Don't know if you're still taking these but here goes. Three word prompt: POL kids edition.
#312 (Dash Universe)
The loft is too quiet, even with Rex waiting for her at the door.
Kate Castle puts her briefcase on the floor and drops her keys, squats down to rub at Rex’s ears, pet his long body, love on him as he bumps his body into her. Silently, all of it, not even a woof or yip in greeting.
It’s no fun being the one left behind. “Work sucks,” she tells Rex and the dog squirms into her arms and between her legs. “Let me change and I’ll take you out for a run. Some small consolation.”
Rex barks at her then, jumping away and then back, prancing on his paws like a pony.
“You’re as weird as your boy,” she laughs, standing up to step out of her heels. Rex noses into one and sniffs hard enough to make him sneeze. “Oh gross, my shoe. Rex.” She pushes him away her foot. “Get. Go on. These are expensive and you have chew toys nearly as.”
She leans down and picks up her heels just in case, swipes at the inside of the left shoe where Rex’s happy slobber has sprayed. The dog follows her back to the bedroom, and inside the bathroom even, watching her.
“You’re just happy to have one of your people, aren’t you? I know, it’s lonely with everyone gone.”
Rex growls back at her, his happy noise, like a cat purring only it’s the dog’s way of rumbling in his chest with all his joy. She washes her hands and strips off the silk shell, tosses it onto the pile for the dry cleaner’s. She skims off her slacks and folds them a little more carefully, replaces them on the shelf.
She changes into running shorts and sports bra quickly, grabs a tank from the drawer and has to check the tag to be sure it’s not Ellery’s. Back in the bedroom, Rex reappears with his leash - she could’ve sworn she put it back in the laundry room, hanging up - and she laughs and praises him for it anyway.
“Good boy, smart boy.”
Kate reapplies deodorant, smears sunblock on her shoulders and nose, her forehead where that damn vein has reappeared. She needs to eat a little better, put some calories back in her body. Castle will kill her if he comes back to find her haunting the place.
“Okay, minor correction, Rex, sorry. I need a protein bar or something. Didn’t have time for lunch.” She bobs the top of his head as she passes, moving quickly down the hall for the kitchen. “I’ll get you a treat and then we’ll go. Promise.”
She passes the entry and scoops up her phone, texts the group chat home, missing you guys, taking your dog for a run, wild man even as she fishes a protein bar from the pantry.
The first week was wonderful; she won’t lie. Everyone out of the house, out from underfoot, no more fighting or bickering or shrieking, dinner wherever the hell she wants, working late and not having to worry about disappointing anyone.
It got old fast.
Now she misses her baby. She even misses Rick’s dumb face. And his warm body making the bed too hot. And making coffee with Dash. And trying to-
Her phone vibrates, and the alerts come in all at once, one after another, from everyone.
She unlocks her phone, half a protein bar in her mouth and she sees Rick, Ellery, and Dash have all texted her.
Proof of Life
Proof of Life
Proof of Life
There are three photos, selfies, one from each of her family: Castle mugging on a deck chair by the pool with his mirrored shades, which show his phone and Dashiell crowding in close; Dashiell treading water in the pool with the phone raised so high that his goofy narrow face fills the whole screen; and finally, her baby girl, Ella, those too-long legs, the black two-piece, flashing a peace sign with her shades on.
Kate swallows a lump in her throat and lifts her phone, reverses the camera so they can see her face. For a moment, the image projected back at her couldn’t possibly be her.
But it is. She looks tired and thin and unhappy. She remakes her face and lets the proof life shine through instead. The joy of seeing them outside, in the sunlight, having fun.
She squats down with the dog and corrals him around the neck, pressing in close, and she takes the picture even as Rex licks her face. She sends that, and when she finally looks at it, her eyes are squeezed shut, a laugh erupting, Rex’s long tongue against her temple.
She bites her lip, watches the photo go out into the ether.
She clips on the dog’s leash, pats his side, and then her phone vibrates right as she stands.
From Castle, and only Castle, a private chat.
That’s my girl. Come up this weekend. We miss you.