Now here I stand with roots that deep. We laugh, we cry.
We hurt we, bleed. We're best of friends and worst enemies.
We're all to blame; we're all the same, make no
apologies, this is my family.
LeAnn Rimes "Family"




"Miss Allegra!" Our house maid, Hattie, was standing at the base of the grand staircase in our mansion scowling at me with her hands on her hips, and tapping her foot impatiently. "Why on Earth did you bring that filthy mutt in here? Especially after I spent the entire afternoon mopping this floor, only to have this...this... mongrel dirty it." I opened my mouth to explain, but she cut me off, "And look, you're clothes got all dirty from carrying the dog. Oh just wait until I tell your mother about this. And Charles, I cannot believe you! I would have expected you to at least protest this idea, but there you are just standing there, as if there's nothing wrong. Oh. Children."

Charles remained silent for a moment, as if pondering whether or not to use sarcasm, but apparently decided otherwise. "Well Hattie, this poor bloodhound was just freezing to death in the middle of the sidewalk when Allegra and I walked out of Duchesne. When Allegra approached it, the dog ran right up to her and jumped into her arms. And I just assumed that since mother allowed me to keep Duke after he just showed up one day, it was only fair that Allegra could do the same." Hattie was about to protest, but Charles didn't stop to give her the chance. "Plus, it would be unfair of Mother to have let me keep a pet, and deny Allegra one...I'm just stating a fact." He finished.

Hattie was shaking her head and Charles winked at me, before she could see. I stifled a giggle.

Hattie then threw her arms up in exasperation, "Fine," She said in her barely noticeable Polish accent, which usually showed through when she was frustrated, "do what you want. But don't expect me to clean up after two dogs." And with that she promptly stomped out of the hall and into the kitchen.

I turned to Charles, "Thank you." I said.

He gave me a gracious smile and answered, "Anything for my little sister." Then he headed down the hall towards the library.

I decided to take the bloodhound-she was beautiful, her fur was an unnatural almost platinum blonde, and if I didn't know any better, I'd have said it was the same color as...well mine- to my room so I could get her settled in. But before I went upstairs I made up a list of things the dog would need, asked Julius if he could go to the store and get everything. After that I dug around my closet for an old blanket that still had my scent on it, so the dog could get used to me. I laid it down next to the stone fireplace so the dog could get some warmth. The Dog, I thought. I need to come up with a proper name for her. I began pondering all of the possibilities.

"I'll be right back girl. I'm going to get you some food." She looked at me with, almost a protective gaze as I backed out of the room, to head downstairs to the kitchen.

After I got some water and leftovers-I managed to take them without Hattie noticing-I was greeted at the top of the stairs by my brother's bloodhound Duke.
"Hey boy," I said as I bent down to scratch behind his ear. "I've got a friend for you to play with now. A girl nonetheless..." Duke released almost a purring sound.

A thought struck me. "Duke. Duchess. It's perfect!"

"What's perfect?" Charles asked as he walked up the stairs with a book in his hand. He must've been in the library, like always.

"Duchess." I said. He looked at me, not bothering to conceal his confusion. "The bloodhound's name. You have Duke, so I just decided to go with Duchess."

"I like it." He said.

"Well, I better go feed her." As I started down the hall Charles called after me.
"You might want to hurry. Mother's in the Library and wants to speak with you." Charles smiled at me sympathetically.

Uh-Oh. "Okay, umm...thanks." Then I added quieter. "I think."
Charles's laughter echoed around us. "I'd say 'you're goanna need it', but you'll be fine."

After that I ran quickly to my room, and gave Duchess her food, then hurried back down the stairs toward the library, where Mother was waiting.
I stopped at the door, my hand on the knob. This couldn't be that bad.
I took a deep breath to steady myself, before opening the door.

The End

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