After a long day at Sweet Indulgence, Annie and Buffy headed home. It was a beautiful afternoon with just a hint of coolness in the air. Suddenly Annie’s stride came to a halt. She looked over her shoulder only to find Buffy rolling in something.
Annie tugged on her leash. “Buffy, what are you doing?” She leaned over and peered at the area getting a whiff of an awful foul smell. “Oh, Buffy! Now you’re going to need a bath.”
A car slowly passed them, stopping suddenly. A man dropped the window down and peered out.
“Hi. Need a lift?” He smiled.
“I’m almost home, silly. Besides, you wouldn’t want Ms. Stinky in your car. She found something disgusting and rolled in it.”
Jack pulled his head back and laughed. “I can help.”
A car honked at Jack. He pulled in his head and then pulled the car over to the curb. The other car quickly raced by, spraying her with water from the recent rain. She glared at the car as it sped past.
“Now two of us will need baths,” Annie said disgustedly.
“Hop in. I don’t care if you’re stinky,” Jack said.
“I know, silly. Get in.”
Annie climbed in the passenger seat after settling Buffy into the back seat.
“Wow, she’s ripe. What the heck did she roll in?” Jack asked as he turned on the air conditioner full blast and recycled the air.
“It looked like rotten fruit, or …”
“Don’t say it. Let’s just stick with fruit as the answer,” Jack said.
While Annie ran the bathwater for Buffy, Jack helped by taking off her collar. Side by side, the two of them scrubbed, rinsed, and repeated as Buffy stood looking like a drowned rat.
“Oh, she’s cold. She’s shivering,” Jack said, wrapping her in a fluffy towel.
“Bring her in the bedroom. I’ll use the blow dryer on her.”
Jack held Buffy while Annie blew dry her coat. “Does she like to be brushed?” Jack asked.
“She tolerates it,” Annie said.
“This calls for a glass of wine,” Jack said, looking down at his grimy and wet clothes.
Annie poured two glasses of merlot. Motioning to her couch, she invited him to sit. “I’m sorry you got so dirty.”
“No worries. I’m glad to help. I hope she enjoys being clean,” he said.
“I’m glad we ran into each other,” Annie said, smiling.
“Well, I stopped by the bakery first and you’d already closed. I figured you were on your way home.”
“Ah, so you planned it,” Annie said as she leaned into him, hitting his shoulder.
“How about I take you out for a bite to eat?” Jack asked, taking a sip of his wine.
“Nah, let’s stay in. Do you like ramen? I lived on that stuff while I was in college and I still like it,” Annie said, getting up from the couch and crossing over to the kitchen.
Ramen made everything better, especially on a cool evening such as this. After they finished dinner, she poured their second glass of merlot, dimmed all the lights, and switched on the television. With Buffy curled up in her bed, exhausted from chewing her bone after her bath, Annie and Jack cuddled on the sofa, proud of their accomplishments.
They were laughing at the show, Funniest Home Videos, when her phone began to dance all over the glass coffee table. She quickly reached for the vibrating phone.
“We’d like to have you over for supper. Some financial papers came that we need to discuss.”
“What kind of paperwork?” Annie covered the phone and mouthed, “Grandmother” to Jack.
Jack raised his finger to his mouth, showing her he’d be closemouthed during the conversation.
“I have a very busy schedule. I’m trying to coordinate something with the Vickie and the girls and Jack.”
“Yes.” Annie dared her to say anything about it.
“When can we expect you?” Grandma Lilly said, not missing a beat.
Annie sighed into the receiver. “I’ll stop by tomorrow.”
“Everything okay?” Jack asked.
“Yes. I have to read over some paperwork that came in regarding my inheritance.”
“Oh.” Jack set his glass down. “Maybe I should be going, then.”
“No, you don’t need to go. Please stay.”
Jack nodded. “Alright.”
They continued to laugh at the crazy stunts on the show and soon Annie couldn’t even remember the conversation she’d had with her grandmother. After the show, Annie walked Jack to the door. “Thanks again for helping me. Giving her a bath can be such an ordeal.”
“You’re welcome. And thanks for dinner … and the wine.” He winked.
“Ramen and merlot, the dinner of champions.”
Jack reached out and gently stroked her arm. “I had a great time tonight. It was just the sort of evening I like to spend.”
“Eating ramen and drinking wine?”
“That, and …” He pulled her into his arms. “And this.” His mouth met hers in a soft kiss. She dropped her arms by her side. His sweet warm breath lingered just above her lips. He stepped back, brushing his hand through his hair.
“Hey, you can come back anytime to help me give Buffy a bath,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“As long as you serve me ramen and merlot.” He gave her a quick peck and then he was gone.