In Second Chance at Faith: Book #4 in the Second Chance Series, Cara’s friends all tell her that she needs to “get out there” to find a guy. Honora even goes so far as to say, “A man isn’t going to come to the door, Cara.”
But maybe Honora is wrong…
When the driver got closer, I could see he was tall and lean. His long legs made short work of the trip from the driveway to my door. He wore a jacket with a gray hoodie pulled up over his head, keeping his face a mystery. His jeans were clean, with a worn spot over one knee, and his tee fit him well—really well – stretching over nicely developed pectoral muscles. I opened my door just as he shook off the hood and revealed a pair of soft gray eyes. The driver gave me a friendly, lopsided smile. Gosh, was he ever cute!
“Delivery for Delgatto.”
His voice was warm and rich, like a glass of Malbec. I reached for the pizza as a crack of thunder rocked my world. Gerard howled in distress. Jack slipped past my legs and took off like a ball shot out of a cannon.
“Jack! Get back here!” I practically tossed the pizza box onto my kitchen counter. “Jack!” I yelled, focusing on a flicker of white, which I presumed to be Jack’s tail. It bounced toward the bushes that bordered my garage. Pushing past the delivery guy, I sprinted into the night.
“Jack!” I screamed while thunder boomed in the distance.
Normally that’s enough to bring him running.
He was spooked by the weather. As a rescue who’d been tossed from a moving pickup truck, Jack has little reason to trust people. When I first got him, Pete had explained that the little dog’s default behavior would always be to flee when scared. I mentally kicked myself for letting Jack get out. I should have closed him up in my bedroom before opening the front door.
“Jack? Jack?” I stumbled around in the dark, moving steadily in the direction where Jack had disappeared. The gravel driveway was wet and slick under my feet.
The delivery guy appeared out of nowhere. He waved a utility flashlight with a honking huge lightbulb. “This might help.”
What irony! The day I arrived in South Central Florida, Skye had come to my rescue with a similar flashlight. That fateful event marked the beginning of our friendship.
The pizza guy noticed my reaction. “I’ve been told that flashlights are to Floridians like snow shovels are to Minnesotans. A staple of every household.”
“Could you shine it toward the bushes? I think Jack’s in there.”
He trained the cone of light on the thick foliage. “By the way, I’m Dan,” said the driver with a nod. “I take it your dog’s a rescue?”
“I’m Cara. Yes. I saw him getting thrown out of a truck.”
“Poor little guy. Probably looking for shelter. Who knows what rotten stuff happened to him in his short little life?”
Dan did a slow sweep of the bushes with the flashlight. “Nothing there. Wait! I think I see a flash of white in those crotons.”
“Jack hates thunder. He’s probably huddled under the branches.”
“Do you have anything to lure him out?” Dan and I stood elbow to elbow, our eyes trained on that triangle of soft light. “A treat maybe? A favorite toy?”
“Maybe.” I breathed in slowly, trying to calm myself. Jupiter Island is a very dangerous place for a dog who weighs less than three pounds. There are raccoons, possums, coyotes, Bufo toads, and Florida panthers. There are also hawks and eagles. Given his small size, Jack would make a tasty hors d’oeuvre.
“This isn’t good. He’s so small.”
“We’ll find him.” Dan sounded confident. He smelled of a nice cologne; a hint of green, a dash of patchouli, and an undertone of musk. “You need the right bait. Something irresistible.”
“Jack has a Lamb Chop stuffed toy that he absolutely loves. Do you know Lamb Chop? Like Shari Lewis had on her TV show?”
“Your pup is a man after my own taste. I had a huge crush on Miss Shari. Told my mom I was going to marry her one day. Why don’t you run back inside and grab his toy? Along with a treat? I’ll keep an eye on him in case he darts out.” Rain dribbled down Dan’s face as he talked.
My shoes squished as I ducked inside the house and grabbed Lamb Chop. On my way out the door, I grabbed that dried up American cheese from my refrigerator. Jack loves it cheese better than any other treat.
The rain was coming down heavily. The worst was yet to come. I wondered how many other people had ordered pizzas. They must be wondering where their food was.
“Look, my dog’s not your responsibility,” I told Dan as I displayed the stuffed toy and the yellow cheese.
“Yeah, he kind of is. At least that’s the way I see it. I’m going to turn my car around so my headlamps shine into those crotons. You’ll need to keep an eye on your driveway. I don’t want to run over your dog.”
We walked to his Volvo to check for Jack. As I got next to the red car, I saw three quilted, heat-retaining bags. “You’ve got more deliveries to make!
“Yes.” He climbed into the driver’s seat.
“You’d better go.”
“Your dog is my priority. Here. Take the flashlight.”
Rather than argue, I kept a lookout for Jack while Dan executed a three-point turn. His lights hit the low thick undergrowth. When he flipped them to high beam, I saw a shivering shape huddled in the hollow of a fallen palm tree.
“Jack?” I approached him slowly, keeping the beam of the flashlight on him while the water ran into my eyes. “Cheesie treats. Look, I’ve got Lamb Chop. See? Come on.”
Dan wisely stayed far behind me so he wouldn’t scare my dog.
Jack’s eyes glittered with fear—until he smelled the cheese and came running. I dropped to my knees and scooped him up, dropping the flashlight as I did. Dan crept over cautiously and picked up the flashlight.
“Let’s get you two into the house.” Dan aimed the light so I could see where I was going. Jack gnawed at his stinky treat. We were both shaking. I’d been scared witless that I’d lose that little squirt. Once again, I was struck by the irony of my situation. I’m not really a small dog person. Nevertheless, Jack has become dear to me. Isn’t that the way of life? To love, we must invest our time and energy.
“You’ve got him?” Dan was a respectful ten feet behind me.
“Yes. Thank you so much. Turning your car around was such a smart idea.”
“You’re very welcome.”
A stiff wind threw a sheet of rain into our faces.
“Got to run. Have a good night,” said Dan, as he sprinted toward his car.
As he pulled away, I realized I hadn’t paid for my food.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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