Chapter 1: Tricks and Treats 1 Tricks and Treats
“Hurry, Mitzy!” Buttons calls. “Ted will be here any second.”
“One more time. Pretty please?” Mitzy begs the kitten. Her tongue hangs down the side of her curly white face, panting.
Buttons sighs. “Fine.” He trots to where Mitzy’s squeaky purple ball has rolled to a stop. After nudging it with his nose, he steps back. “Ready?”
“Yes, yes!” Mitzy scampers in place.
Buttons arranges his leg like a golf club. “And… fetch!” He whacks the ball in Mitzy’s direction.
“I got it!” Mitzy exclaims. She runs toward the ball, but her paws slip and she slides past it.
“Alert! Alert!” Gus barks with a frantic bounce. “Intruder approaching! I repeat, intruder approaching!”
“Oh no!” Buttons cries. “Mitzy, get into your cage!”
“Hold on. I need my ball,” Mitzy insists.
“There’s no time!” Buttons protests, but Mitzy darts after the ball anyway. As the front door jingles with the sound of keys, Buttons dives into his own cage.
“Good morning!” Ted, the manager of Whiskers Down the Lane Animal Shelter, enters and then comes to a sudden halt. “Mitzy! What are you doing in the middle of the lobby?”
Mitzy answers with a huge SQUEAK from her ball before tossing it aside. “Buttons and I were playing fetch! Do you want to play with me now, Mr. Ted?”
“He’s not looking for an invitation,” Luna tells her, rubbing a paw over her whiskers. “He’s asking how you escaped.”
Ted crosses the room to examine the latch on Mitzy’s cage. “The lock doesn’t look damaged.…”
“Did you bring any treats with you?” Mitzy asks, reaching up to scratch at Ted’s pants pockets.
Ted brushes her away. “Sit, Mitzy. I’m trying to figure out how you broke free.”
“And I am trying to figure out if you have treats,” Mitzy says. When Ted kneels for a closer look, she hops onto his thighs.
“No!” Ted lowers Mitzy to the ground. “Sit!” he repeats, but she does not obey. Ted giggles under his breath. “It’s a good thing you’re cute, Mitzy, because you’re not always the best listener.” He scoops her up and places her in her kennel, then closes the clasp carefully. “Now, how did you figure out how to open this? That’s the mystery.”
He peers around the lobby, searching for an answer. Luna’s round green eyes stare at him without blinking, revealing no secrets. Next to her, Gus is busy licking the metal grates like they’re made of Popsicles.
“Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t close it tightly last—” Ted stops himself when he spots something curious. Slowly he approaches Buttons and points at the kitten’s tiny front foot, which is hanging outside his cage’s door. “What’s going on here?”
“What? Here?” Buttons mews nervously. “Nothing much.”
Ted reaches a finger toward Buttons’s paw and taps it with a quick “Boop!” Surprised, Buttons lets go of the door.
SCREECH. It creaks open.
“So it was you!” Ted says. “I didn’t know you were so sneaky.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Ted?” Mitzy pipes up from next door.
“Sit, Mitzy,” Ted commands. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Mitzy remains standing, but Buttons plops onto his bottom.
Ted’s eyebrows glide up his forehead. “Do you know how to sit?” he asks the kitten. “Let’s try that again.” He lifts Buttons to his feet and repeats, “Sit!”
Buttons does so instantly.
“Mr. Ted, excuse me,” Mitzy calls again, tap-dancing around her cage. “But you did not answer my question about the treats.”
Ignoring Mitzy, Ted pats Buttons’s small head. “I think we just figured out how to get you adopted. Let’s see what other tricks you can learn!”