“No. Absolutamente no.”
“No, Val, ¿En qué estabas pensando?"
Things were a little tense at the Valdés-Carvajal apartment. Juliana had returned home after a busy and tedious day of work at the office. She had barely slept last night drawing new designs and confectioning different fabric patterns for the new summer line. That morning she had had up to four meetings with different designers, and things hadn’t gone as well as she had expected. It hadn’t been a complete disaster, but none of the designers were entirely convinced of the idea Juliana was going for.
She had left the office at five, exhausted, but happy to be heading home to Valentina. Once she opened the apartment door, she was hit with smell of lasagna, which happened to be her favorite meal. She let out a tired smile at the thought of Valentina in the kitchen, but it was instantly dropped when she heard the padding of small paws against the wooden floor.
She stood dumbstruck when her eyes met a small beagle puppy staring at her from the end of the hallway, its bottom raised in a playful stance and its tail wagging.
“Amor…?” Juliana called out, not believing her sight.
The dog barked once and charged at her decidedly. Juliana fumbled with her steps, her back hitting the door as the dog jumped at her and clawed at her black suit pants.
“Valentina!” Juliana yelled.
She heard a noise coming from the kitchen. Juliana looked up at Valentina when she rounded the corner of the living room and stared at her with an unreadable expression as the puppy chewed on her designer shoes.
“Hey! ¿Por qué te escapaste? No, no hagas eso!” Valentina scolded the puppy and hurried to pick it up in her arms. She kept an angry face for two seconds before she bowed to kiss the puppy on the head. “Qué perrito tan travieso eres, eh?” she cooed.
“¿Me puedes explicar qué hace un perro en nuestro departamento, Valentina?” Juliana said, serious.
Valentina looked up and blinked a few times. Juliana never called her by her full name unless she was angry or upset.
“Juls… es que yo… Bueno,” she stuttered. “Osea, Remember that I had breakfast with Renata today? ¿Sí? Well, she told me that her brother's dog had had puppies a couple of months ago... and I..."
“No, Val…” Juliana moaned as she brought a hand to her face, trying to ease the stress. “Tell me you didn’t.”
“I had to!” Osea, míralo. ¿Apoco no es lindo?”
“Amor… ya habíamos hablado de esto.”
It’s not that Juliana didn’t like dogs. On the contrary: she loved them. But she knew both of them were busy enough to take care of one, let alone a puppy.
“Yo sé, mi amor, pero porfavor! Sólo míralo,” she half-whined and raised the puppy to Juliana’s face. The puppy stared happily at her, wriggling in Valentina’s grasp to try and lick Juliana’s face. Juliana tried to keep her stern stare, but she felt her resolve breaking.
“Es un tierno, y es muy noble,” Valentina added, trying to convince her.
Juliana sighed. “Princesa… a ver,” she said, taking the puppy from Valentina and placing it on the floor. He instantly darted off barking happily, both Juliana and Valentina following him with their gaze.
“Val, no es que no quiera que tengamos un perro,” Juliana began, taking Valentina’s hands on her own. “Pero…” Juliana stopped. She knew that saying what she was about to say could bring her trouble, so she was trying to think of how to make it sound not so bad.
“But you grew up used to people worrying after you, and cleaning up after you and making sure you didn’t have to lift a finger for it. It worries me that maybe this puppy will need a lot of attention and care, and I know I won’t be able to take care of it or give him the attention he deserves. And I know you mean well, cariño, pero tener un perro requiere mucho tiempo y trabajo.”
Valentina took a step back, her brow furrowed. Juliana chewed on her lip. She never brought up the differences in their upbringing, because neither of them had had a say on it. It was just how things had been, and both were happy about how things had turned out in the end for them. But now?
“Pues more reason to start making myself responsible, right?” Valentina said sourly.
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my own things, Juliana. Of both our things. And if I brought this dog here, it was not because of a hasty decision. I actually gave it a lot of thought.”
Juliana pinched the bridge of her nose. “Amor-”
“El perro se queda,” Valentina said finally.
Something inside Juliana sparked in anger after Valentina’s words. They were supposed to make decisions together, and she felt Valentina was choosing for her. Instead of communicating this to her girlfriend, she let the anger inside her speak for her.
“El perro se va,” she argued back.
Valentina raised an eyebrow and folded her arms, but Juliana didn’t back down. “Lo siento, Val, pero el perro se va.”
Valentina drew closer, her eyes growing dark. “Se queda.”
“Se queda, Juliana!”
Their argument was interrupted by a crash coming from the kitchen. Both Valentina and Juliana gave each other a final glance before bolting to it and stood at the entry: Oblivious to both, the puppy had managed to pull the lasagna dish to the floor, which resulted in the pantries, cabinets, drawers and the oven now splattered with salsa, meat and pasta.
“I’ll grab him; he could injure himself with the glass pieces,” Juliana said worriedly.
“I’ll go get a mop and some wet cloths to clean the mess,” Valentina replied.
Each ran off and set on completing their task. After seizing the little creature, Juliana decided to give it a bath. It was an arduous endeavor, considering the puppy had played in the tub and had practically drenched Juliana in the process, all this meanwhile Valentina busied herself cleaning the kitchen, which had also been exhausting.
Juliana dried the dog off and headed to the kitchen. She found Valentina sitting on the floor, resting against the wooden drawers under the sink. She joined her, placing the beagle on her lap.
“Well that was… something,” Juliana broke the silence.
“Ajá,” Valentina replied, tired.
Juliana faced her. “Perdón, princesa.”
Valentina furrowed her brow. “Por qué pides perdón?”
“Porque no fue mi intención que pensaras que te estaba reclamando, or make you feel like you're not capable of taking care of a dog. It's just that…”
“Amor, sólo quiero que me des la oportunidad,” Valentina said softly. “I know there are a lot of things I have to work on, pero ¿cómo voy a hacerlo si no comienzo ahora?”
Juliana stared into a blank space, deep in thought and her fingers fiddling with the playful puppy.
“Yo también quiero pedirte perdón, Juls. No debí responderte de esa manera. It's not like us to communicate like that,” she said softly.
“No, it's not,” Juliana agreed.
They both sighed, not knowing which decision they should make. Valentina turned to look at Juliana after a little while and bit back a smile.
“Qué?” Juliana asked curious.
“Nada,” Valentina said, facing away from her with full grin on her face.
“Dime, Val,” Juliana insisted.
“Estaba pensando en lo sexy que te ves cuando estás enojada.”
Juliana let that sink in for a few moments before letting out a small chuckle.
“Well, you don’t know how hard it is to stay mad at you. More so if you look at me the way you do when your mind is set on something,” Juliana whispered back. She threaded the fingers of her right hand with Valentina’s and played with them for a little while.
A small whine brought their attention to Juliana’s lap. The puppy looked up at them with wide eyes, his little nose sniffling the air.
“Debe tener hambre,” Valentina said.
Both stared at each other and Juliana groaned after a while.
“Está bien. Pero tú lo vas a alimentar, lo vas a limpiar, lo vas a sacar a pasear-”
Juliana’s rant was broken off by Valentina tackling her to the ground, careful of not squishing the puppy.
“Es en serio? De verdad nos lo podemos quedar, mi vida?” she asked excitedly.
“Bajo esas condiciones, sí.”
Valentina squealed and started peppering Juliana’s face with kisses.
“Te amo, te amo, hermosa, te amooo,” she said between kisses as she cried happily. Juliana rolled her eyes and smiled at her baby. How could she ever deny her anything?
“Te prometo que yo lo voy a cuidar y limpiar, y, y todo,” Valentina said with a nod.
Juliana hummed happily and brought Valentina down to her by the neck. She nibbled her bottom lip gently before kissing her fully. After a few kisses, they started fully making out on the floor, Juliana caressing Valentina’s sides while Valentina let out little moans in the process.
Another bark made them break the kiss and stare at the puppy, who looked at them with its head tilted sideways.
“Se puede quedar, Val. But if he ever interrupts us again, neta se va.”