Vee stumbled into my kitchen, following the smell of fresh brewed coffee the next morning. She had wrinkles in the shape of the pillow my grandmother had hand-stitched and given me for Christmas. If I could have colored in the lines, she would have looked like she had a merry pair of Northern Cardinals on the left side of her face. I knew better than to laugh by the look in her eyes.
“Hung-over much?” I asked. I poured a big mug of dark roast and held it out for her. She nodded slightly and reached for the mug.
“Here, already got them ready for you,” I said. I kept my voice quiet. I’d been in her position before and knew how she felt.
“So glad I’m off work today,” she said. Before I could reply, she gave me a sheepish look and said, “sorry, not thinking straight yet. How’re you feeling today? Still want to leave the big city and go back home with your tail tucked between your legs?”
“You’re not going to make me feel bad about going back to Sandy Shores. If you’d ever been there, you’d be begging to go with me now.” I made myself a cup of coffee and inhaled the rich aroma before taking a tentative sip. I like my coffee hot, but I don’t enjoy burning my tongue.
“Uh huh,” she said. “I’m going to sit down. My head feels like a freight train is roaring through it.”
I opened a can of wet cat food for Sally and heard her running down the hall toward us.
“Don’t trip on the kitty,” I said just as Sally skidded into the kitchen.
“Thanks for the warning.” Vee stifled a yawn and ignored the cat she’d been so enchanted with the night before.
I joined Vee on the couch, and we sipped in silence for a few minutes. Sally came in and was about to scratch the arm of my easy chair, so I scooped her up and set her on the scratching tower. She began kneading right away.
“That was a good buy,” Vee said.
“Yeah, I spent a boat load of moola on her, and we haven’t made it to the vet’s office yet. It’s a good thing I’ve been socking money away.” Sally jumped off the tower and batted a toy mouse around with her paws. She stuck her nose into the soft material, sniffed and jumped straight up as if startled. She backed away, stalked it and pounced several times. I was glad I had opted for the simple mouse instead of the one that squeaked. Vee didn’t need any extra sound with the way her head was probably pounding.
“She’s so cute. Are you sure you don’t want to leave her with me?” Vee clicked on the laser pointer and soon Sally was chasing the little red dot all over the room.
“Nope. She’s part of my new life.”
“Want me to go with you to pick up your stuff Saturday?”
“That’s nice, Vee, but I don’t think they’d let you in. They acted like I was a criminal who’d perpetrated a heinous crime yesterday. I’m sure they wouldn’t trust any of my friends to come in where their precious computers and merchandise would be available for sabotage.” My bitterness bled through in my voice.
Vee patted my shoulder and smiled sympathetically. “You’re going to be fine. You don’t need Whitney, Mercer, Applebaum a...