Chapter 5

And so that became their ritual, their common thread – taking Morton on walks and rides together. It happened on most weekends. Kyle would have lunch with his family and then he and Skylar would take Morton for a walk and/or a ride, him sitting shotgun between them in the cab of Kyle's truck.

The two filled each other in on the missing seven years and their lives now, Kyle with a two year trade school certificate and working for the Re-do Bath Company, mostly installing new tubs and showers in homes. Skylar was working toward her Bachelor's in counseling at Green and keeping herself real by waitressing at Denny's.

The dog, it turned out, was their salvation and their do-over. Morton brought them together just as his absence had driven them apart. After a few months of their weekend solstices together with Morton, Kyle and Skylar had all but forgotten about the pain of the past. They enjoyed each other's company and they joked that they were Morton's 'parents' during such outings with the dog. Lisa was glad that Skylar was spending time with her brother, calling it 'more successful than the Middle East peace process'.

The two started going out without the dog – to dinner or a movie – and they shared their first kiss by leaning over Morton as the three sat on the couch together one evening! Their relationship progressed naturally but with caution, each aware of the now unspoken past and each testing the other to make sure there was no lying or unfair unforgiving or some other inappropriate emotional manipulation going on. Morton remained in the role of mediator and bridge-builder as neither Kyle or Skylar wanted to lose him again – or each other.

One afternoon, they chanced a dog walk even though the clouds looked threatening.

"You were my first crush," Skylar revealed out of the blue as they walked.

"What?" Kyle asked with surprise.

"That was another lie I told Darryl," Skylar confessed. "That he was my first my love." She glanced at Kyle self-consciously. "I can't tell you how much I hated that Carley Newton!"

Kyle laughed. "Don't worry about it," he said. "She dumped me senior year."

"Was she your first crush?"

"No, my first crushed moved to Ohio," Kyle revealed mysteriously.

"Anyway, it hurt doubly so when it turned out my first crush hated me," she sighed.

"I never hated you," Kyle said.

"Yes you did," Skylar said knowingly.

Their walk proved to be a tactical mistake because suddenly the clouds opened before they were able to safely make it back to Kyle's apartment and all three were soaked from the downburst.

"Morton really stinks now," Kyle laughed as the dog shook his wet fur outside the backdoor of Kyle's apartment.

The dog spotted a mud puddle by the back door and he decided to flop into that before Kyle and Skylar could get him inside.

"Morton, No!" Skylar warned but it was too late and they both laughed at the sight of the mud-covered dog.

Kyle managed to get Morton into the back hall.

"We're going to make a mess going in there like this," Skylar warned.

"What, should we take our clothes off or something?" Kyle asked with confusion.

"Okay," she grinned.

"Really?" Kyle smirked. They hadn't been naked together yet.

"Do your upstairs neighbors come down this way?" She asked, motioning toward the back stairwell.

"No, they usually go out the front way," He assured her.

"Well, let's do it," She urged, but then she looked at Morton. "Wait," she worried. "Do you think he'll mind?" She asked, looking at the dog.

"Seriously?" Kyle asked.

"Well, has he seen you naked before?" Skylar wondered.

"I don't remember," Kyle answered honestly. "But I don't think it will matter to him."

"You sure?"

"Dogs are all about awareness," Kyle explained. "If it doesn't bother us, I'm pretty sure it won't bother him. He just wants us to be happy. I'm sure he could care less."

Skylar thought about it for a minute and then she shrugged and started to undress, peeling off her wet tee shirt and discarding her bra to reveal her beautiful pale breasts. She kicked off her soaked sneakers and shimmied out of her khaki shorts and panties and just like that she was naked.

"Hurry up," she told Kyle. "Before somebody comes."

A panting Morton was sitting on his hunches as he looked back and forth between Kyle and the nude Skylar, waiting to go inside.

"I told you he wouldn't care," Kyle grinned.

"Do you?" She teased.

"Very much," Kyle assured her as he stripped out of his wet clothes until all that was left was his manhood. "Let's get him right into the bathroom," Kyle said. "Into the tub."

"Right," the naked Skylar agreed as she scooped up their clothes from the floor.

Kyle took hold of Morton's collar as Skylar opened the door and he rushed the dog toward the bathroom off the kitchen, all three of them slipping and sliding on the suddenly slippery kitchen floor from their feet and Morton's wet paws and fur.

Morton went surprisingly easily into the tub and they filled it with warm water, using the human shampoo to wash his fur and rinse him off, Kyle and Skylar both on their knees leaning over the side of the tub to give the dog his bath.

When they were done, Skylar grabbed a towel just as Morton shook himself.

"Morton!" She protested as he sprayed them with doggie-smelling water. "Knock it off!"

Kyle used the towel to dry the pooch and when he was done, Skylar opened the bathroom door and Morton made his escape, leaving the two naked masters to peer at one another.

"That was fun," Kyle smiled, taking Skylar into his arms and their mouths willingly met.

Her soft lips tasted sweet and full and they kissed for a long moment.

"Oh," Skylar said when she realized what was poking her in the stomach.

They searched each other's mouths and tongues, using their hands to explore each other's exposed bodies and then Kyle took her by the hand and led her out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. Morton followed and Skylar gave him a funny look.

"Maybe you should leave, Mort," she suggested.

He tilted his head, perked his ears, and gave her a quizzing stare.

"Don't hurt his feelings," Kyle said.

"You're not going to let him watch, are you?" Skylar asked as they stood at the end of the bed still fondling and exploring one another with their hands and mouths.

"I told you, he's not going to care," Kyle assured her. "He's happy for us. He's the one who brought us together. He wants this for us."

"What? Did he tell you this?" Skylar snickered as she kissed him.

"He knows it's the natural instinct," Kyle said.

"Maybe he'll freak out," Skylar worried.

"He knows it's primal," Kyle said, kissing her neck now.

"You sure?" She moaned.

"Let's find out," Kyle said, gently pushing Skylar onto the bed.

"Woof," she joked in reply as Kyle fell on top of her and kissed her.

They both looked at Morton who let out a sigh and collapsed onto the floor by the door.

"Is he really going to watch?" Skylar asked.

"I think he's going to nap," Kyle replied.

When it was over, Kyle rolled off of his lover and spooned her from behind as they lay on the bed listening to the rain outside – and the snores of Morton nearby.

Kyle kissed Skylar's ear. "Have we found our way back?" He whispered,

"Dog gone it, yes," Skylar assured him as she turned her head and kissed him with happy contentment. "Just like it was supposed to be."

"The Incredible Journey," Kyle said with satisfaction.

"Isn't it nice not to have to miss Morton anymore?" Skylar smiled.