Happy Wednesday, y’all! Hope it’s a great one so far. This weeks snippet is from the Hearts Afire – August anthology.
Yasmine smiled softly as she watched a freshly groomed Rufus lie on a bed while a child rested a hand in the silky mahogany red of his coat. The young boy’s pale skin was marred by splotches of angry red. From head to toe, Caleb had been burned.
At the moment, he was speaking softly to Rufus, reading a book to him. The dog seemed perfectly happy to be where he was. But then, as a therapy dog, Rufus had always loved being with children. Coming here to the hospital–more specifically the burn wing–was a way she dealt with the stress of her job. She liked being able to give back even more to those who were injured. She’d adopted Rufus after he’d been retired from the show ring, and had found he was wonderful with young kids. It was easier to be around young survivors as opposed to adult ones at times, especially when they had a loving dog to turn their affections on.
Thinking of survivors, her mind drifted to a certain handsome man with amazing deep blue eyes and butterscotch skin–a man whose simple look could make her legs grow weak. His kiss could light up her whole world. Volunteering at the burn unit once a month was for her, and it was something she kept to herself, but as she sat there, the desire to share this with Sedeo filled her.
Silence filled the room, and she glanced toward the bed. Caleb had fallen asleep, his book resting on Rufus. Quietly, she got up and removed the book, placing it beside the bed, still within his reach. Dark brown eyes followed her every move, but Rufus never moved. And he wouldn’t, until she gave him a command to do so. A single gesture brought Rufus off the bed to settle beside her as he waited for her to attach the leash.
“With me, Rufus,” she murmured as she left the room and headed up the hall, waving and smiling at the staff as she passed them.
Caleb was always the last visit of the day. The child seemed to forget the pain he was in when he was with Rufus, so she stopped there last, so time wasn’t an issue. No matter how long they’d been, Rufus never got stressed out, and he was always so gentle with the burned child. She knew Rufus would be asleep before they got out of the hospital parking lot, for the day took its toll on him as well.
Making sure he had water and his bed was good, she walked to the driver’s side and climbed in. Low music was on as she drove home. It had been a good day. She’d gotten a good workout in at the firehouse, completed a bunch of shopping, and of course, gone to the hospital. Rufus sighed and snored, causing her to chuckle.
“I understand, boy. I’m tired too.” Tonight is going to be a quiet night. I need to unwind.
Yasmine placed a call and stopped to grab her curbside order, not feeling like cooking. Before long, she was home and had fixed Rufus his food before sitting down to feed herself. A low groan of contentment left her as she cut into her pepper strip steak and ate a bite of the savory meat. After she’d finished her dinner and cleaned up, she and Rufus adjourned to the backyard. She lay in her hammock and let the comfortable evening air calm her.
“Anyone here?” A deep voice woke her from a light sleep.
Sitting up in the hammock, Yasmine glanced toward the gate and saw Rufus standing there, his feathered tail wagging gently. Rubbing her eyes, she got to her feet and walked through the grass to the fence.
“Yasmine?” Sedeo’s tone flowed through the woods to her ears.