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The Foxe & the Hound
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A full-length STANDALONE romantic comedy from USA TODAY bestselling author R.S. Grey.
When your life is a hot mess at twenty, it’s cute. At twenty-seven…well, not so much.
It’s just that my lofty dreams—making it as a real estate agent, paying rent on time, showering daily—have stayed just that: dreams. Oh, and love? I’ve decided love might be a little ambitious for me at the moment. Instead, I’ve settled for the two guys who will never leave me: Ben & Jerry.
That is, until Dr. Adam Foxe takes up residence as the town’s new vet.
With his strong jaw, easy confidence, and form-fitting scrubs, it’s not long before every housewife in Hamilton is dragging neglected tomcats in for weekly checkups.
Like everyone else, I’m intrigued. Even after I spoil my chance at a good first impression, he still offers me a proposition I can’t refuse: play his girlfriend at a family function and he’ll hire me as his real estate agent. Welcome to love in the 21st century.
It’s too bad I underestimated Adam’s irresistible charm and the undeniable attraction that burns between us. The day he pins me to the wall and silences me with a kiss, the line between reality and ruse begins to blur. Every teasing touch brings me to my knees. Every kiss promises more.
It looks like my hot mess of a life is about to get a little hotter.
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The love between him and me isn’t right. Some would even say it’s unnatural. Wrong. All they see is his size, and it intimidates them. He is massive, too big for his own good, really, but he’s also handsome—so handsome—with chocolate brown eyes I can’t resist. I won’t sugarcoat it though—he’s not without his flaws. He’s a terrible listener, and frankly, independent to a fault. He’s a sloppy kisser, and he leaves his things everywhere. But every time I come home and run my fingers through those luscious locks, I forget all of his faults. And when that hair falls out and gets all over the couch, and the bed, and my clothes, and the rug, I don’t fret. I always know I’m just one lint-roller away from everlasting love.
Because he’s the love of my life.
And he’s my dog.
Well, technically he’s my puppy.
Barely a few months old and already he’s the size of a small horse. Apparently, he’s going to get pretty big, but I didn’t know that when I adopted him. At the shelter, I walked past a tiny black and brown fur ball sitting in a cage all alone, barely a few weeks old. He sat there quietly, not begging to be petted or whining about his accommodations. He stared up at me quietly, studying me with those deep brown semisweets and I was head over heels.
Just like all the other schmucks filling out adoption papers, I’d walked into that shelter fully intending to leave just as dog-less as when I arrived. I’d even texted my best friend, Daisy for affirmation.
Madeleine: I’m just going to look. That’s all.
Daisy: Oh, sure…Text me a picture of the dog you take home because you are NOT leaving there empty-handed.
I wanted to prove her wrong, but then I stumbled upon that little floof.
He’s really cute, I told the shelter volunteer.
I agree. Unfortunately, he’s too energetic, she lamented. He’s an owner surrender. The man who dropped him off yesterday—I think he was a firefighter—couldn’t handle him. I laughed and had her bring him into a little playpen so I could judge for myself. We played fetch and he acted like puppies do—energetic and happy for the attention—but then ten minutes in, he stumbled into my lap, curled up into a little ball, and promptly fell asleep. I was a goner.
“What kind of dog is he?” I asked, already imagining where he would sleep at my apartment. I’d get a small, cushioned bed and put it right at the foot of mine. I’d try to keep him off the furniture at first, but I knew I’d inevitably cave and give him couch privileges—who can say no to those doe-eyes?
The volunteer, who I now suspect moonlights as a used car salesman, shrugged and told me he was of mixed heritage.
“Do you mean like, a mutt? So how big do you think he’ll get?”
She pretended to study his front paw, on which he’d rested his adorable little snout. “Oh, with those tiny little things? He probably won’t get any bigger than a small golden retriever.”
I chuckle thinking back on that exchange now. His paws—those “tiny little things”—seem to double in size every night. They are now big enough to carry the both of us down the sidewalk at breakneck speeds, even as I tug on his leash, trying to get him to slow down.
“Heel, Mouse! Heel!”
Yes, his name is Mouse, and when people hear it, they think I’m being so funny. A massive dog named Mouse?! How clever. I smile and nod, and I definitely do not tell them I named him Mouse when he was the size of an actual field mouse.
“Mouse, I have organic salmon treats!” I try again, and finally my voice seems to break through his thick skull. He slows his gait until he’s right beside me on the sidewalk, staring up at me with those dopey eyes. His tongue lolls around, and if dogs can smile, Mouse grins ear to ear. He really is a dapper thing.
I feed him a treat and then hold another one in my closed palm so he knows it’s coming. I’ve discovered that while I may not be the best trainer, I am fairly adept at canine bribery. And that will have to suffice for now, considering I’m already in my work clothes.
It’s Monday morning and we’re on our way to the vet. We’ve been multiple times in the last few months—another thing the volunteer conveniently forgot to mention. Puppies apparently need more shots than babies. I seriously think that he has better healthcare than I do.
This morning I formulated the questionable plan of walking Mouse to his appointment before work. Ever the optimist, I dreamed of a nice leisurely stroll, in which he’d finally heed the training I’d inconsistently applied. Mouse, however, is more of a realist. He wants to sniff and tangle himself in his leash. He wants to run and fulfill his destiny as a squirrel hunter. I consider aborting the mission and turning back, but I don’t think I even could at this point. I have a crude understanding of anatomy, and wonder if it’s possible for my arm to pop out of its socket like a fought-over Barbie doll.