Those soulful eyes set above a thick, strong muzzle drew me in as I read the short description. “Need home ASAP for Bella. 3 years old. Super sweet, but she doesn’t like men. Potty trained. Can sit, down, and stay.” I nestled into the pillows in my bed as my hand ran through my hair. Had it come to this? Was this the only way that I could feel safe? I sighed and pressed the reply button. It brought up a phone number.
Is Bella still looking for a home? I texted.
I flipped back to her picture and spread my fingers apart on the screen to zoom in closer on her face. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I saw a hint of sadness. She had a reason to hate men, just like me. A notification made the phone vibrate in my hand.
Ya. When can u meet?
I don’t have a car, can u bring her to my place? Anytime tonight would be gud.
Sure, what’s ur address?
I blew out a sigh of relief. My car hadn’t left the garage in over five months. I sent my address and waited.
Cool. I’m ten minutes away. Be right there!
Ten minutes? I groaned and inspected my studio apartment with disgust. Crap was everywhere. Who was going to leave a dog with me? I checked my phone. Eight minutes, time to think fast. I grabbed a trash bag and started shoving everything inside. Three trash bags later, and it was completely bare: rocking those Minimalist vibes. I fluffed the comforter over the mattress and threw the trash bags into the shower stall. There was just enough time to brush my teeth and run a brush through my hair. Perfect timing.
The knock on the door sent a jolt up my spine. My heart raced as I flipped up one of the blinds and scanned the parking lot. I knew all the cars that should or shouldn’t be there. Only one stuck out. Hopefully, it was Bella’s. I glanced through the peephole. A pleasant enough looking girl, her arms full of dog bowls, blankets, toys, and food, stood next to Bella. As I took them both in, the girl squatted down and looked into Bella’s eyes. Bella’s tail wagged, and she licked the girl’s nose. She was perfect. I opened the door.
“Hi! Oh, she’s so cute!” I squealed. I felt my heart speed up, but this felt nice; no, it felt amazing.
“Yea. She’s my- I mean – a baby.”
I gave her a sympathetic look. “Wanna come inside?”
Bella walked in ahead, her nose twitching as she slowly inspected the room. The girl watched her without moving. I stood by the doorway. It was a relief that she wasn’t coming in. Bella finished sniffing everything and sat beside me. She nuzzled my hand and licked my fingers. I wiggled them against her muzzle, and her tail thumped on the ground.
The girl watched us. “So… you like her?”
“Yea. She’s awesome. You want any money or anything?” I didn’t have any money. I hoped she didn’t want any money.
“Naw. Just… take good care of Bella, ok? Oh, and you saw that she doesn’t like men, right?”
“Yea. It’s just me, so she’ll be fine. I’ll text you if I have any questions. You can text me too if you like, wanna know how she’s doing and stuff.” I added in the last part, hoping it would make her feel better.
“Thanks. Here’s her stuff.” She cast another sad look at Bella before turning and jogging to her car.
Bella started to follow her. I instinctively put out my hand, and Bella sat back down. We both watched the car drive off. I shut the door.
Bella followed me around as I laid out her bed and filled her food and water bowl. She sniffed the food, drank a little water, and hopped up on the bed with me. I pulled the blanket around us. She laid her head on my thigh and drifted off to sleep while I watched T.V. I felt the weight of five years start to slide off my shoulders. Maybe this would work. My hand sunk into her fur, and I felt my eyes begin to drift shut.
A familiar banging startled me awake. Bella was growling, and the hair down her neck and back stood on end. I fought the urge to hide under the blanket, like usual, because I was sick of being scared.
“Go away, Luke!” I yelled.
“Open up,” he screamed back. He started banging on the window. I could hear him try to pry it open. “I’m going to kill you!”
“Luke, just leave me alone!”
“You’re mine! Open the door!”
I opened the door.
Bella shot out around me, and Luke screamed. Her face had stuck on to his leg. Satisfaction burned in her eyes as she whipped her neck back and forth. He fell on the pavement.
“Call off your crazy dog! Help! HELP! IT’S GOING TO KILL ME!”
I contemplated his words.
Bella came back and sat at my side. She licked her lips.
“Leave us alone, Luke. Next time, I’ll let her kill you.”