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The demon snorted. “The fuck I will.”

I had to laugh. She was a fast learner.

Less than a minute later Tim returned, using both hands to carry a large cat carrier. A low throbbing growl began to emanate from it as he approached. “I had to come back by the station to fix my timecard,” he said, breathless and exuberant. “And I was real worried about her being out in this cold and snow, so I tried to think like a cat. Like, where would I go to be warm, y’know?” He set the carrier down. The growl changed pitch briefly, and I could see some sort of creature shifting within. “Then I remembered what you said about the turkey, and so I said to myself, ‘Self, if you were a cat who liked turkey and wanted a warm place, you’d probably end up over by Kelly’s Deli.’”

“Um.” I swallowed and tried again. “Are you sure it’s the right cat?”

Chuckling, he crouched and peered inside the container. “Great big calico Manx, right? And it’s a female. I checked, just to be sure, even though male calicos are pretty darn rare.”

“You’re kidding,” I blurted, staring at him. No way he’d found a cat matching my random description. I didn’t even dare look at Eilahn.

He gave an earnest nod. “It’s true! It’s a genetic thing with the way the X-chromosomes carry the coat color.” He shrugged, ducked his head almost shyly. “I like biology.”

I decided not to clarify what I thought he was kidding about. Slowly I lowered myself to peer into the carrier. I saw plenty of teeth and narrow-slitted eyes as it hissed and spat. But beyond that I could see calico fur. Nor was there any sign of a tail.

“That’s Fuzzykins, right?” He was so damn proud of himself. And I could hardly blame him. And what the hell was I supposed to say? It was the goddamn cat I’d described. This was getting ridiculous. Just how many coincidences was I going to encounter today? I could only hope to hell that most of these events truly were pure happenstance. Or maybe I simply needed to go back to bed and start this day over.

“Yes,” I heard myself saying. “That’s Fuzzykins.” I mustered a weak smile. “That’s a good Fuzzykins. Good kitty.”

Fuzzykins gave me a fuck you glare accompanied by a I-want-to-claw-your-face-off hiss. I quickly stood. “Um…she must be traumatized from her time on the street.” Great. A feral fucking cat. What the hell was I supposed to do with this thing?

Eilahn crouched and peered into the carrier. To my shock the growl stopped and the cat gave a perfectly normal mrow? The demon smiled and stuck her fingers between the wires of the carrier door. I wasn’t worried about her fingers getting bitten off—not with demon-fast reflexes, but apparently Eilahn didn’t have to worry about that. The damn creature rubbed her cheek against Eilahn’s fingers and started up a purr that shook the carrier.

Eilahn turned her gaze up to me—no longer the confident, kickass demon, but this time a hopeful eager child with a “can I keep it, pleeeeeeease?” expression on her face. I blinked in surprise. This was a side of her I’d never seen before. I hoped she didn’t want to eat it.

I resisted the urge to sigh and instead forced a smile. “You rock, Tim. Thanks for finding her for me.”

Super. My demon had a cat. Because my life wasn’t strange enough already.

I had to bite my lip to keep from grinning at the exuberant joy Eilahn took in the cat as we walked to the motor pool. Every hundred feet or so she set the carrier down so she could coo at the creature and let it rub against her fingers.

And the questions. Good grief, the questions.

“Is the food that Tim obtained of sufficient quality?”

“We will need to acquire a cat box, yes? What is the proper litter to be used?”

“Veterinary care! I must make an appointment for inoculation. That is how it works, yes?”

“Catnip. Felines require catnip, I have heard.”

At least she wasn’t asking about recipes for kitty gumbo.

We finally made it to the motor pool, and I asked her, “How do you know so much about cats?” On the one hand she seemed incredibly wise and knowledgeable, but on the other she was like a nine-year-old.

“I have read about them,” she said, her brow drawn down into a slightly puzzled frown as if to say, How else would I know about them?

I masked a smile and proceeded to deal with the various paperwork I had to fill out to take possession of the replacement vehicle. Once that was done there was a bit of a delay while the demon fretted over the best configuration for transporting the damn cat.

“I do not wish her to grow upset,” Eilahn said, frown puckering her forehead. “I have heard that cats do not care to ride in cars. If I am in the front and she in the back, will she not grow distraught? Perhaps I should hold her in my lap.”

“Um, that’s a pretty darn big carrier to hold on your lap,” I pointed out.

She blinked. “I did not intend to have her in the carrier. Why can I not simply hold her in my lap so that I can stroke her fur? Will that not calm her?”

I had a vision of a psychotic cat careening around the inside of the car—followed by an image of my mangled death in the ensuing wreck.

“No,” I stated. Firmly. “The cat stays in the carrier while she’s in the car.” For an instant I thought the Eilahn was actually going to pout. “It’s safer for the cat,” I added. At that she gave a reserved nod.

“Then I will sit in the back seat,” she said. “And I will turn the carrier so that I can reassure her.” She nodded to herself again, clearly pleased with her solution.

I had to smile. “If you want we could stop by the store on the way home and pick up some supplies. I mean, it’d probably be easiest to do that now.”

The smile that spread across her face was radiant. “You truly do not mind the addition of a feline pet to your household?”

I shrugged. “I’m cool with it.” Hell, I wasn’t a hundred percent on board with the concept, but it sure seemed to make Eilahn happy. It felt kind of nice to be able to pay her back somehow.

We made it home without any more incidents, other than shoving my credit card balance a bit higher. Eilahn had insisted on bringing Fuzzykins into the store, though again, I had to put my foot down and insist that the cat stay in the carrier. I had no doubt that if Eilahn had her way, the cat would be riding on her shoulders. The demon had looked longingly at an outrageously priced “Kitty Kondo”—a carpet-covered monstrosity for cats to supposedly play and lounge upon—but Eilahn seemed to understand that such a thing would be pretty far outside of my budget. I was stretching my finances already with the amount of stuff we had to get.

Eilahn nearly skipped up to the porch with the carrier and wasted no time opening it up and gathering the enormous cat into her arms. I unloaded the majority of the cat supplies onto the steps, then moved to give the cat a pet. It gave me a foul glare and hiss, then turned and bumped her head against the demon’s chin. Eilahn gave a delighted laugh and sat down with her, utterly entranced as the cat twined around her and rubbed against her, purring madly.

I shook my head in bemusement. “I think we bought a brush,” I told Eilahn. “She probably likes being brushed.”

The demon gave a delighted cry and dug through the bags. As soon as she located the brush she fell upon the cat with it like a master groomer. I only thought the cat had been purring loudly before.

“I’m going to get the mail,” I told her. She gave an absent nod of acknowledgement and continued showering affection onto the cat. I grinned as I turned and started the hike to my mailbox.

My driveway was long and winding—a slog of well over a quarter mile. It opened up into a broad area in front of the house that could conceivably hold half a dozen cars but had probably never held more than three at any one time. I wasn’t exactly known for throwing wild parties at my place. I lived in a single-story Acadian-style house that sat in the middle of ten acres of woods and on enough of a hill to allow me to have a basement. It couldn’t be seen from the highway, and I liked it that way, since my “hobby” of summoning big, scary, supernatural creatures probably wouldn’t go over too well with the Bible-belt mentality of south Louisiana.