An excerpt from Playing For Keeps.
Release date: July 20, 2019.
Channeling the spring break, twenty-one-year-old me, I dig my nails between Riley's exterior wall and the window screen, then pop it out. Patting my pockets to make sure my cell and keys stay put, I boost myself up.
The stench hits me first. Slamming my eyes shut and turning my face into my shoulder, I will the tears out of my eyes when the smell hits me like a wall. Not just a garbage stench, but shit stench, like actual feces. “What the hell?” Leaning back out of the window, I draw in a long breath until my lungs ache, then I hold it and scramble through the window until I fall to the tile floor and expel my precious clean air.
I jump to my feet and bring my shirt up to cover my mouth and nose. It fucking stinks in this house, and it takes only twenty seconds to figure out why. Ninja darts through the hall with a menacing growl, her tail bent at an odd angle, and kitty litter track marks on the floor as she passes. I step along the hall and tiptoe around the mess, and stopping at the laundry room, I whimper at the overflowing litter box. “Jesus, Ninja. They forgot you.”
He’s been away, and nobody remembered her.
Tears slide along my cheeks; tears from the smell, tears of sadness for the man who was hurt, and tears for the cat who would have thought she was abandoned. She’s been forgotten and alone for weeks, shitting in an overfull litter box, drinking from a toilet, and wondering why the hell her devoted human has left her.