As they approached the luggage, an explosion of ghost-white fur streaked from the dining room to the kitchen.
“Sweet feckin’ lamb of Jayzus!” Joan cried from the second floor landing. “Have you two wet the tea already?”
“Hello to you too, Pangur!” Andy called after it. Laughing now, he told Suzanne that the creature was Pangur Bán, the cat.
“Pahngur Bawn. What does it mean?”
“Bán is Irish for white. To the best of my knowledge, Pangur is an old Welsh word for fuller. Fullers were workers who bleached wool during the Middle Ages. The original Pangur Bán became famous when a medieval Irish monk wrote a poem about him in the margin of a manuscript. ‘I and Pangur Bán my cat, ’Tis a like task we are at: Hunting mice is his delight, Hunting words I sit all night.’”
“I like that, and I’m sure I’ll like Pangur Bán, if I ever get to meet her.”
“Him. He’ll introduce himself to you in his own good time.” Andy snapped the extended carrying handles into the bags and lifted them.
“I can manage the carry-on, Andy. I’m a Viking, remember?”
He set the bag in front of her. “After you, Brunhilda.”
Gaze safely glued to the heels of her shoes, he followed her up the stairs. When they reached the landing where the staircase turned, Pangur raced up behind them, howling and darting between their feet. Suzanne shrieked and lost her balance.
Andy dropped the suitcase to help her. Behind him, the growling dog charged after the cat and slammed against Suzanne. She shrieked again, let go of the carry-on, and toppled backwards into Andy, who compensated by thrusting her forward. Together they fell onto the landing, hopelessly—and intimately—entwined.
Crimson-faced and gasping for breath, Suzanne tried to wriggle free. “I’m…it’s…oh, I’m…”
“So am I,” he said, and he kissed her. After he did, he held his breath, unsure what to expect.
She seemed stunned at first, but somehow she freed her arms and wrapped them around his neck. He kissed her again.