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. Characters Packard Melan and DJ Gabe (c) S. Adam Tindall. Character Ricky Boone (c) Ricky Boone. Character Portia (c) Matt Trepal. Character Josh Fox (c) his player. Character Hikaru Katayamma (c) Keith Dickinson. Character CottonLop (c) Jenifer Taylor. Character Tina (c) Tina Amberg. Character Elmer Foxx (c) Elmer Yost. Character BondoFox (c) his player. Character Vikki Vixen (c) her player. Cirrel Concolor (c) his player. 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. WBUT is owned by Brandon Communications.
Reproduction or altering of this story by any means
or any unauthorized use without the expressed written permission of Chris
Yost is strictly prohibited.
Thankfully, finally, Sabrina was past her probation period with StrongArm and felt comfortable enough to take a personal day off. She walked through the mall with her few purchases, pausing near the fountain near some tiger cubs playing as their mother admonished them for their behavior.
It’s just not the same, Sabrina thought. I don’t mind shopping, not now that I have more money to spend these days ... but doing it with The Clique at least made it fun.
She was getting homesick again.
“Well, can you blame me? My entire life was in Columbus. There are some times I feel … I dunno, uprooted I guess.”
You didn’t feel that way when you left Dayton.
“That was different, believe me,” Sabrina defended. “You didn’t know my parents. And I wanted to get out on my own, go to school, start my own life.”
But you were only eighteen, you really think you were ready to move out on your own then?”
“Eighteen and a half, thank you, and everyone has to go sometime. Sure it was rough at first, but Amy was really great; even when money was tight I never went hungry thanks to her. Work-study helped with tuition, eventually Susan moved to the area, at school I met Cindy, later Debbye … all my friends are still there.” She sighed. “My family’s there, my friends, everybody but me.”
You’re not thinking of moving back, are you?
Sabrina waved a paw dismissively. “No, nothing like that, I really do like it here where I am …wait a minute, who am I talking to?” Shaking her head, she picked up her purse and her purchases and walked up the mall arcade past a tail and ear piercing pagoda and spied what she thought was a familiar face at the bookstore.
Walking in, a lavender flyer taped to the glass storefront caught her eye. “Mr. Concolor wrote a book?” she said surprised. She took a peek around a display of Y2K survival books and sure enough, there he was, her Photography Concepts teacher from C-CAD.
Sabrina browsed the store, impatiently waiting for the talkative fossa to pay for her book and leave. The older cougar was busy signing the book for her. He smiled as he handed it to her and put her money in the small cash box next to one of the piles of books at his left elbow.
Taking a look in his direction she saw no one was walking over. She set back the cookbook and stepped up to the table. The cougar had his head turned. Sabrina straightened her arms in front of her and crossed her right wrist over her left, standing in a very innocent-little-girl pose. “Hi, “Mister Concolor,” she said with a smile.
Cirrel Concolor raised his head, his face lit with recognition. “Sabrina!” he exclaimed, standing to reach over the table and shake paws with her. “What a surprise! How are you?”
Sabrina smiled back. “Fine,” she replied, “ I didn’t think you’d remember me.”
Cirrel grinned so his left incisor showed. “I remember more than you know,” he said, then cocked his head and winked at her. “C-CAD has a good turnover of students, but I especially remember the pretty ones.”
“Oh, stop it,” Sabrina said as she turned her face away with an uncontrollable grin, her cheeks burning with embarrassment beneath her fur. “You’re going to make me blush!”
“That’s all the fun,” he defended as he sat. “Although I still maintain that you could’ve done a little better in my class, you definitely had potential.”
Sabrina shifted her eyes toward the table’s edge in front of her. “I didn’t mean to,” she said, “it’s just that I was there for graphic art … and your photography class was harder that I expected.”
“Even graphic artists have to work with photographers occasionally, “ Cirrel reminded her. “I’m sure they told you in your orientation that more often than you may realize, one branch of art can and will cross over others.”
“I know,” Sabrina agreed, resuming eye contact with the cougar. “It’s just that I didn’t expect photography to be so … so technical, I guess.”
Cirrel nodded in agreement. “But did you learn anything?” he asked her.
“Well ... yeah … ”
“Quick then,” Cirrel shot at her, “what’s ‘aperture-preferred’?”
Sabrina stumbled over her thoughts as she was caught off-guard and put on the spot by her former teacher. “Um … that’s when … that’s when the aperture can’t be changed and ... I know this … and the camera selects the right shutter speed.”
Cirrel sat back with a grin and held his open paws in the air over the table. “You see?” he said as his paws slapped down on his thighs, “that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Meekly, Sabrina shook her head and smiled. “I guess not.”
As there was no one standing behind the skunk girl yet, Cirrel took the opportunity to visit. “So, what are you up to now?”
Sabrina raised her eyes and cocked her head back and forth, she was about to tell one of her former C-CAD instructors that she wasn’t working in her field … full time, anyway.
“Well, I’m working here, in Butler, as a technical writer … ” Just from this she saw his eyes narrow in surprise. “Yeah, I know, it was my minor, but,” she added, “I’m doing some web design work, plus where I’m at now, they’re moving into a whole area where they’re going to need my art and web design skills, and I’ve already done some small things for them for their newsletters and things.”
“Hindpaw in the door, eh?” Cirrel said with a grin. “That’s how a lot of careers get started. “I’ve seen your site, your web design skills aren’t bad.”
Sabrina felt her eyes open in a very non-aperture-preferred manner. “You … you knew that was me?” she asked.
Cirrel laughed. “Well, Sabrina, it does have your name on it,” he reminded her.
Suddenly Sabrina realized what he meant and smiled wide in an attempt to hide her awkwardness. “My personal site!”
“Of course!” Then, “Why, do you have another site somewhere?”
“No!” she blurted! “No, heh, just the one.” She ran her right paw behind her hair hoping to dry the perspiration from her palm. “I really should update that, I’d forgotten all about it.”
“As I recall,” Cirrel said, “it did said something about you planning a move to Pennsylvania. Congratulations on your engagement.”
“Wow, it has been a while since I updated that!” she said. “Thanks, yeah, I’ve already moved, two months ago. I don’t get to sleep in or set my own schedule anymore, but the pay is pretty good, and I guess that sorta makes up for it.”
“Are you happy?”
Sabrina nodded. “I wish I were doing more in the way of art, I think that’s where my real talent lies,” she confessed. “I never thought of being a technical writer as my job. But overall, yeah, I’m happy.”
“I’d hate to see your talents go, you have too much invested in it,” he said to her. “I remember seeing your sketchbooks, you have a real flair. Don’t let it go to waste.” He took a book from one of the piles on his table, opened the front cover, and scribbled a lengthy message on the flypage before closing it and handing it to Sabrina. “Here’s a gift for one of my favorite students and models ever.” And he raised a big smile as he handed her the book.
“Awwww, thank you,” Sabrina cooed as she accepted his present. “That’s so sweet! Now I can’t wait to go home to read it.”
Cirrel grinned. “Should fetch a couple of bucks on eBay, anyway,” he kidded.
Sabrina clutched the book to her chest. “I’d never do that! Besides,” she added, “it’s autographed.”
Her former instructor nodded. “That would devalue it a bit,” he agreed with a mischievous grin.
“It makes it personal,” Sabrina defended. “And I will be reading it, I promise.”
“You’d better, next time I see you there’ll be a quiz.” Cirrel reached out and shook her paw again. “It was good to see you again, Sabrina,” he said. “Let’s do it again soon.”
“Let’s.” And with a cheery “Bye”, she walked toward the front of the store as a larger rabbit buck was walking up to look over the books and the author.
The gasp caught Cirrel’s ear, and he turned in the direction it swiveled. He turned and looked toward the front of the store to the mall. Sabrina had opened and read the inscription above the autograph:
Cirrel attended to his hare who began asking photography questions.
Sabrina quickly thrust the book into one of her larger bags so the rest of the world couldn’t read it and walked off, nearly blushing through to her fur.
Back home, Chris pulled into the driveway behind Sabrina’s car. For a change he had nothing to carry home with him, and the pre-holiday weekend could commence. And he had a certain skunk in mind as he dropped his keys in his pocket and walked to the kitchen door.
“Hi honey, I’m home!” he called as he walked into the kitchen.
“Hey-hey!” came the reply from the dining room. Chris walked through where he found Sabrina posing in front of the wall mirror she’d bought last month that Chris didn’t like.
“Say, uh … nice outfit,” Chris told his nude fiancée. “I see you went shopping where the emperor does.”
Sabrina looked at him and giggled. “Thought you’d like it,” she said, walking from the mirror to kiss him.
“Okay, I’ve gotta ask,” Chris said, “What’s with the crowbar?”
Sabrina shrugged. “I dunno,” she confessed. “Somewhere along the line, I’m supposed to do this. Contractual obligations.” She placed one open paw on her hip and held the crowbar out with the other, bending her left knee slightly, trying to use her fingers to twirl it the way she thought Susan would a baton. “How’s this?” she asked as she posed.
“Very nice,” Chris said as he walked slowly toward her, admiring the view. “Now, hand it to me, slowly.” He extended his arm and slowly opened his paw so he wouldn’t frighten her. “That’s a tool … you’re a girl, and you might-hurt-your-self,” he finished as he snatched the bar from Sabrina’s paw.
“Hey!” she said as she took a swipe at him with her other paw.
Chris ducked back quickly. “Look, if you’re going to be holding any tools around here … ”
“Don’t say it!” Sabrina cautioned. She scooped up her new photography book and held it close to her chest, walking past Chris with her eyes closed, her back straight and her nose high in the air, letting out a “Hmph!” as she passed, then scratched at her wrist to unmat the fur. Looking over her shoulder, she lowered her eyes and batted her eyelashes, and said in a sultry voice, “Promise to behave yourself and I’ll show you what I did buy today.”
“Nooooooo promises,” Chris promised as he watched her backside sway one way and her tail the other as she walked. “Reminds me, I need to get my watch fixed,” he said, admiring the view as he followed.
Setting her book on the dresser she opened the closet door and reached in, removing two dresses followed by a print blouse and mid-length skirt, all with the price tags still attached.
Chris watched her and showed every interest as Sabrina held each in front of herself. “The great thing about this is I can also see how good you’d look out of them,” he said with a smile, unaware that Sabrina was noticing he was enjoying the show more than he was letting on.
As Sabrina turned to hang her new outfits up, Chris looked inside the open closet. “I notice your side of that keeps migrating more to my side,” he told her.
“No, it’s not,” Sabrina countered and removed a loose-fitting top she was going to wear. “See? I’m only taking up my share of it. Fifty-fifty, just like you said.”
“Uh, Kitten,” Chris indicated an empty wooden suit hanger. “This is the halfway point, and so far, your fifty percent is slowly becoming bigger than my fifty percent.”
“Oh, that can’t be,” Sabrina fibbed, then pointed to it. “Lookit, that hanger is exactly where you put it when I moved in.”
“The heck it is!” Chris said. He stepped in and measured from the end of his side to the hanger, pushed past Sabrina, and held his paws easily between the hanger and the end of her side. “See?” he pointed out, “Room to spare.”
Sabrina looked and couldn’t think up an excuse. “But, I need the space … I’m a woman, I have more outfits that you do.”
“You didn’t come into this with this many outfits,” Chris noted as he pushed her clothes to one side as he pushed the hanger back to the center spot on the rail. “They breed while we sleep, or what?”
“Well, it’s this job,” Sabrina defended. “I’m forced to dress up four out of five days a week, I need more clothes than you do. I now have more skirts than I used to, more blouses, more …”
Chris looked at the closet. True, he could tell hers were scrunched together now and he seemed to have ample room. “So do I. Now, we agreed, we share the closet, right?”
Sabrina lowered her head in feigned submission. “Right.” Then, “Oh, I thought of you, too.” She reached in with one paw to remove a hanger as her other paw holding her top surreptitiously pulled the wooden hanger a couple of inches down to Chris’ side. Turning around, she showed him a thick black sweatshirt with the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team logo centered over the chest with Pittsburgh Penguins printed in large friendly gold letters beneath.
“I got one for me, too,” she said with a smile. “Now when we go out, we can match.”
Chris took the sweatshirt from her. “Wow, Kitten, thank you.” And yes, nice as it was, he wasn’t admiring the sweatshirt just now. His right paw helped itself as he kissed Sabrina and stood up. “I have to admit, I’ve never seen a sweatshirt on a hanger outside of a department store.”
Sabrina shrugged. “No reason not to. They left the hangers on, so I thought, why not?”
“Makes sense. Thanks,” he smiled and took it back to the closet, hanging it on the rod and pushing the dividing hanger back to the center. “We can wear them Thanksgiving; I think the Pens’re playing.”
Sabrina folded her arms. “We are not watching hockey on Thanksgiving!”
Chris turned and lowered his muzzle, staring at Sabrina over the tops of his glasses.
“I mean,” she went on, “this is where our parents are going to meet each other. We can’t have a hockey game on … ” She walked up and ran a paw up and down his arm. “We want to keep everyone focused, don’t we?”
Chris’ ears drooped a bit as he thought. “Of course, we do … ”
“We’re going to have a houseful as it is. Are your sister and her husband still coming?”
“Yeah, far as I know,” Chris told the naked skunk. “She’s threatening to bring some sort of stuffed squash thing.”
Sabrina shrugged. “Who knows? It might be good. I like your brother-in-law; it’s good to have another artist to talk to once in a while.”
“Yeah, lots of common ground.” He pulled Sabrina closer, finally, and hugged her tight, nuzzling her neck, and was rewarded with her squirming against him just right, dropping the top she was planning on putting on.
“Mmmm, wffff ymmmm, Kttmmmff,” he said into her neck fur.
Later that same evening, as Chris left the bedroom, Sabrina took a peek to see that he was out of sight for the moment, then ran on tip-toes to the closet and pushed the hanger back a little past where it was before she started getting dressed.
Chris leaned on the push bar of the buggy waiting for Sabrina to finish the arithmetic algorithm in her head. He found himself getting bored rapidly. Then, Sabrina found a third brand of the same item and ran a new set of numbers.
“The store’s only open for another eleven hours, Kitten,” Chris told her.
“Sh-h!” Then, Sabrina put the other two back and picked up another of the winner she held in her paw.
“It’s only cranberry sauce,” Chris said.
“Yes, and this brand gives you 2 ounces more and you save nine cents.” She walked down the aisle with Chris behind her, shaking his head.
“Skunk saved a lousy nine cents,” he mumbled.
Sabrina looked over her shoulder as she walked. “Hey, it adds up,” she told him before stopping short in front of Chris’ buggy. Looking up, she asked, “You see asparagus in the produce section?”
Chris shook his head and hid the wrinkling of his nose. “I wasn’t really looking,” he replied.
“Mom’s got this great way of making it; quick, check to see if I have a coupon.”
Now, Chris was never averse to saving money, but … anyway, he’d leafed about halfway through her filing system when he said, “Look, if you want them, just buy them!”
Sabrina shook her head and walked over to him. “Here, gimme.” She rifled through from the rear of the stack, back two, then removed a coupon and waved it in front of Chris’ muzzle with a “Voila!” and handed it to him.
Chris looked at the coupon as she selected the cans she wanted. Chris shook his head. “Save a whole twenty-five cents when you buy three cans.”
“Three?” Sabrina asked, then picked a third can and placed it in the buggy.
He looked at the price. “Kitten? Darling? You save a quarter on three, but you just spent forty-three cents for the third can you weren’t going to buy, just so you could use the coupon.”
“Yeah,” Sabrina nodded, “and we saved twenty-five cents!”
Chris opened his muzzle, closed it again, opened it to debate her logic, and still nothing came out. Motioning with her head for him to follow, Sabrina walked toward the end of the aisle toward the meat department.
“Honestly,” Sabrina asked as they rounded a corner, “how do you men expect to save money when you go shopping?”
“We don’t,” Chris said as they approached their grocer’s freezer and the two piles of frozen turkeys within. “We expect to get in, get what we’re hungry for, and get out as quickly as possible. It’s advanced foraging.”
Laughing, Sabrina shook her head. “That’s amazing.”
Chris stopped rooting through the birds for a moment and turned his head toward the skunk. “You tell me how you girls manage all this paperwork to go buy a lot of things you didn’t put on the list in the first place.”
Her deflector shields went up and a paw went on her hip. “You saying you’ve never gone off-list,” she challenged the fox.
“I’m saying I haven’t used a list since my mom used to send me to -- twenty-four pound, score!” Chris freed a massive frozen turkey from the depths of the coffin freezer and dropped it into the buggy, narrowly missing the celery. “ -- to the market down the street from our house with ‘and something for Chris’ written at the bottom so I could get some candy.”
“Oh, candy!” Sabrina checked her list. “Yams, and we were just down that aisle!”
Chris cocked his head. “How does candy remind you of yams?” he asked, then as he realized he said it in unison with Sabrina: “Candied yams.”
“I never liked them,” Sabrina admitted, “but I know Mom and Dad do, and your side probably does, too.”
“And your fiancé, those’re like eating sugar,” Chris said.
“Yech! No they’re not, they’re disgusting.”
Chris made a swirling motion with his index finger. “Y’melt marshmallows in ‘em,” he explained. “You like marshmallows.”
Sabrina shook her head. Not even that would help.”
Chris shrugged his shoulders. “Chocolate sauce?”
Sabrina cringed at the mental picture of chocolate sauce poured over a serving bowl of hot yams and refused to dignify Chris’ suggestion with an answer -- which only egged him on. “Chocolate sauce and marshmallows over yams. Yum!”
“Bread for stuffing,” she said dryly, ignoring the suggestion, and waved an arm for Chris to follow. As she navigated the store she said, “Now I see why I always went to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving, she always had everything already; all I had to do was help and gossip. Boy, I’m really turning domestic.”
Chris shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno,” he said, “It kinda suits you.”
“Oh, please.” Sabrina felt her spine tingle. “There’s more to this than I’d ever thought about … Oh, and fair warning,” she cautioned, quickly wanting to change the subject, “Tabitha will want to help, tearing bread and basting, she always does it, every year.”
“More the merrier,” Chris said as they turned down the bread aisle. “And it’ll keep her out of trouble.”
“HA!” Sabrina laughed. “Just you wait and see.”
Sabrina pointed and Chris pulled out three loaves of white bread from the shelf. “Y’might be surprised, Kitten.”
She shook her head with an uncontrollable smile. “Huh-uh. We skunks don’t change our stripes.” She tapped the edge of her shopping list against the buggy as she thought. “Think they’ll hit it off?” she asked Chris. “Your dad and my folks?”
Chris walked around and gave Sabrina’s shoulder a squeeze. “You know they will,” he said. “And they’ll be so full of food and wine that if they don’t hit it off, they won’t care.”
Sabrina rolled her eyes. “And besides,” Chris went on, “if they don’t, we’re still getting married. But you know they will.”
It took some convincing of her own assurance, but finally Sabrina nodded. “You’re right,” she said, and they walked toward the end of the aisle to resume their shopping. “What can go wrong, right?”
“Right,” Chris agreed. But he couldn’t help thinking, along with Sabrina, Famous last words.
End of Chapter 49
This way to Chapter 50