“I live next door, and my cat—”
He cuts me off, frowning. “What?”
“My cat came in through the window. I . . .” I look around again. “I followed him in.”
“You could’ve knocked on the door.”
“Are you crazy?”
“Must be crazy.” He shakes his head, and I narrow my eyes.
Okay, yeah, I messed up by breaking into his house, but he’s seriously starting to piss me off by cutting me off and calling me crazy. Plus, I didn’t even know this was his house—or anyone’s, for that matter.
“I’m not crazy.” I put my hands behind me and heft my booty up off the ground. “I didn’t know you lived here. I didn’t know anyone moved in. The house has been empty for months.”
“So you’re telling me you missed the big-ass yellow moving truck parked in the driveway?” he questions, and I bite my lip, because I obviously did miss the big-ass yellow moving truck parked in the driveway. “You also missed that the For Sale sign was taken from the front lawn weeks ago?”
Okay, I missed that too. Then again, I haven’t really been paying attention.
“Oops.” I roll my lips together, and his eyes drop to my mouth before he pulls them away to look up at the ceiling, muttering something under his breath I can’t make out.
I look down at my feet when something soft glides along my ankles, and I see Mouse. I quickly scoop him up and hold him tightly against my chest. “Bad kitty,” I say, and he rubs his face against my jaw, purring. “You’re definitely living up to your reputation.”
I’m unable to stop myself from kissing the top of his furry head. In his defense, the pound did warn me about him. They said he was shifty and free spirited and that I would have to keep an eye on him because he’s a runner, which is why every time he’s been adopted, he’s been brought back to the pound. “You’re lucky you’re so cute.” I kiss his head again.
“Do you always talk to your cat?”
Crap, how did I forget where I was or who I was with? “Not always.” I don’t look up at him because I don’t want him to see how pink my cheeks are.
“I think I read somewhere that crazy people talk to their animals,” he says, and my eyes fly up to his.
“Just saying.” He smirks.
I snap, “Can I use your front door?”
His smirk turns into a lazy grin, and his eyes scour the length of me, making my skin feel hot. “I don’t know.” He shrugs one bare shoulder. “I’m kinda tempted to watch you crawl back out the way you came in.”
“You . . . you . . . I don’t even know what you are!” I sputter as my cheeks get warm.
He laughs, throwing his head back in hilarity. “Lucky for you, sweetheart, I feel like being a gentleman.” He turns for the door, still laughing, and I glare daggers at his back as I follow him out of the room and down a long hall to the front door. He turns to face me, and I hold my head high and continue glaring at him as I march past him out the door. “See you around.”
“Don’t count on it!” I shout over my shoulder, lifting my hand to flip him the bird, but I stop when Mouse starts to wiggle away from me again. I fumble with my cat in the jerk’s front yard, trying to get ahold of him while listening to the loud, obnoxious laughter behind me. When I finally have Mouse firmly in my grasp, I quicken my steps and head up my porch and then right through my front door. I drop Mouse back on his perch before going to the couch and falling back onto it.
I close my eyes, then open them back up when Mouse jumps up to my chest. “Let’s make a deal.” I lift him up to get his full attention. “From now on, you only run out of the house when I’m dressed and have brushed my hair.”
“Meowww.” He reaches out and paws my nose.
“It was worth a shot.” I sit up and tuck him under my chin. “On the plus side, I doubt Mr. Hottie next door is going to forget me anytime soon.” I sigh and then continue on a mumble, “On the not-so-plus side, I doubt Mr. Hottie next door is going to forget me anytime soon.”
“Meowww,” Mouse agrees, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
AVOID, AVOID, AVOID, OR AT LEAST TRY TO
When I pull into my driveway, I automatically look at the house next door, glancing away quickly when I notice my new neighbor getting out of a large black truck. I know I should acknowledge him—give him a friendly wave or even stop to ask if he’s settling in okay—but I don’t. Instead, I quickly hit the remote for my garage door and glide my car inside, letting out a relieved breath when the door closes behind me.