When they were clear of the office, Marty stopped and answered Graydon’s look. “Sheppard is another guy with too much money and not enough sense. When we don’t have his dog, the pound does. He’s use to paying out fees for the damage his dog does. So, adding our $20 to the ticket will just be business as usual.”
“Still doesn’t seem very fair or ethical.”
“Probably not, but you haven’t dealt with that dog for weeks on end. Max is an Alsatian and mutt mix. He isn’t house broken and no amount of training has fixed it. He’s spoiled rotten and all we can do is cope with him. Max is one of those dogs that will never be a good pet, and that frustrates me. I like dogs and enjoy working with them. However, Max is a pain in the ass,” Marty said as they headed back towards the car. She stopped mid stride. “Since you’re here, do you want to see the rest of the place? I might as well bore you to death with it all at once.”
“I’d love to see it. And you aren’t boring me to death. Who said you would in the first place?” he asked.
“Jessie. It was one of the things she said in the kitchen when I confronted her with setting us up. She doesn’t like horses and hates it when Dirk wants to come out here. She still thinks I need to grow up and get a real job,” Marty said as they headed towards the kennel. It was across the paddock from the stables. Street lights lit the way. When she opened the door, they were greeted by various howls, barks and baying. It quieted down a bit when the lights flickered on, but a few were determined to let them know that Graydon and Marty had interrupted their night.
There were twelve pens per side and one large run on the back wall. Each kennel had it’s own run as well. Marty went down to the dog biscuit barrel and grabbed a handful. She figured that while she was here, she’d give them a treat.
“We only have eight dogs at the moment. One just had a litter and is in the back. Bubbles the poodle. Her owner can’t cope with the mess of birth, but won’t get her fixed either.”
“That’s responsible ownership,” he commented sarcastically.
“Yeah, but at least she only lets Bubbles breed with other poodles.” Marty didn’t think much of the owner, and actually felt sorry for the dog. They came to a stop in front of the maternity pen. Bubbles was a black standard poodle. She came up, took her biscuit, looked at Graydon and then went back to her pups.
They continued around the pens and handed out treats. Some of the dogs were okay with Graydon and others acted like they were spooked. Marty just figured that it was because he was a stranger. They walked past a pen that was trashed. On the slate was a name that explained it all. Max. Graydon looked and just shook his head.
As they got to the last pen, Ashka started to howl. A deep long noise that Marty had never heard her make. The closer they got, the more Ashka howled.
“Ashka, what’s the matter hon?” Marty tried to reach in to hand her the treat and she backed farther into the kennel. She tried one more time and ended up dropping the treat in her food bowl. Marty shook her head and walked over to Graydon who had walked back over to the door.
“I’ve never seen her act like that,” she said. “Wonder what’s wrong.”
Graydon shook his head. “Who knows? Maybe I didn’t smell right to her. She didn’t make a noise until we passed close to her. What breed is she?” he asked.
“She’s a wolf hybrid. The owners transferred from Alaska and they haven’t found permanent housing yet. Poor thing. I’ll have to check on her in the morning to see if she’s okay. Oh, I want to check on Whiskey once more before we go.”
As they walked back from the kennel, Marty could still hear Ashka howling. She hoped Ashka would quiet down soon. Marty left Graydon to go warm up the Volvo while she peeked in on Whiskey. He was asleep in his stall, Fetlocks wrapped and blanket over his back. Marty closed the stable door and headed for the car.
Graydon had started the car and then moved over. Marty climbed in and buckled up. “Where to now?” she asked.
He looked at his watch and then at Marty. “It’s late and you have to work in the morning. I guess you ought to take me home.”
“Yeah.” Marty put the car in gear and headed back to town. When they got onto the main road she turned to Graydon. “Where do you live?”
“Hennisy and Fifth in the apartments on the corner. I can’t give you directions from here. Still too new around town,” he said apologetically.
“I know where they are. It’s about a fifteen minute drive,” she finished and headed off. When they got to the apartments, he pointed to his. It was one of the ground floor single units. Marty pulled up and parked. “Now what?” she thought. “A handshake? Or a good night kiss?” She always feel so awkward at this point. Marty got out of the car when Graydon did. They stood for a moment at the front of the car. It was sort of nice to see he felt awkward too.
“Thanks for being such a good sport and coming out with me to the stable. Most men run when they find out I work with animals. Worse yet, that I’m better with dogs than men,” she said staring at the ground. Marty scuffed her foot on the cement and realized that her hair had straw in it when that curl fell on her face. Before she could move, Graydon reached out and pulled the straw from Marty’s hair and tucked the curl behind her ear again.
“Thank you for a wonderful dinner and probably the most interesting evening I’ve had in weeks,” he said.
“Um.. You’re welcome,” she replied, not knowing what to say next.
Graydon held out his hand and Marty took it in hers. Okay, a good night handshake was a start she thought. But that wasn’t what happened. He took her hand and pulled Marty slowly in until his arms wrapped around her. They kissed.
Kisses come in a variety of flavors. The quick pecks you give elderly relatives, little kids or your friends. Then there are the ones that sweep you off your feet or scramble your braincells. The kiss started out as a sweet peck that slowly became a brain melter. Their lips separated at last and they came up for air. Marty had no idea of how much time had passed. She stepped back, not sure if she wanted to continue the kiss or drag him into his apartment. Her body was screaming go for it, while her mind was putting on the brakes. Graydon must have noticed her hesitation and he slowly let go of Marty.
“Good night Marty. I’ll call you soon,” he said and walked to his door.
“Good night.” She turned and got back into her car. She realized that they must have been kissing for some time as the engine was cold and didn’t want to start when she turned the key. Marty drove off as quickly as she could once it finally started.
Graydon stepped into his apartment and watched Marty drive off. He closed the apartment door while he thought about Marty. Her lips had tasted so good that he almost hadn’t let her go. However, he didn’t want to rush. Marty was the nicest and probably the most interesting person he’d met in months. What he didn’t want to do was scare her off. He’d had that happen more than once. That dog at the kennel almost gave him away. Poor thing was hollering for help and confused all at the same time. He could hide everything except his scent. As it was, he’d wait a week or two before he called on Marty.