Lad

Lad, the dog from Scandalous Desires, is a failed bulldog. Sadly, both bull-baiting and bear-baiting were very popular in Georgian England. The bull or bear was either staked out or thrown into a pit and one or more dogs would then harry the poor animal until the bull or bear was caught by the snout. The dogs used for this “sport” were medium-sized muscular terriers with small eyes and ears, a thin tail and a medium muzzle. They had to be both fast and fearless. The few pictures surviving show dogs that look very similar to the modern American pit bull terrier.

Lad was on the point of being drowned by his previous owner when Harry, a minion of the book’s hero, Mickey O’Connor, saved him from a watery fate. Lad, therefore, is technically owned by Harry, but those who love dogs know that it is often the dog who decides who owns him. Thus for all intents and purposes, Lad is Mickey’s dog—whether Mickey likes it or not. Here is the scene that introduces Lad in Scandalous Desires:

Mick stopped dead in the middle of his bedroom. His bed was a huge piece of furniture with posts as big around as a man’s thighs. He’d slept comfortably there with two other bedmates–and had he wished, could’ve fit another three. The bed was so massive it usually dwarfed whomever occupied it. But not the big dog draped over both his pillows. The animal lay with its pale tan belly exposed, forepaws up in the air, it’s great head turned to the side, jaws agape and tongue lolling.

“What,” Mick said softly, “is Lad doing in me bed?”

Hearing his name, Lad opened small, piggish, upside-down eyes, gazing with idiotic adoration as his whip-thin tail thumped the covers.

“Ah.” Harry scratched behind one ear. “Well, see, ‘e was lookin’ so forlorn, like, out in the courtyard by ‘imself. Seemed an awful shame to leave ‘im there all alone.”

“Off!” Mick roared at the dog.

Lad’s transformation was instantaneous. His tiny triangle ears folded back, his eyes narrowed worriedly, and he rolled so that he could crawl toward the edge of the bed on his belly.

“Is that mud on his paws?” Mick asked in outrage. 

Harry glanced at the dog. “I do believe it is,” he said as if making a discovery.

“Christ!” Mick watched disgustedly as Lad made the edge of the bed and slithered off, thumping to the floor. The dog seemed to think that his apology was done—or perhaps he’d already forgotten that Mick was mad at him—for he gamboled over as frisky as a lamb.

“He’s not even me dog,” Mick muttered.

Lad sat, one back leg sprawled out to the side, tongue hanging from his mouth, and grinned up at him. He completely ignored Harry, his supposed master.

“The dog ‘as a wonderful affection for ye,” Harry said brightly.

“Well, I haven’t for him,” Mick said. “Take th’ beast out to the courtyard an’ get th’ maids to clean me bed.”

“O’ course, o’ course,” Harry said, not moving. He cleared his throat delicately. “An’ Mrs. ‘Ollingbrook?”

Mick swung on him. “What about her?”

Harry blinked. “Ah…I thought she might like a nice walk about the place wi’ the babe.”

Mick snorted so loudly Lad cocked his head. “That woman isn’t goin’ anywhere until she bends to me will.”

“Then she won’t be joinin’ us for supper this evenin’?” Harry asked, hope dying hard in his hangdog eyes.

“Not unless she has a sudden change of heart,” Mick said sourly. “In fact both she an’ that hellion babe will be stayin’ in her rooms with only food for th’ babe until she makes up her stubborn mind to come sup at me table.”

Harry tilted his head back to study the ceiling.

“What?” Mick demanded.

“Well, it’s jus’ that I’ve noticed in dealin’ wi’ the fair sex that it sometimes does a man well to show a little kindness.”

“Have I not given her a bed and a room fit for a queen?” Mick asked softly, dangerously.

“Ye-es—”

“And have I not been most accomodatin’ o’ her?”

“Well—” Harry looked doubtful.

Mick sliced his hand through the air. “All I ask is that she sup wi’ me. No other wench has disobeyed me thus to me own face.”

“Aye, but most wenches ye be dealin’ wi’ are doxies or servant girls,” Harry pointed out in a reasonable tone. He took a step backward nonetheless. “Mrs. ‘Ollingbrook is neither.”

For a moment Mick merely stared at his henchman. Jaysus, when had his life become so complicated that he took to pleading his case with Harry? He had Silence in his house. He had her where he wanted her. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to turn his life upside-down.

“Why can’t she live in me palace an’ be happy?” Mick muttered.

Harry shrugged massive shoulders. “Mayhap because she’s a woman. They do ‘ave minds o’ their own, I find.”

“Me orders stand,” Mick declared. “She may not be a whore or a servant, but she’ll bloody well learn to obey me.”

Harry and Lad stared at him with strangely similar bloodshot brown eyes, sad reproach in both their gazes.

Mick flung out a hand irritably. “Get on with ye!”

Dog and man turned toward the bedroom door.

“And keep that dog out of me house!” Mick roared after them.