It’s almost Christmas 1806, and government agent Jared Templeton finds himself adopted by a beautiful stray dog as he walks his customary route each night to his Mayfair home. Having never owned a dog before, Jared is surprised to find himself talking to the beast. It’s wonderfully easy and lifts some of the heavy burdens he carries.
Eventually Jared confides in the dog, not only secrets about his work as an agent, but also the biggest secret about himself. About his innermost desires and needs, safe in the knowledge his companion will never betray him.
But at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, Jared discovers things are not quite what they seem ...
"This is not how I expected to spend Christmas, you know. I thought I was going to spend it in bed being thoroughly pleasured by a handsome man." He smoothed the dog's ear. "Does that shock you?" He looked down at the dog who was leaning heavily. It nosed his hand, so Jared continued petting him. He stared into the fire again. "I thought he loved me. I'll wager that shocks you even more."
The dog shifted until he could lay his head on Jared's chest and look up at him. His eyes were a deep, mossy green and seemed to be filled with adoration. It was welcome. "I don't know why you picked me to follow, but I am terribly glad that you did," he admitted, stroking the dog's head again. "Do you know, I hadn't realised how lonely I've been?" He scratched the dog's ears thinking how true that was. He naturally kept himself to himself. Large groups exhausted him, but sometimes he yearned for someone to share his life with. Hence his attempt with Matthew.
"Thank you for coming to me." Jared found he felt curiously emotional. The gratitude that he felt in the companionship the dog had offered him was deep and profound.
"I've never got on with people," he told him. "I've come to the conclusion that I don't like them very much." He rubbed his cheek against the top of the dog's head and ran his fingers through his deep coat. "Nanny always said I was a difficult boy. She certainly slapped me often enough, and my father…well. The less said about him the better. He caught me kissing one of the stable boys. Didn't like that at all."
The dog shuffled closer and licked Jared's face.
"I think that's why I get on well with working in the Alien Office. No-one to spill secrets to. Would you like to stay?" he said, looking at the dog and scratching his ears. "For good?"
The dog shuffled even closer and closed his eyes.
"I'll take that as a yes. I'll get you a leash tomorrow and we can go for long walks."
The dog leaned heavily, and Jared shifted until his arms were around him, stroking and petting. They sat like that for a while, until the church bells chimed midnight.
"Midnight," Jared whispered as the bells pealed. As the last bell faded, he bent and kissed to dog on the head, then rubbed his face against the spot. "Happy Christmas," he said.