With a flying leap, Misty landed in Taylor's lap. Her little tongue hung out, furiously panting and shivering.
Taylor held her tightly. "It's okay. It's okay." She repeated the words trying to soothe her poor little dog.
In reality, she was trying to calm her own concerns, without much success. A gust of wind whistled around the corner of the camp. Taylor stroked Misty. When she heard the crackle of breaking glass, her stomach dropped.
Clearly it was more than a rain storm. It felt more like a tropical storm.
Holding Misty on one arm, Taylor tucked her dog close and hurried through the camp inspecting each room for damage. Nothing. Hopefully, it was one of the shed windows. Setting Misty down, Taylor hustled to the back door and yanked it open, prepared to check around outside.
Misty dashed out into the wind and rain. Apparently, in her misguided doggy brain, being outside in the pouring rain seemed a better idea than being warm and dry inside.
"No!" Taylor hurtled through the door, heedless of the pouring rain. "Misty. Come."
She caught sight of the panicked dog heading into the underbrush. Heart pounding, adrenaline clogging her blood, Taylor chased after Misty. The wind propelled her forward as she scrambled through the bushes, calling her dog's name. Shouldering aside soaked branches, the wind blew her into the Jennings' yard.
"Taylor? Get in here. What in the world are you doing?"
Looking up, she saw Brad standing in his doorway. She must have been shouting louder than she realized. "It's Misty."
He quirked an eyebrow.
"My little Yorkie. She's escaped. She hates storms."
When Taylor saw his daughter in the doorway, she pushed aside her concern for Misty. "No. Faith should wait inside."
* * *
Brad knew Taylor was upset. Besides the rain drops running down her face, she looked as if she were crying. They had to help her.
He shook his head. "Faith might get scared waiting on her own. Besides she loves dogs." He stepped back into the living room. "Let's help Taylor."
Faith looked up. "Help her how, Papa?"
"Her little dog, Misty, escaped."
"Probably got scared by the storm." He held out her jacket, and she slid in her arms.
"I'm not scared."
"Of course not. You're a big girl."
While he slipped on his jacket, he heard Taylor continue calling. "Misty. Misty."
Outdoors, the rain pelted down, remnants of the off-shore hurricane. "Maybe you'd rather wait inside, sweet pea."
"No, Papa. This is an adventure. And I can help."
Brad grinned, pleased his little girl was so feisty. They caught up with Taylor and walked along the side of his camp. The wind gusted and then it was quiet for a minute.
Faith tugged on his sleeve. "What's that? I hear something."
They stopped and stood quietly. He heard a small whine. Squatting down, he peered under the deck and glimpsed a small tan and black pile of fur cowering in the corner. He beckoned to Taylor.
She crouched beside him. The rain had plastered her long, dark hair against her head, releasing the flowery scent of her shampoo. "Misty."
She called again. "Misty. Come."
He turned to Taylor. "Is there something she likes to eat? People food."
Grey-blue eyes wide, she stared at him. "Cheese." She shivered.
He rested a hand on her shoulder, offering comfort.
"Sweet pea. Can you run inside and grab some cheese? But go quietly across the deck so we don't scare Misty even more."
"Yes, Papa." Faith tiptoed across the deck and opened the sliding door into the living room.
Rain continued to pound on the deck and the wind lashed the trees.
Faith raced back inside, returning with an unopened block of cheese clutched in her hands.
He broke off a bite-sized piece. "Now, I want you to be really brave."
"I am." She squared her shoulders.
"I know. Can you crawl under the deck--like you do sometimes. Taylor and I won't fit. When you're close to Misty, hold out this piece of cheese so she can smell it. Then slowly back out. Say her name softly, tell her to come, so she follows you."
"Okay." "Faith touched Taylor's hand. "I'll save Misty for you."
A slight smile lifted Taylor's worried expression. "That would be awesome."
Brad's heart swelled at his daughter's bravery and thoughtful words. So different from her mother.