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The Lieutenant's Lost and Found Family

Written by Christy Jeffries

Chapter Three

Hey, mister.”

He recognized her instantly. It was the little girl from the online video.

“You’re messing up my dog’s costume.”

That was when he noticed that his very tough dog, the unofficial mascot of Foxtrot Company, Fourth Recon Battalion, was wearing a…a… “Why in the hell is Thor in a dress?”

“It’s not a dress.” The child was firmly planted behind an adult’s denim-clad legs, but Thor’s eager face was blocking Nolan from seeing anything above the girl’s Wonder Woman outfit, which appeared to be identical to his dog’s. “It’s called a wonder suit and all the Amazon warriors wear them.”

“Well, Thor isn’t an Amazon. If anything, he’s from Asgard.” His dog responded by licking his face some more, then turned to the girl and licked her face, as well.

“Why does he keep calling our dog Thor?” she whispered up to the lady standing in front of her. He was finally able to lift his eyes and a jolt of electricity shot through Nolan’s chest as he recognized the woman from the video. She was much more beautiful in person.

Okay, so Nolan probably should’ve planned this out a little better on his flight to Idaho. How was he going to tell this innocent little girl that the dog she thought belonged to her actually belonged to him? “Hey, would you mind if I talk to your mom for a second?”

“My mom’s dead.” The child’s voice was soft and Nolan winced at the matter-of-factness. “So is my dad.”

“I’m her sister. Abby Jordan.” The woman stuck out her hand to shake his. When his palm touched hers, that earlier jolt of electricity zapped him again. “And apparently, you’ve already met Clark.”

“Who?” Nolan tilted his head.

“Clark,” Abby repeated, then gave a pointed look at Thor.

Nolan scrunched his nose. “What kind of name is Clark for a dog?”

“It’s short for Clark Kent,” the little girl replied. “That’s Superman’s secret identity.”

“Right.” Nolan nodded as though this made perfect sense. “I guess I didn’t get the connection, since he wasn’t wearing his glasses.”

The girl eyed him skeptically and picked up the leash. “Can we go back to the pet parade?”

“Sure, Harper. You go ahead and I’ll walk behind with…” The woman lifted a questioning gaze to him and his throat constricted at the clear green depths.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Nolan Murphy, Second Lieutenant, USMC,” he offered, adding his rank and military branch in the hopes it would put her more at ease. Then he lowered his voice so only Abby could hear. “And I really need to talk to you about Thor. Or Clark.”

Sugar Falls was a small town, with Victorian-style buildings lining the downtown area. When Harper began walking toward the main street, Thor didn’t immediately follow. Instead, he turned his head to Nolan and lifted his ears, waiting for Nolan’s command.

Nolan made a signal with his hand and told the dog, “Go.”

Harper was then able to lead him out to the street, where a couple of old cowboys on horses were bringing up the rear of the parade. Nolan and Abby fell into step behind her, the clop-clop of hooves not far behind them.

As they resumed a steady pace, Abby shoved her hands into the back pockets of her jeans and asked, “So how do you know my sister’s dog?”

“That’s why I’m here.” Nolan took a deep breath. “Look, this might be tough to understand, but…he isn’t really your sister’s dog.”

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Christy Jeffries

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