Willa dropped her head to Keane’s chest and thunked it a few times, hoping it would clear her thoughts. Instead, since his chest was hard as concrete, she gave herself a mini concussion. “What am I going to do with you?” she asked.
“I’ve got a few suggestions.”
She lifted her head and took in the heated amusement in his dark gaze. And something else too, something that stole her breath and made it all but impossible to look away. “Keane,” she whispered and shifted in closer.
His hands went to her hips and he lowered his head slowly. A sigh shuddered out of her and she closed her eyes as his lips fell on hers. Dropping the mistletoe, she wrapped her arms around his neck, the silky strands of his hair slipping through her fingers.
With a rough sound that came from deep in his chest he pulled her closer, his hands threading through her hair to change the angle of the kiss, taking it deeper. With one tug he bared her throat and dragged his mouth from hers only to scrape his teeth along her skin.
She gasped in pleasure and need and probably would have slid to the floor in a boneless heap if his muscled thigh hadn’t been thrust between hers, both holding her up and creating a heat at her core that made her forget why she wasn’t ready for him.
Her body couldn’t be more ready.
But then he gentled his touch and nuzzled his face in the crook of her neck. Sweet. Tender. And with what sounded like a low chuckle, he pulled back.
She struggled to open her eyes. “Wow,” she whispered.
With a soft laugh that turned her on even more, he brushed one last kiss to her temple. “Lock up, Willa. Dream of me.”
And she knew she would.
Keane woke up on Sunday to a clanking, clattering that sounded like a flock of birds had gotten into his bedroom and were beating their wings against the window trying to get out.
Sitting straight up in bed, he whipped his head to the window, expecting to see a blood bath.
Instead he saw his shades all out of whack with a suspicious cat-size bulge behind them. Then a black face and searing blue eyes peeked from between two slats. And then four paws.
“So you’re stuck,” he said.
Shaking his head, he got up and attempted to separate her from the shades. She wasn’t having it. In fact, she lost her collective shit.
“This would be a lot easier if you stopped hissing and spitting at me,” he said.
Her ears went back and she tried to bite him.
“Do that again and I’ll leave you here,” he warned.
She switched to a low, continuous growl. When he finally got her loose, she stalked off, head high, tail switching back and forth, pissy to her very core.
Shaking his head, he turned to the shades.
He searched out his cell phone and called Sass. She didn’t pick up so he left a message. “I know it’s Sunday, but if you’re around, I could use some help. Call me back.”
He disconnected and met Pita’s still pissy gaze. She’d come back in, probably to remind him that she was an inch from starving to death. “She’s not going to call me back,” he said.
He tried Mason next. Also went to voice mail. Shit. He fed the heathen and hit the shower. He was halfway through when he felt like he was being watched. He opened his eyes after rinsing off his shampoo and found Pita sitting on the tile just outside the shower, staring him down.
It wasn’t often he felt vulnerable, but he had the urge to cup himself. “Problem?” he asked her.
She gave one slow-as-an-owl blink. “Mew.”
She didn’t sound angry. In fact, she sounded . . . lonely. Seeming to prove that point, she actually took a step into the walk-in shower.
“Watch out,” he warned her. “You’re not going to like it.”
And indeed, when the water hit her square in the face, she slitted her eyes and glared at him as she retreated back to the safety zone. Lifting a paw she began to meticulously wash her face free of the evil water that had dared land on her.
“I told you so,” he said and stilled.
I told you so.
It’d been a common refrain of his parents whenever he’d done something they’d considered stupid. And admittedly, he’d done a lot of stupid. Such as when he’d broken his leg in his sophomore year of college and lost his football scholarship.
“Smarts never fail you,” his father had said. “Science never fails you. Being a professor is a job that won’t fail you. I told you that you needed a backup plan.”
“Holy shit,” Keane muttered, shaking my head. “I just opened my mouth and my father came out.”
Pita sneezed but it sounded like a derisive snort.
A little traumatized, Keane got dressed and then stood there in his foyer, staring down at Pita, who’d followed him to the door. “I have to go to the North Beach job to check on yesterday’s progress,” he said. “Wait here and don’t destroy anything.”
She gave him one blink, slow as an owl.
“Shit.” She was totally going to destroy something. Maybe several somethings. “Listen . . .” He crouched low to look her in the eyes. “I can’t take you to kitty day care today; it’s closed. And Sass and Mason are ignoring me because it’s Sunday.”
She just kept staring at him. Didn’t even blink.
“Shit,” he said again and pointed to the carrier. “Your only other option is to come with me but that’s a bad idea—”
Before he’d finished the sentence, Pita had walked right into her carrier without fuss or a single hiss.
Shocked, he zipped up the bright pink bedazzled case and met the blue eyes through the mesh. “Look, I know you’re unhappy about all of this, but we’re stuck with each other for now.”
She did more of that no-blinking thing.
“How about this,” he said. “I promise to do the best I can, and in return you promise to stop taking a dump in my shoes.”
Pita turned her back on him.
“Okay then. Good talk.” He carried her out the door and to the truck, driving her to North Beach. When he parked on the street in front of a café two doors down from his building, a group of women stood on the sidewalk talking to each other at ninety miles an hour.
“. . . Just wait until you bite into their warm cinnamon buns . . .”