Guest Post

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

cj Sez:  The third charity anthology from Bienvenue Press, FINALLY HOME, brings you eight Christmas stories, all about our four-legged friends and the special people who rescue them. From funny, to sad, to romantic, there’s something in there to tug at everyone’s heart strings.
Best of all, all three of the ebook charity anthologies are on sale for 99 cents until Christmas and free on Kindle Unlimited. If you need a last minute gift, it’s a purchase that’s sure to arrive in time for Christmas. (Psst: A portion of the proceeds from FINALLY HOME is donated to various animal rescue groups.)
   Here’s an excerpt from my short story, “Puppy Love,” about a dog that loses a leg and is fitted with a prosthetic. (Did you know someone actually made a prosthetic leg for an elephant....and a duck!?) 

“Hi, Bobbie. Is it okay if I put one of my flyers on the board in your lobby?”
“A wanted poster,” Bobbie said with a chuckle. “It’s more
than okay, Fran. It looks great. That red Santa hat makes his big, gold eyes stand out like neon lights.” 
The bold headline of the flyer read Wanted: Furever Home over a picture of a black and white tuxedo kitten. Francesca picked the final sheet out of the printer tray and nodded in satisfaction. She’d used a computer program to modify the photo and now Tucker had a Santa hat on his head. 
“The picture is adorable, even if I do say so myself.” She stroked Tucker’s silky coat. “You really do look like you’re wearing your best bib and tucker. That’s what my mom called a man’s tuxedo, you know.
Francesca left the kitten snoozing on her desk, and with staple gun in hand, she tacked flyers on bulletin boards at Municipal Park, at the city’s public pool, and at the sports complex fields. She wanted to attract the attention of the persons most responsible for the decision to adopt a pet—the kids in the family. Two hours later, she walked into the Pet Rescue Center and handed a flyer to the receptionist.
“I’m hoping he’ll be a precious, early Christmas gift for some lucky family.”
“Did you post it on Facebook?”
“Nope. Too many strangers have access to Facebook. I want him to go to someone in town. Someone I can keep in contact with and know for sure they’re treating him good.”
How are the fur babies doing?”
They’re great. Tucker’s finally old enough to look for a forever home. Without any prompting, my neighbor claimed Niblet yesterday, and Muffin’s a pistol. I had to call the fire department the other day to get her off the roof, and that caused me to run into Cody Phillips.”
“How’d that go?”
“Is there some special meaning behind that question?”
“Sorry. I just wondered. He’s been divorced for a while now, and I know you two used to be tight.”
“That was high school. Let’s leave it at that. It’ll be couple of weeks before I can put Muffin up for adoption. That’ll be tough. I’m about to get too attached to the little priss.”
Bobbie chuckled. “Changing the subject are we? Okay, well, we have a solution for adoption anxiety. You need to take another foster.”
“I keep telling you, I’m getting out of the fostering business. It’s getting too hard to give them up, and yeah, I know. Fostering is all about doing what’s best for the animal.”
“Just thought I’d mention it.”
“I wish you would stop baiting me. The last time you did that I wound up with a dog.”
“How is Miss Molly?”
“Doing well with her physical therapy. She’s been doing three sessions a week in the pool. The therapist said her muscle mass gets stronger with every visit, and her three legs are supporting her weight with no problem. She’s a really sweet puppy, and believe it or not, the kittens have helped socialize her.”
“I was worried about heartworm,” Bobbie said, “because the mosquitos were thick this year, but good news. We got the results of the blood test yesterday, and she’s heartworm negative.”
“Prayers answered. And the prosthetic?”
“The manufacturer has the measurements, and it should be ready any day now. I’ll send you an email when I’ve got it in the office, and we can set up an appointment with a technician to fit the device on the puppy.”
As soon as Francesca walked into the house, an ecstatic Molly yipped and bounced and almost knocked her down. She captured the wriggling puppy in her arms and held her close while avoiding a barrage of wet puppy kisses. When the dog calmed down a bit, she let her go then dropped her purse, the few remaining flyers, and the day’s mail on the kitchen counter. Her stomach sent out a hungry rumble as she freshened the food and water bowls—“for my critters” she said and nuzzled each one—then she made her own lunch. She used a fork to flake a can of albacore tuna into a dish, stirred in a dollop of light mayonnaise, a forkful of sweet pickle relish, and ate a bite before sitting down with a cup of black coffee. When her cell rang, she groped around in the bottom of her purse to find it before the call went to voice mail. Caller ID flashed a number she didn’t recognize but thinking it might be a call about a forever home for Tucker, she answered with a hopeful “Hello?”
“Afternoon Frankie. It’s me, Cody. Got a minute?”
“Hey, Cody. Are you already opting out of next weekend?”
“Nothing like that. I was thinking…wondering, if you’re not seeing anyone special, would you like to join me for brunch at Brady’s Buffet tomorrow after church?”
Is it the invitation, she wondered, or the sound of his voice? Whatever it was, it breathed life into a dark ember in the depths of her heart, and she tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle the heat it created.
“I didn’t know you’d come back to church.”
“Tomorrow is my first day back,” he said. “It’s time, don’t you think?”
She bit back the snarky “yes” response that hovered on the tip of her tongue. “You’ve been missed,” she said and was a bit surprised to find she meant it. “Everyone will be happy to see you again. Unfortunately, I have to decline your invitation for brunch.” Her automatic refusal sent her mind racing for a good excuse, and she decided on: “There’s no one special in my life right now, but one of the kittens is going to meet its forever family tomorrow.”
“Next Sunday?”
When “Please don’t ask me right now” leaped into her mind, she knew there might be a “yes” in the future, but she was nervous about going out with him again. Do I really want to try to reconnect and risk getting hurt again?
When she didn’t answer for several seconds, he said. “That silence sounds like a ‘no’.”
“It’s just that Molly and the foster kitties don’t leave me a lot of free time, Cody.”
“Maybe next time,” he said as if he’d read her mind. “See you at church, then.”
“Of course.” When the call ended, she murmured, “Please forgive the lie about Tucker, Lord, but could you make it happen?”
The cellphone vibrated in her hand. She didn’t recognize the ID name and number. “This better not be another robo call,” she said before she answered.
Fifteen minutes later, she’d made an appointment to meet Tucker’s potential forever family on Sunday afternoon. “Yessss,” she hissed and pumped a fist. “Thank. You. Lord.”
Without considering why it seemed important, she searched through the hangers in her closet to find something special to wear on Sunday. She sighed when she saw that everything there was from twenty-five pounds ago. Waiting to update her wardrobe until she reached her target of losing thirty pounds by New Year’s Day no longer seemed like a good idea. She slid her hands down the front of an emerald-green, princess-style dress with no waist and decided it would be the easiest to alter to fit her new curves.
“Taking in a quick inch or two in the side seams is all it needs. Perfect,” she said, then shook her head and added, “Why am I going to so much trouble? I’m only going to meet some cat people.”


Promo courtesy of


Since this week ends on Christmas . . .Since this week ends on Christmas . . .

 I pray your holiday celebrations are filled to the brim with the love of family and friends


The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.


                                                                                               Numbers 6:24-26

Marilyn Johnston
(aka cj petterson)


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