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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Murphy Shirley Rousseau

«Cat Spitting Mad», Shirley Murphy

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The sixth book in the Joe Grey series, 2000

The sleek, supple… cat lowered itself slightly, cocked the short, rounded ears on its smallish, intelligent-looking face, and with a flowing ripple seemed to almost float up into the tree. Fifteen vertical feet up it landed with a fluid grace…

The puma… reaching over nine thousand miles, from the tip of South America into isolated pockets of southern Alaska… is an intelligent, highly adaptable predator that, along with the wolves and the bears, adds an excitement to the U.S. wildlands that simply would not be there in their absence.

– Tom Brakefield, Kingdom of Might: The World's Big Cats



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IT WAS the tortoiseshell kit who found the bodies, blundering onto the murder scene as she barged into every disaster, all four paws reaching for trouble. She was prowling high up the hills in the pine forest when she heard the screams and came running, frightened and curious-and was nearly trampled by the killer's horse as the rider raced away. Churning hooves sent rocks flying. The kit ran from him, tumbling and dodging.

But when the rider had vanished into the gray foggy woods, the curious kit returned to the path, grimacing at the smell of blood.

Two women lay sprawled across the bridle trail. Both were blond, both wore pants and boots. Neither moved. Their throats had been slashed; their blood was soaking into the earth. Backing away, the kit looked and looked, her terror cold and complete, her heart pounding.

She spun and ran again, a small black-and-brown streak bursting away alone through the darkening evening, scared nearly out of her fur.

This was late Saturday afternoon. The kit had vanished from Dulcie's house on the previous Wednesday, her fluffy tortoiseshell pantaloons waggling as she slid under the plastic flap of Dulcie's cat door and trotted away through the garden beneath a light rain, escaping for what the two older cats thought would be a little ramble of a few hours before supper. Dulcie and Joe, curled up by the fire, hadn't bothered to follow her-they were tired of chasing after the kit.

"She'll have to take care of herself," Dulcie said, rolling over to gaze into the fire. But as the sky darkened not only with evening but with rain, Dulcie glanced worriedly toward the kitchen and her cat door.

Wilma, Dulcie's human housemate, passing through the room, looked down at the cats, frowning, her silver hair bright in the lamplight. "She'll be all right. It isn't raining hard."

"Not yet, it isn't," Dulcie said dourly. "It's going to pour. I can smell it." A human could never sort out such subleties as a change in the scent of the rain. She loved Wilma, but one had to make allowances.

"She won't go up into the hills tonight," Wilma said. "Not with a roast in the oven. Not that little glutton."

"Growing kitten," Joe Grey said, rolling onto his back. "Torn between insatiable wanderlust and insatiable appetite." But he, too, glanced toward the cat door.

In the firelight, Joe's sleek gray coat gleamed like polished pewter. His white nose and chest and paws shone brighter than the porcelain coffee cup Wilma was carrying to the kitchen. His yellow eyes remained fixed on the cat door.

Wilma sat down on the couch beside them, stroking Dulcie. "You two never want to admit that you worry about her. I could go look for her-circle a few blocks before dinner."

Dulcie shrugged. "You want to crawl under bushes and run the rooftops?"

"Not really." Wilma tucked a strand of her long white hair into her coral barrette. "She'll be back any minute," she said doubtfully.

"Too bad if she misses supper," Dulcie said crossly. "The roast lamb smells lovely."

Wilma stroked Dulcie's tabby ears, the two exchanging a look of perfect understanding.

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