“I promise, everything will be fine, Poe. Yes, yes, BB is relaxing. There is nothing to worry about. Yeah, let me know when you get back in town tomorrow. He’s a cat, Poe, he’ll be fine!”
Rey ended the phone call and glanced ed down at the rotund orange tabby feline. BB was a cute name for a cat. However, Poe’s cat was the grumpiest little shit Rey had ever met. And Rey was what one would consider a “cat” person.
“Everything is going to be okay, BB,” Rey stated as she leaned over and attempted to pet him on the head.
BB hissed and swiped his paw at her. Rey shrieked which only sent BB running from the shrill sound of her voice. The cat somehow squeezed his fat little body under the couch.
Rey got down on her knees and looked under the couch. If looks could kill, she’d be dead on sight. BB was glaring at her like she’d killed his owner. She might very well kill Poe for having sprung this on her last minute. All so he could meet up with Paige Tico (his long time crush) in Houston. That was five hours away from New Orleans, which meant he would be staying the night and returning later this weekend.
Leaving the little helliant in Rey’s care.
She groaned as she pushed herself up from the ground. In Poe’s haste to get out of town — before the traffic set in (it was Halloween in New Orleans) — he’d left without giving her any cat food for the beast.
Rey grabbed her purse and opened the door, closing it softly behind her. She caught a quick glimpse of her hot but moody neighbor entering his own apartment. Rey waved politely and he stared at her like she was insane before slamming his door so hard the shutters rattled.
What an utter asshole.
Carrying groceries up the two flights of stairs to get to her apartment wasn’t an easy feat. Both of her arms were loaded down with cat food, treats, litter, a litter box, toys for the beast, as well as some candy corn, popcorn, and a Redbox rental for Pet Cemetary .
Finally, she reached her floor and started walking towards her apartment. That’s when she felt her heart drop into her ass.
Her door was wide open. Rey rushed inside, throwing the groceries down without a second thought. A quick survey of her living room told her that nothing had been taken— the TV was still there, the Xbox was accounted for, and her laptop sat on the couch.
Oh thank god, Rey thought. She walked to her kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. She would need alcohol to get through this nightmare. She took one sip of her Sam Adams and almost choked when she heard a bang in her bedroom.
Somebody broke into my apartment and is about to murder me. I’ll die and nobody will know what happened to me. What did I do to deserve this kind of death?
Rey grabbed her walking stick she took on hikes and held it at the ready like a baseball bat. She walked towards the bedroom quietly.
She took a deep breath and then kicked the door open, letting out a battle cry as she swung her stick like a staff.
Suddenly, she was hit in the legs with a massive ball of fur, knocking her feet out from under her. Rey landed on the ground in a painful heap. She had completely forgotten about the mangy feline.
“Fuck,” Rey groaned as she rolled over. She pushed herself up and stalked to the living room.
That’s when she realized one glaring detail. She’d forgotten to close the door. And BB had just rounded the corner. Rey ran after him, tripping over the box of litter that was in the doorway.
“BB, wait!” Rey yelled.
The cat flew down the stairs at a pace that she didn’t think possible for an animal as round as he was. His chunky belly rocked from side to side as he made his way down toward the street.
“Oh no! Oh no. No, no, no!” Rey yelled.
She started to run down the stairs and felt herself trip.
Yes, this was how Rey would die. Not by an intruder. By falling down a flight of cement stairs chasing after Poe’s demon cat! She braced herself for impact, yet it never came. Strong arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her back against a solid chest.
Her hands were shaking as she looked over her shoulder to see her gorgeous but moody neighbor, Ben Solo, holding on to her. Rey head rested back against his shoulder as she let out a sigh of relief.
“You saved my life,” Rey whispered.
He blinked at her, his arms tightening over her waist before he came to his senses and released her.
“You were making so much racket I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I came out to see what the matter was,” he growled.
Still an asshole. Rey mused. An insanely hot, built like a marble statue, asshole.
“I’m watching my friend’s cat and he just ran down the street. I have to find him!” Rey said in a panic. She grabbed her neighbor’s hands and pulled them against her chest, gazing up into his eyes as she asked, “Will you help me?”
“Um.” His cheeks flushed an adorable shade of red as he looked away.
“Please, Ben. You’re my last hope!”
“Fine,” he rolled his eyes. “But you might want to close and lock your door. You’re just asking to get robbed.”
“Thank you.” Rey grinned, throwing her arms around Ben’s strong shoulders and hugging him tightly.
She ran to her apartment to grab her purse before locking up. There was no telling where BB had gone to. If she was lucky, they would find him quickly so she could get back to her apartment to eat her candy corn and watch her scary movie. Maybe she’d even invite Ben inside.
Afterall, BB couldn’t have gone too far. Could he?
City Park was full of people from out of town enjoying Voodoo Fest. Different musicians were on every corner, playing their hearts out. Artists were set up at various booths, painting and selling their pieces. There were even some spray painting on the brick walls, creating a beautiful graffiti mural.
Voodoo Fest included a large outdoor concert in the park and it would be just Rey’s luck for BB to sneak past the barricades. If they wanted to check around the park they would have to buy tickets. Rey didn’t exactly have the money to throw down for entrance into the local Halloween event. She groaned as she watched people dressed up in stylish costumes start to queue up.
Ben surprised her by pulling out his wallet and approaching a man who was scalping tickets. He came back with two wristbands and reached for Rey’s hand, securing the band around her wrist before doing the same to his own.
“I guess we are going to Voodoo Fest,” Ben said with a shrug.
They made their way through the crowd, flashing their wristbands at security as they were welcomed through the barricades. Rey held on to Ben’s arm, not wanting to get separated from him in the midst of all the people.
“So what’s this cat look like?” Ben questioned.
“He’s an enormous orange tabby with resting bitch face,” Rey shouted over the noise.
Ben snorted as he led her through the mass of people. Rey kept her eyes on the ground, looking for any sign of a furry ball of evil.
There were food trucks lining the grassy lawn and Rey’s stomach growled as the scent of crawfish wafted over her. She glanced at the line for the seafood and then back at Ben who was watching her with an amused expression.
“Hungry?” he asked.
“Well, cats like seafood right? Maybe we can get some and keep a crawfish or two to try to lure him towards us.”
“An excellent idea,” Ben smirked, leading the way towards the food truck.
The window of the truck was decorated with cobwebs and orange paper pumpkins. The menu had a few Halloween themed items that Rey was all too eager to take advantage of. She ordered a spiked apple cider and a pumpkin loaf to save for later.
Afterward, her stomach was full and, unfortunately for BB, there were no leftovers to be had. Ben led her over to a booth that was offering face painting.
“What are you doing?” Rey asked as Ben sat her down in the chair.
“If you are dragging me out on Halloween night then I’m going to have a little fun of my own.”
He handed over the makeup artist a wad of cash and chose a day of the dead makeup design.
“Well, I’m not doing this unless you get one done too,” Rey insisted. She flipped through the book of designs and pointed to one. “This one, it’s perfect.”
Ben leaned over and looked at the design she had chosen and grinned.
“Voodoo King, huh.”
“Yeah,” Rey said breathily. “It’ll look sexy.”
His eyes widened and she smirked before closing her eyes and letting the artist get to work.
With their faces freshly painted, Rey held Ben’s hand as they crossed the lawn, peering around for any sign of BB.
Rey then heard a distinctly familiar, ‘mmrrrowww.’
A flash of orange ran by and Rey let out a gasp of relief at her sheer luck.
“There he is!” Rey shouted.
They both started to chase after BB who saw Rey’s approach and glared at her before running in the opposite direction.
“Eh, I don’t think he likes you,” Ben pointed out.
Rey scoffed in offense as she barreled in BB’s direction. The cat ran straight for a tall chain link fence that marked off the concert area. He made a beeline for the small space to squeeze under to get to the other side.
“There’s no way his fat butt will fit under there,” Rey remarked with amusement.
Yet somehow, the cat flattened himself down and shimmied his way beneath the fence.
“What?” Rey exclaimed.
Ben joined her by the fence and crouched down. BB rubbed up against the fence and Ben petted him through the chain link.
“Good boy,” Ben praised. “See, you just have to be on his good side.”
Rey rolled her eyes. She’d been nothing but nice to the little terror.
“Now, I’m going to try to sneak my arm under the fence and grab him,” Ben said.
Rey crouched down beside him and BB’s head snapped in her direction. The cat hissed and swiped at Rey with his paw before running across the street towards an alleyway.
“Come on,” Ben said, offering his hand to Rey as he helped her up.
They quickly made their way towards the exit in the hopes that BB wouldn’t get too far.
New Orleans was known for its history and its belief in the supernatural. With it being Halloween night, Ben and Rey found themselves amongst a crew of tourists enjoying the ghost tours of the graveyards.
Rey heard the guide mention that the street they were walking across was once referred to as the port of Missing Men. Despite the humid Louisiana air, goosebumps rose on her arms.
She grabbed Ben’s hand and squeezed it. He gazed down at her and smiled, assuring her that they were going to be okay.
New Orlean’s was well known for being below sea level. Therefore, the cemeteries always included above ground graves. Having grown up in Arizona until she moved to Louisiana, Rey had always been fascinated by the above ground vaults.
Ben led her away from the ghost tour and around the first row of mausoleums. The sun was already starting to set which caused Rey’s stomach to swirl with anxiety. They needed to find BB and fast.
They stopped in front of the tomb of Marie Laveau.
“Do you know the history of Marie Laveau?” Ben questioned.
“She was the most well-known Voodoo practitioner,” Rey answered.
“Mm, yes. The Voodoo priestess, also known as the Queen of Voodoo. Legend says she died peacefully in her home. However, some of the townsfolk said to have seen her after her death.”
A chill ran up Rey’s spine and she curled her hand in the crook of Ben’s arm, holding him close.
“Scared? My wicked witch?”
Rey pursed her lips at him but continued to hold onto his arm. Her stomach fluttered with a different feeling than anxiety at the sound of him saying she was his.
“You’re wicked witch, huh,” Rey teased, leaning into him.
“You put a spell on me,” Ben whispered, closing the distance so their lips were a breadth apart.
“And now you’re mine,” Rey finished.
She closed her eyes and waited for the moment when their lips finally touched.
Rey screamed as BB barrelled into her legs, knocking her off of her feet. Ben caught her around the waist— saving her from falling. Again .
“That damn cat!” Rey yelled, glancing over her shoulder as the round, orange cat ran towards the wrought iron gate.
“I guess we are on the run again,” Ben observed with a shrug.
Rey couldn’t help but appreciate how sexy he looked as he brushed his dark wavy hair out of his eyes and reached for her hand.
And then they were off, chasing BB down the dark streets of New Orleans.