Welcome Home

Pete is tired after a long day at work, but he stops at Mary’s house anyway.

She finished work at five, like a sensible person. But then, Pete saw the book she’s been reading lying in the lunch room. It’s one of his favourites too, so he DM’d her on the company chat to let her know it was there.

He couldn’t really object when Mary asked him to drop it off. After all, her place is directly on his route home.

Besides, Mary has a super nice smile, and Pete really likes it when it’s directed at him.

So, when she invites him in for a cup of tea, he readily accepts. They soon find themselves sitting on her balcony sipping tea and eating biscuits, lost in a conversation about authors they both love, while Mary’s cat snuggles in Pete’s lap.

And before Pete notices, the sun has gone down and his teacup is empty. He checks his watch.

Two hours have passed.

Oh shit. Penelope! She’ll be wondering what’s happened to me!

“Uh yeah, so I guess I’ll see you at work tomorrow?” he stammers, as Mary follows him to the door.

“Thanks so much for bringing my book!” She leans in close for a lingering hug, and Pete’s nose is tickled by the delightful scent of her hair. Clean and fresh, with a subtle hint of peach.

“Ah, my pleasure…” He blushes as he turns to go to his car.

I’m sitting alone in the dark when he comes home. Just sitting and thinking with nothing but my suspicions to keep me company. The sun has gone down and it’s cold, but I’m just lying on the floor and staring at the moon through the tall window.

“Hey, sweetie. What are you doing in the dark?” He switches on the light and strokes my hair, then sits on the couch. Acting nonchalant, like nothing has changed. “How ‘bout I put some music on?”

I can smell her on him. It nearly makes me gag, and I have to get away. Without looking at him, I stand up and walk into the bedroom. Of course, he follows me. It’s pathetic really.

“Hey, what’s wrong baby?”

He tries to touch me again, but I twist away and dart into my closet. It might sound weird, but that’s where I go when I need to be alone. Pete knows that.

But it’s not like I can trust him anymore.

“I’m sorry for being late, Penpen. I had to drop something off on my way home.”

I start to cry.

Pete hears me and sighs. He knows I don’t want to hear his excuses right now.

“It’s getting late, you must be hungry. I’ll make us some food.”

He leaves the room and takes my melancholy with him. Now I’m just angry.

I push hard against the wall. How can he be so blase about this? If only I had some real proof. Maybe there are some hairs on him or something.

I pace back and forth around our bed. Damn it! I hate that I’ve become so dependent on him!

I sit there and stew, until I hear him in the kitchen. Enticing smells tug at my dark thoughts until my treacherous stomach growls.

I am hungry, after all.

And Pete always makes such delicious meals.

“Here you are, my love. Bon appétit!”

Just like every other night, we eat together, and my heart softens as he tells me about his day.

Later, we sit together on the couch, my head in his lap. I just want to forget about her and my suspicions and enjoy one more night with my special man.

I feel so warm and safe. The food I ate has made me lethargic and sleepy. A part of me wonders if he put something in my dinner.

It wouldn’t be the first time…

My eyes close, and I sleep.

Pete is careful not to move.

Penelope has been acting so strangely lately. It’s almost like she’s jealous.

He strokes her fur absently as he thinks.

Of course. Mary’s cat! Penelope must be able to smell her on me!

He claps his hand to his forehead at the realization, almost waking the feline sleeping in his lap.