Snowball’s 1st Taste of Matchmaking – Part 2

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.

THE END

Love a matchmaking kitten? Look for Snowball’s Christmas, a full length novel coming October 2020 with Kensington.

Snowball’s 1st Taste of Matchmaking – Part 1

Enjoy this short story featuring Snowball the kitten in her new home, Weber Haus, a beautiful Victorian inn filled with love. She’s about to get her first taste of matchmaking…

“Snowball? Snowball?”

“She’s in here,” Morgan called.

A few seconds later, a head popped round the corner to the sitting room where Morgan was curled up on a rather uncomfortable antique settee. Emily Diemer, one of the two ladies who ran the bed and breakfast, took one glance at the tiny white fluffball of a kitten snuggled in the crook of Morgan’s legs and smiled.

“That kitten is going to be the death of me,” Emily said, shaking her dark head as she came further into the room.

“This sweet little thing?” Morgan ran a hand over Snowball’s soft fur, and the baby stretched adorably, giving a little yawn.

Emily snorted. “Her halo is held on by little devil horns.”

Morgan chuckled, but couldn’t agree. This little cat, still so tiny and precious, had been her constant companion. Given that she’d come to Weber Haus to lick her wounds in relative private, Morgan had appreciated the snuggles and tiny just sitting together more than she could say.

Emily tipped her chin at the sunlight streaming through the one window in the small room. “I assumed you’d be out enjoying the beautiful weather while it lasts. Shopping maybe.”

Morgan glanced outside. Snow would cover the rolling hills and trees almost completely bare of leaves soon. “I’m a bit of a homebody. I hope that’s okay.”

“Of course. You might enjoy some of the books on the shelves in the formal living room.” Emily turned to leave.

“Actually…” Morgan called her back, suddenly needing more than Snowball. A human to talk to would be nice. “I just had my heart smashed to pieces and I’m hiding from the world for a bit.” Why she’d felt compelled to share, she wasn’t sure, except she’d been sitting here letting loneliness and heartbreak keep her in a state of inaction, the same way rust turned the Tin Man to a statue.

Emily’s eyes darkened with empathy and she dropped to sit beside Morgan on the settee. “I’m so sorry to hear that. You stay as long as you need—”

The bell over the front door jangled softly and Emily grimaced. “We’re expecting a new guest today. I’ll be right back.”

Morgan sighed as Emily hurried away. By the time the young woman, about her age Morgan guessed, returned, she’d probably have talked herself out of sharing.

Her hand on Snowball paused in a rhythmic petting as the low rumble of a voice coming from the foyer sounded way too familiar.

“No way,” Morgan muttered.

Snowball gave a squeak of protest as Morgan hurriedly got up. A quick peek around the corner, and Morgan jerked back into the sitting room, her heart doing a decent impersonation of a jail break. What on earth was Nick Jensen doing here?

“Oh my God,” she whispered, and looked frantically around the room. If she tried to escape via the hallway, he’d see her. The window seemed the only way out. A ridiculous idea, but sometimes desperation trumped common sense.

As soon as she opened the window, which thankfully slid up without a sound, Snowball gave a loud meow. Really loud given how tiny that kitten was.

“Shhhhh.” Morgan waived her off.

“Meow,” Snowball answered with even more gusto to Morgan’s sensitive years.

Which only made Morgan move faster. Or try to at least. Ignoring the animal, she managed to get one leg out the window only to realize that the drop was much further than her short legs could reach.

With a grunt, she glanced at Snowball. “I think I’m stuck,” she whispered.

With another meow, the kitten ran from the room.

“Great. Abandoned by a white puffball,” Morgan muttered.

She pushed further outside, twisting and reaching as far as she could, until she was hanging by the hook of her knee, and still couldn’t reach the ground with her swinging foot.

“Meow,” she vaguely heard from inside.

Snowball had returned?

“Need some help with that?”

Morgan froze where she dangled, then slowly looked up into a pair of laughing green eyes. Eyes she’d thought she wanted to see every morning for the rest of her life. Eyes framed by a strong, straight nose, a surprisingly generous mouth, and a jaw shadowed by dark stubble. Snowball had not helped her at all. The little cat may have run to get help, but the help she’d brought was the same man Morgan never wanted to see again.

“Nope,” she said. “I’m doing just fine on my own.”

Nick’s grin widened. “I can see that.”

Ignoring her glare of protest, he reached out the window, grabbed her under the arms, and scooped her inside the house.

Once on her feet, and with as much dignity as she could muster, Morgan brushed herself off. Satisfied her skirt wasn’t stuck in the band of her panties or something equally mortifying, she refused to look at Nick. Instead, she picked Snowball up and left the room, passing by an open-mouthed Emily as she went.

“Wait,” Nick called after her.

She paused on the stairs, part of her—the part still in love with him—wanting to stay and hear him out. The part that ached with the hurt he’d inflicted wasn’t so sure.

He covered her hand with his, and Morgan had to close her eyes against the sensations such a simple touch stirred.

“Please, Morgan,” Nick said in a voice gone gruff. “I came to apologize.”

TO BE CONTINUED…