Bertie

“Bless you!” Kane said.

The ghost of Auntie Brenda sniffed and looked at Kane reproachfully. “You know I’m allergic to cats.”

“I knew you were allergic to cats.” Kane stroked Bertie’s ears. “I didn’t think it would last afterwards.”

Auntie Brenda’s expression softened. “Poor little mite.”

Kane tickled under Bertie’s chin and tried not to grin. “This is not a poor little mite. This is a bruising bully with more attitude than fur.”

Auntie Brenda leaned forward and ran a spectral finger over Bertie’s coat. “Give that cat a bit of food and some love and he’ll have a coat you can be proud of, won’t you, sweetie?” Bertie gave her a disgusted look before leaning into Kane’s caresses. “Poor thing has lost its owner and is all alone in the world.”

Kane felt the weight of Bertie settle heavily on his lap. When he helped the spirit of Bertie’s last owner to pass over, he had not expected to have to deal with a cat afterwards. “I’ve always wanted to ask,” Kane began carefully. “Why did you always have cats if you were allergic to them?”

“Oh, I got used to them after a while.” Auntie Brenda wiped her nose on a ghostly tissue. “Besides, it isn’t a home without a cat. Now that you have your own little flat, it makes sense to have cat.”

Kane looked around his new flat. It was self contained and, for the first time he could remember, he didn’t have to share a bathroom or kitchen. He wished he could risk getting a new build flat, though instead of this Victoria conversion. He had spotted a few ghosts on the way in and he was sure Auntie Brenda had been gossiping. On the other hand, there was something grand about the high ceilings and painted mouldings. Auntie Brenda had helped him choose the right furnishings in the charity shops and it was starting to look cosy. “Ow!” He glared down at Bertie. “Just because I stopped tickling you doesn’t mean that you can spike me!” He went back to gently stroking the soft fur under Bertie’s chin.

“He knows what he likes.” Auntie Brenda chuckled. “Now, I have to get some rest.” She faded slowly from view.

Kane leaned back into the armchair and listened to the deep, vibrating purr of Bertie sprawled on his lap. Contentment settled around his shoulders like a warm blanket. Things were looking good.

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