“Where are you?!” Rebecca, teary-eyed, called out. She had
searched everywhere – her whole apartment twice, under the kitchen table, even rattling the little toys that were on the floor, in the hopes that her furry little friend would come running. Rebecca then took a look outside, frantically scanning the well-kept building grounds, and for a second, she caught a glimpse of movement, but then her heart dipped when she saw it was only a squirrel scampering by. Once back inside, she zoomed up and down the stairs to the various floors knocking on doors, but no one saw Savannah, despite the flyer she taped up on the main building entrance door. Heart-broken and exhausted, she returned to her apartment and threw herself down on the bed, letting her emotions drain unto the pillow.
Her beautiful cat was her one bright spot, as well as her best friend in the second half of her life. Your pet won’t hurt you, people will, was her motto. She gave up on so-called ‘Mr. Right,’ there was no such thing – at least for her anyway. Her parents were enviably lucky; since the day they met in high school, they were inseparable. Rebecca wondered how did the stars align and create magic for some people, while Cupid’s Arrow missed its mark for others. Like her.
The tears flowed a little faster now.
“Don’t worry,” her sister Alyssa had said after Rebecca broke up with Ethan. “A nice guy will come along for you. He’s out there. Everything happens at the right time.” While Rebecca appreciated her sister’s attempt to make her feel better, she couldn’t understand; after all, she and Tom are happily married. The magic had happened for her too.
But Rebecca vowed there wouldn’t be the next time. No, what she craved was a deep cleansing of her soul to purge the residue that left her feeling tainted, and cast aside like dirty sheets to be laundered. Although her three-year relationship with Ethan never produced bruises or put her in the emergency ward of the hospital, as it did with Rick, her terrifying ex-husband, there were other disturbing issues like his need to control. He wanted his wishes to be hers too; an independent mind be damned.
“So, have you given some thought to what we discussed?” Ethan inquired after sipping his drink.
You mean what you discussed, Rebecca thought to herself, utterly turned off by the way he asked the question as if they were getting ready to talk about a business transaction. Instead, she simply said, “I’m still thinking about it.” She picked up her wine glass, but more as a distraction than a desire to taste it since she didn’t drink. But Ethan had commanded the waiter to fill her glass too when it was offered.
“Becca,” he began, using his pet name for her, “I have given you ample time.”
Three days? That’s what you call enough time?
“If we are going to be a serious couple we should be living together, especially when children-”
Rebecca stopped him right there, putting her glass down. “Children?”
He sighed in frustration before putting his hand over hers on the table. “I told you that I wanted kids, remember?”
Like the frothy cloud that bursts to the top of a pot of milk on maximum temperature, nausea mixed with a heavy apprehension rose from somewhere deep within her, crawling into her throat, before making its way into her mouth leaving a bitter taste at the thought of them living together, much less starting a family! NO, she couldn’t do this. She wouldn’t do this. Not after her hellish experience with Rick, which ended after he kicked her out of the house, tossing all her belongings out with her; even the delicate things like her tiny kitten figurines, which shattered into pieces. Just like her heart. Alyssa and Tom didn’t hesitate to take her in until she could do well on her own again.
And then Ethan, who wanted a dutiful little lady on his arm who would acquiesce to his every wish without a thought in her head. She didn’t want kids. She just wanted some cats, maybe a friend for Savannah. The waiter finally appeared once again, placing two large plates with their elegantly arranged food in front of them. Despite the rantings of her stomach, her appetite was long gone. After the waiter left, she knew it was now or never.
“I’m sorry Ethan.”
Rebecca slung her Dorothy Monroe purse over her shoulder, pushed herself away from the table, stood up, and bolted out of there as fast as her high-heeled feet would allow, never looking back despite the angry shouting of her name.
Now those feet carried her over to the wall clock in the living room of her very own place that she shared with no one but her cat. It was 7 pm and Savannah was missing since this morning. Rebecca opened her apartment door again, desperately hoping that she would find her little friend looking up at her meowing for a meal.
Still no Savannah. Closing the door again, Rebecca resigned herself to the fact that because Sav exhibited such unusual features: A sweeping, feathery, fluffy tail and her signature eye colors; one blue and the other green, somebody would surely want to keep her. Spotting the pink paw-shaped bowl on the floor, pulled at her heart and her eyes threatened to become a faucet again. It was then the piano/cello combination of her ringtone sang out. She dashed for her cell that she left on the counter-top in the kitchen.
“Hello Miss, I think I may have found your cat,” a deep, rich male voice on the other end, informed her. “On the flyer, it said to call this number.”
Joy replaced her disbelief that her dear kitty had been found. “Thank you so very much for calling. I was so worried; she must have wandered too far. Where is she?”
“She’s right here in my apartment. I’m in unit 208.”
“I can meet you on your floor right now,” she offered enthusiastically. “I’m not far; I’m on the third floor.”
The man said that would be fine, and after letting her know that he would be waiting just outside his door for her, she was on her way. Five minutes later she appeared full of anticipation. “Thank you again,” Rebecca said, upon their meeting. His younger appearance conflicted with the deep voice she just heard on the phone. She guessed him to be about 25. He gazed intently at her with a huge smile.
“No problem, she’s been good. I’ll call her out.” At the sound of her name, a fluffy ball bounded out from the doorway meowing. Rebecca instantly scooped her up, making cute sounds while talking to her.
The young man remained standing outside his door watching her; thinking how cute she sounded – and looked. Wow, he didn’t expect this; even in jeans and a simple blouse, he could tell she would look fantastic in anything she wore. She looked to be in her early thirties, but boy, was she sexy. He definitely wanted to talk to her again. “I’m Brayden by the way, but everyone calls me Bray.”
“I’m so sorry, forgive me,” she said, giggling off her embarrassment. She briefly forgot he was there. “I’m Rebecca.”
His grey-brown eyes widened. “Well, isn’t that something. My sister’s middle name is Rebecca.”
She let out a small gasp at the coincidence. “Really??”
He chuckled. “Yep, isn’t that weird? Funny how things happen like that.”
For a moment, they just stood there. Then…
“Well I guess, I better get going. Have a good ni-,” she began against the brief silence until Bray cut into her words.
“Would you like to have coffee with me sometime?”
Caught off guard, she didn’t answer right away.
“Only if you can, if you have time,” he nudged gently, sensing her hesitation.
Rebecca’s mind raced for an excuse to get out of it. She welcomed her quiet time and was used to her solitude. But then she figured that he did find her cat (who by the way was still in her arms, purring away), and he did seem nice. Maybe, just this once….
‘Just this once’ turned into three times the following week.
Slowly, his cheerful, playful personality chipped away at the wall she so carefully constructed for herself. Besides, both of them having sisters, Rebecca was pleasantly surprised at how much they had in common like their love of sports and seafood. But the real deal was their shared love of cats, which earned him a gold star in her ‘what-makes-a-good-guy’ book. Still, she remained cautious. Men always came off nice and sweet, and caring, at first. Although the door to her heart was not yet open, the warmth of Bray’s smile and his gentle way, gave her permission to embrace their beginning friendship.
And to think they never would have met, had it not been for Savannah.