Authors: Sofie Kelly
“An entertaining series.”
“The mystery is well plotted, though the suspects aren’t all that obvious. Small-town charm and a charming cat duo make this every cat fancier’s dream.”
—The Mystery Reader
“I’ve been a huge fan of this series from the very start, and I am delighted that this new book meets my expectations and then some. . . . Cats with magic powers, a library, good friends who look out for each other, and small-town coziness come together in perfect unison. If you are a fan of Miranda James’s Cat in the Stacks Mysteries, you will want to read [this series]
“This is a really fun series and I’ve read them all. Each book improves on the last one. Being a cat lover myself, I’m looking at my cat in a whole new light.”
—Once Upon a Romance
“A fun whodunit. . . . Fans will appreciate this entertaining amateur sleuth.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“This charming series continues on a steady course as the intrepid Kathleen has two mysteries to snoop into. . . . Readers who are fans of cats and cozies will want to add this series to their must-read lists.”
Sleight of Paw
“Kelly’s appealing cozy features likable, relatable characters set in an amiable location. The author continues to build on the promise of her debut novel, carefully developing her characters and their relationships.”
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
“A great cozy that will quickly have you anxiously waiting for the next release so you can spend more time with the people of Mayville Heights.”
—Mysteries and My Musings Blog
“If you love mystery and magic, this is the book for you!”
—Debbie’s Book Blog
“This start of a new series offers an engaging cast of human characters and two appealing, magically inclined felines. Kathleen is a likable, believable heroine and the magical cats are amusing.”
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
Sleight of Paw
A MAGICAL CATS MYSTERY
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
A Penguin Random House Company
First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Copyright © Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2013
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
owe a debt of gratitude to many people for the success of the Magical Cats Mysteries. Thank you to all the readers who have embraced Owen, Hercules, Kathleen and everyone else in Mayville Heights. Thank you as well to my agent, Kim Lionetti, whose guidance and enthusiasm keep me on track. My editor, Jessica Wade, makes every book better and does so with unfailing good humor—and a little help from her assistant, Jesse Feldman. Thanks to both of you. Fellow writer Laura Alden can always be counted on for a pep talk and a laugh when I need one. Chief Tim Sletten, the now-retired police chief of the Red Wing, Minnesota, police department, once again answered a barrage of questions and was very gracious when I played with the facts. Any errors are mine, not his.
And as always, thank you to Patrick and Lauren, the two best things that ever happened to me.
were waiting in the kitchen. I kicked off my shoes and knelt beside them. Owen immediately began sniffing the sling on my left arm. Hercules climbed up on my lap and licked my chin. I took a shaky breath against the prickle of tears I could feel about to fall. I wasn’t going to sit around on the floor crying. I was going to fix things with Marcus. I was going to keep apologizing until he listened. The problem was that when Detective Marcus Gordon was hurt, it wasn’t easy to get him to listen.
I sat on the footstool in the living room and tried his number. His cell phone went to voice mail. (He didn’t text.) There was no answer at his house, either. I heard something clatter to the floor in the kitchen. I went back out to find Owen and Hercules with the keys to my truck lying between them. “You’re not exactly subtle,” I said, bending to pick up the key ring. “Then again, if I see him in person, maybe I can get him to listen.”
Owen meowed loudly. I looked at Hercules, and after a moment’s hesitation, he gave a soft meow as well. I knew it was a bad idea to be driving one-handed, but I was past caring.
The cats followed me out to the truck, and there didn’t seem to be any reason not to let them come along. Owen looked out the passenger window while Herc sat beside me and stared out the windshield.
Marcus wasn’t down by the tents set up alongside the water beside the Riverwalk for tomorrow’s food tasting. A couple of hours earlier Maggie and I—and Hercules—had been there while the police took away a killer we’d helped catch.
“Are you all right?” Maggie had asked as we stood on the grass next to the boardwalk. She touched my shoulder, which had been twisted almost out of its socket, and I winced. “Okay, obviously you’re not.” She pulled out her cell phone.
“What are you doing?” I said. I had my good arm wrapped around Hercules. The air had gotten colder when the sun went down, but holding the little black-and-white cat was like having a portable heater.
“Calling Roma.” She shrugged. “I know you won’t go to the emergency room, and since you’re stubborn as a mule, it seems appropriate to get her to take a look at that shoulder.”
Roma was a vet, and one of my closest friends, but she also had first-aid training, so it wasn’t really that outlandish of an idea to call her. I talked quietly to Hercules until Maggie put her phone away.
“Roma is going to meet us at your house in a little while.” She gestured at Hercules. “How did he end up here?”
“The cats like to ride in the truck. I guess I didn’t see him jump out when I got out.” I figured that was more believable than the truth: He walked through the closed truck door because that happens to be his superpower. Maggie didn’t know that both my cats had some unbelievable and unexplainable abilities. No one did.
A few minutes later Marcus came out of the tent. Maggie had spotted Liam Stone, one of the organizers of the food festival, and had gone to speak to him. Marcus stared at me for a long moment and then walked across the grass to me.
“Is your shoulder all right?” he asked.
“I think so.”
“Someone should take a look at it.” His voice was cold and emotionless.
“Maggie’s already taken care of that.” This wasn’t the first time I’d gotten mixed up in one of his cases, but it was the first time I’d seen him this angry. “I tried to call you,” I said. I stopped and looked away for a moment. “What did you want me to do?”
I expected him to say, “Nothing,” but instead he just looked at me. “Trust me,” he said, pulling a hand through his dark, wavy hair.
“I do trust you.”
He looked past me, over my shoulder. Then his blue eyes came back to my face. “No, you don’t, Kathleen. I almost think you trust those cats more than you trust me.”
“I’m sorry.” I was barely able to get the words out, and my heart felt like it was pounding in the hollow at the base of my throat.
His lips pulled into a tight line. “Just once, Kathleen—just once—it would be nice if you had a little faith in me.”
Maggie had started back across the grass toward us.
“You can go,” Marcus said. He didn’t look at me, and his voice was as cold as winter ice in the lake. He turned and walked away, and I felt tears start to slide down my face. I’d been trying to talk to him ever since.
He wasn’t at the police station. I drove all over the downtown, but there was no sign of Marcus or his car. I ground my teeth against the gnawing pain in my shoulder and drove out to his little house. It was in darkness and there was no navy blue SUV in the driveway.
I tried his cell again and his home phone. Voice mail both times.
“He doesn’t want to talk to me.” Hercules leaned against my side and Owen walked across the front seat to rub his furry gray cheek against my good hand. “Let’s go home,” I said.
I pulled into the driveway, turned off the truck and yanked the key out of the ignition. “I ruined everything with Marcus,” I said, sucking in a shaky breath. “It’s over, and maybe it never really got started.”
I walked around the side of the house with the cats trailing me. I didn’t see the chair until I almost fell over it. It was sitting on the path in front of the back stairs.
My rocking chair. The one Marcus had been fixing for me.
It wasn’t in pieces anymore. It was all there, every joint strong and tight, with a new leather back and seat. It was back together, every single piece.
The chair looked wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
But not nearly as wonderful as the long-legged detective who was sitting in the shadows on my back step.
I felt my knees go rubbery with relief. “I’m so glad you’re here,” I said.
“I wasn’t sure you’d say that.” The denim-clad legs stretched and stood up. At the same moment Hercules began to hiss because he could see what I now saw.
It wasn’t Marcus waiting by my back door.