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Love Saves the Day is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 by Gwen Cooper

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

BANTAM BOOKS and the rooster colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC for permission to reprint an excerpt from “Dear Prudence” written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, copyright © 1968 by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. All rights administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 8 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203.


All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Cooper, Gwen.


Love saves the day : a novel / Gwen Cooper.


p. cm.


eISBN: 978-0-345-52696-0


1. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 2. Cats—Fiction. 3. Human-animal relationships—Fiction. 4. Married people—Fiction. 5. Life change events—Fiction. I. Title.


PS3603.058263L68 2013


813′.6—dc23    2012026135

www.bantamdell.com

Jacket design: Victoria Allen


Jacket images: Shutterstock

v3.1


Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Epigraph

Part One

1 Prudence

2 Prudence

3 Prudence

4 Prudence

5 Laura

Part Two

6 Prudence

7 Sarah

8 Prudence

9 Prudence

10 Laura

11 Prudence

12 Prudence

Part Three

13 Sarah

14 Laura

15 Prudence

16 Prudence

Author’s Note

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Other Books by This Author

About the Author



Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.

—WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS






1



Prudence

THERE ARE TWO WAYS HUMANS HAVE OF NOT TELLING THE TRUTH. The first used to be hard for me to understand because it doesn’t come with any of the usual signs of not-truth-telling. Like the time Sarah called my white paws “socks.” Look at your adorable little socks, she said. Socks are what humans wear on their feet to make them more like cats’ paws. But my paws are already padded and soft, and I can’t imagine any self-respecting cat tolerating something as silly as socks for very long.

So at first I thought Sarah was trying to trick me by saying something that wasn’t true. Like the time she took me to the Bad Place and said, Don’t worry, they’re going to make you healthy and strong. I knew from the tightness in her voice when she put me into my carrier that some betrayal was coming. And it turned out I was right. They stabbed me with sharp things there and forced me to hold still while human fingers poked into every part of my body, even my mouth.

When it was all over, the lady who did it put me back into my carrier and told Sarah, Prudence has such cute white socks! She was smiling and calm when she said it, so I knew she wasn’t trying to trick Sarah like Sarah had tried to trick me about going there in the first place. I thought maybe I should lick my paws or do something to show them that these were my real feet, not the fake feet humans put on before they go outside. I thought that maybe humans weren’t as smart as cats and wouldn’t understand such subtle distinctions unless they were pointed out.

That was when I was very young, just a kitten, really—back when I first came to live with Sarah. Now I know that humans sometimes best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’s right in front of you is to back up a bit before you pounce.

And later at home, looking at my reflection in Sarah’s mirror (once I realized it was my reflection and not some other cat who was trying to take my home away from me), I saw how the bottoms of my legs did look a bit like the socks Sarah sometimes wears.

Still, to say that they were socks and not that they looked like socks was clearly untrue.

The other way humans have of not telling the truth is when they’re trying to trick one another outright. Like when Laura visits and says, I’m sorry I haven’t been here in such a long time, Mom, I really wanted to come sooner … and it’s obvious, by the way her face turns light pink and her shoulders tense, that what she really means is she never wants to come here. And Sarah says, Oh, of course, I understand, when you can tell by the way her voice gets higher and her eyebrows scrunch up that she doesn’t understand at all.

I used to wonder where the rest of Laura’s littermates were and how come they never came over to see us. But I don’t think Laura has any littermates. Maybe humans have smaller litters than cats, or maybe something happened to the others. After all, I used to have littermates, too.

But that was a long time ago. Before I found Sarah.


The Bad Place is a short walk from where we live in a place called Lower East Side. (Technically, it was Sarah who walked there, because I was in my carrier. Still, it didn’t take her very long, and cats can walk faster than humans. That’s a fact.) The lady there told Sarah that I’m a polydactyl brown tabby. Sarah asked if that meant I was some kind of flying dinosaur? The lady laughed and said, no, it just means I have extra toes. I’m not sure which of my toes are supposed to be the “extra” ones though, because I’m positive I need them all. And it’s not really true to say I’m brown because parts of me are white—like my chest and my chin and the bottoms of my legs. Also, my eyes are green. And even the parts of me that are brown have darker stripes that are almost black. But I’ve noticed that humans aren’t as precise as cats are. It’s hard to believe they feel safe enough to sleep at night.

The stabbing lady also told Sarah that I was too skinny, which was to be expected because I’d been living by myself on the street. She said I’d probably fatten up quickly. I’ve gotten much taller and longer since then, but I’m still pretty skinny. Sarah says I’m lucky to stay that way without having to try. But the truth is I’m skinny because I never eat all the food Sarah gives me. That’s because even though she feeds me every day, she never feeds me at exactly the same time. Sometimes she feeds me first thing in the morning, sometimes she feeds me when it’s closer to midday. There have even been times when she hasn’t fed me until after it’s dark. That’s why I always make sure to keep some food left over, in case one day Sarah forgets to feed me altogether.

And it turns out I was right to worry. Sarah hasn’t been home to feed me—hasn’t been home at all—in five days. The first two days I had to get by on what was left over in my food bowl. I even jumped onto the counter where my bag of dry food is kept and used my teeth and claws to make a small hole in it so I could get some food out myself. (I would normally never do that because it’s bad manners. But sometimes there are things more important than manners.)

Finally, on the third day, a woman I recognized as one of our neighbors came over and opened a can of food for me. Prudence! she called. Come and eat, poor kitty, you must be so hungry.

I had been waiting under the couch for her to leave, but I came out when I heard the can open. The woman tried to stroke my head, though, so I had to go back under the couch again and twitch the muscles on my back very fast until I felt calm. I don’t like to be touched by humans I don’t know well. So I waited until she left before I came out to eat, even though I was starving after two days with hardly any food.

The woman has been back to feed me every day since then, although I still won’t come out from under-the-couch until she’s gone. Maybe she’s trying to trap me with the food. Maybe she’s already trapped Sarah somewhere, and that’s why Sarah hasn’t been home for so long.


To pass the time while I wait for Sarah to come back, I sit on the windowsill—the one that overlooks the fire escape Sarah says I’m never, ever supposed to go onto—and watch what’s happening on the




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