They helplessly rely on us to feed and care for them, while providing us with companionship and unconditional love. With their presence, they brighten our days, put smiles on our faces, and add a sense of purpose without even trying. As tried and true friends, they often look up to us. And in return they're the ones in our lives who will never look down on us, even when we do something wrong.
In the beginning, my husband and I were not typical cat people, thinking we'd never get close to this feline addition to our house. In truth, we only agreed to keep him for rodent control. Things soon changed as he behaved more like an eager-to-be-around-people "dog" than a disinterested I'd-rather-not-come-near-you "cat." He came when called, he never shied from loud noises (and this was important with two active young girls) and he talked back to you when you happened to strike up a conversation. Needless to say, we fell head over heels for this cat.
As you can imagine, it's been a tough couple of days. The house has an emptiness inside that we are all trying to deal with in our own little way. Coconut may have started out as just a pet, but he ended up being loved as one of the family and we miss him very much.
I hope I didn't bring anyone's spirits down with this post. To be honest, it's difficult to write about anything else when you are consumed with loss.
By Renee Vincent
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Patrick stepped into the kitchen and slid the door closed behind him, the house eerily quiet and still. By now, his rowdy Chocolate Lab should have been clumsily traipsing down the hall, all tongue and legs, trying to get to him before he could take one step off the welcome mat. “Rain?” he called tentatively. “You in here?”
“I’m fine, Patrick. Leave me alone,” Lorraine’s voice emitted from the back room. He kicked off his dusty cowboy boots and hung his hat on the hook by the door before walking toward her bedroom. As he expected, her door was shut. And when he gripped the handle, it was locked.
He leaned against the frame. “Rain, open the door.”
“I said I’m fine.”
There was anger in her voice, but through the forced gruffness of it Patrick heard it crack. His heart melted. “Rain…talk to me.”
“I don’t feel like talking. I just want to be left alone.”
Patrick rolled his eyes. No woman who’s ever said those words has ever meant it. In his experience, ‘leave me alone’ typically means ‘be more convincing so I’ll feel better about spilling my guts.’
“Fine,” he allotted, backing away from the door. “I’ll just sit out here and wait ‘til you’re ready to talk. I’ve got all day.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be horseback riding with Beth this afternoon?”
“No, we changed plans.”
“She changed plans or you did?”
“What does it matter?” Patrick asked, impatient at talking through the door.
“Dammit, Patrick, you can’t keep doing that. You can’t continue to rearrange your life with her because of me. She already hates me as it is.”
Patrick tried the door handle again, to no avail. “Beth doesn’t hate you. She just doesn’t understand my relationship with you. Give her time…she’ll learn.”
“She’ll learn to hate you, Patrick. No woman wants to be second, and with me living here, you’ll always put me first.”
There was a slight stress on ‘with me living here’ and Patrick caught it. As he heard her footsteps cross the hardwood floor of the room, he was relieved, thinking she was finally going to open the door and let him in. But then he heard the closet door slide across its tracks and the sound of her dragging something from inside.
He pressed his ear against the door, listening. A furious zipper opened and then a drawer from her dresser. “What are you doing in there? Are you packing?”
She ignored him.
“Rain,” he demanded, his voice taking on an urgent tone. “Open this door right now.”
Again, she didn’t oblige and the longer he waited, the madder he got. If he knew one thing about her, it was that she was a determined woman. If she got something in her head, no matter how idiotic it was, she was going to see it through. And if she decided to move out, then nothing would stop her.
He couldn’t let her. He cared too much to let her walk out of his life. The only place she could go was Jack’s house in Indian Hill—the Beverly Hills of Ohio—and that was the last place he’d want her to run to.
“All right, that’s it,” he warned. “I’m coming in.”
He didn’t know why he even gave a warning. It was his house and he had a right to open any damn door he wanted. Trying to cool his jets, he spun around and reached above the bedroom door and snatched the pin key. In haste, he drove it in the tiny hole and burst into the room, finding Lorraine with an armful of clothes, making her way to the edge of the bed where a heap of unfolded clothes already lay in her suitcase.
Immediately, his dog, Captain, jumped off the bed and ran to greet him, paws and all. Correcting the dog, he pushed the animal aside and ran to Lorraine. “What are you doing?”
“Patrick, it’s bad enough that I’m ruining my relationship with Jack. I’m not going to ruin yours too.”
She tried to walk around him, but he stepped in front of her and clasped her face in his hands. “See? This is the shit I’m talking about. Jack has brainwashed you into thinking the reason your relationship is on the rocks is because of you. Do you know how absurd that is? Rain, it has never been your fault. Can’t you see that? He doesn’t deserve you.”
“But Beth deserves you and I’m not going to stand in your way anymore.”
He grabbed her shoulders. “You are not in my way. You’re my best friend and I’m not letting you leave.”
He watched as tears welled up in her green eyes. Her bottom lip quivered and her jaw clenched. Unable to bear losing his childhood friend, he pulled her in his arms and held her.
“What happened?” he whispered sympathetically in her hair.
He felt her body tremble and the jerk of quiet sobs in her shoulders. He walked into her, leading her toward the bed so they could sit down. Captain followed and lay down at their feet, his head on his paws as if he, too, were saddened by Lorraine’s crying.
When Patrick took her hands in his, he noticed that her left one was absent the three-carat diamond solitaire, the only impressive thing Jack had ever offered her. But then again, Patrick never thought for one second that he forked out his own money for it. He’d bet his life that Jack’s parents paid for the engagement ring simply because they didn’t want their son to let a good thing slip through his hands.
He lifted her hand. “Where’s your ring?”
Lorraine’s lips puckered, trying to hold back her emotions. “I gave it back to him.”
Though her words were music to his ears, he restrained his joy. “Why?”
Lorraine looked up at the ceiling, blowing out a tremendous sigh. Anger laced her words now. “Because I walked in on him with another woman.”
Patrick’s heart nearly stopped. His mouth fell open, but he shut it right away so as not to say anything too rash. He chose his words carefully. “With another woman…doing what?”
Lorraine glared at him for his naivety. “What do you think, Patrick? They were in bed together, our bed—”
Her tears ran like a faucet now, her pain at a height even he couldn’t fathom. “Okay, okay...” he consoled, pulling her against him. “I get it. It’s okay. Shh…you don’t have to say another word. I’m here.”
He didn’t expect her to say anything more, but it was as if his words sparked a need to rant. “You know what Jack did when I turned to run out of the house?”
Patrick didn’t want to try to guess. He could only imagine what that scumbag did in the heat of Lorraine finding him screwing another woman.
“He chased me down the sidewalk with a sheet around his waist, saying he could explain. When I continued to run for my car, he actually grabbed me by the arm and said if I gave him just five minutes, he could be ready for our picnic.” Lorraine began to laugh hysterically. “Can you believe that? He said he just forgot about our picnic and double booked. Like I’m a flippant appointment he forgot to pencil in and scheduled a necessary fornication session in place of it.”
Patrick was dumbfounded. “Rain, I am so sorry. I—I.”
Lorraine looked up at him from the pocket of his shoulder. “Oh, don’t act so surprised,” she snapped, standing up to pace the room. “You probably already made bets with Andy that this would happen.”
He felt the pang of that knife right away. “I’d never do that to you.”
Lorraine wilted. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. I’m just mad. And hurt. And…”
Patrick jumped up to embrace her again. “I know you can’t begin to see it now, but it is better this way. You don’t have to waste anymore time on Jack. You’re free to find the man of your dreams, the right man of your dreams.”
“I don’t think he’s out there.”
“Sure he is,” Patrick contended, stroking her long dark hair. “He already visits you in your dreams every night.”
Lorraine drew back to look at him. “Did Mr. Pride kick you while you were shoeing him?”
“Of course not.”
“Then I think you’ve just fallen off the crazy train, Patrick.”
She tried to slip from his arms, but he held her in her place. “Aren’t you still dreaming about some tall blond, blue-eyed guy in medieval garb with a sword or something like that?”
Lorraine stared and nodded her head slowly. “Yep, you’ve lost it.”
“So am I, Patrick. Listen to yourself. You’re talking about this guy, this ridiculous figment of my imagination, mind you, as if he’s real.”
“Your words, not mine. Think about it, Rain. How many times have you awakened, gasping in the night, telling me you could feel this man’s lips on yours as real as if he were right in bed with you? You’ve had this dream ever since I’ve known you, so how do you explain it?”
“It’s called a pathetic girl’s wish for her cliché knight in shining armor.”
At that, Lorraine’s cell phone rang. She froze, a blank look invading her face. When it rang again, she scurried past him and frantically searched her purse on the bed. Pulling it out, she stared at the display.
She didn’t have to read the name to Patrick. By the look of her sad eyes, he already knew it was Jack. Holding back his growing infuriation, he grabbed the cell and threw it out of the room against the hall wall, the phone shattering in pieces. Before she could race out the door to salvage the pieces, Patrick taunted his dog. “You want it? Go get it. Go get it, boy.”
Instantly, Captain jumped to his feet and ran to the plastic fragments lying haphazardly on the floor. Without even sniffing, he chose the biggest scrap and ran away with it in his mouth.
Patrick laughed. But when he turned around to face Lorraine, she wasn’t as pleased as he was with his dog’s obedience. “What?”
“That was my cell phone. You broke it.”
Patrick couldn’t help but smile as she laid out the obvious. “I’ll buy you a new one. With a different number,” he added, pointing soundly at her. “Besides, you have nothing more to say to him.”
“Says me. Now start packing.”
As Patrick walked out of her bedroom, he knew she had to be staring at him like he had three heads. He didn’t care. Suddenly, her idea of leaving was the best thing she had ever come up with. He was going to make damn sure Jack couldn’t find her.
“Pack you bags, Rain. You’re going on a trip.”
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