a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, and Tammy Vixen (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Amy Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, and Wendy Vixxen (c) Chris Yost. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. Story based on characters and situations created by Eric W. Schwartz.Windows95 (TM) Microsoft Corp. Amiga (TM) Gateway Computers.
Chris flagged his boss and steered him over to the helpdesk were Sabrina was being introduced to the last of the staff.
"Jim, I want you to meet Sabrina. Sabrina, this is my boss Jim."
Jim took her hand. "So you're the infamous Sabrina," he said. "It's nice to meet you. The way Chris talks, I swear I know you already."
"That's all I'm hearing," Sabrina said. "He does talk work, doesn't he?"
Jim looked at Chris. "Not often anymore." Then, "Chris, would you mind if I borrowed your girlfriend for a few minutes? I promise I'll bring her right back."
"Sure," Chris said. "I have to finish connecting up the Copenhagen switch anyway." He squeezed Sabrina's shoulder. "I'll see you when you're done."
Chris kissed her cheek. Sabrina looked over her shoulder as Jim led her through the door and across the hall to a small office.
"Have a seat."
Sabrina sat slowly, unsure, quietly. She watched Jim close the door and open the mini-blinds on the small window that gave him a clear view of the hallway and the opposite wall. His ringed tail brushed the back of her chair in the tiny office. She followed him while he walked past her and took his seat behind his desk.
"I think I should tell you," he began, "that I don't normally steer other employee's girlfriends and wives into my office."
Sabrina smiled. She started to feel a little more comfortable … not much, just a little.
"I opened the blinds for that specific reason," he went on. "I closed the door so we'd have privacy, but if you're uneasy at all I can open it again."
"Uh, no, that's okay," Sabrina said. What does he want? is what she kept running over and over in her mind.
Jim put his reading glasses on and took a large envelope from his "In" bin. "I'm glad I had a chance to meet you, Sabrina," he said, setting the envelope in front of him. "I've known Chris for about five years, and I've never seen him quite like this before. I think it's important for you to know what an influence you've had on him."
Sabrina wiggled her nose and inched her glasses up her nose a mite. "Really?" She was stuck for anything else to say. "Thank you."
"I have a lot of respect for Chris. He's a sharp guy, learns fast, really knows his stuff. He's an integral part of our team." He folded his paws on the desktop. "He gets a little lovestruck sometimes."
Sabrina shifted uneasily in her seat until Jim winked at her. "He talks about you every time he thinks he can work your name into conversation. He got me hooked on your strip, too. It's awfully good. Pretty funny, too."
"Thank you." I'm sorry, what else do I say!?
Jim opened the end of the envelope. "He mentioned you lost your job, too. I'm sorry to hear it."
"Well, I found another one pretty quick." God, I hope he doesn't ask me where!
"Really? What kind of company?"
"Uh, it's a small film studio. I do their cover art and I'm putting a website together for them."
"Good, so you know HTML programming as well."
Sabrina sighed quietly, smiled and nodded.
Jim took several papers out of the envelope. Sabrina recognized them and leapt forward. "My samples!"
"Chris handed these to me last Monday." He looked over a couple of the yellow sticky-notes he's placed on them earlier and peeled them off. Sabrina stayed on the edge of her chair.
"They're awfully good," Jim went on. He went through her papers -- Some of them are from class, with my grade markings on them! Sabrina noticed. Thankfully they're all in the 90's. She watched Jim turn one set of papers over and pick up page one of the next, and gasped when she saw CHRIS written all over the back.
"You've got a nice style in your creative writing. Sabrina blinked, detaching herself from her scribbling. "Your expository writing is excellent. And your resume says your major was art."
"My resume?" Sabrina slid back in her chair. "I don't have a resume."
"Oh?" Jim handed Sabrina a sheet of paper with her name in bold print at the top. "Then maybe you should go over this. Chris must have made it for you on your behalf."
Sabrina leaned forward and took it. She studied it ... Name, address, summary … no experience to speak of, education, interests … What in the world is he up to? You don't suppose ...
"Uh, yeah." Sabrina handed it back. "It's all right."
"Chris thinks the world of you, I guess you know that already." Jim smiled and gathered the papers up, put them back in the envelope and handed them to Sabrina. "What he hasn't told you, is that we have an opening for a technical writer."
Sabrina felt her eyes expand beyond the edge of her lenses. "Oh, yes?"
Jim smiled at her. "Chris thought it'd be a nice surprise for you, and I was willing to play along. We were going to post the opening in a few weeks, and he told me you were finishing a writing course. I talked you and your samples over with our Human Resources director, and we'd like to offer you the position."
Sabrina sat in completely stunned silence. She didn't feel hungry anymore. Her pupils expanded beyond her eye sockets.
"You ... uh ... " Sabrina casually slid her hand down her thigh out of sight and pinched herself through her pants. "You want to offer me the job?"
Jim handed Sabrina a paper. "This explains the job description, you can keep that. You'd be writing documentation for the users in our satellite offices, informing them of software updates, assisting with manuals, that sort of thing. You could put your art background to use doing illustrations to go along with them. In a nutshell you'd get an office upstairs, a drawing table, whatever supplies you'd need, major medical and dental, vision, a week's vacation after one year, two weeks after five, tuition reimbursement, a few other perks. The base salary is at the bottom."
Sabrina quickly scanned her way to the bottom ... gasp!
Her finger shook as she pointed to the dollar figure. "Th-th-this is the salary?"
Jim smiled and nodded. "And as you also know HTML, I can tell you we're putting a website together, you could end up helping out on that team as well."
Sabrina lowered the paper, feeling her eyes slowly drifting back to a normal non-magna size. "This is … so totally unexpected," she said, almost bewildered.
Jim put his elbows on his desk and raised his hands in the air. "Surprise!" Then, "So, what do you think? Do you have any questions for me that I can answer for you?"
"This is just, so, ... " Sabrina was shaking her head from side to side. " ... overwhelming. I mean -- nervous laugh! -- I'm not even dressed for an interview!" she said, half-laughing, holding the job description on her knee.
"That's another perk," Jim explained. "We dress down on Fridays. And we have a popcorn machine so we all get free munchies." He folded his hands on the desk again. "Any questions come to mind? Any comments, anything at all?"
Sabrina just slowly shook her head.
"So, do you think you'd like to be part of our team?"
Sabrina fell backwards into the chair. "I'm just, well, stunned I guess. I suppose I should say 'yes'." Sabrina, look at the salary again!! You'd be foolish not to jump at it!! "Do you have to have an answer right now?" she asked sheepishly. "I mean, I want to say 'yes', I'd love to say 'yes', hoo-boy do I want to say 'yes'!"
Jim relaxed in his chair, hoping that would help to relax Sabrina, which it would, were she watching, which she wasn't, well, yes, she is now, just now, looking up, seeing Jim relaxed, wanting to ... Oh, what the heck! "Can I give you a tentative 'yes'?" she asked.
Jim lifted his eyes up in thought, tapping his fingertips together, then looked back at Sabrina. "Sure, I can take a tentative 'yes', provided you can give me a permanent 'yes' or 'no' soon. Otherwise, in four weeks I'll have to post the opening publicly."
"I understand," Sabrina said quickly. She and Jim stood up together, then Sabrina looked at the paper again, and looked back at Jim. "Oh, what the heck!" she said, "Yes!"
Her entire insides unknotted and she felt totally light inside, free and relaxed and happy. Her smiled showed that!
"Excellent!" Jim smiled at her broadly and took her right paw in his. "Then welcome aboard, Sabrina! I'll cancel the job posting, and I can look for you to start about this same time next month."
"Thanks -- thanks!!"
Jim reached past Sabrina and handed her the envelope of her writing samples she'd nearly forgotten. "Here, don't forget these," he said. He opened the door and escorted Sabrina out, and used his fob to unlock the door across the hall where they had originally come from. He held it open until she walked through it, then let go and walked down the corridor to the lunchroom.
Sabrina took three steps in, still dazed. She looked up, and saw Chris in the midst of the handful of his fellow co-workers who hadn't gone to lunch yet. He saw her and turned toward her, smiling. Sabrina lifted her head, saw him began to walk toward him, and with each step she took her mouth took on a grin which became a smile, and that made her walk faster, then trot and finally she ran up to Chris and from one foot leapt into the air, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him, laughing and ignoring everyone else; all that mattered at this moment was him.
"Woah!" Chris wrapped his arms around her and she hugged him as tight as she could! She kissed him hard on the mouth. "You sneak !" she cried.
Chris pretended he didn't understand. "Kitten, what do you mean?" he asked.
"'What do you mean'! You know what I mean!" She hugged him again as one by one the MIS staff began to appear to her, not seeing the brown and white vixen looking in from outside, and opening the door. "How did you get my writing assignments out?" she asked. "How long have you kept all this to yourself? You little sneak !" She landed back on her feet and smacked his arm.
"Your writing I snagged when you went to the bathroom last Saturday," Chris explained. "I hid them in the car under a blanket until I got back." He put his paws on her shoulders, swishing his tail back and forth excitedly. "So, what did you tell him?" he asked, staring into her eyes, which he dearly loved doing.
Sabrina lowered her head to appear unsure, then checked Chris' reaction before hugging him again with an "I told him 'yes'! Thank you! Thank you so much!!"
By now the staff had decided to politely give them their privacy, or at least a couple of them did; the rest couldn't help but watch. When the hug broke the vixen who'd been watching walked up to them.
"Hi," she said just as Sabrina came back onto two feet again.
"Hi." Sabrina turned all the way around to meet her.
Chris saw the two women together and instantly thought Oh, nuts! Well, he thought words to that effect.
And now, in what was probably the most awkward moment in Chris Foxx's existence, "Sabrina, I'd like you to meet Wendy. Wendy, this is Sabrina."
Wendy offered her paw, and Sabrina took it, thinking I do want to meet her, right? "It's nice to meet you," she said. "Chris has told me a good bit about you."
"Thank you," Wendy said. "He's said a lot about you !" She looked Sabrina over, then looked over her shoulder at Chris. "Chris, hey, she is too pretty!"
Sabrina turned her head around to look at Chris sideways.
"Hey!" Chris yelled.
Sabrina turned back to Wendy when she heard her giggle. "I'm sorry, Sabrina," she said. "You know by now if you're around Chris long enough, his sense of humor rubs off on you."
Sabrina raised her big blue eyes in thought, then laughed with Wendy. "Yep, you're right!"
"Say, c'mere ... " She took Sabrina's arm and led her away from Chris and the few others who were watching. Chris watched them. Wendy whispered something in Sabrina's ear. Sabrina nodded, laughing out loud. "Yes, he still does!"
"Still does what!" Chris yelled and took a step toward them.
"You stay there!" Wendy yelled back. She and Sabrina were chatting and giggling far too comfortably for Chris' liking. He tried listening in unsuccessfully while trying hard to keep from looking like he was. He watched Wendy bring her paw up to her mouth while she laughed at something Sabrina had said.
"We need to have lunch together," Wendy suggested. "We can talk about Chris and compare notes."
"Yeah, we should," Sabrina agreed.
"Uh -- " Chris darted over to them. " -- I don't really think that's a good idea, girls … "
"Oh, sure!" Sabrina said, still kidding with Wendy, "You're a guy, you wouldn't understand." To Wendy, "I've got all weekend, how about now?"
"Sounds good, my jacket's out here."
Chris put his paw out. "Uh, girls ... "
Sabrina kissed Chris on the cheek. "I'll be back around 4:30, that's your quitting time, right?"
"Uh ... "
"I love you!" She put her hands in her jacket pockets and caught up to Wendy. Chris watched them disappear out the door.
Stacy nudged Chris on the shoulder and held his lunchbag in front of him. Chris opened one paw and she dropped it in it. "Don't feel bad about having your date stolen," she said. "I've had it happen to me a couple times."
Chris thought about that ... Sabrina getting stolen away by Wendy ... "That's only half of my worries," he said.
Stacy stopped and turned back to him. "What's the other half?" she asked.
Chris shrugged. "Whether or not Wendy'll need tomato juice after lunch."
Dexter trotted to the front door and opened it. "Hi guys, c'mon in!"
Sabrina preceded Chris, Dexter closed the door and took their jackets and Sabrina's purse. "How's Mrs. Dexter?" Sabrina asked. "Is she okay?"
"Fine." Dexter put their things in the foyer closet. "Absolutely fine. The worst she got was a vitamin shot."
"And it hurt." Angel came in and gave Chris a quick hug. "I hate needles!" And before Chris could introduce her, "And this must be Sabrina!" She gave her a tight welcoming hug, smacking her husband with her bushy wagging red tail. "Welcome to our home, I'm glad to meet you."
Sabrina hugged her back. "Thank you for inviting us," she said.
Angel led them into the house. "Don't be silly, I'm happy to meet Chris' love of his life. You're the first woman he's ever been so serious about."
Sabrina looked backwards at her blushing boyfriend and winked. "Really?" she asked.
Angel didn't notice she was teasing. "He's so shy," she said, placing a hand behind Sabrina and guiding her toward the living room. "I introduced him to my niece a year ago. Beautiful tabby, but he couldn't bring himself around to asking her out."
That was just when two blurs of children came running in and up to Chris. "Hi Uncle Chris!" they yelled.
"Hi guys!" Chris gave them each a hug, happy to be out of Angel's spotlight. "How are ya?"
"Great!" the younger one said. "Dad bought us a new computer!"
"He did ? That's great!"
"Yeah, but big deal," said the older one. "It's old and slow."
"Just like your dad." Chris smiled and smacked Dexter in the shin before he got one in the head from Dexter himself.
Dexter guided his sons around Chris. "These are the kids, Robin and Jeremy. Guys, this is Uncle Chris' girlfriend Sabrina."
"Hi. You have a computer?" Jeremy asked.
Sabrina squatted down to meet them at eye level. "Yes, I do," she smiled. "It's how Chris and I met."
"Did he buy it for you?" he asked.
"Bet it's better than ours," said Robin. "I never even ever heard of an Omega."
Sabrina raised an eyebrow. "An Omega?"
"It's an old Amiga I bought at a flea market," Dexter explained. "For twenty bucks I got the whole system. It something for the kids to bang around on, not worth much else."
Sabrina felt a defensive edge build inside her. She stifled it and grinned at the two collie/setter brothers. "Hey, can I see it?" she asked.
"Sure!" Jeremy yelled. He took Sabrina's paw and pulled for her to follow.
"Just one minute, guys." She excused herself to her hosts and boyfriend, took her purse back, and went off with the boys.
The adults watched her leave.
"Well, Chris, Sabrina certainly seems to enjoy children," Angel said, nudging him with her elbow.
"Angel!" Dexter scolded.
"How was your lunchtime?" she asked quickly.
"Fine," Chris said. Dexter and Angel sat on the sofa, Chris in a chair opposite. "Trouble is I ate lunch with Stacy. I got my date snatched by Wendy."
"You're kidding!" Dexter exclaimed.
"You mean the Wendy that you used to date in college and nicknamed 'Windy' that left you who just started working there?" Angel asked.
Chris looked at Dexter and raised an eyebrow. "Y-eah," he answered her. Then, turning back, "they decided to have lunch together and talk about me. So far Sabrina's still with me, so I guess it went okay." He helped himself to some nuts in the dish on the coffee table.
Dexter leaned in to him as Angel excused herself and stood up to check on dinner. "How did Wendy's fur smell when she came back?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.
Chris coughed and shot the peanut he was eating across the room at the picture of Angel's mother on the television set. "I didn't notice anything," he laughed. "Come to think of it, Sabrina didn't say much about it, either. But, she took the writing job!"
"Congratulations! I know, her, not you. But you worked harder at it than she did."
"Can you imagine?" Chris rubbed his paws together. "Sabrina there every day? Working in the same building, one floor away, we can intercom back and forth ... "
Angel came back and sat next to Dexter. "Dinner will be done in twenty minutes exactly," she announced.
And it was in fifteen minutes that Robin and Jeremy came running in. "Dad! Dad Dad Dad! You gotta see what Aunt Sabrina did!" they were yelling as excited as they could be. "It runs tons faster now and we got all kinds of games to play!"
Everyone looked at the smug skunkette in the doorway, casually tossing a small screwdriver end-over-end in her right paw. "They've got more hard drive space too," she said.
Sabrina walked over and sat on Chris' lap. Chris looked at her. "How in the world did you do that?" he asked.
His answer was a wry smile and she opened her purse. Inside Chris saw her fine comb and brush, her coarse brush, wallet, two small anti-static bags, board jumpers, two small booklets with the Commodore C= logo on the spine, and a box of diskettes. "There're some things I never leave home without," and she dropped the screwdriver inside.