A Special Agent Emily Dahill Story-8
A two months after returning home
Overall body hurt forced Emily to lower herself into the lawn chair. She let a smile curl her lips with the knowledge this pain wasn’t from the injuries she’d sustained in Iraq. Well, she suspected some might be, but the majority was from the final physical therapy earlier that morning. Immediately followed by the physical qualification test to stay in.
“Here. I’ve got ibuprofen for you. You look like you could use some,” her hostess for the day, Alison Bosch, said.
Emily smiled up at her in thanks, took the bottle and shook three into her free hand. “Thanks. Been off the big stuff for a week and today was murder.” Her mind drifted back to the copter crash and the prisoner escaping. To this day she struggled to remember his name, having only heard it through the fog a pain as she drifted into unconsciousness.
“Here, you might want this to wash them down with,” a nearby voice said. She looked to her left and saw Richard, Alison’s husband, hand her a tall glass of amber liquid with ice shards swimming around. Peeking from over the rim, a sprig of mint nestled against a lemon wedge.
Emily knew right off as she watched water droplets slide down the glass and the rich color, the iced tea was freshly homemade. Not something you’d get from the refrigerator section of the local grocery store. “Real iced tea. I can’t remember the last time I had some.”
From Long Island, Alison and Richard thought together as they first gazed longingly at each other, then retrieved their own glasses of the special nectar.
She popped the ibuprofen in her mouth, then without thinking or having detected the conspiratorial looks from her hosts took a healthy swig. As soon as the liquid touched her tongue she knew this wasn’t just any iced tea, but something very special. With the pills now on their way to give her some relief she took a more careful sip. “Now,” she exclaimed. “That’s what I call not good but great iced tea. But how did you-”
Alison held up a silencing hand, “We have our ways of extracting information. So sit back, relax and enjoy the weekend.”
Stunned, Emily slumped back at what she’d just heard. “Wee, wee, weekend,” she barely could get out.
“Yes daughter. I pulled a few strings and called in a favor. You don’t have to report until next Tuesday, if I’m not mistaken, so you can spend the intervening few days here, relaxing,” a deep voice from behind her pleasingly said. Thaddeus walked up to her, with a gentle hand stayed her from rising, leaned over and gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek.
Emily beamed a smile up to her father, which slowly turned to a frown. “Ah, thanks Dad. But, what about clothes,” she was going to continue when she noticed he was holding her overnight bag. She flushed redder than a boiled lobster as she thought about her dad rifling through her panties and trying to pick some out.
Thaddeus didn’t even bother holding back a chuckle, knowing exactly what she was think. “Don’t worry. I didn’t look. Got one of the other women in the barracks to pack your bag,” he said, handing over the bag. “I’d hate to tease and run but I’ve got to get back to the office.” He dropped another kiss on her cheek, turned and left with a nod to Alison and Richard.
As her father disappeared around the corner of the house Emily bolted upright, causing her to wince from the pain. She quickly looked around and knew something was missing from the equation. “Where’s momma and the monsters?” she asked. “I would have thought they’d be underfoot by now.”
Alison slipped her arm around Richard’s waist. “A little before you got here Kebi herded them inside for a nap. A muffled bark from the direction of the house announced to everyone it was playtime. Again. Alison didn’t have to ask, for Richard slipped from her arm and went to open the slider leading to the patio.
Within seconds Emily was engulfed by four pouncing, bouncing fur balls. Each vying for her attention, which was gave easily. As she was scratching one behind the ear she saw they all had puppy size collars on. Loose but not to. Tight but not to. Embossed on each, a letter. Curious as to why, she looked over to Richard. “What’s with the letter?”
It took him a second to understand what she was talking about. As one bounced by he leaned over and scooped the wriggling puppy up, which immediately caught the attention of mom. Kebi came over to make sure everything was alright. A pat on the head and a kind word from Richard was all the confirmation needed. She retreated back to the shade where she could keep an eye on her babies.
“You mean these,” he lifted up the leather band encircling the neck of his captive. “That’s so we can identify them. Since they’re all going to be adopted, Alison and I didn’t want to start giving them names which the new owner might want to change.”
“Makes sense,” Emily said, lifting one onto her lap. Which she learned instantly was a mistake. Before she knew what happened the others wanted up also. It was only through Kebi’s intervention her lap was saved.
She, with her snout, bumped the one on Emily’s lap off, sending the little one tumbling. Then, with the practiced ease of a herder Kebi moved the rest away and down to the massive yard to play.
So intent in watching the puppies antics, more like try to beat up mom and each other, Emily didn’t hear Alison step up beside her with a pitcher of iced tea, Long Island, in her hand. “Since you’re not going anywhere for a while, how ‘bout a refill.”
Not one to have to be asked twice, Emily, not taking her eyes from the puddle of rolling yelping fur held her glass out.
“Now that Richard and I have your sort of undivided attention how’s it going with the helicopter thing. You talk to anyone about the fear you sort of seem to kinda have.”
Emily slumped her shoulders in resignation. This was the one question she knew, in the back of her mind, Alison, in particular, would ask. At now she could give an answer. Bit by bit she collected her thoughts. She told them both about the nightmares revolving around the crash. She was glad when the shrink talked with her about the event but on learning she never was all that thrilled about copters cleared her. ‘It’s just a fear of flying’ the doc had said. He even admitted he hated the damn things, which got a laugh from Richard and Alison.
“So now I’m cleared both mentally, no comment from the peanut gallery, and physically for school. And who knows, maybe someday I won’t be frightened of even the sound of those damn eggbeaters.”
No sooner were the words out of her mouth when the unmistakable sound of a helicopter heading their direction caught their attention.
As the sound grew louder, Emily could feel the slight tug of fear settle in her stomach. Over the lip of the clear glass she’d taken a sip from she saw her hand quiver, ever so slightly. Taking the glass with two hands she settled it on the table beside her.
Alison and Richard, when they also heard the copter, turned their attention to their friend. Ready to give what support she needed. She wanted. They watched as fear filled her eyes and her hand start to visible shake. Silently they sat, waiting for a sign to help. Alison started to lean toward Emily but was stilled by Richard’s gentle hand on her arm.
An ultrahigh yelp from the lawn drew Alison’s attention. She turned just in time to see one of the puppies, ‘D’, she was sure, break from the pack and race up to Emily. Stunned at the behavior they both watched as the puppy, four feet from Emily, launched himself into the air, coming to rest in her lap.
Immediately the little guy started licking her face and Richard and Alison watched in amazement as they watched their friend relax, her hand coming to rest on the fuzzy head of her new friend.
Emily could feel the tension and fear in her body climb as the helicopter drew closer. Then it was gone. Replaced by a tiny wet, pink tongue licking her face. Unconsciously, her hands softened as her fingers found comfort raking through flaxen soft hair. For the first time, in a long time, in she didn’t know fear. Fear of any kind.
She looked down at the collie puppy, now sitting quietly in her lap. Pink tongue lolling out to one side. Bright dark brown eyes staring up at her and she knew.
She lifted her head to see Alison and Richard smiling back at her. “He’s mine.” Not a request. A demand. She slipped her finger under the leather strap encircling his neck, the letter ‘D’ stamped on the collar. Carefully, she lifted the puppy in her arms so they could look at each other easily, human eye to puppy eye. “I’m going to call you Dakota. Why? Don’t know, don’t care. I just like the name.”
Alison and Richard shared a knowing smile then turned to their friend. One who would be fine, in all ways now. “He’s our gift to you. When you finish school he’ll be trained, sort of, and ready to go off with you to wherever,” Alison said, her voice choked with emotion.
In two weeks I’ll be starting a new Special Agent Emily Dahill story. This story ‘A Body in the Attic’ will also star one of our favorite collies, Dakota. No telling what mischief he’ll cause either.