Exclusive Excerpt from Prancing of a Papillon
by Tara Lain
“I’ll bet you played football in college.”
Jericho squeezed the words out between his teeth. “No. I studied education. What about you?”
Malcolm ran a hand over his slicked-back hair. “I’m an administrative assistant.”
“Oh, how interesting.” Jericho swallowed and rushed on. “I mean, it must be interesting if you have an interesting, uh, person you assist.”
“She’s a pain in the ass.” Uneasily, he glanced at Batshit. “So, you like dogs, huh?”
“Truthfully, she belongs to friends. I’m just taking care of her.”
He smiled bigger. “That’s nice of you.”
“Yes. My dog’s under the table.”
Malcolm glanced and said, “Oh dear God.”
“I gather you don’t like dogs?”
“I don’t have a lot of experience. I mean, I travel a lot, and I hear they need somebody to take care of them all the time and shit.”
“Yes, dogs are a lot of work.”
“Woof.” Batshit looked up at Jericho with implied criticism.
Malcolm frowned as he glanced around. “Jesus, who do I have to kill to get a cup of coffee?”
“Sorry.” Jericho waved a hand and the waiter, Timmy, hurried over.
“Hi, Jericho. How’s your mom?”
“Pretty good. How about your auntie?”
“Oh dear, her arthritis get’s worse and worse.”
Jericho nodded. “I understand. It can be so debilitating.”
Malcolm made a huffing sound. “Could I get some coffee, please?”
“Oh sure.” Timmy rushed off, came back with a pot, and filled the empty cup in front of Malcolm. “Are you ready to order?”
“Just coffee and keep it coming. Gotta keep the boyish figure.” He leaned over toward Jericho. “I’ll bet it’s steak and eggs for you, right?”
“Uh, no. I’ll have the feta and spinach scramble and a lemon scone, please, Timmy.”
“Aka, your usual?” Timmy grinned. “I’ve already got it ordered.”
Jericho giggled. “And, of course—”
Timmy and Jericho spoke simultaneously. “A side of turkey bacon.”
“Woof!” Batshit gave a little hop on Jericho’s knee and Malcolm again pulled back. Behind him, Timmy made a face, then walked away.
Malcolm said, “I would’ve thought at a restaurant in such a ritzy town they’d have better service.”
Jericho stroked Batshit to calm his nerves. “Timmy’s actually a great waiter. He just knows me really well, so he’s a little familiar. Sorry.”
“Oh sure, no problem. So you must be some big-time educator to get to live in Corona del Mar.”
“I teach first grade.”
“First grade?” He laughed. “Kindergarten Cop. Jesus. Aren’t people afraid to leave their kids with you?”
Jericho tried hard not to scowl. Scowling made him look scary, but he’d heard that tired Kindergarten Cop joke so many times. He cringed, waiting for Malcolm to say, “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina.”
He was saved by Timmy who bustled to the table with a tray, set it on a stand, served Jericho’s eggs and scone, and then poured more coffee for both of them.
“I didn’t forget you, cutie.” Timmy made kissy sounds at Batshit. With a flourish, he picked up a plate loaded with turkey bacon and put it on the table. “There’s your favorite.”
Bat’s expressive ears stuck straight up at that moment. While she was super finicky about food, turkey bacon got her attention. Jericho took the saucer from under his coffee cup, broke up some bacon on it, and pushed the saucer toward Bat. Then he grabbed a saucer from under an extra cup, ripped two pieces of bacon in half, and set the plate on the ground. Killer was on it like a rat on a pile of rocks, the job cairn terriers had been bred for.
Batshit cocked her head, daintily removed a single piece of turkey bacon, and pulled it onto the tabletop, where she stuck out her tongue, and slid it into her mouth. Her head disappeared as she ate it—on Jericho’s good jeans, of course, but if he put her down, Killer would have her food in a flash. Jericho smiled as she gracefully chewed. He looked up to say something to Malcolm.
Malcolm stared at him in horror, like Jericho had just invited Godzilla to the table and fed him one of the diners. Jericho tried to make his smile reassuring. “It’s no big thing. Everyone in Corona del Mar has a dog, and they all feed them at the table.”
Malcolm literally cringed, pulling his coffee cup off the table’s surface.
Jericho added, “I suspect they do clean the tables between dogs.”