The Encounter

Allison settled into her new life in Mill Creek in spite of some initial resistance from several of Doc Witherspoon’s older clients. He was the town’s only veterinarian for many years and some had a hard time accepting his retirement.

She realized it was hard for some people to accept change. Allison would never be able to take Doc’s place, but she also wanted to build trust and loyalty within the community. Therefore, she devoted almost all her time to organizing the clinic and making personal visits to clients.

With all the hard work, she had little time for a social life. She liked to cook and entertain friends in her home. These days, she ate the majority of her meals at the Blue Canyon Kitchen. She and the owner Sally were on a first name basis.

On a Friday evening in early February, Allison walked into the café for another dinner alone. She’d had an exhausting day. Nothing to do but go home and watch videos. It was likely to be another lonely weekend.

“Hey Allison,” Sally said. “What brings you in here on a Friday night? I would think a young, pretty girl like you would have men trying to break down your door.”

“Too busy to socialize. I’ll get around to it one day.”

“Don’t wait too long,” Sally said. “Tonight’s special is meatloaf with two sides and warm apple pie for dessert.”

“Sounds good. I’ll have mashed potatoes and green beans.”

“I’ll have it out right away.” Sally left the table.

Allison looked up as the man Sally called Jonah walk through the door. Molly had called him “Eye Candy.” Allison couldn’t argue with that. He always acted polite, but only spoke to her in passing. Allison admitted she wouldn’t mind getting to know him.

Tonight he stopped at her table.

“Good evening,” he said. “We haven’t really met. I’m Jonah Reeves.”

“Allison Schultz. I’m the—”

“New vet in town. Hope you’re getting adjusted to living in Mill Creek.”

“I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to meet a lot of people. Hope to settle down soon, however.”

“I hate to disturb your dinner, but one of my mares is about to foal—probably within the next 24 hours. She’s had difficulty with previous births. Wondered if you would come out to assist when the time comes.”

“Yes, of course. Do you need me now?”

“No, I think we still have a few hours.”

Allison handed him one of her business cards. “The answering service picks up calls to the clinic, but I’ve written my cell phone number on the back. If she starts into labor, call me—especially at the least hint of trouble. I’ll come right away.”

“Appreciate it.” Jonah handed her a piece of paper with directions to his ranch. “I’ll be going now.” He tipped his hat, then turned and walked out the door.

Allison watched as he left. If it hadn’t been for his concern over the mare, she would have asked him to join her for dinner. He often ate here alone. It was probably just as well. For all she knew he had a wife at home.

Nancy returned with Allison’s food. “Wasn’t that Jonah Reeves?”


“Wonder why he didn’t stay?”

“He has a mare about to foal and asked if I would be available if she gets into trouble.”

“Must be his wife’s horse.”

Allison felt a twang of disappointment upon hearing he had a wife.

“I see.”

Sally shook her head. “He finally seems to be coming around. He had a hard time dealing with his wife’s death.”

“Oh?” Allison’s curiosity piqued.

“Cancer. Happened about a year ago. There was a time when many of us wondered if he’d ever get over it.”

“That is sad.” Allison knew too well the grief at losing someone close to you. The pain of losing her mother was still fresh.

Sally sat the plate of food on the table. “Enjoy your dinner. I have some fresh rolls coming out of the oven in a couple of minutes.”

It was a good thing Allison had done her share of physical labor today. If she kept eating Sally’s home style cooking, she’d have to buy all new clothes.

She ate her meal in silence and then drove home to her small cottage on the outskirts of town. The night air was crisp and cold. Overhead the night sky was velvet black and the stars glistened like diamonds. Forecasters called for snow the following day.

When she pulled into her driveway, a large black German Shepherd dog stood near the garage.. He wagged his tail and walked toward her as she got out of the truck. He had a collar, but no tags and appeared to be healthy.

“Well hello there,” she said.

The dog lifted his paw.

“Aren’t you something?”

“Woof, woof!”

“Who you belong to?”

She couldn’t allow the dog to stay outside in the cold. “Come on in the house let’s see if we can’t find you something to eat.”

An hour later, the dog lay sleeping beside the hearth, happy and content. “Okay big guy. You can stay here tonight, but tomorrow I’ll ask around and see who you belong to.”

The phone rang at seven the following morning.

“Dr. Schultz? This is Jonah Reeves. It’s time.”

“I’m on my way.” Allison climbed out of bed and dressed quickly. The big dog was still lying beside the hearth and he rose to greet her when she walked into the living room.

“Come along, big guy. You probably need to go outside. Now that it’s daylight, maybe you’ll want to go home.”

She opened the back door and the dog bounded outside. Allison gathered her keys and walked out the front door toward her truck. Much to her surprise, the dog ran around the corner of the house and hopped in the truck when she opened the door.

“Come on. You can’t go.”

The dog hung his head and whined.

“This is no time to argue. Out.”

The dog refused to move. Instead, he lay down in the passenger seat.

“Okay. But if you don’t obey when we get to Jonah’s, you’ll have to stay inside the truck”

Two hours later, Jonah was the proud owner of a new colt. Both mother and baby were doing well. The birth went smoother than expected.

“Sorry for intruding on your Saturday morning. Guess it wasn’t necessary for you to come after all.”

“It wasn’t an intrusion. This is my job. Since she had difficulty before, you couldn’t be sure. Better to be safe.”

They walked from the barn together. The German Shepherd had stayed near the barn door during the entire time.

“Fine specimen of a dog.”

“He’s not mine. Showed up at my place last night. I brought him inside because of the cold weather. When I got ready to leave, he hopped in the truck. He doesn’t have tags, but I’ll take him to the clinic to see if he’s microchipped.”

The dog wagged his tail and licked Allison on the hand.’

“He sure likes you.”

“Yeah.” Allison’s stomach growled.

“Hungry?” Jonah smiled.

“A little.”

“Why don’t you come inside? My housekeeper makes the best breakfast around. Better than Sally, but don’t tell her I said that.”

“Thanks. I’ll take you up on the offer.”

Maybe it wouldn’t be a lonely weekend after all.

This is the second installment of a new Friday Fiction series. To read the first story , The Arrival, click this link.

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