Excerpt from The Cat Came Back
She said rather breathlessly, "I told him I wanted a divorce from Frank."
Quinn's arm tightened for a few seconds before he pulled away. "A divorce? Do you think that was wise?"
She shrugged. Even though it was just a hug, she missed the warmth of his body against hers, the strength of his arm holding her secure. "I figured it sounded realistic coming from a woman whose husband deserted her and ran off with another woman." She shot a quick look at him from underneath her lashes. He was a great looking guy, dressed now in jeans and a V-necked sweater that hugged his body and showed off his toned physique. He was frowning, his expression concerned. She smiled at him, but he didn't smile back. Her smile faded.
"Did he ask how long you've been planning this?"
"No. He just told me that Noelle deserved to have both of her parents raising her." She looked down at her feet. "It's a reasonable point of view, but so is the concept of a divorce. Frank was an addict. I wanted him to get treatment, but he wouldn't or couldn't. Frank and I bickered about his drug use for at least a year before he disappeared. I told him his habit was interfering with Noelle's life and mine, and that if he didn't stop, I'd leave him and take Noelle with me."
"But you didn't."
She shook her head, staring, not at Quinn, but at the house across the way. It was painted a different color from hers, but the trim was white, just as it was on her unit. "He kept promising he'd change, and I kept saying if he didn't I'd leave. Every time we argued a little part of my love for him died. Every time Noelle said, 'Where's Daddy tonight, Mommy?' I bled for her and cursed her father, until there was nothing left of what I'd felt when I married him. I suppose on the surface we seemed to have a stable marriage. That's why guys like Gerry Fisher are surprised when I mention divorce."
"Living with a drug addict must be tough."
Quinn's matter-of-fact tone was a balm. She glanced over at him with a smile. Then her heart stopped at the intensity in his eyes.
Hey babe! What's up?
Christy dragged her gaze away from Quinn's intriguing expression to see Stormy the Cat emerge from some bushes and trot up the road. In his mouth was a mouse. A dead mouse. She hoped. "What have you done?"
Quinn frowned, clearly puzzled.
Christy shook her head and pointed. "Not you, Quinn, the cat. What's he got in his mouth?"
His brows snapped together in a frown. "Looks like Stormy is a mouser."
"Frank! Make Stormy take that poor creature back into the bushes and bury it. Immediately."
Stormy reached the bottom of her stairs. He spat out the mouse then sat down and licked each front paw in turn. The cat is pleased with himself. I don't think burying the mouse is in the cards, Chris.
"Ugh," Christy said. "Are you going to eat it?"
There was a mental sigh.
"I'll find some tuna," Christy said a little desperately. The cat raised his chin and fixed wide green eyes on her.
"The mention of tuna seems to have struck a chord," Quinn said.
"I think I'm being blackmailed," Christy said. She shook her finger at the cat. "No tuna unless you give that poor creature a proper burial."
The cat stared at her, unblinking.
He's reluctant. He wants the mouse and the tuna too. I'm working on him.
"The deal's off if the mouse isn't buried."
The cat scrutinized her for another minute, then picked up the mouse and trotted off down the road. When he disappeared into the shrubbery Quinn said, "That almost makes me believe the cat is communicating with you."
She smiled. "And if you believe the cat is communicating, will you also believe he's a reincarnation of Frank?"
Quinn's mouth quirked. "A hallucination, maybe."
Christy stood up, ready to fulfill her part of the bargain. "It sure would fit in with his lifestyle."