The love between him and me isn’t right. Some would say it’s unnatural. Wrong. All they see is his size, and it intimidates them. He is massive, too big for his own good, really, but he’s also handsome-so handsome-with chocolate brown eyes I can’t resist. I won’t sugarcoat it though-he’s not without his flaws. He’s a terrible listener, and frankly, independent to a fault. He’s a sloppy kisser, and he leaves his things everywhere. But every time I come home and run my fingers through those luscious locks, I forget all of his faults. And when that hair falls out and gets all over the couch, and my clothes, and the rug, I don’t fret. I always know I’m just one lint-roller away from everlasting love.
Because he’s the love of my life.
And he’s my dog.
Well, technically he’s my puppers.
Barely a couple of months of old and already he’s the size of a pony.
Apparently, he’s gonna get pretty big, but I didn’t know that when I adopted him.
At the shelter, I walked past a tiny black and brown fur ball sitting in a cage all alone, barely a few weeks old. He sat there quietly, not begging to be petted or whining about his accommodations. He stared up at me quietly, studying me with those deep brown semi-sweets and I was head over heels.
Just like all the other schmucks filling out adoption papers, I’d walked into that shelter fully intending to leave just as dog-less as when I arrived. I’d even texted my best friend, MaKenna, to make sure that was gonna happen.
Bailey: I’m just going to look. That’s all.
Makenna: YEAH RIGHT…Send me a picture of the cutie you take home because you are NOT leaving there empty-handed…
I so desperately wanted to prove her wrong, but then I walked past that little floof. He’s amazing, I told the shelter worker.
I agree. Unfortunately, he’s too energetic, she sighed. He’s a surrender. The man who dropped him off yesterday couldn’t handle him. I laughed and asked her to bring him into a little playpen so I could decide for myself. We played fetch and he acted like puppies do—energetic and happy for the attention—but then ten minutes in, he stumbled into my lap, curled up into a little ball, and promptly fell asleep. I was a goner.
“What kind of dog is he?” I asked, a picture of our glorious future spread out in front of me.
The girl shrugged and told me they didn’t know. The owner had just told them he was a mutt.
“How big do you think he’ll get?” She pretended to study him.
“Oh, with those tiny little paws? He probably won’t get any bigger than a small golden retriever.” I chuckle thinking back on that exchange now. His paws literally double in size every night. They are now big enough to carry the both of us down the sidewalk at breakneck speeds, even as I tug on his leash, trying to get him to slow down.
“Heel, Achilles! Heel!” When people hear his name they laugh. A dog named Achilles?! How clever. I smile and nod, and snicker internally because, yes, naming a dog Achilles so that you could have the eternal pleasure of saying ‘Achilles, heel!’ was supremely clever, thank you very much.
“Achilles, I have organic chicken treats!” I yell again, and finally, finally, my voice seems to register in his dang skull. He slows his racehorse speed until he’s right beside me on the sidewalk, staring up at me with those doe eyes. I feed him a treat and then hold another one in a fist so he knows it’s coming. I’ve discovered that while I may not be the best trainer, I am fairly adept at canine bribery. And that will have to suffice for now, considering I’m already in my work clothes.
It’s Friday morning and we’re on our way to the vet yet again, another thing the volunteer conveniently forgot to mention. Puppies apparently need more shots than babies. I think he has better healthcare than I do.
This morning I debated on whether or not I could walk him to the vet. Always the one with a sunny disposition, I had envisioned a nice stroll, where he had finally gotten the training I had furiously implemented upon him. Achilles, however, is more of a realist. He wants to sniff every damn fire hydrant, pole, or tree. He wants to become a contortionist that uses his leash as a trapeze net. And he wants to ride off into the sunset with Indiana Jones on his heels, ha get it, heels, taking his place in the world as the greatest squirrel hunter there is.
At this point, I’m seriously considering aborting this current mission, but I don’t think that’s physically possible anymore. I keep thinking about when MaKenna and I were younger and would pop the arms out of dolls. Suddenly going forward is the best idea I’ve heard since sliced bread. Unfortunately, that plan for a nice stroll is shot down and trampled upon for good measure when Achilles locks onto a squirrel’s scent and shoots off, my arm still attached to his leash.
“Grass-fed chicken treats, Achilles!” I try to remind him, shoving it under his nose. Damn him, he forgot. Stupid puppy with their stupid ten-second attention span.
He starts to pull hard, so I have to trot to keep up, which I can do in my high-heels (see going to work), but when he realizes I’m going faster, he decides to let his full speed rip. Somehow I find myself in a full-blown sprint, and I’m sure you can see sparks flying from my heels.
“No! Achilles! NO. HEEL!” I’m shouting at the top of my lungs, but he’s not listening to me the little bugger. If possible, he runs even faster and I’m tripping over my feet trying to stop this freaking dog. “SIT! DOWN! NO! DO YOU WANT A TREAT?!” I’m just yelling random commands at him at this point, hoping he’ll do all of them, or even just one, but all he can hear is noise. Finally, I bellow at him.
“STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!” He stops. Hallelujah. A god-given miracle.
“Good…boy…Achilles…” I whisper, fearful of breaking whatever spell I’d cast. Though he obviously doesn’t listen to me, he loves when I praise him. He turns the power of his doe-eyes upon me when he catches the smell of the treats. “That’s right…Achilles,” I pant, trying to catch my breath. “All of this can be yours, and more, if you just—no, no, don’t look at that squirrel—” Achilles jerks forward, whipping the leash from my hands. I go flying, limbs haywire as asphalt digs into my entire right side. I don’t cry out, but I grimace, feeling the warmth of blood trickle down my side.
“Achilles!” I sound like a manic and bloodthirsty mental patient and damn sure I am. When I catch that sorry excuse for a dog, I’m going to find out how to surgically attach his leash to my hand, and then all these treats are going into the trash. He doesn’t deserve organic chicken bites, he can eat the generic crap that every other mutt eats.
“Jesus! What the—” a masculine voice says from around the corner. I whip my head up and the blood drains from my face. That’s where Achilles has gone. I hobble to my feet and run down the street, turning around the corner.
“Achilles!” I try again as I round the corner and find the most horrifying scene imaginable. The pieces are easy to put together. There is a man sitting on the sidewalk. Achilles is on top of him, licking his face, and maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if not for the mud. I cringe as I stare down at the massive puddle at my feet. It had rained last night, and I can imagine it now: Achilles rounding the corner, bounding right through the puddle, and then leaping on this stranger with enough force to knock him off his feet. His suit is completely covered in mud—his designer suit from the look of it.
Damn. Damnidy. Damn.
I cannot afford to buy this stranger a new suit, so I only have one option. I will kill Achilles. I will kill him like Cruella de Vil and make him into a beautiful new fur-suit.
“I am so, so sorry,” I say, but then I realize he can’t hear me because my hand is still covering my mouth, as I’m completely shocked at the sheer audacity of my puppy.
“Are you serious?” Says the stranger. Although his words themselves aren’t mean, the tone he uses is downright nasty. I leap into action because I realize it’s been over two minutes and I’ve just been staring at Achilles. I yank my dog’s collar and pull him off the man.
“Bad Achilles!” I reprimand, hoping to convey my anger into dog-speak. He stares up at me, panting and tongue lolling. Honestly, I’m sure he’s had a splendid morning. It’s not even ten o’clock yet, but he’s been running, gotten to chase squirrels, danced through mud puddles, and mauled a stranger. Basically, it’s Christmas for him.
I’m reminded that he’s still there as he gets to his feet and wipes at his suit, trying in vain to clear off most of the mud. It’s no use. There are massive, muddy paw prints covering the entire front of his pressed white shirt and gray jacket.
“Are you hu—” I have every intention of asking him if he’s hurt, I do, but then I finally look up at his face for the first time and I am utterly speechless. Its Lucas. Oh my gawd, it’s Lucas Miller, the boy that stole my heart from the first day that he walked into our fifth-grade classroom, stapled his finger, told the dumbfounded teacher he was hurt and walked right back out the door. I thought I’d never see him again after high school, but no of course Achilles couldn’t just let me live my life without him.
Achilles didn’t just maul Lucas. He mauled what I would call a perfect male specimen. If Achilles had killed him, I could have stuck a pin in his body and mailed him to the Smithsonian. Homo sapien perfectus. Even muddy, he gives most of the male population a run for their money in the looks department. And if he weren’t currently scowling at me, I’d swoon. Heck, even with the scowl, I swoon a little bit. It’s that perfect combination of piercing hazel eyes and a strong jaw. He’s clean-shaven, and his warm umber hair has been tousled by careful hands. He’s tall, and even with his suit on, I can tell he’s in formidable shape. I want to shake Puberty’s hand right now because damn that man is fine. Aaand, he’s currently telling me to get my rambunctious puppy under control. He’s saying I shouldn’t have a dog like that if he’s not properly trained. I can hardly do more than nod dumbly.
And also, he apparently doesn’t remember me at all. Well, there goes the wedding that I’m currently planning in my head. Sorry mariachi band, your services are no longer required.
“He’s a puppy,” I say like we’re back in fifth grade. Like that explains everything. He studies me with those, gha, perfect hazel eyes.
“Puppies should be trained,” he says, looking at me like I’m the problem. Me, not the demon now sitting contentedly at my feet. I think he’s going to continue berating me, but he just shakes his head and turns in the opposite direction down the sidewalk.
“Hey wait! Could I, umm…let me cover your dry-cleaning bill!” I shout after him. “Or maybe a chiropractor’s appointment? Or even coffee? I’ll buy you coffee! Are you hurt?!” He waves away my offer and heads back down the street, clearly in a hurry to distance himself from me. I stand there, frozen, admiring his retreating backside. It’s incredibly depressing.
He doesn’t even remember me, and I’m sure he heard what I said about coffee but now he’s walking away, retreating into the distance, and I know I’ll probably never see him again. I sigh and look down at Achilles. He’s watching me with his head cocked to the side.
“You little hellhound. You could have at least kept him pinned down a little longer, maybe give me a chance to win him over with my dazzling personality.” Achilles yips in response and I jolt, remembering that I’m currently bleeding and late. I sigh, regretting this latest episode in The Life of Bailey Monroe—one in which Lucas will never be more than a schoolgirl crush.