Everyone knows that dogs are man's (and woman's!) best friend. But no one expects them to be matchmakers, too.
Julie's been dating her married boss, Luke. She knows this is a bad idea, but she's also hesitant to be single, thinking that she has no other prospects. Doug, on the other hand (or, uh, paw), knows better. He may be just a pug, but he's determined to do whatever it takes to get Julie to break up with Luke...and maybe even set her up with someone new.
Below, read an excerpt from Pug Actually, and dig deep in the hilarious mind of Doug. According to the Washington Post, "You’ll be rooting for this lovable dog—you might even wish he could weigh in on your own relationships"!
With a last check of his cell phone, he switches it off, slips it into his pocket, and strides confidently toward Julie’s gate, hesitating when he spots me waiting for him in the garden.
“Doug,” he says.
It’s an observation rather than a greeting, so I give him a look, reluctantly step to one side so he can get past, then tail him back toward the house, nipping in through the front door before him, just in case he tries to shut me outside.
“Sweetie?” he shouts, as he regards me warily, and it occurs to me I rarely hear him call her “Julie”—a sensible tactic if you’re seeing multiple women, I imagine.
Related: 19 Movies to Watch After a Breakup
“In here,” replies Julie, from the living room, and Luke strides along the hall, peering around the house like a potential burglar, though if I know him, there’s only one thing he’s interested in getting his hands on.
I follow him into where Julie’s sitting expectantly on the sofa, taking up a defensive position at her feet as she switches off the TV. This is worrying: EastEnders isn’t over yet, and under normal circumstances, even if the house were falling down, she’d probably try and hang around, dodging falling masonry, until the end credits were rolling. Then again, as Luke’s all-too-regular off-hours presence here often reminds me, he and Julie aren’t exactly “normal” circumstances.
“This is a pleasant surprise!”
“Couldn’t stay away.” Luke collapse-sits onto the sofa next to her, then hoists his feet up onto the coffee table as if he owns the place. “You know me.”
I exhale loudly as I take up a guard position beneath his legs: If she really knew Luke, I doubt she’d let him in the house, let alone on the sofa. It took me long enough before I was allowed to sit there.
“Can I get you anything?”
“Just this,” says Luke, leaning across to plant a wet one (as Julie’s dad describes the way I do it whenever anyone raises me to face level) on Julie’s lips, and I have to look away. I don’t know why, but I find this “kissing” thing Luke and Julie insist on doing unsettling—possibly because of the weird hum of pleasure he makes every time. “I was just passing. Realized how much I missed you.”
“Passing?” says Julie, dejectedly, then she does a double take, and a look flashes across Luke’s face, and Julie’s expression mirrors it. Then I realize why he’s come round, and it shocks me so much it’s all I can do not to let out a disgusted bark. From what I can work out given his earlier phone call, he’s going to have a “quickie” with Julie, then calmly pick up takeout and bring it home to his wife.
“Yeah.” Luke licks his lips, an action which makes me shudder. “I’m not interrupting any plans, am I?” he asks, though I’m pretty sure he already knows the answer to that question. Julie rarely has any plans. Mainly because—given Luke’s situation—she can’t make any.
“No, just…” Julie nods at the TV. “Priya’s going to be here in a bit. Game of Thrones is on.”
“Oh yes. The Dragon Lady.” He rolls his eyes, and I’m not sure whether he’s referring to a character from the program or Priya. Luke’s not her biggest fan. And the feeling is definitely mutual.
“I can call her,” says Julie, already reaching for her phone. “Tell her to come later. We can watch it on DVR.”
“Don’t worry. I can’t stay.”
“Oh.” The disappointment in Julie’s voice is so obvious, Luke can’t help but give a little victory smile.
“For long,” he adds, looking pointedly at his watch.
“Oh,” says Julie, again, followed by another, but this time, an I-get-it one, which makes me suspect she’s “up for it,” as I’m sure Luke would probably describe her. It’s at that moment I decide I can’t just stand idly by and let him get away with this. So as Julie shimmies across the sofa to straddle him, and Luke reaches up and starts unbuttoning her blouse, I squeeze myself out from underneath his still-outstretched legs, leap up onto the sofa, and force my way between the two of them.
Related: 12 Can't Miss Clean Romance Novels
“Doug!” Julie gives me a stern look. “Down!”
I’m wishing I could say the same thing to Luke, but before I can decide what my next move’s going to be, he picks me up—rather ungently, it has to be said—and sets me back on the floor.
“Yes Doug, down!” Luke sniffs his fingers, makes a face, then surreptitiously wipes his hands on a cushion, which irks me even more, particularly since I’ve already had my bath this month. “Now, where were we?” he says, reaching for Julie’s buttons a second time.
As he busies himself with the contents of her blouse, he simultaneously blocks my route back up onto the sofa with his legs, and I fear I might be stymied, until I remember a tactic that Eddie, the Jack Russell star of the reruns of Frasier Julie and I love watching, often uses. I dart under the coffee table, leap up onto the armchair opposite the sofa, position myself in Luke’s direct eye line, and fix him with my most disapproving stare. After a moment my strategy works, because he opens his eyes midkiss (which is even creepier than the noises he makes), catches sight of me over Julie’s shoulder, and breaks away from her.
Related: 17 Funny Romance Books That Will Melt Your Heart While Making You Laugh
“Something the matter?” asks Julie.
Luke glares back at me. “It’s Doug.”
“What about him?”
“He’s staring at me.”
“What?” Julie turns to look at me, so I hurriedly put on my best, most irresistible pug eyes, wrinkle my forehead to the maximum, then angle my head for good measure.
“He’s not staring. He’s a pug. That’s just how it appears.”