It occurs to Cadence that not only did she get a pretty good look at the man as he ran away from the scene, but he got an extremely good look at her. It wouldn't be hard, for someone who was motivated, to discover that she lived on the floor above the crime scene. Deeply concerned, she calls Detective Scott asking for someone to watch over her. Realizing that he's dropped the ball on protecting his witness, Scott agrees to spend the night on her couch, promising to find a more permanent solution the next morning.
They stopped by the guest bath on the second floor. "This is it. I'm sorry I don't have a bed in the guest room. Right now, it's the music room." Cadence opened the door.
Scott was greeted by wall to wall instruments. She had an electric drum set, guitars—electric and acoustic, a flute, an oboe, a trumpet and a baby grand.
"How did you get that up here?" He pointed to the piano.
"Seventeen male cousins all built like you," she replied.
Scott laughed loudly. "I can picture it. Crazy!"
"You hungry? I have some leftover lasagna I made the other night."
"Starving. That sounds amazing."
"Get your shower. I'll heat some up. I ate, but I'm hungry again. Oh, you aren't allergic to cats, are you?"
"No. My mom has some. I love cats."
"Oh, good. Porthos is hiding at the moment, but he'll be out to investigate you later. He's a feline detective. You guys should bond."
Scott chuckled, liking the irony of the cat investigating the cop.
"See you downstairs." Cadence smiled, turning away as he closed the bathroom door.
Her fragrance lingered in the air. Inhaling deeply, he had the same warming sensation. Fighting it, he shed his clothing and stuffed it in a plastic bag he'd brought with him. The water was hot and felt good on his aching muscles. He realized too late that he'd gotten a sunburn while on the beach. Not a bad one, but it stung when the hot water hit him. A little aloe lotion he found on the counter, after his shower, did the trick.
He pulled on his baggies and dug around looking for a T-shirt. Tossing that over his shoulder, he padded barefoot down the carpeted steps to the living room. He dropped his bag by the couch and followed his nose to the kitchen.
Cadence jumped, stifling a scream, when he appeared at the doorway. "Oh! You startled me!"
"I'm sorry. Years of training to move quietly. I apologize, Cadence."
She stood in the kitchen, a plate of lasagna on the floor. Porthos rapidly devoured it as she cried, her body trembling. Scott wasn't sure what to do first, but instinct kicked in. He didn't want a sick cat on top of her panic. Whisking the plate off the floor, he picked up the cat one handed, tossing him gently in the other room. He covered the mess with paper towels, dropping the ruined food into the trash. That accomplished, he put his arms around Cadence, enfolding her gently. Although a stranger, he was a comforting, reassuring male presence and something she badly needed.
"I'm so sorry I scared you," he whispered, stroking her hair. "Forgive me. I'm so sorry."
The hairs on his chest tickled her face making it tingle pleasantly. Her tears waned to a trickle and she pulled away, wiping her face with her fingers. Scott grabbed a paper towel, handing it to her. Nodding her thanks, Cadence wiped her face and blew her nose.
"I'm so sorry. I'm used to being alone," she said with a sniffle.
"No, it's okay. I am too."
Porthos was back, licking the spatters on the tile.
"No! Bad cat!" She snatched him up, holding him to her face as she shivered again.
"I'll get it. He didn't eat too much. He should be okay. Hey, Porthos. You'll puke out a lung if you eat too much tomato. Silly kitty." He stroked the cat's head, earning a purr and a swipe of one velvety paw. "Good looking cat. Calico?"
"He's a mutt. A stray I found in the woods. His mother was poisoned. I found the babies and bottle fed them until they were old enough to give away. He almost didn't make it. I couldn't give him up."
© 2015 Dellani Oakes