I heard an odd flip, flip, flip sound and looked up from the keyboard. Humphrey, who was dressed in a bathing suit and wearing ugly rubber flip-flops, entered my office. He held a book in one hand and sunglasses in the other.
“Good morning,” he said cheerfully. “I’m off to the swimming pool.”
“Why?” I didn’t know he owned flip flops or a bathing suit. Thank goodness they weren’t Speedos.
“I’m going to catch some rays. That’s what the kids say.” He chuckled. “I’m reading Lynne Marshall’s new book, A Doctor for Keeps. Just getting to the good stuff of who Desi is, where she came from, and…”
“No! No spoilers.” I stuck my fingers in my ears. “I just got the book, and it was a gift from Lynne. I haven’t finished it yet. Have you been going through my purse again?”
A couple of hours later a rather wet bear stood next to my office chair. “Forgot to take a towel,” he said and shook his fur like a puppy.
A fine spray hit me. “Hey, knock it off.”
“Pardon me.” Humphrey handed over the book.
I glanced at the cover of A Doctor for Keeps, it’s so cheerful. It radiates happiness and love. Heartlandia. That’s the name of the fictional town in Oregon where Desi Rask has gone in search of identity, family, and a place to call home.
“I’m heading to the recliner to finish the story.”
“It’s like us,” Humphrey said, following me while flapping a paw several times between us. “Family, it isn’t only about blood, and genetics, or color of skin, or lack of fur.”
I stared hard at him. Lack of fur?
“When you’ve matured you get to choose who your family is,” he said, gazing at the puddles of water he’d left on the floor. “Choosing makes them special. It doesn’t mean that you forget about where you came from, or that you love your birth family any less, it just means that you create for yourself a team of people who totally get you. Who always have your back, and who love you without question. Like us.”
My eyes started to well-up, and I blinked hard, plopping into the recliner and elevating the footrest.
“I’ll take a shower and dress,” he said. “Then I’ll bring you a tea. Earl Grey?”
I nodded. “Thank you. That would be lovely.”
As he walked away he called over his shoulder, “When you email Lynne, tell her I loved the story and can’t wait to read more about the goings on in Heartlandia. Five paws! Five paws!”
Lynne Marshall may be contacted at www.lynnemarshall.com or on Facebook, or Goodreads. She is a multi-published author with Harlequin Mills and Boon medical romance, Harlequin Special Edition, and single title contemporary romance. A California native, she enjoys travel and finding new locations for her stories.