The wolf was gone when Gary woke up and checked the living room. A breeze blew in through an open window and he watched it for a moment before taking the blanket and pillow and placing it on a corner of the couch. ‘At least I didn’t get eaten.’ he said.
Gary barely closed his door when Suzy opened hers. She was fiddling with her keys as she walked out and closed her door.
‘Hey, Suzy.’ he said, startling her and making her drop her keys. ‘Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you.’ He picked up her keys and handed them to her.
‘I’m okay.’ she said, giving him a quick smile. ‘I just, had a weird dream and it still feels unreal.’
She nodded. ‘I dreamt I was roaming around the neighbourhood.’ she said. ‘It felt so real. My bed was a mess when I woke up.’
‘Ah.’ he said and nodded. ‘Maybe it was the pizza. How are you with peppers?’
She chuckled. ‘Yeah, maybe that was it.’ she said and walked with him.
Gary grinned a little. ‘Next time when we’re caught in a storm, we’ll go for the pizza with fish.’
‘Or maybe I’ll pick the restaurant.’ she said and poked his shoulder.
Gary spit out the grass. ‘You know, this ne-ever get tired.’ he said, then bleated loud from a sudden pain in his thigh. He looked back and saw the wolf holding it in her mouth.
‘Ouch! Why’d you do that for?’
She looked at him, blinked, then let his go quickly, covering her muzzle.
Gary sat back and rubbed his leg, the pain quickly numbing. She sat on her knees holding her tail in front of her and looking down, glancing only occasionally at him.
‘Okay, I get it.’ he said, checking his skin but there were no puncture wounds. ‘You were still running on instinct. You couldn’t help it.’
He looked at her. ‘I wonder if the pet store has any wolf collars with bells.’
She looked up at him.
‘But I doubt you’d put it on yourself when you turn.’
She shook her head.
He chuckled. ‘I could try spreading pepper on me, but I’d feel like I’d just make myself more appetising by seasoning myself.’
She nodded with a slight grin.
‘Great.’ he said looking up. ‘A gourmet wolf.’ She chuckled and he smiled at her. ‘Just in case, I bought extra today at the store so we can eat if we really get hungry.’ He rubbed his thigh. ‘And not just get the munchies for kebab.’
She smiled back and nodded again.
‘All right.’ he said and stood up. ‘What shall we do tonight?’
They had walked for a bit when the wolf started to get restless, looking around.
‘What is, it?’ Gary asked.
She clenched her thighs together, flattened her ears and tucked in her tail.
It took a moment for the coin to drop but then he understood. ‘Ohhh..’ he said and looked around, then pointed at a small building a little further off. ‘The restroom’s over there.’
He chuckled silently as she hurried to it, then strolled around, looking at the grass and pondering about the quality and taste of it before giving himself a mental slap to the face. He turned to see if the wolf was ready and found a collie standing a bit away from him, its fur a mess and dirty.
The collie growled at him, shaking on its legs.
‘Good boy..’ Gary said, holding out his hands. ‘Be nice and I’ll get you something good to eat.’
Larry barked once and ran at him.
‘Down Larry!’ Gary yelled as he ran away from the dog.
Larry growled more as he chased Gary across the field.
‘Stay!’ yelled Gary, then stepped into a hole hidden in the grass, tumbling face forward, bleating loud before hitting the ground.
Larry was only a couple of metres away from sinking his sharp teeth in Gary when he looked back to see the dog coming at him. Gary turned to scramble away when a dark shadow shot at him. It pushed him down on the grass and snarled loud at Larry.
The collie froze in its path and whined softly as he made himself small.
The wolf moved slowly closer, growling menacingly.
‘Wait!’ Gary said as he rolled over on his back. ‘Don’t hurt him!’
The wolf stopped moving closer but kept her eyes on Larry.
Gary stood up and watched Larry cower on the ground. ‘He’s not a, bad dog.’ he said. ‘He just lost his, master and is probably lonely, and confused.’
The wolf looked up at Gary, back at Larry, then growled something at him. Larry whined and she looked back at Gary, giving him a nod.
‘It’s okay now?’ he asked and she nodded again.
He moved carefully closer and went down on one knee, holding out his hand. ‘It’s okay boy, we won’t hurt you.’
Larry looked at Gary, the wolf, then back at Gary again and crawled closer, whining softly. Gary leaned closer and let Larry sniff his hand before petting his head. ‘That’s better.’ he said. ‘There’s nothing to be, afraid of.’
Larry wagged his tail slowly and Gary smiled softly at the wolf. ‘Thanks for, saving, me.’
She gave him a smile and a nod.
Gary looked at Larry’s fur. ‘How, about you come with us, Larry?’ he said. ‘Give you, a bath, and something to eat, a dry place to sleep.’
Larry’s ears pricked up and his tail wagged a little quicker.
‘Let’s go then.’ Gary said, and the three of them went to his place.
Larry had relaxed more on the way and Gary was hopeful he would return to being a happy dog soon. ‘You’re in luck,’ he said to Larry as they and the wolf arrived on his floor. ‘I bought extra pork today so you won’t be hungry for long.’ Larry barked twice before Gary could shush him. ‘No barking. People are sleeping at this time.’
As he expected, the bald neighbour opened his door and looked at the three of them. Gary opened his mouth but the neighbour held up his hand, backed into his apartment and closed the door.
‘O-kay..’ Gary said and let the wolf and Larry into his apartment.
‘Bathroom’s here.’ he said, leading Larry into it and turning on the water. Larry looked nervously at it. ‘It’s okay.’ Gary said. ‘I’m just going to rinse the dirt out of your fur.’
Larry didn’t want to get closer so Gary picked him up and put him in the tub. The moment the water from the shower head hit him Larry yelped and jumped out of the tub. Gary slipped and grabbed the edge. ‘Larry!’
The collie ran out of the bathroom but the wolf was quicker and grabbed him. A short growl from her made him surrender.
‘Thanks aga-ain.’ Gary said as she put Larry in the tub again. He rinsed the dog and cleaned his fur, then used a couple of towels to dry him off as best as he could. ‘There. Clean.’ he said, then noticed the wolf pointing at him. He looked down at his own coat covered in dirt. ‘Right.’ he said and stepped into the tub to clean his wool. ‘You might, want to get that dirt out of your own fur too.’ he said as he dried himself. ‘I’ll go get a few more towels.’
‘Here.’ he said as he came back into the bathroom with the towels, then froze on the spot when he saw the wolf in the tub, her fur clinging to her body, no longer hiding her curves.
The wolf tilted her head as she looked at him in wonder, then looked down at herself quickly and tried to cover herself with her hands and arms.
‘Sorry!’ Gary said, turning around at once. ‘I.., forgot for a second!’ He dropped the towels on the laundry basket and rushed out the door. ‘I’ll prepare our meals now.’
A minute later the wolf peeked around the corner into the kitchen. ‘I laid a large t-shirt on the couch.’ Gary said when he saw her. ‘You can wear that.’ She gave a nod and hurried past the doorway. ‘Oh boy..’ Gary sighed, glad his parts were hidden in the wool because he had no pants that would fit him now.
Bot wolf and collie pricked up their ears and smelled the air when Gary walked into the living room with two plates and a bowl. ‘Feeding time.’ he said with a grin. He handed one plate to the wolf. ‘This is for you.’ She licked her lips and smiled at the big cut of pork. ‘And this is for you.’ he said as he put the bowl down for Larry, who eagerly dug into the small cuts.
He sat down and chuckled at the sight of the two predators enjoying their meal, then started on his own which was less pork and more vegetable.
‘Say, what is your name?’ Gary asked the wolf.
She looked up for a second, then shook her head.
‘Don’t know that, either, eh?’ he said and she looked down, flattening her ears. ‘Oh, don’t, worry about it. It, means you can choose your own, name. One you like.’ She looked up and smiled softly with a nod. Gary put away his empty plate. ‘What, name would fit you?’ he said and scratched his chin. ‘I suppose we should, leave out things like Whitefang, Shadowborn, Moonbeam..’
She nodded quickly with a frown.
‘Hang on.’ he said and went over to a desk in the corner, took his laptop and phone and went back to the couch. Some taps on the keyboard later he handed it to her. ‘This is one site with, names.’ he said. ‘Maybe you’ll find something, there that you like.’ She nodded and perused through the list while Gary gathered the dishes and went to the kitchen.
He was barely done when she stepped into the kitchen with the laptop and showed him the screen.
‘Chuck?’ he asked.
She looked at the screen and shook her head, pointing out the name above it.
He chuckled. ‘Just kidding.’ he said and smiled at her. ‘I like it, Chelsea sounds good.’
She smiled and he held out his hand. ‘Good to meet you, Chelsea.’
She shook his hand and nodded.
‘Okay, now that’s done, let’s, see what’s next on the agenda.’ he said and looked at Larry who sat at the doorway.
‘Okay, okay. I guess you can stay.’ Gary sighed and threw up his hands. The two pairs of puppy eyes had left him no choice and Chelsea and Larry grinned as they sat on the floor in front of him, wagging their tails. ‘Now I know how prey feels when cornered by a pack of predators.’ he said, then looked at Larry. ‘But you’re going to get a check-up at the vet to make sure you’re okay.’ Larry barked once to seal the deal.
Chelsea moved next to Gary on the couch again and gave him a hug. ‘Wow.’ he said, thinking he could use a shearing to cool down. She let him go and smiled at him. ‘Okay, time to get some sleep.’ he said.
Chelsea made herself comfortable on the couch again and Larry got his own blanket to lie in front of it. Gary stared at his ceiling for long time, thinking not only about having Chelsea spending the night again, but also about how a certain part of her anatomy felt when she hugged him, and how he suddenly became owner of a dog. “Goodbye, quiet days.” he thought.