Happy Things
Puppies named Waffles

Six weeks later. . .

“That right there is the sweet spot,” Owen said. “Hit that every time and she’ll purr like a kitten.”

Heart racing, palms sweating, Abi pushed down on the clutch and shifted into second gear. Today was her third driving lesson and she’d finally moved up from first gear. And she hadn’t cried once.

The truck pushed forward at a steady eleven miles per hour as she did her first circle of the parking lot. She rounded the pylons Owen had set up, slowly weaving in and out of them like some kind of geriatric NASCAR driver.

“What do I do when I get to the end?” she asked, panicked. She’d never made it to the end. Yesterday’s record was a whopping three pylons before killing the engine. Then she’d accidentally flooded the engine, cutting their lesson short.

“Just slide into that spot right there.” Owen pointed to a parking slot that butted up to the back wall of Stout.

“What if I hit the wrong pedal and drive through the bar?”

Owen slid his hand on her thigh, giving it a supportive squeeze. “Then we redecorate. But it won’t come to that since you’re going to nail this.”

“Why does everything you say sound like an innuendo.”

“On average, men think about sex once every hour and a half. Around you, my average is much higher.”

She snorted and downshifted without instruction, then smoothly pulled into the spot and sputtered to a stop. “I did it!”

She slid across the bench and gave Owen a big smack to the lips. And then because she was already there she crawled onto his lap and gave him a long, slow kiss that had them both breathing hard.

“You did it,” he said against her lips, delivering one last panty-melting kiss.

She pulled back. “You’re thinking about doing it again, aren’t you?”

His fingers dug into her hips as he held her tightly to him. “Like I said, my batting average is impressive around you. But before we go there, I want to show you something. Close your eyes and don’t peek.”

“Now that you said not to peek, all I want to do is peek.”

“And ruin the surprise?” He set her gently back in the driver’s seat, then took both her hands and rested them over her eyes. “Don’t move.”

She felt his lips brush hers, then he was gone. The door opened and she felt the warm summer breeze fill the car. She strained her ears, trying to hear what was happening but there was complete silence.

“Is this some kind of hazing?” she called out.


So she opened one eye and found Owen sitting next to her with a big grin. “Cheater.”

She shrugged, uncaring that she got caught. Then she saw a big box with a giant red bow on top. He placed it on her lap.

“What’s this?”

“Happy things.”

She looked up at the man she loved and her heart skipped a beat. “But I already have my happy thing. You.”

“This might top me.”

“Nothing could ever top you,” she assured him. Then the box moved and a little grrr came from inside. “Oh my goodness.” She took off the lid and staring up at her was a golden retriever puppy with the biggest brown eyes and a little wet nose.


“This totally tops you,” she whispered, lifting the puppy into her arms. His tail wagged so hard it moved his entire backside. With a bark, he licked her face making her laugh. That’s when something shiny caught her eye.

Around his neck was a blue collar with a gold tag dangling from it. Abi read the inscription. “You named our puppy Waffles?”

“Only the second-best food on the planet, besides blueberry cake doughnuts,” he said. “There’s more. Look closer.”

Abi did and her mouth fell open. Attached to the collar was a stunning diamond ring. “Is this what I think it is?”

“If you think it’s me asking my little spoon to be my wife, then yes.”

“I didn’t realize that that particular job opening was going to happen so fast.” Nerves coursed through her body as she said, “I’m an as-is kind of girl.”

“I love every bit of your as-is.”

She slid the ring on her finger, held it out, and gave a little wiggle. “It’s perfect.”

He chuckled. “Is that a yes?”

“Yes! That’s an absolutely, positively yes!” The moment she said those words a feeling of rightness came over her. She’d waited her entire life to be chosen for exactly who she was and looking into the eyes of her perfect man, she decided it was worth the wait.

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