a story by
Story and Disclaimer (c) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen, Sheila Vixen, Clarisse, Timothy Squirrel-Woolfe, and Carrie Squirrel (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, Stacy, Wendy Vixxen, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, and Wanda (c) Chris Yost. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley. Character ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. Character Cyberhorn (c) William Morris. Character Terl Skunk (c) Rodney Stringwell. Character James Sheppard, Marvin Badger, and Chrissy the Bondo Vixen (c) James Bruner. Characters Kittiara and Katja (c) "Kittiara". Character Mark the "cheetaur" (c) Mark White. Character Tyler Leone (c) Michael Mullig. Characters Kevin and Kell Dewclaw (c) Bill Holbrook. Character Trudy (c) Jeffrey Darlington. Characters Chatin and Cilke (c) Tiffany Ross. Characters Jack Black and Cecil Stewart (c) Scott Kellogg. Character Packard Melan (c) S. Adam Tindall. Character Ricky Boone (c) Ricky Boone. Character Portia (c) Matt Trepal. Eric Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz. 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, Amino Systems, or whoever the heck owns them now (I think it's Amiga, Inc as of the time of this chapter's writing). "Cooking for Dummies" (c) 1999 IDG Books Worldwide. Chalupa is a registered trademark of Taco Bell. Mercury (TM) Ford Motor Corp. Honda and Honda Civic (TM) Honda Motors. BeastWars is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc.
Reproduction or altering of this story by any means
or any unauthorized use without the expressed written permission of Chris
Yost is strictly prohibited.
“Hey, Sabrina, happy birthday!”
Sabrina looked up from her workstation and smiled. “Thanks, Dexter.” She spied the bagel in his paw, the onion one schmeered with cream cheese with the bite missing. “I see you found the food alright.”
Dexter nodded. “Feed me, and I’m your friend for life. Big plans for tonight?”
“I dunno,” Sabrina said with a shrug. “All I know for certain is dinner out’s involved.”
Just then Dexter reacted to a wad of paper hitting him in the back of the neck. “Hey collidog!” Chris called. “Quit flirtin’!” He stopped himself before he added “with my fiancée”.
“You mind your own business!” Dexter said after he swallowed.
Sabrina grinned at their antics and wheeled her chair closer. “So what are you bringing good on your birthday, Dexter?” she asked.
“Eh, you missed Dexter’s birthday,” Chris said. “His was last June. Good though; he brought in a crock-pot of ham barbeque.”
Dexter jabbed his thumb at Chris. “He ate two.”
“It’s true,” Chris confessed. “Only wish you’d have brought buns; it’s a real mess eating that with your fingers.”
“I brought buns!” Dexter defended himself. “I didn’t want to chance you eating out of the pot!”
Sabrina shook her head as she laughed. Two cubs. “Hey, serious question,” she interjected, “how did Angel’s doctor’s appointment go?”
Dexter nodded his head and swallowed his bite. “Went fine,” he said. “As they used to say, the rabbit done died.”
Sabrina’s jaw hit the floor.
“Say what?” Chris asked.
“Well,” Dexter explained, “remember when you called me in the wee hours of the morning from Ohio?”
“Uh-huh … ”
Dex shrugged his shoulders. “Well … I couldn’t sleep after that, and Angel couldn’t get back to sleep, so … ”
Then, from Chris, “But … but how could this have happened?”
“Well, if you need it, I’ve got a book I can lend you.”
“Oh, my God,” Sabrina said.
“Thanks,” Dexter replied, “and he’s sendin’ him to college.”
“Well, congratulations!” Sabrina said happily, touching her paw against Dexter’s. “When’s she due, do they know yet?”
Dexter nodded. “They’re thinking early May.”
Chris and Sabrina exchanged glances.
“When’s your wedding date?” he asked.
Sabrina swallowed a lump. “May 13.”
Chris pointed a finger at Dexter. “Don’t you even think of her being late!”
“Hey, you called me, bucko! So you’re getting part ownership.”
“Great,” Chris moaned. “You’ll end up giving me the half that eats.”
Dexter ate another bite. “Better than giving you the half that -- ”
“Sheesh!” Sabrina exclaimed. “This is … this is good news, right?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dexter nodded as he chewed. “Angel and I are good Catholics, so however many we’re blessed with, we say ‘thank You’ and do the best we can.” Then, remembering why he was passing through in the first place, “I’ve got a project, I’ll see you guys later. Have a happy, Sabrina.”
As Dexter walked away toward the elevator, Sabrina stood and leaned in to Chris. “Don’t tell me you were jealous of him, too!” she said more than she asked.
“Me?” Chris laughed. “Of Dex? Of course not! He’s the second most faithful guy I know.” He looked quickly back and forth then kissed Sabrina of the forehead. “Gotta run too. Love you!” And he scurried away.
As he walked back toward MIS he felt his stomach growl as he simultaneously burped quietly and tasted a reminder of Sabrina’s tuna fish and black bean casserole dinner last night. He walked past his door and toward the vending machines in the break room.
The hour’s drive to Pittsburgh seemed quick. Leaving work a half hour earlier than the rest of the world had its advantages, and as they were inbound and the majority of the traffic was outbound, they made great time.
The dinner was wonderful. Sabrina had the salmon steak, Chris had the blackened Cajun chicken breast. The house white wine was a nice compliment.
Sabrina loved her new wristwatch and the two BeastWar action figures that completed her collection.
The nightclub was electric. Nothing like it existed in Columbus, and you can bet nothing like it exists in Eau Claire. Plenty of room to dance, a second live band that followed the first; they hated to have to leave because of work the next day.
The one and one-half hour drive home to Eau Claire was pleasant. Light traffic, good music on the radio was turned down so they could talk and kid with each other.
The lovemaking was incredible.
And of that, that’s all the detail you get!
Chris felt his stomach growl as the deceptively wonderful smells wafted from the kitchen to his nostrils. He slid his thumb and forefinger under his glasses and along the bridge of his nose to his tear ducts and pulled at them gently. He was nearing the home stretch on the white papers he was reading and he really wanted to believe the source of what he smelled was edible. Sabrina was at the end of the dining room table with the unopened boxes from ZZ Studios on the floor beside her, sketchbook open sideways and her design for a new company logo half done.
Sabrina stepped over the boxes and ran to the kitchen and Chris tried not to recall the overdone pork chops from the night before as he read about the new incarnation of the graphical user interface operating system he and Dexter were constantly patching at work.
He read on. Basically, it seemed like a marriage between their end user O.S. and network O.S., touted as more stable. There’s a laugh, Chris thought. Past performance is sometimes indicative of future results. Gift-wrap manure, and it’s still manure.
Except he wasn't thinking "manure".
He turned to the last page.
“Dinner!” Sabrina called.
Chris set his papers on the coffee table and walked to the dining room.
She’s still learning, she’s still learning, she’s still learning …
The end of the table opposite Sabrina’s work was nicely set, with silverware and everything. Two candles in the candleholders she’d purchased the other night shimmered prettily, their light reflected on a wine bottle between them. Sabrina had set a very nice table.
“Whatcha make?” he asked. “Smells good.”
“Well,” Sabrina said as she placed the filled plates at their places on the table, “since it’s our first anniversary, I wanted to do something special.”
Chris remembered. “So it is,” he stated. “Exactly one month since you moved in!”
“Uh-huh. Ever regret it?”
“Nope!” Chris hugged Sabrina and kissed her on the nose. “Happy anniversary.”
“You too.” And she kissed him.
Chris held her chair and Sabrina draped her curled tail over the back. Chris took his seat and a little sigh escaped his muzzle when he saw what was for dinner.
“Ah, your chicken breast dinner!” Again. “This is nice.”
Sabrina nodded. “The first thing I ever made for you that I made all by myself. Seemed appropriate.”
“And appropriate it is.” Chris took Sabrina’s paw and they said a short grace, afterward Chris opened the chilled wine and poured them each a glass. He held it toward her by the stem.
“To you, Kitten. I love you.”
Sabrina smiled and clinked her glass against his. “I love you.”
And they sipped.
They held paws and Chris said a quick grace, then they picked up their forks and started eating. Chris picked up his steak knife and sawed through the chicken breast.
“How’s your reading going?” Sabrina asked, making conversation.
Chris chewed his bite of chicken. “Not bad,” he replied. “They’re taking their operating system, streamlining the icons and putting a coat of whitewash on it so they can put the number 2000 on it. Same as someone taking an existing product and calling it something new because they put a clock in it.”
Sabrina took another sip of her wine. “Amiga OS doesn’t have all of that fancy repackaging,” she smiled smugly. “Version 3.1 works just fine, thank you.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Chris waved her off and continued chewing. “Are you going to get yourself a new Amiga?” he asked.
Sabrina looked surprised. “Of course! There’s no way I’m going to go without!” She cut another piece of chicken and scooped some of the rice and sauce up on her fork with it. “I’ve been going through withdrawal this long!”
Chris laughed politely and moved his bite of chicken back to his molars and continued chewing.
“So it must mean I love you,” she concluded.
“Love me, love my OS?” Chris said with a grin.
Sabrina shook her head. “You? Yes. Your OS? Huh-uh.” She rolled her eyes and smiled. “What I’d love is a Siamese Mega Tower, Alpha CPU/Video Toaster/Screamernet combo … ”
Chris listened and tried to take it all in, but Amiga was not his strong suit. Taking his wine he washed down his chicken and worked off another bite.
“ … to run LightWave film quality image creation and manipulation software … 350Mhz CPU, upgradeable to 500 … ”
Keep nodding and smiling … and chewing …
“ … I’d love an image processing and copying monster. And an A4000 is out of my budget.”
“All this to work for Big Zig, huh?” Chris asked.
“Well, yeah … ” Sabrina confessed, “ … and Quake would fly on a system like that!”
“So, what’re you working on for your boss-ette?” Chris asked and commenced to chewing.
“Nothing much,” Sabrina confessed and speared another mushroom slice. “I had a thought of separating the ‘ZZ’ from the word ‘Productions’ in the one version and ‘Studios’ in the other, and showing Zig in a kind of sexy pin-up girl-kinda-pose with a globe behind her.” Sabrina raised her arms over her head and touched the back of her paws together to show the idea she had. “Just a thought I wanted to put down on paper.”
Chris nodded as he chewed.
“I noticed you haven’t opened the boxes yet,” he said. “They arrived three days ago.”
Sabrina frowned and lowered her arms. “Yeah, I know. I’m so busy with writing the help files for the new networking package that I’ve been too tired to do much of anything with it when I come home. I already had to reschedule my meeting with her; I’m running so far behind, she’s going to be so mad with me … ”
“Want me to open them up?” Chris asked quickly.
“No, thank you,” Sabrina told him. “Put it in neutral.”
“What fun is neutral?” Chris grinned. He swallowed audibly and picked up his plate. “Need more sauce,” he said as he walked it to the kitchen. Lots more sauce!
Dishes done, Sabrina picked up the boxes and set them on the table while Chris finished drying and putting them away. She cut open the bigger one and removed her assignment. As long as she’d rescheduled, Zig Zag had sent her some more work to do, something to keep her occupied for the Valentines Day 2000 campaign.
She dug through the foam peanuts and newspaper wads and found her manila folders and some products. She reached in and picked one up, much less shy of it than she was only a few scant months ago.
“Sheesh, what some people won’t buy,” Sabrina said aloud. She studied it, holding it in both paws and studying its form. When her paw twisted the flat end of it, she squealed and dropped it on the table where its buzzing was amplified by the wood in the table and it skittered toward the center of the tabletop.
Chris came out before she could grab it. “What happ -- ” Then he saw it and began laughing.
“It’s not funny!” Sabrina exclaimed. “I didn’t know it had batteries in it!”
“It’s not so much funny as it is comical.” He picked it up, looked it over, grinned at Sabrina, and set it back down to let it dance in its erratic pattern. “She send another one?” he asked. “We could race ‘em.”
Sabrina snatched it up and turned it off. “No, she didn’t!” she fibbed and closed the nearest flap.
“Don’t be so embarrassed, Kitten!” Chris pulled the flap open and looked inside Zig Zag’s box. “Woah, Zig Zag has her own blow-up doll?”
sigh “Yes; it’s amazing what people’ll spend their money on.” As long as Chris wasn’t going to be shooed away easily, Sabrina opened the other flaps wider and began removing the contents. “I don’t think you ever met the vixen Wanda,” she continued, removing another doll box, “but hers runs a close second to Zig’s.”
I’ve seen her, but never met her. “Well,” Chris supposed, “vixens are always popular.” He turned his head to get a better look at the Wanda and Zig Zag dolls, and Sabrina placed them on the other side of the shipping carton.
“Very,” Sabrina agreed. “She’s phasing out the slow sellers Rhonda and Crystal, the badger and the arctic fox, and one of the things I’m behind on is the 11th Hour Christmas Closeout flyer that’s advertising ‘em. Not to mention the website updates, oh my God I forgot all about it!”
Chris had picked up and was fiddling with a condom package and holding it up to the light. “These really have her tail pattern on them?” he asked.
Sabrina snatched the package from his fingers with a “Quit that!” Followed by a “I can’t wait any longer; I’ve at least got to get some roughs started.” Then, a “Could you please be a dear and put some coffee on?”
Chris shook his head. “No,” he said to her, “but I can be The World’s Cutest Todd and do it.” He turned and waggled his big bushy tail at her and disappeared again into the bowels of the kitchen.
Sabrina dropped the gizmo back into the box and pushed it to the center of the table. She opened the other and gasped when she removed three leather pieces, each buckled into a circle, the smaller two joined to the middle one by a long thin shiny golden chain. The center one was bigger than the other two, and a ZZ Studios UPC tag dangled from one of the buckles.
A little pink envelope was taped to it. Sabrina opened it and removed a card with Zig Zag’s pawwriting on it.
I looked up Chris Foxx’s customer record
and picked this out for you!
See you in 2 weeks!
Sabrina blushed hard as she quickly shoved it back into the box and under the table!
“She wants flowers,” Chris told Dexter in the break room.
“You don’t like flowers?” Dexter asked as he shook artificial creamer into his coffee.
“Not on my couch,” Chris replied. “We were out shopping, sounds innocent enough, right? Sabrina’s picking up things for the house; y’know, paper towel holder, soap dish, stuff girls buy, right? Comforter for the bed, which is nice I’ll admit.”
“She saw this couch … ”
“In fairness,” Dexter interrupted, raising a paw, “your couch should be replaced.”
Chris put his paws on his hips. “What’s wrong with my couch?” he asked. “It’s comfortable. It has character.”
“It developed language skills,” Dexter told him.
Chris blew a raspberry. “Anyway, she saw this couch and loveseat … it’s white, has little tiny flowers all over it.”
Dexter took a drink of his morning coffee. “Sounds very nice,” he commented.
“I’m a guy,” Chris explained with arms outstretched. “Guys don’t have tiny flowers all over their couch.”
“We used to,” Dexter said, closing his eyes halfway and reminiscing. “Man, that was comfortable. Broke my heart when we had to get rid of it. We couldn’t break Robin from jumping on the cushions … ”
“Dex, I don’t like it!”
Dexter shrugged. “Then tell Sabrina you don’t like it.”
“I can’t tell Sabrina I don’t like it,” Chris said as his left paw slapped his thigh. He suddenly became aware of other employees in the breakroom, and lowered his voice. “She likes it.”
“I see the dilemma.” Dexter dropped two quarters in the honor box and took a prepackaged Danish for his breakfast.
Chris shrugged. “What should I do?”
“Well,” Dexter started, “take a look at this.” He pointed to the employee bulletin board.”
“What?” Chris walked up and scanned the notices. “I don’t see where y -- ”
When he’d turned back around, Dexter was gone.
Sabrina drove into ZZ Studios’ parking lot into the space she’d almost always used when she worked there full-time only a month and a half before.
She walked around and took out the box and her portfolio from the trunk and carried them to the door. She got it opened enough to get the box to wedge it open, and just as she dropped her folio a familiar voice called her name and came running to stretch out a paw to hold the door open for her.
“Sabrina! My God, how are you!” cried Cissy, Zig Zag’s ingénue. She darted out and picked up Sabrina’s case and leapt back inside.
“Fine, thank you,” Sabrina said. She took a look at the old familiar surroundings, save for the newer posters of the newer videos, and felt a smile break across her muzzle. “I never thought I’d say this when I’d started here last spring, but it feels good to be back.” Her nostrils caught the scent of the cleaning solutions all adult entertainment places seem to use.
“Well, I for one am glad to see you again. And I know everyone else will be, too.” The albino mink jabbed her thumb toward the door to the offices and studios. “We’re on a five. Zig Zag’s on the phone in her office; wanna go on back, or should I announce you?”
“Nah, I’ll go on back. Thanks.” Sabrina collected her folio and went back. Down the hall she could hear Zig Zag’s voice coming from her office. She poked her head in.
“ … no … no, we don’t do appearances … ” The timbre of Zig Zag’s voice was becoming edgier; whoever was on the other end was getting on her nerves. “Yes, that was real … yes, she really did, and later we sliced that cucumber up for a salad.” Then she caught sight of Sabrina and sported a big smile, waving her paw in a motion to come inside.
“Go away.” She hung up the phone and ran around the end of her desk. “Sabrina! Doll, it’s so good to see you!”
Sabrina had just managed to set everything down on a chair when Zig Zag ran headlong into her and gave her a tight hug, holding onto her just a little longer than Sabrina was comfortable with.
Zig Zag had closed her eyes, hugging the younger skunk. Despite what she’d promised her about limiting the more intimate contacts, Zig still like the way she felt in a hug, and ran her open paws slowly over Sabrina’s back.
::ahem!:: “Uh, Zig?”
Zig Zag slowly and regretfully released her and took a step back. “So, how’s life on the other end of the world?” she asked the skunkette with a wry grin.
“Busy!” Sabrina admitted. Zig Zag indicated the couch and they each took a seat. “I knew I’d have to get used to a more formal workplace, but good grief I didn’t know just how different it was going to be!”
“Not quite like working here, is it?” Zig asked, leaning to rest her elbow on the back of the couch and her head on her paw, crossing one leg femininely and enticingly over the knee of the other.
Sabrina shook her head. “It sure isn’t,” she said. “I mean, I had a regular job before I came here; got in at eight, an hour for lunch, went home at five, but that was a small business. Where I’m at now is a corporation; close-knit and homey, but they’re still a big company with big plans and more strict deadlines. There’s tension sometimes … I had no idea when I accepted the offer.”
Zig Zag gave an understanding nod of her head. She understood deadlines in her own world, but not in Corporate America. “Do you like what you’re doing there?” she asked.
Sabrina’s answer of “Yes” didn’t come right away. In fact, it didn’t come at all.
She fell back against the couch cushions. “I don’t know,” she confessed. “Do I like it, yes, and no. I mean, the alarm goes off so early. And we have a half-hour drive in, so there’s not really much time to get cleaned up and have breakfast if we want it. I’ve had to learn to do old things new ways. I can take a break anytime I need one, but the lunch hour is only a half-hour, which does mean we get out at 4:30 which is nice, assuming there’s no network crisis that keeps Chris late since we drive in together which means I get to either work late or play card games on my workstation, or sketch which I’d really rather do. I’m sleeping in on weekends which I never really did that much before and I’m falling behind on my commitments to you. I was so grateful they let me take a personal day today. But then, the four-hour drive in … ”
Then she took a breath.
“But I’m caught up!”
Zig tried not to look amused; she honestly felt for Sabrina. “You’ve really learned how to fill your days,” she said. “By the way, I looked at the website last night. I like the subtle changes you made to the shopping cart.”
“Thanks,” Sabrina said, happy to hear the praise and that she’d noticed. As she sat up she said, “I’m going to change the style sheets for the whole site, give it a higher-tech look for 2000, y’know? I’ve been tinkering with your logo a little bit and came up with the really neat idea for the Valentine’s Day slicks.”
At the rate Sabrina was talking and gesturing, Zig Zag recalled her own past and surreptitiously checked her pupils for dilation and indication of drug abuse. Of course there were none, but she did see that her eyes were slightly bloodshot. She must have been working herself ragged, she thought to herself. She needs to relax. And I swear she’s skinnier than she was last September. “It all sounds great, Sabrina,” she said to her. “So, where’s that fox of yours?”
“At work,” Sabrina said, holding a paw in what she believed to be in an eastward direction. “Big snafu that may make him go in on the weekend tomorrow and correct. Figures too, he was packed and everything.”
An almost sinister grin appeared. “Did he like the present I sent?” Zig Zag asked.
And she could almost swear the black fur as well as the white on Sabrina’s cheeks glowed a brilliant red.
“Uhm … ” Sabrina stammered …
Zig laughed. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” I’d let her off the hook, but she’s so much fun on it. “Well then, you come along with me.” She stood and took Sabrina’s paw to help her to her feet. “I’ll take you to lunch; you need a break, and we’ll chat about all this when we get back. No business talk while we eat,” she warned, and punctuated it with her finger in Sabrina’s chest. “Get it?”
Sabrina nodded. “Got it.”
“Good. Let’s go; I feel like Italian today.”
“Ping the server,” Dexter said over the paws-free intercom.
Chris typed in a command shell. “Pinging!”
“Good. Now ping the remote file server.”
Chris checked his sheet for the IP address, and typed in the command. “Pinging away.” Then, he sang, “Pinging away on the thin ice of a new day-ay-ay-ay … ”
“Looking good,” came the disembodied voice of the Border collie. As Chris looked at his watch, he heard, “Five minutes to eight; not as late as we’d thought.”
“There is a God above,” Chris said. “Is that it then?”
“Hello in there!”
“Yes, that’s it,” Dexter said from across the room, the door to the server room closing and latching behind him. Chris turned off his phone’s speaker and logged off, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes the same as Dexter was doing when he came around.”
“Let’s get some food,” Dexter said. “I’m dyin’.”
Chris shook his head. “Thanks. But I don’t want to miss Sabrina if she calls.”
Dexter shook his head. “She could’ve called you here,” he told him. “She’s out with her friends; believe me, she’s not missing you as much as you’d like to think she is.”
Chris thought for a moment as Dexter walked around to log off his own workstation and pick up his laptop case. “Let’s go,” he announced. “I’m hungry for a hot meatloaf sandwich.” Stopping, he remembered, “Wait, this is Friday, isn’t it?”
“Have a hamburger,” Chris suggested.
“I can’t,” Dexter repeated. “It’s Friday.”
“Okay, have a cheeseburger.”
“Very funny.” Dexter sighed. “Guess it’s fish instead.”
“Tell you what,” Chris promised, “I’ll eat two meatloaf sandwiches for you.”
As they walked to the door Dexter added, “Looks like you could, too. What’s the matter, Sabrina not feeding you well?”
“It’s not like she isn’t trying.” Chris pushed the door open, turned and saw the look Dexter had; one of surprise and alarm. “She’s not a bad cook … she just needs practice.”
Lots of practice.
“And that elevates you from fox to Guinea pig,” Dexter kidded.
They walked out the door that led to the parking lot. The sun was in its last dying throes of setting as dusk slowly became night. The little footlights on the steps were already on to mark their trail
Chris ducked out in front of his friend. “Kinda sorta. Yeah, she’s either overcooking something or undercooking something, or egad, substituting paprika for ground red pepper because we don’t have the one and they’re the same color and powdered … given time I’ll be down to my original weight in no time.”
“Seven pounds, twelve ounces.”
“Oh, come on,” Dexter exclaimed, “she can’t be that bad! And no, I don’t believe she burned your orange juice.”
“Oh, no?” Chris asked. “Ever eat peanut butter stew?”
Dexter stopped mid-step. “What?”
“Okay, I made that up. But you saw what I had with my lunch today, right?”
“Yeah.” Dexter wrinkled his nose as they descended the steps to the lower parking area. “Oatmeal. With a ham and cheese sandwich. For lunch.”
Chris shook his head. “That wasn’t oatmeal. That was mashed potatoes from last light’s leftovers.”
“Oh,” Dexter nodded in understanding. “A little heavy on the milk, huh?”
“We ran short on milk; she substituted tap water.”
Chris agreed. “You get used to it, and thank God for salt and pepper. The last thing I want to do is hurt her feelings.”
“It explains why the vending machine guy was so excited about being able to afford the new boat he’s buying,” Dexter said as they stepped down to the lower car park. “I know how you feel; I remember our first year of marriage, when Angel wanted to put these little sticky rubber flowers on the floor of the bathtub. I didn’t want them, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, either … ”
“Uh, no,” Chris said, “This isn’t quite the same thing.”
Dexter thought for a second. “Yeah, you’re right. Angel and I were married, you and Sabrina … ”
“ … are in a very logical arrangement, thankyouverymuch,” Chris interrupted quickly. “Look, it’d be silly for her to rent a place for seven months, and this way we get to see each other every day, only take one car to work … it works.”
“Oh, I agree it works.” Dexter unlocked his car and set his laptop on the back seat. “But you see, you both miss out, like I tried to tell you last summer.” He pushed the driver’s seat back and turned to Chris. “You and Sabrina live together. You’ve already … ” He interlocked his fingers. “ … you know … you’re both living like married people now. Come the wedding, what’re you two going to have to look forward to?”
“Oh c’mon Dex, there’s lotsa … ” Yeah, Chris thought, we’ve already … well, yeah, we also … uhm, yup, did that too …
“I’ve seen the changes in you,” Dexter went on. “You noticed ‘em?”
Chris cocked his head. “What changes?” he asked.
“I bet you go to bed earlier than you used to, huh?”
“Well, now that you mention it … ”
“Furniture in the same place it was two months ago?”
“Well, not exactly the same … ”
“Has Sabrina seen you scratch yourself yet?”
“No!” Chris exclaimed, followed by, “ … uhm … ”
“Welcome to the wide wonderful world of living with a woman.” Dexter gave Chris a poke in the chest. “Just keep the false alarms to a minimum, okay? I can’t afford another kid!”
End of Chapter 46