Getting Lucky

an excerpt



Chapter One

November 2018



"You need a cat."

Nathan Bedford stared at his sister in astonishment. "What do I need a cat for?" They were chilling in front of the TV, watching home improvement shows, because they were both at home for once, and her statement was completely out of left field.

"You're lonely," she said.

"I am not lonely," he protested.

"Yes, you are. You really need a boyfriend, but I know that's not happening anytime soon."

"I don't need a boyfriend either! Why, so he can cheat on me like Tom did?"

"Cats don't cheat."

"True, but they need to be fed and they have kitty litter, and they meow all the time."

"And they're there when you come home at night since you're not doing anything about the boyfriend thing."

"You're here when I get home."

"Asleep usually."

That was hard to argue with. Shelby worked a zillion hours. So did Nathan, but they mostly weren't the same hours since Shelby was an RN and Nathan was a retail manager in a chain craft supply store. Nathan knew he was lucky to have his sister for a roommate because he would never have been able to afford a place like this by himself, even as a share with someone he wasn't related to. Especially since she charged him barely a third of what her mortgage and utilities came to. Along with a little babysitting.

Shelby and her ex-husband shared joint custody of Nathan's niece and nephew. Convenient as the whole arrangement might be for Nathan, he knew it was a big help to her to have another adult in the house in case of emergencies. Her ex-husband was decent about not dumping unscheduled stuff on them, but not perfect. Even if he had been perfect, life got complicated. Cars broke down, people got sick. And at least Vic hadn't cheated on Shelby as far as Nate knew. Unlike Nathan's last boyfriend Tom.

Nathan wasn't sure exactly what had gone wrong with his sister's marriage, but the end of his relationship with Tom has been very straightforward. When you walk in on your boyfriend with not one, but two, barely legal guys you've never seen before, it was obvious that things were not working out. Tom at least had the grace to look embarrassed about the situation, but after he'd pulled on his pants and left his new friends in their bedroom, he didn't seem to think that he done anything terribly wrong.

He told Nathan that he did not want him to leave; but maybe it was time to have an open relationship. Nathan walked out of the apartment and went to a bar before Tom could suggest that they join the twinks. In his own bed. On the cute nautical sheets they'd picked out together.

The sympathetic bartender told him he deserved better than that cheating bastard, Nathan drank twelve beers, and then he called Shelby to come get him.

After pouring him into her car, putting him to sleep on his side, and checking him a couple of times during the night to make sure he didn't have alcohol poisoning, she told him he'd done the right thing. And then offered to have him move in, because she was a little strapped on the mortgage and could use some help with the kids. Almost two years later, it was still working out.

Nathan had no desire to get back into the dating pool. He was busy enough with work and the kids, and his entertainment needs were filled by the TV and computer. He did indulge in the occasional hook up off Grindr, but he hoped Shelby didn't know about those. Now she had this crazy cat idea.

"Why don't you get a cat?" he asked her.

"I can share your cat."

"I don't want to share my cat. Hey, wait a minute, I'm not getting a cat, to share or otherwise."

"Uh, huh. Don't you want to go look at cats? You could take the kids."

"So, the kids can look at them. Where do you go to shop for cats?"

"The shelter. It's not shopping, They're free. Sort of."

Nathan groaned. "Only sort of. I'm pretty sure they charge to adopt. I'm off Monday. I'll take a ride down there with the kids, but I'm not making promises."


* * *

Nathan might not be getting a cat, but his niece and nephew would enjoy the trip to the shelter, and he could at least tell Shelby that he had looked at cats. And dogs too. He could look at dogs.

Nathan liked animals in general, and he might have thought about a dog, but you had to walk them, and the irregular hours he kept weren't fair to a dog, especially a young one who wanted to play a lot. Cats were lower maintenance. Food, water, a litter box, and you were set. So, if he was working and Shelby was on shift and the kids were at their dad's, the cat would be fine home alone, and his mother wouldn't need to come over to walk the dog and get into their business.

So definitely a cat. The cat he was still not getting.

It was good for him to do something other than laundry on his day off, and he liked spending time with the kids, so maybe this shelter trip wasn't a bad idea even if they weren't adopting any pets. On Monday he picked up Tyler and Chloe from the bus stop and drove to the animal shelter a couple of towns over, on Shelby's recommendation, because she claimed it was much larger than the one her ex-husband had adopted his dog from.

Immediately inside there was a big room lined with cats and dogs in the kind of cages Nate guessed you'd see at a pet store or vet's office. The kids went over to the nearest row and started to chatter at the animals. There was a counter to the side. A small teenage girl in a blue smock was standing on it, attempting to tape tinsel to the ceiling. A tallish guy in a similar smock was standing behind the counter, a little turned away from Nate, and feeding the end of the tinsel up to her. Despite the fall of dark hair sweeping across his shoulders and Nate not being able to see his face, the fine butt and shoulders were masculine.

"Okay if we just look at the pets for a few minutes?"

"Absolutely," said the guy. "Let me know if you need to see one in a room. Careful, Lacey, Jean will not be happy if you fall off there."

"Sure, sure," she said. "I'm not going to fall off."

"Uh huh. Just say the word and I'll get the ladder out."

"Sure, Jake, but this is way easier."

Lacey carefully walked along the countertop. Jake turned in Nathan's direction. That curtain of hair fell across his face. He was a good-looking guy, not conventionally handsome, but with sharp, interesting features and huge hazel eyes. Young, but not ridiculously so. There was something kind of familiar about him.

Jake squinted at Nathan, and asked, "Do I know you from somewhere?"

Nathan opened his mouth to say, "I don't think so, but you do look really familiar," and then the pieces fell into place. The last time he'd seen this guy had been in his own bed with Tom's dick in his mouth. "Uhhh," he stammered.

The guy's eyes went wide, presumably because he'd just come to the same realization. "Oh. My. God. How weird is that?"

Nathan counted to five silently instead of screaming, "You fucked my boyfriend, in my bed, and your little friend too!" because a) that lacked dignity, b) Jake probably hadn't known Tom was cheating, and c) he really, really didn't want Tyler and Chloe to hear that kind of language.

"Is this some gay thing?" asked Lacey.

"No, it's just incredibly awkward." Jake answered her.

"Um, very," added Nathan.

"You two totally hooked up, didn't you?" Lacey sounded extremely enthusiastic. "This is so cool. How was it?"

"We did not hook up," Nathan said firmly.

Jake snorted.

Chloe yelled from across the room, "Uncle Nate, this cat's name is Lucky!"

"That's appropriate," remarked Lacey, taping tinsel to the ceiling.

"No, it's not," said Nate. "What kind of a name for a cat is Lucky?"

"He's a calico tom," said Jake.

"And?"

"They're rare. They're usually sterile too, but that one's neutered."

"Why would you neuter a sterile cat?" Nathan asked, because this was the weirdest conversation he'd ever had, so why not?

"Occasionally they're not sterile, and you know they spray, try to get out, can be kind of aggressive. They're better pets when they're neutered."

"Uncle Nate, he's so cute!" howled Tyler.

Nate took advantage of the excuse to walk over to the other side of the room. The cat in the cage was multi-colored and kind of scroungy looking. He would not have called it cute.

"Don't they have kittens here?"

"Wrong time of year," yelled Jake, who was now handing silver balls threaded with red ribbon to Lacey, who seemed to be tying them to the tinsel. Nate figured that was going to fall down, and probably sooner rather than later.

"But Uncle Nate, he's such a pretty cat. Can we take him home?"

"I'm fairly sure they don't just let you walk out of here with them. There's a process. And we have to go home because it's getting late and you have homework, and your mother wants me to feed you dinner."

Jake yelled across the room, "You fill out an application, and if you're approved there's a seventy-five-dollar fee. Takes about seventy-two hours. And I am so sorry about that."

Nate frantically pointed at his niece and nephew. "It's forgotten. Really. And we have to go." It wasn't, and they actually didn't, but Jake didn't seem to possess normal filters and Nate really, really didn't want to try to explain to Tyler and Chloe what Jake was sorry for. And he still didn't need a cat. Especially that cat, who was glaring at him balefully from the cage. In an animal shelter run by crazy people.

Jake and Lacey waved as he hustled Tyler and Chloe out the door and into the car.

All the way home, they talked about the cat. At dinner they talked about the cat. In the morning as he desperately slurped coffee because he had to open, they talked about the cat.