12 Months of Braeden – November

Takes place after the series

Everyone said a dog was man’s best friend.

“Oh, having a dog would be great.”

“They’re just so cute and cuddly, and they love their owners unconditionally.”

“Every kid should have a dog.”

Braeden had even been one of those people. It had been his idea to get a dog for the girls. He knew Penny and Ruby were responsible enough to take care of a dog, and he knew he and Andi would be amazing dog parents. The only person in his house he had to convince was his wife. Thankfully, he’d had help from Brooklyn and Declan, who were getting a dog for their sons as an early Christmas present. It didn’t take the three of them very long to talk Andi into bringing home Beau. The girls were over the moon as soon as they welcomed their new friend home, and Braeden was the hero of their story.

Everything was perfect. 

Until it wasn’t.

“Griffey is just the sweetest dog. He tries to herd the boys and keep them in line when they get rambunctious. He even gets along with Ripken. It’s like they grew up together or something. We got really lucky.”

Braeden rolled his eyes as he listened to Brooklyn brag about how great her puppy was. It was all Griffey this and Griffey that, and it had been for the last two months. Ever since they each brought their puppies home, all he’d heard was great stories about Griffey and great stories about Beau. Of course, those stories never came from him. No, as far as Braeden was concerned, Beau was the devil. 

“Beau does the same thing with the girls. And he’s so protective of them. He doesn’t even like Braeden getting too close to them.”

The little fucker would growl at him if he didn’t like the way Braeden was approaching his daughters. Beau especially hated when the girls were disciplined by their father. Did he have a problem when Andi raised her voice or put one of the twins in time out? Of course not. 

Braeden was the one he hated. Braeden…the one who begged his wife to let him bring the ungrateful dog into their happy home. Their once happy home anyway. 

For two months, Braeden had been miserable while everyone else in his house had been on cloud nine. Including the damn dog. 

At first, he and Andi had decided Beau wasn’t allowed to sleep in anyone’s bed. He had a bed of his own which was where he belonged. The rule lasted about five seconds. All of the women in his house loved cuddling with the furry Australian Shepherd, and he would only sleep through the night if he could spoon one of the Clark women. More often than not, the dog’s choice was Andi, which meant Braeden had to make room for the beast in his bed.

“Oh, that’s so adorable. He loves Ruby and Penny so much he wants to keep them safe from the big bad daddy monster.”

Brooklyn’s delightful laugh usually gave Braeden the warm fuzzies. The woman was the sunshine to her husband’s grumpy pants. But today, he really couldn’t bring himself to smile along with the two women he sat with while they watched the dogs and kids in question play with Declan. If he were in a better mood, he’d be out in the yard with the rest of them playing fetch and catch and tag and what have you. It was weird to have him pouting in the corner while Declan, the usual pouter of their group, was out enjoying the fun. The world had definitely shifted on its axis.

And it was all because he wanted a damn dog.

“What was that, honey?”

He hadn’t realized he’d mumbled anything out loud until Andi turned around to ask him what he said. Now that both women had their attention on him, he knew one of them would start wondering why he was sulking. Until that morning, he would have sucked it up. Until that morning, he could deal with the growls and nips and the chewed-up underwear. But what happened that morning had been the absolute final straw.

“Brooklyn, do you and the kids want a second dog?”


He ignored his wife’s attempt at chastising him and stared at his sister-in-law. “I think Beau would love it here with you guys, and the girls could come to visit him at any time.”

“What has gotten into you?” Andi asked as she gave him the look that usually had his manhood shriveling up and trying to make a run back inside his body.

But not today. What he went through a few hours earlier had scarred him far more than her look ever could.

“Shit, Andi. Shit’s what’s gotten into me. Or rather into my shoe and between my toes and into my cuticles. It was freaking everywhere. That damn dog…”

Brooklyn sputtered, then started to cough. When he turned to look at her, he noticed how red her face was. When he turned back to look at his wife, he realized her face was just as red.

“It’s not funny.”

“Yeah, it is,” Andi countered.

“No, it’s not.”

“Oh, it’s funny alright,” Brooklyn said between giggles.

Braeden ground his teeth together. If these two couldn’t stop laughing at him, then he was in trouble. The second the guys found out, he’d be the laughingstock of the group. Again. All because of the damn dog.

“Look, I’m serious about you guys taking that hell beast from us. I can’t take it anymore.”

Andi shook her head. “We’re not getting rid of Beau, Braeden. The girls love him. I love him.”

“It’s him or me, Andi. We can’t coexist. It’s impossible. He hates me.”

“Did you ever think that maybe he treats you like he does because you’ve never asserted yourself as the alpha?”

Fuck. He didn’t realize Declan had joined them. That was it. Now everyone would know the dog that was supposed to be his best friend actually hated his guts. Everyone would know that a 32-pound monster was tormenting him.

“I don’t even know what that means.”

Declan laughed. “Of course, you don’t.”

“Babe, you’ve got the biggest heart of anyone I know, but you are not an alpha. I mean unless you’re in the courtroom or the bedroom.”

“Damn it, Andi. I didn’t need to hear that,” Declan grumbled, but his sister ignored him, her attention entirely on Braeden.

“You are a big ol’ softie, honey. Especially when it comes to those two little girls. Beau can sense that, and he’s taking advantage of it. You need to show him that you’re the boss. He’ll respect you then.”

“How the hell do I do that? Won’t he just shit in my shoe more if I change how I treat him?”

“He’s going to shit in your shoe regardless. Can’t hurt to use your Braeden the lawyer swagger when you deal with him.”

As stupid as he thought it was, Braeden was willing to try anything if it meant getting his house back.

And so he did. When the dog growled at him, he growled back. When he tried to sleep in his spot, Braeden used his stern boss voice to get him to move. He still put his shoes up high in the closet, so they weren’t available for payback poops, but countering Beau’s behavior seemed to be working.

None of his stuff went missing for weeks, and his underwear stayed intact. He was able to leave his shoes on the floor again. It felt great to be in charge again, until one day, when he went to slide on his shoe, and he realized he’d dropped the ball.

“Son of a bee sting!”