"New Hope Veterinary Clinic, this is Doc Doe speaking."
"I think I'm going to call this guy Tigger," Charlie announced, smiling down at the small creature in her lap. His eyes weren't even opened, but he still squirmed and wiggled indignantly between her fingers. "He's got that striped brindle pattern all down his back, see? And even though the rest of his brothers and sisters are all snuggled with their mom, this one just wanted to crawl around and explore. You're an adventurer, alright."
She was taking a well-deserved break from work, sitting at the front reception desk with one of the greyhound newborns. After being on her feet all day, the newly christened Tigger was doing more to refresh her than the rest was.
More than a week passed since her conversation with Alexander Crowne, and she wished she had Tigger with her during the difficult time. It certainly was an adventure. She should have gotten more out of her deal with Crowne. Getting one question answered wasn't nearly worth the event of handing Royce the address and confessing her interrogation of Crowne and the bucketful of emotions that produced. Things got better, though, and while she still had her rough days, they were liberally sprinkled with doses of Royce-alone-time and work, both things she loved above all else, so she managed to stay sane.
Tigger lifted his tiny head to squeak angrily at the human holding him captive. Charlie's smile grew, and she used a gentle finger to rub his head. This just frustrated the little guy. He turned his head to capture the poking thing in his mouth, but when he tried to nurse on it and nothing happened, he released the imposter and renewed his protests.
"Okay, okay, I get it, you're hungry. No need to be so rude." Charlie pushed herself to her feet carefully, tiny pup cupped in one hand, and started walking toward the back room.
Doc, though, stepped out of his office just as she passed by and stuck his head out. "Phone for you."
"For me?" This was a rare thing, as she was still new to the actual veterinary world, and only a few of the clinic's clients trusted her enough to call for assistance. Doc was generally the go-to-person.
"No, I lied. It's for him," Doc said, gesturing to the puppy.
"See that, Tigger? That's called sarcasm." Doc rolled his eyes, but gently took the puppy away from her so she could pick up the phone. "Hello, this is- oh, hang on. Royce! Can you come help? Some of the other puppies are getting a little more mobile... thanks! Sorry about that! This is Charlie, how can I-"
<Well there you are. I finally found you.>
Charlie froze. She stared blankly ahead, seeing nothing, as the color drained from her face. Her lips parted, brows furrowed, heart stopped.