Home > Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(9)

Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(9)
Author: Pippa Grant, Lili Valente

* * *

Ruthie_May_Is_Me: Carl, Emma June, both of you need to stop. Nothing was ever solved by fighting on InstaChat. We still on for dinner Sunday, Emma? If so, I’m making pot roast so you might want to bring some of that tofu loaf if you’re still not eating meat.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: I haven’t eaten meat in fifteen years, Gran, so yes, I will bring tofu loaf. And wine. Two bottles. I’m going to need them to keep from having a rage stroke every time I get on InstaChat and see how ass-backwards this town is.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: I’m not ass-backwards. I’m just tired of feeling uncomfortable, that’s all.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Then stop, Carl. There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable. This is just like the time Bill over at the Feed Store started wearing dresses on Fridays. Everyone was freaked out at first, but we all got used to it. You included. No, it’s not business as traditionally usual, but it’s fine. And good. And it makes people we care about happy without hurting anyone. How can we complain about that? Honestly.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: All right. I’ll try. But I’m not talking to Megan about her woman time. That’s just taking things too far.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Do you want me to talk to her? Since her mama isn’t around right now? I don’t mind.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: Well…yes, I would. Thank you. That’s real sweet of you.

* * *

Tucker87: Isn’t Emma June the sweetest? *kiss emoji* *eggplant emoji* *kiss emoji*

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Tucker, stop! UGH! Seriously. I’m going to block you from the page if you don’t stop embarrassing me.

* * *

LetItBurn1234: The fire department should have let that hell hole burn. The longer we tolerate a sex toy factory in the middle of our town, the faster we become a place decent people won’t want to call home. That factory gives more jobs to people outside Happy Cat than inside, and attendance at the fish fries and bingo nights is down forty percent. People don’t want to be here anymore. How much more money and credibility do we have to lose before the citizens of Happy Cat wake up and smell the rancid lube drying on the face of this once respectable town?

* * *

Ruthie_May_Is_Me: I resent this comment. Sunshine is a gift to our community, and brought much-needed economic improvement to a town that’s been shrinking since I was a girl. Maybe attendance is down at bingo because it’s the same night as the darts tournament at the Wild Hog.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: And who puts LUBE on their FACE? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Not to mention gross. And the fire department is in the business of saving lives, spooge for brains. There could have been people still inside the factory for all they knew.

* * *

LetItBurn1234: There’s nothing worth saving in that place, the ‘employees’ included, and everyone knows it.

* * *

Ruthie_May_Is_Me: Oh my Goodness! How awful. Who is this? Gerald is this one of your profiles?

* * *

BakeryBoyHC: No, it’s not mine. I was trying to stay out of the comments and let everybody else weigh in. But this isn’t right. Step back, LetItBurn. I don’t like that place any more than you do, but those are good people who work there. Innocent people…even if they do make an indecent number of sex toys.

* * *

LetItBurn1234: If those people know what’s good for them, they’ll start looking for another job. Sooner or later, there’s going to be an incident the first responders of Happy Cat aren’t prepared to handle and that place is going down. Be a shame if any ‘good people’ were caught in the crossfire.

* * *

BakeryBoyHC: All right, that’s enough. This is getting ugly and there’s no call for that. We can solve this the democratic way, with a special referendum election to vote on whether or not the factory should be allowed to stay. In the meantime, let’s all keep our head on our shoulders and not go off half-cocked.

* * *

Tucker87: Heh…you said half-cocked.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: *heavy sigh* Oh, Tucker…

Eight

Ryan

* * *

I get off my forty-eight-hour shift at the fire station at three a.m. Saturday morning and head home to crash for a few hours. Despite the exhaustion making my bones feel hollow—we assisted on three traffic accidents and a fairly serious grease fire during my shift, in addition to fetching George from an industrial garbage bin outside the dollar store, where he was spotted devouring the day old eggs the night manager had thrown out an hour before—I can’t sleep.

I’m too keyed up. Too ready for nine o’clock to roll around.

Too excited to see Cassie again, to give her a town tour she’s never going to forget, to see her eyes light up when I introduce her to all the good stuff she’s been missing in Happy Cat, and to find out if she’s going to look at me with that “I want to lick you up and down” gleam in her eye she had Wednesday evening.

If she does, I intend to let her lick me up, down, and any other direction she would care to lick me. And I am fully prepared to return the favor. I want a taste of Cassie’s plush mouth the way I want George to start cleaning up his own popcorn mess when he’s done watching old episodes of The Cat Whisperer on Animal Planet on the couch.

I’m not sure if he’s intrigued by the cat whisperer’s soothing voice or trying to pick up a few tricks for achieving world domination over the feral cats in our neighborhood, but nothing holds his attention and keeps him out of trouble better. So when he crawls into bed with me a little after four, I turn on the little TV on my bureau and pull up an episode on Hulu.

In just a few minutes, The Cat Whisperer has worked his magic on me too, and I’m out like a light.

The next time I open my eyes, it’s to the droning of my alarm notifying me that it’s eight thirty. I stumble into the shower before I’m fully awake, still drowsy, but determined to get pretty for Cassie. I dry off, run some gel through my hair, and dress in khaki cargo shorts and a tee shirt I dug out of my drawer just for her. I bustle about the kitchen, packing snacks and lunch and putting several bottles of homemade lemonade on ice in my mini cooler, along with a couple of surprises. I load everything into the saddlebags on my bike and push Big Blue over to Cassie’s place.

Promptly at nine, I ring her bell. She opens the door so fast, she must have been waiting on the other side, making me smile even before I see her shirt.

“You always wear the most perfect shirts,” I say, nodding toward her Internet Was Down, So I Thought I’d Go Outside Today tee shirt.

“Yours isn’t bad, either,” she says, laughing as she points a finger at my chest where the Sunshine Sex Toy Mascot, Sunny, is getting a big hug from an equally blissed-out looking cat. “Happy Cats Love Sunshine. Was that a gift from Savannah?”

I shake my head. “Nope. I bought one at the gift shop yesterday while we were there on a follow-up visit for the arson investigation. As a show of solidarity. I was hoping I might see you there, but they said you were down at the sheriff’s office. Everything all right?”

Her smile droops at the edges. “Some anonymous creep was making veiled threats about doing something to the factory on the town InstaChat page.”

“I saw that,” I say grimly. “Any progress on figuring out who it was?”

“No. I went to talk to the sheriff about it, but he was at a loss about how to handle a cyber situation. I tried to explain tracking IP addresses to him, but it was like explaining hot air balloons to a fish. And I doubt InstaChat would respond to a request from a small-town sheriff for private information on a user anyway. Sheriff Briggs was sympathetic and said he would keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but…”

“But you’re not expecting much,” I say, wishing I knew something about tracking down cyber trolls. But I’m as clueless as the next guy whose Internet expertise begins and ends with turning his modem on and off in hopes it will fix itself when the signal goes out. All I can do is promise, “Jessie, my chief, and I are keeping a close eye on Sunshine, day and night. We’re doing our best to make sure no one gets hurt. And who knows, the lab results might give us a clue who this spooge for brains really is.”

Cassie’s smile comes out from behind the clouds. “I liked that comment too. Emma June is funnier than I remember. And Tucker even dumber. What does she see in that man?”

I laugh. “Don’t quote me, but I’m guessing it has something to do with his face and his muscles. I hear women like those things.”

“They do, but I’d rather have a guy who makes me laugh.”

“Why not have both?” I tease in a way that makes it pretty damned clear I’m flirting with her. Or trying to anyway. But Cassie only nods calmly and says, “Yeah, that could be good too. Do I need to bring anything? Aside from my wallet and phone?”

“No wallet or phone needed if you don’t want them.” I step back, motioning toward where my bike is parked at the end of her drive. “I’ve got everything we need for a day of fun, adventure, and eating all the snacks.”

Cassie shuts the door behind her. “I already know I’ll like that part of the underbelly tour. Eating all the snacks is one of my favorite things.”

“You want to start now?” I ask. “Have you had breakfast?”

She shakes her head. “No, I haven’t, but I’m not hungry. I don’t do food until after ten o’clock and at least three cups of coffee. I’ve had two so far.”

“Perfect, because we’re bound for number three.” I head down the walk while she grabs her bike from the far side of the covered porch. “And I’ll point out that being able to leave your sweet, dildo-handlebarred bike out all night without locking it up is one of the many benefits to living in a small town.”

Cassie laughs. “You’re right. In the city, this bad boy would be gone in a heartbeat. I could probably mass produce dildo handlebars and sell thousands of them during Pride Week.”

   
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