Emmanuel Durant is no stranger to fate playing hardball with him. Life came at him fast a few years ago, and when the dust settled, he was in a wheelchair. He didn’t let that stop him but he’s still adjusting. When a fire in his apartment building drives him out in the middle of the night, his biggest concern is his missing cat. Then a handsome stranger hands the feline back to him, and Emmanuel couldn’t be more grateful.
Neil Jardin is an easygoing pilot and businessman who keeps to himself. He’s doing just that after a late night landing and even later dinner at his favorite cafe. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself scaling a tree in the wee hours of the morning to save a kitten from an apartment fire. A short conversation with the animal’s owner turns into an impromptu date that’s more fun than it has any right to be, considering the situation.
Can a chance meeting under unusual and trying circumstances turn into just what two jaded souls need to open up and consider love again?
Risking his well-being and possible life to save a kitten was not something Neil Jardin ever thought he would do. If he were to be honest, he wasn’t even a fan of cats. Regardless, there he was, climbing up the closest tree next to an apartment building that had smoke and flames coming out the top. All to rescue the overly fluffy gray furball sitting in the second-story window, meowing. The animal didn’t seem to be in any particular distress, but the building was. The firefighters had evacuated the apartment, and no one was being allowed back in. This fact is exactly why Neil was climbing a tree with a crowbar in his back pocket.
His plan was simple: break the window, stuff the cat in his jacket, then shimmy back down the tree. Unfortunately for him, kittens were not cooperative little creatures once windows have been smashed in their faces and strangers start trying to grab them. Did that stop Neil from making the attempt? Hell, no. If anything, the more the feline hissed at him, the more determined Neil became.
As the heat from the fire drew closer and the cat moved further away, Neil grew desperate. Dropping the crowbar and relaxing his features, he started talking to the furball. The crazy thing? He was pretty convinced it was listening. It stopped hissing and started looking at Neil as if he were the most interesting thing in the world. With its small head cocked to the side, ears up and tail straight up, it seemed to contemplate moving toward the odd human in the window. Once it did, Neil knew he should have remained calm and cool, but the heat licking at his skin told him that he didn’t have that kind of time and neither did the cat, despite it being blissfully unaware of the level of danger it was in.
Grabbing the animal by the scruff of its neck, Neil hauled it along with himself down the tree as fast as he could safely manage. With the cat hissing death threats and clawing at his wrist as fiery embers rained down around them both, it felt as if he was moving at a snail’s pace. The instant his feet hit the ground, he wanted to let the cat go free, but the thought of it scurrying up the tree and back into the blazing building had Neil holding fast to the irate feline despite its obvious discontent at the situation. Pulling it close to his body, Neil relaxed his grip on the kitten, and it thankfully calmed down. Large blue eyes set in a gray furred face looked up at Neil as it let out a small mewl before snuggling back into the safe warm confines of his jacket.
Neil couldn’t believe the quick turnaround. What a bipolar little animal, he thought as he watched the kitten get comfortable. Vicious one minute and cuddly the next.
As he looked around at all of the chaos of emergency vehicles and personnel mixed in with upset and displaced tenants trying to avoid the growing media presence, Neil tried to figure out how he was going to find the cat’s owner.
Just when he thought the task was going to be impossible, a voice behind him said, “Merci beaucoup, mon ami. I saw what you did, and I can’t thank you enough for doing it.”
Turning around, Neil looked down, and his eyes fell upon a man with shoulder-length brown hair, a bright smile, and the most stunning green eyes he’d ever seen.
“You’re welcome, Mister ...”
“Durant, Emmanuel Durant, and you are?”
“So I’m not the only Frenchman standing outside of a burning building at one in the morning. Nice to meet you, Neil,” Emmanuel said as he stuck his hand out.