Name: Mack Maiden
City: Mill Lake, New Mexico
Occupation: Pet Shop Owner
Dream Job: Pet food producer
Favorite Food: The Constance Barnes Significantly Superior Sourdough Sandwich
Favorite Drink: Wine or rum and coke
Here we are again! A new week and a new character from the upcoming novel TORCHED! Mack Maiden is a 28-year-old pet shop owner. He spends more time at work than at home, but he's determined to make it in the world of pet food distribution. Then, he meets Constance Barnes and life changes in the blink of an eye.
Armed with a business degree, Mack signed a lease agreement for a storefront on the main street of Mill Lakes, New Mexico. He's young, but his love of animals and the desire to offer customers the best products for their pets keeps him pushing to bring new products to market.
This is Barney, and he owns Mack. He's also the taste tester for the Barney cookies and Mack's constant companion. The day he escapes his leash and runs headlong into Constance Barnes, was the best day of his life.
Mack wasn't happy with his personal life the day he meet Constance on a late January day in the park. Looking into her eyes reminded him how lonely he was, and how much he would like to share his life with his imperfect match. A runaway dog, a shared sandwich, and a dark secret, bring Mack & Constance together to find out who's killing authors and why.
I patted the dog’s head. “You’ll probably have to tell Barney repeatedly because he’s a dog and not a person.”
The guy plunked down next to me on the bench, uninvited, but I let him stay. He grabbed Barney’s leash and slipped it over his wrist. “You’re right. Sometimes I forget Barney isn’t a person since we spend every minute together.”
I swallowed the bite of sandwich I had taken. “I feel you, brother. My dog Sully and I are like this,” I said, my fingers crossing.
The guy stuck his hand out. “I should introduce myself since you already know Barney. I’m Mack, and that’s one awesome looking sandwich.”
I looked at the sandwich and then to his hand. I carefully transferred the food and checked my hand for mustard before I shook his. “That’s the first time anyone has noticed the beauty that is this piece of cold cut heaven,” I said, wondering if I had any crumbs on my face. “I’m Constance, nice to meet you, Mack, and Barney.”
“I could marry a woman who makes a sandwich like that,” he commented, looking out over the park.
“But you’d rather marry a guy who makes a sandwich like this?” I asked, confused.
He laughed, his head going into his hand and he shook it. “Not at all what I meant. I guess I do spend too much time with Barney.”
I broke off the end of the sandwich that I hadn’t bit into and handed it to him. “I want you to know how big a deal this is. I dated a guy for two years and never shared my sandwich with him.”
He held up the piece in his hand. “Do you want a ring before I bite into this?” he asked, a smile trying to overtake the serious look he aimed for.
“Heavens no, just eat the sandwich before I take it back and feed it to Barney.”
“Barney can’t have any. He’s allergic to sandwiches,” he said right before he took a bite.
Barney looked at me sadly and I shrugged. “Sorry Barnes, you’re allergic.” I stopped speaking and laughed. “My last name is Barnes; that’s funny.”
“Mine’s Cuddlepuff,” Mack said around the sandwich in his mouth.
My eyes rolled and I shoved him in the shoulder a little. “Sure it is, and my middle name is unicorn.” He started to laugh and almost choked on his sandwich.
“That’s God punishing you for lying,” I said as he coughed to clear the bread from his throat.
“Okay, you got me. My last name is Maiden. I own a shop down yonder.”
“Mack Maiden. That’s catchy. I could do a lot with that,” I said. He sat silently and it took me a second to realize he didn’t know what I meant. “Sorry, I work as a marketing director. I hear a name and the first thing I think of is how to use it for marketing purposes.”
His brow fell in relief at my explanation. “Whew, I was worried for a second there. I mean I know we’ve known each other for a full five minutes now, but I’m still not ready to settle down.”
Barney barked once, as if he was warning his master not to push it.
I pointed at the dog. “What he said.”
Mack held up his hands. “Okay, okay, no more kidding around. I should be getting back to the store. Our break is only fifteen minutes. If I’m not back everybody loses their mind.” He held his hands out in a gesture that looked surprisingly like jazz hands even though he was trying to be ‘The Joker’.
“You run it by yourself?” I asked surprised.
“For now,” he said looking out over the park. “Maybe someday I’ll be able to hire an employee. I should save up and employ you as a marketer. You might be the magic bullet to put Barney & Me on the map.”
“You own Barney & Me?” I exclaimed. “I’ve been meaning to stop in every time I’m downtown, but never quite make it. Maybe Sully and I should come and visit.”
“Yes, do that! Barney and I would love to meet Sully, you don’t even have to buy anything,” he said excitedly.
“See, that’s where you go wrong,” I said pointing at him. “My first tip from a marketer would be to sell to people. It usually helps to keep the business afloat.”
He smacked himself in the forehead again and I couldn’t hide the smile. This guy had kept me entertained for ten minutes without even trying. He was down to earth, dressed nicely, and had a cute friend. His brindle brown hair hung in a swoosh over his right eye and he wore a button up short-sleeve shirt, corduroys, and loafers. I didn’t know men still wore corduroys. Don’t get me wrong, I love a guy in a pair of well-worn corduroys, but I rarely see them worn anymore. Usually men slog around in worn out blue jeans with belt loops missing. Mack topped off the, what some might call a millennial look, with a pair of black glasses that looked too big for his face from the side, but from the front made him look chic nerdy. His blue eyes looked almost black when he gazed at me and I convinced myself not to look into them. I didn’t want my panties to drop by accident. Hey, it’s been a long time since my panties have dropped anywhere but into the laundry basket...