"Are you sure about this, Face? I mean, it seems a bit... extreme, even for you."
"Relax, Hannibal. It's a proven fact that women fall for men with dogs. Dogs and kids." Face frowned. "Kids actually work better - "
"Just what do you know about dogs? I mean, what? You're going to rent one?"
"No, no. I've got it all worked out. I'm house-sitting for this guy who's going out of the country for a few weeks, and he's got a dog. So I'm just going to 'borrow' him. I mean, I have to walk him anyway."
Hannibal frowned. The plan sounded a little too simple - and Face's simple plans usually worked out the worst.
"What kind of dog is it?"
"Some kind of bulldog. Ugly as hell, but the girls seem to like them."
"Uh huh. Well, just remember - the dog's your responsibility. The girls are just a side benefit."
"No problem, Hannibal. No problem at all."
Hannibal closed his eyes and frowned as the front door slammed. He knew Decker wasn't the cause of the panic in Face's voice, since Decker was still cleaning up the mess in Taos. Which meant...
"Hannibal, you gotta help me."
"What's going on?" This time...
"Well, you remember that bulldog?"
"Yeah. Your chick magnet." He sat up straighter when he saw the disheveled man pacing the room. "What happened?"
"God, it's a mess, Hannibal. I started taking Charlie - that's the bulldog - to the park every day. And there was this one gal - beautiful, Hannibal, legs up to -"
"The dog, Face. What happened to the dog?"
"She stole him."
"She... stole him?"
"Yeah, yeah. She and I started talking and over the last couple of days things were really working out nicely and then today... today we were sitting on the bench and getting... close - and the next thing I knew I got hit over the head. When I woke up, both she and Charlie were gone!"
"Why the hell would someone hit you over the head to steal a dog?"
Face dropped onto the couch, head in his hands, and mumbled something.
"What did you say?"
Face looked up, despair on his face. "Charlie is really 'Winston's Viceroy Charles'. AKC champion show dog."
"Champion as in..."
"As in worth about five grand."