Page 35 of Puppy Madness

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“Me too,” I whisper. “I can’t forget this. Forget us….”

“But then I think about telling her,” he goes on. “And it makes me think of the day her mother passed, how she collapsed against the wall, slid down it, like…it was like all the energy was draining out of her, Danni. She was shaking so badly. I can’t imagine being the cause of that.”

I blink, tears stinging my eyes.

“Neither can I,” I whisper. “It would be awful. Evil.”

“So you see…,” he sighs darkly. “Normally, I can pick a plan of action. I can attack. I can shut down my thoughts so I don’t get trapped by them. But with you, with this, with us….”

“You’re torn?” I say, finishing his sentence this time.

“I’m certain,” he says gruffly. “But I’m certain of two things. Of how I feel about you. And that I never want to hurt Elizabeth.”

“How do you feel?”

“It’s like you said. The start of something. If it wasn’t for Elizabeth, there’s no question we would’ve gone on a date far sooner.”

It feels like another riddle-type answer, but that doesn’t stop the heat from cascading through me, doesn’t keep my core from pulsing, telling me I’m being silly, even doubting it.

These aren’t hints anymore. These are screeching alarms.

“We should tell her,” he goes on, his voice getting firmer. “Before we do anything else. Before we act on this desire, we should tell her that we’re seeing each other, interested to see where it leads….”

“And if she says we have to stop?”

He looks at me steadily, but again, there’s that unchained quality to his gaze.

I saw what happens when the animal emerges, just a little. I don’t want him to fight, to let out that side of him… but it makes my insides flutter to know he can, to know he’s never going to leave us, the kids, and me alone defenseless.

But then his expression falters.

He sighs. “I don’t know, Danni. But we can’t keep going like this in the dark.”

“We can’t tell her,” I say, even as the word coward hisses in my mind. “We can’t just…it will ruin her.”

“What would ruin her more?” he says sternly. “If she found out now, or if she caught us?”

I’m about to respond when Dominic’s cell phone goes off. He winces.

“What is it?” I ask.

“That’s Elizabeth’s ringtone.”

He takes his cell from his pocket, averting his gaze from me as he answers it, as though he can’t stand to acknowledge what we’ve done, what we are.

“Yeah, we’re still here,” he says. “Sure, that should be fine. Okay. I love you.”

He hangs up, looking at me bleakly.

“She wants us to swing by on the way home and pick her up.”

“She didn’t take her car?” I ask.

“No, she got a ride with her friend, but her friend’s going the other way.”


“We could tell her tonight,” he says.

“Tonight?” I almost yell the word, shaking my head instinctively. “We need time to think of the right words and the best approach. We can’t just rush into it.”

I’m aware of how crazy that sounds, talking to him about the dangers of rushing into anything when our entire relationship if it can be called that, is based on rushing.

But it doesn’t feel that way.

It’s more like he’s a puzzle piece, and I’m a puzzle, and we’re slotting into place.

That’s why it feels so natural. We were made for each other.

“Okay, Danni,” he says after a pause.

I think about what he was going to say before Jerry interrupted us, before the fight.

If I knew he felt the same as me, would it make telling Lizzy easier?

Or is that just another excuse?



I’m in my office, the day after the date, throwing a tennis ball at the wall and then catching it, squeezing it in my hand. Shelby sits at my feet, head turning as he watches the motion of the ball, mouth open in a grin.

Catching the ball after another throw, I lean down and stroke him under the chin, the spot he likes so much.

He tilts his head with the motion of my hand, making a soft whining noise of contentment.

“I’m going to keep you, boy,” I tell him as he rolls onto his side and starts wriggling around. “Maybe it’ll make bringing dogs home more difficult, fine, but I couldn’t give you away. Not now. What do you think? Are you ready for your forever home?”

I move my hands over his stomach, stroking gently.

The term forever home clashes in my mind, making me think of Danni and our forever home. As shameful as it is to admit – even to myself – part of me was relieved when she said she didn’t want to tell Elizabeth.

We’re going to have to tell her soon. But it also means I’ve got more time to reveal the truth to Danni.

I wonder what’s stopping me from executing the mission, something I was trained to do, something I never questioned before.