“It’s just you and me now, Liesl.” The man stooped down to scratch the puppy behind her ears. “So let’s get along until Mummy comes back, okay?”
She wagged her tail at him, and he smiled softly at her. It had been a week since she had come home from her training, and already she had proven herself to be a fast learner. Quite clever for a puppy, he decided. He had chosen well from the litter.
She followed on his heels as he walked to his office. Holding the door open for her, he lifted her up onto the small sofa before settling into his seat. Occasionally when taking a break, he would glance back, and always she would raise her head and look at him with bright eyes full of curiosity.
In his childhood he had never particularly bonded with any pets. His…father had had some hunting dogs – though he had never heard of him ever going hunting, so why he had hounds escaped him – and his mother had once had a cat, but he had never really liked either. Even the bird he’d been given at 8 for his birthday had been largely ignored by him. A canary, no matter how sweet its song was, was a considerably poor substitute for a father, and the fact that the man who had sired him had thought a stupid bird would be good enough to make up for that ruinous childhood he had had only made him resent him even more.
But Liesl was different in that she was given out of genuine love, and though it sounded a bit like a stretch, he did feel some paternal instinct for the baby. During his lunch break, he had gone as far as sitting on the floor to play with her and feed her one or two bits of salmon. She had seemed cheerful enough with the unfamiliar and foreign taste of fish and had licked his fingers afterwards, which he had thought was quite charming in its own way, never mind the fact that he got up to wash his hands thoroughly with soap afterwards.
Once he’d rinsed the dishes from lunch and refilled her water bowl, he thought about taking a walk with her but decided that he’d leave it for later. His wife would probably want to, and it would be nice to go out together. They had used to go out for walks a couple years back but had stopped after one particular incident when his knee had hurt so badly, he thought it a minor miracle he had made it back home the same night. It had been a nice tradition of theirs, and he’d gladly pick it up again even with the nuts and bolts holding his lower leg attached to his upper.
So Liesl contented herself with sitting in her master’s lap until she heard the front door opening. Leaping off, she squeezed her way through the tiny gap between door and doorway before slipping and sliding past the front door where Mummy was slipping off her boots.
“Hello, Liesl.” Her mother smiled warmly and immediately bent down to hug her. The puppy shivered as the cold clinging to her mother’s coat enveloped her. Her mother apologized before setting her back down. Shedding her coat, she petted the dog before reaching up to kiss her husband.
“How was she today?”
“Good. Missed you though.”
“I thought I had asked after the dog, not you,” she teased. Master and puppy shadowed the young woman as she moved towards the bedroom, whereupon seeing her unbutton, unzip, and unclasp essentially every thread on her body, the former picked up the latter and covered her eyes. Liesl barked before licking the large hand that had suddenly appeared before her. What was this? A new toy, perhaps?
“Do you think they’ll deliver pizza in this weather?”
Understandably, he didn’t say much as she loosened her hair from its bun. Glancing over her shoulder, she couldn’t help but smile.
“What are you standing there for? I can’t wash my back by myself.”
“Don’t worry. We won’t do anything Liesl can’t see.”
His disappointment must have been obvious because she laughed as she stopped up the tub.
“Where she can see anyway.”
Excitedly jumping around, Liesl hopped around the floor of the brightly lit bathroom before leaping into her master’s abandoned sweater. Snuggling in its warmth, she lay down to take a much-deserved nap, too tired to investigate even the funny, interesting sounds coming from the nearby bathtub. No matter how strange or peculiar those sounds may be, she was just too sleepy.
Better luck next time.