Between the meeting with my mom’s doctor and wanting to hang out with Tina until l was certain she was feeling better, things ran a lot longer than anticipated. So, I call instead of texting Cat, since I’m finally on my way home.
“Hey? So, you on your way?” Cat asks the moment the phone picks up.
“Yeah. Sorry things took longer than I expected.”
I wasn’t sure how to answer that. They were, but they weren’t. Tina is still hurting though she feels better and my mom is safe, but I still have no idea how she is doing.
“As good as it can be, I guess.”
“That doesn’t sound very reassuring,” Cat observes.
“I know, but it’s all I got to say on the subject. My mom, I didn’t even get to see because the doctor didn’t feel it was a good idea. He didn’t get into it, but he said she was in a bad way after she came back yesterday.”
Cat is silent for a moment. “It makes sense, though. Considering all she’s been through.”
Considering what I put her through… my mind wants to blame me, but I push that thought aside.
“Physically, she’s doing better. They will hopefully release her soon. She’s doing that well with her P.T. but she’s hurting... you know emotionally.”
“She’s lucky she has you,” Cat states.
I know how she means those words but they come out in a flat tone, telling me Cat still isn’t thrilled with this new relationship between Tina and me. Something I know I must address but not now. I’m emotionally spent at the moment.
“How far are you from home?”
“I’m still about 30 minutes or so,” I tell her.
“Okay, well then why don’t you let me go and I’ll get dinner started?” Cat offers.
“That’s unnecessary, we can just order in. I feel bad putting you to work. It’s been a crazy couple of days.”
“No worries. I like to cook, remember. I find it relaxing. So, I’ll see you soon, okay?”
I feel she’s trying to rush me off the phone but shrug and say, “Okay.”
I stare at the blank screen of my cell for a second or two. Something is up. That conversation just felt weird. I close my eye for a second but remembering what happened with Tina and knowing I’m not driving; I open a book app on my phone and start reading some backlogged comics I haven’t gotten to yet. It’s been a while, but they are entertaining enough to keep me awake and therefore in one piece to arrive home.
The taxi stops outside of my apartment and I let out an audible sigh. It’s so good to be home. I grab my bag and Cat’s that I picked up from the house since I don’t see us going back there soon, if ever again. I heave my duffle over my shoulder and drag her case up the steps before knocking on the door. I left my spare key at the house when I expected Cat to be staying there on her own. I didn’t want her to think I’d be dropping in unannounced, especially if my presence wasn’t welcome.
Cat opens the door and throws herself at me. I have to drop the case and duffle to catch her or she would have tumbled us both back into the hall. I laugh against her lips as she kisses me. “I missed you, too.”
“Seriously, Cat? Get a room, you two. Please, before I lose my appetite.”
Cat reluctantly pulls away. I miss her lips already. William is standing behind her, looking smug.
“Nice to see you, too,” I say, picking up the baggage and pulling it inside so I can shut the door.
“Thanks for noticing,” William says with an eye roll.
That wasn’t all I notice, though. Upon stepping inside, I realize it’s back, all of it. They brought back everything I took from the apartment. I look from Cat to William.
“It was all her idea,” William says, pointing to Cat, and I’m astounded.
“So, this is what that smile was about?” I ask, my heart overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness.
“I’m sure I have no idea what you mean,” Cat says with a sly grin.
I pull her back into my arms and kiss her again. I can’t believe she spent her entire afternoon putting my life back together for me. The symbolism, even if she had not meant it, was not lost on me.
“Hey, I helped too! Where’s the love?” William pouts.
I pull away from Cat and wave for William to join the hug, and he does. We all stood there hugging for several seconds.
“Thank you,” I tell them both once we all broke free. “I can’t believe you did this for me.”
“I remembered your face when we first walked in here yesterday. You looked so… misplaced. The same way you looked when I packed your stuff away when I moved my stuff in. I couldn’t bear it. So, I called William to help me get your stuff out of the storage unit. Since he still had the key, it made it super easy.”
“Well, not that easy, but with the help of Cat’s sorority and my drama club we managed,” William fills in, never being one to let a good deed go unrecognized.
“Do you have any idea how much this means to me? It feels so good to be home. Now I just need to get out of this damn suit.”
“You are looking mighty fine though,” William says, giving a once over that almost had me blushing.
“Yeah, yeah,” Cat says, frowning at William for flirting with me, which makes me laugh. Cat pushes me towards the bedroom, “Go take a shower and get dressed. By the time you're done, dinner should be ready.”
It all sounds so wonderful, especially the food part, as I had skipped lunch and am starving. I planned on being quick, but once inside the shower it feels too good. I spend time just letting the water wash over me, closing my eyes and allowing the heat to penetrate my skin.
I step into the bedroom and smile when I notice all three stuffed animals are back in their place on our bed. The bear, the baby tiger, and the kitten were staring at me as I sat on the edge of the bed. I picked up the tiger and played with its fur. Cat opens the door and smiles at the image I must make sitting with a towel around my waist holding a stuffed toy.