"Now just a damn minute."
Paula backed up, took one more look at the shimmering ... thing in front of her, and whirled. She almost made it to the front door when she heard the sound.
Very, very loud purring.
She put her hand on the doorknob and hazarded a look behind her.
A black cat -- not a panther, not a lion, not a leopard -- a BIG black cat, filled the hallway. She felt as though she'd fallen through the Looking Glass. The smell of her mother (She didn't really get fizzled, did she? Paula thought fleetingly), the sound of the purring, the moist breath of the beast ...
"That DOES it!" Paula threw the door open. "I'm calling the police. I'm calling a shrink. I'm calling the dog catcher. I'm calling--"
She fell into the arms of the man in front of her. Like the man (cat?) behind her, this man was tall, dark, and handsome. He was dressed in a white polo shirt and dark slacks, but on him the casual attire looked like yacht club wear. His hair shone almost blue black in the sun and his green eyes sparkled mischievously. Like Arze, he was a Babe Magnet. But this man was ... a man. Blinking, Paula clung to his strong forearms. "There's a cat back there," she babbled. "A big black cat. He's --"
The man ran a soothing hand over her shoulder. "Really?"
She nodded inanely. "It's chasing me. And my mother was fizzled. And she owed money to somebody and ..."
The man smiled. "That somebody would be me."