BENNETT - Part 2 of the HMB Doggie Series

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Chapter 7

The rest of the week progresses without incident. No dudes lurking, no horrible dreams, no screaming migraines. I spend all week working on my paintings. A gallery down on Main Street is interested in showing my artwork after I popped in there one afternoon so I need to get my ass in gear.

The nanny cam arrived as promised and is now mounted up into one of the trees. It was not without difficulty and took some seriously clever euphemisms on the word penis to get it up there. I had no idea a small plastic contraption could be such a pain to handle. Irregardless, it’s up there. And, naturally, Stalker Boy has not shown up all week. I check the feed every morning and every evening and it remains without visitors. I’m oddly disappointed. I should be happy that he’s decided to leave me alone but I’m not. I want to see who it is. And the paranoid idea that he’s picked a new hiding place has crossed my mind about a thousand times, but I try to bravely shove it aside.

I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror, critiquing my appearance. It’s Friday evening and Keith will be here in about 10 minutes for our date. I’m nervous, which is new for me. I remember a time when I’d have date night after date night and wouldn’t even break a sweat over it. But now…it’s like I’m trying to relearn everything over a 30 some-odd year span within an hour. It’s frustrating as hell. I blame it on the twisted bastard who crunched my body into a hundred pieces.

I like the dress I’ve chosen. It’s a modest cap-sleeve with a fitted waist that touches just about mid-thigh. The neckline isn’t too low since I’m showing a fair amount of leg. It’s a beautiful dark green that sets my blond hair on display like fireworks. I have black kitten heels to complete the look. I thought about going for my sexy pumps but since I can’t walk in them I figured I’d let them have the night off. It’s ironic…for someone who wore point shoes professionally for ten-plus years I’m surprisingly unfit to wear a heel over a few inches. I’ve twisted an ankle or two and I don’t wish to repeat that on a date with one of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever laid eyes on.

My hair is going all-natural this evening. I’m too lazy to do anything with it and, frankly, it’s too fine and to straight to hold any type of curl. I’ve done natural make-up as well, something I didn’t used to do.

“I guess your whoring days are over, Fu,” I say to myself in the mirror.

Bennett “woofs” from his seat beside me. When you’re dog doesn’t want you to be a whore either you gotta listen to him.

“You can do this,” I stare at myself in the mirror, “It’s just a date.”

So when the doorbell rings I’m annoyed my heart does a complete summersault and my gut wants to toss up the Tums I scarfed down an hour ago.

Bennett beats me to the door. I unlatch the chain and undead bolt the lock, take a fortifying breath and open the door. Keith is standing there holding a bunch of daisies. Everything, from his black slacks to his blue button-up shirt, instantly makes my mouth water. I smile, trying not to drool.

He extends the flowers to me as he steps into my house, “These are for you…obviously,” he laughs nervously. At least I’m not the only Captain Obvious in the room. “Wow…what a beautiful house!” His reaction is totally genuine and I grow even more fond of him. “It’s adorable.”

My ego goes through the roof as I give him a tour. He’s enamored with my artwork. He’s enamored with my decorating skills. He’s enamored with my house. Any sane person would be so he gets a few points in the “Okay” list.

“Wow…this place is…magical.” We are standing at the front door, ready to head to dinner. Bennett is sitting beside me, his blue face extra droopy because he senses I’m about to leave him.

I smile with pride as I say, “It really is. The second I saw this house I knew I had to have it.”

“I’m really glad you go it.” His tone insinuates something else entirely but I’m choosing to overlook that. So instead I kneel down and take Bennett’s large head in my hands.

“You be good, sweetie. I won’t be long. Just dinner, I promise.” I give him a kiss on the nose and his tongue slops out to go up my nostril. His gorgeous tail swishes from side to side. Yep…he’s one smart dog.

I lock up, feeling Keith’s eyes on me.

“You care about your dog a lot. That says something about you.” He places his hand on the small of my back as he escorts me to his car. The heat from it radiates up my spine and it takes all my self-control to not wobble in my two-inch heels.

“He’s been good to me.” Keith lunges for the car door before I even reach my hand out. Clearly being the gentleman. So cute.

“You will have to elaborate on that.”

We’ve gotten through dinner. I’ve had my fair share of wine and am feeling the effects but in a very good way. Keith has been nothing but a gentleman and I’m grateful for that. Sleaze-ball wouldn’t bode well for me at this point in my life.

We’ve been laughing for well over two hours, me regaling him with stories of my dancer days and him telling me about his horrendous ex-wife who left him for another woman. Ouch. It would seem I’m not the only one who’s had a tough year.

He’s taken me to this fantastic little sushi restaurant right on Main Street. The food is phenomenal, the service is fantastic and the atmosphere is romantic but not so much that I feel like I’m in a corny love song video. I need to watch myself because Keith would be very easy to fall head over heels for.

He surprises me with his next question, “So how has Bennett been good to you?”

I smile as I look off into space, picturing his sweet, sad face and feeling my heart burst with love. “He literally showed up out of nowhere. Truly. It was that night that we had that rainstorm,” he nods in understanding, “The poor little guy showed up on my doorstep, completely soaked. No tags, no chips. He trusted me enough for me to take him in for the night and as it turns out I trust him enough to never, ever let him go.” I smile warmly.

“Does it take a lot for you to trust a dog?”

It must be liquid courage that makes me answer with, “Well, ever since I was hit by a drunk driver and now have blinding migraines, nightmares and someone’s been lurking around my house, it takes a little more for me to warm up to someone.”

I clamp my mouth shut, realizing I may have said a little too much. Keith is looking at me in surprised horror.

“Wait…what?!” His hand finds mine on the table and he looks straight into my eyes, “Someone’s stalking you? Drunk driver? Hold on there, woman. Start from the beginning and leave nothing out.”

His concern warms my heart so I oblige him and start with the accident a year ago. It feels like I talk forever. He peppers me with questions but mostly he just sits there, holding my hand and lets me vomit my woes all over him. I even tell him about the woman in my dreams and how I feel this stalker guy is connected to her. I’m surprised when he doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy and run out the door. When I’m done I feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted off my back. I slump into my seat and smile contentedly, “Wow…I think I really needed that.”

“Damn straight you needed that! Christ, Fu, I had no idea,” he drops his head, “I feel like a class-act dick. Here I am trying to pick up on you, and all you want is to get your life back in order.”

I laugh and smack him on the shoulder, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s nice to have something positive to focus on for a change.” I let my thumb stroke his hand, trying to reassure him with my eyes that he’s not a dick, not by a mile. “In fact, the day we met I told myself that it would be you to get me out of my dating slump.” I smile mischievously at him.

His eyebrows shoot through the ceiling and the most adorable goofy grin spreads across his face, “Really?”

“Yes,” I scoot closer to him and keep my eyes on his, “Really.”

He captures my face with his free hand and brings his lips to mine. Sensations like no other explode through me as our mouths touch. He’s not greedy in his kiss. He’s soft, patient and does a fantastic job letting me warm to his touch. Thank God I’m sitting, otherwise my knees would have buckled.

I’ll admit it: I pseudo-whimper when he pulls away. This gets a naughty smile from him and I feel my cheeks heat.

“That was…” I clear my throat, “Pleasant.” I smile.

“Pleasant,” he frowns, “Seriously?”

“You’ll take pleasant and you’ll like it,” I say solemnly. It takes all my strength to not break a smile.

He grins broadly and skims one finger down the length of my jaw. No strength in the free world could keep the shiver that vibrates my body. He notices, sits back in his chair and basks in his glory.

“So what are we going to do about this stalker guy?” His abrupt change in topic startles me. I take a moment to collect myself.

“Well…as it is right now I have a nanny cam mounted in one of the trees he stands under. Other than that I’m out of ideas.”

He sips from his wineglass, a contemplative look on his face. “A nanny cam, huh? That’s pretty brilliant actually.”

“It was Kim’s idea,” I admit.

“Smart woman,” he pauses, “Listen…I know we just met and all, but this has been one of the best dates I’ve ever had. I knew we would connect the second I saw you sitting in the dirt,” we both laugh, “ And I’d sure be bummed if something was to happen to you,” he smiles sheepishly. “So how about this? I can keep an eye on your house for you as well,” he throws up a hand when he sees me about to interject, “Hear me out. I’ve been living here for a long time and know just about everyone there is. I can keep my eyes peeled for any strangers in the neighborhood. And I can do some research on your house,” he winks at me, “I have connections.”

I’m slightly floored and it shows on my face. “You would do that? For me?”

He smiles, leans in and captures my face again, “You are so damn cute I’d offer you my kidney if I thought it would help out.”

I close the door behind me and lean against it. After Keith dropped me off and after ample amounts of love given to a very excited Bennett, I’m able to take a moment for myself, letting the events of the evening play out in my head.
Keith is a really good guy. His looks alone would be enough for at least one more date, but dear Jesus…he’s actually nice! Usually men of his caliber are assholes and I’m counting my lucky stars that perhaps I’ve found a diamond in the rough…or should I say he found me. We’ve made plans for later in the week and I’m already counting down the hours.

I let Bennett out to do his business and then he and I head to bed. I’m not even thinking about nightmares or stalkers, which is a welcome relief.

She’s clutching the the piece of paper in one hand, the doorsill in the other. Glass cuts her feet. The letters blur together.

He’s here. He’s waiting for her. She has no idea when he will make his move, but she feels in her gut that it’s soon.

She’s strong though. She will fight back.

“You took everything from me.” The irony of his words is not lost on her.

I’m looking through the nanny cam feed from last night. Not that it’s unusual for me to do this every morning, but the dream has spurred me to new levels of annoyance. And so far, the camera reveals nothing. I tamper down my frustration and take a sip of my coffee, like somehow caffeine will make this less frustrating. Why won’t the fucker show up already!?

Just as I’m thinking this I see movement on the screen in front of me. My breath catches in my throat. I check the time and see that it’s around five in the morning. It’s dark but I do see someone walk through the trees towards my house. I’ve intentionally left my porch light on every night since I installed the camera, hoping it would literally shed some light on the situation. I’m thankful I did because I’m clearly seeing a man in a long coat approach my house. It’s hard to tell, but his hair looks like it’s a light brown. He’s built well with an athletic body. He’s also tall.

He’s making his way up towards my walkway. He pauses though, one foot extended like he’s contemplating coming onto my property. He doesn’t though. He paces back and forth on the sidewalk, his eyes never leaving my house. He looks like a caged animal. His movements are jerky like that of someone who is clearly agitated.

He paces for a few more minutes. Finally he bends down, grabs something and chucks it at my house. I frown. Stop throwing shit at my house! I don’t like that one bit.

He walks back towards the trees. It’s still too damn dark to see his face. This annoys me to no end.

He disappears from the camera. I stop the feed, sit back in my chair, and contemplate what I just saw. After a few minutes I get up, make my way to the front door and open it. Sure enough, there’s a rock sitting on my porch. I examine the wall and see a scuff mark next to the front window. He’s throwing rocks at my house now? That’s just rude! What if he breaks one of my windows!? I’ll be so pissed. I pick up the rock and chuck it back into the street. I’d take it to the police to have it fingerprinted but the turd was wearing gloves so I know it would be a waste of my time.

Bennett is standing on the porch next to me, his nose in the air, sniffing intently.

“What do you think, Bennett? You smell him at all?” As if he understands me, Bennett ambles down the porch steps, sniffing the ground. He walks over to exactly where my creepy stranger stood. A growl comes from his throat and then he lifts his leg to spray pee all over the lawn and sidewalk. I chuckle, “You mark your territory, sweetie.” He stands there for a few more minutes, looking across the street towards the trees. It’s like he’s making sure this guy is actually gone.

He walks back to me and sits at my side, tail swishing softly. I bend down and cup his blue face in my hands, “You’re a brave boy, Bennett.” His tongue slops out and goes up my nostril. It would appear he agrees with me.

I get on the horn again and make a call to the cops. I tell them I have a video of the guy throwing rocks at my house. They say to email it over so they can take a look at the footage. I sincerely doubt they will, but I oblige anyways. I’ve seen a few extra police cars rolling around the neighborhood, but it’s not like they’re camped out in front of my house, making sure I’m safe.

The only thing keeping me safe right now is Bennett...and this house.

My arms are loaded down with grocery bags. I kick off my rain boots and head into the kitchen. The sky opened up a few hours ago and it’s been pouring down rain ever since. I like it. I plan on lighting a fire and doing some painting after I put my groceries away. Bennett shakes his furry body, sending water droplets all over the kitchen. It’s become our weekly tradition of going to the store together. He likes to sit in the front seat and watches me intently as I enter and exit the store. He’s particularly ecstatic when I come back to him because I always pick up a special treat, which he happily inhales on the drive home.

I start unloading my bags, silently celebrating the fact that I purchased more produce then I ever have. Living on the coast really has changed my ways. I’m eating better, I’m exercising more and the effects are showing. I whistle softly. Even though this tweaker stranger is stalking me and throwing rocks at my house I’m oddly upbeat. I should feel creeped out but I don’t. At least, not when I’m home. Which is weird because you’d think I wouldn’t want to spend any time in my house when this guy is watching it like a hawk. But it’s just the opposite. Every time I walk into this place I feel it give me, and now Bennett, a big hug. I’m safe here.

So it doesn’t shock me when I look out the window and see tweaker dude standing under the clump of trees. The rain is just heavy enough and he’s just far enough away for his features to be unidentifiable. Slightly annoying. Plus the collar of his long coat is pulled up practically to his eyes and the hat he’s wearing sits low on his head. I fight the urge to defend my territory and run out there to beat him senseless. Instead I just stand there and stare back. Bennett leans heavily into my leg, offering me protection in his brave puppy way. With a burst of inspiration I raise my middle finger at him, smirking. It’s probably not wise to anger the lion but I don’t care.

I know he sees me giving him the bird. He doesn’t return the gesture. He does stuff his hands in his pockets, turns and stomps away. Just like that. I smile down at Bennett like he and I just won a small victory. I know the guy will be back and since there’s nothing I can do about it, I push this incident to the side for now.

“Time to paint, sweetie.”

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