Richie watched the flashing knife, noting the force with which it hit the cutting board, and winced. She was definitely pissed. Maybe confronting her in the kitchen, where there were any number of sharp weapons wasn’t the best idea. What was the saying? The best defence was a good offence? He figured it was worth a shot. “What have you got against dogs?”
“Nothing.” The word was bit out.
“So....then it’s the kids having a pet that you object to.”
The knife hit the counter with enough force to bounce several times before coming to a stop and Richie knew he was lucky she’d thrown it down and not at him.
“What I object to is having my wishes totally ignored! By my own husband!”
“No ‘buts’ Richie! I told you I didn’t want a dog right now, and you went out and got one anyway. Without even talking to me!”
“Peanut asked for...”
“Peanut asks for a lot of things. He’s three. He has a thirty second attention span. This morning he asked for a shark and a spaceship. Are you going to buy him those too?”
“Every child deserves a pet.”
“I’m not disagreeing with that. My issue is with the timing. Animals take work. Who’s going to do it? You?”
“Right.” She snorted. “And when you’re away? Do you expect Cathy or Rosa to do it? They have enough to do. No, it’ll all fall on me. I have a three year old, a one year old and soon a new baby. Those are my priorities. I don’t have time to look after a dog too!”
“There’s not that much to it. I can feed her and walk her.”
Tori bit back the urge to scream – or hit him over the head with something. “Did you get a crate or are you going to let her have free run of the house at night before she’s trained? Are you going to clean up the mess? And are you going to train her? Get up when she whines at all hours of the night and take her outside? Or do you figure since I’m going to be up with the baby anyway that I can do it? And what about vet appointments?”
Richie frowned. He hadn’t thought of all of that.
Seeing his expression and interpreting it correctly, Tori growled in frustration and grabbed a towel to wipe her hands. “Men! Why don’t you ever think things through?”
“I’ll take her back or find a new home for her.”
“And make me the meanest Mommy on the planet? I don’t think so.” She rubbed her forehead, exhausted just at the thought of her new responsibilities. “Dammit Richie! Why didn’t you listen to me? I told you that we’d talk about a pet in a couple years, when the kids were older. But no. You had to be ‘Wonderful Daddy’ who brings them whatever they ask for without considering the ramifications! What’s it matter to you? You’re not the one who has to deal with them, I am!”
“Tori, that’s not fair!”
“Tell me about it!” On the verge of tears, she threw down the towel and turned on her heel to leave the room. She needed some space and some time before she said something she’d regret later.
Richie watched her leave and blew out a heavy breath.
“Aren’t you going to go after her?” Ava had overheard the last part of their argument – couldn’t avoid it really, with the volume of Tori’s voice.
“No.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I’ll let her calm down first.” He’d seen the unshed tears and belated remembered her condition and the hormones running rampant through her. “Come on Bean, let’s get the puppy settled.”
“She needs a name.”
“We’ll talk to Peanut about that.”
“Ok, but don’t let him call her Dug.”
Richie chuckled. “Yeah, okay.”
Tori lay on a lounge by the pool, hoping the sounds of the waterfall would soothe her. She hated fighting with Richie, but the damn man really needed to think more before he acted. That was nothing new and she usually anticipated it and dealt with it. But this time she was just too tired. Besides, she didn’t know how she could have made her feelings on the subject any clearer. Even the male mind can process the word ‘no’.
She looked up to see Ava standing beside her chair. “Okay.”
“Tori....I’m sorry about the puppy. If I’d known you didn’t want one I would never have encouraged Dad to buy her.”
“It’s okay Bean. It’s not your fault. Your father is a grown man capable of making his own decisions.”
“Yeah, but he’s not real good at it.”
Tori chuckled, but didn’t deny it.
“Except when he married you.”Ava continued. “That was the best decision he’s made in a long time....or since. He needs someone smart to help him.”
“Thank you.” Tori didn’t deny the last comment either.
“Mama, Bean, come eat!”
“Coming Peanut.” Standing, Tori slid her arm around Ava’s shoulders and squeezed. “It’ll be okay Bean. I just need to be mad at him for a bit.”
Ava looked unconvinced, but didn’t argue.
Dinner was a subdued hour. Although both Richie and Tori interacted with the kids, they barely spoke to each other, Tori because she was still mad, Richie because he figured she wouldn’t answer him anyway.
“Where’s the puppy?” Tori looked under the table and around the room.
“Her name’s Taffy.” Stevie informed her.
“Oh? Why Taffy?”
“Her look like Taffy.”
It took a minute to figure out what he was talking about. “Oh! You mean she’s the same colour as the taffy you ate yesterday?”
“Uh huh. Her seeping. Her tired.”
“Aah.” She was curious to see where they’d put Taffy’s bed, but she’d be damned if she’d ask. This was Richie’s show and he’d have to look after it. Besides, she could always search for it when he wasn’t around.
After dinner, they settled into the livingroom. Tori was sitting on the floor working on a puzzle with Stevie, Lauren close by with her Elmo. Ava was in a chair texting to her friends and Richie was on the couch channel surfing, looking for anything decent to watch on TV. Suddenly, there was a high pitched whine, a soft yip and what sounded like a small pony coming down the hallway.
Taffy burst into the room and made a beeline for Stevie. Seeing Tori, she changed course slightly and picked up speed. Tori braced herself for impact. Seconds later she had a lap full of puppy and a wet tongue trying to reach every inch of her face.
“Taffy no!” Ava cried out.
“Taffy off!” Richie tried his stern Dad voice.
Neither worked, so they both started to move towards Tori to pull the puppy off before any damage was done.
Before either one of them reached her, the baby apparently didn’t like being crowded and pushed back. At the movement, Taffy froze then sniffed Tori’s rounded stomach. They watched in amazement as she slid off Tori’s lap and laid beside her, resting her head on Tori’s leg.
Tori reached out to pet the soft head. “That’s a good girl. You can lay there, just don’t jump on me.” She got a snuffle in agreement.
Of course, being a puppy, Taffy couldn’t lie still for very long and was soon running around wanting to play. Richie helped Tori up, insisting she sit on the couch while he grabbed a ball and got down on the floor. For the next couple hours kids and puppy played.
Finally, it was bedtime for the little ones. Tori wasn’t sure who was more tired, the kids or the puppy. Leaving Richie and Ava to look after Taffy, she took Stevie and Lauren upstairs and tucked them in. Even Lauren went right to sleep. Maybe having a dog won’t be so bad after all.
As she walked by her bedroom, she noticed the light on and stepped inside to turn it off. The scent of lavender tickled her nose and she looked around to find the source. A flickering light was visible underneath the closed bathroom door. With a slight frown, she went to investigate.
The door opened to reveal any tired and stressed woman’s nirvana, and hers in particular. Candles had been set on the countertop and around the wide ledge of the bathtub, which was full of steaming water and bubbles.
Somebody’s sucking up. She knew what he was doing....and she was quite content to let him. Stepping into the closet, she quickly undressed and returned to the bathroom where she grabbed a thick towel and sank into the scented foam. She leaned back, rested her head against the rim of the tub, closed her eyes and, with a contented sigh, allowed herself to relax.