"Veronica…I have some bad news."
Veronica glanced up from the papers she'd been sorting and looked at her father, who had just come through the door of the office. She took in the tired, haggard look on his face and took a deep breath.
She was not in the mood for bad news. She figured she'd had more than her share of bad news to last a lifetime.
"Well, I admit I was a little bummed when I heard that Kevin was leaving the Backstreet Boys, but I really don't think it's quite that upsetting," she joked, trying to ease the tension and wipe the tortured look off her father's face.
But instead it remained and he motioned for her to come sit next to him on the couch.
"Okay," she said as she sat next to him. "What is it? You're really starting to scare me."
This time it was Keith who took a deep breath. "Veronica…it's Backup. He got hit by a car."
Veronica's breath caught in her throat. "But…but he's okay, right?" she asked. "I mean…"
Keith shook his head. "I took him into the emergency room and they said there was nothing they could do."
Veronica closed her eyes as they filled with tears and her father pulled her into a hug. She held on tightly, thinking about how Backup had been with them since he was a puppy and she was just a little girl. She couldn't believe that he was gone.
Keith and Veronica held a funeral for Backup a couple days later. They both said a few words, then Veronica placed one of Backup's favorite chew toys on the small headstone they had gotten for him.
Keith put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her into a hug. "I'm going into the office for a while to catch up on some work. I'd give you a ride home, but…," he trailed off as he nodded over to the street. "…I'm sure you can find a suitable alternative. Though I'm not sure if I'd call that yellow monstrosity suitable."
She smiled as she followed his gaze and saw Logan's car parked on the side of the road.
"You'll be alright?" her father asked her.
She nodded. "Sure. Have fun catching the bad guys."
She watched him walk off towards his car, then she headed over to Logan's.
"You could have joined us for the ceremony, you know," she said to him as he pulled her into his arms and placed a soft kiss on the top of her head.
"I think I've been to enough funerals to last me awhile," he said. "You've been to one, you've been to them all. Plus, you know, your dad was here and…," his voice trailed off.
She laughed and looked up at him. "My dad's…okay with us now. And it's a funeral. It's not like he was going to pin you up against the wall and throw you out."
He took her hand. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah." She glanced once more back at Backup's headstone and after saying one last silent goodbye to him, she added, "Yeah, I'm ready to go."
Later that week, Veronica heard a knock at her apartment door. She'd been lying on the couch in the living room watching one bad soap opera after another. She got up and went to the door, wondering who it could be. Her father was at work, Wallace was at basketball camp, and Logan had been mysteriously busy the last couple of days.
She opened the door and was surprised to see Logan standing there, holding a small puppy.
"What's this?" she asked, as he came inside.
"Veronica, I thought you were smart. This is called a puppy."
"Ha ha," she replied. "I mean, what's he doing here?" She looked down at the little brown furball that had jumped out of Logan's arms and was now scurrying around her apartment.
"I just thought he might help cheer you up. I know nothing will replace Backup, but this little guy might grow on you."
"I doubt it," she replied, watching the puppy frisk around. All she could think about was how excited Backup used to get when he was about to be taken out. "I wouldn't even know how to love another dog besides Backup."
Just then the puppy bumped into the coffee table and knocked off the coffee mug that had been sitting on it. They watched as the mug shattered into pieces as it fell to the floor.
Veronica went over and picked up one of the pieces. The mug had been her father's favorite. She had made it for him back in third grade and it was painted in an assortment of colors. "I my daddy" was scrawled on one side in her childish handwriting.
"Great," she said. "My dog dies and then this impostor comes in and breaks Dad's favorite mug. You're not winning any points here, buddy," she added, glancing over at the puppy, which Logan had picked up to keep away from the shards of the mug.
"Here, I'll get it up," Logan said, as he passed the puppy over to her. "I'll let you two bond."
Veronica rolled her eyes at him as the puppy squirmed in her arms. "Be careful," she said. "Some of those pieces are really…"
"Ow!" he cried as he cut his finger on a piece of the mug. He held it up and Veronica saw a thin line of bright red blood drip down it.
"I told you to be careful," she said to him. "There's band-aids in the bathroom cabinet."
While he was gone, she carefully picked up the rest of the pieces, which was difficult with the puppy still bouncing around in her arms.
"Sorry, little fella," she said to him. "But I don't want you to get cut, too."
Logan came back from the bathroom and held up his finger, this time covered in a colorful band-aid. "Scooby Doo?" he questioned.
"Hey, don't judge me by my Scooby Doo band-aids," she replied as she put the puppy back down.
"Hmm, it still hurts quite a bit," he said as he came closer to her. "I think a kiss might make it all better."
She smiled up at him, then placed a soft kissed on his bandaged finger. "Happy now?"
"Nope." He leaned down and placed his mouth on hers. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he deepened the kiss and spun them in a circle.
"I've got something else that's starting to throb now," he murmured as he placed light kisses down the smooth column of her neck. "You think you can kiss that and make it better, too?"
"Nice try," she said, pulling away and grinning up at him. "Plus I think your buddy here has other plans." She looked down at the puppy, which was now wounding himself excitedly around their legs.
"We should probably take him out for a walk before he ruins anymore of the precious Mars china," she went on. "We can think of a name for him, too."
"So does that mean you're going to keep him?" Logan asked as he pulled a leash out of his pocket and leaned down to fasten it around the frisky puppy's neck.
"Well, I'll have to see what my dad says, but I know he'll go along with whatever I want." She looked down at the puppy, who was frantically licking Logan's face as he fastened on the leash.
She smiled. "Yeah. I think I'll keep him."