“Who said you could wear my shirt and what’s with the dog?”
“Rex, this is my sister. Her name is Heather, but I call her Crabby Pants.”
“Funny,” said Heather. “Take off my shirt.”
“MOM!” yelled Lilly. “I got a dog.”
“A dog?” asked her mother, coming out of the kitchen.
“This is Rex. He found me.”
Rex held up his paw.
Her mother bent down, looked into the dog’s eyes, shook his paw and said, “Welcome home Rex.” Then she went back into the kitchen. “You have to go and get dog food Lilly.”
“I like her,” said Rex.
“So do I,” said Lilly.
“And he needs a bath,” she added.
“A bath?” said Rex.
“Don’t worry, it will be fun.”
“Sure. What kind of food do you like?”
“I have no idea. I’ve been eating whatever I find in the alley.”
“Stay here while I go to the store. I’ll be right back. You can sleep on my bed,” she said, showing him where her room was. Then she kissed him on the face.”
“Thank you for loving me.”
“How could I not?” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “You’re so beautiful.”
He licked her, sighed, put his head on her pillow and closed his eyes. Lilly smiled and covered him with her blanket.
The store was almost empty. She grabbed a cart and went to the dog food aisle, where she threw a huge bag of dry food and twenty-five cans of dog food that said it was the best thing your dog could ever eat, into it. She picked up a few toys and some things she thought the cats would like. When she got to the counter, she saw James, paying for a bottle of water.
“Lilly,” he said, his eyes wide.
She fell into his arms. “I’m so happy to see that the carrots didn’t get you. Come home with me and you can meet Rex, he’s the dog I saved and I didn’t die this time and I think one of the things the woman in the blue robe gave me was the ability to understand what animals are saying. I haven’t introduced the dog to the cats yet so, you should be there to see that and the dog is going to live with me.”
“Take a deep breath,” he laughed.
“I never thought I’d see you again. You look fantastic.”
“I think that was one of my gifts,” he said shyly.
She stared at him, then put her arms around him and kissed him.
“That will be eight-five dollars and seventy-nine cents,” said the kid, standing behind the counter. “Whenever you’re finished making out.”
“Making out?” she said, pulling away from James. “Who says that anymore?”
“I do,” said the kid. “How are you going to pay for this?”
“Why is it so expensive?”
“It’s dog food. Dog food is expensive. You bought enough to feed a small kennel.”
She handed him her mother’s credit card, then kissed James again.
“What do ya think?” she asked.
“About what,” gasped James.
“OMG,” he said, and kissed her again.
“That’s what I think too,” said Lilly. “I mean we were dead together, right? Being dead together has to mean something, doesn’t it?”
“There’s someone behind you,” said the kid. “Take it outside, get a room, do whatever you want, but get out of the way.”
“Thanks,” she said, dragging the cart toward the door. “Are you coming home with me?”
“Yes. Can I move in?”
“Sure,” she said. Why not.”
“Where’s your car?”
“How did you plan on getting the nine million pounds of dog food home?”
“I didn’t think that far ahead.”
“Then it’s a good thing I drove.”
“It is,” she laughed.
“MOM! I BROUGHT HOME A BOY.”
Her mother walked out of the kitchen. “Dinner’s almost ready.”
“This is James.”
“Can he live here?” asked Lilly.
“Are you homeless, James?”
“I am not.”
“Do you want to live here?”
“Then ask your parents if it’s okay. We’re having vegetarian chili for dinner and corn muffins and ice cream for dessert, with pie, of course. No carrots in anything, but I don’t know why I said that. We all hate carrots. We absolutely never have carrots. Dinner in thirty minutes.”
“Is she serious? I can really live here?”
“Sure, why not? She’s good about things like that.”
“Wanna met Rex the wonder dog?”
“Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand and pulling him up the stairs.
Rex was asleep on the bed and the two cats were sitting in the doorway looking at him.
“He’s you’re new brother,” said Lilly.
“Fat chance,” said Bitsy.
“Hey, be nice. He was living on the street and he’s had a hard life.”
“What did she say?” asked Cleo.
“You heard exactly what I said. And no chasing, biting, scratching, or terrorizing him and don’t hide his toys.”
“Can you understand what I’m saying?”
“Every single word.”
“Rats,” said Cleo. “Now we have to talk about her behind her back.”
“You mean like why doesn’t she get a haircut and…”
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
“Nothing,” said James.
“No. Not you. My cat is dissing me.”
“Let’s go,” said Bitsy. “I need to use the litter box.”
“James this is Rex. Rex, this is James.”
“Hi,” said James.
“I bought you a ton food, Rex.”
“Are you two in love?” asked the dog.
“Hold on, I’ll ask,” said Lilly. “He wants to know if we’re in love.”
“Definitely,” said James.
“Good,” said Rex. “I like him.”
“TIME FOR DINNER!” yelled her mother. “Bring the dog.”