The chapter that follows is an excerpt from Book II: The Storm. By now, Roy and Tracy's relationship, though still rather new, has progressed. They are joined by their best friends, Sarah and Lucy.
Lucy stepped through the screen door of the Williams house and onto the porch. Her father was busy pruning the rose bushes on either side of the stairs which led down to the sidewalk. “Those are looking beautiful, Daddy,” she declared.
The elder German Shepherd looked up at his daughter with a smile, “You are looking beautiful, Pumpkin.”
“Aww, thank you, Daddy.” Lucy descended the three steps and spun around, putting on a little show for her father. She was wearing a pale green dress, and the sunlight itself seemed to sparkle on the black of her fur. “It’s the dress you bought me last week.”
“I recognized it,” said Dusty. He wiped a tear from under his eye and sniffled.
“Daddy?” said Lucy with concern.
“I’m okay. It’s just that you remind me so much of your mother right at this moment. She’d be so proud to see our little girl all grown up. I know that I am.”
The young female leaned over and kissed her father’s cheek. They were interrupted by the sound of a car crunching its way into the gravel driveway.
“Oh, look,” Dusty leaned back and cleared his throat. “Tracy and his roommate are here.”
“Daddy, are you embarrassed that they saw me kissing you just now?”
“Not one bit,” lied Dusty. He coughed and wiped his cheek with the back of his paw. “Now, introduce me to your friends.”
A young coyote, Lucy’s age, was already out of the car and walking toward Lucy and her dad. Behind him, a middle aged bear emerged from the driver’s seat and a portly female lynx clambered out of the passenger side.
“Hello, Mr. Williams,” said Tracy as he nodded to his boss. “Hi, Lucy.”
“Daddy, this is Roy,” said Lucy as the bear stepped up to join them. The older males clasped hands. Lucy turned to the lynx, “And you must be Sarah.”
“It’s good to finally meet you, Honey,” said the feline as she wrapped Lucy in a friendly embrace, “and you too, Mr. Williams.”
“Please call me Dusty,” said the male German Shepherd.
“Dusty, then. Are you sure you won’t join us?” Sarah asked. “There’s plenty of room in the car and we’d love to have you.”
“No. No thank you,” Dusty said, “I’d just feel like a fifth wheel and besides, my roses are a little overdue for some attention. You youngsters go have fun.”
“Youngsters!” laughed the lynx. “Lucy, where did you ever find such a wonderful father? I love this male!” Sarah gave the elder canine an enthusiastic hug.
“It was easy,” answered Lucy, “I just opened my eyes and there he was.”
“What a terrific car you have there, Roy,” said Dusty. “Edsels are getting hard to find. When did they stop making them? 1959?”
“1960, I think,” said the bear. “This is a ’58. I bought it brand new.”
“What do you do to keep her running?” asked the elder G-Shep.
“Nothing special, really. I pretty much just change the oil and the filters regularly.”
Lucy knew that her dad could tie Roy up for hours talking about cars. She slipped her paw around Tracy’s arm and gave him a tug in the direction of the Edsel. “Come on, ‘Yote. Bye, Daddy, I’ll be back home soon.”
“Bye-bye, Pumpkin,” said Dusty, “It’s been nice meeting you Sarah, Roy.”
Lucy’s dad watched and smiled as the young coyote held the car door for his daughter before scampering around to climb in on the other side. Roy did the same for his lynx friend. All four waved at him as the Edsel backed out of the driveway. Dusty returned the wave and called after them, “Have fun!” before turning his attention back to his roses.
“So who’s hungry for a little Italian?” asked Roy.
“From what I hear, Tracy’s always hungry for a little Italian,” Lucy laughed and patted the coyote’s thigh. Roy coughed and sputtered. “Oh, my gosh!” apologized Lucy, “I’m so sorry! I thought Sarah knew…”
“Don’t you worry, Honey,” said the lynx, “I’ve known about Willie here since before you were born. It doesn’t take much to get him all flustered, though. Am I right, Tracy?”
“I guess,” said Tracy, “we haven’t known each other all that long, you know.”
Lucy giggled. Tracy looked at her quizzically. “What?” he asked.
“Just look at us,” said Lucy, “youngsters in the back seat, elders in the front. We must look like a family from a television sitcom.”
“You know, you’re right, Honey,” agreed Sarah. “Mixed species parents and adopted kids. We’d be pretty controversial in some parts of the country.”
“What would they name our show?” asked Lucy.
“Bearly Lynxes,” suggested Roy. Everyone else in the car groaned. “What’s wrong with that?”
“At least he didn’t say Roy Knows Best,” said Tracy.
“That was my next suggestion,” said Roy.
“It should be something simple, like Family,” said Lucy. There was a murmur of general agreement from the others.
“Still not catchy enough,” objected Roy.
“What abut All in the Family?” asked Sarah. The expressions of assent were even louder this time, except for Roy.
“That’ll never work,” the bear asserted.
Lucy tapped Tracy’s footpaw with her own to get her coworker’s attention. “So, tell me, ‘Yote. Why are you sitting back here with me instead of up front with your sweetie?” she asked.
“We actually gave that some thought when we picked Sarah up,” said Tracy. “We figured that since your dad thinks you and I are dating, this made the most sense. I don’t mind riding in the back for once.”
“Don’t believe that last part for one minute,” said Roy, “Tracy would much rather be driving.”
“I admit it,” said Tracy, “but the Villager is more comfortable for four and besides, I didn’t want it to look as if I was Roy and Sarah’s chauffeur on the way over to your house.”
Lucy laughed again, “But you’d look so cute in one of those little chauffeur’s caps.”
“And white gloves!” chimed in Sarah. “Honey, I just love your sense of humor. We’re going to have some fun with these boys tonight, aren’t we?”
“Uh-oh,” said Tracy.
“We might be in deep trouble,” Roy said with a glance in the rear view mirror at his coyote.
Luchessi’s was a slightly upscale Italian restaurant. Roy had eaten here before and, although it couldn’t match his mother’s cooking, the food here was still very good. For that reason, Roy suggested it when Tracy proposed this double date. He also knew that the prices were within his young partner’s budget.
The foursome was shown to their booth by a young and pretty doe. Roy slid in first and Sarah took her place across the table from the bear.
Tracy scratched his head. “Ummm, wouldn’t you rather sit here?” he asked the lynx, gesturing at the spot beside Roy.
“Just sit next to your boyfriend,” commanded Lucy as she moved to sit beside the other female. “Daddy’s not here.”
“Ummm, okay.” With a look of disappointment, the coyote slipped into the remaining seat.
“What’s wrong, Tracy?” asked Sarah.
“It’s just that Roy and I always sit across from each other.”
“Well, today this is the girls’ side of the table,” said Sarah.
“Yeah, no boys allowed,” agreed Lucy. The two females looked at each other and exchanged toothy grins.
Tracy turned to Roy for support. “Don’t look at me,” said Roy who took refuge in his menu. “Introducing these two was entirely your idea.”
Their food arrived quickly and, as Roy had promised, it was all delicious. Throughout the meal, the conversation was dominated by the two females.
Lucy was talking and giggling, “…and you should have seen his face when he thought I was leaning over to kiss him.”
Sarah squealed with laughter. Roy looked over at his young companion. “You never told me this part,” he said.
Tracy’s ears drooped, not for the first time that evening. “I guess I forgot,” the coyote fibbed.
“So, Roy,” said Lucy, “there’s something I’ve got to ask you.”
Tracy’s ears pricked back up. “Looks like it’s your turn to face the firing squad,” he said with amusement as he touched paws with Roy.
“Oh, sure,” said the bear, looking over at Lucy. “What is it?”
“Well,” said the German Shepherd, “isn’t it kind of weird for you to be having dinner with your ex-girlfriend and current boyfriend?”
Roy used his free hand to raise his water glass to his muzzle while he considered the best way to respond. “Not really,” he explained. “Sarah and I go back a long way.” He looked across the table and met Sarah’s cool blue eyes. “We have always been good friends first and foremost.”
Sarah looked back at the bear and noticed that his paw, along with Tracy’s, had disappeared below the table. She smiled and stretched out a leg. “That’s right,” she said, “friends first, lovers second.”
As Sarah spoke the word ‘lovers’, Roy felt the touch of a footpaw on the inside of his thigh. His eyes went wide and he quickly took another drink of water. He cleared his throat and continued, “Besides, Sarah has met pretty much all of the guys I ever dated.”
Sarah gave her toes an extra wiggle and smiled at Roy. “Yeah, but only when you bring them to Marty’s while I’m waiting tables. This is the first time you’ve ever invited me to dinner with one.”
The tablecloth hid Sarah’s foot from view and Tracy assumed that his partner’s embarrassment was entirely due to the turn in the conversation. He grinned in amusement and squeezed Roy’s paw. “How many?”
Roy squeezed back on Tracy’s hand, then practically jumped out of his skin as Sarah’s toes bumped up against his bearhood. He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks and ears. Badly distracted by the impromptu massage to his crotch, Roy asked Tracy, “How many what?”
“How many guys?”
“Maybe five or six,” Sarah interjected.
“That’s spread over about twenty years,” Roy said in his own defense.
“How many females?” asked Lucy.
“After I met Sarah, she was the only one for me.” Roy sighed with relief as he felt the lynx’s toes withdraw from between his thighs.
“You’re sweet, Willie,” said Sarah, “and you are damned lucky, Tracy. This old bear is the best male I know.”
Tracy looked at his partner seated beside him and squeezed Roy’s paw once again. “I know,” he said with conviction. “I’m the luckiest coyote in the world.”
The rest of the meal proceeded without further major embarrassment to the two males. Over dessert, the boys were once again asked to tell the story of how they met. To Roy and Tracy’s relief, the ladies seemed content not to ask for any of the more intimate details.
At last, they were back in the driveway of the Williams house. It was dusk and Lucy could see the silhouette of her father through the front door as he waited to greet his little girl.
“Thank you so much for inviting me, Roy,” said the young female. “Sarah, it was so much fun meeting you.”
“Same here, Honey,” said the feline. “We should do it again sometime without these boys.”
Lucy’s face lit up. “Oooh, I’d like that,” she said, “then we can talk about them and compare notes.”
Roy clapped a paw over his face. “Dog! We are in so much trouble,” he groaned.
“Thank you too, Tracy,” said Lucy. She kissed the tip of her forefinger then touched it to Tracy’s nose. “How’s that?” she asked.
“I can handle that,” said the young coyote. Tracy returned the gesture, booping Lucy’s nose with a smile. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”
“Sure thing,” said Lucy as she climbed from the car, “good night, ‘Yote.” She watched as Roy shifted the station wagon into reverse and backed out of the driveway. She waved one more time as the car pulled away. Then, the young German Shepherd skipped her way up the steps, into the house, and into Dusty’s fatherly embrace.