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.
Sabrina stirred under the sheet, blinking her eyes at the attack of the morning sunshine streaming through the open bedroom window. But the smell of the coffee Chris was blowing her direction from the side of his waterbed was too good. With a quiet moan she rolled over and smiled. "Morning, handsome."
"What time is it?"
Chris looked at the clock. "Two-ten in the afternoon."
"Wha -- ?" Sabrina pushed herself up with her hands and craned her neck to look at the clock on the headboard.
"It's eight-ten A.M.! You -- !"
Chris laughed and backed away. "No hitting fox with hot beverage!"
Sabrina worked herself up to sit, bouncing herself on the water mattress as Chris chuckled.
"Stop laughing!" Sabrina took a tiny swing at Chris and smacked his knee. "I'm not used to waterbeds."
Chris handed her her morning coffee. "Guess you're gonna have to get used to 'em, aren'cha?" he asked.
"Yeah," Sabrina remembered, "I guess I am." She took a sip of her coffee. "Wow, what did you do to this? It's good!"
"A tablespoon and a half each cocoa powder and sugar in with the grounds." Chris walked around to his side and gently sat on the bed next to her and picked up his own mug.
Sabrina took a long drink, savoring it in her mouth before she swallowed it. "What," she asked, "no breakfast?"
"I called Room Service," Chris kidded, "they said they'd be here any minute."
"De-plorable! Next time I want a better hotel!"
"For eighteen dollars a night?? You gotta be kidding!"
Sabrina giggled and took another drink. Then a heavy sigh. "I think I'm still kind of numb about last night," she said, gazing at the dresser mirror. "If anyone asked me last February if I expected to be engaged by summertime, I'd have said they were nuts."
"Well, it's not exactly what I had in mind," Chris admitted.
Sabrina turned her head toward Chris. "Proposing?" she asked.
Chris turned to her. "Not by Freudian slip. When I fantasize Kitten, I fantasize big."
Sabrina held her cup in both hands, listening.
"I pictured us somewhere perfect, like the flower conservatory in Pittsburgh -- "
"Pittsburgh! I thought you said somewhere perfect."
"Can't win 'em all." Chris took a sip. "But somewhere like the conservatory, you sitting on a bench, flowers all around you. I'd kneel on one knee, show you a ring, take your hand and ask you properly to marry me."
Sabrina ran a finger up and down Chris' leg. "It's romantic."
"I should tell you about the wedding fantasy sometime. Dexter still cringes if I'm in my cubicle with my back to him."
"I wanna hear that one! But hey, that was so unexpected the way you did it. Made it that much more special." She leaned over and gave Chris a peck on his cheek. "I'm going to hate to leave today."
Chris gave Sabrina's leg a squeeze. "No one says you have to."
"My Lit professor says I have to. I have my final exam Monday." Sabrina took a large mouthful of coffee, and sighed again. "I hope I can keep my mind on it." She laughed. "I'll be lucky if I can remember my address!"
"What is your address?" Chris teased.
Sabrina carefully turned herself to look at Chris better, the sheet falling away from her. "So far," she said with a proud smile, "it looks like it's Eau Claire, Pennsylvania." She took another sip. "What do you think of the names Darrin and Samantha?" she asked.
Chris froze. Slowly he turned to Sabrina. "Why do you ask?" he asked her, slowly and nervously.
Sabrina shook her head. "You'd never believe me." That dream was so real, though!
Chris leaned forward and kissed Sabrina full on the mouth. Then, with another squeeze on her leg, "Hurry up, Kitten. Gotta get up and get dressed."
Sabrina turned her head to one side. "What's the hurry?" she asked.
Chris smiled. "You and I have shopping to do."
Cindy rolled over in her bed, her arms stretching and finding her plushie under her blanket. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and threw back her covers, sitting on the edge of her bed and peeling herself out of her powder blue nightie.
Downstairs, in her weekend-at-home jeans and top, "Morning, Mom," as she walked past her to the refrigerator.
"Morning, dear." She rinsed a breakfast plate and stacked it in the dish rack. "How was your date last night?" she asked.
"Okay." Cindy retrieved the orange juice pitcher and set it on the table. "Not bad. Where's Dad?"
"Helping out at the church." Cindy's mom lifted her ear from where it had drooped over her forehead. "I had to ask about your date," she said, drying her hands. "This is the first boy who ever brought you home at a reasonable hour."
"Cynthia, 11:00 is early for you. Was this the boy you met at the coffee shop?"
"Ah Mom, it's a coffee house." Her mother's stern look made Cindy lower her eyes some. She poured her juice. "I didn't really meet him there," she explained, "he goes to my college. And oh yeah! My friend Sabrina's engaged."
"Cynthia Barbara, don't change the subject!" Mom warmed her coffee and sat at the table with Cindy. "You don't need to be embarrassed. Remember, I was young once, too."
Cindy squeezed her mother's paw. "Oh Mom, you still are! It's just that, well, Clarence is kind of..."
"Special?" her mom asked with a smile.
"Well, yeah, but not in the same way you mean. He's kinda nerdy. I was just trying to help him out." She took a drink of her orange juice, and saw her mother was hanging on her every word. "I let myself get backed in a corner and I had to go out with him."
"But did you have a good time?" she asked.
Cindy opened her mouth to answer. She thought, hard. I went to a really nice restaurant, she began, and in the movie he didn't try to put his arm around me. He didn't even ask for a goodnight kiss, I did that!
"Yeah ... well, kinda."
Mom drank at her coffee, holding the cup with both paws, only the edge of a smile peeking out. " 'Kind of '?"
"Okay, yes, I had a good time. I guess better than I expected to have."
"You shouldn't sell 'nerds' short, kid. You may end up working for one someday." Cindy's mom put her empty cup down. "Just ask your father."
Cindy laughed. "Dad doesn't work for a nerd!"
"I didn't say he did."
Cindy stopped in mid-swallow. "Daddy was a nerd???"
"Well," Cindy's mom tried to think of a more polite way to say it. "I guess that's what you'd call him. He always studied, always looked at things a little different than most. He never had many friends growing up." She made an up-and-down motion over her left breast. "He wore one of those things in his shirt pocket to keep his pens and pencils in … "
Blushing, Cindy set down her glass, reached for her purse from the other chair and opened it up. "You mean one of these?" she asked, holding Clarence's pocket protector.
"That's it," her mother laughed. "But when he graduated college and was in a position to hire people, and he recognized a couple of the applicants as guys who taunted him in high school, he made sure they got hired and put in his department!"
Cindy leaned her head back and laughed! "No way!"
Mom nodded. "Is he a nice boy?" she asked.
Cindy raised her eyes as she drank her juice. "Yes, he's nice. Just ... "
"Just not what you're used to," she finished.
Nod. "He is nice, though," Cindy said. "I helped him with his appearance a little yesterday morning, right before I trapped myself. He just tries a little too hard to be liked." Cindy thought a moment before she went on. "Maybe I can help him with that."
"Maybe. That would be a very nice thing for you to do." Mom sipped her coffee. "And later, you can tell me how his pencil holder ended up in your purse."
Chris led Sabrina to the second jewelry store in the mall. He held the heavy glass door and gently guided her ahead of him with his paw. Inside, Sabrina looked wide-eyed. "This is beautiful!" she exclaimed. "Lookit those two long glass showcases on either side, the fat showcase in the middle, the big crystal chandelier on the ceil -- "
Sabrina spun around and watched Chris open the door and pull his tail the rest of the way through. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to stop in front of you like that."
Chris shook at his tail. "Not your fault you're engaged to a klutz," he said, taking the blame as any gentleman would. They started on the left, taking their time, Chris watching Sabrina eye over everything she wanted to look at. She's got a birthday coming, he reminded himself and kept careful watch.
It wasn't long until an older tiger-striped woman walked up to them. "Is there anything I can show you?" she asked. "Although I'm guessing diamond rings."
"You're good," Chris said.
"I'm a professional. Would you follow me ... "
They followed her to the center showcase, Sabrina jumped when Chris reached down and squeezed her left bun! She looked over her shoulder with a 'don't do that here!' grin, then hopped into one of the padded chromium seats. "But what'll I do with my friendship ring?" she asked Chris.
Chris shrugged. "Wear it on your other hand," the clerk answered for him.
"Sure," said Chris, "that way we're friends and lovers."
Sabrina looked over the smorgasbord of diamond rings. Chris and the sales clerk both saw her eyes sparkling more than the diamonds were.
"Show her something nice," Chris said. "Something really nice."
"I can do that." She took her keys and unlocked the sliding door, then opened it and unlocked a smaller inner case and removed a gorgeous diamond ring.
Sabrina's eyes grew. "It's, well, awfully big, isn't it?" she asked.
"Your fiancé said 'something really nice'. This is two and one half carats, set in eight prongs and available in both yellow and white gold." She held it by the edges and held it to Sabrina.
"Oh, I couldn't!" she said. " ... could I?"
Chris squeezed her shoulder, his stomach clenching as his mind worked out what the cost probably was. "Live a little," he told her, teeth firmly gritted.
Sabrina slipped her friendship ring to her right hand and held out her left. The clerk deftly slid it onto her ring finger. "It's beautiful!" she said. She spread her fingers and looked at it from all angles. "It's pretty," she said, showing it to Chris, "don't you think?"
There was no denying it. "It sure is," Chris said, knowing part of what made it so beautiful was how far out of his price range it was. "You could burn ants with it."
"How else can two weeks' salary last a lifetime?" the nice tiger lady quoted the famous saying.
Would that I made that much!
"The insurance on it would be murder." Sabrina turned her hand this way and that, watching the refractions of light going through it. "I'd be scared out of my mind to leave the apartment wearing it." Pulling a frown she slid it off and gave it back to the sales lady.
The sigh came quietly out of Chris' nostrils.
They both watched as the ring was locked back in its Lucite home. Chris shook his tail again to get rid of the kink he felt in it from the door. The feline opened another panel and took out a mirrored tray with a selection of rings on it.
Immediately Sabrina saw it! "That's it!" she said with a tiny bounce. "It's perfect."
Chris leaned in on the glass top and the clerk picked up the ring. "One-quarter carat in a six prong white gold setting." Sabrina held her left hand with her right while the tigress slid it on. "Oh, it fits, too! But Chris, the price … !"
Chris was wagging his tail. "Do you like it?" he asked.
Sabrina became focused on the ring on her spread hand. "I love it. It's gorgeous."
While she admired, Chris caught the clerk's attention over Sabrina's head, pointed to the ring, and rubbed his thumb back and forth quickly over two fingers. She raised four fingers, then three, then three again."
Chris smiled broadly and placed a finger under Sabrina's chin, turning her head to his. "No one deserves it more," he said. "She'll take it."