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He had to find her.
Stepping out of the alley, he lifted his head and sniffed the breeze. Her fragrance stroked the back of his mind, sweet and elusive, the scent he'd waited a lifetime for. It beckoned from the other side of the University of Chicago's Midway Plaisance, from near his new home.
His heart started to pound. The breeze could shift. She could disappear into a house or car. He could lose her among the million aromas filling the night.
He leapt across the moonlit street and past the oaks lining the boulevard's parkway. She was close; he could feel it. He could taste her scent on his tongue now, almost hear her voice, almost picture her in his mind.
Galloping across the broad lawn that had once been a waterway, he ran down its moon-streaked slope and across the flat, grassy bottom. Up the other side, toward the second line of trees. The stone towers of the University of Chicago rose above the leafy branches, and their chimes drifted over the campus, ringing the half hour.
A quarter mile, no more, separated them.
The chimes faded. The buildings vanished. There was only her scent, the ground beneath his feet, and the shrinking distance between them. He raced beneath the trees, blind and deaf to his surroundings, until a blow knocked him to the ground.
Pain ripped his shoulder. A dog. He felt his lips draw back from his teeth, felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. He rolled over, trying to free himself. The dog growled and bit deeper. Reaching around to tear the creature away, he felt its teeth scrape bone, its jaws lock. The corner of his mind that could still think realized the dog must be a pit bull. Nothingelse clung so stubbornly.
Rolling to his feet, he threw himself against a tree, hoping to crush the dog between his back and the rough bark. Agony blazed through him; the grip on his shoulder loosened. He slammed into the trunk again and again until his attacker dropped, broken, to the ground.
Ignoring his throbbing shoulder, he rolled the dog to the curb. Let cars be blamed for its injuries.
The scent! He raised his head and desperately searched the night air. She was gone. He chased the breeze that had carried her fragrance, but he couldn't find her.
Disconsolate, he headed home. Grief filled his throat and weighted his steps. In less than an hour, he'd found the love of his life. And lost her.
Copyright © 1999 by Carrie S. Masek