshund too.  He also had large chocolate brown eyes.
     "I wonder if he's trained at all."  Mused Bernadette as she set him down on the floor.  She gave him the command 'Sit' and he sat quickly.  "Hmm." She grunted, pleased.  She gave the commands, 'Shake', 'Lay down' and he did each one obediently.  Both women exchanged pleasantly surprised grins.  "Jump, you stand over there."  Bernadette directed, pointing to the other side of the kitchen.  She complied.  "Now, call him."  She said.
     "Come here, boy."  She called.  Nothing.  "Come on."  She commanded again.  She ran through all of the common little dog names and still nothing.
"I guess the little Tire Snatcher doesn't know that one."  She said as she began walking back over.  Mid-sentence though, the dog barked once sharply and trotted over to her.
    "Go back over there again and call him."  Bernadette said.  Jump did, with no result.  "Say that same sentence you did."  She added.
    "The one about the Tire Snatcher?"  No sooner had she said the sentence, the dog barked again.
    Bernadette looked at the dog, brows furrowed in concentration.  "Is your name Tire?"  The dog just cocked its head.  "Snatch?"  That got another sharp bark.  Jump rolled her eyes in disbelief.
    "You're telling me the dog's name is Snatch?"  She asked incredulously.
    "That's what he's telling us."  Bernadette said pointedly as she crossed the room.  "Come here, Snatch!"  Immediately, the dog raced across the room, nails clicking on the hardwood floor.
    "Great."  Was all Jump could say as Bernadette snickered.


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