Our book club had the opportunity and privilege to meet and have a lively discussion of "Desert Heat" with Dannie Marsden...a great story with strong...
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I am waiting for the next book to come out! The story was a page turner and I also enjoyed the portrayal of a variety of lesbians and how we interact...
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I know Dannie and was excited to hear she had written a book. When I first started to read Desert Heat, I did so with a critical eye because it was...
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Wow! Such a good story.I enjoyed it so much.I think what got me the most was that I don`t think most people would give a second thought to what kind...
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Here we are once again on Valentine’s Day. Some love this holiday while others not so much. I, even with being the romantic I am, can see both sides. I am in agreement, though, that over the last couple of decades, holidays have become too commercialized. Even with that being said, I still believe in the romance of the holiday they call a day for lovers. Maybe it’s the fem in me that makes me romantic.
Maybe though, it is the writer in me that loves romance. I’ve almost finished my current writing project. The only obstacle now is the ending. For some unknown reason, the true ending has eluded me for over two months. Not one idea I have had has rung true. The voices in my head that whisper the words I put on paper seem to have gone on holiday to Disneyland and don’t plan on coming back any time soon.
I write under a name other than my own; H.R. Lemming is my pen name and Remmy my given name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed that I write lesbian novels or lesbian erotica. Why should I be? I’ve been out since my early teen years and refuse to hide in any closet. I mainly do it because I do not want some psycho following me or terrorizing me because of who I am. I vowed to myself never again would I be at the mercy of a madman.
Of course, though, what is in a name? Not one person would think to look for a female with my name. I was named Remmington after my grandfather; my father really, really wanted a boy you see. Instead, thirty-three years ago I was born. My father got his wish two years later with the birth of my brother, Jacob. I teased Jacob his whole life that he was born a day late and a dollar short, that I got the better of the two names.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to tease him now, to be able to just hug him one more time. It seems the last decade has brought such change to the world around me.
Could this be the reason I can’t find the ending to my current manuscript? My mind has flittered in so many directions these past months.
I sat at my computer this morning and into the afternoon, staring at the screen, lost in thought. Could this newest idea to pop into in my head be the ending to my novel, a novel I have been writing for three years now? I have published four other novels and many short stories in that time, yet for some reason can’t finish this one novel. I can’t seem to put this story to bed.
My doorbell rings; taking a deep breath, I pray to any goddess that is listening to give her the courage and bring her to my doorstep. Opening the door, my heart pounds out of my chest and tears come to my eyes. Never before have I felt happier.
But I am getting ahead of myself. My story began two years ago with a chance meeting…
In Lethbridge, in a hospital room on the twelfth floor, Remmy stood looking out the rain-streaked window at the city below. She didn’t see the city; her mind’s eye saw only white-hot anger. Emotions raged within her, driving her to the brink of insanity.
As she watched, lights blinked on as dusk descended upon her hometown. The darkness slowly crept along the street, just as it had into her heart. She knew the sun would rise in the morning and lighten the day once more. Her heart was another matter altogether.
The war on terrorism had finally descended upon this city, her home, her world, and it would never be the same. Friends passing her in the street would look at her differently now. There had been sympathy in their eyes for her over the past three years since her girlfriend’s death; now there would be pity at the loss of her brother.
Her reflection in the window glared back at her. She looked worn out. Her shoulder-length, curly, molasses-brown hair stood out in every direction and there were heavy bags under her copper eyes. Even the extra few pounds on her body, baby fat as her father called it, seemed to betray her and triple in size.
She did not like what she saw. Looking back at her was the face of a middle-aged woman that had been broken by life, not a woman of twenty-nine years who had yet to begin to live.
Taylor, her father, had tried since her teens to convince her she held within her features the classical beauty of actress Nastassja Kinski, while at the same time all the feistiness and grace of the actress Julie Newmar. At that moment, she saw not a shred of what he saw. Her eyes were puffy from crying non-stop and she felt defeated, not confident and feisty. The woman she saw did not reflect the woman she truly was.
With slumped shoulders, she laid her tired head against the window, as she quietly sobbed for all that was lost. Startled by a rustling sound behind her, she jumped and tried to compose herself. She needed to be strong for her father, just as he had been for her.
Taylor had been her rock three-and-a-half years ago. She’d sunk to the edge of oblivion after Haley’s death and he brought her back. She hadn’t cared whether she lived or died and he had made her see that life did go on, even if she didn’t feel it deep in her heart.
Taylor made her see the beauty in being alive once more. He had lost sight of it once in his life when he lost his wife, and upon finding it again, had never let go. He cherished both of his children more than anything in life. His son’s birth, robbing him of the love of his life, had brought about his darkest moment when it should have been one of his happiest.
Wiping her face on her sleeve, she turned around. “Oh Daddy, what am I to do now…”
Less than twenty-four hours earlier the two of them had been cleaning up after their lunch. Remmy had been helping her father plant his tomatoes. Their time in the garden had been cut short when the rain started. While in the kitchen relaxing a moment after their meal, a knock at the front door drew their attention.
The intrusion startled the weathered older man. “Who the hell could that be?”
“Why don’t you see who’s at the door? I’ll bring our beers into the den and turn on the Steelers game.” Wiping her hands on the dishtowel, Remmy closed the dishwasher.
She took two ice cold Labatt’s from the refrigerator, popped off the tops, and walked into the hallway. Her father opened the front door as she rounded the corner.
There, standing on the other side of the screen door, was what he thought of as his enemy. All the color drained from Taylor’s face as he took a step back from the door. “No! You have the wrong house! You must have the wrong name.”
Hearing her father’s distressed voice, Remmy set the bottles on the hallway table and rushed to the front door. It was then that she fully saw who was there. A Marine captain in full uniform. Their eyes met and she knew. For a brief moment, Remmy couldn’t get enough air into her lungs. The dread and fear she had lived with since her brother had enlisted closed around her heart and squeezed tightly. She now knew what an animal felt when trapped within barbed wire.
Gathering courage, she didn’t know she had, she stepped forward. “Daddy, let me handle this.”
She opened the screen door. “Please come in, sir, what may I do for you?”
Her father’s trembling hand grasped her arm. “No, child, I’ll deal with this. Why don’t you go to the kitchen and make some coffee?”
Despite being dismissed, she refused to move.
“No, I’ll stay right here.” She turned her attention back to the officer in front of them. Remmy studied him a moment, noting the sadness in his eyes. He was a nice-looking, rugged young man and towered over her own five-nine height.
Remmy surmised that he could more than hold his own in hand-to-hand combat. However, his task of informing families of their loved ones passing on was taking its toll on him. She knew that vacant look that his eyes held. It was the same she had in hers three-and-a-half years ago on a cold and dreary day when her life had been ripped in two, the good half of it gone forever.
“Mr. Garrick, I am Captain Jenkins. Do you think we could sit? I have some…” The older man before him clutched his chest in pain.
“Sir…sir…excuse me, ma’am, but please call 911, your father is ill.” He moved to catch the falling man.
Brought back from her mind traveling and reliving that few moments in time from the previous day, she heard her name called.
“Remmy…” Her father’s voice was only a mere whisper.
The only light in the room came from a dim fixture over his bed, causing most of the room to be cast in eerie shadows. The machines monitoring her father’s heart beeped quietly at regular intervals. Remmy wiped her face a second time and quietly stepped over to her father’s bedside.
Once again noting his pale features, she felt her heart leap back into her throat. Dr. Morgan had told them it was a mild heart attack; there would be no long-term effects. The hospital, however, still wanted to keep him for monitoring.
Remmy straightened the thin blanket covering him. She could never understand why the blankets in hospitals where always so pathetic. She made a mental note to ask the next nurse that came in if she could please bring an additional blanket to keep him warm through the night.
“I’m right here, Daddy. What can I get for you?”
Taylor partially opened his eyes and looked at her. She saw tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Remmy. I should’ve tried harder to talk Jacob out of joining the Marines.”
Remmy carefully picked up his hand, holding it between hers. “Daddy, you couldn’t have done anything different. Jacob was headstrong and as stubborn as a bucking bull. He wasn’t about to listen to either of us.”
He squeezed her hand. “You two were so close up ’til Haley’s death. What happened? You never told me, sweetie.”
She couldn’t believe he was concerned about her problems. Straightening her shoulders, Remmy went on the defensive and tried to steer around the question. “Dad, you have more important things to think about right now. You have to get well and remember to take your medications, not rehash old shit.”
Even ill, he was still strong, not just in presence but in muscle from years in the construction business. He pulled her closer. “Bullshit. Tell me what happened. You’ve ne’er lied to me, nor hid nothin’ from me ’til she was killed. Please, sweetie, talk to me.”
Remmy became perturbed with her father’s insistence. He didn’t need to worry himself with things that were beyond anyone’s control now. As annoyed as she was, she let none of it show. “Daddy, we can talk about it later, okay?”
Remmy received Taylor’s best I don’t think so glare.
“No, not this time kiddo, you always say that. Then we ne’er discuss it.”
Taylor’s heart monitor beeped a little faster, which alerted Remmy that he was getting agitated. “Dad, calm down, please.”
Using her full name was all the pushing that she needed to break. She crumbled, spilling what had happened between brother and sister three years ago.
She pulled the reclining chair closer to her father’s bed. “There’s really not much to it. Jacob was just being Jacob. He never did like what Haley did for a living and he told her every chance he ever had.”
Taylor’s larger hand covered Remmy’s smaller one. “I ne’er knew that. Why didn’t you say somethin’?”
Remmy sighed and sat farther back in the chair. Maybe it was time to unburden some of her inner turmoil to her father. She and her father had always been so close and had no issue with talking about everything that came to mind. Remmy knew his guilt surfaced from time to time and now she was watching it wash over him.
“Maybe if your mama had been alive none of this would ever’ve happened.”
“Daddy…dad, please don’t. Mom died giving birth to Jacob. There was nothing you could have done; back then, almost all women who hemorrhaged during childbirth died. She gave her life so Jacob could live.”
She herself had no memories of the woman. All she knew about her mom came from her father. She had no aunts or uncles either since both of her parents had been only children. As much as she would have loved to know her mother, she would never have given up one moment of her precious time with her brother to wish otherwise.
“Remmy, let’s not dwell on what can’t be changed. I think you were going to tell me something?”
Remmy sighed again; she wasn’t going to get out of the conversation. She figured she might as well jump in with both feet. Maybe it was time she told him.
“What would you like me to say, Dad, ‘my brother’s a hardhead and thinks my girlfriend likes to live dangerously’? No, it was between him and me. I love…loved him to pieces but, boy, could he be a jackass sometimes. He hated that she was a corrections officer…” She stuttered as memories flooded back as well as the pain.
She felt her father grip her hand tighter, offering her a lifeline. She began again with renewed strength. “When she was killed, he was so angry. At first, I thought it was something I had done. Then he stopped by the house one night. He was drunker than a skunk.”
Remmy felt herself travel back to that night. She could smell the alcohol now just as clearly as she could that night. It wafted off him as she opened the door. She no longer was in her father’s hospital room but standing beside herself in front of her drunken brother.
When she spoke, her voice came from far away, from three years in her past. “He started yelling, cursing her for getting herself killed. I realized his anger was at her, not me. He told me he actually hated her for hurting me. We talked through the night, but no matter what, I couldn’t get him to understand, that she died trying to make a difference.” The words caught in her throat.
“Our parting words that night were him telling me that at least I was now filthy rich because of the settlement with the state. I told him I’d rather be piss-poor and have her back, but it wasn’t going to happen and I had to somehow find a way to go on, even though I really didn’t want to. And if he couldn’t understand that, then he needed to get out and never come back.” She closed her eyes and felt the heat of her brother’s words sear through her.
Remmy stood, moving to the windows once more. “I’ll have to live with the loss of both of them. That… and…and the knowledge that they did make a difference. Right now, though, it doesn’t seem all that significant.”
Night had fully set and fog had rolled in, making the streetlights cast an eerie glow. “If I had known it would be the last time I was going to see him…maybe I would have let him win the argument for once.”
Remmy could feel the anger at him boiling within her. “Damn him! He belonged home with his family. Not some place he wasn’t wanted. He only had one week to go before coming home. Then he would have been out in six months. Damn him!” She pounded her fist against the window, not caring if she broke the glass or not.
From the darkness behind Remmy, her father’s voice told the truth.
“Remmington, there was nothin’ you could have done to convince him. He had to see the light for himself. As for damning him…he too, was doing what he thought was right. Would you hold him to a different set of rules than you held your Haley? No, I don’t think so. You and I will get through this too, just as we did before. We’re strong, you and I, we’ll make it.”
She sighed. In the recesses of her mind, she knew he was right. They would survive and go on, but at what cost? Even though her heart told her differently, she would be strong for her father.
“Yes, Daddy, we’ll be okay. I remember you telling me something when Haley died. You said that Nietzsche said it best, ‘That, which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’ You said it was Mama’s favorite saying. By now both of us should be able to lift Lady Liberty with one finger.” Remmy smiled as she always did with the memories of Haley.
“Honey, you’ve seen and felt too much pain in such a short life. Out there waiting for you, is a woman just as wonderful as Haley was, but in her own special way. Someday, sweetie, she’ll come. You’ll have no choice but to love her and fight for her.”
Remmy turned quickly. “What are you talking about, Daddy?”
When she approached the bed, she found him sound asleep. “What the hell are you talking about, Daddy? There could never be anyone else.”
She spoke to the darkness of the night, but how could her father think she could ever fall in love again? “It’s too preposterous a thought to even consider.”
She pulled the thin blanket up over him, kissing him goodnight on the forehead. Brushing his thinning hair off his forehead, she noticed for the first time how old he looked. Surely, he had not looked so weathered before this.
“I should have noticed. Oh, Daddy, when did you age so much? There’s white in your hair and it’s starting to thin some.” She studied the wrinkles on his face.
To Remmy, he’d always been a handsome man. She inherited her height from him and the rest of her features from her mother. She remembered growing up that his six-six frame had always caused problems for him when he would visit other people’s homes. He had built their home to accommodate his taller stature.
Looking down at him, Remmy still saw, under the paleness, the man that was her father. She always told everyone he was the most handsome man in the world. He had the same striking features, domineering personality, and strength, as her idol Clint Eastwood. Never once had Taylor Garrick ever had one problem with any of his crews on the construction sites. They feared him yet at the same time had the utmost respect for him. There was only one man who didn’t get along with her father - her cousin Ronald.
Shit, he better stay away from Daddy. Knowing that leech though, he’ll come sniffing around fast to see if he can get control of the company.
Her father moved slightly beneath the sheets as he snored softly. She thought back to his last words. “How could you think that? Sometimes, Daddy, I think your mind is slipping a little.” Sure, she had met a couple of nice women, but fall in love again? She couldn’t even comprehend the idea.
The thought of letting anyone else touch her soul was foreign to her. The two that she did have sex with in the past couple of years were only that - sex. Even then, she’d felt nothing. She told herself that she felt more when she made herself come than with either of them.
Jack Sheridan was her best friend and had been practically since birth. They were each other’s rock in the bad times and instigators in the good. Her friend teased her relentlessly that when she did find that someone special, as he put it, you’re going to explode like confetti.
“Night, Daddy, I’ll see you in the morning.” She passed the night nurses on the way out and asked them for the additional blanket, then bid them good night as well.
While sitting in the hospital parking garage, Remmy pulled out the journal that she always kept with her and put her thoughts of the past hours in the hospital with her father and of her brother’s passing, down in words.
The cycle of life is at times too short, just as for others it is too long. When it is brutally and unjustly cut short, it changes the reality of all it touches. Death is the only mystery remaining to humanity. Try as one might, it can never be prevented.
Every living creature is affected by death; it is how they react that is different. Animals and humans alike. After all, aren’t humans just animals in disguise?
Except, of course, humans have a tendency to destroy all they touch while rationalizing their decisions. Mankind cannot even live together without demolishing each other. Young men and women sign their lives away with the idea that they can be the one who can make the difference. They believe they can stop the madmen.
Do they not think of the ones they leave behind? Who will comfort the ones who open the screen door to find a man in full-dress uniform standing on the other side? No one, because there is no comfort. There is only anger and terror for those left behind.
If one wish could be made in the whole world, would it not be for all the brutality to end?
Pulling her black, fully loaded Ford F-350 truck into her driveway, Remmy didn’t bother to park it in the garage. Her door opener was broken and she was too tired to put the door up manually. Looking at the clock on the dashboard, Remmy realized it was still early. “It’s only nine-thirty, Jack should still be up.” Remmy patted the dashboard. She loved her new truck with all the little gadgets in it.
Her father had been more than a little miffed when she’d driven up to the house four months ago in the new truck. He was a Chevy man through and through and it rattled him when his own daughter bought a Ford.
He still gave her a hard time any chance he got, which always gave her a chuckle. “I wonder what he would have done if I had bought a Honda?” She laughed. He would have disowned her for buying what he considered foreign.
She stopped herself. “Shit! I’m freakin’ talkin’ to myself now.” Laying her head against the steering wheel, she sighed. Okay, time to get the ass moving.
Shutting her truck door behind her and locking it, she slowly walked into the house. After throwing her keys on the kitchen counter, she took a beer from the fridge, and shuffled into the living room. She knew she should eat something but she wasn’t the least bit hungry.
Standing in the middle of the living room, she looked around, then closed her eyes. It was so quiet she could hear herself breathing. Listening for the creaking the house made, she heard none.
In her mind, she could hear voices in the house from long ago, pulling her back to a happier time. It was when the house was filled with laughter and love.
Remmy open her eyes and scanned the room. She was in the past, an outsider looking in.
In the middle of the living room sat the extra-large blue folding table and eight chairs. On it sat Haley’s favorite deck of cards, the ones with an assortment of Harley-Davidson bikes on the back. Beside the deck sat the tray of poker chips and the box of expensive Cuban cigars.
Remmy stood facing the stone fireplace just beyond the table. Behind her, she heard Haley rooting around in the bottom of the liquor cabinet for a new bottle of Scotch. She knew the two fingers left in the current bottle would only last five minutes.
Remmy watched as she herself came in from the kitchen carrying the new bottle but not giving it to Haley without first getting the payment of a kiss. Her eyes traveled from the table to the left, surprised when she saw herself lounging on their brown leather sofa. Remmy forced herself to look back at the table. She stumbled backwards into the end table when she saw all of them sitting in the room. It played out before her as it had many times in her nightmares.
Jacob, Haley, Jack, Brett, RJ, and Taylor were sitting at the card table, each with a cigar and scotch, trying to out-bluff each other at poker. It was the night Jac wasn’t able to make the game. Usually Ronald would arrive when they were on the second or third hand with beer and more food. Ronald was the grandson of her grandmother’s sister. She didn’t like him, but she tolerated him because he was the only other living family she had.
Behind her, she heard Ronald arrive, late as always. She assumed it was to piss off Taylor, who had no tolerance for lateness, especially when it came to the Friday night poker games. She watched as they got into their usual argument.
Remmy smiled. It always amused her how the players would always get into a fight sometime after midnight, only to make up and continue playing until well into late Saturday morning.
She turned, seeing herself sitting and reading. She only joined them occasionally for a hand or two. As Remmy watched, a typical Friday night played out before her. Tears filled her eyes. They were not from sadness; they sprang from love - the love that flowed through her as the memories flooded her senses. Remmy could smell the cigar smoke and taste the homemade pizza that she would make for them at midnight.
The room looked as it had for many years, before she had Colin strip the house two years ago. During that time Colin had become more than just an employee, he became a good friend. Making over of some of the rooms gave it a fresh feeling at a time when she had thought of selling it in order to remove the reminders of what she had lost. She reconsidered, however, when she walked into the living room and saw that he had kept the leather sofa and chair that she had purchased as gifts for Haley.
It was still the same home, even with the new paint and new items. She liked the pale sage color of the walls better now. The tone was unlike any she had seen before, bringing out the warm brown of the leather furniture and the oak of the mission-style end tables and coffee table. Colin had even hung several of the portraits he found in the attic, pictures of her parents and grandparents.
Whenever she walked into the room, it smelled of leather, wood, and the essence from the fireplace. It smelled as a home should smell - lived in and loved.
Her mind was drawn back to the table once more, into the past, where she saw herself urging Haley to call it a night. On the Saturdays that Haley had to be up early for work, Remmy would have to harp on her that she needed to get some sleep. On the Friday nights that Haley had to work, they would move the game to Saturday.
After Haley was killed they tried to continue having the weekly Friday night game, but it just wasn’t the same. Everything had changed, as if the very life had gone out of the house itself. After trying two more weeks of failure, they stopped altogether. It was then that Remmy had lost touch with Haley’s friends. They had promised her they would forever be there for her; however, she just could not bear to be reminded of what she had lost. Maybe it was time to start thinking of getting back in touch with them.
Remmy now sat on yet another Friday night, lost in her memories. She came back to the present to find herself sitting in the soft, brown-leather recliner. It matched the sofa she had bought for Haley the Christmas when Haley had proposed to her.
“Wow, I seem to be reliving the past lately. This can’t be a good thing.” She held up the beer bottle, only to find it empty.
When had she done that? She couldn’t remember drinking any of it. Damn, I must really be losing it! I need another then. She looked across the room at the mantel above the television and saw the framed photos.
One photo was of her and Haley that Christmas Day. She had on her favorite holiday sweater with the beautifully decorated Christmas tree on it, including the tiny bells that jingled. Haley loved that sweater. She had threatened once to put bells on all of Remmy’s clothes so that she couldn’t sneak up on her. It was the only thing Remmy did that drove Haley nuts. She would never hear Remmy until it was too late and Remmy would scare the wits out of her.
In the picture, Haley was at her most handsome. She’d gone out the previous morning and got a haircut just for the occasion. Her black wavy hair was cut just above the ears, and so short in the back it was to the point of being shaved. Haley liked it that way, all she had to do in the morning was run her fingers through it and she was done.
For the special occasion, Haley had worn her favorite long-sleeved, Boston Red Sox jersey and the pair of stonewashed denim jeans that Remmy loved because they were so tight that Haley had to pour herself into them. They not only showed off her perfect ass, but her long legs as well.
Wearing the jersey though had been risky. The fact that she was a Red Sox fan never sat right with any of them. Haley, after admitting which team she liked, had found herself in a house full of Yankees fans. She had worn it on their first date and the fact that she had been allowed back for a second date had proved that it was love.
The other photo was of her and her brother. She picked up the picture and clutched it to her chest. The picture gave her comfort as she carried it with her. Since the refrigerator was against the wall between the dining room and kitchen, Remmy cut through the dining room to get there. She opened the stainless steel door, retrieved another ice-cold beer, and returned to the living room.
Sitting in the chair, she tapped the bottle to the picture. “Here’s to you, little brother. Is it my fault? I feel like it is.” She swallowed half the bottle in one gulp. The beer was so cold that for a moment it gave her a pain in the eye.
“Ah, nothing beats an ice cold beer to clear the brain of its cobwebs. Isn’t that what both you and Haley used to say? Dang, it’s cold.” She rubbed her temple as it throbbed.
She picked up the phone from the table beside her and pressed the speed dial for Jack. What was she going to tell him? All three had been friends since childhood. They were the three amigos, or as Taylor had always called them, the three biggest damn troublemakers in the world.
It rang twice. “Hey baby, was she a good fuck?” Jack loved to personalize his hellos.
Remmy suddenly remembered she was supposed to have had dinner that evening with someone she’d met a few weeks ago. She couldn’t even remember her name, not that it mattered anyhow.
When she didn’t answer immediately, Jack continued, “Ah, she was that bad, huh?”
Remmy’s mind returned to why she had called him. It was at that moment that everything she had lost crashed down upon her. “He’s dead and Daddy’s in the hospital…”
She dropped the phone to the floor, curled into herself and sobbed.
Remmy heard Mr. Bubbles, the midnight black feline, meow from the top of the stairs. She remembered how for weeks he had walked around the house crying out for Haley after her death. He was very sensitive to Remmy’s moods and would know something had happened.
Mr. Bubbles pranced down the steps and onto the arm of the chair to rub his furry face against hers. He purred as he wiped away the tears with his fur. Mr. Bubbles gave her unconditional love and understanding.
Remmy reached up and stroked his fur, taking comfort in how soft and silky he was, still amazed to this day that he was so skinny for an adult cat. Any other cats she’d had in the past had acquired the middle-age spread when they were a couple of years old.
However, Mr. Bubbles was different. He was six years old and thought he was still a kitten. He quite literally pranced through the house as if it was his kingdom. Everything about him was different, right down to his personality. Remmy wondered sometimes if he didn’t think he was a human.
“Oh, Mr. Bubbles…” She quietly cried, pouring all her sadness onto the shoulders of her feline friend.