Four Weddings and a Swamp Boat Tour - Erin Nicholas


There were five reasons why just showing up on her hot holiday fling’s doorstep was a bad idea.

“Reason number one,” she told Bernie, the black and white cat perched on the passenger seat of her car, watching the scenery go by. “I personally hate surprises. So what am I doing surprising someone like this?”

Bernie didn’t know. Or he wasn’t willing to say, your mother finally drove you officially over the edge.

Paige appreciated Bernie’s diplomacy.

Fred, the long-haired orange cat, huddled on the floor on the passenger side, absolutely not interested in the scenery outside the car, was not afraid to tell her how he felt about the whole thing, however.

As he’d been doing for the past nearly one thousand miles.

His meow was more of a pitiful wail, however, explaining that this road trip sucked, and she was the worst cat mom ever, than a helpful analysis of her thoughts and motives.

“Okay, I could have planned better,” she admitted to the unhappy feline.

Fred’s answering meow was full of blame and a reminder that her “plan” had basically consisted of throwing a few things together—including Bernie and Fred—getting in her car and heading south.

She hadn’t even plugged Autre, Louisiana, into her GPS until after she stopped for the night just outside of St. Louis. Autre was well south of Appleby, Iowa, and she’d known she had a long way to go before she had to worry too much about specific directions.

So, yeah, the this-is-really-a-bad-idea realizations hadn’t started until she’d passed New Orleans and was on her way to the bayou.

Now those thoughts wouldn’t leave her alone.

“The number two reason this is a bad idea,” she told Bernie (and Fred, though he was talking right over her), “is that I don’t even know this guy well enough to know how he feels about surprises.”

Bernie looked over at her.

“Right, he might hate them,” she agreed. “I also don’t know if he has a criminal record. Or if there are any unsolved missing person cases or murders around his general neighborhood. Or if he keeps a chainsaw in his shed.”

Fred agreed, loudly, that showing up on a potential murderer’s front step was a bad idea.

Or maybe he was just telling her that he resented…well, everything about this car trip. Again.

“Okay, that’s not true,” she told both cats. “I’m sure Mitch Landry has a chainsaw in his shed. He can fix anything. Apparently. And I’m guessing, sometimes, that means he needs a chainsaw.”

Fred wailed.

“Well, he single-handedly saved the Apple Festival last week,” she argued with the indignant animal. “He heard there was a problem with the electrical wiring in the town square, he headed over to check it out, and the next thing we knew, there were lights and music, and the apple cider and popcorn were nice and hot.”

Fred did not care about apple cider or popcorn.

“And he did tell me that he’s the general fix-it guy for his family’s businesses. So yeah, there’s a ninety-nine percent chance he has a chainsaw,” she told the cats. “And honestly, him being so capable with those big hands and all those muscles…” She looked at Bernie. “I know what you’re thinking. Cutting people up with a chainsaw would take muscles too, and I’m sure you’re right, but I can’t help that him being the superhero to the town, and the idea of him in a toolbelt, is kind of hot.”

Bernie looked back out the window. He, clearly, didn’t share her attraction to blue-collar-works-with-his-hands men.

“Oh, you barely met him,” she told the cat. “You saw him for, what, three minutes when he came to the yoga studio? You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The cats both lived at her yoga studio. Though she did let them into her apartment over the studio at night if they wanted to come snuggle. And sometimes a couple of others came up too. But even she knew letting twenty-three cats hang out in her apartment was a lot.

The rest of the cats stayed downstairs in the yoga studio that doubled as a cat café and adoption center. Fred and Bernie and three other cats were hers and weren’t up for adoption, but most of the time they hung out with the others on the lower level where there was more room to roam.

The cat adoption center saved her, just barely, from being an official crazy cat lady.

In her mind anyway.

“And,” she went on, making her case to Bernie. And Fred if he’d shut the hell up for two minutes. “Mitch was so cute at