Until November(4)By: Aurora Rose Reynolds
“That’s a beautiful dog you have there.”
Screaming and stepping back, I almost fall over the hose that is going from the pump into my car. “Sorry I scared you, honey. I just saw your dog and he’s a beaute.”
“Oh, thanks,” I say while holding my chest. Getting a look at the guy, he looks harmless. He’s dressed a lot like Santa Claus, including the suspenders with a red and black plaid shirt tucked into his jeans and black boots. I can’t help the smile that comes to my face. He smiles back.
“Russ,” he says, sticking out his hand.
“November,” I say, shaking his back.
“What kind of dog is he?”
“Great Dane, I think. I'm not sure. I only looked up pictures online after I found him. His name is Beast.”
“You found him and named him Beast,” he laughs.
“Well, actually, it’s a long story but I guess he kind of found me.”
“That I believe!” he says with a sad look on his face. “You take care of him and he’ll take care of you, honey. I used to have a dog like that and he traveled everywhere with me. Even took my back a couple times when I got into a jam. They really are man’s best friend.” He looks so lost talking about his dog that I wanted to say something but didn’t know what. I reach my hand out and squeeze his. He squeezes mine back then I drop mine to my side and gave him a small smile.
“Welp, gotta hit the road. Have a load to drop off in Nashville. You drive safe.”
“You too,” I say as he walks to a semi with the word yellow written on the back and climbs inside. Then, without thinking, I lift my fist up in the air and pull down. With that, he blows his horn and is on his way. I can’t help the smile that hits my face.
My GPS announces that we have reached our destination as I'm driving up a long private road. In the distance, I see large blue house with a white wraparound porch. Sitting in the dark in a rocking chair is my dad. I slow down to take him in. He has his bare feet stretched out in front of him with a cup in his left hand. He’s wearing jeans with a V-neck blue long sleeve T-shirt. His dark hair barely touches the collar of his shirt and is pushed back from his face. His skin looks tan, like he spends a lot of time out in the sun, but around his eyes is lighter. He probably wears sunglasses when he’s out enjoying the sun.
I pull up as he stands and starts down the stairs. I try to open my door but he’s already there, pulling my door open. Getting out of the car, my hands start to shake and all of the stress and worry from the last few days comes to the surface. I know that now that I'm here, my dad will take care of everything. He is my biggest supporter and the person I can always count on to have my back. He pulls me into a giant hug, shaking me around. When he finally sets me in front of him, he looks down at me and his hands go to my face.
“You look more beautiful than the last time I saw you, baby girl. Even with all the bruises,” he says, holding my face gently in his hands. His face changes and his jaw gets tight. “If I ever see the fucking guy who did this to you, he’s going to wish he was never born. I hope they catch that fucking coward,” he says, letting go of my face and hugging me into his chest while kissing the top of my head. “Welcome home, baby girl.”
That was all I needed to hear for my whole body to relax into his. Welcome home. I actually had a home and it felt beautiful. “It feels good to be home,” I say with a smile. Just then, Beast pushes his way between us. Dad bends down to show him some love. He scratches his head and, in return, Beast licks his face. “Hey, now. None of that,” he says while standing. “So, baby girl, are you ready to see your new place and get a lay of the land or do you want to just see your room and pass out?”
Laughing, I say, “I’ll just see the room and pass out. It was a long drive.”
“I know that you wanted to get here quickly but you should have stayed another night in a hotel.”
I didn’t tell my dad about the rest stop because I didn’t want him to worry. And I think I was just being paranoid. But after that happened, all I wanted was to get to my dad’s house and put as many miles as I could between me and New York.
“I know, Dad, but I just wanted to get here.”
“I'm glad you made it here safely. Let’s get you inside so you can get settled and get some sleep." He puts his arm around my shoulder, taking me with him.
Walking into the house, I was a surprised that everything looked like it was out of a magazine. By the front door was a long, black table with a bowl filled with keys and coins. The wood floors were so dark, they almost looked black. Walking down the hallway, we enter a room with the tallest ceilings I’ve ever seen. The beams going across the room were the same color as the wood floors. There was a wall of windows from one side of the room to the other. The kitchen was open to the living room with an island in the center that was as big as a dining table with five stools in front of it. The appliances in the kitchen all looked new and unused. The countertops are a light granite with brown and red streaming through them. In living room, there's a leather couch that looks more like a bed with a low back. The entertainment center is built into the wall and two leather recliners sit on either side of the low couch. The throw pillows and blankets on the back of the couch match the granite in the kitchen. All the colors in the room blend perfectly together. I see caramel, dark brown, and red everywhere I turn.