On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.
On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.
Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem -- who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be -- but that's just what Flynn experienced.
A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it ... and along the way, they just might fall in love.
Kneeling on the hardwood floor in the front hallway, Mac Bowersox pulled the harness from Hamburger. “Good boy,” he said, stroking the dog. He then bent a little to give the dog a good, strong hug. The dog wriggled to be free. He’d never liked being hugged.
But Mac needed to hug him. He padded after Hamburger as he walked toward the kitchen. Mac stood in the entryway and watched as the dog paused at his two stainless steel bowls and rapidly lapped up almost the entire bowl of water. Mac supposed the poor pooch was tired and parched after the way he’d made him run from the park. But Mac couldn’t take a chance. If that Flynn guy had come after them, Mac didn’t know if he’d have had the courage to continue insisting that Hamburger wasn’t Barley.
Because he was. He was Barley. Of course, Mac didn’t know that until just a short time ago. But something weird happened the moment Barley spied the gorgeous man in the gray nylon running shorts and form-fitting lime-green tank top. Mac chuckled grimly. The dog had spotted the succulent morsel of masculinity almost before he did. And Mac could plainly read Hamburger’s reaction -- joy and recognition in one big tail-wagging bundle.
At first, Mac didn’t understand the dog’s reaction. He didn’t see Hamburger’s interest as recognition. How could he? He simply thought old Hamburger might have the same eye for the fellas as his master did. Takes one horndog to know another! And Flynn was hotness personified -- with his lean runner’s build and those amazing blue eyes that contrasted so gorgeously with his black hair and those damn long lashes.
He was like a god -- someone lifted from the pages of GQ or a fitness magazine. And Mac simply thought Hamburger was reacting in much the same way Mac had to the sight of him. After all, the dog could very well have learned how to ogle a good-looking man from his master, who was, he thought, the absolute champion of ogling. Mac could ogle a hottie like nobody’s business. He could have taught a master class.
It should have been a moment of lusty happiness. But it wasn’t. Because now, as Mac looked back on the encounter in retrospect, he did so with deep shame. He felt like punching himself in the face -- repeatedly -- as he watched Hamburger lap up his water.
A voice startled him out of his reverie. His deep well of guilt must have been obvious.
“What’s the matter, Mac? You look like you just lost your best friend.”
Mac looked up to see the wizened and withered face of his landlady, Dee -- short-for-Delores -- Weeda, staring at him with concern in her brown eyes. Mac had occupied her attic bedroom and en suite bath for more than two years now.
Mac swallowed. “I almost did. At the park.”