Shadow on the Stoop

“Now, snoochy- bear, this is how it’s going to play out,” Angeline purred, after abruptly ending her string of highly inventive profanity with a shake of her pretty curled head. He could feel the hearts bubbling above his own, filling him with a blinding affection for her. Didn’t he just make a mistake? A fog of purple love-mist clouded any thought beyond whisking her away somewhere with warm beaches and drinks with tiny umbrellas.

“Yes, my popple?” he asked. He thought he might slit his own throat if she requested it of him.

“We are going to go ahead and stage this heist, and pull one over on ol’ Mr. Johnson-Frogface-Gall-and-Worms.” With a snap of her fingers, she demonstrated the ease with which she expected this to happen. “First, we must dispatch with this love spell, or you’ll blow the whole thing with your sugar-talk.”

This time when proceeding with the spell-breaking ritual, she included some crystals placed around the perimeter and a tiny fire, over which she balanced a miniature cauldron filled with some kind of aromatic herbs. They smelled like mothballs and cardamom. In the back of his mind, Patches wondered about the differences in the spell-breaking process this time, but dammit! Angeline’s eyes sparkled and her skin glowed as if lit from within—all he could do was gaze upon it and resist the impulse to brush it with his fingertips. The last time he tried it she bit his fingers, and they still smarted.

After throwing some powder in the cauldron, which made a loud popping and fizzing, Patches felt the hearts above his head burst like bubbles, and immediately he felt lost and sort of nauseous. Where was he? What had happened?

It came flooding back, and he realized what she’d done.

Control spell.

He felt the invisible collar around his neck, which she gave a mischievous tug.

“There now,” she said with an impish smile. “I think we’re ready to give Mr. J a taste of his own medicine.”

“Angeline…please…” he begged. Patches greatly disliked begging, but his inner feline liked this collar even less.

“Quiet now, schmoopsy-poo. Mama’s got to to plan a heist.”

She tugged him back to the cab, all the while pulling either a raging feline or a full-grown male. When kerfuffled, Patches couldn’t help the shape-shifting. He hissed at her.

“Come now, what about our honeymoon after?” she pouted as she sped in the general direction of her home.

“Balls to your honeymoon!” he spat out, trying to calm himself so he could think of a way out of this.

Angeline whipped through traffic like it was the Isle of Man TT. As she pulled in front of her palatial townhouse, skidding to a stop, she whispered, “Holy fuck.”

For there, on the steps, a cloaked shadow sat. “Wait here,” she commanded, and Patches felt himself chained to the seat, unable to so much as wiggle.

She glided over to the shadow, who stood as they both spoke in hushed tones. Angeline waved her graceful hands now and again, as if in restrained agitation. Then, she walked toward Patches and leaned in the window.

“Darling-heart, there’s been a change of plans.”


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