BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
*THUNK* *THUNK* *THUNK*
I sit up and look into the darkness, like it will do me any good. Walter settles beside me and buries his face deeper in the pillow. Some former agent he is, huh? Doesn't even wake up with the noises start. After a few moments, I settle back down. It must have been my imagination.
*THUNK* *THUNK* *THUNK*
I didn't imagine that! I sit up and throw back the covers. Walter stirs. "What's wrong, Alex?"
I don't bother to answer him, reaching to the mantle above the bedroom hearth to grab the marble statue of Dionysus that Walter had placed there. Since he refuses to let me keep my Glock beside the bed, I have to have a weapon handy. He firmly believes that between Bosco and the Gunmen's revamped alarm system, we should be fine. I, however, beg to differ.
I creep into the living room, which is silent and empty. We have red nightlights around, like on a submarine, that go out when it gets lighter in the house. It's easier to see than with white or yellow lights, and you can still hide a little if you need to. I follow the next succession of "thunks" in to the kitchen and see the dog fighting with his heavy plastic food bowl to get it through his dog door. His collar has an electronic control to open the lock on the door when he wants to come and go, and it's burglar proof. Thank you, Frohike.
"Bosco, what the fuck are you doing?" I ask, as if he'll answer me. I hear Walter's steps behind me and the light goes on, blinding us all. Even the dog blinks. He looks up at us, cocks his head to the side and then goes back to trying to shove the bowl through the door with his snout.
"What's he doing?" Walter asks.
"You got me. I think he's trying to bring food outside or something." I go to the pantry and sure enough, he's tried to get up into the cabinet where we keep his dry food. I shake my head. "Your son likes his midnight snack on the lanai."
Walter laughs. Then we hear the most pitiful moan come from the backyard. There's another dog out there. I push past Walter, shove Bosco out of the way and open the back door. The motion-sensor floodlights illuminate the backyard as soon as I step out. And the gooseflesh on my body reminds me I'm naked. Walter steps out handing me sweats left in the laundry room. I slip into them and we both pad down to see the golden brown female dog, swollen belly catching our attention first. As soon as I get near her, she snaps at me and tries to bite me. I jump back.
"Walter, she's in labor."
"We're going to be grandfathers?" The look of hope and happiness on his face is priceless. Bosco trots out and give a low, soft bark. The girl puts her head down. I creep back over and hold my hand out, getting to my knees in the grass. Walter stays back and rubs on Bosco, to get the dog's scent on him. Then he can relate to the girl, since, obviously, this is Bosco's...what? Wife? Girlfriend? Bitch? I shake my head as the girl starts licking my palm. I know I'm going to regret this, but I scoop her up and carry her into the house, straight into the den.
"Where are you going?" Walter calls after me, following.
"Get the old wool blanket from the closet and spread it out in the corner," I say, and I'm quite happy that he's quick on the draw. The blanket is put on the hardwood and I lay the dog down. I hear him dialing the vet's office to get our vet, Diane Lynch, on the line. He pages her and I just step away from the panting dog.
The phone rings making us both jump. Walter picks it up and says, "Diane, we have a pregnant daughter-in-law here, ready to drop."
"Never even knew she existed. You think I'd let my grandpuppies be born without medical care?"
"If she lets us lift her."
More damned silence.
"OK, see you then." He hangs up. "We're supposed to get her to Diane's and the overnight student will keep an eye on Mama and pups and we can get her in a couple days. Or they'll adopt out mama and babies when they're weaned."
I shake my head. "Let's get her in the Hummer and see what we need to do first. We can worry about where the puppies will live later. Right now, I do not want her delivering on the hardwood."
Both of us grab an end of the blanket and we lift the girl to carry her out to the Hummer. Walter lets me settle her while he gets us shirts, shoes, wallets and locks up. This dog is trusting, lets me stroke her head and croon to her while she whines a little. She seems to be getting closer.
I lock the house and walk out to see my Alex hanging half out of the back of his truck and I hear him singing to her. He's singing the Robin Hood song, the one they played at Halloween for us at the bar. He's petting her head and she's doing just great. He chooses to climb into the back to sit with her so she doesn't slide off the seat. He's wedged in between the back of the passenger seat and the back bench on the floor. I'll have to take it easy or he'll have broken ribs.
At the vet's office, the student greets us as we carry her in on the blanket. We take the girl to the back to be examined, then are promptly shooed away. I look Alex over, who is still barefooted and shirtless. "Hey, get dressed, you'll catch cold," I tell him.
His look is something of Bosco's own. Head cocked to the side, mouth set crooked, one brow pulled down low. "It's May. It's not like it's cold outside." But he goes to the truck anyway to change. I sit and wait. Before Alex is back, the student comes out and says, "Mr. Skinner, she's gonna be a while. You can go home and we'll give you a call in the morning."
"I guess so. She'll be OK here, I know that." I turn to leave.
"Wait! What's her name?" Name? I didn't even think of a name. Alex walks in and looks at me.
"She wants to know the daughter-in-law's name," I tell him. The little blonde vet student waits.
"Honey. Her name is Honey." Alex turns to leave. I nod to the student and leave. He's at the wheel waiting for me. I sit beside him.
After several miles I look at him. "Honey?"
"I have a sweet tooth, back off!" He sounds more annoyed than I thought he would be.
At the cabin, I follow him into the house, and lock up behind him. Bosco is waiting on the bed, wagging his tail as we walk in. "No, son, she's still at the vet. We'll get her later on. Daddies need more sleep." He nuzzles his nose into my hand and jumps off the bed. I hear him exit from his dog door. Alex strips naked and slips into bed. I undress as well and get in beside him.
There are a few moments of silence and non-movement before he rolls directly over and covers my mouth with his. He quickly straddles my body, taking my face in his hands and kissing me deeply. The sweep of his tongue through my mouth is heaven. He pulls back and smiles. He's not making any sense.
"Sasha, talk to me. What's wrong?"
"Wrong?" His grin is ear to ear. "We're having puppies! What could be better?!"
He dives back onto and I let myself be loved by him. Of course, it's not enough that I fucked him hard before we went to sleep, but of course, his mouth sliding across my neck, my chest, teasing my nipples and down toward my cock. Of all the time we'd been together, Alex was never shy about sucking me. He never said he had a headache or didn't feel like it. He always treated each blowjob like a period of worship. I accepted gratefully.
With his lips wrapped tightly around my cock, nose in my pubes, I felt his hands slip under me to hold my ass. Oh, God, he does know how to make me insane! "Stop, Sasha, no more, I'll come."
He pulls off me with a wet slurp and looks down at me. I'm in for trouble.
He lays there waiting for me to act. Of course I can't keep him waiting and I slide him into my ass easily. That Silk stuff that we use never dries out. And his wet cock just revives the stuff like magic. I'm always so loose for him and I slide on easily. His eyes shoot open wide. "Fuck, Sasha, so good...oh shit!"
I smile and move on him as I stroke my cock. He's holding fast to the headboard. Our love never takes long when we've been excited. I make him come easily inside me, then paint his chest with mine. With a last kiss, I get up to get a cloth to clean us. Walter has ceased enjoying stickiness and the raunch of morning-ass. He's lost his romance.
As I settle back across his chest, his arms come about me and I kiss him again. "We're gonna be grandfathers," he says.
"I know, Love, I know. I'm too young to be a grandfather."
He laughs at me. I bury my face in his neck and the last thing I remember is him kissing my head and saying, "You can name the babies."
In the morning, we both jump up to the phone ringing and the dog barking at it. I swear to God, he knows who's on the other end. Walter gets to it first and grabs it. He barks his morning "This-better-be-good-you- got-me-out-of-bed" hello. Then silence.
"How many? And she's ok?"
"We'll get dressed and be there in a while."
He hangs up and smiles at me. "We have four grandchildren. Two boys and two girls. We can go see them, but we can't touch them and they have to stay at the vet's a while."
He hugs me tight then scoots off to shower. I sigh and go back to the bedroom to make the bed before joining him in the bathroom. He was done and shaving by the time I got there. He had taken his goatee off and he looks different, younger. I touch his face and smile. "You look good smooth again. I like this."
He kisses my hand. "I'm gonna get dressed. Shower up and I'll meet you at the Hummer."
I hurry through my morning rites and dress quickly. I almost opt for my former lifestyle of sans boxers but I've kinda gotten used to them. My ass certainly itches less. I find him sitting in the truck, tapping his hand on the door. I laugh as I walk over, only to see Bosco pop his head up from the back seat. He must want to see his bitch. I just get into the truck and we take off for the vet.
At the vet, Alex clips the leash we keep for Bosco in the truck on his collar. We must have a dozen leashes around the house and in the vehicles. We walk into the lobby and Bosco starts barking immediately. The other dogs go off as if on cue. I can even hear a screaming cat. Diane comes out quickly before the receptionist throws us out. "Hey, you wanna see the pups? They're sweet, you'll love them."
She leads us back and I'm very eager to follow. Diane is a tall, raven- haired, willowy woman who moves in all the right places. She makes me want to be straight again. Alex catches me staring and punches my shoulder. I laugh at him. Down the hall and to the left, we enter a room with a huge crib-looking thing in the middle. Honey is laying there with four puppies around her. Two are blonde like her, and two are brown like Bosco.
"You guys have one in each sex and each color. A chocolate boy, a golden boy, a chocolate girl and a golden girl. Who's got names?" She looks at me, then at Alex. He strokes his chin while looking at the babies. I'm just happy to see Bosco up on his hind legs, surveying his family. Honey proceeds to ignore him completely. Just like a woman.
"So, Alex, are you naming our grandbabies?"
He laughs. Then points to the chocolate boy, denoted by the little blue collar he wears. "Butch." He points to the golden boy."Scooter." He points to the chocolate girl. "Truffle." And lastly, the golden girl. "Taffy."
I laugh. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it sounds cute enough."
I slip my arm around his waist and pull him tightly to me. A kiss on his neck is met with a smile. "I didn't know you were into cute animal names."
"I didn't name my dog after the chocolate syrup my mommy put in my milk." He gives me an evil grin over his shoulder.
"I hate you, you know that?"
"Yeah, right!" He hugs me tight and laughs.
We spend a little more time looking at the dogs, then get our instructions on what we need to build for mom and pups. And I make an appointment to neuter Bosco. This is the last set of puppies I want.
Diane had told me about all the things I'd need to build in order to house Honey and the babies until they were weaned. Alex made the unilateral decision to put them in our bedroom so we could care for them if they needed us. But a hand on my thigh took me from my reverie of thinking about what I needed to build. "Hey, we need some breakfast. I'm starving." I just nod.
We pull into a diner a few towns away, a place where Alex knows he can get corned beef hash with his eggs and not get stared at funny. You'd think it was normal or something, but not below the Mason-Dixon line. No, breakfast is always accompanied by grits, which I eat in copious amounts. Alex just doesn't like stuff like that, oatmeal or grits or cream of wheat. I'll get him into it eventually, after all the cholesterol starts to tell on him.
As we sit and eat, I noticed he's just looking out the window. "Alex, what's up? You're spacing on me."
"Just thinking about the puppies. It'll be nice." The smile on his face is wistful, and regretful.
"You're thinking about children, aren't you? About your chance being lost."
He lets out a soft sigh and laugh, and the smile reaches his eyes. "If you're thinking I want to procreate, you're wrong. I wouldn't change what you and I are. I just think about what life would have been like if I had grown up in a suburban home, grew up like you."
"Well, I grew up on a farm, so it's quite different. But I know what you mean. I think about what would have happened if I didn't have any advantages."
Our eyes met and there was an understanding about our pasts and not being able to do anything about them. We could pine about our losses, or we could move on with things. I decided to move on with things. Three cups of coffee, a full breakfast and a trip to the john later, we were headed to the hardware store and then to the pet supermarket. Diane had given us a huge list of things we'd need to take care of the puppies and the mother. Alex handles the puppy stuff while I get the wood and such for what Diane called a "whelping box". Normally, puppies should be born in it, but since they were born at the office, they'll just sleep there with Honey.
We meet back at the truck and Alex is crouched talking to Shannon. If I had a free hand, I'd slap my forehead. Isn't it enough that I got a hernia fixing that kid's house? Or I cashed in Sharon's investments to refurnish the fucking place? Or I almost bought it when she stepped out in front of a truck headed for her at about 40 miles an hour. That was a miracle, thank you, Mulderon.
I walk over with the huge cart to load the Hummer and see Bosco snuffling Shannon's neck with kisses. She hugs the dog tight. I walk around to the side. "Shannon, so nice to see you. Where's your mom?"
"She's in the nail place, getting her tips fixed. I wanted to see Bosco." She looks so happy to see him. "Alex was just telling me that Bosco's a daddy now. I want a puppy so bad, Mr. Skinner. Can I have one, please? Can I have one of the puppies?"
Oh, God, how do I tell her that the last place I'd put one of my grandchildren is with that crazy woman. How do I tell Shannon that I can't give her one?
Something God-like saves me as Anabelle walks over, hands spread to dry her nail polish. The shoes she's wearing must have at least four-inch heels and she's trying to trot over. I look at Alex who just shakes his head. "Walter, thank you so much for catching up with Shannon! She's so fast, I turn my head a minute and she's gone!"
Ignore the fact that she'd wandered all the way across the parking lot of the strip-mall by herself, it was Alex who'd been keeping Shannon out of harm's way. Anabelle had a way of completely ignoring Alex, and he liked it. And he got a kick out of her flirting with me.
"Maybe you should get her a hobby. She'd stay closer if she had something to occupy her mind. How often do you take her to the library? If she had a number of good books to read, she'd sit anywhere you put her and stay there."
"Oh, pish, all the good story books are DVDs now. She just watches them." Typical. If I had a kid...
And it hits me, I'll never have one. I look at Alex who's teaching Shannon how to ask Bosco to shake hands and I'm OK with not being a parent. Alex keeps me happier than I could ever have imagined. He looks up and me and smiles, then sees Anabelle and goes to load the lumber into the truck.
"I should get going, Anabelle, we're bringing puppies home in a few days, so we have a lot of work to do."
"Puppies? I didn't know you had another dog, Walter."
"We didn't. She kinda followed Bosco home. We'll be alright."
I don't think it's very nice of me to just turn my back on Anabelle, but Alex needs help with the project wood. I know he doesn't care, but I do. Anabelle gets the hint and takes her daughter away. I help out Alex and we make our way home.
Walter was so adorable as we got the puppies and Honey to go home. We'd visited every day, petting Honey and hoping she'll let us touch the puppies. Eventually she does and Butch is the first to piss on me. Yep, those are our grandchildren.
On the drive home, I take extra care to go home gently over the potholes and bumps. Walter sits in the back with the dogs, making sure they were comfortable. They don't make a peep as we wind our way home and into the driveway. Bosco waits on the porch to meet us. Honey leads the way from the truck, with Walter cradling the puppies in a basket following right behind. She looks back a few times to make sure Walter was there. She trusts him more than she trusts me.
Walter leads our new addition and family to the box we'd built in the bedroom, complete with heavy duty food bowl for Honey, hanging water bottle so she wouldn't need to reach to drink while she nurses the babies, and sides high enough to keep the kids in, but low enough for her to get out of. We had all the bases covered.
By nightfall, all three men of our house are sitting in the bedroom, on the bed, staring at the new additions. Eventually, I end lying across Walter's chest, as he sleeps on the right near the puppies, and we both just watch them. "They're just adorable, huh, Sasha?" he asks me.
"I love them. Can we keep them?" I hope that the look in my eyes conveys how serious I am. And the phone rings. I get up and get it. You'll never guess who's calling us.
"Why, um...Alex, is that you?" Shit on me. The fuck me with a baseball bat. Hard.
"Yeah, Anabelle, you called my house. Can I help you?" I'm short on patience, lady.
"Well, is...uh...Walter there? I wanted to ask him something about his puppies."
That's it! I've had enough!
"Anabelle, Bosco is my dog, too. And I named Honey. And the puppies are ours. Talking to me is just as good as talking to him. What do you want?" God, I hate being like this. She came to this weird conclusion that Walter was OK since Shannon got saved that day from the truck. I didn't see it so who knows what the hell happened. All I know is Walter said it was that fucking fairy. Whatever.
She clears her throat and takes a breath. "I'd like one of your puppies for Shannon. She should have a pet since I can't give her a brother or sister. Or a decent father." The "thanks to you" goes unsaid but understood. I rub the wrinkle above my nose, the one Walter licks and kisses. She sounds like she's serious.
"Well, did you want a boy or a girl?" I'll go along for the ride.
"I don't quite know. Growing up on my daddy's farm, we had all different kinds of animals, boy and girl dogs. I'll have to let Shannon decide. When they're old enough to leave Honey, will you let me know? I'd like to bring her by to see them. Please?"
Fuck me with a chainsaw, she's being polite! To me! OK, well...Walter would want me to be nice to her. He wants me to be nice to people, then I will. "Anabelle, you can bring her by any time to see the puppies. She can make friends with them and decide which one she wants. Then, when she can take it for good, the puppy will know her. OK?"
I can hear her smile on the other end. "Thank you, Alex. We'll be by tomorrow evening, after supper, is that alright?" Shit, she isn't inviting herself? I'm gonna regret this.
"Why don't you come for supper so Shannon has more time to meet Honey and the pups? She'll have a good time."
I shake my head at my fucking civility.
"I'd...um...like that, Alex. Thank you. I'll bring pie for dessert. Is...uh...any kind you like in particular?"
"Walter likes peach. That's his favorite. That'll do."
"I'll see you tomorrow."
I'm goddam smiling when I hang up. I disgust myself. I turn to the bedroom to see Walter in the doorway, shit-eating grin on his face. "That was nice of you, Alex."
"Fuck you, Walter."
"No, really, you were sweet. I think you've evolved into that fairy you're always telling me about."
I stalk toward him and say, "If I'm such a fairy, then I must be far from what a real man like you would want to fuck. I'll just sleep in the den..."
A huge hand closes over my shoulder and growling in my ear I hear, "I'll fuck you, fairy, fag, queen or queer. You're mine, Sasha, no one else's."
"I turn to him and kiss him deeply. His big hand caresses my face and his eyes soften with his gentle smile. "So, Vlad, what are we having for dinner tomorrow?"
Both Bosco and Honey bark. We laugh.
The End, for now