“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 56: Romantic Gestures

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

“So, you celebrating Valentine’s Day with Lucy this year?”

I have just sunk my teeth into the dingy fluorescent skin of my favorite tennis ball, my eyes closed in a moment of bliss, when Max’s teasing bark shatters my seemingly unshakeable sense of tranquility. Two words resound in my ears, sending tremors down to my paws.

Valentine’s Day!

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I may be a clueless beagle 98% of the time, but even I know what that is! Usually I spend the day like I would any other, but this year…

“Cause if you’re not, I might steal her from you,” Max adds with a wink, flopping to the ground at my side.

“You wouldn’t!” I cry, my fur bristling at the idea.

“Relax, relax, I’m just messing with you! Lucy clearly likes you better, Bing. She’s the one lady who’s immune to my charm,” he says before screwing up his face with a snort.

I wonder what’s so funny about that…

“You’re not laughing at Lucy, are you?” I ask, raising a brow in warning.

Max finally takes a breath, exhaling the pale smoke of his amusement into the cold air.

“No, I just realized…Lucy’s not the only one who…” he says, trailing off before I can catch his meaning.

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Staring at my soggy tennis ball, I lose myself in all sorts of improbable Valentine’s Day plans. A meaty bouquet of juicy sausages and crispy bacon! Her name spelled out in a thousand tennis balls (all chewed by me, of course)! A magnificent sculpture of her smiling face, made entirely of her favorite treats!

Reality returns to me, sinking slowly into my thoughts like an anchor into a dense bed of mud and sand. I know there’s no way I can actually give Lucy any of those things, but they seemed like the perfect gestures of my love…

I bury my snout between my paws, a fresh wave of embarrassment rolling through me. What a silly beagle I am! Why does Lucy even bother with me?

“You’re so funny, Bing!”

Yes, she probably would say something like that. She’s so nice…

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It suddenly dawns on me that her voice came from behind me. Whipping my head around, I find myself staring up into Lucy’s gentle eyes. She blinks down at me, an amused expression lighting up her face.

“What are you two whispering about over here? You’re not scheming to get the puppies in trouble again, are you?” Lucy asks, shooting a suspicious glance in Max’s direction.

“Hey, I’m their leader now! Besides, they’re not exactly puppies anymore,” he says, his gaze wandering over the busy yard.

“Hmm…so, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Do you have a sweetheart this year, Max? I can ask around if you want, set you up with someone,” Lucy offers with a quiet snicker.

Max’s tail wags back and forth over the ground, and he cracks an enormous grin.

“That won’t be necessary.”

Lucy and I stare at each other with the same baffled surprise. Max has always enjoyed keeping little secrets from us, but I thought for sure that he would confide in me if he had a crush on another dog. He did tell me how he felt about Lucy, so I would think…

Who could she be? Probably a dog that likes running around and playing pranks on others. Definitely a tease! Do any of the dogs here fit that description?

Maybe he met her at the park or something – that would explain his not telling me anything.

“Fair maiden, why do you spurn my most earnest feelings?”

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A loud, familiar bark travels to us from the other side of the fence, and our ears perk in unison. Romeo, the Lodge’s resident Casanova, is apparently hard at work in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

“Sir, you are rather presumptuous! Speaking to me without any solicitation on my part is the epitome of vulgarity!”

Another familiar bark follows, this one belonging to Scarlett. So she’s the target of his affection this year!

We watch as Romeo trails behind her, foiling her attempts at evasion with quick steps and fervent declarations of his devotion.

“Your golden coat is dazzling, like the sun! And your manner is so regal, so dignified! If you would only spare a glance in my unworthy direction, you would make me happy beyond all imagination!”

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“Never! Accept your lowly station and find happiness with one of the countless peasants in my kingdom!”

A bitterly cold breeze ruffles Romeo’s glossy coat, but Scarlett’s adamant refusals do little to sway him. Instead, he adopts a more forceful approach…

“If my words have no power to move you, then perhaps my song will!”

Romeo’s singing is infamous, a string of squeaks and squeals that bursts our eardrums and leaves us momentarily incapacitated. Lucy and I freeze mid-wince, but Max suddenly springs to his feet and races towards the fence with a strange glow in his eyes.

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“He looks kind of…angry…” I say, struggling to be heard over Romeo’s strained serenade.

“Of course he’s angry. Haven’t you noticed?”

I tilt my head to the side. “I mean, none of us enjoy Romeo’s singing, but it’s nothing to get that mad over…”

Lucy shakes her head. “Maybe it’s not as obvious as I thought.”

A strong sense of apprehension stirs in my stomach.

“What isn’t?”

She closes her eyes as Romeo shrieks another note, but I hear her words loud and clear.

“Max likes Scarlett!”

…to be continued…