The first time: Burberry
“No problem,” Zoey responded with a smile, sliding a drink across the table towards her partner.
Seeing the drink, Joan’s eyes lit up. “You’re a life saver.” She put her bag on the table and reached eagerly for the drink.
When they’d arranged to meet for a mini-date after work at a nearby bar, this one sans karaoke, neither of them had anticipated Joan’s meeting with the board members running quite so late. Still, she was here now, and Zoey wasn’t going to let anything else ruin her night.
That was, of course, until Joan’s purse moved of its own accord.
“Uh, Joan, did your bag just move?”
Joan, who was busy sipping her cocktail, frowned before looking to her bag. “Oh. Yeah. That’s Burberry.”
Zoey squinted at the bag. “It says it’s Louis Vuitton,” she said, pointing towards the lettering all over the purse.
Joan rolled her eyes, smiling at her partner’s lack of awareness. “Yes, the bag’s Louis Vuitton,” she said, reaching for the purse. “It’s Burberry making it move.”
She opened the bag then, and the tiny head of a white miniature Poodle popped out, looking a little surprised by its surroundings.
“I thought she was arriving tomorrow,” Joan continued conversationally, as though she hadn’t just revealed that she had a puppy in her purse in a bar. “But my dog person screwed up and dropped her off today instead.”
Not quite knowing what to say, Zoey stared at the dog for several long seconds. Finally finding her voice, she tore her gaze away from the puppy to look to the brunette opposite her. “Cute dog.”
“She is,” Joan said happily. “You know, I’ve usually only had big dogs. They’re much better at scaring away paparazzi and stuff. But Burberry seems quite nice.” She frowned then. “I just hope Tomford and Hermés get on with her.”
“So, uh, you didn’t mention you were getting another dog,” Zoey said slowly, still a little baffled by what was happening.
“Oh yeah, well, I didn’t know. Not until lunchtime, anyway.” Joan frowned. “I think I may have subscribed to something?” She waved a hand dismissively. “Whatever.”
“You think you subscribed to something?” Zoey echoed. “What, like a dog-buying service? Do those even exist?”
The older woman fixed her with a look. “Zoey, if people want it, it exists. I’m sure there are dog-buying subscriptions. I mean, I pay my dog person to buy me dogs. That’s their job. Maybe I signed some subscription agreement when I signed the contract.” She shrugged, and took a sip of her cocktail. “I’ll have my lawyer look into it.”
Burberry, still in the bag, was starting to whine a little then, and she was attracting attention from other patrons.
“I’m not sure we should have a dog in here, Joan,” Zoey said then, noting some of the looks they were getting. “I mean, they serve food.”
“But I promised you a date night,” Joan responded with a frown.
“We never said the date night had to be out of the house,” Zoey offered, realising her partner felt bad about them leaving so soon. “We can go to my place, or your place, and watch a movie or something.”
“And you’re alright with that?” the other woman questioned.
Already slipping off her chair, Zoey smiled. “I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise. Come on.”
Taking Joan’s hand, she tugged her from her seat. Joan grabbed her purse and followed the redhead towards the door.
The second time: Gucci
Of course, there was no way she could raise her concern in the middle of a business meeting, so she bit her tongue and turned her attention to her tablet while Joan hurried to get herself ready. It wasn’t until something was practically shoved under her nose that the redhead blinked up at her partner.
“Hold him, will you,” Joan said, sounding distracted.
On autopilot, Zoey accepted the small grey French bulldog and settled the puppy in her lap without question. A few people around the table frowned, but nobody dare ask questions as Joan began talking about the latest SPRQ Point device they were launching.
In all honesty, the puppy was pretty well behaved. Zoey suspected it was a little stunned, possibly too stunned to react to what was happening around it. The puppy sniffed her tablet, and her, and squirmed a little, but seemed alright with being sat on her lap for the forty-minute presentation. Occasionally, some of the other coders, team leaders, and managers around the table would shoot Zoey and the puppy a confused look, but they all seemed to know better than to say anything.
When the meeting was finally over, and people vacated the conference room, Zoey let out a sigh of relief.
“Care to tell me where this little guy came from?” Zoey asked Joan pointedly as the older woman put away her notes and tablet.
Joan glanced up in the middle of sorting through her things, before returning her attention to her bag. “Well, it turns out that subscription service doesn’t run out until the end of the month.”
Zoey blinked. “Uh... What?”
That earned her a look. “The subscription service, for the dogs. You know; the one we cancelled after I got Burberry last month?”
Considering the puppy had crashed their date night, Zoey wasn’t likely to forget, so instead she nodded. “But we cancelled it before the end of last month. So what’s with this little dude?” She held up the dog to emphasise her point. The dog yawned.
“Ugh, apparently they take the subscription money in the middle of the month, not the end. So by the time we’d cancelled, I’d already paid for this month. Hence,” she pointed towards the bulldog, “Gucci.”
Gucci yawned again, and curled up in Zoey’s lap. “Well,” the redhead sighed, “he is cute...”
“Exactly,” Joan said definitively. “Now come on, I’m treating you to lunch.”
Then she swept Gucci up from Zoey’s lap and disappeared out the conference room door.
The third time: Prada
At the teasing comment, Joan rolled her eyes, and looked over at the Australian Shepherd puppy asleep between them. “I’m sorry, ok? I don’t even understand where this one came from.”
“Well, guessing by the breed, I’m gonna say... Australia?”
Joan gave her partner a look at that, clearly unimpressed by the joke. “I’m serious, Zoey! I don’t even know if I’ve paid for her! And, of course, she had to be delivered right before I was supposed to meet you for lunch...” She shook her head, picking at the food she’d bought them both for lunch. “I was going to take you to that new Italian place.”
Zoey’s eyes went wide at that. “The... The super expensive place?”
“Oh.” Zoey didn’t know what else to say. “You really don’t have to, Joan. I, I mean, I’m fine with a picnic. Actually, I think I might prefer it. Not- not that I don’t like going out to eat with you, but it doesn’t have to be fancy restaurants all the time.”
Joan looked like she was about to say something then, but her phone buzzed and she rolled her eyes. “Ugh. Probably someone calling me back for a meeting-” She frowned when she saw the message. “Uh. It’s my dog guy.” She blinked, reading the message silently. “Huh. Apparently I did order Prada here.”
Zoey wasn’t surprised by that. Just a little confused. “I thought you’d gotten rid of your dog guy? You know, after Burberry and Gucci showed up? I mean, this will be your fifth dog, Joan. You’re outnumbered five to one in your own house!”
“I cancelled the subscription, I didn’t fire my dog guy,” Joan clarified, before fixing Zoey with a look. “Do the dogs bother you?”
That made the younger woman frown. “Uh, no? I love dogs. It just... It seems like a lot, Joan, particularly given how much you’re working right now.”
Joan sighed then. “I know. I know. No more dogs from now on. I’ll fire my dog guy tomorrow.” Then, she held out a box of expensive-looking chocolate truffles. “Chocolate?”
The fourth time: Cartier
The defeated look on Joan’s face, coupled by the Great Dane puppy she held under one arm made a smile blossom across Zoey’s lips despite what the puppy signalled.
“Joan,” Zoey said then, trying to adopt a serious tone even as she wanted to laugh at the sight of her partner with such an adorable puppy, “I thought we agreed no more dogs right now?”
“We did,” Joan nodded furiously in agreement, “and I absolutely intended to stick to that. But I kind of didn’t... I didn’t fire my dog guy, ok? I lied about letting him go.”
Thankful that the office was pretty much deserted due to the lateness of the hour, Zoey sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. “So you didn’t fire your dog guy like we discussed?”
“No,” Joan admitted, “and I’m really sorry about it. But it turns out he was so pleased that I’d decided to keep him on that, well, he gave me Cartier here.” She indicated the puppy dangling under one arm then.
“Your dog guy gave you a free dog for keeping him on?” Zoey clarified, not entirely sure what to make of it.
“I tried telling him that we’d said no more dogs for the time being, but it would have been rude not to accept the gift.” Joan moved towards Zoey’s desk. “We don’t have to keep him, Zoey. I know we agreed that five dogs is enough. But...Well, Tomford’s been sick, and it feels so quiet in the house while he’s at the vet’s, and-”
“Joan, I love you, but you have four other dogs at home. And besides, we’re picking Tomford up tomorrow, and I’m not sure how he’ll feel about a puppy running around the place.”
“He doesn’t mind Prada or Gucci,” Joan said, although Zoey could tell be her tone that she knew her argument was weak.
“He’s used to them, Joan. He’s lived with them for ages. I mean, I’m not a dog, maybe Tomford will be fine with another puppy. And I know that you’re stressed out about him not being well. But seriously, you have to tell your dog guy not to get you any more dogs for, like, the next six months.”
Joan’s shoulders slumped at that, but she nodded. “I guess you’re right.” She looked around then, apparently only just noticing how quiet the fourth floor was. Seeing they were virtually alone, she looked back to Zoey with a soft smile on her face. “I love you.”
Zoey smiled back. “I love you too. Why don’t you wait downstairs, I’m nearly done.”
Joan moved towards the elevators then, before pausing and turning around again. “Does this mean I get to keep Prada?”
The fifth time: Dolce & Gabbana
Zoey Clarke stared at her partner, waiting calmly for a response. It wasn’t that Joan was twenty minutes late to movie night. It was why she was twenty minutes late to movie night.
“I told you I was getting another dog,” Joan reminded her, a little put-out. “You knew what I was doing.”
“Yes,” Zoey agreed, folding her arms across her chest and surveying the two puppies under Joan’s arms. “But you said one. I’m counting two. Did you buy two dogs without telling me?”
“Don’t be stupid,” Joan said, rolling her eyes. “I only ordered one. But, apparently, they’re inseparable and had to come as a pair. I got the other one free.”
“You got a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offer on German Shepherds?”
“Ugh,” Joan huffed. “Yes! Why is that so hard to understand?”
Ignoring her partner’s annoyance, Zoey arched an eyebrow. “What exactly are you going to do with two more dogs?”
At that, the brunette scoffed. “Uh, feed them, train them, look after them?”
“But Joan, you’ve already got four dogs! I know you’re upset about losing Tomford and Hermés so close together, but this is kind of ridiculous.”
Frowning, Joan looked to the two puppies she held. She surveyed them for several long moments before letting out a reluctant sigh. “I’ll call my dog person tomorrow. Tell him I don’t need any more.”
Zoey gave her a small smile. “Good.” She looked to the two puppies. “They’re cute. What are you calling them?”
At that, Joan grinned. “They’re brother and sister,” she informed her partner. “Zoey, meet Dolce and Gabbana.”
The first time: Armani
“You’re here- Joan?”
Zoey blinked, as Joan breezed into the apartment in a gorgeous black dress. However, her eyes were instead on the live animal clutched under Joan’s arm.
“Joan,” Zoey repeated, “is that a bear cub?”
“Huh?” Joan asked, before glancing at the brown, furry animal under her arm. “Oh, yeah. I think so. The man claimed it wasn’t, but it sure as hell isn’t a dog.” She plopped the animal onto Zoey’s couch then. “Can I leave him here?”
“W- Wha-” Zoey spluttered, wide-eyed and still staring at the blinking bear cub.
“Just while we’re on the date,” Joan continued then. “I mean, we have reservations at that new Italian place, and you have no idea who I had to kill to get them.” She looked at the bear. “He’ll be fine for a few hours.”
“Joan, we can’t leave him in the apartment!” Zoey argued.
The older woman frowned. “It’s only for two, three hours tops. Besides, he’s tiny. He’s not going to do much damage.” She looked around at the decor. “Although there’s not much to damage...”
“Oh, Zoey, Armani will be fine! Just put some water down for him.” Then, she headed for Zoey’s kitchen.
“Armani? You named the bear Armani?” Zoey followed her partner, wide-eyed.
“Yes. Why, did you have a better suggestion?” Joan pulled a bowl from a cupboard and filled it with water, before heading back into the sitting room and placing it on the floor.
Zoey hurried after her, baffled at the conversation they had to have. “Joan, you can’t keep him. He’s a wild animal! Or, well, if he’s not wild then he’s been stolen from a zoo! Either way, he can’t live with you.”
“I know,” Joan shrugged. “I would have sorted it, but I was already running late, and the man kept insisting he was a dog even though he wasn’t, so I thought ‘to hell with it!’ and brought him with me.”
Exasperated, Zoey threw her hands up in the air. “So you paid the guy?”
Joan waved off her concern, though. “Eh, wasn’t much. Only $500 or so.”
“You bought a bear, Joan! I’m pretty certain that’s illegal.”
“Then I’ll pay the fine and give Armani to a zoo or something. Zoey, I don’t intend to keep him. I’m not stupid.”
“But you named him Armani!”
“Because it suits him. Now, are we going to continue arguing about Armani, or are we going to dinner?”
Before Zoey could respond to that, Mo breezed into the apartment.
“I thought you two had a hot date? Why are you here, arguing about fashion designers- Oh, hello...” Mo trailed off at the sight of the animal on Zoey’s couch.
“Joan accidentally bought a bear,” Zoey explained with a sigh, folding her arms across her chest.
“I ordered a dog,” Joan clarified.
Mo winced. “Well, that’s not a dog.” He considered the animal for a moment. “Cute, though!”
At that, Joan grinned. “Isn’t he? Zoey doesn’t want to leave him alone in the apartment, though.”
Mo brightened then. “Oh, well I can look after him.”
Zoey arched an eyebrow at her friend. “You want to look after a bear cub for the night?”
“Sounds like fun,” Mo shrugged, seating himself on Zoey’s sofa next to a baffled Armani. “Besides, how many people get to look after a real life bear cub?”
Zoey stared for a moment, trying to process exactly what was going on, before shaking her head in frustration. “Fine,” she said, grabbing Joan’s hand. “But the minute we get back, we’re calling animal control, or the zoo, or something. We’re not keeping a bear.”
She tugged Joan towards the door then, ignoring her partner as she called “Bye, Armani!” to the animal. As she turned to close the door behind her, she just had time to see Mo lean down towards the cub.
“You and I are going to have a lot of fun, Armani!”
Rolling her eyes, Zoey slammed the door shut and tugged Joan down the stairs.