I knew my husband better than anyone.
Including his brother.
And I noticed he wasn’t quite himself, his mind filtering in and out of the present, thinking about something that was outside the house. Whenever I asked him about it, he always said there was something stressful happening at the winery, but my husband had experienced far more stressful things than making bottles of wine, so I doubted it would eat away at him so intensely.
But I also knew him well enough that he wouldn’t tell me until he was ready to tell me.
I just hoped it wasn’t serious.
We woke up on Saturday and got ready before we drove together into Florence. Before we went to the shelter, we stopped at a restaurant and had lunch, the kids talking about names they liked.
“How about Snake?” Vanessa asked. “Kinda cool…”
“Not very cute though,” I said. “A little intense…”
“Cane?” Conway asked. “That’d be funny.”
Crow released a light chuckle at his son’s joke. “It would be funny.”
I rolled my eyes. “How about Teddy? Like a teddy bear.”
Vanessa scrunched up her nose in dismissal.
Conway shook his head too. “Lame…”
Our lunch was finished so we enjoyed our coffee as we waited for the bill to be finalized. Crow took a few drinks of his espresso then licked his lips before he set it down on the saucer. “Maybe we should meet him first then decide.”
“Or her,” Vanessa said.
“Or her,” Crow repeated.
The bill arrived, and Crow added his signature before we got up and walked back to the car. The kids walked ahead of us down the sidewalk.
He grabbed my hand and interlocked our fingers as we walked, still treating me like we were young lovers who just had lunch together.
I feared his attitude meant something was wrong with us, but when he held my hand like that and looked down at me like I was still the woman of his dreams, it assured me that our relationship wasn’t the problem.
It was something else.
When we arrived at the shelter, we looked at the different dogs that needed homes. It didn’t take long before the kids went up to a cage with a young black lab, who wagged their tail in excitement when they approached the cage.
Vanessa leaned down and stuck her arms through the cage to pet her.
Crow broke away from me and moved to her quickly. “Vanessa, don’t do that.” He kneeled down and yanked her hands out. “You don’t know this dog. He could bite your hands off.”
“Oh, come on…she’s harmless.” Vanessa did as she was told even though she didn’t agree with it.
“This is what you do.” Crow held up the back of his hand to the cage so the dog could smell his scent. Then he gently put his fingers inside, testing the waters before he stuck his hand inside and scratched the dog behind the ears.
The lab wagged their tail harder.
The kids did the same, sticking their hands inside.
I already knew that we found our family pet even though it was the first dog they interacted with.
I watched them pet the lab, standing behind them with my arms across my chest. Once upon a time, Crow didn’t want to be a father, insisting that he wasn’t the right man for such a challenging job, but he did it so effortlessly, and I knew how much he loved it even if he never said it.
Crow turned to me. “Button.” He shifted over slightly so I would have room to kneel down beside him.
Vanessa continued to pet the dog. “Why do you call her that, Dad?”
I kneeled down beside him, his hand immediately moving to my back to support me.
Crow never answered the question.
So, I did. “It’s just a nickname, honey. I’m cute as a button.” I stuck my hand inside and immediately fell in love with the young black lab. It wasn’t an adult, but not a puppy either. “I think we found our family pet.”
Crow leaned back and looked at the paper on the outside of the cage. “It’s a girl. They call her Truffle.”
“Aww,” Vanessa said. “That’s so cute…like black truffles.”
“I like it too,” I said, rubbing her underneath her chin. “What do you think, Crow?”
He dropped his hand then rose to his feet. “I think we found our girl. What do you think, Con?” His hand moved to the back of his head.
“She’s perfect.” Conway stood up then walked to the front desk. “Hey, can we have Truffle?”
“I’m so excited,” Vanessa said. “She’s so cute. She can sleep at the edge of my bed.”
“Good,” Crow said. “Because she’s not sleeping in ours.”
I whispered to my daughter. “He says that now…”
“I heard that.” Crow walked to the counter to join Conway.
Vanessa chuckled then pulled her hand back so she could stand up.
The receptionist came over, hooked Truffle to a leash, and then handed it over to Vanessa.
Truffle went crazy, like she knew she was getting out of there and going to a forever home. She started to wag her tail, her tongue hanging out, and walk in circles because she wanted to look at each of us all the time.
Crow patted her on the head. “Ready to go home, Truffle?”
Like she understood, she barked.
Crow immediately softened, growing attached to a dog he didn’t even want in the first place.
Vanessa held the leash and we all walked out together—with another addition to our family.