Sam swore under his breath as he ran, gasping for breath, cursing his lack of fitness and his ridiculous, runaway dog. So much for a relaxing walk along the river. “Hugo! Come back!” But he knew it was hopeless. His dog had ran off, no doubt in search of an intriguing new smell, and Sam was getting his workout for the whole entire week. He was very much regretting wearing his new jumper, even if it was pretty and pastel pink and cliché. He liked fitting clichés, sometimes.
He saw Hugo in the distance, and picked up the pace. “Hugo! Bad dog!” he shouted, and crashed into someone, tipping over, thrown terribly off balance. The ground looked hard and unforgiving and he noticed distantly that there was a puddle right there, of course but his fall was stopped with a jerk, and he found himself caught by strong arms. He reached out to steady himself, instinctively grabbing at the fabric in front him, and then came to his senses with an astonishing jolt. Here he was, panting and sweaty and clutched like a character swooning in a romance novel to the chest of the most beautiful man he’d ever seen.
“Umm,” he said articulately, and the man smiled, teeth startling white in his dark face.
“You okay?” the man said, and Sam nodded, not trusting himself enough to speak. He untangled himself from the man, sure he was blushing ridiculously, and then looked around for Hugo in a frantic bid to distract himself from the chiselled mountain of a man who’d rescued him. The dog came pounding over to him, yapping and gambolling around him, and Sam smiled despite himself. “Bad Hugo,” he said, but the dog looked happy and free and his heart wasn’t in it.
“Sorry,” Sam said, looking at the man, who thankfully looked amused and not angry. “He likes the river, it brings out his rebellious side, and he always manages to escape.”
The man laughed. “Morag’s the same,” he said, pointing to a rambunctious and rather large golden retriever who came rocketing towards them, barking happily. Sam grinned, reaching down and extending a hand towards the dog. She licked him enthusiastically, and then scampered off to meet Hugo.
“Your dog has a human name,” said Sam stupidly, and the man laughed again. It was an unfairly beautiful sound.
“Yeah, and so does yours,” he said, smiling. “I’m Kevin,” he added, reaching out a hand to Sam.
“I’m Sam,” Sam said, feeling his face, if that was even possible, become even redder.
“Nice to meet you,” Kevin said, not letting go of Sam’s hand. “I like your jumper.”
Sam laughed disbelievingly. “I like to be a cliché,” he said, and to his surprise and delight, Kevin chuckled, a grin spreading across his face. He made a mental note to get Hugo some extra treats later. Damn dog was a bloody genius.