Divorced, Desperate and Dead(3)

By: Christie Craig

“I know, but I can’t stay. I have to meet someone. I just wanted to stop by a minute and apologize for missing it.”

“No,” Kelly said. “You can’t leave. I’m grilling hamburgers. And . . . I want you to meet someone. She even went out and bought a new swimsuit.”

“Darn,” he said, only mildly regretting that he was going to miss the new swimsuit. “Sorry. But seriously, I have to be somewhere.”

“Is it a date?” Beth asked. “You going out with someone?”

“No. It’s work,” he answered honestly.

“You’ve been divorced over two years,” Kelly said, sounding more and more like their mom. “It’s time you start dating.”

“I date.”

“No.” Kelly looked to see where her daughter was. When she was sure the girl wasn’t in earshot, she said, “You have sex. That’s not dating.”

He frowned. “I thought that counted.” All of a sudden, he felt something tug at his jean leg. He looked down, expecting to see his sister’s toy poodle, Bucko, who for some ungodly reason, thought his leg was a pissing post. But no, this thing was . . . was . . .

“What the hell is that?” he asked, as the thing stood on its back legs.

“That’s Pooch, my new foster dog,” Kelly said and studied the animal trying to climb up his leg. “Wow, he must like you.”

After his sister’s second miscarriage, she’d started fostering dogs, and she tried to push each and every one on him. She knew damn well he wasn’t going to take in a dog, but it was her way of guilting him into making a donation to the Canine Foster program. It worked each and every time, too.

“That’s a dog?” he asked. He’d figured his donations had amounted to the cost of feeding each of the dogs for six months. He was going to get off cheap this time. It couldn’t have a stomach any bigger than a tablespoon.

“Yes it’s a dog. Don’t make fun of him. He has a Napoleon complex.”

“He?” Cary asked.

“Yes.”

“Maybe his complex has to do with the pink ribbons.”

“Dogs are color blind. And he was like that when I got him. His name is Pooch,” his sister offered and studied the animal. “This is odd. He doesn’t like anybody.”

The thing kept trying to climb up his leg, so Cary reached down, and with one hand scooped it up and held it a foot from his face.

“Be careful,” Kelly said.

“Of what?” he asked. “I’ve seen mosquitoes that scared me more.” The animal had black eyes. He brought the thing closer and a pink tongue came out and lapped him on his nose.

“Oh, my God. He really does like you,” Kelly said. “You should adopt him.”

“No.” He studied the animal closer. “You sure it’s a dog?”

It growled, almost as if insulted by Cary’s comment.

“Yes. And he might be small but he has the attitude of a pit bull. He bit Bucko.”

“Bucko probably pissed on him.”

“Are you going to let him get away with this?” Beth jumped in. “Don’t you see what he’s doing? He’s using Pooch to change the subject.”

“What subject?” He pretended to be innocent and set the creature down.

Kelly groaned. “You’re right,” she said to Beth, and then glared at him. “Don’t you want someone real? Someone you can actually have a conversation with? Someone you could share more than a few bodily fluids with?”

“I have conversations,” he said, but damn it if he hadn’t thought that same thing three nights ago when Paula, the flight attendant, jumped out of bed five minutes after she’d been screaming out his name, and took off because she had a plane to catch.

“I mean more than heavy panting.”

Cary grinned, ignoring that his sisters’ comments resonated a little too much. “I kind of like heavy panting.” And he did, but . . .

The animal started yanking at his jeans again.

“You won’t even have a relationship with an animal,” Beth said. “Why are we wasting our breath?”

“Because we love him,” Kelly said, glaring up at him from her lounge chair. “Because underneath all of that playboy attitude is a decent guy who deserves to be happy—with a dog. Not all women are like Korine. You have to give love another shot.”