WRITTEN BY PATSY COLLINS
The mystery cat’s arrival set Mel thinking…
Mel was about to apply a fresh coat of polish to her nails when she noticed movement outside the open window.
A sleek black cat stepped daintily through. With one graceful movement it launched itself onto the settee. It paused for just a moment before settling itself on her lap.
“Hello there,” Mel said to the beautiful creature. “Looks like the Raspberry Crush will have to wait.” She screwed the top back on the polish bottle and made a fuss of her uninvited visitor.
“Were you talking to me?” Sebastien looked up from his phone. “Ah, I guess not. That was Carlos on the phone. He’s invited us over for a pool party on Sunday, so we’ll have to go to your mum’s next week instead.”
Another party! Mel didn’t comment, she knew what the response would be. It was true that being seen there might help Sebastien’s career – and Mum would hide her disappointment.
Sebastien stroked the cat…
“You know, I always had you down as more of a dog person.”
It was odd the way people said that, as though you were only allowed to like either cats or dogs, not both. Mel liked all animals.
Sebastien stretched his lean body…
“Right, I’m off for a shower.”
He was rather like a cat in some ways, Mel thought – always grooming himself and he could be a little selfish. Maybe that was harsh. Self-centred was more like it – and she knew appearance was important in the entertainment industry.
He bought her gifts; silky underwear he’d like to see her in, or wine he wanted to help drink. So like a cat bringing back its prey. It had enjoyed hunting the mouse so couldn’t see the owner might not like to waken with it on their pillow.
Actually she’d rather not have had cat hair on her skirt, but it was already too late. She’d have to change.
Sebastien had wandered into her life much as the cat had. He’d wanted a comfortable home so he’d moved himself in. It wasn’t that he’d pressurised her or she hadn’t wanted him around, but it hadn’t occurred to him she might prefer to stay living alone. Or favour marriage over their more casual relationship.
The cat left as quickly and effortlessly as it had arrived. As Mel scrambled into a hair-free skirt, she wondered if she’d see it again. Perhaps it would visit often and she’d start thinking of it as hers. Then one day it would see another open window and climb in there instead.
Mel wasn’t just thinking of the cat.
She wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to fully trust Sebastien.
He didn’t mean to hurt her, but that evening Mel found herself alone in a crowded room. It often happened. Whenever Sebastien came across someone else he wanted to talk to, Mel would be forgotten as he flirted or tried to make useful contacts.
He was always apologetic when he remembered and returned to her side with a drink and funny story. He’d kiss her, hold her hand or lead her to the dance floor. Very like a cat which had been out all night, rubbing itself around the ankles of its owner when it remembered who opened the cans of tuna.
“Morning, Mel. Coffee?” a colleague called as she arrived at work next day.
He bounded off to fetch it. He’d bring it back as quickly as possible. He was eager and overenthusiastic about everything, just like a puppy. He hardly sloshed any coffee onto her desk.
Most of the women in the office had tried to flirt with him
“Thank you.” Mel gave him her most charming smile.
He returned it, but there was no invitation behind his grin. There never would be. Most of the women in the office had tried to flirt with him, but he didn’t respond. He was loyal to his girlfriend.
Mel wanted someone like that.
That night she told Sebastien she’d be going to her mum’s as arranged on Sunday and that she’d like him to look for somewhere else to live.
“But why, Mel?” he asked, bewildered.
“You were right after all – I’m not really a cat person.”