Book 2 in the Pet Whisperer PI series
I’m finally coming to terms with the fact I can speak to animals, even though the only one who ever talks back is the crabby tabby I’ve taken to calling Octo-Cat. What I haven’t quite worked out is how to hide my secret…
Now one of the associates at my law firm has discovered this strange new talent of mine and insists I use it to help defend his client against a double murder charge. To make things worse, Octo-Cat has no intention of helping either of us.
Our only hope rests on a spastic Yorkie named Yo-Yo, who hasn't quite figured out his owner is dead. Can we find a way to get Yo-Yo to help solve the murder without breaking his poor doggie heart?
Read an Excerpt
Hi, I’m Angie Russo, and I have a talking cat for a pet. Well, he only talks to me, but still. A few months have passed since he came to live with me following the murder of his owner—a sweet old lady who was poisoned by a member of her own family in a greedy inheritance grab.
Since then, Octo-Cat and I have been settling into our new life as roommates, and he’s nice to me more often than not just so long as I feed him his breakfast on time and never, ever call him “kitty.” He’s even learned how to use his iPad to call me on FaceTime so we can check in with each other while I’m at work.
Yes, his iPad.
Have I mentioned just how spoiled he is?
Not only does he have his own tablet—and a trust fund, too—but he insists on drinking Evian fresh from the bottle and will only eat certain flavors of Fancy Feast when served on specific dishes and according to his rigorously kept, though fully unnecessary, schedule.
I have to admit he’s grown on me, something I honestly never thought would happen. I even kind of like my job as a paralegal at Fulton, Thompson and Associates these days. Things have been pretty interesting since the Fultons left town rather abruptly and our firm lost its senior most partner.
A cutthroat competition as to who will take his place has ensued. Until Mr. Thompson decides whom he’d like to promote, though, we’re simply Thompson and Associates. Lots of candidates—both from within our firm and from outside—have been passing through our office in hopes of securing the coveted position at Blueberry Bay’s most respected law firm, but Thompson is having a hard time making up his mind.
Can’t say I blame him. I definitely wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.
Our firm is now a bit infamous following the surprising murder involving one of its partners and his family. Everyone wants the scoop, but Mr. Thompson has made it very clear: we aren’t supposed to discuss what happened with anyone.
In the meantime, he has hired a new associate to help keep up with the newly increased workload. Charles Longfellow, III, came to us highly recommended with a great resume and even better looks.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a crush but—boy—do I have it bad for Charlie. He’s got this thick, wavy hair that falls in a perfect dark swoop on his forehead. He’s tall, like maybe played basketball in high school but probably not in college tall, and you could easily get lost in his deep green eyes. I know, because I already have a few times.
Yes, as much as I usually prefer books to boys, I often find myself a bit twitterpated whenever Charles is near. That’s probably how I made such a colossal mistake in the first place…
Now I’m being blackmailed about my biggest secret, the fact that I can talk to animals.
The worst part? I kind of like it.
I should probably start at the beginning, huh?
Well, here goes nothing…
Octo-Cat called me via FaceTime just before noon. I was at the office, of course, but since he knew not to call unless it was an emergency, I decided to put my research on hold to answer him. Besides, almost everyone had left the firm for an early lunch meeting, leaving me more or less alone in the building.
“What do you need?” I asked after scanning the premises just in case I wasn’t as alone as I’d thought. Normally I took my calls with Octo-Cat in the bathroom, but one of the junior associates had been holed up in there for at least half an hour before he left—and I definitely wanted to avoid whatever disaster scenario he’d left behind.
“There’s a fly in my Evian,” my cat complained with a keening mewl. His face looked utterly scandalized as he leaned in close to the camera.
“Oh, you poor thing,” I cooed while rolling my eyes just out of his view. Octo-Cat was definitely too spoiled for his own good sometimes, but then again, I received a five-thousand-dollar monthly allowance for his care, so I really couldn’t complain too much.
“My thoughts exactly,” he answered with a grimace and a sigh. “I need you to come home immediately to rectify this situation.”
“I can’t. I’m at work,” I reminded him with a beleaguered sigh of my own while clicking through my overfull email inbox idly.
Octo-Cat growled when he noticed he didn’t have my full attention. “I thought you were supposed to only be going part-time now?”
Why was I constantly explaining my life choices to a cat? He rarely remembered what I told him, anyway. We’d had this exact same conversation about my work at least three times already. Rehashing it now felt like the ultimate exercise in futility.
Still, it was easier to explain yet again than to deal with one of his hissy fits.
“Yes, technically I am part-time,” I explained patiently. “But I need to help out extra until Thompson finally hires a new partner. It’s been really busy around here, and unfortunately I just don’t have time to stop home and pour you a new cup of water right now. I’m sorry.”
His eyes narrowed, ready to go to war over such a simple thing. “But don’t you receive a generous monthly stipend to ensure I’m cared for in the manner to which I am accustomed? Because I most definitely am not accustomed to having a wiggly-legged fly swimming in my Evian.”
Once again, it was easier to cave than it was to argue for hours or days on end. “Aargh, fine. I’ll send Nan by to pour you some more water. Happy?”
He yawned, which only annoyed me more. “Not exactly. It will take me days to recover from this horrible event. Could you make sure Nan knows she needs to throw out the contaminated cup?”
“You are a cat,” I said between clenched teeth. “You are supposed to be a fearsome hunter, not a spoiled baby. You know, other cats even—”
“Angie?” a deep, dreamy voice broke into the middle of our conversation.
Oh, no, no, no. Everyone was supposed to be gone!
I spun around in my chair to find none other than Charles Longfellow, III standing behind me and gawking over my shoulder at the image of Octo-Cat on my phone screen.
“Um, hi, Charles.” I tittered nervously as I pushed the button to end our call, but it was too late. He’d already heard and seen more than enough to figure out my secret. The best I could hope for now is that he would think one or both of us had gone crazy.
I took it as a good sign that he stood looking at me as if I’d sprouted a second head. Perhaps that would have been less strange than what he’d really walked in on.
“Is everything all right?” he asked, raising one thick eyebrow in my direction. The air suddenly felt impossibly thin like the office had been transported to the top of the nearest mountain.
I nodded, desperate for Charles to go away and stop questioning me. “Perfectly all right. Thanks,” I lied, wishing I’d inherited Nan’s legendary acting skills. As it was, I could tell my colleague wasn’t fooled by my feeble attempts to downplay the situation.
Sure enough, his voice dripped with sarcasm as he said, “Really? Because it seemed like your cat needed some help with his…” A delicious smile crept across his face, stretching from one high cheek bone to the next. “Evian? Is that right?”
My mouth fell open from shock, but no additional words came out to explain away the freak show my crush had just witnessed.
“Well?” he prompted, widening his eyes at me. “Were you or were you not just having a conversation with your cat?”
I tucked my hair behind my ears and swallowed hard before stumbling over my answer. “Um, I call him sometimes when I’m away. He has separation anxiety so…” I gave him my most ingratiating smile, but it didn’t seem to work. I was seriously outmatched here.
“But it sounded like maybe he was talking back to you,” Charles insisted. “Like you were having an actual conversation with each other.”
I blinked hard as I stammered, “What? No, don’t be silly. Of course I can’t talk to animals. I mean, who can?”
“You, apparently,” Charles said, narrowing his gaze at me. Clearly he wasn’t going to let me off the hook until I revealed the one thing I most wanted to hide.
I swallowed the giant lump that had become lodged in my throat, then broke out in hysterical laughter. “Gotcha! I can’t believe you fell for my little office prank.”
Charles shoved both hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels, but didn’t say anything.
Oh my gosh. Why wasn’t he saying anything?
My heart galloped like a wild stallion as my nervous laughter fell away.
Charles studied me for a long time, and stupidly I couldn’t bring myself to look away. “You’re coming with me,” he said.
“What?” I crossed my arms over my chest in defiance. “No. I have too much work to catch up on here.”
He placed his palms on my desk and leaned down so our faces were only a few inches apart. Given pretty much any other circumstance, I’d have enjoyed having his gorgeous face so near to mine.
As it was now, though? I was absolutely terrified.
“You’re coming with me,” he repeated with a devilish grin. “Unless you want me to tell everyone what I saw.”
I gulped. “Everyone?”
“Everyone,” he confirmed before returning to his full height and straightening his tie.
Completely bewildered and unable to see any practical alternative, I rose to join Charles.
“Excellent,” he said, leading me to the door and motioning for me to go through it.
I turned back to study him. “Where are we going?”
“My place,” he answered coolly as we strode through the parking lot toward his car. Charles had never invited me anywhere before, especially not his apartment. Unfortunately, something told me I wouldn’t like what was waiting for me there one bit.