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Start with part 1.

His owner was a burly, mustached sort of man. The talk around the break room table was that he went to competitions on the weekends for which his mustache won third place once. Vera listened with rapt attention to every scrap of gossip about Ray’s owner, Niles, but she kept her distance from him. Somehow, she thought that if she faced him he would be able to tell just how much she loved Ray and see her disdain for him as an owner.

Even though Niles brought Ray with him to work almost every day, Vera had heard a rumor that he left him alone almost every weekend, chained to a tree in the yard. A coworker had come by after work once for a couple beers and noticed about three beers later that he hadn’t seen Ray at all. He’d asked Niles where he was, but Niles just shrugged it off and pointed unconcerned out the sliding glass door.

When Ray came in to work, he never looked badly treated. His coat shined, his paws stepped lightly on the old carpet, and always that smile on his face to see her. Yet it seemed to her that a man who tied his dog up outside and left him alone for days in a row couldn’t be treating his dog well. Ray must be bored and sad, Vera thought. No one could stand being left all alone like that.

She told herself that since Ray didn’t seem really abused by Niles, she had no good reason to interfere. Then Ray would come prancing through the office and lay at her feet for ten, twenty, fifty minutes at a time while she worked on spreadsheets and felt all over again that Ray should be hers.

That weekend, she missed him. It was then she decided to do something drastic. She would steal him. And she knew just how to do it. The following Monday, her fingers shook and jittered over the keyboard making mistakes in the numbers so many times that she had to recalculate the math and start from scratch. It doubled her workload, but she did not care. All she could think about was Ray.

On Tuesday, during lunch, she casually sat down next to Niles. The oblong table yawned between them, though she had tried to sit nearer him than she usually would have. In fact she had waited hungrily for him to leave his desk for lunch for over an hour and twenty three minutes. Now awkward with hunger, she wolfed down bites of overdressed Caesar salad and tried not to spill while looking sideways at him.

Continue to part 3.

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