They turned into another side road. ‘This is Lookout Mountain Avenue,’ said Jackson. Juno stopped dead. Among pines where the two roads met stood a large wooden cabin. For the first time in a year and a half something stirred memories of home. Maybe that was what it was about this place, Juno mused. It was rustic and tropical, in a city and remote, a little like Canada and a little like California, everything rolled into one. She sure could understand why everyone came to live up here.
‘Neat pad, isn’t it?’ said Jackson, watching Juno. ‘It was built by Tom Mix. Way back. C’mon, Cass’s is this way.’
On they walked along Lookout Mountain, to their right the densely green canyonside, and in the sun to their left the city of angels, mellowed by mist, with the ocean beyond.
They were still holding hands when they came upon the cottage. With its steep roof that almost touched the porch floor it seemed to be snuggling into the mountain. Vegetation was hugging it on every side. The moment she set eyes on it Juno lost what little interest she still had in the cool house on the beach. This was the closest thing to a witch’s cottage she’d ever seen.
Again she stopped dead in her tracks, then let go Jackson’s hand and took a step towards the house. ‘Yeah, I know,’ said he behind her. ‘It’s the one I’d go for, too, around here.’
‘D’you think anybody lives in it?’ asked Juno, merely to say something normal, ’cause the house was clearly occupied. But she sure wasn’t worried about that.
‘I reckon so,’ said Jackson, putting his arm around her shoulder and pointing to two cats rolling on the ground in the front yard, their paws in the air. ‘C’mere, pzz pzz kitty-kitty,’ he went, crouching down. Both cats ran to him. He tickled them under their chins and between the ears as he read the name tags on their collars. ‘This one’s called Ezz,’ he said after a moment. ‘Funny. And here we got… Tomson. Good to meet you, Ezz and Tomson.’
Little did he know that it would only be days before he should meet them again.