**Tru and Wyatt are out in the world and you can find buy links here. And because Alder suggested it, here’s Tru’s mom getting a dog. Enjoy!**
“She’s beautiful, honey. Where did you get her?” Lucy Rackley stroked the fur of the dog at her feet, a glorious golden retriever named Tessa. “And are you sure you can take on another dog? I’m not trying to judge, really. But you already have three.”
Tru caught my eye, and grimaced just a little. I shrugged. This had been his idea, and though I supported him completely, it was his show.
“Well, Mom.” Tru glanced my way again, then focused on his mother. “Tessa is actually for you.”
“I…what?” Lucy looked up at her son, blinking uncomprehendingly. Then she looked at me, seemingly wanting confirmation.
Tru sighed, squeezed my hand, then pushed off the wall where we had been standing and crossed the room to sink onto the couch next to Lucy. She looked at him, confusion evident on her face.
“I don’t understand,” she said quietly. “I don’t think I’m in a place where I can take care of a dog.”
“See, here’s the thing….” Tru looked up at me. He’d kept his search a secret because he wasn’t sure it would work out. And because he’d known his mom would resist if he brought it up to her, reject the idea out of hand. I agreed with him, and so did his counselor. We’d all thought this was the best approach. But now he was questioning everything. His mother had been through so much, they both had, and they’d come out the other side. Tru wanted to do this for his mom, but now he was worried.
“Lucy,” I said softly. “Tessa is a trained service dog.”
“She’s been trained for people with anxiety and depression,” I said as gently as possible. After all the work Lucy had put in, she could say the words, own her diagnoses and know there was no shame in it. But I still wanted to treat it with the respect it deserved.
Lucy took that all in, not saying a word, as she stroked Tessa’s sleek fur. Tru’s face was calm, but I knew from the tight set of his shoulders that he was nervous and worried. I wanted to soothe him, but that would have to wait.
“How does that work, exactly?” She asked after a very long, very thick silence.
Tru relaxed a fraction. “Well, mostly she gives you something to focus on. She needs your care, right? But also, she’ll learn to sense your moods. Be there to calm you when you get anxious, and love you when you’re sad. Plus, you can take her out with you–I have her vest and harness in the Jeep–and she can ease you when you need to be out in public.” Tru placed a hand on his mother’s arm, and Lucy finally looked up from the dog. Tru smiled. “I can’t be here all the time, and I’ll still come whenever you need me. But Tessa will be here all the time.”
Lucy still didn’t say anything for another long moment. And then finally, quietly, she said, “That sounds nice.”
Tru blew out a silent breath. “We can try it for a couple of weeks. See if it helps. And Mom, I really think it will. Will you try?”
“Yes,” she said after only a moment’s hesitation. “We can try.”
“Great! I have everything you need for her in the Jeep. Let me go get it, and we can talk about some stuff. Wyatt, help me?”
I stood straight and followed him outside. The moment we set foot on the porch, he threw himself into my arms. I hugged him tightly, letting him shake as he got himself together. Eventually, he blew out a hot breath against my skin, and then pulled back.
“That went better than I thought.”
I nodded, rubbing his back. “I know you worried. I did too. But it’s going to be okay. And having that beautiful dog right there didn’t hurt either. No one could turn down that face.”
Tru chuckled, and pulled away. He was good now, and he didn’t need to lean on me. I was always happy to hold him up, but I loved it just as much when he stood on his own. God, I loved this man.
“I love you too,” Tru said as he stepped off the porch.
I blinked, knowing I hadn’t said that out loud. Tru laughed.
“It was all over your face, sweetheart. And I never get tired of seeing it. You get the dog food, while I grab the rest, okay?”
I grinned and followed him. Whatever he wanted.