Chapter 1 Circe's Spell

Jonathon ran in holding Scruffy, yelling, "Hey Mom, that blasted cat was back again!"

Carolyn looked up from her manuscript scattered across the floor. "Oh no! It didn't leave anymore dead birds, did it?"

"Yeah, and Scruffy chased the cat off and then rolled in it, and now he's all icky."

The captain popped in and said, "Be a good lad and dispose of it for your mother."

"Why can't Candy do it?"

"Because she'll be readying the gear for you two to bathe Scruffy."

"I hate cats. They're dastardly."

"Belay that. Did I ever tell you of Circe?"

Carolynn smiled, recognizing the name from mythology as a beautiful witch who lived on an island and turned ship wrecked sailors into animals. "You knew Circe, Captain?"

"Aye, and fierce as a storm she was, and yet she had impeccable taste in people. She was an enormous orange haired cat who followed me on board from shore leave, adopting me as her own."

Carolynn's lips twitched. "It sounds like you were smitten."

He winked at her drolly. "I seem to recall another Circe stepping through my front door here, bound and determined to let me know I was no master on my own ship!"

"What about the cat?" Jonathon urged.

"Hmmm, well she was a deadly ratter on board. Sometimes she'd curl up with me, but woe to anyone else who attempted to pet her. She'd hiss in warning then draw blood." He whispered to Carolynn, "Unlike another Circe who once let any Sean, Blair, or Harry pet her."

"Captain!" Carolynn looked scandalized.

"A dog is a 'pal,' but a cat insists on respect and independence. Jonathon lad, that cat sometimes brought me mangled bodies of vermin as love gifts, even dropping them on me once or twice. After that first voyage she followed me here, and bereft of rats, I gave her fish and cream. Once I was entertaining a friend here, and she popped up on the . . . ummm . . . sofa. I could see wee claws and a long tail dangling from her mouth and barked, 'Circe, no!' She dropped an enormously fat mouse, unscathed. The way that mouse waddled across my friend, I assumed it was in the family way. Imagining Gull Cottage overrun by mice, I yelled, 'Circe, get it!' That cat merely sat, back toward me, glancing over her shoulder at me as if to let me know orders weren't appreciated." He whispered to Carolynn, "Much like another female I know."

"Where'd the mouse go?'

"It ran in a hole in the baseboard that I can assure you has been repaired."

"What about your friend?"

"She grabbed her shawl and never darkened my door again." He laughed heartily, remembering Prue gathering her clothes, telling him off and the cat as well.

"Jonathon, weren't you going to clean up that dead bird?"

He rolled his eyes and dragged toward the door. "Lad, how does a seaman react to an order?"

Jonathon sighed, darting glances at the captain, and said, "Sorry Mom for rolling my eyes." He then saluted, saying "Aye, aye," and purposefully walked out the door.

"Nice save on the . . . ummm . . . sofa, Captain."

He grinned. "You weren't alive yet, minha querida, so no complaints."