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Now Jacob wasn’t one of those animal rights nutjobs, and he’d never really liked dogs, or any kind of pet, for that matter—always had to scrub his hands clean after petting one, and even then he’d go to bed sure that fleas and ticks were crawling all over him, setting up camp in the graying curly hairs of his underarms or groin.
But he was softer in his middle age than he’d once been—less casual about life since Nora’s passing—and he wouldn’t stand back while the poor animal was tortured, made crazy by one of his son’s misguided whims. He started feeding her when he noticed Tommy was forgetting to, scratching her belly when Tommy was gone and she seemed slow and disconsolate, and at some point—maybe the day he got home from work and she met him at the front porch, bouncing on her hind legs, eyes buggy and worshipful—he realized he loved her, he was grateful to have her.
So Jacob had come to know Perry, respected him, and even drank a beer or two with him some nights at the American Legion. ” “She’s going to be all right,” Perry said, and if Jacob had been the crying type, he might have started right then. She called me, but the dog was gone by the time I got out there.” “What should I do? “I’m supposed to get the dog warden out to your place, have her put down. And the family could press charges against you.” “Shit,” Jacob said. “They’re good folks, though, and the little girl’s gonna be all right, like I said. Tommy was gone, of course; he worked fifteen to twenty hours a week for a construction company down in Springfield, Tennessee, spent the rest of his time either messing around with that girl he was seeing—Leela, who was twenty-six and had three kids already and a loose fold of stretch-marked skin that hung over the top of her low-slung jeans, but at least had her tubes tied—or getting wasted with his work buddies, pot or beer, whatever they could get cheaper that day.
Two womanless men: Jacob, a widower, and Perry, just plain unlucky. He knew the girl by sight: she was a frail, wild little thing, ranging the neighborhood in her bare feet when the weather was warm enough, so filthy that she wore a ring of dirt round her neck like a piece of jewelry. He knew the dog, too: when they played, and Jacob teased her with a thick hank of rope with a knot tied at the end of it, she just about ripped his arm out of the socket trying to yank it free. You give them some money for their bills and a little bit extra, they’ll let it go. Pen her up, send her to your cousin’s in Timbuktu, whatever. Jacob was lucky to get a meal in with the kid once a week, and even then he often had to tempt him with something nice, like dinner out at Ponderosa.
Though he never said so to Tommy, he felt a bittersweet certainty that Nora would have loved her, too—good as she’d always been with rough beasts, himself at one time no exception.
It was easy, on nights when Tommy slept away and the house felt as open and empty as a tobacco warehouse in January, to imagine the dog as his last connection to Nora, to anything good like Nora. The police chief in Roma, Kentucky, was Perry Whitebridge.
Elina: Loves to be the center of attention, and gorgeous enough that she always is.36. Willow: Seems shy at first, but is gorgeous, powerful and in charge.178.
Chanel: Cute and perky, but has the mental capacity of a designer handbag.24. Nobody knows much about her, but everyone wants to.25.
All names have a meaning, of course, but sometimes it’s less about what a name literally means and more about the impression that a name gives to people when they hear it. Alexa: Flirty and mischievous, a lot of fun to be around.6. Bambi: Extremely sexy but a little on the ditsy side.10. Can seem a bit stuck up, but lots of fun when you get to know her better.11. Blake: Always likes to play by the rules, but an animal when she lets her hair down.13. She is extremely pretty but isn’t pretentious and loves to have fun.14.
These 200 names are the kind of names that belong to hot girls. Amelia: A bit shy and passive, but ethereally beautiful.7.
Harriet: Seems very reserved, but wild in the sack.62. India: Likes people to think she’s well-traveled, but has never left the country.70. Jade: Shines just a bit brighter than everyone around her.74. Laila: Always tries to do the right thing, but often fails.88. Laurie: Believes in true love and fairy tale endings.90. Malory: Nobody’s quite sure whether she’s nice or two-faced, but she’s definitely hot.100. Samantha: A real damsel in distress, with guys lining up around the block to rescue her.143. Scarlett: Unbelievably beautiful, but it really doesn’t matter to her.146. Always looking for the next party or fun thing to do.150. Star: A dreamer, but always manages to get what she dreams of.153. Tabitha: Could have any guy, but is saving herself for The One.155. Tia: Tries to be good, but always ends up in trouble, somehow.162. Trixy: Pretty and well-intentioned, but not the smartest person out there.165.
Imogen: Models lingerie and tries to go to bed with rockstars.69. Like, totally talks like a valley girl, but has never been to California.87. Lenore: Adored by guys everywhere, who love to write her poetry.92. Maddie: Usually sensible, but easily lead astray by a hot boy.99. Makes a lot of effort with her appearance, but doesn’t really need to.145. Taylor: Pretty but can be silly and superficial.159. Tessa: Likes to be different and never conforms.161. Trinity: Fun and attractive, but can be indecisive.164.He’d been a year behind Jacob in high school, a soft-spoken kid with duct tape holding his boots together, which wasn’t so uncommon in the county back then, when Jacob himself sometimes snacked on wild onions from the side of the road to keep his stomach from rumbling. And you won’t regret it.” Perry smiled, the lines in the corners of his eyes folded like a stack of clean towels.