At 4:32 p.m. I set Jawbreaker's pug loose on the beach.
I didn't mean to. Really. It was an entirely accidental occurrence. Mostly.
When I came downstairs after the potato truck shower, the little monst- um, darling started nipping at my feet. My fabulous new pair of grass green flats with the cute flower cut-outs. The heels now bear several indentations that look remarkably like canine bites.
Where the little mon- um, darling had been until that point I had no idea. Probably sequestered in a bedroom or something. Or mingling quietly with the guests until Jawbreaker gave him the attack command.
I should have known there was a reason the French doors leading onto the deck were no longer wide open. I should have thought it at least a little odd.
But no, I just flung open the door, hoping to escape onto the deck and close the little mon-oh, all right, he was a monster-off in the house, securing a pane of hurricane glass between us.
Then I heard the scream.
"Miissterr Puuggssleey!!!" Jawbreaker wailed as the little monster-now the little escapee-squeezed through the closing door and raced across the teak decking as fast as his stunted little legs could carry him.
Quite fast, surprisingly enough.
"What have you done?" Jawbreaker cried as she reached my side, staring plaintively after the fast disappearing sight of Mr. Pugsley-no really, that's his real name-stirring up sand behind him as he made for the surf.
"I'm sorry, Janice. I had no idea he could run like that."
She glared at me like I had just eaten the last Junior Mint in a theater-sized box before the previews even started.
"You did th-that on p-purpose."
Oh no, those looked suspiciously like tears. I didn't know heartless corporate robots could cry. I guess when their Mr. Pugsley beat feet for the beach, all stereotypical bets are off.
Before I could stop myself-or realize what I was doing, for that matter-I put my arms around her shoulders.
"Don't worry," I soothed, "we'll get him back."
"Last time he didn't come home for three days." She sobbed and pressed her face into my offered shoulder.
I felt her tears wetting my second-of-the-day sundress.
Gingerly patting her back, I looked desperately around the room for any sign of reprieve. I found Phelps, heading our direction with that confident grin on his handsome face.
"Which way did he head?" Phelps asked.
"West," I answered, relieved to have the help. "Toward the city."
"L-last time," Jawbreaker lifted her head and sniffled, "the Monteforts said he came and made puppy love with their Shitzhu." She wiped at her tears, smearing the pool of mascara out to her temples in a kohl-black sweep. "Their house is three properties down."
Phelps smoothed a reassuring hand over her platinum hair. "I'll get him back Janice." He turned and looked at the room full of stunned guests. "I bet Fairchild will even help me, won't you?"
Gavin grinned thinly. "I live to serve," he said as he followed Phelps out the French doors and headed onto the beach. Probably cursing every grain of sand that scuffed his leather loafers.
If not for my weeping boss at my side, I might have gloated. Yet a tiny little kernel of something deep inside my brain poked me with a feeling much like guilt.