Ariana opened the door, stepped into the silence of home and sighed. She glanced at the cats’ bowls in the kitchen. She heard no soft noise of paws and decided to leave them hidden wherever they had chosen to nestle. She hung up her coat and walked through the hallway to her den, tossed a file out of her briefcase on the couch, and closed the door. No cat no matter how well-loved could settle casually on her work.

She half-sprawled on the couch to flail with a particular court case that she continued to flip through. It was missing an element. There was a hole in the argument somewhere. But where? She searched and searched again. Her mind’s tongue touched the problem but could not name it. It was just out of her grasp, and backing away, giggling.

It was then that the door burst open, and before Ariana could raise her eyes she felt Celia’s weight on her shoulder, lips hot on her ear. A hand reached down and flipped the file onto the coffee table. Ariana sighed and stretched out on her back.

Frisky Celia stretched over her and gave her several bites on the jawbone.

“Watch it,” Ariana said, turning her head away.

“Don’t worry,” Celia answered.

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