Exclusive Excerpt from Cat Escort
by Melissa E. Costa
Seth and Nao wove through the busy street, talking. Both wore winter clothes. Streetlamps awoke with the onset of the evening. The loud music coming from clubs and bars enhanced the city nightlife, and rushing traffic added to the ambiance. Thankfully the crowds thinned as they reached the park.
Seth loved that he could see his breath in the chilly air.
Nao shivered. “You look like you’re enjoying the cold weather?”
Seth’s smile widened. “And you’re not?”
Nao shook his head. “We cats like a temperate climate, not too hot or cold. The cattery would be nice around this time. There’s a lot of open spaces, for sure, but inside is warm and cozy.” Seth loved the spark of life that entered Nao’s eyes. “We also have awesome hot chocolate.”
“Didn’t think cats could eat chocolate.”
“We’re not that sensitive to it, thankfully. As with everything, we need to moderate ourselves. But we include some wild grass for digestion and a touch of mouse meat for thickness.”
“Meat? In hot chocolate?”
“It’s more like broth, and it’s amazing!”
Seth wrinkled his nose. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“You’d think I would get better winter clothes.” Nao continued to shiver, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Guess I just hide indoors when this happens.”
Seth took a deep breath for courage. Then he put his arm around Nao’s shoulders and pulled him close. Nao’s startled breath released condensation into the air. Looking over, he smiled and nuzzled into Seth’s neck.
Seth jumped. “Cold! Your nose is freezing!”
“So warm it up,” Nao whispered against his skin. His hot breath left Seth’s neck damp and made him shiver.
Wrapping both arms around Nao’s smaller frame, he tightened his hug. Nao hugged him back, his teeth chattering. “Wanna find a place indoors?” Seth suggested.
Nao nodded. “Although,” he purred. “I’m enjoying you holding me.” His purr was adorable, but Seth craved to hear that whimper-pant of surrender Nao made when Seth had entered him. How had they not had sex since? Then again, they weren’t technically dating. What did dating mean for them anyway? Nao would still be an escort. Would Seth be able to handle that? “You should come with me.”
“To the cattery, to visit my family.”
“Um…don’t you think it’s early?”
“Early? We’re just friends. Nothing’s too early in a friendship.”
Now that hurt. Seth knew it shouldn’t have. Nao was being practical. There was no way Seth could date an escort. Absolutely not. Then what? He’d forever pester Nao to quit his job? Still, hearing Nao’s words made it sound final like he would never get to call Nao his partner.
“The second Napping Feast is coming up.”
“What’s that? A dinner you nap at?”
Nao smiled. “Close. It’s a day where the entire cattery naps. In-between napping, we have huge feasts. Let me tell you, you’ve never tasted salmon until you’ve had one baked at Napping Feast. The first one happens on Winter Solstice, which we missed. But personally, I think the later Napping Feasts are better.”
“How many of these do you have?”
“Three. From Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox.”
“That’s pretty interesting…but I probably shouldn’t. Am I even welcomed there?”
“Not by everyone, I’m sure. But my mom, aunts, and uncles would be okay with it. Most of my papas too. You being just my friend helps a lot with that. I know the kittens will adore you—”
“What if I don’t just wanna be your friend?” Seth regretted saying that as soon as the words left his mouth.
Nao studied him, and a small smile graced his handsome face. He kissed Seth—a mere touch of skin against skin that ended just as quickly. “I am an escort, Seth. That isn’t something you want your boyfriend to be.”
“No buts. I won’t quit. This is my job, and I like it. It allows me to stay in the human world. Hate to say it, but I’m not good at anything else.”
“Now that I can’t believe.”
“Believe it or not, it’s true. I can’t even read or write human.”
Seth smirked at that. “You mean English?”
“It’s all the same to me.” Nao’s cheeky smile squinted his eyes.
“You can speak it fine.”
“I have an accent.”
“So? You can do it. That means you can learn to read and write it.”
Nao shook his head. “See, this is why we can’t be together. I really like you, think I love you even, and I don’t wanna put you in a position where you’ll be unhappy.”
Seth let out a sigh. “Yeah, probably, …but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be with you.”
Nao kissed him again. This time Seth grabbed his shoulders and prevented him from leaving. After all those memories that plagued him, kissing Nao again felt amazing.
“Nao,” he moaned. “I want you.” Seth licked into his mouth. Nao sucked Seth’s lower lip. Then flicked his tongue against Seth’s. They tasted each other as an undertone of heat grew.
A car sped by, flinging mud everywhere. Nao stood closest to the edge, facing away from the road. The splash zone started at his ankles and went up to his middle back. “Seriously?”
“Shit!” Seth went to take off his coat, but Nao held up his hand.
“Pretty much ruined at this point.” He dragged out a frustrated, tired sigh. “I could never get this amount of stain off. Looks like it’s time for Plan B.”
“Plan B? Nao, you’re freezing as it is. You’ll catch your death out here.”
“Do you mind?”
Nao didn’t answer the question. Going over to a homeless man, he said, “Would you be interested in taking these clothes off my hands?”
The man looked confused. Then his eyes brightened. “Fancy, huh? Sure.”
“Give these to this fine fellow, will yah, Seth?” Nao went over to Seth. “Will you keep me in your jacket?”
Seth only recognized what Nao planned to do when he started transforming. Then a black cat stood at his feet. He rubbed around Seth’s legs, and Seth got the message. He slung Nao’s purse over his shoulder and gave the clothes to the stranger. Then he put Nao inside his jacket, so his tiny head peeked out.