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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Peppermint: A Short Story

I love to write, and I began this story long ago in an old blog I once had. Stupidly, I didn't copy it and the blog got deleted and I lost it, so now I'll be starting from scratch again. It will be written in installments-hopefully a little each day.

Summary: Brad is living a charmed life. He's got the perfect looks, perfect job, perfect house, and he's about to propose to the perfect woman. But unknown to him, Brad has a rival for Maria's affections...an 11 pound, white, fluffy, green eyed rival that's about to cause him more trouble than he ever imagined...

This story is fiction but Peppermint definitely was inspired by my own cat, Snow. Hope you enjoy!



"Brad, I love it!" Laughing, Maria Santos moved away from her boyfriend and spun in a circle in their new living room. "It couldn't be more perfect. I can't believe it's actually ours!" She ran back to him and threw her arms around his neck. "I'm so happy! Aren't you?"

Brad beamed at her, gently brushing her dark curls back from her face. "Do you really have to ask?" He looked around their new home, just taking it all in for a moment, and his thoughts drifted back over the past several months.

Even Brad Cunningham had to admit he was living a life nearly anyone would envy. It started with his looks. Brad wasn't vain, but he knew Mother Nature and genetics had blessed him at birth. If a glance in the mirror, examining his golden blond hair, sparkling ocean blue eyes, and slightly dimpled chin didn't tell him that, the admiring sighs of women as he passed and the eagerness of their advances would. It could have ended there...it didn't seem fair that he'd have more than then a face and body that would make most male models seethe with jealousy. However, not only did Brad have looks, but he had brains. At only twenty seven, he was a well respected lawyer at one of the most prominent law firms in San Diego and on the fast track to becoming a partner.

He'd met Maria nearly eight months before, at a party his parents were throwing. She'd worked for the restaurant that had catered the party, and they'd recruited her as a server. He'd never been serious about a woman before, but one look at her beautiful face and he was hooked. It was her sweet, loving nature, however, that kept him coming back for more. Before he'd known it, he was head over heels. His family and friends had warned him they were moving too fast, but once they met Maria, there was few that could disagree that the two were perfect for one another. Moving in together seemed the next logical step, and again, fate seemed to step in and lend a hand. They had been driving to their favorite spot on the beach one day when they'd seen it. A For Sale sign in the yard of a pretty, yellow and white cottage that they'd often admired. It was only two blocks from the ocean, and the small, fenced yard was decorated with gorgeous, blooming rosebushes, with plenty of space for his dog to run and for Maria to start a garden. A week later, the house was officially theirs. It wasn't big, but it had two bedrooms and was the perfect place for Brad and Maria to begin the rest of their lives.

A giggle from Maria broke into Brad's thoughts and he looked at her.

"You looked a million miles away. What were you thinking about?" She asked, still smiling.

"You." He leaned forward to drop a kiss on her lips, then reluctantly pulled away. "Sweetheart, I hate to leave you with all this,' he gestured at the unpacked boxes stacked all around, 'but I promised I'd go into the office for a couple of hours and lend a hand on the Miller/Schmidt case."

Maria pouted for a moment, but couldn't keep it up. She was just too happy about their new house and new life to be in a bad mood. "It's fine, Brad. Mama's coming over with some of my things that I left at her house, and she's going to give me a hand. Besides, we've got all the furniture set up at least, so it's not really anything I can't do myself."

"You're not doing it all yourself." Brad said, mock sternly. "I made it very clear to everyone that after today I am on vacation for the rest of the week. I'll try not to be gone too long, but I do need to stop at Tom's on the way home and pick up Buddy." He smiled at the thought of his golden retriever exploring their new yard for the first time, and then kissed Maria one more time and hurried out the door.

***

A little over five hours later, Brad was pushing open the back gate to the yard. "Come on, Buddy!" He tugged on the leash attached to his four year old dog. "Check it out-no more condo living for you! You've got your own yard, a new dog house, and we can go running on the beach every morning. Sweet set up, huh?" He unclipped the leash and waited for Buddy to go bounding through the yard, but instead Buddy took a tentative step, sniffed, and hesitated.

"Oh come on, Buddy. What's wrong with you?" He watched as Buddy sniffed cautiously around in a nervous attitude totally unlike his rambunctious dog. After a moment he edged past the dog and picked up a rubber ball from the basket next to the dog house. "Here, Buddy, fetch!"

That did it. Buddy galloped joyfully after the ball, then picked it up and carried it to a corner to chew on it. Brad grinned after him and then walked through the glass door, surprising Maria who was peeking out the front door, apparently looking for him.

"Brad!" Maria's hand was over her chest as she jumped around. "Don't do that!" They both laughed.

"I wanted to surprise you." He shrugged sheepishly.

"But I wanted to surprise you." She frowned, but her eyes were still playful. "What do you think?" She waved her hand around her.

Brad took a good look and his jaw dropped. What Maria and her mother had managed to accomplish in the short time that he was gone was nothing short of a miracle. There wasn't a box in sight. The living room rug had been unrolled, the bookshelf was filled, bright cushions lined the couch and Maria's rocking chair, pictures were neatly hung on the wall and he could see from where he was standing that the kitchen had undergone a similiar transformation.

"Wow!" He exclaimed. "This is great! It's all done!"

"Well, not all of it." Maria shrugged. "Our room is finished too, but the spare bedroom is full of boxes and we haven't done the bathroom yet either. I figured we could do that tomorrow."

Brad started to agree but suddenly his nose began to itch. As Maria gave him a concerned look, he felt his eyes began to water. "Achoo!" He sneezed. "Achoo! Achoo!"

"Brad?" Maria frowned. "Are you alright?" She reached for a box of tissues on the coffee table and handed it to him.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Brad wiped his face. "Allergies, I guess. That's weird. It's almost like there's-" He didn't finish the sentence. There, on the pristine beige carpet, right next to his foot, was a small puff of fluffy white hair. Frowning, he reached down and picked it up. "What is this?"

"Oh!" Maria suddenly flushed. "Well, he can't really help it, you know. He's got all that fur, but I'll give him a good brushing tonight." She took the fur from Brad and went into the kitchen to throw it away.

"WHO can't help it?" Brad asked suspiciously, but there was no need for Maria to answer. As she walked out of the kitchen, Brad saw him. A large, long haired, white cat followed her a few paces, then stopped and calmly begin to wash his face. As Brad watched, he could see more white hairs floating down onto the brand new carpet. He gritted his teeth.

"Maria, is that Peppermint? What is your mother's cat doing here?"

Maria looked at him in surprise. "Brad, I thought you knew! Peppermint isn't my mother's; he's mine. Mama just kept him for me these last few months because my apartment didn't allow cats. But now that we have our own house, I asked her to bring him over. I'm so happy to have him back." Kneeling, she scratched Peppermint's head, and the cat gave Brad a decidedly smug look.

"Well, sweetheart, I really wish you had mentioned it." Brad sneezed again. "You see, the thing is, I'm allergic to cats." He wiped his streaming eyes. "I just don't think this is going to work."

"Allergic?" Maria stood up, looking at him. "I'm sorry, honey. I just never thought-well, you have Buddy! Why is it that you're not allergic to him?"

Brad snorted. "Dogs are cleaner than cats."

Maria gave him a shocked look, and Peppermint paused in his grooming to glare for a moment. "Brad, that's just not true. Cats are extremely clean."

"Not clean enough." Brad couldn't suppress the disgust in his tone. He felt bad at the hurt on Maria's face, but he couldn't help it. He hated cats. Always had, ever since he was a kid. Selfish, mean spirited, high strung creatures, scratching at the slightest provocation and not loyal in the least. A cat couldn't hold a candle to his beloved Buddy, and he wasn't going to tolerate that thing in his house, looking down its nose at him and shedding all over the place.

"Maria, I'm sorry, but the cat's got to go back to your mother's. He'll be happier there anyway, without the dog around, and you'll get to see him all the time. No big deal." That settled, he flopped down on the couch and patted the spot next to him for Maria to join him.

She didn't. She just stood there, giving him the coldest look he'd ever seen on her face in their eighth month relationship, and then she did something worse...far worse. She burst into tears. Aghast he jumped to his feet.

"Maria, baby, please don't cry!"

"I...thought...you...liked..Peppermint!" Maria sobbed. "Whenever we went to my parents for dinner, you petted him. You even told me he was beautiful!"

'Well, I lied.' Brad thought to himself but he wasn't about to admit that out loud. Of course he'd been nice to the cat he thought belonged to his girlfriend's mother. Then he'd rushed right to the bathroom afterwards to wash the fur off his hands and groaned silently at the hairs clinging to his clothing. Still, it was a small price to pay to see his Maria smile. But now, at the thought of putting up with that insidious beast full time, he just couldn't fake it anymore. He was about to make his argument once more about why Peppermint couldn't stay, when Maria looked up at him with her chin trembling and her eyes sparkling with tears and his heart clenched.

"I mean, if you really wanted to make this work, you could start some allergy medication." Maria hiccuped lightly. "And I'll take Peppermint to the groomers every other week, and I promise I'll vacuum everyday...please, Brad? I love Peppermint...I always thought him living at Mama's was just temporary. I've had him for three years now...please don't make me give him up!"

Brad sighed deeply, looking into her unhappy face. After a moment, he nodded slowly. "Alright, Maria. We'll give it a try."

Maria's face cleared instantly and she threw herself into his arms. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You won't regret this. Peppermint is the sweetest cat-I'll bet by next week you'll love him as much as I do."

Brad looked at Peppermint over Maria's shoulder. 'Doubt it.' He thought ruefully, and almost as if the cat had heard his thoughts, he looked up and gave Brad a narrow eyed look, his ears flattening. It was more than a look...it was a challenge.

TBC
Next chapter...Peppermint draws first blood.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 03:23 PM
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Re: Peppermint: A Short Story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalonia
that insidious beast
Perfect!

Looking forward to the next part.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-05-2007, 04:01 PM
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That was pretty interesting
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-06-2007, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for reading and commenting! Here is the next chapter.

The Next Morning


"Hmmmm." Brad mumbled sleepily, turning on his pillow. He could see brightness behind his closed eyelids and was happy he didn't have to leap out of bed this morning. Vacation-it was a beautiful thing. A smile crossed his face as he felt Maria's silky hair as she shifted next to him. The strands fell across his cheek and tickled his nose.

"That feels nice." He murmured. Suddenly there was a movement and then-whack! Maria's hair slammed him in the face. Immediately he began to sneeze.

"Maria!" Brad sat up abruptly. "Achoo-what are you-achoo!" He wiped his watering eyes and finally realized that it wasn't Maria next to him. Peppermint was sitting on Maria's pillow and had been there for quite some time by the looks of the loose hair littering it. And from the multiple hairs that Brad wiped off of his face, Peppermint had smacked him in the face with his huge tail. Brad started to swear as he shoved Peppermint off the bed, then looked guiltily around for his girlfriend. He didn't want to start off their first morning in the new house with a fight over the stupid cat.

To his relief, Maria was not anywhere in sight, but there was a note taped to the dresser mirror.

"Honey,

I forgot to tell you that my parents gave us a housewarming surprise yesterday-an Ikea gift card! Mama wanted to go shopping with me today-hope you don't mind. I'll be back by noon. Tom called and said he has a box of stuff you forgot and wants you to come by around 10 and pick it up. Love you! M."

Brad looked at the clock. 9:18, it flashed in bright red numbers. He was going to have to move if he wanted to make it to his brother's place by 10. Quickly, he grabbed some clothes from the dresser, sneezing a couple of times as he did so. He'd have to put in a call to his doctor and get an allergy prescription too. The thought made him annoyed all over again, and he shot Peppermint, who was sitting in the corner glaring, a glare of his own in return. Tossing the clothes on his bed, he hurried into the bathroom. A quick shower was definitely needed to get all the cat hair off of him.

By the time Brad was out of the shower, his mood was quite improved, and he found himself whistling as he wrapped a towel around his waist. Maria had thoughtfully found his electric razor and left it out for him, and as he lathered up, he heard music coming from the open window. One of the neighbors had a radio turned on and the sound of a Beach Boys classic reached his ear.

"And we'll have fun, fun, fun until her daddy takes her T-Bird away!" Brad found himself singing along as he shaved, his toes tapping to the beat. "Yeah, we'll have fun, fun, fun, until-gargh!!" The razor fell out of Brad's fingers and into the sink with a clank as he reached for his foot, the sharp pain jolting him. "Dammit!"

Peppermint had crept into the bathroom behind him, unnoticed, and had jumped on his bare, tapping foot with claws out. Brad lifted his foot and gritted his teeth as he saw the crimson dots splashing the sparkling tile floor. He pulled open the medicine cabinet, but aside from his shaving cream and Maria's deodorant, it was empty. She hadn't unpacked the bathroom supplies yet. Hurriedly, Brad wrapped his bleeding foot with toilet paper and limped out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom, impatiently looking through the stacked cardboard boxes. "First aid kit, where are you?" He mumbled, reading Maria's neat labels on each box. Peppermint slunk into the room behind him, and as Brad saw the cat, his temper flared. He grabbed the nearest item-one of his shoes-and threw it. Almost casually, Peppermint ducked out of the way and the shoe hit the wall, leaving a black mark.

"Fur covered abomination, that's what you are!" Brad snapped as he tore open a box labelled 'Bathroom' and dumped it on the floor. The first aid kit wasn't in it. Two boxes later, Brad finally found it. He slapped on some Neosporin-who knew what kind of diseases that foul creature had-and a large bandage, resigning himself to the fact that he was definitely going to be late. Finally ready, he stood up to limp out the door only to find Peppermint had returned to the bedroom and was watching him again with those eerie, nearly glowing green eyes.

"Get out of my room!" Brad looked around for something heavier to throw but Peppermint seemed to get the hint. With a disdainful lift of his tail, he turned and regally swished out of the room as Brad fumed behind him.

****

"You're late." Tom's voice was amused as he stood in the doorway of the condo he and Brad had shared until recently, gazing at his older brother.

"Shut up." Brad sighed heavily. "Aren't you going to let me in?"

Tom moved aside, still looking smug. "Thirty eight minutes late, actually. I mean, it's not like we had an appointment set in stone but somehow, the memory of a million lectures is floating back to me." He adopted a nasal, holier than thou tone. " 'Timeliness shows respect and maturity, Tom.' Sound familiar? I mean, I could have had plans. Where's my respect?"

Brad gave him an exasperated look. "Look, I had a bad morning, ok? Lay off."

At his tone, Tom's face changed from mocking to mildly concerned. "What's wrong, big bro? You and Maria have a fight?"

Brad shook his head, his face lightening. "No, no, nothing like that. It's just her stupid cat."

Tom snickered. "Maria has a cat? Since when?"

"Since about three years ago, apparently. Her parents were keeping it for her but now it's in our new place. You should see this thing, Tom. It's huge, white, and sheds enough fur for Maria to sew clothing for a whole third world nation. Not to mention it has the temperament of a rabid gargoyle. It shredded my foot this morning-that's why I'm late."

Tom flopped down on the couch, looking entirely amused and a little too unsympathetic for Brad's liking. "Aw, is Braddy Waddy scared of the widdle puddy tat?"

Brad gave him a dirty look. "I'm not scared of it. I just hate cats. You know I have, ever since I was a kid, even before I could remember."

Tom started to laugh outright. "You may not remember, but I do. I was six, you were nine. We were outside playing with a bunch of kids when you saw old Mrs. Henderson's cat and decided to mess with it. Next thing we knew, you were running home crying with a nice long claw mark across your face. I think it was the fact that every kid in the neighborhood saw you boohooing over it that burned you more than anything else."

Brad groaned. "Thank you for the flashback, Tom." He shook his head. "Enough about the cat. As long as I'm here, I want you to listen to something." He pulled a wrinkled, much read piece of notebook paper out of his pocket. "You know I'm going to propose to Maria during her birthday party next week. Well, I had this idea that I should do it in Spanish. You know, show that I care about her heritage and that our kids will grow up in both cultures, all that. So Luis at work translated my speech for me, but I have to practice my pronounciation."

"Nice idea, but since you don't habla the espanol, how do you know that this Luis is on the up and up? I mean, it's a great opportunity for the prank of the century." Tom grinned wickedly. "I mean, picture yourself, standing there in front of all Maria's friends and family, thinking that you're praising her beauty and pledging your eternal love when what you're really doing is telling her she smells like a donkey's butt."

Brad lowered the paper and sighed. "Tom, are you trying to psych me out? Besides, Luis wouldn't do something like that. He's nothing like you."

Tom shrugged. "More's the pity." He laughed at Brad's expression. "C'mon, man, lighten up. You know I'm just messing with you. I'm happy for you and Maria, really. Go ahead and practice. I promise I'll listen with a straight face."

"Thank you." Brad smiled for the first time in an hour. "It's going to be perfect, Tom. It has to be. Nothing is going to mess this up, absolutely nothing." Smiling, he began to read.

TBC
Next chapter-Peppermint causes trouble for Brad and Maria.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-06-2007, 08:18 PM
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Printed for reading later.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-06-2007, 10:25 PM
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It's very well written!!

But one thing -- we don't use shaving cream with electric razors.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2007, 04:50 PM
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Awesome read! Can't wait to read more!

*~*~*Megan*~*~
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