“Well?” He asked looking at me.
“Tucker….” He picked the ring out of the box slipping it onto my finger.
“It’s a promise ring.” I looked at it on my ring. He rubbed his fingers over the heart that now lay on my finger. “A promise for more than we are now.” I wrapped my arms around his neck.
“I love you.” I whispered kissing him. “Thank you.” He held me tightly.
“It was going to be your Christmas present. But I wanted to give it to you now.” He sighed helping me off the bed. I gave a coughed as Tucker took my hand in his walking out of room. Dad smiled at me from where he was talking to my doctor.
“I’m letting you leave here Carson, but you still need to rest. I gave your Dad a prescription for antibiotics for you. You need to take every single one of them alright? Even if you’re feeling better, take it.” I nodded.
“Yes Sir.” Dad smiled at me.
“I wrote the note for you for school. If you don’t feel up to it, do not go to school. You need to rest and drink a lot of fluids.” I nodded as Tucker held my hand tighter.
“Oh she will be Sir. No worries.” Dad nodded at him. “Marine order.” The doctor smiled.
“Good. You’ll call me in a couple days on how she is doing.” He turned to look at me. “Remember if you aren’t feeling good or feel worse. Come back.” I nodded. “Alright. You’re free to go.” We walked to the truck getting in silently. Dad looked at me as I sat silently next to him. He patted my hand smiling at me.
“I love you Kid.” I smiled at him.
“I love you too Daddy.” He turned onto another road.
“I had Sarah get your Mam-maw’s gumbo recipe and make it for you.” I smiled putting my head back on the head rest. “You ever have gumbo Tucker?” Tucker looked up from his phone.
“No Sir.” He shook his head. “Never really made it out of this state other than that trip to Texas and vacations when I was a kid.” Dad smiled.
“Good. You’ve never had gumbo till you had my Momma’s gumbo.” The thing about Dad is he loves our culture. Loves everything about the south. I know he misses it a lot. But a big thing about us, we do anything for family. Sometimes I feel bad for all I have put him through. All I have done to him. How much I’ve scared him. I’ve felt like I let him down. I’m not the daughter he deserves. I have always done something to cause him pain. I looked into the mirror at Tucker. He smiled at me. He is perfect. He is loving. I am just a broken girl with nothing to give and only takes. I looked down at my hands the silver ring glimmered in the light. I ran my fingers over the diamonds on it. I can’t even describe the feelings that were rushing through me right now. I looked out the window fighting to show the emotions that were going through me right now. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t. It’s like a repeat of everything I’ve been through. I watched as the first rain drops started to fall, as if it could feel my pain. I needed a sign. That everything was going to be alright. That I knew that I wasn’t just going to be sent back to my old life of pain and misery. Please just a sign, one simple sign. I opened my eyes as Dad pulled up to a stop light. Two little blue eyes looked back at me. A little head popped up from a box, a little white head that whimpered.
“Pull over!” Dad looked at me as he was about to pulled out from the stop light.
“Pull over Daddy! Please trust me!” He sighed as the cars behind him beeped. “Please.” He pulled up in front of the store.
“Why am I-” before he could finish I was out of the car. “Carson!” He called after me. I ran back to the box. The beat up, odd smelling box. The little white head whimpered as the blue eyes stared at me.
“Carson what are you doing?” Tucker yelled after me. I read the sign. The sign I had begged for. I laughed to myself. Free puppies. The little white head whimpered and a little body came out of it. “Carson?” I looked at the puppies huddled together before picking up the little white puppy. He whimpered at me pressing at my hands.
“Carson….” Dad looked in the box as the rest of the 5 puppies came to life whimpering.
“Please Daddy. We can’t just leave them here.” The little white puppy his little tail whimpering out a little bark.
“How did you even see them?” He took his jacket putting over my shoulders as the rain picked up. “Baby we have to go. I can’t let you get sick again.” I hugged the little wet puppy closer to me as the other started to move around the smelly box. The little pink nose of the white puppy in my hand started to move sniffing around us.
“Daddy.” He sighed as one of the puppies jumped up onto the box and wagged his tail yelping lightly at Dad. His face softened at the little one. “We can’t just leave them here. They’ll die.” He looked at me before sighing.
“The box smells too bad to put it in the car.” I looked at him. He looked at the back. “We’ll just have to put them in the truck. Now get in the car before you catch something else.” I nodded getting back into the car as Tucker and Dad took each of the puppies out of the box putting them into the trunk. They whimpered moving around on the blanket we had back there. The trunk wasn’t like a small car one. It was in was pretty big. The little puppy laid down on my lap moving to lie on his side. His little nose tickled my hand as I gently stroked his white side making a little circle over the light brown spot that interrupted the white. Dad got into the driver’s seat again as he pulled away. “You are one special little girl.” He said looking over at me pulling out his cell phone.
“But you love me.” I smiled at him as he dialed home.
“Yeah.” He smiled. “Hey Baby, yeah we are on our way home.” I looked out the window as the road seemed to flow away from us. “Well we have some hitch hikers on board. Well it’s more of you have to see it….I know you hate surprises as much as Car……5 puppies. They’re wet and smelly. But they’re hungry and I couldn’t leave them after Car saw them.” I looked back at him as the puppy whimpered as my hand stopped petting him. “Alright. We’ll be home soon.” I started to pet the puppy again. Dad pulled into the driveway a little while later. Sarah was standing by the door as we got out.
“Let me see them.” Tucker came over to me putting his hand on my back as I cradled the white puppy. “Let me see.” I held up the little puppy making her smile. “Aw, so cute!” Dad opened the trunk as Mason came out in just pajama pants. “Grab a puppy.” He blinked. The rain had stop pretty quickly after we got the puppies into the car. Dad handed Tucker a puppy as everyone took one and Dad took the last one. We walked into the house silently, well as puppies whimpered.
“What are we going to do with all of these little ones?” Mason scratched the little puppy’s head that was in his hands. He was mostly brown but had a little white part on his face.
“I called a vet, they said baby formula will work for now and we will be taking them to him tomorrow to look at them to make sure they’re healthy.” I nodded as we walked in putting the puppies down to trot over to the plate full of JJ’s baby formula. The puppies all stuck there face in.
“Aw.” I giggled as my little white puppy fought his way through all the bigger puppies, the runt of the littler.
“Well we have to name them.” We all looked at the puppies as they’re tails all wagged happily.
“I want the little white to be Saint!” Dad smiled at me. “We can name them all after football! Like Daddy loves.” I know they were the sign I asked for. Now I can show that.
“Well I want a little Texan.” Sarah said as the puppies pulled away from the plate with fully bellies. She picked up the little brown one that barked happily at Dad before. He had two little white toes. Mason picked back up the one he had before with the little white on the brown face.
“My little Cowboy.” He smiled scratching his face.
“Titan.” Dad smiled scratching the only other semi white puppy. We all looked at the last little grey puppy.
“What about Tiger? Like the University of Louisiana.” Dad beamed at Tucker patting his back.
“Good idea boy!” My little white puppy, Saint, came trotting over to me right into my hands.
“Alright, now get these little ones into the bath before they stink up the house.” I scratched Saints head before walking to the bathroom as we took the puppies for a well needed bath.
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