Her eyes burst open in surprise and then softly flutter closed. She could feel his breath on her cheek. His hand gently brushed a lock of hair from her brow as she inhaled deeply. He caressed the line of her jaw, his hand warm and soft. The tips of his fingers barely touched her throat as his hand slowly lowered. Her breath whistled sharply between her lips as his right hand firmly clasped her left br . . . ”
“Excuse me, Miss, excuse me! Please I need your help!”
Jessica was flushed as she lifted her eyes from her book, only to see a fist coming straight towards her firmly grasping a rope. Without thinking she took it and tried to focus on the face behind it.
“Please, please! Take care of him. He has the answers!”
With that the figure turned sharply and disappeared behind her. Jessica was startled. She glanced at her hand and realized she was holding a leash. An item that is usually associated with a dog. She really didn’t like dogs! Still reeling from the bizarre encounter she glanced at the end of the leash only to discover something that she had not prepared for that day.
He wasn’t that big. But he had lots of hair, fur? He seemed to be looking at her expectantly, as if she had all the answers. She didn’t. Jessica had planned the perfect day. She would read her trashy novel in the park and soak up some vitamin D. Then she planned to stroll down by the lake and maybe throw the ducks some bread. She hadn’t planned on doing anything constructive. She wanted a quiet day. But the big brown eyes looking at her . . . well the day was already off to a rocky start; what else could go wrong?
What had the woman said? He had the answers? What answers? What questions? What was the dog called anyway? As Jessica reached down to see the collar on the dog she started talking to him.
“What’s your name, big boy?”
She didn’t exactly expect an answer but the dog did respond. He stood up and started to move away. Jessica resisted as she read what was on his collar. “Darby, 237 Hiller Lane”. As she said the words out loud Darby pulled even harder. Timidly Jessica followed. She tossed her book in her bag and gripping Darby’s leash, trotted after him. They hadn’t gone too far when everything seemed to get very loud. There was a black van and several police cars outside of the house she was pretty sure was Darby’s home. Not to mention the dozens of people that had gathered to gawk.
Confrontation was not her way but Jessica believed she had to let somebody know about Darby so she approached the nearest police officer and tried to get his attention. He seemed to be concentrating on a very attractive young woman across the street.
“Excuse me, officer? Officer?”
Eventually the young man in question turned around, but instead of listening to what Jessica had to say, he motioned her to get further back .
“Officer I think I have evidence! Or maybe . .”
He glanced at Jessica and then Darby.
“Stay right here, miss.” And then he left.
Once more Jessica was confused. What was going on? She looked down at the small dog beside her. He was intently focused on his front door. As she looked at it as well, she saw two men emerge. Within seconds they were in front of her. They motioned both her and Darby to move farther from the crowd.
“I’m Detective Reynolds and this is Detective Miller. And you are?”
“Jessica. Jessica Carter. I, I think this dog belongs here.”
“Where did you get him, Jessica?”
“A woman in the park gave him to me and said that he had the answers. I don’t know what she meant and I don’t know who she was.”
The two detectives looked at each other, motioned for Jessica to stay put and then walked several paces away. They spoke to each other but she couldn’t hear what they said. Jessica was becoming more and more uncomfortable. She looked at Darby and he didn’t look too happy either. She couldn’t think of anything to do so she picked up the small dog and cuddled him like he was a small child.
The two detectives suddenly returned.
“We’ll take the dog off your hands miss.”
“No.” The firm comment surprised the detectives almost this much as it did Jessica.
“I mean, what are you going to do with him? I believe he was given to me for safekeeping. The woman was adamant. “ Jessica knew she was embellishing somewhat but these men didn’t know what had happened in the park.
“Miss Carter. This dog may have evidence on his body that could lead to the conviction of the killer of his owners. You have no right to stop us.”
As one of the detectives reached out to take Darby from Jessica she turned quickly aside. As she was turning she saw the media and then she saw a red.
“I will help you in anyway I can. I didn’t know Darby’s owners but I am not going to release him until I know what you plan on doing with him. He’s under my protection. And I am quite sure the media would love to have pictures of you assaulting a woman to get her dog!” Jessica was shaking she was so angry and she was so afraid. What if they called her bluff?
The detectives smiled at Jessica.
“We mean the dog no harm. We have a suspect in custody with a dog bite on his leg. We think Darby will have evidence on his teeth and possibly in his stomach that could help us convict the murder. We just want to have one of our forensic technicians take evidence. You can stay with him the whole time but you will have to come down to our precinct.”
Jessica nodded her head in agreement. Her crazy outburst had worked! She spent the next several hours learning how a police investigation worked. She learned about forensics, about procedures and about Darby. It seemed there was no family to take him. At the end of the day she sat with the two detectives having a cup of coffee. Darby was asleep at her feet, it had been a rough day for him. And then out of the blue the question . . .
“What did the woman look like that gave you Darby?” It was the younger detective that asked the question. He was quite handsome.
“I didn’t get a great look at her but she was blonde, rather thin I think and she had on um, well, it looked like satin pajamas with a bright red rose embroidered over the heart. I know it sounds crazy but I only saw her for a few seconds.”
For a moment there wasn’t a sound in the room and then the older detective got up and retrieved a file from his desk. He opened it in front of Jessica and there she was: the woman from the park. She had on her satin pajamas, and the bright red embroidery over her heart was even brighter but it wasn’t embroidery. Jessica was looking at the photo of a dead woman. Jessica started to tear up. “How?”
“I guess she loved her dog enough to make sure he was safe. She figured you would do right by him.”
Jessica looked at the sleeping dog at her feet and smiled.
Do you want to come home with me Darby?” At her feet a sleepy tail wagged three times and he seemed to grin. He was going home.