HE’S THE CAT THIEF OF LOVE
MacGyver the tabby is feeling very pleased with himself. His human, Jamie Snyder, has found the perfect packmate—and it’s all thanks to Mac. By stealing personal items from the home of Jamie’s handsome neighbor David, the matchmaking cat brought these two L.A. singles together. Now, while the newlyweds are off on their honeymoon, MacGyver is ready for a well-deserved cat nap. That is, until he meets his cat sitter Briony. Like most humans, she’s hopeless when it comes to romance. And Mac can’t resist a challenge . . .
SHE’S FOUND THE ESCAPE CLAWS
Briony feels terrible about leaving her fiancé at the altar. When her cousin Jamie offers her the chance to cat sit MacGyver, the runaway bride leaps at the chance to cuddle up with the only male creature she trusts herself around. But MacGyver has other plans. He lures Briony to a friendly neighborhood retirement community—run by a charming young hottie named Nate. Briony and Nate hit it off instantly. But Briony’s still not sure she’s ready for a relationship. And Nate’s got problems of his own—someone is sabotaging his community.
Crazy humans. Why can’t they follow their instincts and go after the love they deserve? MacGyver is on the case. And this time, he’s not pussyfooting around . . .
RAVES FOR TALK TO THE PAW
“Filled with romance and adorable kitty antics . . . a light and cozy read!”
“Surpassingly cute story of a matchmaking cat determined to pair off his human with a neighbor through the power of stinky laundry.”
“Whimsical . . . fans of cozy romances will root for these . . . appealing characters.”
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
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MacGyver caught the silver tab between his teeth and slid the zipper free. With a flick-whap paw combo he opened the lid of the suitcase, then leapt inside and stretched out on the pile of folded clothes. Nice nap locality. But it could be improved. He'd never understand humans' desire to make things flat. With a little huff of exasperation, Mac stood and gave the clothes a good fluffing, then lay down again. His claws extended, digging into the softness of a silky sweater. Sweet sardinsies, that felt good.
"Mac! No!" his person, Jamie, cried. She swept him out of the perfect nap nest he'd created, then with a smapt and a zzzzpt shut it away. As if he couldn't reopen it just as easily. "I'm going on my honeymoon. Hon-ey-moon! The look I'm going for is romantic, not crazy cat lady covered in cat hair."
He ignored her blah-blahs. He understood humans used them to communicate, but that was because their noses were basically useless face blobs. His nose told him more than a billion blahs, and right now his nose was informing him that Jamie was happier than she'd ever been. And who was that thanks to? It was thanks to him. MacGyver. She'd needed a packmate — he hated to say it, but she was like a dog that way — and he'd gone out and found her one.
He began to purr with pride. "You don't care what I'm saying, do you, my little beastie?" She turned toward the door, and Mac saw David, the packmate he'd found, coming toward them. "Mac has done a style consult on everything in my suitcase. Everything I wear will now be accessorized with beautiful tan-and-gold tabby fur," Jamie told him.
"That's why my suitcase has a lock," David answered. Mac felt Jamie's body shake as she began to laugh. "What's so —" David began. Then he reached down and ran his fingers over one of the three ties Mac had been playing with before he'd been ready for his nap.
David studied the suitcase. "Still locked. Your cat split the zipper open wide enough to work the ends of the ties out."
"Not my cat. Our cat. We're married now. What's mine is yours, and that includes Mac," Jamie said.
"I just bought our cat that Octo-mouse, with eight crinkly legs guaranteed for hours of feline pleasure." David glared at Mac. "Eight crinkly legs, and you couldn't leave my stuff alone." He shook his head, running his fingers over a long claw snag in one of the ties.
Mac ignored David's blah-blahs, too, and the glare. He'd smelled David before Mac had decided to take things into his own paws, and David had smelled just as bad as Jamie, sometimes even worse. He was desperate for a packmate, whether he knew it or not, and Mac had found him one. Now he was as happy as if he'd been rolling in catnip.
"Mac loves his present. He just also enjoys a DIY project now and then," Jamie said as David dialed his combination into the useless suitcase lock.
The doorbell rang, and Diogee immediately started to bark. The bonehead had never figured out stealth was key to a successful attack. All the dog was doing was alerting whoever was out there to his presence. Mac leapt out of Jamie's arms. Diogee was part of his pack now, a sacrifice that had to be made for Jamie's happiness. That meant Mac had to do what he could to keep the dog safe from his own stupidity.
When Mac reached the door, he gave Diogee's ropey tail a little whack, partly to get him out of the way, and partly because it was fun. He opened his mouth wide and used his tongue to flick air inside. That gave him extra intel. It was a woman outside, and she was unhappy. Big-time unhappy.
Jamie opened the door a crack. "Briony, hi. I have to grab my cat. MacGyver is a complete escape artist; I'm talking a climb-up-the- chimney escape artist. We had to block up the fireplace. Also, the dog, Diogee, will jump on you. I know I should be able to tell him no. And actually, I can tell him no, but it has no effect. But he's friendly. Okay, brace yourself." She scooped Mac up under one arm, pulled the door open, and backed up.
As soon as the woman stepped inside, the bonehead planted both paws on her shoulders, but before he could wash her face with his enormous tongue David was able to grab him by the collar and pull him away. He hauled Diogee upstairs, and a few seconds later pathetic howls filled the house. The bedroom door was easy to open with even the most basic skills. But Diogee didn't have even the most basic skills.
Mac took another deep breath. Yes, this woman was extremely sad. She needed Mac's help. He had things to do, escapes to make, naps to take, but clearly, he'd have to get involved here. The woman had to be smarter than Diogee, but obviously not smart enough to solve whatever was wrong. That would require a master.
Fortunately for her, she'd come to MacGyver's door.
* * *
About five minutes after arriving at her cousin Jamie's front door, Briony Kleeman found herself at the kitchen table. Jamie was filling the teakettle, while her cat, MacGyver, sat on the counter, staring at Briony with his unblinking golden eyes.
Briony wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten there. She wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten to Los Angeles at all. Less than a day ago, she was walking toward the altar of the little white Peace of Prince Lutheran Church in Wisconsin. Her hand was resting on her father's arm. Her feet were walking over rose petals scattered by her three-year-old cousin. Her train, trimmed with lace from her great-great-grandmother's wedding dress, was being carried by Caleb's niece. Everything was just as planned.
She looked at Caleb. He was smiling as he watched her walk toward him. Then everything went wobbly. The floor. Her father's arm. The faces of the guests. Caleb. A mix of dizziness and nausea flooded her, and everything went dim, then dark.
"Briony," Jamie said, her voice jerking Briony away from the memory of that horrible morning. "What kind of tea do you want? I have orange spice, lemongrass, chai black, Earl Grey, mint, and a bunch of others. I've recently become a tea convert. Not that I'd ever give up coffee. And you can have coffee if you'd rather. Also, I have some juice, cranberry and orange. And some sparkling water. And some unsparkling water. So, what'll you have?"
Too many choices. Briony couldn't remember half of them, probably because part of her felt like she was still back in the church with the world slipping out from under her. "You choose."
"You sure? Some of the teas aren't, you know, everyone's cup of tea," Jamie answered, her brown eyes filled with concern.
"I just feel ... Somehow I ..." Briony shook her head helplessly. "I just can't make a decision. Even about what to drink. I know it's stupid."
"It's not stupid. You must be exhausted," Jamie said.
"Yeah, I thought I'd fall asleep on the plane, but I couldn't," Briony admitted. Instead of an in-flight movie, she'd seen that walk down the aisle again and again and again, unable to force it from her mind.
"No worries. I'll pick for you." Jamie stood up, opened the cupboard over the coffeemaker, and began studying the boxes of tea.
Briony let out a little sigh of relief. Jamie was picking up where her parents left off. Since the Incident in the Church, as Briony had started calling it to herself, all decisions had been made for her. She was whisked to the airport, her parents promising to handle everything. Then she was on the plane. Then she was handing a cabdriver a piece of paper with Jamie's address written on it. And now she was here, with Jamie acting like it was completely normal to be taking care of Briony, even though they hadn't seen each other since the family reunion that was, what, probably eleven years ago.
Jamie set a mug of tea in front of her. "It's Get Relaxed. I don't know why, but something is telling me you could use it. My instincts are really keen," she joked.
The mug shook in Briony's fingers as she raised it to her lips. She set it down without taking a sip. "You're right. I'm still ... a little shaken up." Understatement of the millennium. She felt like a tennis shoe in the spin cycle of a beat-up old washing machine. "Thank you so much for letting me stay here. I really — "
"Stop. Stop, stop, stop. You've already thanked me one hundred and three times by my calculations." Jamie put one hand over Briony's. "You're completely welcome here. Sometimes you need to get away. And Storybook Court is a good place to get away to. Trust me. Besides, we were going to board the fur babies, and now they can stay at home."
Tears stung Briony's eyes. Jamie was being so nice to her, as if she didn't realize Briony was a terrible person. "Do you want to talk about it?" Jamie asked. "I know we don't know each other that well. You and your family moved to Wisconsin when you were, I think, about ten? But remember that time I was babysitting you when I was sixteen and I took you to my boyfriend's house, I mean horrible ex-boyfriend's house, when I knew he and his family were out, and — "
"We broke in! You let me put salt on his toothbrush. And tape on the toilet paper in his bathroom. That was one of the best nights of my life! For that one night, I felt like a badass. A nine-year-old badass!" Briony exclaimed, the memory distracting her from why she was at her cousin's. She couldn't help smiling. "That was so fun."
"Until your parents got so mad at me!" Jamie exclaimed. "And they didn't even know what we did. They just knew I took you out of the house. I told your mom and dad we walked to the Dairy Queen. Which we did. After. And just that freaked them out!"
"Yeah, they were a little overprotective," Briony answered.
"A little? I bet you weren't allowed to cross the street by yourself until you were in college." She took a swallow of her tea. "So, do you want to talk about it?"
The rose petals. Her dad. Caleb smiling. For a moment, Briony felt like she'd forgotten how to breathe. "No," she managed to say. "If that's okay," she added quickly.
"Of course it's okay," Jamie answered.
"So, the animals," Briony said. She wanted a nice, safe topic. "What do they eat? Where do they sleep? What do I need to do? I've never actually had a pet."
"Really? I thought I remembered a hamster."
Briony shook her head.
"You were deprived," Jamie told her.
"Clearly, you don't remember my bedroom. I had every toy ever invented. At least the educational ones that didn't have any sharp edges, or pieces you could swallow, or other hazards," Briony said.
"Like I said, deprived." Jamie stood up and walked to the fridge. She slid a piece of paper out from under a magnet that said "Give Peas a Chance" and handed it to Briony. "This is everything you need to know. I have to warn you, Mac always wants breakfast at seven thirty, and he won't be denied. It's fine if you want to attempt to sleep in, but that's all it will be, an attempt. He eats at seven thirty at night, too, but you can feed him early if you're going out. Early feeding is no problem. And Diogee doesn't really chew. He just kind of vacuums food up. Which means sometimes he vomits. Not that often. But I just don't want you to worry if it happens. Also, Mac is a sneaky little bugger."
Mac gave something that was part meow and part growl. "Yeah, I'm talking about you," Jamie told him. She leaned back and gave him a scratch under the chin. "It's probably safest to shut him in one of the bedrooms before you try to go outside. Not that any room can really contain him, but it will give you a head start. Oh, and Diogee does this thing David calls the Shoulder Popper. If you're walking him, and he sees a squirrel or — "
"You're going to terrify her," a dark-haired man said from the doorway. He looked sort of like Ben Affleck, but younger. "Just remember. You're the alpha. You have the power," he told Briony. Jamie gave a snort. He ignored her. "You provide the food; that means you're in charge," he continued, then grinned and put out his hand. "I'm David, Jamie's husband."
"That still sounds so weird," Jamie said. "So weird, and amazing, and wonderful, and yummy." She walked over to David and put her arm around his waist. Her face glowed when she looked at him, the same way his did when he looked at her.
Briony had to drop her gaze. She was happy for her cousin, but it hurt to see a couple so completely in love. She'd thought she was completely in love with Caleb. Hadn't she been? But how could she have been? You don't leave someone you completely love at the altar. You don't have a panic attack walking down the aisle toward him.
"I'm going to go bring the car around," David said. "Sorry we have to leave when you just got here. When we get back, we'll all go out to dinner," he told Briony before he headed out.
"You shouldn't have been sitting here having tea with me," Briony said, feeling stricken. Her cousin was trying to start her honeymoon. "I don't want you to miss your flight."
"We won't. Don't worry. So, you have the instructions for the pets. The guest room's upstairs to the left. David also made you a list of the best restaurants and stuff in the neighborhood. Even though I think I know LA at least as well as he does. I did a lot of exploring when I first moved here."
"I know!" Briony exclaimed. "I got your book!" Jamie'd done a book with photos of people from all over LA and stories about the jobs they had.
"You did? Aww, that's so sweet," Jamie said. "Here are the keys. Okay, what else? We also left you a list of neighbors who'll be able to answer questions. I'm sure Ruby will call to see if you need anything. If Diogee's too much for you to handle on a walk, Zachary across the street will take him. It's also fine to let him out in the yard. He used to have a dog door. But Mac and a dog door — no. It's been permanently closed." She took a deep breath and rushed on. "You have David's and my cell numbers, right? What else? What else?" Jamie stared around the room.
"Okay, Jamie, you're entering the Lunacy Zone," David said as he returned to the kitchen. "You should have seen her the last few weeks before the wedding; she left a trail of lists wherever she went and was on the phone and the computer constantly — and at the same time — while also talking to herself," he told Briony. Briony hadn't gotten like that. Caleb had found the best wedding planner in the state and she'd taken charge like a general going into battle. "I'm going to go grab our suitcases," David added.
"Can I help?" Briony asked. She just wanted them gone. They'd both been really welcoming, but she hadn't been alone since she started dressing for the wedding yesterday — yesterday! She still had her wedding hairdo and had on the maxi dress she'd been planning to wear on the plane to her own honeymoon. She needed privacy to cry or scream or collapse or something.
"No, thanks. I've got it." David left again.
"My car!" Jamie exclaimed. "I knew I was forgetting something. You should use my car. Bright green Bug. Parked on Gower. That's the street that runs past the fountain in the courtyard. You can see the car from there. No parking in the complex." Jamie pulled a set of keys out of one of the cabinet drawers and put them on the table.
"Great. Thanks. Thanks so much. I'm sorry I showed up just when you're — "
Jamie held her hand out, palm facing Briony. "Stop. I told you your timing is perfect."
"Okay, we're all set, Jam!" David called.
"He calls me Jam sometimes," Jamie said. "He's so cute." She stood and swept Mac into her arms. "Okay, best kitty in the world. You be good for Briony. I'll see you soon, and I'll bring you a present." She buried her face in his fur for a moment and gave him a cuddle. "I'm going to put him upstairs and say good-bye to Diogee, but expect Mr. MacGyver to be back down in a few," she told Briony.
"Okay," Briony answered. She followed Jamie out of the kitchen, then went outside where David was waiting by the car. He'd been just as nice as Jamie had, but what could he think of her after what she'd done to Caleb? She pushed the thought away. Everything wasn't about her. "So a month in Morocco. Wow." Her mom had filled her in on Jamie and David's plans.
"It's all thanks to a movie producer who loves my mojito cupcakes," David explained. "When he heard I was getting married, he offered me and Jamie the use of his vacation place in Essaouira."
"Can I admit I don't know where that is?" Briony asked.
David laughed. "Neither did I. It's on the Atlantic coast, about a three- hour drive from Marrakesh. We wanted to — "
"Morocco, here we come!" Jamie exclaimed as she rushed out the front door. She practically skipped over to them. "I hope Storybook Court is as wonderful for you as it was for me. Coming here changed my life." Jamie smiled up at David.
Go; just please go, Briony thought. All the happy physically hurt. She should be going on her honeymoon now. With the perfect guy. What was wrong with her?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Secret Life of Mac"
Copyright © 2019 Melinda Metz.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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