Melanie Blythe has a house, a career, and a cat. She doesn’t need a man. But she isn’t the only one who’s noticed the gorgeous cop down the street. When her faithless cat prances home from the cop’s house with a note tucked in his collar, it might be the beginning of something beautiful…or it might be Melanie’s death warrant.
Detective Finn DeLuca is stuck at home recovering from a hit-and-run accident, and has plenty of time to wonder about the woman two doors down. There’s something mysterious about the beautiful brunette, and he’s determined to get to know her.
But someone else has other plans.
As the two grow closer, someone is watching—and waiting. Sooner or later, their chance will come.
And the two lovebirds will never see it coming.
It was the cat’s fault. She certainly never would have gotten involved if it hadn’t appeared in her life, much preferring to keep to herself and mind her own business. She wasn’t even a cat person, for heaven’s sake! She wasn’t much of a dog person, either, but now she had one of each, apparently. Fluff had belonged to Aunt Karen, and Melanie had made a deathbed promise to take care of the small white mutt. Who else would understand Fluff needed his food heated for exactly eight seconds in the microwave and would only eat from the Blue Willow dishes? Of course Melanie had promised to continue to care for the elderly little mop. Sigh.
As for the cat, she’d seen the paw prints first. She was rinsing her dishes in the sink and noticing how much dust had accumulated on the bay windowsill when she frowned and leaned in for a closer look. There was definitely a trail of small animal prints in the thick dust and what looked like a butt print where something had sat and stared out the kitchen window. What the…? Melanie glanced across the room at Fluff, curled up in his little bed, and shook her head. “Some guard dog you’ve turned out to be.”
The cat itself showed up the night after Aunt Karen’s funeral. It must have come in through the doggy door, but Melanie was too busy crying to notice. She’d held herself together all day long through the funeral and reception at the church, and was finally able to allow her emotions free rein. It scared the crap out of her when the cat jumped on the table and began purring and rubbing it’s furry little face against hers, as if trying to cheer her up.
She picked up the chair she’d knocked over and sat down to pet the ginger cat, who sat on the kitchen table staring at her. “Where in the world did you come from?” There was no collar. “You look like you’ve been through the ringer.” The cat had a torn ear and rough coat. She found a can of tuna in the pantry and added a small bowl of milk beside it as the cat made short work of the meal before leaping back on the kitchen table to lick its paws.
“Make yourself at home,” Melanie muttered as she put the cat’s dishes in the dishwasher. “Doesn’t this bother you at all? This cat just waltzed into your home and took over.” She addressed the words to Fluff, who continued to snore in his little blue bed. “Apparently not.”
She put it out before she retired for the night, but it was sleeping on the end of her bed the next morning. It left soon after breakfast, but returned later that night and every night for the next week. She started calling him Cooper, and finally broke down and bought him a blue collar and heart-shaped nametag. She’d made a vet appointment for him too, but they couldn’t get him in until next week.
The note was attached to his new collar; she felt it when she pulled him on her lap as they settled in to watch Wheel of Fortune the next day. She didn’t really care for the game show, but it had become a habit when Aunt Karen was still alive and she’d continued to watch for some reason. “What’s this?” She unfolded the small piece of notebook paper, Pat Sajak forgotten for the moment.
Dear Nice Lady,
I love my new collar and ID tag. Thanks for taking such good care of me and giving me a warm place to sleep every night. The nice man two doors down is writing this note for me on account of my not having opposable thumbs. He noticed me leaving your house this morning. He’s a pretty nice guy and I’ve been spending my mornings with him recently. I especially enjoy helping him read his newspaper. I like to lie on it and make sure it doesn’t get away, which is a very important job, let me assure you. Every once in a while I take a bite out of one of the pages if I dislike what is written there. This morning I felt compelled to bite the sports page when the man read the score from the Astros/Braves game and said a naughty word. I wanted to express my solidarity with him in his disappointment over the Astros’ loss.
It is with some regret that I have to inform you that, while I like the color blue, I am definitely a female and feel the name “Cooper” may be a bit masculine. The nice man calls me CJ. What do you think about it? I like it a lot.
“What in the world?” She re-read the note and laughed softly at the way he’d written from the cat’s perspective. She bit her lip as she realized who the author must be. Two doors down to the left was an elderly widow, so it had to be the young guy two doors to the right, who’d moved in about six months ago. She’d only seen him from a distance, but she could tell he was good-looking: tall, dark hair, well built. He was a police officer—she’d caught glimpses of him in his uniform and he often parked his police car in his driveway—but he’d been gone for several months. She’d wondered if he moved or something. Actually, her writer’s imagination had dreamed up all sorts of scenarios that included him being deep undercover in a drug ring or organized crime syndicate. She’d seen several different young women coming and going when he was still there and figured he must be something of a ladies’ man. Should she respond to the note? What could possibly come of this? She shook her head and reached for a piece of stationary. Why should anything come of it? She would simply write back and that would be the end of it. She thought for a few minutes, then wrote quickly and folded it up before she could reconsider.
There. He could respond or not. It was totally up to him.
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