Cat awoke early the next morning. Her body was filled with a nervous tension. She scurried around the house tidying up. After the third time she’d straightened the pillows on the sofa, she stopped and took a deep breath.
“Calm down, Cat. There’s no reason to be so nervous. He’s just a kid,” she muttered.
She jumped when the doorbell rang. She pasted a smile on her face and hurried to open the door.
“Hello, Cat,” Stacy greeted. “This is Ethan.”
“Hi, Ethan. I’m glad you’re here. Come on in.”
Ethan stood on the stoop with his shoulders hunched and his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. He wore a backpack slung over his right shoulder. He stared at the tops of his shoes. He didn’t look up at her when she spoke.
Cat stepped back to allow Stacy and Ethan room to enter. As they walked in, she ran her eyes quickly over the boy. His T-shirt was faded, the material worn thin. She could see the big toe of his left foot peeking through a hole in his tennis shoe.
“Why don’t we have a seat at the dining table?” Stacy suggested. “You two can get to know each other a bit before I go.”
“Sounds good,” Cat replied quickly, relieved that Stacy was going to stay for a few minutes.
After they were seated, Cat wiped her moist hands on her jeans. She cleared her throat and asked, “So, what grade are you in, Ethan?”
“Eighth,” he replied, still not looking at her.
“Do you play any sports?”
“No,” was his one-word reply.
“Ethan is really good at art,” Stacy put in.
“That’s cool. I like art, too,” Cat replied. “Do you prefer to draw or paint?”
Ethan didn’t answer. After a brief pause, Cat asked, “Is there anything you’d like to know about me?”
Ethan looked up and met her eyes for the first time. He studied her closely. Finally, he asked, “Why am I here?”
Cat knew this was an important moment. She needed to answer him honestly. “There are two parts to that answer. Why did I bring a foster child into my home? When I was 15, my parents kicked me out. I didn’t have any place to go. I swore that when I was older, I would be there for another kid, so they wouldn’t have to do it alone, like I did. Why did I pick you? Stacy thinks you have a lot of potential, and you’d have more of a chance in a home without any other kids. She seems to think that you and I will get along well together.”
She held her breath waiting for his response. Finally, he nodded, accepting her answer, then lowered his eyes back to the table.
Cat let out the breath she’d been holding. She smiled at Stacy, feeling more confident than she had before they’d arrived.
Stacy returned her smile. “Well, I guess I’d better be on my way. I’ll be back next week to check on you. Good luck.”
Cat walked Stacy to the door. Ethan stayed at the table. “Call, if you need me,” Stacy said, pulling Cat into a quick embrace.
“I will,” Cat promised.
“Don’t expect too much too soon, Cat. He’s had a rough time of it. It’s going to take a lot of love and patience to break through his guard,” Stacy whispered.
“I know,” Cat replied. “I’ve been there.”
“That’s why I’m so confident this will work,” Stacy said, giving Cat one more squeeze.
From the author of “Dogs Aren’t Men” comes “To Love a Cat”, a contemporary romance novel.
Catherine “Cat” James’ life is simple and orderly, and she likes it that way. She loves her job as an accountant. Working with numbers is safe and routine, no surprises. Her childhood had been very abusive and unstable. She vowed not to live that way as an adult. She also made a promise to herself to become a foster parent. She wished someone had been there for her as a teenager, to let her know she wasn’t alone.
Cat agrees to foster Ethan Summers, a troubled teenage boy whose childhood closely resembles her own. Suddenly, her nice and orderly life is filled with chaos and uncertainty. Things really start to spin out of control when circumstances bring police detective Mitch Holt into the picture. He’s handsome, charming, and definitely not what Cat needs right now, or so she thinks.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG
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