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The Lieutenant's Lost and Found Family

Written by Christy Jeffries

Chapter Eight

So, Mr. Sugarbaker offered to have his law clerk research which one of us is the legal owner of Thor,” Nolan explained as he sat beside Abby on the park bench half an hour later.

Despite the crisp afternoon air, she was already too warm sitting so close to the man. “Here’s the thing, Nolan. Sam Sugarbaker used to be a fabulous attorney and is still a loyal family friend. But did he mention that his law clerk is actually his dog, Esquire?”

“The one who doesn’t miss an episode of The People’s Court?”

“Exactly. I don’t think we should be taking legal advice from an unfriendly chow chow who has a judge complex.”

“Fair point.” Nolan stretched his arm along the back of the bench and Abby’s shoulder tingled with a strange anticipation at the nearness of his fingers.

She had to twist her torso sideways to keep herself from leaning into his touch. “You know, I’m sure we can work this out between us without making it into some big legal case.”

As a freelance graphic designer, Abby’s personal income was decent. However, hiring an attorney would be more of an emotional burden than a financial one. Plus, she wasn’t sure if the law would be on her side.

“Can we have our cookies now?” Harper asked as she and the dog ran across the grass toward them. There were a couple of other young children on the play structure, but Abby’s little sister showed no interest in playing with anyone other than her beloved pet.

Abby reached inside the box to grab the dog-shaped cookie for Harper. But when she went to pass the human-shaped biscuit to the dog, Nolan again covered her hand with his own.

“Wait,” he said, keeping his warm and rough fingers spread out over hers. Her breath caught in her throat as heat spread to her lower extremities. “You’ve got to make Thor earn his treat.”

Harper paused midbite. “How do you make him earn a treat?”

“Like this.” Nolan broke off a piece and held it in his open palm. “Thor, attention.” The dog stood absolutely still, save for his tail, which was beginning to quiver. “About-face.” The dog turned his whole body to the side, his tail now wagging frantically. “And march,” Nolan said, and the dog’s legs took turns lifting in place.

“Good boy,” Nolan praised as he tossed the treat in the air.

Harper clapped her hands in excitement. “Can I try?”

“Sure. Just make sure the pieces are bite-size, because when he catches it in the air like that, you don’t want him accidentally swallowing too big of a chunk.”

After watching the man patiently talking to her little sister, Abby realized she’d also potentially bitten off more than she could chew. She didn’t normally make it a habit of inviting strange men to her house, but how else could she prove to Nolan that Clark/Thor had a perfectly good home here with them?

Besides, she hadn’t extended the invitation until after they’d left the park yesterday afternoon and she’d had time to text Officer Carmen Gregson of the Sugar Falls Police Department. She’d asked her friend to run a search on Nolan Murphy, just to make sure the guy wasn’t some sort of career criminal or dognapper.

He’d mentioned that he’d gotten a room at the Snow Creek Lodge and, when they parted ways yesterday afternoon in the park, he’d given her his number and asked when he could see his dog again. When Carmen had given her the all clear, Abby had thought about another informal meet-up in the park, or even at an attorney’s office. Instead, she had decided the easiest way to convince him to give up his dog was to prove that they loved the animal as much as he did.

Her sister’s happiness depended on it.

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Christy Jeffries

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