The stage whisper was the only warning he had before fifteen pounds of scrabbling puppy skidded across hardwood. As if in a mighty dog commercial, the newest addition to their family soared through the air and landed directly on the corner of the bed, thudding indelicately to the floor.
Tessa, used to flying children, jolted up and hoisted the sheet up around her breasts. Richie waggled his eyebrows and shut the door quickly.
“But Dad, I wanna see!” Ava complained from the other side of the door.
“You had all night with the puppy.” Richie answered, shuffling her down the hallway.
Jon snagged a pair of sweats off the chair near the fireplace and hoisted the dog up and into his arms. Her wriggling body and equally wriggling tongue managed to cover his chest and face by the time he got back onto the bed. “Merry Christmas, babe.”
The dog went right for her neck. She had good taste.
He’d heard about this crazy breed of yellow lab and poodle from a few of the roadies, then from friends both in the music circles and some of his Philly connections. After a little research while he’d been trapped in the airport, he’d learned that both dogs were off the charts intelligence wise. Things had snowballed from there.
Tessa was alone more than he was comfortable with. Since she’d come into his life, the built-in security of staff in the house was a thing of the past. Tessa wasn’t the type to have people under foot.
Lottie ruled the roost at the Jersey house, and was happy to go into semi-retirement when they’d decided to spend the majority of the year in
SoHo. So, the hunt for a dog for her had two distinct advantages—peace of mind for him, companionship for her.
Figuring it would be the ugliest thing on the earth, he’d gone on the hunt. Okay, so his assistant had gone on the hunt—but he’d made sure to go and pick out a puppy from the litter personally. He’d gotten it from a family on the outskirts of
Westchester county. The woman had been more than a little surprised when he showed up for the dog, but being a relatively short drive from the city, she was used to dealing with celebrities.
As soon as he’d seen the golden poof tumble over her too large paws onto her face, he’d laughed. Instead of bounding up again, she’d stretched out on her back for an impromptu nap. That right there had sold him. Following it up with huge brown eyes peeking from the surprisingly springy hair, and her innate friendliness, he’d picked her out, collared her, and bought her on the spot.
From the look on Tessa’s face, it was love at first sight for her too. The Labradoodle was going to be a horse, but it was worth that look on her face.
“For me?” Tessa’s eyes widened as she hugged the dog to her. She gave a delighted laugh and fell back against the two pillows that hadn’t landed on the floor in their own private Christmas festivities. The dog burrowed under the sheets, curling into Tessa’s side, her little body shuddering and heaving in delighted ecstasy as she scratched her ears.
“Don’t think you’re going to be taking my spot, dog,” Jon warned.
Tessa finally looked away from the adoring eyes of her present and up to his. “I didn’t think you really liked dogs.”
“More like I don’t like fur with my allergies, and the mess usually. And of course, I don’t like to share you.” He leaned in, kissing her softly, laughing when the puppy jumped up between them. “See?”
Tessa gathered the puppy against her chest and leaned into him, one hand keeping the dog close, and the other at his cheek. Morning rumpled and naked, she was everything that an adult Christmas morning was supposed to be. Tempted to drop the puppy on the floor and tangle himself inside her, he sighed when her attention returned to the bundle of energy doing her level best to get on Tessa’s lap.
He ruffled the top of the dog’s head. A large pink tongue swiped over his wrist before her adoring eyes returned to Tessa. A huge red bow hung low on the dog’s chest. Jon tapped the box. “Don’t forget your other present.” He rolled off the bed, handing Tessa her robe. “So, what are you going to name her?” He asked as he grabbed the puppy by the scruff and cuddled her into his arms.
“It’s a her?” Tessa shrugged into her robe. “God, I can’t get over how adorable she is.” Her lips scrunched into an exaggerated pucker, she laughed like a girl as the dog licked her from chin to nose. Scratching under her chin, she rescued the dangling black velvet box snapped around the bow. “I can’t believe you got me a dog.”
An equal opportunity whore for affection, he laughed around the puppy kisses that had been transferred to him. “Stop,” he said firmly and brown eyes met his solemnly, then returned to panting with her tongue lolling out of her mouth. “So, how bad is Mary going to kick my ass for giving you a dog on Christmas Eve?”
With a laugh, Tessa tumbled back into bed with her velvet box. “Oh wow, we need a carrier and food, she needs a leash and tags. Did she have her first shots? How old is she?”
He put the dog on the hardwood floor, and she promptly jumped up until her huge paws covered each of his thighs. Oh yeah, what had he been thinking? Petting the top of her head, he let her sniff around the room. God, he hoped she didn’t pee on everything. “She’s just a little over nine weeks old. I picked her up last night just before the party. Ava’s been watching her.”
“How are we going to get all the things she’ll need before your parents get here? God, the boys are going to flip!” She pushed her hands into her hair. He could see the wheels spinning. She was in full on planning mode. He wasn’t sure he wanted to bust her bubble that he’d done most of it. She did like to control the world with her decisions. He sat next to her. “Open the box, Tessa.”
He shook his head and took it from her, flipping it open.
“Holy Hanna!” The flat of her hand slapped over her mouth, then dropped into her lap. “Jon!”
“Tessa!” he said in mock shock.
She leaned in, the tip of her finger tracing the platinum links that led to a glittering fall of chain and gemstones that peeked out randomly. Anything from topaz to diamonds were found in the one of a kind necklace he’d found in
“I asked the artist to make sure all our birthstones were in there. Our family and the Bouchet’s.”
She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Thank you.” She sniffed into his neck and held on tighter. Knowing these were the good kind of girl tears, he let her sniffle a bit before she sat back. “I’ll wear it today.” The puppy climbed up between them. “I’ll use it like a talisman, right Stella?”
Tessa nodded. “She looks like a Stella. And I have a feeling you’ll be yelling out her name a lot.”
He frowned. “Why?”
She pressed her lips together and pointed over his shoulder.
He turned around to find his favorite black boots in pieces. “Goddammit, Stella!”
“See, I told you.” She hugged the two of them together. “You needed new ones anyway.”
She looked around the room. “Nope, I don’t think she did that one.”
He flopped back on the bed. It was going to be one long ass day.