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He had no choice but to let her in. Kahlua, meantime, hearing a familiar voice, meowed from the bathroom. “Um, I’ll go get her, I guess,” he mumbled unhappily.
Annoyingly, Sophie followed behind him and when he opened the bathroom door, glanced in as Kahlua ran out. She looked at him with a smirky, half perplexed expression. “You have a litter box in there,” she said.
He had to come up with something. “Uh, yeah. Like my girlfriend had a cat and I just didn’t get that put away yet.”
“Really?” said Sophie, giving him a long, exploratory stare.
He looked at the floor. Kahlua, meantime, was winding around his legs.
“You like her, don’t you?” said Sophie.
He nodded in the manner of a hand-in-the-cookie-jar little boy.
She was silent for a moment. “How about this? You keep her till my sister gets back. It would be a huge favor. I have my hands full as it is.”
“Really?” said Marcus.
“Yeah,” said Sophie. “Just don’t get too attached. While my sister — her name is Cynthia — is pretty indifferent about cats, her partner Nicki is crazy about Kahlua. They’re lesbians and the cat is their child, so to speak. At least for now.”
Marcus perked up. “At least for now?”
“They want to start the process of having a baby once they get back. Nicki produces short films. They’re doing one in Liverpool right now.”
“Uh huh,” he said.
“So, you’ve got about six weeks. Or less.”
He nodded. “Thank you, Sophie.”
She gave him a piercing look. “Do not get too attached. I’m warning you.”
It did cross his mind several times to move without telling Sophie he was going, but doing so would be difficult. He saw her almost every day in the parking lot or she would borrow something or bring him brownies or just stop by to see Kahlua. Sometimes she brought Tracy along. Kahlua was such a part of his life now that he couldn’t imagine how he’d ever done without her.
“What happened to your girlfriends?” Sophie asked.
Marcus was surprised. “What? You kept an eye on me before we met?”
“Not really,” she said, “but I couldn’t help but notice women visiting you.”
“I haven’t had time,” he said. That wasn’t true. His friend Scott had tried to fix him up once or twice but Marcus had declined. It was depressing to think about going through all that relationship stuff again with the inevitable ending.
Suddenly one evening he was interrupted by a knock on the door and he could tell by the sound of it that it wasn’t Sophie. He glanced at Kahlua cuddled on his lap and entertained the thought of hiding her and claiming she’d run away, but the knocking was persistent.
With a feeling of dread, he slo-mo’d to the door and opened it.
“You have our cat,” said a woman taller than he was and possibly the same weight. He was five foot eleven and one-eighty-five. She looked like she bench-pressed two hundred pounds. He’d been, of late, neglecting the gym. Her chestnut hair hung in a thick braid over one shoulder.
His muscles tightened. He felt his blood surge and ready for battle.
“She’s my cat now,” he said.
The woman moved to step through the door, but he slammed it in her face and bolted it.
What had he done? He didn’t have long to ponder this question. His cell phone rang and it was Sophie.