I stepped out of the shower and toweled off in front of the steam covered mirror while humming “I Kissed a Girl.” Katie Perry songs do that to me, get stuck in my head, you know what I mean, and once they are there, you can’t get rid of them. Well, that was what was happening to me right now. I swiped at the mirror with a hand towel and screamed at the werewolf that was staring back at me from the other side.
“Mommy!” I shrieked.
“What’s wrong Cindee?” Mommy came thumping up the stairs in a hurry and poked her head in the bathroom.
“Are you okay?” she asked, all slumped over, panting, and wheezing from the exertion.
“Look at this hair, do I look okay?” I grumbled at the unsightly mess that was sticking out in every direction.
“Your hair?” Mommy asked incredulously.
“Yeah, my hair. If anybody can fix it, you can. I mean you wake up with a black poodle that went through shock therapy on top of your head every morning and after a little work, it is beautiful!”
Mommy glared at me through narrowed eyes and huffed. Somehow, she did not seem to see the compliment. I didn’t have time to mess around with hurt feelings right now, I am on a tight schedule, so I did what any manipulative dog would do, I turned my head and gave her the sad puppy dog look.
“Please? I neeeeed you Mommy!”
She looked down her nose at me and sighed. Again, with the huff. Mommy has been doing that a lot lately, maybe she should see the doctor about that problem.
“Okay, I’ll help,” she said, just as I was about to bring up my concern about her breathing problem, instead I smiled and let the thought go.
“Thank you, Mommy!” I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.
I examined the mirror again and saw a pooch with the face of a chocolate lab and the hair of medusa staring back at me. Mommy grabbed the brush and began to run it through my brown hair and in no time I was beginning to resemble myself again. I explored my floppy ears and wondered how they would look if they were pierced. I think it would be fantastic to wear those big hoop earrings like Mommy does.
“There,” Mommy said, putting the finishing touches on my hair.
“What do you think about this? It kind of matches your bow?”
The light reflected off the silver studs that covered the pink leather collar. I glanced from the leather accessory to the mirror and examined the pink bow that Mommy had just placed in my hair.
“Your right it’s perfect!”
The chime from the doorbell rang and I leapt to my feet.
“It’s Lucas!” I barked and began for the stairs.
“Wait Cindee,” Mommy called from behind.
“You don’t want to seem too eager.” I stopped to stare at her.
‘But I am eager Mommy!”
“I know but trust me sweetie! Daddy will answer the door and Lucas can wait for you. It’s good to let him anticipate seeing you,” Mommy explained.
“Okay,” I reluctantly agreed and sat down in front of the mirror to give myself the once over while I impatiently listened to the Daddy’s and Lucas talking downstairs. Is this how Valentine’s Day is supposed to be, all nervousness and butterflies in the tummy?
“That’s it. I think you’re done, what do you think Cindee,” Mommy stepped back and watched me.
I looked at myself in the mirror, and to be totally honest, I did not recognize myself. The dog that stared back at me was elegant looking and beautiful. I couldn’t help but smile. I was so happy I wanted to cry, but I held it in.
“Thank you, Mommy,” I whispered hoarsely.
“You can thank me by having a good time,” she said, taking my chin in her hand and kissing me on the nose.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” she turned and grabbed a bottle of doggy perfume and spritzed me with it.
“Now you are ready, let’s go!”
I stood up and felt my legs trembling beneath me and my face felt oddly warm and tingly. We started for the stairs, but I felt odd, like I was no longer in my body, rather I was just a spectator watching myself.
From the top of the staircase, I looked down and saw Lucas waiting for me. He wore a smart black bowtie and his blonde locks had been swept back to reveal the most beautiful brown eyes that were still riveted to me. He smiled a big toothy smile when I came into view, and I felt like one of those princesses in a Disney movie. My heart thrummed in my chest, and I felt as though I floated down the stairs.
“You look beautiful Cindee,” he croaked, still with the mesmerized look on his face.
“You look dashing,” I smiled at him.
My goodness, where did that word come from? I looked him over again. He does look dashing, I thought.
“Let’s go you two lovebirds,” Lucas’s daddy said with a wink to Mommy and Daddy.
“See you later,” I cast a glance over my shoulder and smiled.
“Have fun!” Mommy said, and Daddy smiled a big goofy smile and waved.
They watched from the porch as the limousine pulled away. Did I say limousine? I meant the blue SUV.
Our vehicle rolled to a stop in front of a brick building with a blue awning, the words La Maison Du Chien were emblazoned across the window in gold leaf. A small line had formed at the entrance.
“I will pick you up in two hours,” Lucas’s daddy said tapping the face of his watch with his index finger.
“Two hours, got it,” Lucas confirmed with a nod.
By now the line was gone, and as Lucas and I made our way to the door I glanced over my shoulder at Lucas’s daddy and smiled. He waved back to us as we disappeared inside.
A young red-haired woman in an alluring black dress greeted us on the other side of the door and led us around the dance floor and towards our table. I tried to remain calm, cool and collected but a glance around the room revealed that La Maison Du Chien was a very chic eating establishment. The lighting was dim and smooth jazz music filtered through the dining room. Dogs of every size and breed were paired off and speaking in hushed romantic tones over plates of delicious smelling cuisine.
At last, we made it to our table in the back corner. Our hostess read us the Valentine’s Day specials with a warm welcoming smile, and we placed our order. I scarcely had the chance to examine my surroundings before she returned with a breadbasket filled with pizza crusts.
“So, tell me, how did you find your forever home,” Lucas asked, his teeth sinking into a pizza crust.
“Hmmm, it’s a long story,” I said. It wasn’t really a fib either, it truly is a long tale.
“Maybe just the short version then,” his eyes met mine from across the table.
I could tell he wasn’t just making small talk, his eyes told me he genuinely wanted to know all about me. This sudden realization sent a shiver throughout my body and unable to suppress it, a giggle escaped.
“Well, my earliest memory is of living with a very nice woman and a not so nice man, who liked to do unpleasant things to me.” Lucas reached across the table and placed his paw on top of mine.
“I’m sorry,” his voice cracked.
I peered up at the ceiling for a moment and studied the tiny little lights that hung suspended there, twinkling like a constellation of far-off stars. For the briefest moment Lucas’s eyes caught and reflected them in all their dazzling splendor. I could very easily get lost in those deep brown eyes.
“I shouldn’t have asked,” his voice trailed off.
“No, it’s okay,” I reassured him before continuing.
“The woman took me away and put me in a box and left me in a parking lot. One of Mommy’s friends found me and that is how I met my Mommy.”
All the memories of that night floated back into my mind. The whole thing was clear as if it had just happened this morning. It was the scariest night of my life followed by the happiest day. A smile formed on my lips.
“You are so beautiful Cindee.”
He looked so strong, yet vulnerable and shy at the same time. I could not help but blush at both his comment and the strange feelings that I was having.
“How about you?”
“You know my daddy is a police officer,” he asked.
I nodded, at the recollection of seeing him driving around the village in his police car.
“Well, I was supposed to be his K-9 partner, but I failed the test.”
“Oh no! What happened,” I asked.
“Too clumsy,” he said with a sheepish grin.
“Well, that is better for me, it would kill me sitting up at night wondering if you were safe or not,” I confessed.
The hostess returned holding a bowl in each hand.
“Kibble smothered in beef stroganoff for the lady,” she said setting the bowl down in front of me.
One sniff and my tongue fell from my mouth.
“Cassoulet over chow for the gentleman,” she said with a smile, laying the dish in front of Lucas.,
We both barked our approval.
“Enjoy,” she said with a curtsy before turning and wandering off to another table
I leaned forward and daintily scooped a bite of the scrumptious food into my mouth and closed my eyes to savor the exquisite interplay of flavors dancing across my tongue. I felt like I was floating away on a balloon, that is how yummy my first bite tasted. Suddenly, that balloon popped.
Snort, slurp, slurp, snort, gulp slurp!
I opened my eyes to find Lucas face down slurping and snorting his food down like a dog who had been stranded in the wilderness for a week without food. As if sensing my gaze boring into him, he stopped and looked up at me.
I was mortified.
“I am so sorry, I couldn’t control myself,” he said swirling his tongue around his mouth and face to clean himself off.
“No problem,” I said with my best fake smile.
Leaning forward I sampled more of dinner and let myself float off to that happy place that only the yummiest of food can take me to.
As the evening wore on, the remainder of dinner went uneventfully without the presence of anymore snorting, slurping or burping, rather, Lucas had settled in and become every bit the gentleman. A quick glance at the clock revealed quarter to ten, we only had another fifteen minutes before we were supposed to leave, and Lucas seemed content to sit at our table and talk. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good talk and learning more about Lucas has been fabulous, but I am a girl of action, and I wanted more.
With time ticking away on us, I stood and grabbed him by the bow tie.
“What are you doing,” he asked, shocked by my aggressive move.
“We are going dancing,” I howled.
“Oh no, I can’t,” he put his paws up in protest.
“I just … I just can’t” his eyes were glassy.
“Mmmmm, nope don’t buy it!” I said, grabbing his bow tie again and dragging him to the dance floor.
A slow Kenny G song was playing, and his saxophone filled the air with romantic electricity. Lucas stared at me with a deer in the headlight’s expression on his face. I took the lead and leaned into him, pressing my cheek against his. Slowly we began to sway in place to the rhythm of the music. Lucas had given in and begun to follow my lead and now we moved gracefully across the dance floor. Our two bodies melted together into one lean mean dancing machine!
I felt like I was in a dream, with the lights twinkling down on me and Lucas holding me close humming to the music. Everything was peaceful and happy.
Friends, you know how life works, peaceful and happy never last long, trouble is always around the corner, well, trouble was about to intervene in my dream! Phooey!
We were gliding along when Lucas lost his footing and began to stumble, his foot came crashing down on my paw and I let out a yelp, which completely took my date by surprise. Stunned, he staggered to the left then fell over. I stood still and watched open mouthed as he hit the floor. A murmur of laughter began to form in the room. Lucas heard it and sprung to his feet, then took off running for the door. My heart sank, but I quickly recovered and gave chase, finally catching him out on the street.
He was sitting on the curb, his head hung low, and his shoulders slumped. His strong muscular body heaved with deep soulful sobs. I cautiously approached and sat down beside him.
“You okay?” I whispered.
We sat alone in silence for what seemed the longest time before he turned to look at me. His eyes were bloodshot, and his nose was still moist from crying.
“I told you I was clumsy,” he said with a ragged inhale and a poor attempt at a smile.
“I’m so sorry,” I told him, guilt washing over me like a tsunami.
“I shouldn’t have forced you,” I began, but quickly ran out of words.
“It’s not your fault. Everything was going fine, I just … well, I am just a bumbling oaf.”
“But you are my bumbling oaf,” I said with a giggle. Lucas burst into laughter too.
“Come here,” I stood and called him.
Lucas raised himself to his feet and walked over to where I was. I took a step forward so that we were chest to chest and placed my cheek against his and began to hum. Together we swayed in unison on the sidewalk in front of La Maison Du Chien. This time it was the real stars and their friend the moon who looked down on us and smiled at the two fledgling lovebirds on their first Valentine’s Day date.