Chapter 26

I took a large bite of my second roll, put it down and then not thinking, pushed the plate with the half-eaten roll in Stella’s direction.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Stella doing a super, slow-motion, low crawl toward the abandoned roll, her tongue hanging out in wild anticipation.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I said and moved the plate out of her reach.

“Foiled!” Stella muttered.  And she used her dangling tongue to quickly smooth some errant hairs on her front paws.

“You know, Abby, this whole cockamamie fake name thing was all your bright idea.”

“I know, I know,” agreed Abby. I still think it’s a great plan.  Almost as good as the ‘mob incident’.”  And then she grinned from ear to ear.

I grinned back and patted her hand.

“Nothing will ever top the ‘mob incident’, I said admiringly.  That was pure genius.  You were brilliant.”

“I was, wasn’t I?” Abby agreed.  And to think I was but a mere child.”

We both laughed at that never to be forgotten event in our lives.

“You should come out with us once in a while,” I said to Abby.  You don’t have to dance or anything.  You don’t even have to drink.  Just sit with Hanah and me.  It would be so fun.  The band at Doyle’s is great.  Your name could be,” and I paused, thinking of some of my favorite names.

“Anabelle,” I said and slapped my hand on the table.  “I like that one.”

Loud guttural sounds came from Stella which I believed was her unique way of laughing.  God knows I had heard that sound often enough as she looked at me out of those golden eyes, listening to me go on and on about something or other.

Her little ears would twitch and sometimes her tail flicked back and forth if she thought I was upset.  A true friend…who…you know…could ‘talk’.

And truly there were times when even I wondered if Stella understood what we were saying…for real.  This was the only slightly nutso thought I hadn’t shared with Abby since meeting her almost 20 years ago.

“Is Stella choking?  Should we do something?”  Abby jumped out of her chair and reached over to help Stella.

“No worries.  She’s just fine,” I assured Abby.  I gave Stella a stern look.

“Sometimes she makes those sounds for no reason at all.  And it does almost sound as though she is laughing.  Or…maybe I should take her to see her vet, Dr. James.”

I paused and looked over at Stella who quickly jumped down from the table.  She headed into our bedroom for one of her many between meal naps.

“Having no sense of humor is not heart healthy,” said Stella as her tail disappeared around the kitchen wall.