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David stepped inside the fence at the neighbourhood dog park. He let Sadie off her leash and laughed as the large greyhound barked at him, staring intently at the object in his hand.
"What?" He held up the dingy, chewed-up tennis ball in his hand. "You want this?" He threw the ball as far as he could.
Sadie tore off after it before it'd even left his hand.
He tucked his hands in his jeans pockets and moved though the damp grass, the first stars peeking through the twilight as he made his way towards his favourite bench. There wasn't much time for Sadie to run tonight since he had to be at the fire station at midnight. He hoped his shift was uneventful, but there'd been a rash of fires lately and none of the men had been able to get much sleep when they had been working.
Sadie dashed up to him, dropping the drool-covered ball at his feet. After bending over, David picked it up to throw it again before continuing his stroll. Then his progress halted and he flailed his arms to keep his balance. Glancing back, he noticed a pair of shoes he hadn't seen in the gloaming. Shoes he'd tripped over like an oaf.
The shoes belonged to a man sitting at the darkest end of the bench.
"Sorry. Didn't see you there."
"It's okay." The man's voice was a pleasing baritone with a slight accent.
Movement in the man's lap drew his gaze and David saw a small dog with large ears staring at Sadie.
"Sadie won't hurt your dog if you want to let him down." He gestured to where his own dog was running in circles.
"Raoul would like that," the stranger said quietly, leaning forward to set the little dog on the ground.
Raoul stared at the man for a moment like he was waiting for a signal.
"Go play, Raoul." The stranger flicked a pale hand towards Sadie. One bark then the dog raced across the grass to greet Sadie.
David pointed to the bench. "May I?"
The man seemed to shrink farther into the shadows, but didn't protest when David sat.
"I'm David Browdie, and the clown over there is Sadie." The man's moving away had given David a hint that the stranger wouldn't shake his hand, so he didn't offer it.
"I'm Eric Sandel and that is Raoul."
Good, Eric might give off a vibe of not wanting to be touched, but he didn't seem to mind talking.
"What kind of breed is Raoul? I've never seen one like him."
"He's a Papillon." A hint of affection crept into Eric's voice.
"It's French for butterfly. The breed was named for their ears."
David studied the white and black dog in the low light of approaching night. "I can see it. His ears look sort of like butterfly wings." He shot Eric a glance. "Are you from France?"
"I moved here from France when I was younger," Eric admitted.
"Thought so. I've been trying to place the accent."
"It isn't as strong as it used to be. I can't seem to get rid of it all." Eric chuckled softly, but David felt it drift on the breeze, teasing his ear then shooting straight to his hardening cock.
Whoa, man, you have a date with your hand tonight if you're getting turned on by some man's laugh.
Checking his watch, he realised he had to go. He stood before whistling for Sadie.
"I have to get going. It was nice meeting you, Eric. Maybe we'll run into each other again."
Sadie trotted over and sat obediently, letting David snap the leash on her collar. He waved a hand towards Eric's silhouette as David jogged off with Sadie in tow.