Chapter 1: Never Going to Happen
“Kalyssa, Mr. Frakes is here with Penelope in Room 2," Maria said over her shoulder as I walked by. She had been the best receptionist that I had ever had. A receptionist at an animal clinic needs to be on her toes, scheduling appointments so they don't overlap, and able to keep things moving. And then there's a matter of scheduling the boarded animals, but that was Macy's department. She prided herself in running a clean ship—and clinic—while keeping things moving, including me.
“Thanks, Maria." I looked at Penelope's clipboard as I passed. She was a Miniature Schnauzer, seven years old, and cute as a button. Her owner, Frank, had been badgering me to go out with him ever since he discovered that I was single. Frank Frakes. Who names a child that? Anyway, he's cute, but just not my type.
But then again, not many men were. I had never wanted to “play for the other team", so to speak, and men weren't the issue. It was humans in general that I never felt comfortable with. I was never sure why.
Tap, tap, tap!
“Come in!" Mr. Frakes voice rang out from the other side. His face lit up like a Christmas tree when I walked in. “Why, Kalyssa! It's so good to see you again!"
“Dr. Carran," I corrected and then looked down at the cutie, looking up at me wagging her tail. “And how are you today, Penelope?" I asked in a sing-song voice. She responded by wagging her tail frantically and jumping into my arms. I chuckled. “That's my girl!" I petted her, gladly receiving kisses, and then turned to her owner. “When did you teach her that trick?"
Frank shrugged. “I didn't." He stood, giving her a scratch under her jaw. “She just likes you."
“So, are you here for her regular checkup?" I moved Penelope over to the table, but it was really an excuse to move away from her owner discretely. He was in just about every weekend, boarding his precious little one with me. I had no idea where he went, and I didn't want to know. But he seemed to be going out of town nearly every weekend.
“No, I'm going out of town on business this weekend and wanted to bring her in."
I let out a deep breath, smoothing a strand of my long blonde hair back into the low ponytail that I always wore at work. “Well, you could have left her with Macy or with Maria, for that matter. You didn't need to see me." Penelope wagged her tail frantically, smiling up at me. “But I always love to see this little one."
Frank chuckled. “Well... I was wondering if you were busy this weekend."
“Sorry, Mr. Frakes, I don't date the parents of my clients." I smiled down at Penelope, rubbing between her ears.
“I know, but I thought you may make an exception for me."
After all the times I had turned him down, I couldn't believe that he still wasn't taking no for an answer. “But aren't you going away for the weekend?"
He nodded, giving me a slight smile. “Yes. I'm going to Lake Tahoe and thought you might like to go. It's gorgeous this time of year."
I sighed. Yes, it was gorgeous this time of year. Late May is always a good time to go. “Sorry. It's seven hours away and I have too much to do." I looked down at my precious little girl. “Like watching this little one." He knew that someone else stayed with the animals over the weekend, but it was the only excuse I had, and I was sticking with it.
He raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “But don't you take off on the weekends?"
I shrugged. “Sometimes."
“Then, you can go?" His eyebrows rose nearly into his hairline.
I let out a deep breath, unable to believe that he wanted our first date to be a weekend getaway. “No, thank you. For one thing, I don't go away for the weekend with my clients. For another thing... no. But thanks for the offer." I opened the door and started out, knowing he would follow. “So, if there's nothing more, I'll walk you over to Macy to check Penelope in."
Before he could say another word, the cute, brunette grad student came into view. “Macy, would you check Penelope into our hotel for the weekend? His pappa is going out of town and will be back...." I looked over at him, raising my eyebrows expectantly.
“Monday," he said flatly.
I turned my attention back to Macy and Penelope. “He will be here to pick her up Monday. I'll leave it to you to work out the details."
“Yes, Dr. Carran." One corner of Macy's lips curled into a smile, giving me a knowing look.
“Thanks, Macy," I chirped and then threw over my shoulder to Frank as I passed, “Have a great weekend in Lake Tahoe!" I almost added “on business" but I didn't want to rub salt into the wound.
I took the chart from outside the next room, and then tapped lightly on the door before entering.
Luckily, the rest of the day was uneventful, but I breathed a sigh of relief when Maria finally locked the doors. It was already dark outside. Sometimes I felt like a vampire, only coming out at night.
This had been a long week, and now, it was finally the weekend. Usually, animal clinics stayed open on Saturdays. But since I was the only veterinarian here, I always closed on Saturdays and Sundays. But I made up for it during the week, working long hours to accommodate my clientele. Luckily, my regular customers knew it and always made plans accordingly.
“So, do you have a hot date tonight?" Marcy asked as a grin spread across her face.
“Nope!" I said, filing the last folder. “The only hot date I have is with my couch."
“Oooo!" Macy teased. “With anyone I know?"
“Yeah. The television," I deadpanned. “So, what about you? You and Tim have a hot date this weekend?" Tim had been her live-in boyfriend for the last year. Although Macy had been dropping hints about marriage lately, it appeared that either he was oblivious to her hints, or just didn't want to settle down. I had told her as much, but she was in love.
What an overrated concept.
“Wait until it happens to you!" Macy wagged a finger at me as she hopped up onto the counter.
I tapped her leg, signaling for her to get down. “What?"
“Love, Kalyssa!" Macy sang.
“Not going to happen." I folded my white lab coat and laid it on my purse to take home and wash.
“Mark my words...." She jumped down off the counter. “When you least expect it, expect it."
I sighed, looking around to make sure everything had been put away before I left. “Look. If it hasn't happened yet, then it's not going to happen." I gave Penelope a little pet and then took her out of her play area. “But if men were like this little one, I'd take him in a heartbeat."
“What?" Macy asked. “Forever obedient and silent? Good luck with that."
“And that is why I will be forever single." I set Penelope back into her play yard. Our little furry clients were treated like they were at a spa.
“Be careful going home," Maria said, her voice low. “It's dark out there." She was a woman of few words but that had always been her indirect signal that it was time to close up shop.
“Thanks, Maria," I replied, tucking my purse and lab coat under my arm. “You two don't stay too late. Clark will be here in a few minutes to take over." Clark Tanner was the night watchman who watched over the animals after closing. He was single and was great with the animals. So, win-win.
“Don't worry," Maria smiled. “Jack and I have a hot date tonight."
I chuckled. “Wow! After twenty-seven years of marriage, you're still going strong."
Maria laughed. “The trick is, you have to train 'em right when you first get 'em." She looked over her half readers at Macy. “You have to leave 'em wanting more... not give them everything."
“We know," Macy said.
“If you give away the milk, they won't buy the cow," Macy and I chanted together, teasing Maria.
Macy shook her head. “I can't believe you two are still having s*x after all this time."
Maria threw a towel at her. “Go ahead. Laugh it up. But Kalyssa, when you do get a man, take my word for it. Train 'em right when you first get 'em. Or else you'll never get 'em trained at all."
“Night ladies," I said, headed toward the door. “Thanks for everything."
Outside, I took a deep breath, enjoying the fresh scent of the desert. Las Vegas had always been my home and I loved it. Luckily, I had found an oasis with trees with a little bungalow... my little bit of paradise. As I headed home, a grin spread across my lips, looking forward to a quiet weekend with nothing going on... as was usual.
Then I thought of what Macy and Maria had said. They were lucky to have found their mates.. er... significant others. But they didn't understand that I didn't mind being alone and was perfectly happy to stay that way for the rest of my life unless fate intervened… because that was the only way it was going to happen.