(This story is reprinted from the Denver group's newsletter PIPEDREAMS, where it appeared in 1991.)
The warehouse they were searching on a tip from an anonymous informant was dirty and cold, and the search was proving to be fruitless.
"More of the same," Detective Greg Hughs called back from the top of a stack of bulging burlap bags. He sounded just as annoyed as Joe. "Dried herbs and stuff; looks like marijuana but isn't."
"Bad tip, huh?" Catherine asked, trying for a note of levity. Joe shot her a baleful glance.
"If you don't want to help, Chandler, just say so."
She glared back. "I don't mind helping with legitimate work, Joe; you know that. But we've known for an hour that this isn't going to pan out, and we're still here. Why am I bothering to complain? It's only..." she squinted at her watch in the inadequate light, "four hours past five o'clock. Average overtime for your average, hard-working city employee."
Joe scowled. "If I didn't know you so well, I'd think you had plans for this evening."
"As a matter of fact..."
"Look out!" Whatever Catherine had been about to say was lost in the frantic shout from above; she had no time to react to the cascade of burlap sliding toward her.
"Cathy! Cathy, are you okay?" Joe's alarm was evident in his voice as he pulled the bags off her, tossing them carelessly in his haste. Greg Hughs and the young uniformed officer who'd been assisting him were there, too, looking worried.
"I'm fine," Catherine assured them, pushing away the last of the bags and letting Joe help her shakily to her feet. She sneezed.
"Bless you," Joe said automatically. "You sure you're all right?"
"Just a little shaken, maybe a couple of bruises," she assured him, brushing at the loose debris clinging to her clothing. She sneezed again. Joe reached up to pick bits of something out of her hair.
"Lucky those bags aren't heavy," he said gratefully. "Even if one did burst open and spill all over you." He sneezed, too. "Geez, this stuff smells strong!" he added. "What is it?"
Greg Hughs trained his flashlight on a tag sewn onto one of the bags. "Catnip," he announced, grinning.
"Uh-oh," Joe said, sounding grim. "You know what that means!"
Catherine was still brushing away bits of leaves and stems. The stuff was everywhere. "No, what?"
"You're going to have every alley cat in the neighborhood after you."
It took a second for his statement to sink in. "What is that supposed to mean?"
He was grinning now. "Haven't you ever seen a cat with catnip? They love it. They rub their faces in it, and sniff it..."
She gave up on her clothes. "Joe, I don't particularly care to be popular among alley cats. I'd rather get a shower."
He chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you would. Okay, we don't need you here, anyway. Officer Gosson will drive you home."
Twenty minutes later, a marked patrol car dropped her at her building. Upstairs, she was headed for the bathroom when a tap on her balcony door made her spin around. "Vincent!"
She went to him, putting her arms around his waist and snuggling up under his chin. "I'm so glad you're here."
"You're..." He broke off, but familiarity allowed her to finish the sentence in her mind.
"Yes, I'm fine," she answered, luxuriating in the feel of being in his arms as he nuzzled her hair.
No, he wasn't nuzzling... he was sniffing! Sniffing her hair, and her neck, and her shoulder.
"Vincent?" She tried to move away from him, but he followed, his face still buried in her hair. Puzzled, she continued to move back, through the open balcony doors, stumbling as she went down the two steps to her bedroom. Surely he would stop there; he always had, but this time, he did not.
The fur on his nose tickled her neck; catnip tickled her nose. She giggled and sneezed.
"Bless you," Vincent murmured without lifting his face.
Still giggling, she continued to move backwards until she bumped into the bed, sitting abruptly. Vincent persisted in nuzzling and sniffing at her hair until they both fell over onto the pillows.
Catherine had spent a lot of time figuring how to get him here; it suddenly didn't matter how it had happened. She reached across him to turn out the light.
"Goodness, Vincent," she murmured huskily, settling comfortably into his embrace. "If I'd known it would have this effect on you, I'd have given up Shalimar for catnip long ago!"
Lee's 'zines can be ordered as follows:
WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS 1 is out of print, but will shortly be available via Father's Online Library.
WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS Vols. 2-4 are $18 book rate, $20.50 FC or CAN, $24 Europe.
QUANTUM BEAST Vols. 1-3 are $6 US & CAN, $7.50 Europe. Order from: Lee Kirkland, 19211 E. Scott Place, Denver CO 80249
Lee's short stories, The Catnip Caper and Sleeping Beauty, are available via Father's Online Library. Her story Absolution appeared in the TUNNELCON II con 'zine; Vincent, I Don't Think We're in Verona Anymore, appeared in MacWombat Press' OLD SOULS.
Becky's individual work can be ordered as follows:
ETERNITY and ETERNITY 2 (due out July 1995) are $18 USA, $20 FC or CAN, $24 Europe. Order from: Becky Bain, 16845 Hightree Drive, Elbert CO 80106
Becky's short stories have appeared in WITHIN THE CRYSTAL ROSE Vols. 5 (Star Light, Star Bright, under the pseudonym Anna Gerard), 6 (Riches, also under Anna Gerard), 7 (Little Boy Lost), and 8 (The Choice) all available from Mountain Rose Press, MacWombat Press' BEST MIRRORS (Not Ever), in the GREAT EXPECTATIONS con 'zine (Fairy Time) and the TUNNELCON III con 'zine (Green Eyed).