Dashboard Kitten by Mary Caelsto
sweet contemporary romance (animal rescue)
short story/6K words
cover art by Winterheart Design
At thirty-three, Katie's biological clock was ticking. Except in her case, it meowed. When her adoption of a "stray" kitten goes awry, and the cat ends up hiding behind the dash of her car, Katie calls animal control. Help arrives in the form of Officer Chuck Lenkerson. She's thankful for his help, but with the kitten safe and warm, will the handsome officer just drive away?
Twenty stomach-churning minutes later, the rumble of a diesel truck alerted Kate to the animal control officer’s arrival. Wrapping her coat around her, she dashed outside. She waited by the driver’s side door of her car while the officer got out of his white truck. He grabbed a live trap from the back. Streetlights provided little illumination but beneath the official coat he wore, Kate noticed his wide shoulders, and his sandy blond hair. When he turned toward her, she thought he looked nice, maybe a bit younger than she.
“I’m so sorry to drag you out here this late at night, but I picked up a new kitten, and he’s trapped in the dashboard of my car. I can’t believe he got up there. I’d told the lady where I got him from that we could switch him from her carrier into mine in the back. I figured it was safe and enclosed.” Kate gave a nervous laugh. “But the little bugger shot over my shoulder and ran right to the front of the car, he squirmed up under the dash by the gas pedal and now I can’t see him.” Her voice threatened to break and she took a deep breath.
“Easy, it’s okay. We’ll get him. I’m Chuck Lenkerson, by the way.” He extended his hand.
Kate reached for it, seeing the warm concern in his face. His handshake was quick, but firm. It gave her strength. Surely he dealt with things like this all the time.
“Let’s see what we got. You can’t see him, you say?”
Katie shook her head. “No.”
Chuck opened the driver side door and shone his big flashlight inside the vehicle. “Check in the glove box?” He shut the door and walked around to the other side.
Kate once more shook her head. “He went up under the gas pedal. I guess I didn’t think about it.” Visions of Chuck opening her glove box and the little kitten plopping into his hands brought a fresh wave of tears at perhaps this could be over. She followed him as he went to the passenger side of the car. “I’m sorry to bring you out here so late,” she repeated, feeling the nervous need to say something.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re my last call of the night. This won’t take long.” He opened the door, then opened the glove box. “See, there he is.” Chuck shone his light into the box, and there, nestled on one of the supports on top of it, was the kitten. He blinked blue eyes at them.