Author Kimberlee Ann Bastian has stopped by my blog today with an excerpt for her blog tour. Check it out!
From Chapter 9: The Alley Cat – After leaving the gang summit, Charlie and Bartholomew take to the streets once more, where Bartholomew runs into a familiar creature from his past.
Charlie and Bartholomew stand on the Emerald Avenue corner outside Harry’s Billiards. They wait quietly for their chance to cross the busy intersection, both not having said a word since leaving the second floor pool hall. Charlie’s stomach growls for the third time as the pains of his long day furiously catch up with him. He thinks about taking a trip to Grocer Pawlak’s market, but after mulling it over, Charlie finds the idea not entirely appealing. The store is nearly two miles south in the opposite direction and he does not have the energy to make the trip nor the patience to deal with Grocer Pawlak’s prying personality. His empty stomach will just have to wait until morning.
Bartholomew, meanwhile, takes an interest in a group of children kitty corner from them. They are huddled in a circle intently fixated on what is happening in the center. Bartholomew watches a short boy with stubby legs pace the outer rim of the circle, trying with all his might to catch a glimpse of the action. The short boy settles behind two taller kids and pushes up on his toes. Bartholomew cannot help but feel entertained by the whole scene.
From the center of the circle, a collective scream bursts over the sound of the bustling street. Even a few of the adults walking by pause to see what is going on. Several of the kids, the short boy included, break away from the cluster in a fit of fright. The short boy falls onto the sidewalk as a reddish-brown tabby cat jumps over him and lands on the curb. It swooshes its tail and pulls a long piece of string tied to four silver cans. The cat’s fur spikes high on its back. It makes a swiping motion with one of its front paws. A few of the kids crawl backwards to avoid the cat’s angry stance, while some of them press up against the brick wall of the building.
“Reow,” hisses the cat, scaring the children. It lifts its cunning, pink eyes to the street and catches sight of Bartholomew. The cat turns on a dime and runs as the silver cans clang loudly behind it.
Charlie steps down off the curb, only to see Bartholomew already beating him to it, except he is running in the wrong direction.
“Buck!” yells Charlie as he stops, standing in the way of oncoming traffic.
Bartholomew does not bother to answer and leaps over the short boy onto the kitty corner pavement.
“Buck!” calls Charlie again.
Charlie jumps back onto the curb to make way for an approaching freight truck. He sees the driver shaking his fist at him as he goes by, but pays him no heed, he is more interested in the truck moving out of his way—or is he? He could simply walk away. Let the kid run. Charlie smiles at the prospect of leaving the Windy City and imagines all the adventures he might have, like Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer. But alas, as the truck passes, the dream dies when Charlie sees Buck rounding the block onto Union Avenue heading south into the heart of Kalvis’s neighborhood.
Charlie fights the urge to run after him and turns north, but he does not get far. Remember Charlie—take care of those smaller than you. Charlie stops and lets out a huff. The words of his mother could not have come at a more inconvenient moment. He feels the presence of her hand on his shoulder again, this time filling him with courage. He cannot let the kid unsuspectingly wander Kalvis’s streets alone, not after his performance in the billiard hall.
“Damn,” he curses under his breath and starts after him.
Purchase on Amazon for Kindle
Purchase on Amazon in Paperback