Blame it on the Stars (The Blame Game) (5 page)

BOOK: Blame it on the Stars (The Blame Game)
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He laughed
. “Uh huh, why am I not surprised. Say, what does her husband do? Is he as nosy as she is?”


Pretty much.” Catlin nodded “He’s a cop.”

Steve choked and took a drink quickly.
“No kidding?”

Catlin was smiling as she shook her head.
“No kidding. He’s a good one, too. Everybody just loves Jimmy.”


Wow.” Steve shook his head in amazement. “Now that is really something. I have a lot of respect for people like him. What he faces every day on his job, well, I’m lucky. I only have to feel that kind of terror when I come over here.”

Catlin laughed out loud, and threw her arms around his neck.
“That’s crazy talk! You are one crazy guy. Let’s eat!” She pulled him by the hand back into the kitchen.

They ate, and she talked more about Jetta and Jim.
“They’ve been married four years, right out of college. I’ve never seen two happier people.”


She has a bit of a twang in her voice. Where’s she from?”


Georgia. She’s worked pretty hard to get rid of that twang.”

He chuckled.
“How’d she end up here?”


Her father was in the military,” Catlin said. “The base near here was his last assignment. Jetta liked it, and stayed here for college. Then she met Jim.”


And the rest is history.”


Yep. And now they’ve decided to start a family. But it isn’t happening as fast as they hoped.” She sipped her wine. “But don’t say anything. It’s a touchy subject.”

He nodded.
“I’m sorry for them. Having kids is wonderful.”

She chuckled
“When you’re ready for them, that’s true.”


If you’re hinting about birth control, don’t worry. I brought something.”

Her eyes got wide as she purposely tried to embarrass him.
“Oh you brought ‘something’? I hope it hasn’t been tucked away in your wallet for twenty-one years!”

He pushed his plate back on the table.

You
are asking for trouble.”

Catlin stood up and dropped her napkin on the table.
“Oh yeah? Who’s going to give it to me?” She backed out of the kitchen into the front room.

Steve followed her.
“Me. I’m going to give it to you, but good.”


You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” She dropped onto a fuzzy rug in front of the fireplace, and Steve came down on top of her. He pinned her arms to the floor.


Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” he challenged her.


Yeah,” she spouted back at him.


And are you sure?” he asked, a little more softly.


Yeah,” she answered in almost a whisper.

He pressed his mouth on hers and released her arms.
Catlin ran her hands up Steve’s back and pulled at his shirt. When it came untucked, she slid her hands on to his bare back and clutched at him.

He kissed her cheek, then her earlobe, then her neck.
When he got to the neckline of her sweater, he pulled back a little bit and said, “Hmm. Pullover.”

She smiled.
“I can do something about that. Would you like to stay here, or go in the other room?”

He grinned at her
. “The kitchen table is full.”

She was unbuttoning the front of his shirt.
“The bedroom being the operative ‘other room’ I was referring to.”


I’d like to see the bedroom. Do you think you could lose that sweater between here and there?”


You got it.”

He stood and pulled her up with him.
With a flick of her wrist, Catlin had removed her sweater and tossed it across the room. She unbuttoned her jeans, and with a quick kick they, too, went flying. Steve went into the bedroom and turned around. Catlin was standing in the doorway in a sheer black lace teddy that was cut very low on the top and very high on the bottom.

He sat down on the bed.
“Now that looks like something I can fight my way through.”

She moved up against him so that his face was only inches away from her well-exposed cleavage.
“You’ll get no fight from me.”

 

They lay wrapped up in each other after they made love. Catlin buried her face in the soft hair on Steve’s chest, and nuzzled him.


God, I feel great.” He stretched, and rubbed his hands over her bare back.


Yes, you do.” She continued kissing his chest.


You can’t imagine how long it’s been since I’ve felt this great.”

She looked up at him and smiled.
“Let’s not go there tonight, shall we?”


What? I’m just complimenting you, is all.”

She laughed
“It takes two to tango, buddy. And you are one fine dancer.”

He laughed with her
. “I’ve been meaning to ask you if you noticed anything different about me tonight.”

She gave him the once over and replied
, “Well, you’re naked. That’s different from the past few times I’ve seen you.”

He laughed again and rolled her over on her back.
He kissed her passionately, then pulled back a little, and held his left hand up in front of her.

She looked for a second,
and it dawned on her. “No wedding ring. Thank you. That was nice of you. But I have to admit, I felt kind of naughty being with a married man. It was a pretty big turn-on.”

He laughed so hard, he had to roll back over and lie down. When he composed himself, he said
, “There is one other thing I wanted to tell you. I know the timing sucks. I really don’t want to be talking about this with you right now. But I didn’t want to tell you earlier, in case you thought I was just telling you to get you into bed—”


Steve.” She rolled up on her side. “Spit it out, man! You’re rambling!”


I filed for a divorce.”

She looked at him, not quite believing what he said.
“Oh my God.” She climbed on top of him. “Oh my God!” she squealed, and started kissing all over his face and neck.


I guess that meets with your approval?” He tried to lean up, but she shoved him back on the bed.


Stay there.” She kissed his chest. “I’m working my way down to your toes.”

Steve
chuckled and closed his eyes.

 

It was midnight when they wandered back out into the kitchen. “Oh my God,” Catlin said in a completely different tone, when she saw the dinner dishes just as they left them.

Steve laughed as he picked up two plates and carried them over to the sink.
“You certainly are doing a lot of praying tonight.”

She shook her head, smiling.
“Just leave them. I’ll clean up.”


Nah.” He wandered over to the c.d. player and turned the music up. Billy Joel was singing again. Steve went back to the table and picked up a few more dishes. “You, me and Billy can whip this room into shape in no time.”

She
glanced at him questioningly as she reached for the dishtowel. “So now Billy’s okay with you?”

Steve looked up
. “Billy and I shared some intensely personal experiences about an hour ago. Suddenly, I have a new fondness for his music.”

Catlin laughed.
She washed and Steve dried. Billy sang.


You are a wonderful dish drier,” she told Steve, as he finished the last plate. “Among other things.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her close.
“You are just simply wonderful. I can’t tell you enough times what a great evening this has been.”

She grinned
. “Yes, it has. Well, don’t they say in the newspaper business, ‘let’s do it all again tomorrow, folks!’?”

He laughed
. “Tomorrow...Sunday...” He looked at his watch. “I guess it already is Sunday. I really have to go.”


Can I see you tomorrow?” she asked softly.

H
e hugged her to him. “Most definitely. How about I call you after church? Maybe you can take me for a ride in your
sports car.

She walked him to the door
. “I miss you already.”

He gave her one last kiss goodnight.

“Oh, here.” She reached for his sweater off her coat rack.

He winked at h
er. “No hurry.”

S
he pulled it back.


Sleep tight.” He shut the door.

Catlin leaned up against
it. She’d been trying to give a name to the feeling that had formed in the pit of her stomach, and spread through her veins like warm oil. Now she could put her finger on it. It was love.

 

Chapter Four

 

Catlin was awakened by the phone early the next morning. “Hello,” she mumbled.


Did I wake you?” Steve’s voice was music to her ears.


Yes. But it’s okay. Talking to you makes it easier to pretend you’re still here.”


If I was still there, what would I be doing?”


Well,” she thought about it. “Seeing as your side of the bed is cold, you must be out making me breakfast.”

He laughed.
“I’m so thoughtful, that way.”


Mmm...” Catlin stretched. “The pillow smells like you. It makes me wish you were back here.”


You and me both. I don’t suppose you could hold that position until noon?”


Sorry. I’m afraid you’re going to have to woo me all over again.”


It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

Catlin chuckled
. “Speaking of wooing me, which by the way is a euphemism for what you did so nicely last night—“

“Really?” his voice was teasing. “I had no idea that
’s what you were referring to.”

She laughed. “Would you let me get through this, please? I should have said something last night
, but I got a bit caught up with everything. Anyway, I’m on the pill, so we probably don’t need the extra protection.”

“No biohazard suit? Excellent! That thing was inconvenient and I could see it cramping my style in the future.”

“Pretty sure of yourself, there, buddy?”

“I wasn
’t until last night. Now I’m feeling rather confident, and
randy
. One night with you was not enough. I need more, and I need it soon. You said something about a ride in your car?”

Her heart soared. “Oh yeah. That, and much, much more.
So tell me again where to pick you up?”


You mean Jetta didn’t tell you?” he teased.


Not the address, no. Care to share?”


I would share
anything
with you. 2700 Jefferson. Know where that is?”


Hoo boy, do I ever. Got to wash the car just to drive down that street!”


You’re goofy. I’d better go. See you around noon?”


Most definitely.” She hung up the phone. She lay there for a while, but knew she couldn’t get back to sleep. She decided that since she was up, maybe she would go to church.

Catlin showered, and fixed her hair and make-up.
Then she stood at the closet and pulled out one dress after another. She finally settled on a conservative navy blue number, and put it on.

She hummed as she drove to church
, wondering how long the intensely good mood she was in could last.

Standing in the back of church, Catlin spied Jetta and Jim, sitting directly behind Steve, Dana and David.
She started up the aisle. She stopped to smile at the Crafts, and then stood next to the pew Steve’s family sat in.

He glanced at her
and his face lit up. “Scoot over.” He nudged Dana.

Dana
grinned at Catlin, and nudged David. “Scoot over,” she whispered. David looked over at Catlin, shook his head and smirked. Grudgingly, he moved down.

Catlin sat next to Steve.
“Hi,” she whispered.


I’m so happy to see you!” He kissed her cheek.

Jetta leaned forward.
“Hey now. None of that.”

Catlin smiled back at her
. “Shh!” she muttered, and beamed at Steve.

He reached for her hand, and held it in his lap.
Steve whispered, “Come to confess your sins?”

Catlin chuckled
. “I have no sins to confess. I came to express my thankfulness.”


Ditto. I’m so thankful, there’s probably white smoke coming out of my ears.”

She laughed,
and covered her mouth, remembering where she was.

Jetta leaned forward again.
“Like I tell my students, ‘I’m going to have to split you up if you can’t be quiet’,” she teased.

Steve turned to her and clutched Catlin
’s hand to his chest. “I’d like to see you try.” He winked at Jetta.

S
he chuckled, and settled back into her seat.

Steve held Catlin
’s hand through most of the mass, and when it came time to offer the handshake of peace, he kissed her chastely on the mouth. Catlin was supremely happy.

When the service ended, they sat in the pew for a few minutes, to let the crowd thin out. Then they walked out with Jim and Jetta.

Standing out front on the sidewalk, Jetta said, “So, last night must have gone well.”

Steve and Catlin
made eyes at each other. David brushed past them mumbling, “I’ll be in the car.”

They watched him walk off, and Jetta spoke
again. “He’s a ray of sunshine this morning.”

Steve
shrugged. “Teenagers. Go figure.”

Jim motioned to Steve, who still had Catlin
’s hand in his. “She’s going to need that hand back sooner or later.”


Later,” Steve replied. “Much later.” He winked at Catlin, who batted her lashes at him. Steve turned back to Jim. “I hear you are in an interesting line of work. I think we should have dinner sometime soon, so I can hear more about it.”


That could be arranged.” Jim nodded toward his wife. “Suppose we have to bring them?”

They all laughed, and Steve answered
, “Why not? It could be fun.”

Jim put his arm around Jetta and led her away.
“We’ll let the women work out the details, and we’ll just show up. See you soon!”


See you,” Steve said, and turned to Dana. He pulled out his car keys and handed them to her. “Tell your brother to take it easy.”


Ooh!” She grabbed the keys. “Thanks Daddy. Could we maybe stop for pizza?”

Steve feigned irritation, and pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wallet.
“I’ll be home later. Miss McCall is going to take me for a ride in her
sports car.

Dana laughed as she headed toward their car.
“Have fun! See you later!”


Bye,” they told her, and Steve turned to Catlin. “Finally, just you and me.”


Well, let’s go.” She led him to her car. “If I don’t get out of these pantyhose soon, I think I’m going to pop.”


I’d pay a quarter to see that.” He grinned seductively at her.

She pulled out her keys and handed them
over. “What, me popping?”

He unlocked the door and handed
the keys back to her. “No, you getting out of those pantyhose.” He kissed her, and she put the keys back in his hand.


Take me home.”

He let her in the passenger side, and got into the driver
’s seat. He started up the car, and backed it carefully out of the parking space. “Wow.” He drove down the road, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “This car is great.”

Catlin closed her eyes, leaning back into her seat.
“You’re pretty great, yourself,” she said softly.

He squeezed her hand.

They arrived at her house, and Catlin led him in through the kitchen. “Can I get you anything?”


Yep.” He tossed her keys on the table, and loosened his tie.

She grinned at him
. “I mean food or drink?”


Not right now.” He backed her into the bedroom, and kicked the door shut with his foot.

 

An hour later, they made it back out to the kitchen. Catlin wore Steve’s shirt, and nothing else. He wore his slacks only. He opened the refrigerator door, and pulled out the leftover lasagna. “Now I am really hungry.”

She laughed and got out plates.
“I hope you don’t mind leftovers.”


The second day is just a good as the first.” He pinched her rear end as he went to the microwave.

Catlin laughed.
“I don’t know if I can eat, staring at that sexy chest.”


Guess we don’t
have
to eat….”

She ran her hands over his chest.
“I can’t believe what you do to me. I haven’t felt this way in—well, I’m not sure I’ve
ever
felt this way.”

Steve pulled her next to him.
“We do seem to be a good match.”


Oh, a very good match” she agreed, and they kissed and groped each other until the microwave timer sounded.


I’m tired of being interrupted by your kitchen appliances.”

Grinning happily, s
he nipped at his neck one last time.

They ate,
and Catlin changed into some jeans and a sweater. “I wish you had something more comfortable to put on.”

He wore his slacks and shirt, but left off his jacket and tie.

“It’s okay. Why don’t we go over to my place? I can give you the tour, and then I’ll change.”


Sounds good. I’d love to see your palace. I mean, place.”

He swatted her rear end as she waltzed out the door.

 

Catlin whistled as they pulled up
to his house. It looked huge.

He chuckled.
“I love this car.” He ran his hand over the hood as they got out.


Well, it’s a start!” She grinned.

H
e chased her into the house.


Wow.” She took it all in as she entered the foyer.

It was a large, old stone house that was completely modern on the inside.
She walked through the foyer into a formal living room, which was so fancy, it didn’t look like it got much use.


Back here.” Steve led her into the next room, which looked like a much more comfortable family space.


This is something.” Catlin was still taking it all in. “Wow, those are lovely.” She pointed to paintings of Dana and David on the wall.


Nice, aren’t they?” He set his sunglasses on the coffee table.


Very.” She noticed a picture on the table next to his glasses. Catlin picked it up. “Oh, a family photo.”

It was a professional sitting, with Steve, Dana, David and a woman
—Catlin stared at her, getting her first glimpse of Steve’s wife. She was tall and blonde, but severe looking. Not very pretty, Catlin decided, secretly pleased.

Steve came up behind her and took the picture from her hands.
“I’m sorry. The kids, you know.” He set the photo back down.

Catlin turned to face him.
“It’s okay. Twenty-one years is a long time. We can’t pretend she never existed.”

He pulled her next to him.
“Oh, but we can try, can’t we?”

She kissed him lightly,
and then looked around. “Show me more, sir.”


Well, come on.” He pulled her by the hand and showed her the rest of the house. “I like the kitchen,” he admitted.

S
he could see why. It had an abundance of counter space, and an island in the middle with pans hanging above it. There was a bar with padded barstools, where two or three people could eat, and the far corner had a breakfast nook, with a table and four comfy-looking chairs.


We usually eat in here. We haven’t had occasion to use the dining room, yet.”


It’s just lovely,” she said sincerely. “But how do you do it all? Take care of the house and the kids by yourself?”

He grinned.
“That would make me pretty amazing, wouldn’t it? Actually, we have a housekeeper, Teresa. She’s been with us for years, practically helped raise the children.”


She moved here with you?” Catlin was surprised.

Steve nodded.
“Her sister lives here, and Teresa was happy to move closer to her. Now that the kids are older, we only need her part-time, so she’s living with her sister. She stays here when I have to go out of town on business. She’s feisty. She’s Mexican, and speaks Spanish to the kids to make them learn it.”

Catlin chuckled
. “I’d like to meet her.”

Steve wrinkled up his face.
“We might want to wait on that a bit. Teresa is, shall we say, quite loyal.”


To you?” Catlin looked at him, and then it dawned on her. “Oh, to Barbara.”

BOOK: Blame it on the Stars (The Blame Game)
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