This scene originally appeared in His First Lady at the end of Chapter 21 when Michael and Kendall worked through the pregnancy scare (after a steamy makeup scene that I also cut). I ultimately decided that the trip to pick out a dog messed with the flow of the story, but maybe I was wrong…When don’t dogs make things better?
As always, keep in mind that bonus scenes are unedited and kind of rough. - Avery
His First Lady Bonus Scene: The First Dog
Michael looked as though he wanted to say something on that score, but he held his tongue- until she reached the door at least. “Kendall, are you doing anything this weekend?”
“I don’t think so,” Kendall said, slowly shaking her head, trying to remember if she had anything arranged.
“Excellent,” Michael grinned broadly. It took Kendall’s breath away to finally see his handsome features slip into a smile again. “And, how do you feel about puppies?”
“Puppies?” Kendall frowned, puzzled. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m getting a new dog,” Michael announced with a glow of boyish excitement.
“I didn’t know you had an old one,” Kendall said, a little suspiciously.
“Well, I haven’t, not for a while now, but-”
“Let me guess. The President needs a pet?” Kendall didn’t know if she should be amused or insulted by Michael’s habit of obtaining the ‘things’ he needed to fit the perfect presidential model.
“Hey! I resent that!” Michael cried, although the slightest hint of embarrassed color rose to his face, highlighting his cheekbones. “I like dogs! I’ve been meaning to get one to replace Buster for a while now- I’ve just never- got around to it before.”
“Maybe you just never had a reason to get another one until now?” Kendall couldn’t resist teasing, although she felt a pang of guilt when she saw that Michael had taken her comment seriously. She hurried back across the room and placed a light kiss against his cheek. “Oh, don’t look like that!” she pleaded. “I promise I’ll come and pick out a cute little Chihuahua for you.”
“A what?” Michael choked. Kendall giggled. “We’re getting a real dog, Kendall!”
She smiled, a little sadly, at his use of ‘we’. He didn’t mean it in the way it had sounded of course, but that hadn’t stopped Kendall thinking about it in that way. It would be so much fun to get a puppy with Michael… almost as nice as a baby…
“Well, we’ll see,” she said sweetly. “I might let you get a Westie."
For the remainder of the week Michael was as good as gold. He worked hard on the campaign, barely pausing to eat or sleep, and he didn’t let himself see Kendall. It was partly a test, and partly punishment. He wanted to see if he could manage without her, but he also didn’t trust himself to have her close.
The way that Michael had behaved in his office was unforgivable. He couldn’t believe he had been so reckless, and he couldn’t risk losing control like that again. He kept Kendall at arm’s length until the weekend rolled around, when he planned to reward himself for his restraint by spending the whole day in her presence.
Michael picked Kendall up early on Saturday morning. He was driving his own old Jeep Rubicon, which would be much more suitable for driving along country roads than any of the sleek cars he was chauffeured around in on a typical day. The Secret Service Agent that followed him everywhere trailed behind at a respectful distance.
Kendall started the day off acting rather cool and miffed. She made a comment that he ought to get a dog from a rescue or the pound, and then spent the drive to their first stop playing with her phone. Michael flattered himself that she was upset that he hadn’t called on her earlier in the week, but she wasn't able to maintain her pique for long. There was something about the idea of fluffy little puppies that worked in his favor. They had four breeders to see. Kendall’s temper quickly softened after the very first stop.
“We just have one more litter to see,” Michael said, after they had stopped for a quick bite to eat at Windy Corner Café outside Lexington. He had already taken Kendall to see a litter of Irish Setters, one of Border Collies, and another of German Shepherds.
“You’re determined to get a big dog then, aren’t you?” Kendall asked as they left the restaurant. She sighed when Michael nodded. “What are we seeing next?”
“I’m not going to find my little purse dog today, am I?”
Michael made a face, as he held the truck door open and helped Kendall climb in. “Why anyone would want one of those ratty little fashion accessories is beyond me,” he muttered, walking around to the driver’s side of the vehicle.
“So, what’s been your favorite so far?” Kendall asked, deciding that it was pointless to try to argue the merits of cute little dogs to a man who was obviously determined to buy some huge beast.
“I think the collies,” Michael said thoughtfully, which surprised Kendall a little. They were by far the smallest dogs they had seen. “Buster was a collie,” he said, smiling boyishly. The slightly uncertain grin melted Kendall’s heart.
“Well, they were adorable!” she enthused, but then she had wanted to take home every animal that they had seen so far. “But maybe you’ll fall in love with one of the Labradors?”
“I don’t know,” Michael said doubtfully, starting up the engine and backing out of the parking space. They were back on the road again in seconds. “I’ve always considered getting a black lab, but when I spoke to the breeder she warned me that this litter was chocolate.
“Well, I love anything chocolate,” Kendall said. “Besides, I think they’re the most uncommon.”
“And that’s a good thing? It’s probably because no one wants them!” Michael chuckled wryly.
Kendall pouted at him. “Aww, don’t say that! I have a good feeling about this one,” she beamed. “I’m sure we’ll find your Lolly here!”
“Remus,” Michael growled, but was ignored. Michael might be determined to buy a huge dog, but Kendall was winning the war on what to call it.
“How far away is this last place?” Kendall asked, absently peering out of her window at the passing scenery.
Michael was still muttering under his breath about the name that he intended to choose for his dog, and she thought it would be better to draw him into conversation rather than let him dwell on it. While he told her about the farm and the breeder that they were heading towards next, Kendall let her own thoughts wonder over what a very, almost surprisingly, pleasant day they had spent together.
She had rarely seen Michael so relaxed and at ease. She knew that his job was a stressful one. It would be the most stressful job in the world if he got elected, and although Michael never complained, it was obvious for anyone to see the strain of the daily pressure that he was put under. It was different side of him again that she saw when they were in bed of course but it was still, and perhaps especially, not the carefree, almost boyish side of his character that was on display in the man sat beside her now.
“Here we are,” Michael announced, turning off the main road onto a dirt track. “The farmhouse is just a couple of miles up this road.”
Kendall nodded silently and kept her eyes peeled, smiling when they rounded a corner and she saw the building come into view. There was a lady sitting on the front porch peeling potatoes. A large chocolate brown Labrador was curled up at her feet. He lifted his head and barked when he heard the Jeep, and then his tail started to wag frantically when he saw Michael and Kendall climb out.
“Mrs. Henderson?” Michael called. “I’m Michael Sterling. I called about the Labrador puppies.”
The woman jumped to her feet. “Well of course you’re Michael Sterling!” she cried, wiping her hands in her apron before shaking the hand that Michael offered.
Kendall tried not to look too amused by the starry-eyed glaze that washed over Mrs. Henderson’s face. She was getting used to this affect that Michael had on women - on her too, if she let him. Michael introduced her, and then asked again about the puppies, as the full-grown lab danced excitedly around their feet.
“Oh, of course,” Mrs. Henderson said, flushing warmly, as she realised that she was staring at Michael. “They’re just around the back. Down Toby!” she yelled, when the dog, Toby apparently, started getting a little too boisterous. “Sorry, they just love people!” she apologised, tugging on his collar.
Michael laughed and scratched the dog’s ears. “Well, I’d rather have a friendly dog than a vicious one,” he grinned.
Perhaps so, Kendall thought to herself, but she was having a hard time picturing a dog of this temperament living in the White House. She held in a giggle, heaven knew how much damage it might do to the priceless furnishings.
“Come on, Kendall,” Michael said, catching hold of her hand and tugging her along after him.
“I’m coming!” she laughed, although she was struggling to keep up with his long, eager strides, as he followed Mrs. Henderson’s retreating figure around to the back of the house.
There was a large dog kennel in the backyard, and the sound of barking, which up until now Kendall hadn’t noticed, suddenly seemed to fill the air.
“Toby is a beautiful dog,” Kendall remarked as the male dog trotted ahead.
“He’s a champion,” Mrs. Henderson replied, unable to hide the pride in her voice. She went on to describe Toby’s many dog show victories before proceeding to give Michael an account of the full pedigree of the puppies she was showing them today. Finally, the led them inside the shed where the puppies in question were housed.
“Oh Michael!” Kendall squealed. Seven little balls of brown fluff started to yap excitedly when they stepped through the doorway. “They’re adorable!” she gushed.
“You’ve been saying that all day!” Michael reminded her.
Kendall poked her tongue out at him, but then she turned her attention back to the puppies. She asked Mrs. Henderson if she could go in with them. After receiving permission, Kendall stepped inside the enclosure and bent down toward the wriggling balls of fluff. All seven little dogs instantly started to clamber over her, chewing at her shoelaces and licking at her ankles.
“You okay in there?” Michael chuckled, watching as the puppies besieged Kendall from all sides.
“Yes, fine!” Kendall beamed, cooing at them lovingly. “Aren’t you coming in?” she asked, tickling one little brown tummy.
“In a minute,” Michael grinned. He was still talking to Mrs. Henderson, asking her questions about the best diet for the puppies, and size and speed with which they would grow. He wanted to know if they were prone to any particular types of disease, and then asked to see the bitch and dog that they had been bred from.
“That all sounded like you were taking things very seriously?” Kendall said to Michael. Mrs. Henderson left them alone for a few minutes. She had gone to retrieve the vet’s history for the puppies’ mother. “I don’t think you’ve been quite so thorough anywhere else.”
“No?” Michael smiled. He stepped into the pen too, and the puppies were beside themselves with excitement- not knowing which person they wanted to snuggle first. “These are the puppies that you like best though?” he asked, although it was more of a statement.
“Oh, but- it’s going to be your dog, Michael,” Kendall said urgently. “You really need to be the one to choose…”
“But I trust your judgement,” he responded smoothly, dazzling Kendall with one of his most charming smiles. He turned his attention to the dogs. “Which one do you think looks most like a Remus?”
“I think this one is a perfect Lolly,” Kendall said sweetly, nodding to the puppy that had climbed onto her lap, and was sitting there contentedly, happily wagging its tail, as its brothers and sisters tried to knock it down from its exalted position.
“Kendall,” Michael growled. “We are not calling our- the dog- Lolly!” He picked up the puppy out of her lap. He looked it over, while the wriggling bundle of fur tried to lick his nose. “Well, it’s certainly a happy little-” he checked “-boy.”
“Do you think he’s a little bit smaller than the others?” Kendall frowned. Truthfully, that was part of what had drawn her to him, but she was worried that Michael wouldn’t want a dog that was anything short of perfect.
Michael shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll grow. What do you say then, Remus?” he said, addressing the dog now. “How would you like to be First Dog?”