Patricia was a curious but cautious dog. She did not immediately attack intruders or even alert them to her presence until she could properly identify them, and she enjoyed surveying their entrance lazily from her position near the second story banister. Occasionally there was a maid or nanny, and this often warranted a trot down the stairs for a decent head pat and the filling of the food bowl. Stephen carried an odd scent and cared to ignore her as much as she desired to ignore him. If the girls returned from school or their father’s house, she would bark happily and certainly attempt to kiss them in welcoming. If her master walked in the door, she knew not to jump. She escorted Miranda to her room, offered companionship as the woman unraveled from her day, and then proceeded to curl near her feet when she spent her evening in the office. When Miranda retired to bed, it was Patricia that guarded the other side of the bed; Stephen had long ago made the guest room his personal quarters.
In fact, the only other humans that really sparked any interest in the canine were women that entered her home every night like clockwork to perform some mysterious ritual she did not fully comprehend. Most often the intruder was a lady with eyes painted dark. She was efficient in her work of depositing a large bag of clothes in a little room Patricia knew smelled of leather and fur before sliding a rectangular object on the table; however, she performed the task with a frown. If she muttered anything in her work, it sounded strange, much like how the Scottish terrier’s bark from next door seemed a little odd. Thus, Patricia deduced this foreigner somehow served her master, who always retrieved the offering on the table after the woman left. That was that.
The new girl was different.
The first few times she entered the home, it was apparent she did not know what she was doing. Patricia remembered this girl escorting her home once and recalled her generally awkward habits. Whatever complicated ritual the other woman completed quickly, this female human did slowly with an expression of confusion. She mumbled curses, tripped over her own feet, and anxiously scanned the foyer. However, she smelled nice, and Patricia therefore considered her presence a positive one. As time went on, this creature began executing her offerings for Miranda with much more control and haste. And yet, she always bore a smile. Patricia approved.
As the official guardian of the house, she decided this human was worth greeting more properly.
The next time Patricia heard keys jingle just beyond the door, she descended the stairs as gracefully as possible as she could for a dog as large as herself. It was fluff, not fat.
When the woman opened the door to find the dog staring at her in the middle of the foyer, she paused and stared.
Patricia panted in response.
The human’s big eyes scanned the rest of the home before slowly inching inside.
“It’s just me, Andy,” she whispered, practically tiptoeing to the room where the first step of the offering was completed.
The canine, in an attempt to reassure the guest she was welcome, began barking merrily in response.
“No, no, Patricia,” Andy murmured in a harsh, rushed voice, holding up her hands while the bag of clothes and the square item were hazardously balanced in her arms in an attempt to stop the creature that was beginning to jump towards her.
“Bad girl,” she attempted to growl, but the fear in her voice was incredibly obvious.
Patricia, in a desperate attempt to convince her visitor not to be so afraid of the Priestly household, continued to bark.
The human began clawing through a bag draped on her shoulder while muttering, “Come on, come on,” an utterance the large ball of fur took as a shy greeting.
Small yaps filled the foyer in happy response and conversation.
Andy gasped with victory and removed her hand from her bag, brandishing a small stick of as if it was a weapon. The dog paused in confusion.
There was the pealing of plastic before a delicious smell made Patricia’s mouth start to water. This woman was kind to offer her something in addition to the standard gift to her master.
“Slim Jim? You want it girl?” came the hopeful whisper as fingers quickly separated a piece of the jerky and waved it.
She sat down and wagged her tail, granting permission and demonstrating her willingness to accept the present offered to her.
“Get it girl,” Andy whispered aggressively, tossing the meat across the room.
Patricia, out of politeness, did not rush but still showed some haste in order to let her guest know she appreciated the food. She tried to eat without making a mess.
When she turned around, Andy was nowhere to be found. Patricia noticed the successful delivery sitting a top the table, and, after stretching, began to climb the stairs to her usual post.
She thought the whole thing went rather well.
Thus began a little dance between the two. Patricia eagerly awaited Andy’s entrance and would often bark in greeting, asking her to play or how her day was fairing. In what the dog could only imagine was gratitude for friendly conversation or perhaps watching the door so efficiently, the woman always brought a gift of food. Eventually Patricia felt close enough to the kind girl that she would kiss her when she entered, no longer needing to pester her with questions and greetings. Andy would deposit what she called “the book” and then give a quick scratch or belly rub.
In fact, she did such good work, she was a little disappointed her master hadn’t recognized how good this servant was.
After Andy came and went, Patricia would often ascend the stairs and peek in on Miranda, who sat behind her desk often tapping away at some weird box the dog thought made odd noises and produced a continuous buzz. Sometimes the woman went immediately to retrieve what the other left behind and return to the room. There were sighs and grunts of displeasure. Rolling of sore shoulders and heavy-handed scribbling.
Patricia tried to cheer her up and often asked her to play or take a break. She licked her hands or feet, she nosed at her leg, she whined, she begged. She rested her head on her lap. She missed her master, her mother. Especially when the two little ones left, as they often did for many days at once, Miranda did nothing but mutter “not now, Patricia,” and continued with her work.
She didn’t even smile anymore, and Patricia noticed.
The next time Andy came over, Patricia knew something had to be done. Had the young woman noticed how sad she was? She worked for her, couldn’t she do something?
When she heard the door turn that night, Patricia bolted down the steps in wild abandon. As the woman stepped into the foyer, the dog immediately called out to her, asking, pleading, and demanding for her help with Miranda.
“Hush, Patty, it’s me,” hushed the tall woman, reaching down to stroke the animal’s fur in an attempt to calm her.
The whining and barking continued, escalating in volume.
“Hey, settle down,” Andy whispered, retrieving the usual snack from her bag and tossing it to the yelping canine. The little bone-shaped dog treat went ignored as Patricia growled for her to understand.
The human dropped her cargo on the table before kneeling, trying to calm the dog down but to no avail. Barking thundered through the house. All the pup wanted was for Miranda to be happy, and showing her how hard her servant worked had to at least make her smile.
Patricia hopped on Andy, sending her to the ground, and she howled in a final, desperate plea.
“Patricia, down,” suddenly came a chilling bite from the staircase.
At her master’s voice, Patricia immediately stopped. She trotted towards the foot of the stairs and sat at attention as Miranda took the final steps into the foyer. The dog panted, looking at Andy, presenting her proudly as someone who had been such a pleasant addition. Was her master not satisfied and happy now?
“Is there a particular reason why my dog is attacking you?” she drawled, eyebrow flicking upwards with her stinging question.
“I don’t think so,” Andy said slowly and nervously, rising back to her feet and brushing off her skirt.
“Clearly you thinking isn’t a successful endeavor this evening.”
Patricia, in confusion, cocked her head to the side as she realized, for some unfathomable reason, her mother was upset.
“You’re feeding Patricia this processed garbage?” Miranda continued bitterly, nodding towards the forgotten biscuit on the ground.
The dog beside her whined, asserting it was actually very good.
“She kept barking, and I didn’t want to bother you so, yes,” Andy explained, her voice stronger than before.
“Did you ever consider the possibility you make entirely too much noise when you come clamoring into the house like an oaf?
“Did you think maybe your dog is lonely and just wants some attention?”
The room went incredibly still and absolutely silent. Patricia could feel the anger fuming, rolling off Miranda in waves that suffocated the entire house. She looked over at the girl that had defended her and noticed sadly how her eyes glassed over with the threat of tears. Why was her master so upset? Patricia walked over to the young woman and curled around her feet.
“Patricia, come,” Miranda sighed in frustration.
Her dog only whined in response.
“Come, now,” was the firm, chilly command. Patricia knew what refusal meant. However, in order to help her master, to show her the state of abandonment in which her loved ones now dwelled and to push her towards the helpful kindness of this other human, it was necessary.
The command went unanswered, and Patricia brushed her nose against Andy’s ankle.
The silence of the room began to change. It no longer crackled with the silent thunder of a violent storm but dripped with the melting of winter ice that had suddenly woken up to a spring sun. Miranda’s eyes remained fixed on her once loyal companion and yet grew soft, as if she understood this too was an act of loyalty. Her rigid stature almost sagged as a realization sank and a weight lifted.
“Perhaps you would enjoy a walk?” she said softly towards her dog.
Patricia leaped up immediately and began running between Miranda and Andy, the later of the two who was currently standing stone still with wide eyes. She turned slightly towards the door as if Miranda suggesting a walk with her dog meant her assistant was free to leave without a complete scolding.
“Don’t just stand there. Her leash is in the closet.”
Patricia panted excitedly at the prospect Andy would be joining them. Andy, on the other hand, seemed petrified. She turned wide-eyed towards her boss before practically diving to retrieve what Miranda requested out of the closet.
Luckily, the assistant was smart enough to also grab her a coat, and the dog appreciated her attention to the elder woman.
When they stepped onto the porch outside, Miranda’s eyes swept across the street.
“Where is Roy?”
“I’ve started just taking a taxi here and then walking home so he doesn’t have to wait on me all night,” Andy explained, struggling to hold the leash at a position that wouldn’t cause it to instantly wrap around her legs as Patricia excitedly walked back and forth across the top step.
The walk had only just begun, and they were already talking. The canine was thrilled, her excitement only rising as they descended the stairs and continued down the sidewalk.
Needless to say, with each step and a continued lingering silence, Patricia got more and more anxious.
She got so anxious she realized she really should start finding a place to relieve herself.
The sidewalk was lined with a good number of plants, leaving her a lot of choices. She followed her noise, and the humans slowed their pace to match hers as she explored her options.
“Those little flowers are gorgeous,” Andy chimed more to herself than to her companions.
“The plant. Sage,” Miranda explained in her airy tone, as if she were only gracing the young woman with half her attention. Patricia’s tail wagged from the sound of her voice; her master talking was a good thing.
“Oh,” the other responded flatly, still a little shocked Miranda had answered, “I wish I knew more about plants.”
“Does your boyfriend not keep sage handy? He is a chef, no?”
Patricia noticed an odd look cross Andy’s face before she answered.
“He didn’t have the plant. Just the spice stuff already in the container.”
“Didn’t?” Miranda questioned, finally looking at the woman beside her.
“He moved out last week.”
A pause followed. The dog felt a little uneasy with the silence considering the progress that had just occurred, so much so, she decided it would be best to investigate nearby vegetation to take care of business. Luckily, after sniffing for another moment or two, Andy spoke up while pointing downwards.
“That one’s a lily.”
“Impressive,” Miranda smirked, her voice lacking any venom – it was merely playful sarcasm.
The younger of the two shyly smiled before cooing at the dog, “You have good taste in flowers, don’t ya girl?”
“She is my dog after all.”
“Do you have good taste in flowers?”
“I have good taste in everything,” the editor answered as if it was the most obvious fact in the world.
“What’s your favorite flower?”
“Freesias,” was the simple response. No explanation. No reasoning. As if she would ever expect Miranda to explain anything.
Patricia noticed the way Andy turned to look at the woman beside her, and, while she did not fully comprehend the words, the softness of the younger’s features provided the dog with an extra skip in her step. It was perfectly fine if the conversation was limited and practically stopped after Miranda’s simple admission. There was peace, fresh air, and, most importantly for the canine, no cats.
The simplicity and beauty of the evening continued in contented silence until their walk finally brought them to the threshold of the townhouse.
“Move the meeting with Ralph Lauren’s people up an hour earlier tomorrow morning. That’s all.”
Miranda offered no goodbyes. The dog followed her master inside after licking Andy in gratitude, and that was that.
The whole ordeal would have felt like a dream if weren’t for the fact it happened again. And again. Now, whenever Andy brought the book, Patricia greeted her loudly, and Miranda quietly descended the stairs before the trio embarked on an evening stroll. The canine of the group was overjoyed, not just for the exercise but also the slight alteration in her master’s behavior and mood, so slight in fact, she doubted anyone else could notice.
Patricia didn’t know that sometimes they only discussed work. In fact, she often did not always understand what it is they said to each other. However, she did see Miranda smirk on occasion. This she did know was a rarity, and it made her ecstatic. Sometimes their voices grew gentle, and sometimes Andy laughed. Even when the weather grew chillier, their evening walks were warm.
As a dog, Patricia was fairly sensitive to what happened around her, and the nightly walks encompassed a few changes of which she took note. Primarily, she noticed Miranda had begun applying more perfume before each stroll. She often heard Andy outside the door mumbling something to herself before she entered each evening. She could smell flowery lotion when Miranda pet her head and mint on Andy’s breath. Instinct told her to walk slowly certain nights when the weather was fairing well and the stars were bright. One particular night, she kept hearing a growling noise she knew was not a threatening dog or wild creature to be feared.
It originated from Andy’s stomach.
Patricia knew it was most likely audible even for human hearing, but she continued on, pretending she couldn’t hear it. Their walk had taken them towards a somewhat busy street still bustling with the typical New York energy. The two women remained quiet, mostly following Patricia who Miranda directed, choosing less populated routes that allowed for people watching without putting the editor in too much danger of being seen. The dog merely understood that this was an exciting detour from their usual neighborhood trot.
Even with all these new, loud noises for Patricia to embrace, Andy’s gut continued to roar.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Andrea, just eat something,” Miranda finally snapped, turning to fix her glare of annoyance on the young woman.
Andy responded with a sigh, “I’m sorry, it was just so crazy today, and I didn’t get a chance to-”
“Andrea,” the other interrupted, “Eat.”
Patricia knew an order when she heard one, and she sincerely hoped she obeyed.
“I guess there’s a vendor over there,” Andy trailed off, looking towards Miranda for some sort of comment or approval. Miranda simply walked towards it.
Patricia didn’t completely understand. It kind of looked like a car, it smelled like a car. It was parked on the side of the street. Yet, it also smelled like meat. Her two humans spoke to a man as he leaned out the window. He gave them something that smelt phenomenal. Andy reached for her purse, but paused when Miranda handed the man what appeared to be green paper. Miranda collected metal in return. Andy stared in wonder. Patricia just really wanted whatever food they were holding in their hands.
She followed them to a bench, her eyes never leaving the wonder they held. It looked and smelled familiar. She turned her gaze towards the women in hopes they would offer her some. Instead of catching Patricia’s pleading gaze, Andy glanced from her meal to her boss, who managed to delicately bite and chew what Andy appeared to need hunching and a handful of napkins to properly eat. Eventually Miranda looked up and their eyes met.
“Shocked I require more sustenance than the tears of my employees?” the elder quipped lightly after swallowing a bite.
“Nope,” Andy responded, smirking, “I just thought you’d like the blood of your enemies more than a hot dog.”
Miranda snorted before she replied, “Patricia enjoys them.”
The dog’s tail wagged at her name, her excitement growing as her master tugged a piece of the meat free and held it before her. Andy’s laughter filled the air as the dog devoured the scrap from Miranda’s hand.
“She likes lots of stuff,” the young woman quipped, stroking the dog’s fur.
“I suppose you would know given you’ve been secretly feeding her,” came the reply, lacking the icy sting typical for such a comment.
This too made Andy grin.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat a hot dog that gracefully before,” she muttered softly, her smile turning shy.
A beat passed as the dog marveled at the unblinking contemplation each woman fixed on the other.
“One of my numerous talents, I assure you,” Miranda replied, lips twitching to conceal what Patricia recognized as a smile. She couldn’t remember the last time her master had done that in front of another human before.
Not much was said for the rest of the evening. In the end, Patricia consumed more of Miranda’s hot dog than she did. The walk home was quiet, except for a confrontation with an obnoxious poodle that had decidedly put Patricia in a bad mood. She was ready for bed, and she felt infinitely happy upon seeing the house. She bounded up the steps with her master behind her as she heard Andy call out her routine “Good night, Miranda.”
Miranda took an unusual pause on the stoop and turned to face the other woman, and, contrary to her habitual comment or command regarding work for the next day, she simply said “Good evening.”
Patricia deemed this extremely good luck as they entered the house.
Given how well the evenings were when she bonded with her mother and their new friend, the days slowly became excruciatingly boring for Patricia. Sleep, eat, take a potty break when the maid showed up, sleep, play with the twins when they arrived home, eat, sleep, wait for Miranda, and so on. In reality, she knew it could be worse. Some dogs had to spend most of the day outside. The horror.
She took her place on the second floor and peered down into the foyer; it was really the last place a dog could get some decent sunlight through the bay window until the sun went down completely. She felt herself drifting off into a warm and welcoming sleep when the door suddenly slammed, causing the canine to immediately jump to her feet.
Stephen began climbing the steps, seemingly trying to break the stairs with each forceful step he took, clearly angry with whatever poor soul had decided to speak with him. Patricia almost growled but quickly decided it wasn’t worth the effort, merely staring as he stalked by. It actually wasn’t an incredible surprise for him to be upset when he entered the house.
The real surprise was when Miranda opened the door and climbed the stairs, eyes blazing like an executioner or a vet actually enjoying the prospect of putting an animal down. What on earth could have happened at work? Patricia approached her slowly, eager to welcome her own, but Miranda continued by, ascending to the third floor. The dog whimpered as she debated whether or not to follow the woman, and was convinced she should chick up on the girls until she heard raised voices echoing down from the top level. She immediately bounded up and prepared to protect her mother.
She entered the room in which Stephen slept to find the man pacing the floor like an annoying cat. Miranda stood with her arms crossed.
“You couldn’t take five minutes for me?” he said bitterly, finishing what appeared to be a lengthy rant Patricia was glad she’d missed.
“What on earth was the emergency?” Miranda replied coolly.
“I wanted to see my damn wife.”
“You fail to comprehend this was a multi-million dollar deal that I could not simply pause.”
“You fail to comprehend you’re married to your job, not me,” he spat back, accentuating his speech by pointing to himself.
Miranda appeared to take a breath before stating, “You seemed incredibly comfortable with the arrangement of our marriage until Page Six started insulting your manhood.”
“I’m sick of the being the housewife, Miranda,” the man declared with a sigh.
“And I refuse to be one, Stephen.”
Patricia shivered at the ice in those words even though she did not know what they meant.
“Don’t worry,” Stephen growled, throwing up his hands, “your fucking assistant informed me of that this afternoon when she wouldn’t let me in your office.”
“Yes, as she should,” Miranda responded, shifting to place her hands on her hips, “ And it was so terribly polite of you to shout at her before storming out and still managing to interrupt my work,” she finished with a sarcastic bite.
“Well, don’t let me interrupt your life anymore,” he snarled, grabbing a large bag from the bed and storming out of the room.
Patricia watched as Miranda stared at the floor, each counting the beats of each step Stephen crashed into before they heard the door slam shut. Silence suffocated the house.
The dog walked over to her master and whined, brushing her nose against the woman’s legs.
“Shhh, it’s quite alright, Patricia,” Miranda whispered, squatting to look into the animal’s eyes. She stroked her head and scratched behind her ears as the canine desperately tried to lick and kiss in assurance that the man that had just left was not deserving of such a partner.
“We’ll be fine. We always are. They never understand,” she explained simply, more to herself than her companion, patting the floor in an attempt to calm her pet. Patricia laid down and rested her head on her mother’s lap.
“Perhaps he’ll come back after he’s had the opportunity to calm down.”
She continued to scratch the dog’s head.
“It would be good for the girls to keep him around, I suppose.”
Patricia whined and nuzzled against her legs.
“You’re so protective,” Miranda mused with a smirk, “Like her.”
The pooch wished she could ask who ‘her’ was, but she had a feeling. Instead, the two enjoyed sitting together until Miranda felt the need to put on her usual mask and provide her girls an explanation for the loud confrontation.
Patricia hoped the man never came back.
In either case, she followed in order to offer support. One would be surprised at how much easier a talk with the kids can go when there’s a dog cuddling them. Even when Miranda finished delivering the news, explaining what was happening with this mean man, Patricia remained with the girls. When their mother left, they lamented the state of their household. They were mostly concerned for Miranda.
Patricia was just ready for Andy to show up and break whatever curse was lingering in the house in Stephen’s wake. Therefore, when the lock gave its routine turn, long after the girls had gone to bed, the dog stormed forward to eagerly welcome the woman.
When she turned the corner, however, a look of deadly anxiety plagued the face of the young woman.
Did this have to do with what happened between Miranda and Stephen?
As the furry animal approached, deeply concerned, Andy immediately bent over to scratch her head before muttering, “I don’t know if we’re going to take a walk, Patty.”
The dog licked her face before a voice called down the stairs.
Both females, canine and human, turned to look at the figure that descended. Patricia heard Andy gasp.
“Patricia,” Miranda said cuttingly, clearly not pleased with Andy’s nickname, “looks forward to them every night,” her heels began clicking when she reached the hardwood of the foyer, stopping only a foot away from the duo.
“We will go for a walk,” was her command, complete with a raised eyebrow.
A second passed. And then another. Even Patricia wasn’t sure what to do.
“Okay,” Andy replied, nervousness dripping from her voice before she turned erratically to the closet to retrieve the leash. Miranda brushed something from her blazer. Patricia marveled at her master. Not even two hours ago, she had looked so vulnerable on the floor upstairs, her work clothes wrinkled as she pet the dog. Now those same clothes were as clean and sharp as when she left that morning. Her eyes were fierce.
Andy didn’t tremble as she handed Miranda her coat. She even made eye contact.
There was another one of those pauses as the two ladies exchanged gazes that made the pup pretty sure this was going to be a very interesting walk for all parties involved. She was even surprised Andy managed to hook the leash on her collar and successfully make it outside without a breakdown.
It didn’t take the nose of a police dog to smell the thick, tension-filled air as they journeyed down the street. Patricia slowed her pace and took her time taking in her surroundings in hopes that, whatever this awkward intrusion was, it would sort itself out.
It didn’t. Silence echoed every step.
As they took a turn at the freesias at which Patricia frequently did her business and made the return trip, she realized something had to be done. She thought maybe going nice and slow would force them to talk.
Maybe it was time to go fast.
Patricia surged forward and began to run. Under normal circumstances, a dog couldn’t get away that easily. But Patricia was a big dog, and she knew it. As she built speed and continued on, she realized nothing stopped her. There was no tugging or interference. She must have surprised Andy, freeing the leash from her hand.
Just like that first night, she disobeyed. She ran.
Suddenly, everything was full of sound. Both women called after her, telling her to stop or return to them. As she dashed onwards, rushing air filled her ears, and she felt the power of her paws thundering against the sidewalk. Well, until she felt incredibly out of breath.
Maybe it was time to cut out the dog treats.
She panted and tried desperately to just reach the house. It didn’t make much sense. She knew it didn’t make much sense. But she had hope. Maybe somehow a little excitement would at least get them to say something to each other. However, by the time she managed the final steps to reach the front of the townhouse, the last thing on her mind were the two women.
She was just trying not to pass out.
Andy was the first to reach her and immediately took hold of the leash despite the rigorous panting that made it clear the dog would not being going anywhere.
As Miranda stalked over, and approached the animal, Patricia whined; that was a lot of work for her master to just get mad with her. The woman paused in response, and her face softened as her dog have her a pathetic look.
“I’m so sorry, Miranda!” Andy exclaimed, sensing the form halt behind her and assuming she was enraged her assistant dropped the leash.
“This behavior is odd for her,” her boss murmured, a soft sound that caused Andy to quickly turn and stare in wonder.
It was as Andy took a breath that Patricia really got her hopes up.
“I’m sorry about earlier today too,” the young woman practically whispered.
Patricia looked between the two of them in amazement. Had her plan actually worked?
“Really, Andrea, are we sharing secrets at a sleepover? Speak up,” Miranda responded, but the sentence lacked bite, especially as she continued to look at the dog and not the speaker.
“I’m sorry I said what I did to Stephen,” Andy replied more firmly, “It wasn’t my place.”
“It was a fair assessment and not entirely untrue,” came the simple answer, and Andy could not determine if this was a new level of disappointment she had yet to encounter or something else entirely.
“He just marched into the office and expected to interrupt the run-through and I knew you’d-“
“You’ve grasped a concept my husband cannot understand,” Miranda interrupted, finally meeting Andy’s gaze with her own, “Your defense, so to speak, in my honor was,” she paused before softly saying, “Acceptable.”
Patricia could have licked the both of them as Andy smiled, “I thought you’d want to kill me.”
“I can assure you I’m much more concerned with controlling my rage with him,” Miranda sighed, flicking back a stray lock of hair from her face, breaking eye contact to take the leash from Andy’s hand.
“Even when I called him a misogynistic bastard that should learn to appreciate his wife’s career?” Andy questioned somewhat sheepishly, slipping her hands into her pair of skinny jeans with a smirk.
“You really can do anything,” the editor mused with a playful smirk, an expression the dog rarely saw outside their house.
The only way Patricia could describe Miranda’s face as her eyes found Andy’s was like the sweet success of the first time the dog caught her tail.
Then it ended like the first she caught her tail and bitterly realized biting one’s own tail was extremely painful.
“Come along, Patricia,” Miranda said with a turn and tug of the leash – the moment was gone, and the woman marched up the stairs to their home.
The duo stopped and turned at the top of the steps.
“If, um, well,” Andy stuttered, suddenly looking anywhere expect the woman above her, “ If you need anything. Just call. Since I can do it,” she rambled, finishing with a chuckle, “Anything, that is.”
Her voice sounded sweet and musical like usual, and Patricia panted happily in response. However, when she looked to Miranda, there was a look she had never seen before. She stopped and stared.
If humans could smile without actually doing so, then that was it.
“Good evening, Andrea,” Miranda said so tenderly, Patricia was sure she misheard her.
“Good night,” the young woman practically gasped before suddenly she was gone behind the front door.
Miranda dropped the leash on the foyer’s floor and leaned against the inside of the door with a sigh.
Patricia still didn’t really know what was going on. She never really did. But she did know that she had never seen that look on her master’s face. She didn’t know if it was good or bad. She did know it made her ache while it glittered in Miranda’s eyes.
And then it was gone. Like a flash or a spark or that squeaky toy behind the sofa. It was simply gone, disappeared behind Miranda’s mask and icy expression.
Patricia began to worry. She worried even more when Miranda poured herself a glass of scotch the next evening. The funny smelling liquid was a sign of her master’s distress.
The word “Paris” started popping up around the house for the next few days. When Miranda coordinated with the maid, when Miranda made plans for the girls to visit their father. Patricia thought she heard her master breathe the word in her office or on the phone. She even heard it when she poured that now nightly glass of the amber fluid over ice. Sometimes it was laced with the name of a woman Patricia immediately recognized.
The night the dog started to fully understand the word was when that very woman entered the foyer with her usual cargo. Patricia greeted her happily and was instantly rewarded with a scratch to the ears.
“Hey, girl! Ready for a walk?” Andy said cheerfully, patting her head before turning to the closet with the typical plastic bag.
Little did she know, a walk was not in their future that evening.
“Andrea?” Miranda’s voice drifted into the foyer, summoning Andy to the back living room. Patricia wasn’t normally allowed in the area considering her massive amount of fur, a dangerous threat to the nicer furniture in the house, and she simply listened from around the corner.
“Do you have the Book?”
Fumbling. A pause.
“Paris is the most important week of my entire year,” Miranda began, speaking as if she was distracted, “I need the best possible team with me.”
Another pause. Patricia cocked her head to the side.
“That no longer includes Emily.”
“Wait. You want me to,” Andy started before shifting gears with a slight stutter, “No, Miranda,” she exhaled sharply, “Emily would die. Her whole life is about Paris. She hasn't eaten in weeks. I can’t, I-“ she stopped and took a breath.
“I can't do that. Miranda, I can't.”
What was a Paris? Why did it have Andy so upset?
”If you don't go, I'll assume you're not serious about your future,” Miranda drawled, “at Runway or any other publication. The decision is yours,” she said, her voice so empty that Patricia felt her fur stand on end.
Andy walked slowly into the foyer, as if in a trance, with her cloudy eyes remaining unfocused. Patricia walked up to her to see the results of the conversation, and perhaps beg for another head scratch, but Andy headed straight for the door.
Apparently this Paris thing was a serious deal.
Miranda made it sound like a time. Was it a place? Would she be safe? Patricia had the sickening feeling she would be unable to follow her master. Of course the woman traveled often, but this time it seemed much more important. The dog thought she could remember trips like this before, but with everything going on in their home, she was so incredibly worried.
Patricia stared at the door that had seen Andy’s exit just moments before, and the thought of the lady calmed her.
After all, if Andy was with Miranda, Patricia knew her master was safe. The dog knew she would protect her.
Andy would stay with her until the end.