The reappearance of the human who had been searching the crash site rather worried Zay. It was difficult enough impersonating an Earth feline without someone asking questions. Having glimpsed the man from the door, Zay was grateful that Jane had turned him away. There was a real possibility that the human knew too much…
“What if he saw my suit?” Zay said aloud even though it was unlikely that Sheldon would understand him.
“Didn’t he say he was a collector?” the feline was cleaning a paw nonchalantly. “What do you think he collects?”
“Let’s hope it isn’t cat hides!” that remark had opened Sheldon’s yellow eyes. The cat stopped preening and was paying attention.
“He said hats…”
Now it was not that Jane Withers did not have wonderful hats. They were indeed marvelous, if one liked that sort of thing. However, Zay suspected that the hats were not what motivated Cyrus. The human male wanted something that he had expected to find in the impact crater. It was easy enough to calculate the man’s interest. He was after Zay…
“I didn’t think the humans were advanced enough to suspect my presence,” he shot a glance toward Sheldon as if to get answers, but the cat had gone back to bathing and had lost interest. That was the trouble with the feline as Zay saw it…too self-absorbed. Sheldon already looked great. He really had not needed the extra spit polish.
Zay could try to scare Cyrus…it had worked with the other man. The difficulty would be in attempting to frighten him with scaring Jane. The act of protection had marked the woman, irrevocably, as his. Zay tried licking his own paw as he thought about the situation but wound up with nothing more than a mouthful of grey fur.
“Sheldon!” Jane’s voice pierced the air. “Bedtime! Come on Kitty, Kitty,” the woman preferred knowing exactly where her cat was before she tried to sleep. If she locked him out of the bedroom, Sheldon scratched the door and whined until she got up. Rather than fight, the woman gave in. When she was ready to sleep her little friend curled up in a ball by her feet.
“Zay?” she might as well call the other one, too. When the grey cat’s face appeared around the corner of the hallway, Jane bent low. “Come here, baby. Let me get a closer look.” She put out her hand tentatively and the newcomer rubbed his face on her fingers. The grey fur was softer to the touch than Jane had expected. “What a good boy,” the woman purred her content at the cat’s response.
She checked his coat for fleas, and when he seemed parasite free, Jane invited him into her inner sanctum. “Such unusual stripes!” she murmured under her breath. Jane noted that it was not an odd occurrence for her to talk to her cats or herself. “That’s what happens when you’re alone too much.” She patted the bed next to Sheldon and Zay hopped up content to try a foot snuggle.
As she turned off the lamp and her mind began to drift into sleep, Jane thought she heard words. “You’re not alone anymore.” Flipping the light back on, she sat up and looked around. Sheldon was already sleeping at the foot of her bed and Zay was staring in her direction.
“Now don’t try to tell me you talk…” Jane sighed. It was just one of those times when you have drifted half to sleep and you hear or see something that is not real. Sure. Reaching for an antacid tablet, Jane turned off the light and closed her eyes. “Goodnight Jane.” she listened for just a moment to the silence. Her words went unanswered.
Cyrus drove down the twisting road to the highway. He was not headed back to the university. That woman knew who had taken his meteor and he would find out more tomorrow. Disgruntled by the rejection that had met him at Jane’s door, Cyrus pulled up to the little motel in a very bad mood. He registered for a room, peering over the top of his reading glasses with an angry scowl. The young night clerk had been pleasant enough, but Cyrus’ mood had nothing to do with the motel.
Checking into the small single room near the edge of the park, Cyrus threw himself on the springy bed and picked up the old style telephone. He let the number ring and was gratified by an answer. “Jake?” he waited for his graduate student to shake the cobwebs out of his brain.
“Professor?” the boy sounded distracted.
“I need you to meet me tomorrow at the Park View Motel. Bring that fancy camera of yours. I’ve found a woman who knows what happened to the meteor…”
“Did I wake you?” Cyrus was unable to hide the annoyance in his voice.
“It’s okay, Doc. You want me to do what?” Jake sounded a bit irritated himself.
“Listen carefully this time….”