Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This week the theme is life is beautiful. I’m going to share a scene from a bit later in Stalking Evan than Chapter 1, when Cooley is excited that maybe she’s getting through to her grouchy neighbor. Life in this particular moment in the book, as far as Cooley is concerned, is pretty great.
Cooley sniffed, more discreetly than he had, and noticed most of his irritation had dissipated. Good. Perhaps he’d listen to reason now. “I always figured the cats visited me because I put food out for them, but if they come to you, too, it’s not the food. What if they watch us because they know what we are?”
“Huh.” His eyes glinted, like he’d considered it but couldn’t bear to agree with her. If only he’d quit being so stubborn. Didn’t he see what an ally she could be?
She certainly saw him as a potential ally. Among other things. His resistance wasted their time, as did this kooky discussion about mind-controlling cats.
“Thank you so much for telling me this,” she continued. “I didn’t know the cats liked you too. It’s fascinating. I wish I could talk to them.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Don’t you?”
“But other panthers can talk to them?”
“Would you care to move our conversation to the den?” The soothing marine blue and green colors of the decor might calm Evan the rest of the way. “You can tell me about our people and their cats,” she offered, trying not to sound too eager.
He rubbed his chest again and shifted his weight. “I can’t stay long.”
“Why not? It’s barely eight.” She didn’t know if it was because she was a panther, but she’d always been fairly nocturnal.
“I have to…you know.” He tilted his head toward the park.
She laced her fingers in front of her. “I can help you with that,” she said, hoping it was true.
He crossed his arms. “How?”
“You can start by finishing off a cake with me.” Whenever she felt an inconvenient urge to run, she ate chocolate or papayas, performed yoga, took a hot shower with scented bath gel, things that increased her serenity. If the urge to shift was particularly bad, she went for a swim at the recreation center. Immersion in a pool snapped her out of it in a way that bathing didn’t. “I find that de-stressing helps. Have you tried yoga?”
“No.” His gaze cut toward her kitchen, visible through a doorway in the dining room where they stood. “What kind of cake?”
“Chocolate. Technically it’s a triple chocolate dream cake with whipped icing.” When she’d realized serenity helped tame the tiger, so to speak, she’d experimented with different things that enhanced serotonin levels. Within reason, of course, because she did not approve of recreational drugs. “Does that sound too sweet for you? It’s sweeter than the apple pie.”
Caught in a fib, he had the good grace to look sheepish. “Sounds okay.”
“Milk to drink? Or would you prefer a nice red wine?”
“Mi— No, I would not like cake,” he said.
“I’m going to have some. It’s no bother.”
“All right, fine. I can hold off five minutes.” He rubbed his arms briskly. “The more I fight it, the more it hurts.”
Aw. Her lingering annoyance washed right away at that admission.
“Bless your heart. Let me get you some chocolate. It really will help.” He followed her into the kitchen, where she divided the remaining cake into two slices and poured milk. If she gave him wine, he might think she was trying to get him drunk.
She put the cold glass into his hand, their skin brushing. It tingled like the first time they’d touched. Prickles spidered up her arm.
He gave a brief shudder.
Cooley wagged a finger at him. “I know you felt that. Admit it.”
He stared at her. At least it wasn’t a glare. “Static.”
“It is not.” She wanted to touch him again. “Can I try—”
“It’s a panther thing, isn’t it?” She pretended she didn’t mind the fact he kept telling her no. “Right?”
“Have it your way.”
Oh, she would. Eventually.
Places you can buy “Stalking Evan”:
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Mandy M Roth