It was late, and he was tired and hungry. His dark hair stood up on his head in a thick uncombed mass, and one shoulder throbbed from an unfriendly encounter with a suspect he was investigating.

He wearily unlocked his apartment door and turned the knob. The door opened partway then stopped, stuck.

Suspicious, Booker silently drew his handgun. He listened for any sound coming from his apartment, but heard nothing.

He squeezed through the doorway, gun in hand pointed safely at the ceiling. He whipped his gun around the door to see what the obstruction was, and stared in dismay.

Behind the door, his stereo lay on its side. Audio cassettes littered the floor, and two vinyl records lay broken on top of the mess.

Not the handiwork of an intruder, he surmised, for the rest of the room appeared untouched. Plus, an intruder wouldn't have re-locked the door behind himself when leaving.

Dennis re-holstered his gun and bent down to assess the damage to his stereo. He turned it back upright, frowning at a crack running through the plastic top. But the power still worked so he figured it would probably be okay.

He cleaned up an armload of cassettes and threw the broken records in the trash.

Pepper must have gotten out of the bathroom somehow and decided to victimize his small entertainment center. She liked to climb, and despite her runty size, she apparently was good at knocking down even large objects.

He checked the bathroom door, finding it still closed. And yet Pepper was no longer inside.

Only then did Dennis realize exactly how much of a gap there was between the floor and the bottom of the bathroom door. That furry little stinker must have simply crawled under the door to escape her confinement.

So where was she now?

"You're in big trouble, cat," Dennis called out, not caring how foolish he sounded talking out loud to a feline who wouldn't understand the words anyway.

He checked the kitchen and then the bedroom. There was Pepper, looking all sweet and innocent curled up on the middle of his bed.

"Mrrr?" she chirped at him.

He knelt at the edge of his bed to look directly at the tiny black vandal. "You broke my favorite record," he informed the kitten, disappointment in his voice.

"Mrrr!" Pepper said again, jumping to her feet and bouncing over to Dennis.

"What am I going to do with you?" Dennis addressed her in all seriousness, folding his arms on the bed and resting his chin on top. "You've only been here two days, and you're already wrecking stuff."

Pepper purred loudly at him, kneading her little claws in and out of the comforter on the bed. She chirruped at him once more, then rubbed her soft head against his stubble-covered cheek.

Despite his annoyance, Dennis Booker chuckled. "Sucker," he accused himself.

He stroked Pepper's fur, she licked his hand, and all was forgiven.

"Come on…let's have some dinner." He picked up his troublemaking kitten and headed for the kitchen, pressing his cheek to her fluffy side and delighting in the calming purr she gave him.

His day's stress and anger melted away with that therapeutic rumbling from his sweet little kitty.

He just couldn't help it…he really did love cats.