Right Move (Clean Slate Ranch #6) - A.M. Arthur


Three Years Ago

Levi Peletier had long ago learned to trust his instincts, and instinct was what prompted him to pull over to the side of a country road in Wyoming to inspect an abandoned cardboard box. He wasn’t usually much for checking out other people’s trash, but he trundled onto the shoulder, mindful of the brand-new tiny house he had hitched to his pickup. Levi didn’t want to risk hurting his first major adult investment.

There was nothing special about the box, no markings beyond the moving company logo stamped on the sides, but something still drew him to it. He shifted into park and got out. The two-lane road stretched out for miles in all directions, and he’d chosen this route because of its remoteness. After getting sober six months ago, Levi preferred solitude with nature over the bustle of city life. Or even small-town life. Give him open skies or thick forests any day.

The mewling sounds from the box clued Levi in before he could peer inside. Three kittens were curled up in a bundle of fur and tails and spindly legs, and two of the three were crying. They were young, he couldn’t guess how young, and someone had left them here. Three tiny, precious lives. Abandoned.

“Hey, you guys.” He squatted beside the box and reached inside. The striped ginger kitten immediately tried suckling his fingertip. He didn’t know a lot about cats, having grown up spending most of his life in a traveling rodeo, but he did know this suggested they hadn’t been properly weaned. And they were hungry. Poor little things. “Well, I hadn’t planned on having roommates this soon, but I guess you’re all coming with me.”

He picked up the box, grateful he’d listened to his instincts and stopped to check.

Since the only thing Levi had in his tiny house that the kittens could eat was bottled water, he found the smallest bowl he had and gave them some. The little babies mobbed the bowl, and it infuriated him to think how long they’d been without food. He tried not to think about it. His phone’s GPS said the nearest town was about ten miles ahead, so once he had them settled in the box with a towel to keep warm, he headed out again.

Naturally, the town didn’t have a veterinarian’s office, but a nice lady at the post office gave him directions to another town with options. She also thanked him for rescuing the kittens. “Any decent person would,” he said as he tipped his hat. Maybe Levi didn’t ride anymore but he still loved his cowboy hats.

He’d lost all his old hats last year when he ended up homeless, and the hat on his head had been a gift from his father after Levi completed rehab.

He took a photo of the post office’s exterior before rolling out of town. He’d definitely be writing about this newest adventure on his blog, and he liked including photos. The blog idea had come up during his stint in rehab, as a method of remembering his past in a positive way, instead of letting the agony of his little brother’s accidental death a year and a half ago darken and distort his entire life. At first, Levi had written in a notebook. Once he realized what an incredibly unique life he’d lived, he decided to share it with the wider world.

And he was also documenting his decision to take his home on the road on the blog. He enjoyed blindly traveling the states and landing wherever he landed for the night, even if it was just on the side of the road.

The next town was large enough to have several grocery stores and vet options. The first vet he visited squeezed them in, since the kittens were so young and vulnerable, and Levi instantly liked the young man who examined them. He explained how he’d found the trio.

“I don’t understand people who abandon innocent creatures like that,” Dr. Clark said as he looked over the black-and-white baby.

“Agreed.” Levi watched the careful way the vet handled the kittens as he weighed them, looked at their teeth and into their ears. The calico meowed the entire time it was handled.

“They’re all girls, and I’d guess them to be around six weeks old. Should be old enough to figure out drinking formula from a bowl so you don’t have to bottle-feed them. Assuming you’re going to keep them.”

Levi stroked the top of the ginger’s head. “They ended up in my life

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