Written Fireside: Can't You See?
Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.
Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running to the
man on the other side of the fence.
Part 3 by Angela Campbell:
Hours later, Amanda had managed to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room, but she still couldn’t get the vision of haunted green eyes out of her head. Cleaning was always her go-to distraction when she needed to distance herself from bad memories or unwanted thoughts, but nope. Didn’t work this time.
The pain she’d seen glimmering beneath Noah Hale’s delicious green gaze had been easy to recognize because she’d seen it in her own eyes when looking in the mirror these past few weeks. Perhaps he’d lost someone, too.
A low whine caught her attention, and she turned around to see the small brown and white dog lying in the doorway, watching her. Wiping the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist, Amanda shook her head and pointed the mop handle at Gertie.
“This is your fault. It’s your fault I can’t stop thinking about him.”
The dog’s eyebrows shifted anxiously as Gertie sighed and lowered her chin to her paws. Guilt tightened Amanda’s chest, and she sank to her haunches to pet the pup’s furry little head. Lord, Rachel had loved this dog, but Amanda had never had much time to spare for a pet. This was the first summer since she’d started teaching that she hadn’t traveled somewhere. Italy had been on the agenda this year — her once-in-a-lifetime vacation. She’d spent years saving to tour the streets long ago roamed by the likes of John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. But one month before Amanda's plane was scheduled to take flight, that heartbreaking phone call had shattered everything. A massive pileup on the highway. Her little sister hadn't survived the impact.
The hot burn of tears threatened to spill again, but Amanda sniffled and pushed them back.
After helping her mother with Rachel’s burial expenses, there simply hadn’t been enough money left in the bank to go anywhere, and besides, she had a dog now. A dog she didn’t know how to properly care for, considering it had only been a week since Gertie had gotten into some raw yeast dough, which had led to days of explosive flatulence and projectile diarrhea. The veterinarian had given Amanda a chastising look before lecturing her on all of the foods that were bad for dogs. It had made her feel inept, had caused her to burst into tears right then and there, and made her question whether keeping Gertie had been the right decision.
“You deserve better, Gertie.”
Gertie whined and then licked Amanda’s hand as if to say “It’s OK. I don’t blame you. You can’t help being stupid.”
Amanda sighed. “I’m a mess. Let’s take a shower and go to bed — what do you say, girl?”
Woof! Gertie’s butt began to wiggle as she jumped to her feet and pranced around the hallway, knowing a treat was in her near future.
Amanda set the wet mop outside to air dry and then leashed Gertie for a short walk.
After a quick shower and changing into a pair of tap pants and a tank top for bed, Amanda brushed out her hair, wondering what Mr. Tall Dark and Sexy next door was doing right now. No doubt a man like him was enjoying a fun night on the town with someone as equally attractive. Meanwhile, here she was, getting ready for bed before ten o’clock with only a dog to keep her company.
“I lead such an exciting life, Gertie.”
Woof! Woof! Gertie tapped out her frustration at being made to wait for her treat, alternately watching Amanda prepare for bed and then running back and forth to the kitchen where her doggie biscuit awaited their new nightly ritual.
Smiling, Amanda followed the precocious animal into the kitchen, gave Gertie her treat, and then remembered to bring the mop back inside since rain was in the forecast. Click. Standing on the outside back patio, Amanda turned and saw Gertie pressed up against the bottom glass of the patio door — inside the house.
The dog had closed the door behind her! Oh, no. Please tell me I didn’t have the door set to automatically lock.
She gripped the doorknob and tried to turn it. Oh, yeah. It was locked.
Standing against the door, the dog wiggled its butt and grinned a tongue-lolling grin at her through the door.
Leaning back in his desk chair, Noah lifted his arms above his head and cracked his knuckles. Fifteen pages. Not bad considering the trouble he’d had getting started a few hours ago. It was damn hard to write when every scene in his skull tonight wanted to involve a certain gorgeous blue-eyed schoolteacher as the main character.
Snapping his laptop shut, Noah stretched his legs and smirked a little. Come to think of it, he’d actually been more productive tonight than he’d been in weeks. Maybe his new neighbor wasn’t so bad after all, not if she turned out to be some kind of muse.
Wiping a hand down his face, Noah pushed to his feet. What was he thinking? The woman hadn’t exactly been friendly earlier, and he’d picked up on that spark of — what? — disapproval when she’d looked him over. He hadn’t exactly been courteous either, so he supposed he didn’t blame her all that much.
Noah moved to the fridge and peered inside, grimacing at the lack of beer in stock. The sudden tap tap tap at his front door drew his attention to the clock. Not yet ten, but still, pretty late to be having visitors.
Frowning, he stomped to the door and glanced out the peephole. Not believing his eyes, he jerked the door open.
“Um, hi.” His alluring new neighbor stood on his front step dressed in, hell, hardly anything at all. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I got locked out of my house. I was wondering if I could borrow your phone?”
Find Part 4 by Jane Hunt on July 14!