I was dreaming I was running after a giant Beggin' Strip that was as tall as my human is. I had been hunting it - the legendary Beggin' Strip of Olde - for centuries and now my moment was finally upon me. I was inches from it's heels, could nearly taste the tangy, meaty flavor of it's flesh in my mouth when --- I was ripped from my dream by the sensation of being lifted from the couch. I shimmied and opened my eyes, panicking, half expecting to find myself in the clutches of an even bigger, King Beggin' Strip that was protecting it's kin, but instead found myself in Nick's arms.
His eyes were bleary and the TV was off. It was dark. "C'mon, let's go to bed," he mumbled.
My legs swung by his side as he waddled up the stairs to the bedroom. The lights were off, Lauren was laying in the bed on her back, staring up at the ceiling, her face lit up by the moon light in the window. Several suitcases were piled in the corner. Igby was laying across the bumps of her legs. He looked up as we entered the room. Nick put me down on the bed and I went for his pillow and dug it up and laid in the crevice between it and the headboard and put my chin on the pillow.
"I'm sorry I was a tool earlier," Nick said.
Lauren sighed, "I'm sorry I was a bitch."
"Are we cool now?" he asked.
"I'm cold actually. Get in here." She held up the blankets and Nick kicked his shoes and furs off and crawled into bed next to her. They curled up next to each other and Nick tangled his hand up in her hair and pressed his cheek against her forehead as she nuzzled into his chest. He took a deep breath and rubbed her arm with his extra hand. The blanket was pulled tight over their forms. "That's better," Lauren said. She hummed happily. "I swear, I dunno what I did without you there to warm up the bed before," she laughed.
"That's what heating blankets are for," he mumbled.
"That's right. Why am I bothering to marry you again? All I need is a heating blanket."
"Heating blankets don't have magic tongues..." Nick answered with a pur to his voice.
Nick grinned and closed his eyes.
"I really do love you," she said quietly. "You know that, right? I mean even through the banter?"
"Course I do."
"Good." She wrapped her arm around his waist and nuzzled even closer.
"Heating blankets aren't sexy like me," he added. I reached over and licked his head, just to remind him that I was there. Just in case he forgot and started thinking Lauren was the most important thing in his life. Because that would be wrong. I am. Obviously. He laughed, "Nacho, don't do that."
"What's he doin'?"
"Lickin' my forehead."
"Crazy ass pug."
I snuggled into the pillow, satisfied I'd been acknowledged.
"One more week," Lauren said quietly. "Can you believe it? One week from tonight and we'll be married."
"Never thought it'd happen," Nick commented.
"Me either," Lauren said. Her voice trilled with excitement. "You know, when I met you, I honestly didn't think you'd ever want to get married."
"When you met me I honestly didn't think I'd ever want to get married," Nick said with a laugh, "Dude, a year ago I honestly didn't think I'd ever want to get married."
"What changed your mind?" Lauren asked.
They had this conversation on a somewhat regular basis and even though they both knew the answers the other was going to give, they went through it step-by-step like it was a brand new conversation. They'd grin and giggle because they were both in on the joke that it was a often repeated script, but they'd follow through just the same.
"You did, Boos," Nick answered. "Because you were so amazing I couldn't dream of anything better than being right here next to you in bed late at night." He kissed her forehead.
I ignored them. It was too mushy.
I must've fallen asleep because I woke up to the feeling of Nick shaking me and I stretched and yawned and watched as he rolled out of the bed and walked across the room to the door. "C'mon," he whispered. I stretched again, real slow-like, because getting up needs to be my idea not his, and then jumped down and sauntered toward him. He watched me as I made my way as slow as I could over to him and out the door. As he closed the door behind me, he muttered, "Sorry for awakening you, your highness, I thought you might like some breakfast..."
Breakfast? Well that would be acceptable, yes.
Nick led the way down to the kitchen and I was much more energetic now that I knew there was food involved, and he took a lot of crinkly wrapper items out of the fridge and I spun around and around at his feet every time I heard the crinkle, giving him my very best hypnotic stare. "I know you want some, hold on..." Nick laughed as I spun around especially fast. He kept doing what he was doing and the kitchen filled with lovely smells and he reached for the cupboard and pulled out four plates - two small ones and two larger ones - and he pulled out his phone and stared at it for a couple seconds, I think this is called texting in human, but I'm not positive. Nick does it a lot at anyrate. Then he looked down at me. "You ready for breakfast?"
I'm gonna get dizzy from all this spinning.
"Yeah? Do ya?"
I sat on my haunches and held up my high five paw at him.
Nick laughed, "Damn, look at you. You'd think you ain't eaten in a week, dog." He leaned down and put one of the two small plates on the floor, "There ya go."
I launched myself at the plate. It was eggs -- eggs with... oh my God. No way. It couldn't be. EGGS WITH BEGGIN STRIPS. And cheese! Cheese! It was beautiful. It was genius. It was stuff like this that was why I keep my human around.
Nick grinned as I sucked down the eggs with Beggin' Strips. "You like your omlette, huh boy?" he asked, laughing. "I thought you might like that."
Lauren came in the room, followed by Igby. I guess it was her that Nick was texting because she slid her phone into her pocket and sat down. "Hey Igby, want some breakfast too?" Nick asked and I glanced up to see him put some more of the omlette as he called it onto a second plate for Igby and set it down in front of him. Igby's a lot more delicate about how he eats, though, so he started daintily eating. Nick put a plate in front of Lauren and on the table across from her and sat down, too.
"Thanks honey," she said, and she picked up a fork and took a bite. "Mmm." She smiled at him.
"It felt lik an omlette kinda day."
"Great protiens," she said, grinning.
"Mhm," he nodded. "And taste, too."
They ate in silence a few moments, long enough for me to finish mine and I moved over and started stealing bites of Igby's when he wasn't looking.
"I got us all packed last night, all you gotta do is put the bags in the car and we're good to go," Lauren commented, "The flight leaves at eleven so we should get going pretty soon."
"Didja pack my sweatpants?" Nick asked.
Lauren didn't answer. She stared at the eggs. I watched her for a second while Igby faced his plate, trying to look innocent, like I hadn't been sneaking bites off his plate.
"I got you new sweatpants instead," Lauren said.
"They're grey. But other than being grey they're exactly the same."
"They aren't the same."
"They're exactly the same, I promise," she said.
"No 'cos the red ones are all wore in the way I like," Nick said, he waved his hand at his crotch, "They're stretched just right, you know? They don't bag up and they ain't scratchy..."
"Well if you wore underwear scratchy wouldn't be a problem," Lauren said pointedly. "And the red ones have a hole in them."
"A breeze is good for the kahonies."
"They're nasty," she said.
I grabbed a big piece of Igby's egg and he caught me and he barked. "Back off, you lil shit, that's mine. The humans gave it to me."
Lauren looked down. "Nacho -- No. Eat your own."
Nick looked down. "What's he doin'?"
"Stealing Igby's food."
"Nacho don't be a pig."
I whimpered and crawled under the table by Nick's feet. I laid down, my head on his ankle, and started at Igby, who was gloating over the remains of his egg. He probably didn't even want it. He doesn't eat as much as I do. But he was having fun gloating that I'd gotten yelled at for trying to take it.
"Are the red ones in the wash?" Nick asked, returning to the topic that they'd just left.
Lauren sighed, "Nick, just wear the new grey ones. It won't kill you. The red ones will be here when you get home."
"You didn't chuck them, right?"
"Swear on your mother's sister's cousin's brother's boyfriend?" he asked.
"Swear on an obscure sort-of family member several times removed? Sure."
"You threw'em away, didn't you?"
"Nick they were nasty." Before he could complain, she speedily added, "And I cleaned the dogs' pet taxis, too. So their beds are all fresh. And speaking of nasty, you should've seen the rat nest of stuff Nacho had hidden under his bed..."
I looked up at her knees under the table.
Don't you be touchin' my shit, woman.
"What'd he have in there?"
"Like fifteen old moldy Beggin' Strips, a couple of your socks, a shredded squeak toy, and what I can only assume used to be a piece of a sandwich."
"Gross," Nick said, laughing.
Hey one man's gross is another dog's treasure, human.
Lauren cleared her throat, "You really seriously gotta lighten up on the Beggin' Strips. He's not even eating them, he's just burying them places and they get gross when they're moldy."
"He loves those things. He probably just stashed those ones so he has them incase I ever actually listen to you and stop giving them to him. He's like Talahassee with the Twinkies."
Lauren laughed. "Either that or even Nacho knows he's getting fat."
"Nacho likes being fat."
That's true, I really do, I'm not gonna lie.
"Besides, have you seen Igby? He's not exactly lacking in the waistline, either."
I glanced over at Igby. He was licking the plate clean, staring at me with spite in his eyes.
"True... He doesn't go jogging either though."
"That's not my fault he's a lazy ass," Nick said.
Lauren laughed. "Igby, are you a lazy ass?"
The answer would be affirmative.
Nick stood up and I scrambled to get away from his foot before he stepped on me and crushed me. He tripped a little but quickly regained his balance. "Okay. I'm gonna go put the bags in the car then," he said, putting his plate in the dish monster.
"Okay," Lauren said. "I'll get the dogs out back while you do that so they can do their final pees."
"Okay." Nick was about to leave the room when Lauren stood up and caught him by the elbow, tossing her own dish in the sink with her free hand. "Yes?" he turned back.
"I love you. Stinky sweatpants and all," she said, and she slobbered on him.
Nick grinned. "I love ya too Boos."
Lauren smiled, "Good. Now go put the stuff in the car." With that, Nick thundered away and I was about to follow him when Lauren said the Magic Words.
"Who wants to go outside?"
I ran for the back door, spinning and barking all the way while Igby waddled along behind Lauren as she made her way out of the kitchen. She pushed the back door opened and I bolted down the steps onto the beach, sand flying from my toes as I tore around in a wide circle before pausing to pee on a big washed up log that lay a few feet from the water. A handful of seagulls were on the sand, pecking at crabs that skuttled along the shoreline. I ran at them, barking, and they flew away. Then I turned back and ran back up the beach toward the house, literally doing circles around Igby as he waddled along the sand.
It felt good, breathing in the ocean air, and as I glanced back up at the deck at Lauren breathing in the same salty air, I thought to myself how great my life really is. I must be the luckiest pug in the entire world.