"Christ, it's only eight o'clock, Cat," I protested. "She's probably dead asleep. Or she's got a guy with her and she's embarrassed to answer the door." K.C.'s hand, which had been fondling my breast only seconds ago, had now lost much of its enthusiasm.
"But she'd never just ignore me," Cat said. Of course not. Few people would have the nerve to do that.
"Maybe she's not even in there. Maybe she spent the night at somebody else's place."
"She said she was staying in last night. I've got a bad feeling about this."
"Can't you let yourself in? You've got a key, right?"
"I'm scared to go in alone. What if there's something the matter in there?"
"Well, what about Jeff ?" I asked, referring to her husband.
"He's up in the country for the weekend with Tyler. I had something to do here," she added almost defensively.
"And there's no one closer? A neighbor?"
"No. No one I trust."
She paused then in that famous way of hers, which had started out as a trick to make people rush to fill the void and divulge their most sacred secrets to her, but which now had become a kind of unintentional mannerism, the way some people bite the side of their thumb as they think. I waited her out, listening to the sound of K.C.'s breathing.
"Bailey, you've got to come up here," she said finally.
"Now?" I exclaimed. "Cat, it's eight-eleven on a Sunday morning. Why not wait a bit longer? I bet she spent the night at some guy's place and she's trying to flag down a cab right now."
"But what if that's not the case? What if something happened to her in there?"
"What are you suggesting? That she's passed out from a benderor she's hung herself from the door frame?"
"No. I don't know. It just seems weirdand I'm scared."
I could see now that this was bigger than a dry-cleaning snafu, that she had her knickers in a twist and was serious about wanting me there, uptown on 91st Street, now.
"Okay, okay," I said. "It's going to take me at least thirty minutes to get dressed and get up there."
"Just hurry, all right?" She hung up the phone without even saying good-bye.
By now there didn't seem to be much lust left in my dashing Lothario. He'd let his hand slip away and had rolled from the spoon position onto his back. I'd once heard someone say that Cat Jones was so intimidating that she had made some of the men she went to bed with temporarily impotent, but even I, who had never underestimated her, was impressed that she'd managed to do that from about eighty blocks to a man I was in bed with.
"Look, K.C., I'm really sorry," I said, rolling over and facing him. He had lots of Irish blood in his veins, and it showeddark brown, nearly black eyes, coarse dark brown hair, pale skin, front teeth that overlapped ever so slightly. "This woman I work for has a live-in nanny and she thinks she's in some kind of trouble. I've got to go up to her place and help her out."
"Is that Cat, the one you work for at Gloss ?"
"Yeah. The beautiful but easily bothered Cat Jones. You're welcome to hang around here till I get back."
What I wanted to add was, "And when I get back I'll do things to your body that you've never even imagined before," but at that moment I wasn't feeling very nervy.
"No, I should go," he said. "Can I make a preemptive strike on the bathroom? It'll be quick."
"Sure. I'm gonna make coffee. Do you want something to eata bagel?"
"Not necessary," he said, pulling his arm out from under me so he could swing out of bed. He leaned over the side, reaching for his boxers, and then padded off to the bathroom. Great. There'd been the tiniest hint of snippiness in the "Not necessary," as if he suspected I'd found an excuse to blow him off. Or maybe he was relieved. This way there'd be no awkwardness about how long he was supposed to stay at my place or whether he should take me out for French toast and mimosas.
Copyright © 2002 by Kate White
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