“Where in the world did you get that?” My mom was practically shouting at me when she saw Percy in my arms. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was more shocked than angry - which is a good sign.
It didn’t occur to me that my mom might go against keeping a dog until I was in front of our house. I decided to leave it to Percy’s cute brown eyebrows and puppy eyes to convince her just in case she doesn’t approve of keeping him.
Sophia was watching TV in the living room while James was playing, and when they saw the furry creature in my arms, both of them squealed in delight.
They crowded in front of me and bombarded me with questions.
“He’s so cute!”
“What’s his name?”
“Are we going to keep him?”
“Where did you get him?”
Percy was getting restless in my arms so I told them off, “Whoa, easy. You’re scaring him.” I took a seat on the couch to give him space. “His name is Percy, and yes, he’ll be staying with us from now on.”
My little Labrador-Rottweiler looked at me with those brown eyes and the resemblance hit me - his eyes were like Diane’s. The same shade. He started chewing on my fingers. I carried him and let him face me, “You must be hungry.”
I put him down and let him roam around the house. Good thing Gray let me take his food bowl and threw in 2 kilos of dog food with it.
Gray really cares about her dogs. Before I left her house, she told me what I needed to do, what not to feed him, how many times he should take a bath in a month and other stuff I can’t remember. She even told me she’d come to visit him sometime and I couldn’t wait for it.
While I was preparing Percy’s food, a voice spoke behind me, “I didn’t know we had a dog.”
I chuckled and faced my dad. “Now you do.”
He kissed the top of my head. “Having a dog is like raising a baby, Al." He gave me a worried look. “Are you sure you can handle it?”
“Of course I can,” I answered without a second thought.
“Okay, then. I’ll talk to your mom about it.” He smiled at me before disappearing from view.
The house was buzzing because of the arrival of our new family member. My siblings were totally in love with Percy. They fed him and played with him - James even gave up one of his stuffed toys for him.
Mom agreed to let him sleep in my room - not that she had another choice. I was staring at Percy when I remembered what my dad told me about raising a dog. If Percy was like my baby, then does that make Gray his mom too? Nah, I’ll be raising him alone, which means I’ll be a single mom.
Before drifting off to sleep, the memory of Gray smiling and the sound of her laugh haunted me. And those dimples. She’s too damn perfect she should be illegal. It made me wonder about the reason why she and her ex broke up. What could have happened between the two of them? What kind of an idiot would let go of the goddess that is Alexis Gray?
The following morning, a nasty smell woke me from my sleep. I opened an eye and took a peek at the wall clock. It read 9:15 am. It’s still too early. Today’s a Sunday, and on weekends, I usually sleep through half of the day. I tried to go back to sleep, but the smell was assaulting my nose.
Against my will, I went out of bed and the moment my foot hit the floor, I felt something wet. My eyes found Percy, happily wagging his tail beside the spot where he pooped. I looked at my feet again, realizing what I had stepped on. It was only then that I truly understood the weight of what I had signed up for.
“Where are we going again?” Kris asked on our way to the mall.
“We’re going to buy a pet owner starter pack.”
My eyes were on the road but I could see Kris staring at me from the passenger’s seat. “A what?”
“Gray gave me a puppy,” I explained. “So now, I have to buy the things he needs. I don’t want to be a bad parent.”
“What?! Since when? Let me see!” Then she started reaching for my phone which was sitting on my dashboard.
She had her fingerprint registered on it so she had no difficulty scrolling through my camera roll. “He’s so cute! Look at those cute little eyebrows.” She squealed. “I am so going over your house after this.” After a second, she added, “Hey, mind telling me what’s this doing on your phone?”
I stopped at a red light before facing her. She showed me the photo I took of Gray while sleeping in the office. Shit. “She looked cute so I took a pic,” I tried to sound as nonchalant as possible.
“Oh boy do you have it bad,” she said with a smirk.
I rolled my eyes at her as the light turned green.
Shopping for Percy’s needs was easy. Before going out, I texted Gray to text me the things I need to get for him. I just had to go through the list and I’m done. Kris, on the other hand, was a different story. She went inside every boutique we passed and she kept on asking for my opinion.
After some time, I grew tired of carrying the things I bought so I excused myself to bring them to my car. When I got back to the store where I left Kris, she was already gone. I pulled out my phone to text her but someone bumped into me, making me drop my phone.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” the girl who bumped into me picked up my phone and handed it to me before asking, “Is it still working?”
It was then that I got a good look at her - tall, auburn hair with brown highlights, pretty face. Recognition dawned on our faces at the same time. Panic coursed through me - if she’s here, that means her companion must also be here. I immediately scanned the surroundings for a certain person.
“She’s not here,” the girl spoke.
I let out a sigh of relief. “Good, I thought maybe I should run away before she sees me.”
“Look, I’m sorry for what happened last time with my cousin,” she started. “I know she said some mean things to you but I promise, she’s a good person.”
“It’s fine, I’m over it,” I smiled at her.
“I’m Georgia,” she held out a hand.
“Alex,” I said as we shook hands.
She raised her eyebrows when she heard my name. “You and your girlfriend have the same name, that’s cool.”
“Gray’s not my girlfriend,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, no shit. I just saw you at their house yesterday.”
I raised a questioning eyebrow at her. “You saw me? How?”
“Uh because I live in front of their house?” She said as if I should know that. “Didn’t she tell you she and Janelle are neighbors?”
“No, she didn’t. And I told you, we’re not dating,” I said frankly, making it apparent that I was not joking.
When she finally realized I was telling the truth, she spoke. “Dude seriously?”
“That explains why you were out in a bar kissing someone else.” She nodded slowly. A thoughtful hand raised to her chin as her eyes traveled along the length of my body. “Does that mean you’re single?”
I’m starting to think that fake-kissing Thea in Rad was a mistake. And now that I think about it, that little incident has caused a lot of misunderstandings. I debated whether I should tell her what really happened, but decided against it. I don’t need to explain myself to someone I barely know.
I raised an eyebrow at her. “Yeah, why?”
“Perfect,” she beamed at me with her perfect teeth. She snatched the phone from my hand and tapped a few times. A second later and her phone rang from her pocket. She rejected the call and gave my phone back.
“Did you just-”
She cut me off with a peck on the cheek. “Let's go out for a drink sometime. I’ll see you around, Alex.” She made sure to say my name with a sultry voice before walking away - leaving me speechless.
“Who the fuck was that?” Kris’ voice boomed. I turned around to see her marching towards me. “I just went to the bathroom for five minutes and I find you flirting with a sexy redhead?”
“I was not flirting with her!” I denied. “She was the one who got my number and suddenly kissed me,” I explained, wiping the part of my cheek where Georgia kissed me. My hand came out with a smear of red lipstick.
We decided to have an early dinner and while we were waiting for our food, I narrated the events that happened. When I was done, she said, “Well, she’s hot, I’ll give you that. But you barely know her. And for all I know, maybe that Janelle girl is plotting something against you.”
“Let’s not judge the girl before we even get to know her,” I defended.
“See, that’s the problem with-” she suddenly stopped speaking. Her gaze was fixed on something behind me. I took a peek and there stood Kian, holding hands with a small petite girl, waiting in line. Their body language made it evident the two were dating.
I quickly returned my gaze to Kris and held her hand. “Hey, you okay?”
“I-Yes, of course,” she blinked and pulled her hand from my grasp. “He told me he had a girlfriend a while back so I was kinda expecting this." She tried her best to sound upbeat about it but her eyes betrayed her.
We ate in silence after our orders were served. All throughout the meal, Kris kept on sneaking glances at their table.
"The girl's pretty. They look good together." She said as she chased a slice of sausage around her plate. It's obvious she's just playing with it, she had barely touched her food.
I stole a look at Ki's girlfriend. Her long blonde hair was tucked behind her ears, highlighting her high cheekbones. A gentle smile was plastered on her face. "She's cute, but not my type," I remarked.
She dropped her fork on the plate and frowned. "Idiot. You're supposed to say I'm prettier."
I chuckled. "I was just getting to that part."
She looked at my empty plate. "Are you done? Let's go." She stood up without waiting for an answer.
Kris practically dragged me to the parking lot. It wasn’t until we were in the privacy of my car that she started to relax. Seeing the two of them together must've made her edgy.
Kris has been with a few guys before but I don’t think she ever took anyone seriously. There’s always an invisible line that serves as her boundaries on how much of herself she would show.
At first, I saw her as a sarcastic girl who doesn’t give a shit about what people think of her, but as the years went by, I came to an understanding that she uses that attitude to protect the people who are important to her.
“I didn’t know Ki had a girlfriend. How long have they been together?” I asked.
“About a year or so,” she answered. “Only a few people know. He wanted to keep it private because he doesn’t want anyone meddling in their relationship. And don’t worry,” she added. “I’ve been keeping my distance from him ever since I found out. I know I’m a bitch but I would never do anything like ruin someone else’s relationship.”
“I've known you for three years, I know at least that much," I said as I backed out of the parking lot.
After taking a right at the corner, Kris spoke in an alarmed tone. "Where are we going?"
I glanced at her, puzzled about what she was worried about. "I'm taking you home."
“What do you mean home?” She narrowed her eyes at me. “Dude, I just got slapped in the face by those love birds. My house is the last place where I wanna be. Turn this shit around. Drink's on me.”