It’s Teaser Tuesday, that fabulous time of the week when the romance community, uh, teases! If you haven’t jumped into Glass Half Full yet, I’m coming at ya with an excerpt from one of my favourite scenes to gear you up for this slow burn love story. If you’ve already met Dylan Renee, sit back and relive one of my favourite moments of theirs with me (hint hint: it’s the cat-themed merchandise scene.)
Something with cats on it.
I scan the items on display in the very hipster gift shop I’m searching. Everything is arranged on tables made of repurposed shipping pallets and shelving units created from rustic boards and old pieces of metal piping. It’s the kind of store you can find in all the trendier Montreal neighbourhoods. This one is only a block away from Taverne Toulouse. They sell greeting cards with classic art memes on the front and pins featuring cartoon avocados for you to stick to your backpack or denim jacket.
Stella loves this kind of shit. She also loves cats. I haven’t seen her or Owen, my two co-leaders from back when I did the poetry workshops, in longer than I care to think about. Taking on the management position at Taverne Toulouse meant I had to cut back on the time I devote to the slam scene, but it’s a shitty excuse for not making time to see my friends. I missed Stella’s birthday last week. This place better have the hippest cat-related gift wear in the city. I have some reparations to make.
“Hey there! Can I help you with anything?”
A girl with purple hair, two eyebrow piercings, and what has to be every damn button in the store’s inventory pinned to her shirt smiles at me.
“Oh, thanks, just looking,” I turn back to the shelves before deciding I might actually need the help. “But now that you mention it, what would you recommend for someone who likes cats?”
The girl puts a hand on her chest. “I love cats.”
Ten minutes later, I’ve got an armload of feline-featuring notebooks, stickers, mugs, and jewelry. There’s even an iridescent pink hip flask adorned with an illustration of a cat wearing a unicorn costume. I have no idea what social situation would require drinking out of a flask with a unicorn-cat on it.
‘Every social situation’ would probably be Stella’s answer. She’s going to love it.
“Do you want a basket?” my cat spirit guide asks me after I almost drop a mug on the floor.
“Uh, yeah, that would be great.”
I watch her take off toward the cash register and get stuck ringing a few people up. I’m holding so much stuff I’m scared to move, so I stand stock-still where she left me, like some kind of human display advertising a special on pet-related merchandise. I’m still rooted to the spot when the bell over the front door chimes and in walks none other than Renee Nyobé.
It shouldn’t surprise me; we are right near work. Her shift would have just finished, and I’m on my way over to the bar myself, but I nearly drop the mug again. It’s like my muscles still can’t get over the shock of seeing her, of being near her after all this time. They start twitching with the need to be even closer before I can tell them not to.
She looks damn beautiful, as always. A few strands of frizzy hair are hanging loose around her face, the rest of it pulled back in a ponytail. She tugs the strap of her purse higher up on her shoulder and then scans the shop. When she spots me, her lips form an ‘O’ of surprise before shifting into a smile. She gives a cute, awkward little wave, and I raise my hand to do the same.
One of the notebooks tucked under my arm drops to the floor. I start to bend over to grab it before realizing that’s just going to make half the stuff I’m holding slip out of my grasp too.
“Here.” I look up and find Renee right in front of me. “I’ll grab it.”
All I can do is stare like an idiot as she braces a hand on the table beside us and retrieves the notebook. She scans the cover once she’s straightened back up.
“‘I work hard so my cat can have a better life,’” she reads.
I meet her raised eyebrow with a grin. “It’s totally pawsome, right?”
She blinks once and then bursts out laughing.
“I can’t take credit for that one,” I admit. “It’s from this mug I’m about to drop.”
“Don’t they have baskets or something?” Renee grabs the mug just as the handle is about to slip from its precarious perch around my pinkie. “And why did you grab so much stuff in the first place?”
“The store lady was supposed to bring me a basket, but she’s busy now.”
Renee squints at the items I’m clutching to my chest, her head tilting farther and farther to the side as she takes in the stationary, hair accessories, and drinking vessels.
“Dylan, do you, um...”
“Do I like cats?” I finish for her.
“I think this exceeds simply ‘liking’ them.”
I chuckle. “Would you believe me if I said they’re not for me?”
“Considering you don’t have enough hair for those elastics, I’m going to have to go with yes.”
“Sorry about that, Dylan!” The purple-haired cashier returns with a wire basket in hand. “Why don’t you go ahead and pop those in here while I keep looking around for you?”
“Um, actually, Cerise”—we ended up on a first name basis somewhere in those ten minutes of feline frenzy—“I think I’m good for now. I’ll go through this stuff and let you know if I need any more ideas.”
“Great!” She flashes Renee and I a wide smile before leaving to greet a new customer walking in the door.
Renee’s eyes follow her before turning to me again. She hasn’t stopped squinting. “So...you know each other’s names?”
“I’m having a wild time at this store, Renee. A wild, wild time.”
You can grab your copy of Glass half Full here! Tomorrow is the final day of release week festivities, so be sure to check out my social media, where I’ll be posting a video of me performing one of the poems featured in the book!