I pointed at him and said sternly, “Stay.”
The puppy’s head cocked to one side, and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. He looked at me as if I was the only person in the entire world that he loved, his liquid brown eyes melting my heart.
Then he ran.
“Oh sh*t! Stop! Stay!! Heel!! Sonny! Come back here now! Somebody stop that puppy!!” I took off after him, but a Labrador pup could run pretty fast and by the time I caught up to him, or caught up to the person who had caught him, I was out of breath.
“Thanks, so much for grabbing him,” I gasped to the man who was scratching between Sonny’s ears. So much for my being the only person he loved. This stranger had him enthralled.
“Not a problem,” he said, and I gasped. That voice was… No, it couldn’t be.
But it was. My heart skipped a beat.
He looked up at me and my heart skipped another beat. Those hazel eyes that crinkled with understanding, that crooked smile in the strong, square jaw. “Do I know you?”
Yes! I wanted to shout. You know me!
But instead, I flushed and mumbled. “You probably don’t remember.”
“How could I not remember such a lovely face?”
I gave a quick laugh, and squatted down beside him, firmly clipping the lead to Sonny’s collar. The puppy gave me a quick, disappointed look before returning to the man’s ministrations.
“I was pretty much covered in blood at the time.”
He frowned, but I had piqued his interest. “When was this?”
“Four months ago. Car crash. On the Freeway.”
He clicked his fingers. “The seven car pile up?”
“That’s the one.”
“Jesus. Are you alright?” He looked me over, and I flushed again, conscious of his gaze upon me.
“I’m fine. Needed a little bit of patching up,” – I pulled one arm of my jumper up to show some deep, pink scarring – “but all in all, I came out of it fine.”
He smiled, that crooked smile etched deep into my memory. “I’m glad to hear it.” Then he was thoughtful for a moment. “Do you remember much of it?”
We both stood up, and Sonny whimpered at the sudden loss of head scratchings.
“Bits and pieces,” I replied. “But there is one thing I remembered above everything else.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
The colour rushed from my neck up into my face. “You. Your voice telling me it would all be okay. Your eyes, forcing me to keep looking into yours.” I took a deep breath. “I’m fairly sure you saved my life that day.”
His mouth fell open. “Oh, no, I couldn’t have,” he said, shaking his head. “I just held your hand til the ambulance arrived.”
I nodded, twinges of pain from the accident still flitting across my head at the movement. “I was in all kinds of panic. I would have tried to move if it hadn’t been for you. If I had, all that rubble would have fallen on top of me. But it was your voice, your calm, cool voice, and your smile and your eyes that I looked at, telling me it would all be alright and that they would get me out soon enough.” I smiled. “You’re my hero… And I don’t even know your name.”
“Hi Leon, I’m Melody.” I stuck my hand out and he shook it, slightly dazed.
And rightly so. It wasn’t every day someone told you that you saved their life.
“Leon, I’ve been looking for you for months. Don’t you read the paper? Or listen to the radio?”
He smiled ruefully. “Not really, no. Why were you looking for me?”
“So I could thank you, of course.”
It was his turn to blush. “No thanks necessary,” he muttered.
“Well, thank you anyway.” He seemed so sweetly flustered by the attention, that I couldn’t help it. I dropped a kiss on his cheek. If anything, he grew even redder.
“You’re welcome.” He thrust his hands into his pockets and let out a long breath. “Whew! So, what happens now?”
“Now,” I said, “We go for a drink sometime and get to know each other.” I fished my card out of my pocket and handed it to him. “Melody Grainger. My number’s on the back.” My voice sounded clear enough, but both of us could see that my hand was shaking.
He nodded slowly. “I just might take you up on that, Melody Grainger.” We looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment, our faces slowly aligning, for a kiss I had looked forward to ever since those eyes had burned themselves into my memory.
There was a tug on Sonny’s lead, and he took off again. The little b*gger had slipped his collar.
I ran after him. “Stay! For f*ck’s sake, Sonny, stay!”
I pointed at him and said sternly, “Stay.”