Meow for the Money (A Klepto Cat Mystery Book 14)

BOOK: Meow for the Money (A Klepto Cat Mystery Book 14)
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Meow for the Money
A Klepto Cat Mystery
Book 14

by Patricia Fry

Meow for the Money
A Klepto Cat Mystery
Book 14

Author: Patricia Fry

ISBN: 978-0-9966732-2-8
All rights reserved
© 2015 Matilija Press

Chapter 1
 

“What’s he doing?” Michael asked his wife as he walked into their bedroom late Saturday night.

Savannah looked up from her Kindle. “Huh? Who?”

“Rags. He seems to be watching TV.”

She glanced toward the cat in time to see him scamper out through the doorway. “Hmmm, what was he watching? Looks like the news.” She frowned. “Oh, that poor cat.”

“What poor cat?” Michael asked. When he saw the image on the TV screen, he grimaced. “Yeah, I heard about Mazie Mae. She’s been a patient at the clinic. She disappeared from her home and they’ve been searching everywhere for her.”

“She’s one gorgeous Himalayan,” Savannah said. “Looks a lot like our Buffy. Where does she live? What happened? She isn’t allowed outside, is she?”

“No, she doesn’t go out. She’s a pampered inside kitty. June doesn’t know how she got out or even
if
she’s outside. She just disappeared. Either someone took her, a staff member accidently let her out, or she’s trapped somewhere in the house. I suggested that since she isn’t clawing to get back in or meowing from a closet, she may have escaped and climbed into a delivery truck without anyone noticing. What else could have happened? She has just vanished.”

“Oh no,” Savannah said. “That’s scary.” She tilted her head and looked at Michael. “The cat owner has staff?”

He nodded. “June lives out along the bluff on a rather magnificent estate with what seems to be a full staff. She’s just heartbroken, poor old gal.” He winced. “Mazie Mae needs daily medication. We diagnosed her with diabetes a few months ago and just started her on a new drug, hoping it will take the place of the insulin injections. She needs to eat on a regular schedule, so it’s critical that they find her.”

“Gosh—even scarier. Can you imagine Buffy lost outside? She’d be terrified.” Just then she noticed their large grey-and-white cat return to the room. “Hi Rags,” Savannah greeted.

Ignoring her, he walked boldly toward the TV. He stopped and stared at it before turning and running out of the room again.”

“What in the world?” Michael said.

Savannah stood. “I can’t imagine. But you know him; he’s a surprise a minute.” She headed toward the door, glancing over her shoulder. “Want anything? I’m going to get a drink of water and make sure everything’s closed up.”

“No, I’m fine,” he said, reaching for the TV remote and turning up the volume.

As Savannah entered the kitchen, Rags approached her. “What is it, boy?” she asked, watching him dance around at her feet, meowing loudly. She reached down to pet him. “What’s your problem, buddy?” But it wasn’t affection he wanted, as he promptly raced across the large room and jumped up on the windowsill kitty perch Michael had installed for their curious cats. “What’s got you so upset?” she asked, watching him turn in place on the perch. “Is something out there?” She flipped on the outside light and peered through the window, saying, “I don’t see anything—no coyotes, no raccoons, no loose horses…”

But Rags wasn’t convinced. He leaped to the floor and began clawing on the door.

“You want to go out in the dark? What’s the matter with you? Is the door to your litter box closed?” She ran her hand along his back to the tip of his tail and sighed. “I’ll go check.” Having found the kitty powder room in good order, she promptly returned. But Rags still seemed out of sorts. Now he sat on the kitty perch with his nose practically smashed against the window. When Savannah walked toward him, he jumped down and began clawing at the door again.

“Here, let’s see what’s out there, shall we?” she cooed. More sternly, she added, “Then it’s time for bed.” She picked up the large cat, opened the door, and stepped out onto the wraparound porch. “Nothing. See Rags, there’s nothing out here for you to be concerned about.” When he seemed to settle down, Savannah stepped back into the kitchen. However, before she could close the door, Rags did something he had never done to her before.

He dug his claws into her skin and began struggling to get down. She tried to hold onto him, but it was no use. He broke loose, jumped out of her arms, and quickly disappeared into the darkness.

“Darn it!” she said, rubbing the scratches on her arms.

“What’s wrong?” Michael asked, appearing behind her.

“Darn cat tricked me into taking him out on the porch, then he clawed me and took off.” She huffed around the kitchen for a moment. “He makes me so mad. Now what? He’s outside—at night—with all sorts of wild animals.”

He’ll probably be back in a minute,” Michael reasoned. “He just needs his curiosity satisfied. He probably saw a rabbit or something.” He filled a glass with water. “He’ll be back. Rags always comes back.”

“Well, what if he doesn’t? Then what? We can’t leave him out all night. We can’t leave the door open.” She stepped out onto the porch. “Raaags!” she called. “Raaags!”

“Would it help if I went out and looked for him?” Michael asked, letting out a deep sigh.

“Oh yes, would you?” She pointed toward the corral. “I saw him head in that direction. Take Lexie. She might be able to sniff him out or lure him back.”

Michael chuckled while attaching a leash to the dog’s collar. “Maybe Rags just wants to tell your horse goodnight.” When Savannah didn’t respond, he picked up a flashlight and headed out.

Nearly ten minutes had passed by the time Savannah saw the light beam moving closer to the house. “Did you find him?” she called.

He stepped up onto the porch with their afghan-mix dog, shaking his head. “Savannah, he knows his way home. Let’s go to bed, shall we?”

“I won’t sleep. I can tell you right now, I won’t be able to sleep,” she insisted.

“Well, I will,” he said rather impatiently. When he saw that she was near tears, he put his arms around her and urged, “Awww, honey, let’s go get some rest. We can get up and check for him throughout the night. Come on, now. He’ll be okay. He’s tough. If he doesn’t come home, we’ll go back out when it gets light.” He lifted her chin with his fingers and looked into her eyes. “We’ll find him; I promise.”

****

Daylight was a long time coming for Savannah. She spent a restless night and, in fact, got up several times and called for Rags, but to no avail. When she saw the glow of dawn through the split in the drapes, she jumped out of bed, threw on her jeans, sweatshirt, sport shoes, and jacket and headed toward the hallway.

“Where are you going?” Michael asked, still groggy after waking from a deep sleep.

“To look for Rags, of course.”

“He didn’t come back in?”

When she shook her head, he groaned. “Wait, I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll be outside,” she said, continuing to walk through the house and into the kitchen.
Gads, I hope he’s waiting to be let in. Please be lounging on a deck chair, Rags,
she thought. But when she opened the door and stepped out, he was nowhere to be seen. She scanned the yard with her eyes. That’s when she noticed her mare looking back at her. “I guess you’re hungry, aren’t you, girl?” she crooned, walking toward Peaches.

The mare nickered softly as Savannah ran her hand over her jowls and along her neck. She stepped into the tack room and edged a few flakes of hay off an open bale, tossing it to the horse. “You still have plenty of water,” she said, checking the level in the trough. “I’ll freshen it after a while. Now I have to find brother kitty. Do you happen to know where he went?” Before closing the tack room door, she looked around inside.

“Is he in there?” Michael called, taking his usual long strides in her direction.

She shook her head. “Raaags,” she called. “Rags, where are you?”

Michael stopped and cocked his head. “Did you hear that?”

“Yes,” she said, excitedly, glancing around the area. “I think it’s Rags. What direction did it come from?”

He held up a hand to silence her. “I don’t know; listen.”

“Over there,” she said, pointing toward a stack of firewood. “There it is again. We’re getting closer. Rags!” she called, “where are you?”

Meow!

“Here!” Michael shouted. He was silent for a moment, then he said, “Good Lord.”

“What?” Savannah asked, feeling a sense of dread.

He ran his hand through his straight, dark-brown hair. “You’re not going to believe this.”

As she drew closer, she said in a hushed tone, “Oh, my gosh, Michael, is that…?”

“Yes, it’s Mazie Mae. It looks like Rags was trying to keep her warm.” He quickly approached the cats and began examining the Himalayan. “She’s barely conscious,” he said, worry lines forming on his brow. “We need to get her inside. Hold onto your cat,” he instructed, gently lifting the Himalayan, cradling her in his arms, and moving swiftly with her toward the house.

Savannah trotted behind him with Rags, who meowed all the way.

“Savannah, get that IV bag from the fridge and warm it. Where’s the warming blanket?”

“Service porch—I believe on that top shelf. Why do we have an IV bag?” she asked as she heated it under warm water.

“I was supposed to deliver it to the Johnsons yesterday, but they decided it was time to let Sylvester go, so I brought it home. Let’s get her hooked into it!” he said, carrying the cat into the living room and placing her on the warming blanket he’d spread over the ottoman.

Once they began administering the IV fluid, the Himalayan started to squirm. “Hi there Mazie Mae,” Michael said when he saw her blink her large blue eyes. “Hold her steady,” he told Savannah.

“I know, Michael,” she said, curtly. “I am a professional, you know.”

He looked at her sheepishly. “Sorry hon; guess I’m just used to barking orders to the assistants. You’re doing fine.”

“Of course, I am,” she said, grinning. She then addressed the cat, “Hi sweetie. You’re okay,” she cooed. She glanced up at Michael. “She’s purring.”

He continued to monitor the IV bag. “Yeah, I think it’s because of Rags. She sees him looking at her.”

“Hi Rags,” Savannah said, acknowledging his gentle head-butt as he rested his front paws on the ottoman and watched Mazie Mae. “She’s coming around, boy.” She looked at Michael. “Will she be okay? What about her medication? Do you have any in your veterinary truck?”

“I don’t think so. I’ll run over to the clinic and get some,” he said, removing the IV and massaging the point of entry. Gently stroking the cat’s head and ears, he murmured, “You’re going to be okay, girl. You just hang in there.” When he saw her glance at Rags, he choked up a little. “I believe he kept her alive with his body heat.” He shook his head. “Rags, you never cease to amaze us.” Scratching the lanky grey-and-white cat behind one ear, he added quietly, “Ole buddy, you’re something else.”

“Isn’t that right?” Savannah agreed, keeping one hand on the Himalayan while pulling Rags to her. “Good boy,” she cooed. “You must have seen her outside and sensed she was in trouble.”

“Yeah, did he recognize her when he saw her on TV?” he asked, while wrapping the heating blanket loosely around Mazie Mae.

Savannah perched on the overstuffed chair next to their patient and gazed at Rags. “You’re a hero once again, Ragsie.”

Michael grinned impishly. “Do you think he knows June has offered a reward for Mazie’s safe return?”

“Really?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

“Yes, didn’t you see that on the news?”

“No, I didn’t hear that part. How much?”

“I don’t know, thousands of dollars, I think.”

“Gosh Rags, that’ll get you into a four-year college!” Savannah gently stroked one of Mazie Mae’s paws. “I love these big Himalayan paws. They’re so soft and fun to pet. Oh hi, Buffy,” Savannah greeted when she noticed their own little Himalayan-mix amble into the room. “I guess our daughter’s awake, huh?”

Michael chuckled. “It cracks me up the way she always comes to tell us when the baby’s awake. What cat does that?”

“What cat saves lives?” she quipped. When she noticed Buffy sniffing the air, she said, “What do you smell, girl?”

It didn’t take long for Buffy to notice the strange cat partially hidden under the blanket. Resting her front paws on the ottoman, Buffy sniffed Mazie Mae. The two cats touched noses a couple of times and, as if totally unimpressed, Mazie Mae went back to sleep and Buffy wandered off toward the kitchen in search of her breakfast.

“Michael, why don’t you bring the big wire pen in here for Mazie Mae. She’ll be comfy in there and safe from the other critters. I’ll keep an eye on her. I have to go get the princess up. She’s going to need changing and she’ll want to eat.” Before he could leave the room, Savannah added, “And you’d better call your client.”

He looked at his watch. “This early?”

“I wouldn’t be sleeping if
my
kitty was missing.” Savannah laughed. “Well, my kitty
was
missing and I didn’t sleep. And someone who offers that much reward money certainly loves her cat enough that she wouldn’t mind being awakened to hear the good news. Yeah, I say call her.”

Michael thought for a moment. He then left the room, returning with the wire pen. He rearranged the quilt in the bottom of it, then lifted the Himalayan and laid her gently inside. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ll get her number from the files at the office,” he said as Savannah headed down the hall toward the nursery.

In a few minutes, she returned with the baby in her arms. “Da-Da,” Lily chirped.

“Hi, punkin’,” Michael said. “And ’bye. ’Bye-bye,” he said, waving.

“Da-Da,” she called, reaching her arms out to him.

“Daddy will be right back,” he said, kissing Lily’s little face. He then scooted out through the front door.

“It’s okay,” Savannah crooned when the child started to fuss. “Daddy has to help the new kitty. See the new kitty? This is Mazie Mae,” she said, squatting down with the baby so she could see the cat inside the cage.

“Ki-ki,” Lily said, pointing.

“Yes, sick kitty,” Savannah said. “Kitty has an owie.”

Lily looked at Savannah, then at the cat. She held one finger out to show Savannah and said, “Boo-boo.”

Savannah laughed. “Yes, honey, you have a boo-boo and the kitty has a boo-boo.” She shook her head. “You sure are one smart cookie.”

“Cookie?” Lily said, leaning toward the kitchen.

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