Author’s Note: So instead of adding in the words from Three Word Wednesday (clever, finish, and silky) into the parts I already wrote for The Stolen Name or A Perfect Sunset, I decided to go ahead with the idea of adding more bits with characters from my next release.
“Not… now…” Randolph groaned, opening his eyes to find an eerie pair of black on yellow staring back at him. He winced at his own words, not sure there was ever a good time to be woken by a big cat. He sighed, lifting his head and pushing himself up against the headboard. “What do you want?”
Katya placed her paws on the edge of the bed, far closer to his face than he’d like. He blinked, trying to determine her motives. He must not have been awake—he was a profiler, and he knew the leopard well enough to recognize her moods—or he would have had his answer by now.
“You’re not hungry.”
She leaned her head forward and bumped his hand. He should worry, he supposed, if she started licking him, though he knew she’d had plenty of time to gorge herself on all he’d bought her earlier.
“Did you miss my voice, is that it? These dulcet tones are necessary to keep the kitty pacified?” He reached his hand over to pass it through the fur on her head. He did not hear her version of a purr, so that was not the answer, either. He frowned. His accent was a part of the reason she’d claimed him, or so he had always believed. Her original trainer had been English, and she had confused Randolph for him in the beginning.
“No, that’s not true, is it? You knew I wasn’t him, didn’t you? You’re a very clever kitty, aren’t you?”
Now came the purr. Randolph shook his head. “Did you honestly wake me so that I would compliment you? Is your ego so great that you must hear yourself praised all the time?”
She opened her mouth, showing her teeth, and he sighed, going back to petting her, twisting his fingers through the silky strands of her fur. “I had another nightmare, didn’t I? I don’t even remember it this time, but you knew. You always know.”
Katya jumped up beside him, forcing him to move back and share the space with her. He’d lost the fight over sharing his bed a long time ago, and no amount of revisiting the issue would change the leopard’s mind.
“Behave. You know you scare people and have cost us our beds in the past. I, for one, would like to finish our last night in this hotel without an incident.”
She blinked, and he shook his head. “You had better not be saying anything about the fact that the other side is empty. Just because it is doesn’t mean it’s yours. And no, I don’t have any plans to fill it. Stop it. Do not look at me like that. I know you’re proud of helping Marcie find love, but you are not doing that to me.”
The leopard growled, and he sighed. “What if I told you I was already married? Would that work?”
She stared at him. He wanted to look away. He couldn’t lie to the cat. That never worked. She knew. He closed his eyes. “You’re here, you know. It’s not like me being alone is the reason for my nightmares. I’m not alone, either.”
Not so much as a blink.
“What, you want to be able to overrule me when there’s two females, is that it?”