Black Poodle Over Seven Hills
Soubrette knew the language of love- as long as it was aimed at a pitch-black teacup poodle. But baby talk didn’t get her very far when she handed the puppy over to the new owner. One hint of “does itsy wittle Fufu want a kiss from her aunty Soubrette?” and Timothy Marsh was running for Seattle’s seven hills.
The poodle wasn’t the only one with baggage. Soubrette was running away from the only family she had left- her greasy blot of a cousin. Soon Timothy was involved in everything- car chases, evading P.I.’s, and flirty visuals involving French maids and feather dusters.
The last confrontation between her and her cousin takes place on the Seattle Waterfront—but will it be Timothy or the black poodle that saves the day?
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
The man must be an idiot. Soubrette could see that at a glance. The trouble was that he was looking for someone to blame, and he was aimed right at her. She turned and hurried in the other direction down the airport’s long reception area. Her shiny, black high heels made happy-taps on the buffed floor so that she could be heard for a mile, and she was about as fast as a sheepdog galloping through sand. He easily caught up to her.
“Miss!” he insisted, scurrying in front of her and stopping, his two arms outstretched.
She put a strand of hair behind her ear. “Look,” she said, “I’m not responsible, all right?”
“Not responsible! But you brought the dog into this city!”
“You have the adoption papers in your hands. You signed them. Your dog was driven from Virginia into New York. I received her there, and brought her here in that plane. She’s had a long journey, Mr. Marsh. Don’t you think you should attend to her needs?” She looked down at the small, cloth dog carryall anchored at his feet. He’d dragged it with him across the ground when he’d run after her, and all of the dog’s things were still in a pile back in the middle of the gate.
“But there’s been a misunderstanding!” he exclaimed.
“Mr. Marsh. That’s not a package of golf balls. That’s not a missing suitcase. That’s a dog. My company makes very certain that every paper is signed, the receiving household has been checked, and all the red tape has been circumvented before the dog is delivered. There is no way that this could be a misunderstanding.”
“But I’m not Anthony Marsh! I’m Timothy Marsh. T-I-M-O-T-H-Y Marsh, do you understand?”
“You signed for that dog, Mr. Marsh. I have your signature.”
“I signed my name, Tim-o-thy Marsh!”
Finally, she stopped and stared at him. “And why are you signing your name as ‘Timothy’ instead of ‘Anthony’? You showed me your driver’s license.”
He pulled it out. She didn’t appreciate the pointed look on his face as he showed her his I.D.
“It says ‘Timothy’. Do you see? I’m Timothy Marsh.”
“But you look like the picture...”
Soubrette’s head began to spin. The only thing going well was the dog’s mood; the little thing had fussed and whined often during the journey from New York. The poor thing had only settled down for an angry sleep just as she was being jostled and nudged out of the plane in her carryall with her crate and all the other luggage. It was a good thing that the seat beside her on the plane had been empty.
“Look, Miss...” Timothy began.
“Just call me Soubrette,” she said with a sigh.
“We need to have a serious talk about this.”
“I agree. Give me that dog; you’re an impostor.”
“But I never pretended to be...” he stopped and took a deep breath. “All right. You take it. Take this dog, the blasted papers, and all its stuff. I never signed up for this!”
He began dumping the carryall and papers into her hands. The documents were bending out of their staples, slanting crooked. The carryall slid off the top of them and over her arm.
“Hey!” she said, maintaining a hold of what was most important. She looked up—now she had to run after him. Trip-trip-trip clacked her high heels as she scurried in his wake. “Stop!” she begged.
What a sight they must have made: an angry man storming away, closely followed by a woman running and pleading whilst carrying a small dog. It wasn’t until they had reached the pile of the dog’s luggage that she stumbled.
“I...oh!” she exclaimed, tripping over the strap of an accessory bag. She fell, somehow keeping the dog afloat. That was the okay part. The bad part was that her skirt had ripped and her ankle was wrenched with a sharp pain. She sat up in a heap with the dog and reached down to rub her ankle.
“Oh, for…” exclaimed a man’s voice. She looked up to see Timothy Marsh hurrying back towards her. The look on his face kept anyone else from attempting the same. She curled her legs underneath herself and struggled to rise.
“Fine then, Mr. Tim-o-thy Marsh! Leave the dog with a stranger! Even though I don't know this city, have no ideas how to—Ow!—find a hotel that takes dogs...”
She’d somehow managed to get to her feet. She stood there now, brushing down the side of her skirt where it had torn. The rip revealed an extra ten inches of leg, but she stood carefully so that it wouldn't show. She balanced one of her feet on her toes to keep weight off of it. Now all she wanted was for the man to go away so that she could limp out of there.
“Are you okay?”
“At least the plane ticket was paid for, Mr. Marsh.”
“I think we should talk, uh...”
“Soubrette,” she reminded him.
“Soubrette. There's a cafe over there. Why don't you let me get you a cup of coffee?”
“Tea, then. Come on.”
She sighed. As much as she wanted to get away and save face, she owed it to the dog to work things out. Trying to pick everything up, she leaned down.
“Allow me,” he said, spreading a gracious arm towards the cafe.
So now he's helpful, she thought. She limped towards a table, trying to appear as though she felt no pain. The cafe seemed a long way away. Timothy came up beside her with the dog’s luggage and slipped a helpful hand under her elbow. Once they reached their destination, she sat and took a breath as he put down the luggage and went off to place their orders. The dog was still asleep in her carryall.
Soubrette didn't actually work for the dog agency, but she wasn't ready to tell Mr. Marsh that. Her friend ran the agency and, after hearing that Soubrette wanted a fresh start in Seattle, had encouraged her to take the delivery job.
“It'll be free plane fare for you, Soubrette,” her friend had said. “My customer in Seattle is a real big spender. He wants only the most expensive puppy of one of my most expensive breeds, and he came to me so that he could certify the dog came from good breeders instead of a puppy mill. The man is willing to pay your fare so that he can be assured the dog travels with as little trauma as possible. And you, I'm not sure why you want to move so far away so fast...”
“I just need a fresh start, Jenna,” she’d said, and her friend had asked no questions. The job was a simple one: keep the dog with her on the plane, see to its needs and keep it as happy as possible, deliver it at the airport upon arrival, and then she would be free. Free to take her savings and start looking for a new job and a place to live. She’d been given the new owner's name and a rather grainy picture by which to go by. And, at the appointed time, Mr. Marsh had shown up. The only trouble was that he was the wrong Mr. Marsh. In fact, upon inspection this man didn't look all that much like the man in the photograph. He was the right age, perhaps, being on the twenty side of thirty. He had dark hair, certainly, but this man was of Asian extraction with thick, deep-black hair that waved down over smooth, brown skin and an expressive face.
He came back now, carrying two, twenty-ounce paper cups with nimble fingers. He sat down and asked, “Feeling better?”
“Not really. My ankle hurts.”
“You need a doctor?”
“No. It's just a twist, or at most a sprain. I know what to do in either case.”
“Sometimes you need an X-ray to know that for certain.”
“It doesn't hurt that badly as long as I’m not walking on it.”
“It's a long walk to the...what, taxi stand?”
“I see. I think you need help. You'll strain it more, walking all that way by yourself.”
“I'd rather strain it than accept a piggy-back ride from a man who signs for a dog then insists he doesn't know anything about it.”
“How about I perch you on top of one of those luggage racks and roll you to the bus stop?” he suggested and grinned. His teeth were very white, and his smile was boyish. She decided to take offense at it.
“How's about we put Fufu on my head and sing a jingle to make certain the entire airport sees us?”
Her cheeks heated.
“Her temporary name.”
“I see. Who thought that up?”
“It was a plane-journey name. I thought it up spur of the moment.”
“A plane-journey name? Do kissy noises and little doggy num-nums go along with it?”
“Listen, Mr. Marsh. Let's take the focus off of me.”
“I can see why you’d want to. Let's focus on little Fufu instead. We could make sure she doesn't have to do a wee-wee or a...”
“Sorry. This situation is awkward.”
“Well, that isn’t coming from my side. My side of this situation has all the T's crossed and all the I’s dotted,” then, relenting a little, “Thank you for the tea, by the way.”
“Least I can do. All right, then, Soubrette, I'll tell you my side: I came into this country when I was ten years old and was adopted by the Marsh family. Anthony is a cousin. You see?”
“That doesn’t provide much explanation about the dog, but for a recounting of a whole life story you get four stars.”
“Are you always this snippy?”
She opened her mouth for a quick comeback, but he lifted a hand before she could speak. “Never mind. As I was saying, Anthony is my cousin.”
“He's not very...how shall I put this? He's not the sort of person who should suddenly win a lottery and have a check for seventy thousand dollars put into his hands. He has his own ideas about life.”
“Your cousin just won seventy thousand dollars in a lottery?”
“That was a few weeks ago. He indulged in a few...sidelines.”
“Sidelines he didn't tell the family about.”
“But no! As I said, this adoption was a complicated process. We had his home approved—”
“His girlfriend’s home,” Timothy interjected.
“His credit checked...”
“He pays for everything with cash.”
“He went through all the paperwork!”
“It’s amazing how he can stick to the non-essential at times.”
“Then why, Mr. Timothy Marsh, are you here? Have you been deputized to clean up his mess?”
“Well, no. Last night he was in a car accident.”
“A car accident?”
“A ’67 Jaguar. That’s where the first twenty thousand went. I'm here because he awoke from of a drug-induced stupor to mumble something about a very important delivery at the airport that had to be signed for. I was the only person in the room at the time, and I agreed to go pick up the package for him.”
“So, you're telling me...” she allowed the thought to trail off.
“Listen, Soubrette: My cousin isn't a bad man, however awkward this may seem. Anthony would probably make an adequate guardian for little...uh, Fufu. He’d show her genuine affection. But I'm afraid that he isn't in the best shape right now. He's going to be in the hospital for a week due to internal injuries. So, perhaps it would be better if... well, if you’re going to go back to New York anyway, if you took the dog back with you.”
She sat and stared at him for a long second before responding, “Oh. The truth is, Mr. Marsh, that...”
“You may as well call me Timothy.”
“Well, you see, I'm not going back.”