“I’m just saying, if you wanted to be discreet, you wouldn’t drive the Ferrari ever- what? Magnum? What are you doing?” Juliet asked when she noticed Magnum had dropped behind.
“Hi there boy,” he was saying, having squatted down in front of a tied-up dog. A spotted mutt and floppy ears and a lolling tongue. “Or girl? Yup, girl.”
“Be careful,” she said, more out of habit than anything. The dog didn’t look dangerous in the least. So instead she added, “Don’t want you catching fleas.”
“Go buy some water over there,” Magnum told her, nodding towards a bodega across the narrow street.
“Magnum we’re in a bit of a hurry...” Making sure this dog was taken care of was the owner’s job, not his.
“Come on Juliet, I know you don’t want this poor gal getting dehydrated, now do you?” he said, smiling up at her. “It won’t take more than a minute.”
“Fine,” she agreed. Because they’d probably already lost their mark and the little dog was so sad looking. And his smile was just so hard to resist. “But then we’re leaving.”
Shaking her head, she went to the store he’d pointed out and paid a dollar for a bottle of water.
“Can I have a coffee cup? Wide mouth preferably,” she asked the shopkeeper.
“Sure,” he said. “That be one dollar more.”
“Really?” No good deed went unpunished.
“Really.” The shop owner put a paper cup on the counter then scratched his beard, nodded out the window. “That your friend, over with the dog?”
“Water for the dog?”
“Yes,” she said again.
“Good. Its been there since sunup.”
“Look! The lads love her!” Magnum said as the three dogs curled up on the floor under the air conditioner vent.
“We’re not keeping the dog,” she told him firmly. “Just because I insisted we’d take it with us doesn't mean anything.”
“Her! Not it, Higgy,” he said, bumping her. “What you think about Lucy. I think she looks like a Lucy to me.”
“We’re not naming her!”
“Because if you do you won’t be able to give her away?” he said.
“No,” she insisted even though maybe that was part of it. But no way was she going let him think he understood her better than she did herself. “That’s not it.”
“It is.” He grinned. “Proving once and for all you’re just a big softy.”
She harrumphed. “We’re taking the dog to the pound as soon as it opens on Monday. And who knows, maybe her owner will call.” They had left a note with their contact information on the pole the dog had been tied to and a message with the man in the shop that had mentioned to Juliet that the puppy had been there all day.
“We’re not giving her back to someone who abandoned her,” he said as if she’d suggested they chuck a baby off a cliff. Maybe, in a way, she had.
“We wouldn’t have a choice if they could prove they really owned the dog-” she pointed out, even though she didn’t like it any better than him.
“We’re not giving her back!” he said sullenly. Like a five year old whose favorite toy train had been threatened. “How could you even think of doing that to the lads! Look at them!”
She did and had to smile. The two big fierce Dobermans and the floppy-eared mutt all snuggled together. It was the kind of sweet you rarely saw outside of Hallmark Christmas movies...
Maybe… no. No.
What would they do with a small-ish untrained dog with oversized ears? Even if the lads liked her, Magnum liked her and Juliet kind of had to admit the dog had a nice temperament... no.
“We’ll call and send a picture to the biggest shelters so if someone does come looking for her and want her back, they can find her,” she said, slowly. “If no one is looking, we’ll find her a good home. Okay?”
“Sure,” he agreed, just a little too easily.
No one called looking for Lucy. Juliet was simultaneously sad and happy about that. Sad because Lucy was a sweet dog and someone had just abandoned her. How crule the world was that such a thing just could happen. But then she happy because… well, that meant Lucy could stay.
“Careful she doesn’t give you fleas,” Magnum said as he came and sat next to her and Lucy in the sand. The dog’s head rested on Juliet’s thigh.
Lucy’s tail wagged in the sand as he scratch behind one of her floppy ears.
“Don’t listen to him,” she told the dog, pretending to cover Lucy’s ears and accidentally brushing against Magnum’s hand.
They both pulled back, then both stopped, smiling a little awkwardly as their eyes met.
“I told you I had you all figured out, didn’t I?” he said, a soft upward tug of his mouth. ”Just a big softy.”
She rolled her eyes at him, but wondered if maybe she was getting a little soft. And if she was, maybe that was okay.
“I’m happy,” she said, looking away from him and across the beach.
The lads were playing with each other at the edge of the water, TC and Rick were in the latest strange thing Magnum had accepted for payment - a pedalo, or a paddleboat as he called it - trying to figure out how to turn it and Kumu was preparing for the BBQ.
Best of all, Magnum was right next to her. Somehow, that always made everything feel right.
She nodded. “I’m sitting on a beautiful beach with my best friend, what could be better?”
“I’m your best friend?!?” he said, a little teasing, but she could see in his eyes he was pleased to hear it. “I’m touched.”
“Well, I was actually referring to Lucy,” she said because she couldn’t help it.
“Come on!” He made a face. “You just met Lucy three weeks ago! We’ve been partners for more than two years!”
She tilted her head and pretended to think for a moment. “I do suppose you’re pretty high on the list too. Below the lads and Kumu of course.”
“Of course,” he agreed, even though they both knew it wasn’t true. Juliet had never had a best friend before Hawaii. She’d never quite understood it. But she did now. And frustrating and confusing as he was, Thomas Magnum was her best friend. “You know you’re pretty far down my list too. Like only just above Jin!”
“Just above Jin!?!” She made sure to sound appropriately horrified. Lucy didn’t like that and Juliet had to give her a little neck scratch to let her know everything was good. “You’ve lost your mind.”
“Fine,” he said, leaning his shoulder against hers. “Maybe you’re pretty high up my list too.”
“God, you’re impossible,” he said but sounded very happy about it.
“Me? I’m the impossible one?”
“I let you keep the dog!”
“You let me? One couldn’t pry that dog away from your cold dead arms!”
“Please, she’s just got good tastes in humans,” she insisted, scratching Lucy. “Don’t you, luv?”
“See! You even baby talk to her! You don’t do that with the lads!”
“I don’t baby talk-”