Flash Fic Friday

**One in Vermilion is out now, and you can go here to get buy links. This week’s prompt is a continuation of Wyatt and Tru’s story. So join me and the boys as they adopt a new member of their household. Enjoy!**

Aldo was up and racing for the door a second before the sound of the RV’s engine reached my ears. I smiled and followed my poodle toward the front of the house, glad that Tru was finally home. He’d had long days all week–early training session and late grooming appointments–so we hadn’t gotten to spend as much time together as either of us was used to. I knew Aldo was missing his little buddy too. Fawkes the Corgi had wormed his way into Aldo’s heart just as surely as Tru had settled into mine.

“Wyatt!”

Tru’s slightly panicked voice jolted me out of my musings, and I didn’t even bother to grab Aldo’s leash when I wrenched open the front door. My boyfriend was hanging out the side door of the grooming RV, and Aldo raced right for him. I was right behind the dog, not even caring when a rock bit into the bottom of my bare foot.

“What’s the matter?”

Tru shook his head and disappeared into the RV. I followed up the steps. Fawkes was in his kennel, pawing at the bars, and Aldo went right over to him, pushing his nose against Fawkes’s. I had only a second to wonder why Fawkes was in the kennel, when Tru grabbed my hand and tugged me to the tub. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing as I peered down into it. It looked like a dirty mop. But then the mop shivered and huffed a breath, and I realized I was looking at a very dirty, very matted dog.

“Tru?”

“I found him.” Tru was breathing very fast, and I could see the worry in the lines around his eyes and mouth. I wrapped an arm around his shoulders, and Tru instantly relaxed. Not completely, but some of the tension left is body.

“What happened?”

“He was just huddled under the picnic table at the dog park. I don’t know where he came from, but he’s been outside for a while. Weeks maybe. He was scared, but he let me get close enough to grab him.” Tru looked down at the dog. “He’s a mess, so I came straight home. I need help to clean him up and see if there’s anything wrong with him.”

I wasn’t surprised that my bighearted man had not only found a lost pup, but had instantly taken him in. It was exactly the kind of thing Tru would do, taking the step above. Where as other people might have ignored the dog completely, or perhaps just called animal control, my boyfriend had coaxed the dog out with the intent to provide the care the dog needed himself. It was one of the reasons I loved him.

“Tell me what you need.” I may have been a dog owner for the better part of my adult life, but Tru was a trained vet tech and all around dog whisperer. I was happy to follow his directions.

Tru worked as quickly and methodically as he could, gently cleaning the dog while I did my best to keep the little guy calm. He was shaking in our hands, but as we worked, he seemed to relax somewhat. It took more than a half an hour to get the dirty, burrs, and other detritus out of his fur.

“He’s too matted,” Tru murmured as he shut off the water. Now that the dog was clean, he was an off white grayish color. “That’s gotta hurt so badly. I’m going to have to shave him down.”

It took another hour, with Tru working slowly and carefully to cut out the mats and shave the dog. All the while, the dog didn’t make a noise, nor did he snap or try to bite. I chalked that up to Tru’s gentle hand and melodic voice. I did what I could to keep the dog calm, but Tru had a real talent.

“I think he’s part Puli. Mixed with something, or maybe multiple somethings, but look at this,” Tru muttered, holding up a scrap of fur he’d just cut. I squinted at it while still rubbing the dog between the eyes. It definitely looked like the fur had corded.

“Do you think he was someone’s pet?” I asked softly.

For a long moment, Tru didn’t answer. He’d finished clipping and shaving–the dog looked overly skinny now, and not as tall as I first thought–and he was checking the dog over. Eventually he straightened up.

“Probably. But I think they might have abandoned him.” Tru moved toward a cupboard on the other side of the RV. “There was no collar under all that fur.”

“It could have gotten caught somewhere and he could have pulled out of it.”

“Maybe,” Tru answered absently. He returned a moment later with a microchip reader and ran it over the dog’s back several times. “Nothing.”

“So, what do we do?”

“I’ll take him to see Rayna in the morning.” Tru ran his hands gently over the dog. With a sigh, the pup laid down and closed his eyes. I was sure he was exhausted. “His skin looks good. A little red in places where the mats pulled, but no lasting damage. Surprisingly, I don’t see any fleas or flea dirt. And I didn’t find any ticks. He doesn’t have mange, so that’s good. But Rayna will do the the full work up. Make sure he’s not carrying anything deadly, and give him his vaccines.”

I looked down at the dog, who was resting, and the way Tru kept running his hands over the dog’s fur.

“So,” I began, drawing the word out. “What should we name him?”

Tru’s gaze jerked to mine. “What? We can’t…Wyatt, we should….shouldn’t we…”

“Honey, I know you. I know me. If the dog doesn’t have a home already, can we really let him go?”

Tru opened his mouth, shut it again, then looked down at the dog. Shaking his head, Tru shot me a smile. “No. He needs a fighting chance after everything he’s been through. Who better to give it to him then us?”

“Nobody.”

“I love you.”

I grinned. “And I, you.” I leaned far enough to drop a kiss on his cheek, then straightened. “So. Name?”

“Chester,” Tru said decisively.

I gave Chester another pat, then stepped away to let Fawkes out of his kennel and take both him and Aldo into the house. “We’ll set Chester up in the guest room until he gets a clean bill of health.” I bent to attach Fawkes’s leash, and called Aldo to heel. “Come on, Tru. Let’s get our boys settled.”

As we all trouped into the house, I couldn’t help thinking that one more addition to our family was exactly what we needed.

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