His hand had been shaking a little when he knocked on her door but he’d quickly hid it by shoving his hands inside his jeans pockets. They’d quickly jumped out of their hiding spot and into a surrender position when a large dog, which closely resembled a pit bull at first glance, appeared in the doorway, barking and growling fiercely…
“Whoa!” Shawn exclaimed as he jumped back, awkwardly stumbling down the stairs behind him. He grimaced as his knee once again twisted under him but he didn’t dare move. The dog looked poised and ready to attack at any sign of further retreat.
“Precious!” A welcome voice commanded loudly from just inside the apartment door. The dog instantly stopped barking and growling but didn’t move from within the door frame.
Precious, he thought, confused. I thought the dog was supposed to be a Shar-Pei/Chow mix not a pit bull machine of death! Of course, he knew that Pit Bulls weren’t machines of death; in fact it was his favorite breed of dog. They were loyal and loveable dogs when trained well; the true thing that turned the dogs into killers was the owners.
“Come here,” Lynne’s voice commanded and finally the dog moved. When Precious was standing in front of her, Lynne held up her hand and pointed towards the floor. “Sit,” she commanded and the dog did as it was told. Only then did Lynne walk into view and Shawn felt his breath catch in his throat.
Lynne’s dark hair, dark long hair apparently, streamed down past her shoulders in lovely curls stopping just below her breast-line. It framed her round face quite beautifully, enhancing her expressive green eyes that much more. She wore a deep purple sweater with a white camisole underneath it and a pair of form-fitting jeans that were loose around her thighs and calves. The jeans were a dark stain, matching the warm colored top she wore and were covering a pair of black Sketcher’s boots. His eyebrows rose at the sight of the boots but he had to admit that he didn’t find them unattractive; not on her at least.
“Sorry about that,” she greeted with a warm smile that lit up her eyes as quickly as a kerosene lamp being lit by a match. “She can be a bit protective of me when it comes to strangers. She’s really quite a sweet dog once you get to know her, I promise.” She stopped rattling nervously to look at him then smile again, this time in a more appreciative fashion. “Do you want to come in? I just need to grab a few things before we go.”
Figures she isn’t ready yet, a more manly voice than his own groused. He shooed it away instantly, not minding that she wasn’t fully ready to go yet; he was curious to see the inside of her place.
“Is it safe?” he joked, eyeing Precious cautiously. The dog’s ears perked up as though it knew he was referring to her and her mouth instantly hung open in a harmless pant.
“Yeah, she won’t bite, I promise,” Lynne assured, stepping out of the way to let him in. She moved towards the counter separating her kitchen from her living room, leaving Shawn to make his own way into the apartment.
He slowly walked in, closing the door behind him once he had gotten far enough. His steps were uneven thanks to the odd stumble he’d done on the stairs and he saw the left side of Lynne’s head turn towards him as though she were using her ear to concentrate where her eyes couldn’t.
Precious stayed where she was for all of five seconds before she slowly walked up to him and started sniffing. Shawn remained relaxed, trusting that the dog wasn’t going to hurt him. When it seemed that she had finished her inspection, Precious licked his hand then nudged it, effectively placing his hand on the top of her head. With a smile, he absently petted the dog, scrubbing a bit behind her ears. Big though the dog was, it was still awkward for him to do more than rub the top of her head so he knelt down to scratch the loose scruff of her neck.
A brief burst of pain burst through his knee as he bent it and he grimaced in response. He must’ve made a sound as well for he saw Lynne turn her full attention on to him for a second before returning back to whatever she was doing. The pain had settled from the strong explosion to an insistent throb but it still hurt to fully bend so he chose to simply sit sprawl-legged on the wood floor instead. Precious licked the side of his cheek apologetically then gently placed herself in between his legs with her forelegs crossing over his right, framing his knee in between them, then laid her head upon the leg closest to his torso. She whined when he didn’t immediately start petting her again and he laughed.
“Precious, don’t beg,” Lynne scolded fondly as she came to where the two were sitting. He saw her place a small packet, no bigger than a debit card, into her back pocket as she came forward and he briefly wondered what it was before the sound of her giggling drew his attention. “If I didn’t know from experience how uncomfortable that floor is, I would suggest that we just stay here so you could cuddle with Precious. You two look so cozy.”
“Yeah, we’re about as cozy as Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelsen in the Breakfast Club,” Shawn retorted without malice.
Lynne giggled again. “Well, since that is one 80’s movie that I have actually seen, I shall help you out.” She sat down on the couch and clapped her hands. “Precious, come here,” she called jovially. The effect was instantaneous; Precious immediately jumped off of Shawn and, in one great bound, onto the couch.
Shawn grimaced as his hurting leg was gently twisted in the motion. The grimace deepened when the throbbing in his knee renewed afresh. He hadn’t realized just how much blood flow had been cut off by the dog until she had gotten off him and he could feel the pounding in his leg again.
“Are you okay?” Lynne asked. Her forehead was wrinkled in worry and concern reflected off green irises.
“I think we might need to try the kiss theory again,” he answered, trying and failing to come up with a joke.
The sympathetic smile he received in return made his stomach churn. He hated getting pitied; it was the one thing he’d never received in his years of growing up and so it was one of many things he wasn’t used to getting now. Refusing to stall the date any longer, he slowly started to get to his feet even before she could answer. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Lynne open her mouth to say something then think better of it and close her mouth again.
“Shall we get going?” he asked, choosing to ignore the eye-roll she gave him when he stood like nothing was wrong.
“Sounds good,” Lynne answered in a laugh.
“Nice shoes,” he commented as they walked out the door and down the steps. “Very practical.”
“Well I didn’t think my favorite pair of black heels were good footwear for riding on the back of a motorcycle then walking around a Carnival,” she answered with a smile in her voice.
Shawn rose one eyebrow at her statement. He looked her up and down again, this time picturing a pair of black heels instead of the boots. His lip curled up into a smile, his mind unable to deny that he liked the image in his mind. The dress-down only took seconds but it was enough to plant a permanent picture into his brain.
Clearing his throat, Shawn handed Lynne his one helmet then climbed on, patiently waiting for her to climb on behind him and snuggle in before he turned on the bike. The engine roared to life, drowning out the sounds of the city around them. Together, they sped off towards the Carnival on the boardwalk with Shawn wishing to stay curled up with Lynne the entire night..