It wasn't late, but it was dark. Nicholas had the leash on the woman with the lap, and he was leading her down the sidewalk.
Up ahead a Christmas tree lay on its side at the edge of the road. Nicholas stopped short, sniffing. Even on its side, the Christmas tree was much taller than Nicholas, much bulkier, much pointier, but Nicholas put up his hackles and lowered his head and growled his most menacing.
The Christmas tree lay in the shadows, quiet but ready.