Aaron Baker stood on the South Lawn, hands clasped in front of him. "Come on Dudley, do your business so I can get back to the game."
The white poodle/Maltese mix, didn't seem to be in any hurry to relieve himself. Aaron glanced at his watch. Halftime had to be over by now. "I'll give you some of my pizza crust if you just hurry up."
Dudley glanced up at Aaron. If he didn't know better, Aaron would swear the dog was telling him to fuck off. Of all the odd jobs he had as President Richard Douglas' personal aide, this was the one he hated the most. It wasn't that he didn't like dogs, hell, he'd had two growing up, but Dudley wasn't your average dog.
Nope, Dudley was the Mata Hari of dogs. In the President's presence, Dudley was cute and cuddly, but Aaron knew the five pound ball of white hair was far from innocent.
"Pee or I'll make Rick see the importance of having you neutered," he growled.
Dudley didn't even acknowledge the threat, intent on sniffing a patch of grass. How could a man's man like President Douglas own such a pain in the ass dog? Aaron was moments away from picking Dudley up and taking him back inside when, low and behold, the dog finally peed.
"Shake it off. I don't want your dribbles on the front of my shirt." Aaron chuckled when a secret serviceman glanced at him like he was crazy. Yeah, he probably was. It wasn't often you saw a man standing on the White House lawn arguing with a pooch.
Aaron did his normal scramble to catch Dudley and lift him into his arms. "My favourite time of the week, and I've missed half of it because of you," he scolded Dudley as they entered the west wing.
As soon as they were inside, Aaron set the dog down, not surprised when Dudley shot in front of him towards the President's study. He followed the dog like the obedient aide he was. He could hear the roar of the crowd coming from the television set before he even entered the room.
"What did I miss?" he asked, resuming his spot on the navy sofa.
"Packers fumbled. The Skins may just have a chance to pull this one off," Rick Douglas announced, getting Dudley resettled in his lap.
Aaron took off his shoes and rested his feet on the footstool. "Maybe they'll show a replay."
"Sorry, already did."
"Damn." Aaron smiled as he picked up the bowl of popcorn beside him. If anyone had told him a few years earlier that he'd feel completely comfortable hanging out with the President of the United States, he would've told them they were crazy.
He glanced over at the handsome man. It was hard for him to think of Rick as anything other than a family friend, mentor and father figure. Aaron had first met the charismatic politician when he was barely five. He remembered Rick dropping by on special occasions, but Aaron didn't really get to know him until he'd turned seventeen. Aaron needed a few volunteer activities to add to his college application. He had no idea that he would become completely enraptured with the Pennsylvanian state representative running for a national senate seat.
After his senate win, Richard Douglas had kept in close contact with Aaron, even asking him to intern during the summers. For a college student majoring in political science, it had been a dream come true. His mother's family had wealth and clout but nothing compared to Rick's family. Aaron enjoyed spending time with Rick, as he'd insisted Aaron address him.
Their relationship continued to grow, Rick eventually taking Aaron into his confidence one night while they were working late on the presidential campaign. "Have you talked to Cameron lately?"
Rick automatically glanced around to make sure no one else was within earshot. He grinned and pressed his finger to his lips. "Last night. I snuck out after Larissa retired for the evening. I had to use the passageway to get around the Secret Service, but it was worth it."
Aaron shook his finger at his boss. "I know you don't want anyone to know, but you're not just a senator anymore. If the Secret Service finds out you've been using those tunnels, there'll be hell to pay."
Rick winked. "That's why they can never find out."