Albert signed Miss Ryland's finished contract as soon as he returned to Almaelou from the legal office where he'd gotten it. He stuffed it in a drawer for Elizabeth to sign the next day. He reached under his desk and felt around for Lou's furry head, but found nothing.

Smiling, he raised an eyebrow and said, "I wonder where Lou could be," with mock question. Then he spun around in his chair at light speed, pointing across the room. "Hah!"

Lou ran at him as Albert slid out of his chair and onto the wood floor. They collided and wrestled on the ground.

They did this often. Even at his age, Lou was always prepared to fake-tussle with his master. He'd been a sixteenth birthday gift to Albert from his mother, and from day one they'd been the best of friends. Every once in a while, Lou would hide himself and, when found, charge straight into Albert and have a miniature brawl. So, Albert knew all the dog's tricks. Or so he thought.

Eventually, Albert found himself flat on the ground, pinned by a furry salt-and-pepper paw. Laughing, he sat up and pulled Lou to his lap. "C'mere, you!"

His laughter stopped when he glanced up at the office entrance. Rose was standing in the doorway, smirking.

"…What did you see?" Albert asked after a moment.

"I saw you get beaten by an eight year old terrier in a wrestling match," she said.

At first, Albert was embarrassed. He sat in silence until he started laughing. Lou wagged his tail. Rose joined in the giggling and collapsed next to Albert. Soon, the little group was doubled over on the ground, all laughing like lunatics. Rosie leaned over and kissed Albert. "…Weakling," she teased, and the laughter began all over again.