Juan Alvarez scooted on elbows and knees to follow the cat’s progress in the Oval Office.
He loved this. So cool. He’d thought it was cool, but weird, when his grandmother was president. But then Mom won the very next election and things got even crazier. Juan was still deciding if he liked it.
His camera phone deployed and recording, ten-year-old Juan sprawled on the floor—at the sleek silver tabby’s eye level, naturally (at least until she jumped to higher ground) to best document her investigation of her new territory.
This had to be good, and he had to get the footage now. He couldn’t miss the deadline for the vlog. He had to prove he could do it as promised, otherwise they’d discontinue it. That was the deal he’d made with his friend Randi—now one of Dad’s aides in the East Wing. Juan had promised to get the video, and she’d write and record the script, and upload Queen Kitten’s White House Adventures every other week.
Juan always called Queen Kitten ‘QK’. He hated ‘Queen Kitten’, the lame name insisted upon by his five-year-old brother. Juan liked ‘QK’ ok, or sometimes ‘Cuke’ or ‘Queuie’. Such a cool cat deserved a cool name, not lame ‘Queen Kitty’. Besides, QK was already two years old, and she weighed friggin twenty-five pounds—definitely not a kitten.
Still using elbows and knees, he maneuvered around on his stomach and followed Queen Kitten as she prowled the Oval Office. Occasionally she paused, taking a moment to rub against a particularly interesting piece of furniture or person during her stroll around the perimeter. Then she continued her investigation.
The secret service agent liked cats, so that made him even more cool to Juan. Mom had said the agent was thirty, but even though he was so old, Juan was still surprised at the gray hair already mixing with his black hair. Mom said that happened sometimes, but she had just turned thirty-five and didn’t have any gray in her hair at all.
Mom loved cats, so she’d allowed QK and him in the Oval Office just this one time to make the very first Queen Kitten vlog since they moved into the White House. Now or never for Juan to make this recording. It would be more cool than all the stuff of QK walking around in what everyone called the ‘private residence’ section. The residence part reminded him of where they’d lived in California when Mom was governor there—really fancy with lots of stuff they weren’t supposed to touch.
QK finished skirting the perimeter, then sprang gracefully onto the arm of one of the two sofas facing each other in the center of the room. Sitting up, Juan filmed her walk across the back of the couch. She stalked slowly, head up and looking with interest around the, to her, totally unexplored territory.
A fly buzzed by and she swatted halfheartedly at it—not at all the lightning-fast attack Juan knew she could muster. That would have been action footage! But instead, not even jumping down at the end of the sofa, QK turned around and stepped delicately onto the seat and started back the way she’d come.
Juan stifled a groan when she started the kneading motion with her front paws. He wanted some action not just her taking a stroll.
The fly darted past again and QK ignored it, not even stopping kneading. Juan groaned again, wondering what the heck Randi would do with such a lame video of a cat walking around.
Then the insect made a third pass.
That last flyby proved to be too much for QK to resist. She whipped around and streaked after the bug.
The cat made the leap from the sofa all the way to the desk, to Juan’s amazement. Whatever desk blotter she landed on slid, increasing the cat’s speed across the desk.
Which seemed to be just fine with QK, still laser-focused on the fly. With precision timing, QK launched herself from the edge of the desk. The equal-and-opposite reaction shot the blotter in the other direction onto the floor and scattered papers everywhere.
QK sailed through the air at her target and ‘landed’ in the draperies around the big picture window, halfway between ceiling and floor.
Claws out, QK scrambled up, still ferociously stalking the fly. And slashing the drapes.
QK easily weighed twenty-five pounds. The deep blue velvet draperies looked like thick heavy material to Juan. They couldn’t have been light. When QK decided to jump even higher into the curtains, the friggin drapery rod gave way with a resounding crack.
Curtains and cat crashed to the floor.
The feline lump under the drapes moved and with a highly irritated rrrwwwl, QK dashed out from underneath the offending material. Juan didn’t see where the fly went. The cat glowered at the mess for just a moment then turned her back and jumped lightly onto the other sofa before any of the humans in the room had time to react.
And Juan had watched it all through his camera phone! Yes! He’d gotten it all on film. He risked a quick sidelong glance away from the tiny screen and saw the secret service agent staring, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, then clamp his mouth shut as if trying really hard not to laugh.
Randi looked less amused, teeth also clenched but not from holding back laughter. Randi was pretty cool and Juan liked her a lot, but she was a dog person.
She strode across the room and scooped up the offending feline, much to QK’s displeasure. The huge cat squirmed in the woman’s arms, but Randi was pretty tall and liked to box, so she had muscles.
Randi said, “Ok, Juan, I think we should go b— Ms. President!”
Juan spun on the floor and looked up. Mom stood in the open doorway, one hand resting on the door handle. She’d taken off the jacket of her dove-gray suit, the one almost the color of QK. The trouser cuffs brushed the tops of her matching gray pumps—eye level since Juan still knelt on the floor.
Eyebrow raised and lips quirked to one side, Mom regarded the scene. She gave Juan a look and he stopped filming.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am. It happened so fast,” Randi said.
“Uh huh.” Mom took the wriggling cat from Randi. QK instantly started to purr and rub all over her cheek and chin. Mom shook her head and rolled her eyes at the cat, then chuckled. “It’s a good thing those drapes were top of the list to be replaced.”
“Really?” Randi sounded hopeful.
“Really,” Mom confirmed. Then sternly addressed QK, “Not that that is any excuse. You know better. Bad cat.”
QK purred and rubbed. Mom shook her head and rolled her eyes again.
Coast clear, Juan jumped up and hugged his mom. “Are you done now?” He didn’t like her long days, but he kind of understood. He knew that, like when she was governor, her days didn’t run plain old nine to five. But he still wished he could see her more.
“Yes, all done for the day.” She kept her free arm around his shoulders. “Let’s take Destructo-Kitty back upstairs. Randi, would you please call Sheri and have her check first thing in the morning. If the new drapes aren’t here, have them rushed and put up ASAP, and make sure nothing is scheduled in here for tomorrow.”
That spurred Juan. “Yes, thanks, Randi.” He fiddled with his phone, fingers working furiously. “I sent you the video. Think we got enough?”
“More than enough.”