Madison Knight's Christmas Gift

Excerpt: Ties that Bind

She caught a glimpse of a chocolate lab puppy peeking around the doorway from the seating area.  He had a red bow around his neck.  She felt her chest tighten.
“Speaking of your gift…”
Panic seized her.   The responsibility, the hair…
Terry bent to his haunches.  “Come here, buddy.”  The little guy walked over equally nervous as curious.  Terry scooped him in a blanket that hung over the banister.
Its fur looked so shiny and soft, and its little legs were curled up beneath him.  The ears dangled and looked as soft as velvet.
“Here, he’s all yours.”  Terry passed him over, and she had no option but to extend her arms.
Madison didn’t know whether to thank him or run.  Her first instinct was to run—fast and far away.  The door was right there.  “I don’t know what to say.”
 “Don’t worry, we brushed him before you came.  And he won’t mark your dress wrapped in the blanket.”
It wasn’t her dress that concerned her.  At first, she felt so awkward holding the little guy, but he was quick to melt her apprehension.  He tilted his head back to look at her, and with one look in his eyes, she softened.  She pet his head.  His ears were as soft as velvet.  Maybe she could see what Terry saw in them.  At least she could until a little pink slip came out of his mouth and licked her chin.
“Oh…”  Madison wanted to add gross to her comment but didn’t want to hurt Terry.  But still, the thought of dog’s spit all over her face made her shiver.  “Maybe we should put him down for a bit, let him explore.”  She bent over freeing him from the blanket.
“So you like him?”
Madison didn’t know how to respond.  She had mixed emotions.
“Well, hopefully he’ll grow on you,” Terry said with a laugh.  “Oh, and just so you’re not too overwhelmed with responsibility.  I took one off your shoulders.”
Madison raised her eyebrows.
“I named him.”
You named my dog?  She was in too much shock to verbalize her thought.
“I’m sure you’ll like it.”
Well if she didn’t she could always change it…  “Just don’t say it’s Fred—”
She was speechless.  She loved it, and it was so fitting.  She smiled.
“I trust that’s a dog’s name,” Terry added.
“Yes, that’s a dog’s name.  Not like Todd.  Who names an animal a human name?”
“Oh, we’re not getting into this again.”
 They looked down at Hershey who was hunched down.  Madison didn’t realize the implication at first, but Terry did.
“Bad Hershey, bad.”  He tried to shoo him away.
“He peed in the shoe…”  Madison laughed.  “And you wondered why I never had one—”
“You just think it’s funny cause it’s my shoe.”
“It’s yours?”  The words blurted out as she fought for breath amidst hysterical laughter.
Madison bent over and picked up Hershey who now sat on his hind quarter sniffing the air.  She stroked the top of his head.  He looked up at her.
“Yep, I think I love this dog already.”  She squeezed Hershey extra tight, and he let out a bark.
Terry mumbled, “Brat.”
They both heard it about the same time.  A low ringtone coming from the closet.
“My purse.”  She slid a mirror paneled door to the side.
“Please don’t answer it.  Let someone else get the call tonight.”
She continued pushing coats aside until she reached hers.  She matched eyes with Terry as she rummaged through her purse that hung on the hanger with her coat.
“Please…”  He held out his hand.  “Think about how much it would piss Sovereign off to have his Christmas interrupted.”
She held the phone in her hand and held eyes with her partner.  But unfortunately, no matter how much satisfaction it would give her to inconvenience Sovereign, she had a job to do.  She flipped it open.
“Knight…”  She watched as Terry let out a sigh of defeat.  He knew what the next words would be, and he would be correct.  “We’ll be right there.”

Want to read more? You can purchase Ties that Bind from the following fine retailers:

Amazon - for Kindle, or in print


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