“Aw… he’s just scared.” She held the dog tighter to instill warmth into the shivering creature, wanting him to feel safe in her arms.
Penni stared at the dog doubtfully. “He doesn’t seem scared to me.”
“He is… I can tell.”
“You couldn’t tell if it was a female or male, but you can read his emotions?” Penni took a step back at the low growl emanating from the animal.
“I have an affinity with animals,” Zoey assured Penni, who was giving the dog another reproachful glance.
“How many dogs have you had?”
“Only one, but I dog-sat when I was in college.”
Zoey ignored Penni when she rolled her eyes at her.
“Okay… I’m going to the coffee shop to get Grace some coffee. You want me to get you one?”
“I would love another lavender tea if that wouldn’t be too much trouble?”
“No trouble… Another one?”
“I had to throw the one I had away. I was afraid he would take off running when I picked him up.”
“It looks like running away is the last thing on his mind.”
“Animals sense I love them.”
“You love anything that breathes.”
Zoey could see the skepticism on Penni’s face when the dog she was holding growled at her again.
“And would you mind stopping at the convenience store next to it and get a couple cans of dog food? He’s hungry. I would run out myself, but I have a client due in a couple of minutes.”
“No problem. I’m glad to help if it means he won’t eat my hand.”
“Buster wouldn’t harm a flea, would you, boy?” Zoey lifted the dog to croon in his drooping ear.
“You’ve already named him?” The short-haired blonde gave her a curious look.
“He looks like a Buster; don’t you think?”
Penni gave Buster a once-over. “I do.” Her friend’s facial expression didn’t match her quick agreement, nor did she sound authentic. But Zoey didn’t care. She liked the name and the name felt perfect to her.
Zoey decided Penni would like Buster when she got to know him better. Some people just didn’t warm up to dogs the way she did.
“I better go. I wouldn’t want to keep Buster waiting for his food. He might eat you before I get back, the way he’s licking you.”
“He’s just grateful to be out of the rain,” Zoey told her, turning to open her office door as Penni started down the hall. “Oh, Penni, do you know a good vet? I want to get Buster checked out and make sure he’s not microchipped before I get too attached.”
Penni turned back. “I’ll text you the name of mine. You shouldn’t have named him before you found out if he belongs to someone.”
“He doesn’t,” Zoey said confidently. “Who would let something so sweet get out of their hands?”
Penni shook her head at her. “Just wait until you know for sure before you start picking out doggie beds.”
“I already have one. I’ve been planning to adopt a dog for several months now. I just couldn’t find the dog with the right vibe. This one has it.”
“What vibe does this one have?”
“That he needs me,” she answered simply. “By the way, did you see the tweet I sent out?”
“No. I never look at my phone until I have my coffee. Why?”
“A motorcyclist ran over a puddle and drenched me. That’s why I’m so wet. I thought, since you know most of them in town, you would know who he is. I want to tell him that he should be more considerate to pedestrians.”
Zoey switched Buster to her other arm as Penni took her phone out her purse and read the tweet. When she looked back toward her, her face was impassive.
“Never seen him before. He must be new to town.”
Zoey hurried inside her office before she dropped the wiggling dog. Going into the bathroom, she shut them both inside before placing Buster gently on the floor. Then she took two towels out from under the sink, first drying off the dog before drying off herself.
“You’ll like Penni when you get to know her better.” She talked to the dog in a soothing tone while rubbing the fur with the fluffy towel. “She manages Mouth2Mouth. That’s an indie band, in case you don’t know. Penni works with her friend Grace, who’s married to Ice. Her husband has a lot of friends who ride motorcycles.”
When the dog began trembling, she scooted him closer to her as she knelt on the floor of the small restroom.
“You don’t like men? Poor thing. Was one mean to you? There’s no need to be afraid of him. I’m sure he’s just as nice as Grace. He doesn’t come to their office often, so you’ll probably never meet him anyway.”
Buster sat down on his hind legs at her assertions.
“That’s why I asked Penni if she knew the motorcyclist who sprayed me this morning. Penni’s husband, Jackal, rides one, too. I think they belong to a club who rides for fun.”