“Jamie, what are you up to?” Kate asked as I blindfolded her.
“Can I trust you?”
I laughed. “No.” The same answer I gave her to that question in Rome. “Now, come with me.”
I led her outside and helped her into the Land Rover. She thought I was about to do something kinky--not that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but that’s not where we were going that particular day. She was frustrated, kept asking questions, like my sons when they wanted to know, “Are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?” Kate asked.
“Relax,” I told her. I put my hand on her knee. I stroked her thigh. Her enthusiasm for things could be almost childlike. I loved that about her. Everything was an adventure. I wanted to marry her more every day.
Soon, I promised myself. Soon.
When we finally reached our destination, I parked the Rover and went around to the passenger side to help her out. I checked to make sure the blindfold was still in place. I kissed her. “What are you up to?” she asked again.
“No peeking,” I told her.
“I can’t see a thing,” she said, uneasy.
“Come with me,” I told her. I led her to the doors of the animal shelter and took her inside, then removed the blindfold.
She looked confused. “What are we doing here?” she asked.
“Getting you a dog,” I said. “You told me in Rome that you really wanted a dog.”
“I also told you I couldn’t get one because I travel so much,” she reminded me.
“We’ll get a dog walker to come look after it when we’re both away,” I said. “Now come pick your pooch.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but changed her mind. She nodded and kissed me. “I love you,” she whispered.
“You can show me how much later,” I told her.
“Count on it, lover boy.”
It didn’t take her long to select her dog. There were some cute puppies in the front cages. She bypassed all of them and found her dog--our dog--at the far end, a very large, pathetic creature huddled at the back of a cage, head hung low. It was the ugliest dog I’d ever seen, but for Kate it was love at first sight. She got on her hands and knees in the cage with that beast and hugged it. “Hey, there,” I said, “I don’t want to have to compete with any old dog for attention.”
“Look at him, Jamie,” she gushed. “He’s given up. He looks so sad.”
“If I looked like him, I’d be pretty miserable, too,” I said. She had such a soft heart. I turned to the caretaker and shrugged. “I think she’s made her choice.”
“I’ll start the paperwork,” the woman said with a nod.
Kate scrambled out of the cage. The dog hesitated. “Where did he come from?” I asked, wanting to be sure that any dog I got for her would be safe.
The caretaker frowned. “We don’t know. He was picked up roaming the streets. We estimate his age to be around seven years. He’s always been gentle. It’s really a shame people shy away from adopting older dogs. They make wonderful companions.”
“Does he have a name?” Kate asked.
“None that we know of.”
“I’ll call him Deeogee,” Kate decided. “What do you think, Jamie?”
“Deeogee?” I asked. “What kind of name is that?”
“A simple one. Easy to spell,” she said. “D-O-G, Deeogee.”
That was Kate. It could be the most butt-ugly thing in the world, but she’d find beauty in it. Deeogee was one lucky beast.
He could sleep with her every night. I only had her part-time.
She insisted we have a “family portrait”--her, me and the dog. She set the camera up with the timer and positioned us for the shot on the porch swing--me on one side, Kate on the other, Deeogee in the middle. “Family portrait,” I said, amused. “I am not that dog’s daddy.”
“How can you say that?” she teased me, turning the mutt’s head to look at me. “He looks just like you.”
“That was low.”
Her smile vanished abruptly. “I’ll have him to keep me company when you can’t be here,” she said quietly.
“I’ll be a permanent resident before you know it,” I promised her, not really sure how long it would take.
The dog adored her, right from the start. I, however, was not his favorite person. Deeogee was fiercely protective of Kate, to the point that he protected her from me. When I tried to kiss her, Deeogee would growl until I backed off. If we tried to snuggle on the couch, he’d wedge himself between us. The last straw was his determination to keep me out of our bedroom.
“I was here first, buddy,” I warned the hideous beast. “She’s mine--you’re just my stand-in.”
He started to growl, showing plenty of teeth.
Kate was laughing. She found our rivalry amusing. “What girl doesn’t like having two males fighting over her?” she reasoned.
“There’s not going to be a fight,” I said. “He’s out.” I reached for his collar, but the dog started to growl at me again.
“Maybe I’d better take him,” Kate suggested.
She took him to the hallway and closed the door. As she returned to our bed, we could hear him scratching on the door.
“Ignore him,” I said, taking her in my arms. I started kissing her neck, but she was distracted by the dog’s scratching.
“I can’t make love with him out there doing that,” she lamented.
“Sure you can,” I insisted, trying to kiss her again. Her heart wasn’t in it, so I released her. By that point, I was ready to haul the creature back to the shelter.
“This isn’t going to become a habit,” I said, aggravated. “If I had known how much trouble he’d be--”
“He’ll be all right,” she assured me. “He just has to get used to the idea that he can’t be in here when you’re here.”
“He’ll be a problem as long as he knows he can get his way with you by scratching and being a general nuisance.”
“I’ll take him downstairs and put him in your office,” she said, reaching for her robe. “I’ll be right back.”
“Promise?” I asked. “You’re not going to end up staying down there with him?”
“Of course not.” She gave me a mischievous look. “You’re a much better lover.”
I made a face. “Thanks--I think.”
I left nothing to chance. I intended to make sure there was no way Kate would hear that dog, no matter what he did, once he was locked up downstairs. Music. The right music would create a romantic mood and muffle any sounds Deeogee might make in a bid for her sympathy.
Kate returned a few minutes later. “It’s about time,” I said, welcoming her back to bed with open arms. “I was feeling lonely up here without you.”
“I’ll make it up to you,” she promised, dropping the robe. She climbed back into bed and wrapped her arms around me. “I love you, Jamie,” she whispered, nibbling on my earlobes. I loved it when she did that. My ears were quite sensitive. Surprising erogenous zones, but I got quite turned on when she went for my lobes, and she knew it.
“Mmm, that feels good,” I said, running my hands through that wild mass of red hair. “I thought you found my ears repulsive.”
She drew back. “Where’d you get an idea like that?” she asked.
“You said they were too big.”
She laughed. “You asked for my assessment of you as a model,” she said, stroking my jaw. “For modeling, your ears are too big and your nose is a little too broad--but for me personally, I happen to love everything about you.” She started to nibble on them again, driving me crazy….
The next morning, we found Deeogee sleeping soundly in my office--and the leather and stuffing chewed out of the seat of my expensive desk chair.
“He’s jealous of you,” Kate said over breakfast. “Isn’t that cute?”
I didn’t find it cute at all. “That’s what I get for saving that Sasquatch from the gas chamber,” I grumbled.
“Give him time,” she urged. “He’ll come to love you as much as I do.”
I pulled her onto my lap--and Deeogee started growling again.