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“You told her!”

Jeremy looked up from his newspaper in surprise. His wife was standing in the doorway looking cross.

“What?”

She put her hands on her hips. Oh dear, he thought, I’m really in for it.

“You told Ellie we were going to get her a puppy! We agreed it was going to be a surprise for her birthday.”

He dropped his paper and held his hands up in a defensive gesture.

“I did not,” he protested. “My lips are sealed, not a word, not a hint. I have told her nothing.”

Sarah looked at him for a moment, then sighed. “You’ve got jam on your paper.”

He picked it up and groaned. He’d dropped it right on top of his toast.

“What makes you think I told her, anyway,” he asked, as he clumsily tried to scrape the jam off the sports section with his knife.

Sarah fetched the kitchen towels and sat down at the table with him.

“She told me she knew what her puppy’s name was because she dreamed about it,” she said, taking the paper from him and wiping the jam off.

Jeremy looked thoughtful as he took a sip of his coffee.

“And?”

“And what? How is she so certain she’s going to get a puppy if neither of us have told her?”

He smiled. “I meant, ‘and what was the name’. But she’s seven, so she’s certain she’ll get it because she wants it, that’s how it works when you’re little, isn’t it?”

“Oh. Selby.” Sarah reached for the coffee pot. “Silly name for a dog, really. But if we get her a puppy now it’ll just prove to her that she gets what she wants, when she wants it. We don’t want to spoil her, do we.”

Jeremy nodded and took a bite of his toast.

“Well, I’m sure the shelter wouldn’t mind if we waited another week or so, if you like. It’s not like we’d suddenly become less suitable owners.” He reached for his laptop, typing awkwardly with the three fingers that had no jam on them, and brought up the website for the local animal shelter. “I’ll give them a call, if you like.”

Sarah stared at the screen. “Hold on,” she said, leaning over and turning the laptop to face her. “What the hell?”

Jeremy looked at the screen again. There was a large picture on the screen of a puppy with floppy ears and big eyes, just the kind Ellie wanted. Underneath it the caption read, “Selby Needs A Good Home.”

Sarah looked at him. “Has Ellie been on your laptop?”

He shook his head. “No way. She doesn’t know the password. Besides, didn’t we look at the site yesterday? I’m sure it was that cat with the silly face there before.”

Sarah smiled. “Oh yeah, I remember that cat.” She gave him a hard look, then looked back at the screen. “Are they open yet? Where’s their number…”

She called the shelter from the kitchen phone. “Hello? Yes, I wanted to ask about Selby. Is he still looking for a home? Yes, we’ve already had the house checked. Oh, yes, we’re seriously interested in him.”

Jeremy listened, and smiled behind his coffee cup.

© Kari Fay

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