Enjoy this short story featuring Snowball the kitten in her new home, Weber Haus, a beautiful Victorian inn filled with love. Wrapping up from the part 1:
PICKING UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF…
“It’s too late for that,” Morgan managed to choke the words out. Shaking Nick off, she started up the stairs.
Except Snowball ran past her and then turned, hopping into her path so that Morgan had no place to step.
“Move,” she whispered at the cat. Desperation to save face and get the heck out of here prodded her to go faster.
She tried to take another step, and Snowball hopped in the way again. “Darn it, cat. Emily was right about you.”
“I love you.”
She jerked to a halt at Nick’s words low-voiced words. Then shook her head, because she couldn’t have heard him right. This was the same man who’d broken things off with her. Who’d said he wasn’t sure if he loved her and it wasn’t fair to keep her waiting.
Who’d taken her heart and stomped on it until she was bruised and bleeding on the inside.
Morgan leaned over, scooped Snowball up in her hands so the kitten couldn’t get in her way again…and walked away.
Shock held Nick immobile at the bottom of the steps.
Morgan walked away. Hadn’t even acknowledged his declaration, as blurted out as it had been. She’d done the one thing he was trying to stop.
He ran a hand through his hair, no doubt standing the thick, sandy strands up on end, and glanced at the woman who’d greeted him at the door.
Emma? No, Emily. She stood with her eyes wide, and eyebrows practically in her hair. “Not what I was hoping for,” he said with a self-deprecating smile.
“Clearly,” she said back.
That was no help. “What do I do?”
Emily huffed a laugh. “You must be desperate, asking a total stranger something like that. How should I know?”
“I’m head over heels in love with the woman.” He shook his head. “I can’t give up on us. Not yet.”
How could he have been so stupid as to take his dad’s advice in the first place? His father, on wife number four, who seemed to view love as some elusive thing that he could catch if he tried enough women on for size, instead of as a life-long commitment that took work and guts.
“I was an idiot.” He had no idea why he was telling Emily this.
“That’s an understatement,” a soft voice said from the top of the stairs.
Nick whipped around to find Morgan standing at the top of the stairs, the white kitten squiggling around in her hand, clearly wanting release. He sucked in sharply, for a moment wondering if this beautiful but old, Victorian-style inn was haunted and now he was seeing a ghost of exactly what he wanted.
She’d come back. He had no idea why, and he didn’t deserve it, but she’d come back.
Morgan put the kitten down then set her feet and crossed her arms. Definitely still angry and untrusting. He’d done that to her. But she was here.
“Why?” she demanded.
“Why what?” There were a hundred and three questions she could be asking. Better to clarify.
“Why did you break up with me and then ask me to marry you?”
Only the truth would work. She wasn’t going to like it. “My dad.”
She frowned. “John? What about him?”
He grimaced. This was seriously not going to go over well. “He said that when I found the woman I loved, I should break up with her. If she goes back to her life easily, then she doesn’t really love me, and it wasn’t meant to be. If she runs, she loves me.” He shrugged. “You ran.”
Morgan stared at him with a zero reaction, not even a bat of her eyelashes.
The kitten now sitting at her feet put out a paw, as if to ask if Morgan was all right. At the small touch, Morgan shook her head. “Let me get this straight. Your father—as sweet as he is—who is messed up when it comes to women, is who you decided to take advice from when it comes to our relationship?”
Nick didn’t look away or blink or fidget, which perhaps she expected him to do. “I was an idiot.”
“Yes, you were.”
Though her expression didn’t change, Nick took a small amount of hope from her quip. Hidden in the pain was the woman he’d come to adore—sharp, spunky, and loved a good laugh. “I knew it the moment you walked out the door,” he said.
Morgan crossed her arms. “Uh-huh.” She wasn’t buying it.
Desperation had him clenching his hands at his side. How did he make her see? “I ran after you, but you disappeared.”
A small frown twitched at her brows. “A taxi happened to be waiting outside your building.”
He nodded. “So I went to your apartment, but you weren’t there.”
She blinked now. Please let her believe him. “I got in my car and drove.”
“Yeah. It took me a while to figure out where and follow you.” Understatement. “Did didn’t warn me to put a tracking device on the woman I loved so that, when she ran, I’d be able to keep up.”
Morgan snorted. More derisive than amused, but still, the bands clenched around his lungs eased a tiny bit with hope.
“How did you?” she asked. “Find me I mean?”
“You finally turned your cell phone on, and we shared accounts, so you popped up on my map.”
She raised her eyes to the ceiling as if she’d find serenity up there. She wouldn’t. If she was hurting half as badly as he was, the only peace they would find was with each other. God, he’d messed this up so badly.
“So you love me,” she said. Only her arms were still crossed, and the words dripped in skepticism.
No turning back now. Pulling the box he’d been carrying around for weeks out of his pocket, he dropped to his knee as he opened the lid.
“I loved you the day you got that horrible cold and tried to keep me out of your apartment so I wouldn’t see you all red and puffy.”
She opened her mouth, but only a squeak came out.
He took heart and kept going. “I loved you more the day you told me I would never be like my father. But I knew I wanted to marry you the day we had our first fight.”
Her gaze, glued to the ring in his hands, lifted slowly to his. “Our first fight?”
“You fight fair.” His lips tipped in a smile. “Marry me?”
“Why should I?” The wobble to her voice just about shredded his heart. He’d done that to her. If she let him, he’d spend the rest of his life making it up to her.
“Because you love me, too.”
Morgan closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Swallowing back tears? Nick waited, praying silently. Please let her forgive me.
She snapped her eyes open. “Only if I get to pick what we watch on TV—”
He was up the stairs to her, wrapping her in his arms, breathing in the familiar, air-fresh scent of her. He buried his face in her hair, arms shaking as relief flooded his muscles. “Thank God,” he murmured.
“I’m not done,” she whispered. But she was teasing now. He could hear it in her voice.
He pulled back to find her smiling. “Oh?”
“Along with the remote, I’m in charge of the thermostat.”
He released her, but only enough to slip the ring out of its box and onto her finger where it belonged. His mother’s ring. “Anything, just so long as you’re my wife.”
“Then I guess we have a deal.”
With a laugh he kissed her, staked a claim on those lips that no man would ever touch again. Soft lips that had shared a thousand kisses. Lips that tasted of salt. Tears. He sucked in a breath pulling back and ran the pad of his thumbs over her cheeks. “Now you cry?”
“Only happy tears.” Her smile lit him up from the inside.
He pulled her close again, heart aching that he been the cause of any other kind. “That’s a promise.”
“Mrrrow.” Breaking apart, they both looked down to find the small white kitten hopping around their feet and what appeared to be a happy little dance.
Morgan laughed, the sound lifting his heart. “Oh, Snowball,” she said.
Love a matchmaking kitten? Look for Snowball’s Christmas, a full length novel coming October 2020 with Kensington.