Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 70,000
Down in Chinatown’s Animal Black Market, the kill-buyers and exotic-eaters are calling for the auction prize … but nobody knows the whereabouts of the rare panther — nobody, that is, except Mei Chang and she isn’t telling.
When Mei’s mother died, 47 cats attended her funeral.
Family and friends were there too, of course, and Mother’s colleagues from Chinatown’s Cat Clinic. But it was mostly American shorthairs and a handful of more exotic breeds. Chartreux, Manx, Siamese. The Sphinx even made it.
The cats came in carriers, a few on leashes.
During the service, they sat and slept and slinked under chairs. The Persian groomed. The Sphinx gazed.
In the mortuary’s eerie glow, the cats’ pupils narrowed into tiny exclamation points. And, as Mei’s eyes followed them back to the body, they went liquid, leaking salty tears.
How could Mother leave like this?
The question wasn’t: What killed Dr. Jun Chang? Mei knew that her mother had ignored symptoms of a Bartonella infection ― a rare and deadly case of cat scratch fever; it was just like the doctor to put her needs aside when there was work to be done. What confused Mei was: How could Mother just lay there when she had a 4.30 back at the Clinic?
It was a surgery, no less.
Thinking about practicalities ― as her mother would ― lessened the terrible distance growing between them. So Mei mopped her cheeks and ran through the rest of the (now defunct) afternoon schedule. After the Tonkinesse’s tooth extraction, they were booked solid with castrations and immunizations right up until the microchipping for that cute new client, Law Hsu. Mei would do the chipping herself. She smiled a little at the thought of it. Maybe she’d inject the boy along with his kitten but, in Law’s case, the tiny tag would be registered to M―