Breakfast in Bed


Rebecca Larsen shouldered open the door of her new Park Slope apartment and surveyed the wreckage. A pizza box lay open on the coffee table, containing the remnants of a sausage and mushroom pizza of indeterminate age. By this point, Becca was on her last nerve. Her cat had shrieked for the entire trip from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, and as Becca gazed about the room she began to feel a sensation akin to entering the Twilight Zone.
Annabelle, Becca’s best friend, sister-in-law, and resident of the apartment until two weeks ago, wasn’t a neatnik by any stretch of the imagination, but Becca had never seen her leave this much of a mess. Empty beer bottles littered the remaining space on the coffee table, and a pair of very large shoes lay underneath. Men’s shoes. Becca’s sense of unease escalated. It definitely looked as if there was a man living there. Yep, the XXL fleece hoodie thrown on the couch was her first clue; the second was the singing that came from the direction of the bathroom seconds after the hiss of the shower started.
Becca grabbed the baseball bat she found leaning against the wall by the closet and skulked to the bedroom. The bed was unmade, which wasn’t startling, but the collection of men’s jeans hanging off every surface as well as a mess of jockey shorts and socks on the floor certainly was. Not as much, though, as the voice coming from the shower. It was a rich bass baritone, and if she wasn’t mistaken, he was singing an old ’40s tune. God, who sings songs from the ’40s? Whoever it was had a smooth, smoky, sexy-as-hell voice that was hot enough to make a woman melt like chocolate in a two thousand-degree kiln. The guy in the shower had one hell of a voice. Too bad he was also going to have one hell of a bruise.
She spent some time thinking about whether she should hit him while he was in the shower or wait until he got out. He’d gotten through the first stanza of his song and the whole chorus before she decided to wait until he emerged. The shower curtain might severely curtail the speed at which the bat would hit, and then there was the problem with proper aim.
Pushing the door open with the end of the bat, she watched the steam roll toward her and bring with it the scent of yummy-man. A man who smelled like that at any other time would have her following him just to get a whiff. His scent was clean, with citrus and spice overtones that made her mouth water. The body that stepped out of the shower bare-ass-naked stole the breath from her lungs, the attack plan from her memory, and made her thankful she was a woman who could appreciate the human form because she’d never seen one finer. Her eyes wandered back to his face just in time to see the corner of his full lips lift to form a grin. If looked at separately, each part of his face—the Roman nose, sapphire blue eyes, curled spiky black eye lashes—was almost pretty, but something about the way they fit together and the addition of his five-o’clock-shadow-before-noon, stole the prettiness from his face and made it arrestingly gorgeous. He was the Sicilian version of a Greek god. He had to be the most beautiful man she’d ever seen in person, and as a sculptor, she’d seen more than her fair share of beautiful people. Too bad she disliked him.
Rich Ronaldi looked over his shoulder to find his sister’s best friend staring wide-eyed at his bare ass. Well, maybe it wasn’t only his ass she stared at because when he turned, she got a load of the full monty.
Becca rested the end of the bat she carried on the floor. “Excuse me, but what the hell are you doing here?”
Rich had never been the shy type, but the women who got a load of him in the buff were usually invited to do so. Becca, Miss prim-and-proper-ice-princess, wasn’t. He wished he knew where the damn towels were. He’d just moved in, well, in a figurative sense of the word. He’d stayed there for a few days, and he had a towel somewhere, but knowing himself, it was on the floor along with his dirty socks and underwear.
If he’d known she’d be coming by, he’d have kicked them into the closet or at least under the bed. But then, Becca was the last woman he’d expected to darken his doorstep. He had no clue why, but since their first meeting, he got the distinct impression she wasn’t overly fond of him. “How did you get in here?”
Becca didn’t seem to grasp the fact that standing naked in front of a woman who wouldn’t normally give him the time of day is not the most comfortable thing to do. She didn’t turn away or hand him a towel, not that there was one at hand. He brushed past her into the bedroom, saw a towel hanging off the footboard of his bed, and quickly tied it around his waist. The only reaction he saw from Becca was a blink.
“I used my key. What are you doing in my bedroom, taking a shower in my bathroom, which is conveniently located in my apartment?”
Rich let out a laugh. “Hold on. I’m the one asking the questions here. This is my apartment. I’m leasing it from Rosalie and Nick.”
She crossed her arms, the action pulling her baggy sweatshirt taut across her chest. A chest he forgot she even had. When he realized he was staring, he returned his gaze to her face and found her rolling her eyes.
“You’re impossible. So is your story since I’m subletting the apartment from Annabelle. It was her apartment, and now it’s mine. You need to leave.”
She looked like one of those sexy Anime cartoon characters. She was tall, just a few inches shorter than his own 6’3”, and thin with long, long legs and short, choppy, platinum blonde, perpetually tussled hair that gave her a sexy as hell, just-been-fucked look. Rich mimicked her stance, careful not to spread his legs wide enough to dislodge the towel, though it would serve her right if he did. “You’re wrong. Rosalie and Nick own the apartment. They rented it to Annabelle, who has since moved out. I moved in. If anyone is leaving, it’s you.”
“Well then, we have a problem. Because as of right now, I’m living here.”
“Not with me, you’re not.”
He waved his arm to encompass the whole apartment, and the whole mess he had scattered across it. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
“The only possession I see here is your mess. Everything I own that’s not in storage is now in the living room, so, in that respect, as in others too numerous to count, you come up…” She looked him up and down with a critical eye. “…decidedly short.”
Rich had half a mind to whip off his towel just to show her how very short he wasn’t. He was a man comfortable with his body and his um… size. Shit, he’d never had any complaints in that department, and from the look in Becca’s eyes when she ogled him—and it was an ogle—she didn’t have any complaints either. He was sure she was just trying to get a rise out of him, which she wouldn’t. She wasn’t his type.
No, Rich’s type was a woman like his girlfriend, Gina—a little bombshell. She was all black-haired, copper-eyed, and built like a woman. She was a barely five-foot package of pure TNT. Gina dressed like a woman. You’d never find her wearing an old sweatshirt five sizes too big and a pair of low-slung baggy jeans. “Shit.” He looked at the clock. He was going to be late. He was meeting his dean at the Harvard Club and then heading uptown for a date with Gina. “I don’t have time to talk about this. I have somewhere I need to be. Why don’t you go out to the living room and let me get dressed. I’ll call Nick and Rosalie on my way and find out what to do about this mess. You can spend the night tonight because I have other plans, but I have to tell you, babe, you’re gonna be looking for another place to rent.”
Becca pulled her cell off the belt  and flipped it open. “I’m not leaving until after I’ve spoken to Mike and Annabelle. We’ll see who’ll be combing Craigslist for a place to hang his mess. And let me tell you, babe, it’s not going to be me.”
Rich didn’t bother to wait for Becca to leave before reaching for his towel. Thankfully, she stormed out and slammed the bedroom door behind her. Rich found a clean pair of jockeys and pulled them on wondering what else could happen. He went to the closet, ripped the plastic off his dry cleaning, and slid on his lucky shirt—the blue one everyone said matched his eyes. He looked around for his favorite pair of 501s, stepped into them, and while he buttoned the fly he scrounged around for clean socks. He had to go for the emergency pair of red socks he’d gotten for Valentine’s Day last year. He hated them but kept them in his gym bag for emergencies. It looked as if he had to wear his boots to hide the damn socks, and sometime in the next day he either had to do figure out how to do laundry, find a laundry service close by, or go to his mother’s. He tried to remember if he picked up the last of his laundry he left there. After stuffing his wallet in his back pocket, he slid on his watch and ran his hand through his hair. Perfect. Well, perfect except for the temporary lodger banging around in the next room.
Becca paced the apartment waiting for Rich to dress. The man was completely exasperating. Moving to Brooklyn meant she’d be the only single female in a gaggle of couples. The payoff for overlooking all that togetherness was that she’d be close to her newfound brother, her best friend turned sister-in-law, and her little niece- or nephew-to-be. She could always sneak out of whatever stifling function she was talked into and escape to her own apartment if it got to be too uncomfortable. She just didn’t expect to be stuck moving in with the only other unmarried person she knew in Brooklyn. The fact that Rich Ronaldi had played a starring role in all her fantasies since the day she met him only added to the numerous reasons that he was the last man she wanted to be alone with. He was a regular menace.
When he stepped out, he’d gone from Mr. Wet-and-Wicked to Mr. Urban Chic. He wore great boots, perfectly faded jeans that lovingly hugged his thighs, ass, and well, everything else a pair of well-designed jeans is supposed to hug. She turned her back on him and stepped into the kitchen. “Do you want some coffee before you leave?”
Rich shook his head. “I’m late as it is, and as much as you try to be the lady of the house, you’re not. Making coffee isn’t going to change that, Becca.”
The way her name rolled off his tongue, dripping with sarcasm and something else, she thought it best not to consider made her want to call the cops and have him thrown out. But if she did that, she’d have to prove residence, which she couldn’t. She’d also have to explain to Annabelle why she’d had Rich thrown in the clink. Becca tossed a filter in and counted the scoops of coffee hoping it would help in the same way counting to ten did.
Nope, no luck there. She measured the water, filled the machine, and was still as angry as ever.
Rich followed her to the kitchen and was now leaning on the breakfast bar staring at her. “I need to go. I’ll be back late, if at all. Feel free to help yourself to anything in the kitchen. Stay the hell out of my things. We’ll get this mess sorted out, and you can be on your way first thing in the morning. I don’t think Gina would look too kindly on you staying with me.”
Becca didn’t bother holding back her laugh. “Oh yeah, she’s got a lot to worry about there. Get over yourself Richie. The only thing I’m interested in is my apartment.”
Rich plucked a leather jacket off the back of the kitchen chair, went to the door, and picked up his keys. “Sorry to tell you this, babe. But that old saying, blood is thicker than water, is just as true today as it was when the Germans penned it. Of course, the Italians have taken it to a new level.” Rich winked. “Don’t wait up.”
Rich walked up the steps of the Harvard Club and headed toward the bar. He didn’t belong to the prestigious club, but Craig Stewart, his old friend and new boss, the dean of psychology at Columbia University was a member. Rich stood in the doorway of the bar and looked for Craig.
The two had a longstanding lunch meeting there once a month. It began when Rich had been one of Craig Stewart’s doctoral candidates. Even while Rich taught at Dartmouth, he’d fly down to the city every couple months and always met with his mentor and friend.
When Rich had woman or job troubles, Craig was the first one he’d call for advice. Thankfully, Craig was quick to help him out of the last mess he found himself in. Now Craig was not only a friend and a mentor, he was a boss.
“Rich, over here.”
Rich nodded and worked his way past several tables to the bar. Craig stood a few inches shorter, quite a few years older, and about fifty pounds heavier than Rich. Rich accepted the beer Craig pushed toward him as he tossed his jacket on the back of his stool. “Thanks. I’m sorry I’m a little late. It was a family thing. It couldn’t be avoided.” He held up his glass, and then took a long drink from it. “How are you?”
“Good. I saw your research on schools was cited, and you were quoted in the science section of the Times this morning. You didn’t mention the Times had picked up on your work. Congratulations.”
With everything going on that morning, Rich had completely forgotten about it. “I’m sorry. I should have said something, but I can’t take all the credit. There were two other co-authors.”
“Yes, but the article said the researchers were led by you. It’s good for you and good for the department.” He slapped Rich on the back. “I’m proud of you. But I have to say I’ve been a little disappointed that Emily and I haven’t seen you at the house. We saw you more when you were up at Dartmouth.”
Rich always got along well with Craig’s wife, Emily. But now that Craig was his boss, Rich wasn’t sure exactly how to treat the relationship. “I’ve just been busy trying to get things set up the way I like them, moving into my new place, getting my office settled, ordering new books for next semester. You know how it is.”
“That I do. I invited Jeff Parker to joining us in about a half hour. I know you met at the faculty mixer, but I thought since you’re both new to the faculty, you might want to get better acquainted. He’s got a great jump shot, and I know you’re big on basketball.”
Jeff was the professor in office next to Rich’s. “Sure.”
Craig took a sip of his drink and set his glass down. “I heard from your old dean yesterday.”
Rich had just taken another swig off his beer and tried not to choke on it. “Oh?”
“He wasn’t too happy with the way you left things with his daughter.”
As if he hadn’t made that crystal clear during the last six months of Rich’s tenure at Dartmouth. “Shit, Craig. She’s a grown woman. How the hell was I supposed to know she was my dean’s divorced daughter? Darcy has a different last name, and thank God, she looks nothing like her daddy. If she did, I wouldn’t have got in bed with her in the first place.”
“I understand, Rich. I do. But don’t you think you’re getting a little old for this? Even you have to admit that your serial dating has brought nothing but trouble to you your entire life. First, there was that problem with the law.”
“Hold on, I was seventeen. And that had more to do with stripping cars than with my dating life.”
“Still, it was your girlfriend who turned you in.”
“Yeah, but I turned my life around. I did my six months of hell in military school. I paid my time, and my record was expunged. You would never have known about it if I hadn’t told you.”
Craig rested against the back of his stool. “I still can’t believe you live the way you do after going through military school for even six months. Your place always looks like a frat house after a weekend party.”
“Which is why I spent most of my time in military school in the brig. I could never get a quarter to bounce on the bed after I made it. Then I got nailed for paying someone else to shine my shoes, buckles, and iron my uniforms.”
Craig laughed. “That explains how you remained a slob. Still, you’re a thirty-four-year-old man. Aren’t you getting to the point where you want to settle down?” When Rich looked at him with what he was sure was a blank, confused expression, Craig continued. “Have a committed relationship, maybe get married, and have a few kids? Isn’t that what you want?”
“Where are you going with this?”
“I just thought that since you’re back home now that you might want to reevaluate your life. You have a great opportunity at Columbia if you play your cards right. You’re on the right track, but you can’t afford another problem like the one you had at Dartmouth. You’re exactly where you want to be. Now you can look forward to having more of a personal life. You know, settle down, have a committed relationship, get married.”
Rich looked into his beer. He wasn’t sure if this was his friend the happily married man, or if it was his boss, the dean of Columbia’s psych department speaking. Still, since Rich was working his way toward a full professorship and tenure, he didn’t want to do anything to screw up his future. He could get away with leaving one Ivy League University on less than good terms, but not two. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been seeing someone here for some time. She’s the reason I stopped seeing Darcy in the first place. Now that we’re both in the city, I was thinking of taking the relationship to the next level.” It made sense. Gina was great. She was a lot of fun, easy on the eyes, good in bed. What more can a guy want?
“I’m glad to hear it. You can bring her to the benefit dinner Emily has been nagging me to drag you to. She hasn’t seen you since you moved back.”
“Sure, we’d love to go. I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t love dressing up and doing the town.”
“Great. The benefit is in two weeks. I’ll get the tickets and let you know all the details later.”
Just then, Jeff Parker joined them.
Craig stood up and Rich followed suit. The three shook hands and went to the club room for lunch and psych department talk. Still, it was better than the conversation Jeff’s arrival put an end to. Now, if only Rich knew which Craig Stewart he had that conversation with, his friend and mentor, or his boss.
Rich knew something was wrong when he entered the apartment Gina shared with her sister and brother-in-law. The way Gina’s brother-in-law, Sam, a big cop with a bad attitude, stared at Rich made him want to run in the opposite direction. What was it with people not liking him on sight?
Rich smiled, doing his best not to fidget. His experience with cops made him uncomfortable to say the least, and Sam didn’t seem thrilled to have his sister-in-law mixed up with an ex-juvenile delinquent. Although his record was expunged, the fact that it was expunged didn’t look good on the background check Rich was sure that Sam ran on him. “Beautiful day, huh?”
Sam just stared.
“The leaves are changing, I’ll bet the Park is gonna be crazy today with everyone taking in the fall colors.”
Rich found himself taking a step back when Sam shifted his weight. “Is Gina ready to go?”
Sam crossed his arms and Rich wondered where the man found shirts to fit over his huge biceps. He looked like the incredible hulk without the whole green skin thing happening.
Tina, a slightly younger version of her sister, Gina, entered the room, took one look at the situation, and stood between him and Sam. Rich fought the urge to cross himself.
She poked Sam’s chest. “Sam, stop this.” She turned to Rich. “Sam and I are going out for a little while.”
Sam held Tina’s coat for her. “We’ll be close by and could stop back any moment. Understand?”
Rich nodded. “Okay, but we’re not staying—”
“Yes, we are.” Gina teetered in on her four-inch heels and all but pushed Sam and Tina out the door. “Give me an hour before you send the SWAT team in, okay? Tina, maybe you should put a leash on him or something.” She shut the door behind them and locked it. “Sit down, Rich. We need to talk.”
Nothing good ever came after the words “we need to talk.” Rich examined his actions over the last week wondering if it was something he’d done that caused the I’m-so-not-happy-to-see-you look on Gina’s face, and the way she kept her back up as if she was trying to steel herself against God only knew what.
Rich sat on the couch and watched Gina pace the room while he tried to figure out the problem. Before he’d moved down a few months ago, Gina would visit him in New Hampshire once or twice a month. She never wanted to go out because she had an aversion to any place that wasn’t New York, so they stayed at his place, usually in bed, which worked for him. Come to think of it, since he’d moved back to New York, he and Gina didn’t do much together that wasn’t horizontal either. Maybe that was the problem.
She continued pacing, and he had half a mind to grab her and haul her onto his lap. Whatever she had to say couldn’t be as bad as all that. After all, they’d never really had any problems. He closed his eyes and cursed silently. They must have had some problems since she was obviously working up the courage to do something. Rich had a strong feeling it wasn’t going to be something he’d enjoy. He’d lived with his two sisters long enough to know that women had all sorts of problems with the men in their lives that the poor slobs were never privy to. Maybe if Gina had said something, he could have avoided whatever this was. Gina turned and crossed her arms under her breasts, which always had the same effect on Rich.
He pulled his gaze away from her abundant cleavage, and brought it to her face.
Gina rolled her eyes. “I’m not cut out for this.”
Gina nodded. “Yeah, this…” She motioned from herself to him and back again. “I didn’t sign up for a relationship. It was different when you lived in Maine—”
“New Hampshire.”
“Whatever. We saw each other once or twice a month for a day or two, and it was fine.” She blew her inky bangs off her forehead. “This full-time girlfriend thing. It’s just not working for me. It’s too much pressure. You’re everywhere. And well, since you live here now, it’s really killing my social life.”
Rich stood. “Social life? You have a social life?”
“Because of you, no. I don’t.”
“Good? You think that’s good?” Gina said something in Spanish that even after two years of taking it as a foreign language, Rich couldn’t make out.
He figured it had something to do with God and possibly death. Maybe it was better he didn’t know the exact translation. “Look, Gina. Why don’t we just talk about this? What’s the problem?”
“What about me?”
“Pretty much everything. It’s nothing personal, Richie. You’re a nice guy. I liked it when you were just someone I slept with whenever we got together. You’re great in bed, and well, that’s always been fun. You know?”
Rich nodded. Yeah, he knew.
“Now you’re talking about relationships, and well, I like you, but let’s face it, you’re just not relationship material.”
“I’m not?”
Gina shook her head. “You’re like a little boy. You expect every woman you know to clean up after you, cook for you, and do your laundry. I’m surprised you’ve learned to cut your own meat. Face it. You’re a mama’s boy. You don’t need a girlfriend. You need to move back in with your parents so your mother can take care of you. I’m not interested in being a maid with benefits. I want more, and you’re not it.”
Rich stood. “Hold on, Gina. Give me a chance. I can change.”
She laughed. “Come on, Richie. You’re hopeless. You’ve been treated like a prince since birth. Your mother thinks you’re the Second Coming. I’ll bet she still does your laundry.”
“I can change. I’m a grown man. I’m intelligent. I have three post-secondary degrees. I’m sure I could figure out how to do laundry.”
“Sure you can. If that’s what you want to do, go for it. But don’t do it for me. I’m sorry, Richie.”
When Rich left the apartment, he saw Sam leaning against the wall in the hallway with his arm around his wife. Tina shrugged as if to say that’s the way things go sometimes, gave him a sad smile and a wave. Rich nodded and turned toward the elevator. He just wanted to go home and do an imitation of Brian Wilson holed up in bed for a week or two, eat bags of Sara Lee biscotti, and watch cartoons and hockey on TV. He couldn’t believe he’d been dumped. He’d never been dumped before. Well, except for that time when he was seventeen and his girlfriend slept with his best friend Nick Romeo, and then snitched to the cops, which led to his and Nick’s arrest for grand theft auto. But the only reason she did that was because she found out he was about to dump her first. Women.
What was he going to do now? He was supposed to show up at some charity thing two weeks from today with a woman on his arm to prove to his dean he’s respectable, stable, and in a committed relationship. Fuck, he had to get Gina back because there was no way he could find another girlfriend and establish a committed relationship in the next two weeks. He was good, but not that good. Besides, how hard could it be to turn into relationship material?
He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, pulled up his collar, and headed into the cold fall wind toward the subway and home. That’s when he remembered that Becca was at his place. Great. Just what he needed. Another woman who thought he was worthless. Shit. He couldn’t even go home so he went to the next best place, his home away from home—DiNicola’s.
Becca moved her cat, still in his carrier, from the living room into the spare room. While he slept, finally, she cleaned her new apartment and made a strategy for getting rid of the unwanted man in her life. She had a feeling it would be difficult. But then, over the years, she’d learned that nothing worthwhile was easy.
She jumped at the sound of the intercom buzzing. Shit, she wasn’t sure what she should do. For all she knew it was Richie’s girlfriend Gina at the door. Richie said she wouldn’t be happy to find out that Becca was staying there. On the other hand, it might be a fast way to get rid of Rich Ronaldi. She smiled as she pressed the button for the intercom. “Yes?”
“It’s Rose Albertini, Richie’s aunt.”
Becca leaned her forehead against the cool plaster and buzzed Aunt Rose in. She looked in the mirror and pushed the hair off her forehead wishing she’d had a minute to clean herself up a little. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door. Becca had met Aunt Rose twice before—once at Annabelle and Mike’s engagement party, and then, of course, at their wedding. Annabelle always said Rose was scary, but the little old lady who walked in carrying a lasagna didn’t look the least bit scary. “Oh, it’s’a you. I thought I recognized the voice. Not too many got your accent.”
“Yeah, you know, you sound like you talk with your teeth clenched. That’s’a no good for your jaw. It’ll give you pain as you age. Mark my words.”
Rose walked past Becca into the kitchen, popped the lasagna into the oven, and turned it on. “You take’a this out in forty-five minutes when it’sa nice and bubbly. Leave the foil off for the last few minutes to brown the top a little if’a you like. I put’a the gravy and the cheese in the Frigidaire. You heat the gravy and make sure you save the leftovers. I made enough for you and Richie. He’ll be hungry after tonight. You take care of him, eh?”
“I hardly think that I’m—”
“Ah, you don’t like my Richie, do you? My Richie—he’s’a good’a boy, you’ll see. Spoiled, but good.” She rubbed her hands together as if she were wiping away any argument and looked Becca over from bottom to top. “You too skinny. Mangia, mangia. My Richie, he don’t like skinny girls.”
“Mrs. Albertini—”
Rose waved her hand. “No, you call me Aunt Rose. You’re practically family.” She moved toward Becca, reached for her face, and kissed both cheeks. “You’ll like my lasagna. Later, when you want, I teach you to cook. Put some meat on those skinny bones.” She looked away and shook her head. “Aye, yi, yi, you and Richie, you got a lot to work out. But don’t worry, you’re good for him, and when he grows up, he’ll be good for you too.”
“I’m sorry Mrs… I mean, Aunt Rose. Rich and I aren’t… we don’t even like each other. Honestly, you’ve got it all wrong.”
“Like? Who said anyting about like? You think me and my Vito liked each other?” She laughed. “You don’t need to like each other. Well, not at first.” She waved her hand. “It’sa the fire you like. The rest, you learn to live with, and then to love. You listen to your Aunt Rose.” She tapped her temple. “I know what I know.”
The only thing that Becca knew as she followed the old lady out of the apartment was that Aunt Rose needed some serious therapy. Still, the look she gave Becca when she tapped her temple gave Becca the willies. Becca could see what Annabelle meant.
The old lady turned and raised her hand. “No need to thank me. Just take care of my Richie. You’re a good’a girl. Skinny, but that won’t last.”
“It won’t?”
“No.” She kissed Becca again. “A little meat on your bones, and you’ll be a beauty. You Catholic?”
Becca shook her head. “Presbyterian.”
“Ah well, I guess you can convert. Eh?”
“Convert what?”
Aunt Rose just patted her cheek. “You’re going to be fine. You wanna watch your cat though. Somethings a’no right with him.”
Becca grinned. “No kidding. Thanks for the lasagna, Aunt Rose.”
Prego, ciao.”
          Becca watched Aunt Rose through the window. Tripod’s yowl had her rolling her eyes. Aunt Rose was right about one thing. There was something definitely wrong with Becca’s cat. She wasn’t sure if it was that he lost one of his hind legs or it was his personality problem.
         Probably both. After checking to make sure the dog door that Rosalie’s dog, Dave used was locked, and dead-bolting the door to the garden, she let Tripod explore his new home while Becca changed the sheets on the bed. She’d be damned if she was going to spend the night on the couch, or God forbid, on that torture rack of a futon in the den. No, if possession was nine-tenths of the law, Becca was going to possess the memory foam mattress. That was for damn sure. Rich could just take his pick of either the couch or the futon; she’d even be nice and leave him a pillow and a blanket.