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, 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.
Chris looked out from behind the network switch he was installing into the rack. "Yep. I'm driving over to her neck of Ohio Saturday morning, and we're going to meet for lunch."
Dexter held the mass of jumper cables dangling from the hub on the front of the rack to one side to look at Chris better. "You don't think you're moving in on her too fast, do you?"
"Dex, I'm not moving 'in on her'" Chris laughed. "This is just lunch; to see if we're as compatible in person as we are on the computer and the phone."
"'Compatible'? Chris, if two people of opposite sexes are concerned with compatibility, that usually means they want to be more than just friends."
Chris tightened down the last screw and gave the switch a couple of tugs to be sure it was secure. Working himself out from behind the racks of equipment he said "Well, one never knows. You saw her picture; what do you think?"
Dexter went to the PC that controlled the new component and launched the software while Chris picked up the wiring diagram. "Seriously? I think you are hoping to be more than casual friends. Remember though, you've only been corresponding with this young woman less than a week."
Chris started plugging cables in from the network hub, then stopped for a moment. Looking at Dexter, he said "You think we're going too fast?"
"Way too fast."
Plugging in another cable, Chris thought about this. "It's not like we're looking for romance necessarily ... "
"No," Dexter said, "it was only a few days ago you said you couldn't get her out of your mind." And he cracked a wry smile, turning away from Chris as he did. In a way Chris reminded him of himself and Angel when he first met her at college. After the first couple of dates he couldn't get her out of his mind either.
"Well, all I know is I want to meet her, and she wants to meet me. She's going to pick a restaurant for us to meet at. I think she'll be more comfortable, meeting for the first time in a public place. It should please her roommate too, so far I don't think she's really happy with me."
Dexter swore to himself. The software didn't recognize the new switch. "Windows 95 Plug and Guess," he grumbled, pulling a chair over and rising it higher before planting himself into it. "I know I'd want to do it that way," he agreed. "Makes it a lot safer for both of you. If you decide you don't like her, you can stick her with the check."
Chris laughed out loud. "Somehow, I don't think that's gonna happen."
Saturday morning. Sabrina made sure to set her alarm so she'd have plenty of time to get ready. Also to make sure she didn't miss her lunch date; as she'd predicted she was so keyed up about today she didn't get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning.
Amy stayed the night with Thomas, so Sabrina only carried her dressing gown to the bathroom, along with a bar of rose scented soap she'd been gifted with yesterday, largely at Susan's insistence while they were shopping. "You've got to look good, girl, you know this!" rang in her ears. They'd scoured the entire mall it seemed as Sabrina took the benefit of Susan's expertise in dating.
"But I'm not used to getting dressed up," Sabrina had whined. She'd finally opted for a soft blue cowl-neck sweater that, when she tried it on, met with Susan's immediate approval! Tight, soft, "Sexy," said Susan. "If he doesn't like you in that, the man needs to be buried!"
Sabrina giggled. "I've never been this nervous about a date before," she said.
"That's because you don't date hardly at all! Stick with me, Sabrina, you'll have him eating out of your hand, guaranteed!"
"Easy for you to say," Sabrina said as she handed the sweater and her credit card to the cashier. "You're BGOC."
"You should've tried out for the cheerleading squad when I told you to! You'd be Big Girl On Campus too!"
As they left Fashions Sabrina laughed out loud! "Can you imagine me in a cheerleader's costume? Susan, get real! I don't have the hips for that!"
"Heck with that, there's nothing wrong with them! You still should've tried out. You need to be more outgoing!" That's when she steered them both into a small shop in the center of the mall where Susan bought Sabrina the rose soap. "You and he'll love this," she told her. "The scent lingers on you for hours!"
"I think you're getting more into this date than I am," Sabrina kidded. As she thought of that she laughed out loud as she adjusted the water and climbed into the shower. The hot water drained pound after pound of tension out of her! She completely saturated her fur before she remembered she hadn't unwrapped the soap. When she broke the cellophane the intense aroma of roses met her nostrils and she sighed deeply. As she bathed the hot water continued to release the aromatic oils and in no time the entire stall smelled like a florist's shop. It all took an effect on little Sabrina, her arousal began to pique as her body unwound, thoughts flooding her mind as she continued to wash ...
When she finally stepped from the shower she completely toweled herself off and made sure to completely blow-dry her bright white hair, untangling it with a hair pick before brushing it up as prettily as she could. Looking into the mirror she realized she'd have to do it all again after she put on her new turtleneck sweater.
She met her own eyes in the mirror. "Sabrina, she's right. You need to get out and date more often." She stepped back and looked herself over, much as she had the morning after her first online chat with Chris. She turned her head to one side. "Lot of trouble over a lunch date, isn't it? Well," she answered herself, "he is driving a long way to meet me." She smiled at herself. "And he is awfully good looking." Her mind began to wander when she shook her head suddenly, sending the last few droplets of rose-scented water across the bathroom. "If I don't want to miss out, I better get myself focused and moving." She walked briskly back up the hallway to her bedroom.
Five minutes to twelve. Sabrina pulled her little blue car into the parking lot of Furry's Restaurant and began to make a circuit of it. Three cars with Pennsylvania license plates, two cars with no front plates which could be from Pennsylvania, but the wrong color. Oh please let him be here, oh please! Circling back toward the entrance she saw a red Mazda, dirty from late winter driving. She found a spot two spaces down and parked, adjusting the flower in her hair she got out and walked over to it. The window slid down so she could talk to the three women inside.
"You guys are early," she told The Clique.
"Better early than never," said Cindy from behind the wheel. "We thought you would've beaten us by a good hour!"
"Ask me how many times I kept looking at the clock! I was seriously considering coming out for breakfast and camping out until now."
As they talked a silver Mercury pulled into the parking lot slightly faster than normal for a car pulling into a parking lot. Debbye noticed and pointed. "Hey, lookit."
Sabrina turned in time to see a brown and white tail disappear inside, the door closing behind it.
"Gotta be him, Sabrina!" Debbye said. "Quick! Go see!"
Bending herself at the knees Sabrina crossed her fingers on both hands and ran over to the Mercury and checked out the license plate. The top and bottom clearly showed the state slogan YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN PENNSYLVANIA.
She looked back at the three girls craning their necks in the Mazda and gave them an OK signal. Then, straightening her sweater, she took a deep breath and said "I sure hope that friend in Pennsylvania is him." And she walked toward the door.
The Clique watched her disappear inside. Susan said quietly "Good luck, girl!"
Chris, out of habit, pulled his tail closer to him as he ran into Furry's, having had it caught in a fast closing door enough times to be cautious. In the foyer the lunch crowd apparently hadn't kicked in full force yet. Slipping up to the hostess and trying to catch his breath he asked "Has a young lady skunk been here yet? Early twenties, flower in her hair, very pretty?"
"None with a flower in their hair, sir, I'm sorry."
Chris sighed. "Don't be. Maybe she hasn't been here yet." He sighed again. "Table for two please, nonsmoking."
The feline hostess checked her list. "Last name?"
She wrote his name down and looked back up, then past him. "That wouldn't be her now, would it?"
Chris turned around. Through the door walked a trim, pretty skunk wearing an open white ski jacket, underneath a soft, tight cowl-neck sweater, and a bright red carnation in her stark white hair.
Chris leaned in to the waitress. "I pray to God it is!" He walked across the tiny entrance to her. She turned to him, and he said "Sabrina?"
Sabrina looked up at him, looked around inside herself and found her voice. "Chris?"
Of course he's Chris, stupid! What other fox would ask if you're you??
Chris put his right hand out and took hers, holding it in both of his, looking down at her. "It's great to finally meet you. What a long week it has been!"
"Uh ... " Sabrina felt suddenly embarrassed! "I, uh, I can't believe I don't know what to say! It's great to meet you too!"
Chris pointed a hand toward the hostess station. "I have a table held. This is a good restaurant, isn't it? I mean, Furry doesn't refer to the food, right?"
Comic relief was exactly what Sabrina needed to break the ice. "Right, silly!" she laughed. "No, the food's very good. I don't get here often, but it is good."
"Good. Hope you're hungry."
They were staring at each other again. It was the second time the cat holding the menus said "Foxx?"
Together they blinked, and their hostess tried to keep from smiling too wide. "Your table's ready now."
Chris looked at Sabrina. He was taken with her big, beautiful eyes. "Last chance to run away," he said.
Sabrina never lost eye contact, and spoke matter-of-factly. "I'm not running."
Extending his arm, he let Sabrina precede him and they followed the hostess to their table. Chris helped Sabrina off with her wrap and held her chair. "You smell nice," he said.
Good call, Susan! "Thank you," Sabrina smiled as she sat. Chris slid her chair in and neatly hung her coat on the back.
Taking off his own overcoat, Chris folded it and placed it on the chair between them. He took his seat and without thinking, touched the back of Sabrina's hand. "Do you have any idea what a long week it's been?" he asked. He gently squeezed the back of her paw, then suddenly realized what he was doing and slid his hand away.
Sabrina watched him take his hand back. "You don't have to do that," she said. To show him, she raised her hand up on its palm, spreading her fingers. Chris did the same, and their hands clasped together.
"I'm not usually this forward with women, just so you know," Chris said, almost apologetically.
"And I don't usually go on blind dates with men I meet on the Internet," Sabrina said. "So you must be somebody special."
Chris felt himself starting to relax. "Somebody's special," he said, "but I don't think it's me."
Sabrina began to melt.
"Can you see anything?"
Susan was drawing interesting looks from the diners sitting at the windows as she was trying to look past them. "Nothing. I wonder if they're even sitting down yet."
The parking lot was still lightly filled for a weekend lunch crowd. "Well, if we don't go in ourselves, we're not going to get seated!" Debbye warned them. "And I, for one, am getting hungry."
"Waddaya think?" asked Cindy. "Do we go in now? Take a chance they're at their table?"
"You know," said Debbye, "we must all be some good friends! Who else would look after each other the way we four do?"
"No-body, sister." Susan checked her watch. "Yeah, we better get in there."
And they did, locking the car they raced inside and up to the hostess. "Excuse me," said Debbye, "did you seat a certain couple yet? He's a fox, she's a skunk in a white coat with a red flower in her hair?"
"She must be one popular person," the hostess said. "I seated them about five minutes ago. Would you like me to take you to them?"
"No!" Susan yelped. The calico hostess eyed them curiously, and Susan explained. "She's our friend, and she's on a first date here with a man she met on the computer, and we're here to bail her out if she needs it." Then, "Uhm, got a table for three near them?"
"I see now." Checking her list, "I can have you one in probably five or ten minutes, if you'd care to wait."
"Oh, yeah, we'll wait all right!" Susan gave her her name and the three Clique members gathered together to talk and wait.
"They need to have someone passing out hors d'oeuvres," Debbye said as she pressed her hands against her belly in her coat pockets. "I'm really getting hungry."
Just then Cindy turned to look toward the door. A hare who had been looking in their direction turned away. Cindy smiled and turned back.
"Did you see that?" she whispered, interrupting the other two. "That guy over there was checking me out!"
Susan looked up, then back to Cindy. "How do you know?"
"He turned away really fast when I looked over." She turned back, and the smiling hare turned away again, making Cindy giggle.
Debbye nudged her. "He's cute," she said. "Go talk to him."
"I can't do that!"
"Why not?" Debbye asked. "Sabrina did it, you can too!"
Cindy lowered her voice. "Because he's supposed to come talk to me, that's why!"
"Oh, that's so old fashioned!" said Susan. "It's okay for you to make the first move! Now go make it!"
"I can't!" Cindy glanced back. This time he didn't turn away; he smiled right at her. Cindy smiled too, then turned back to see her friends walking over to a bench against the wall.
"Hey!" Cindy felt herself on the spot -- run over with the girls or stay and hope he comes over! Cindy placed a hesitant step in the direction of The Clique.
Then it happened. "Hi there."
Cindy turned quickly around. "Hi. How are you?"
"Fine, thanks." He smiled. "I'm Trevor."
Cindy shook hands with him. "I'm Cindy Lapine."
"That's a very nice name."
"I like yours," Cindy said, quietly eyeing him over, smiling. "It sounds like a doctor's name in a soap opera."
"Well, a doctor I'm not," Trevor laughed. "I'm manage the record store at the mall. I'd like to buy you lunch, but I see you're with your friends."
Cindy paused awkwardly. Susan called out "It's okay, go ahead!"
And Cindy felt her cheeks burn! Trevor laughed shyly.
"Are you busy tonight?" Trevor continued. "We could take in dinner and a movie."
After a moment's thought Cindy said "Sure, that'd be okay. Got a pencil?"
"Sure." He handed Cindy a pen and a business card. She took them and wrote her phone number on the back. "Give me a call."
Cindy didn't know the eyeful her new friend was taking of her. "Thanks, Cindy, I will." He followed the hostess in to the dining room.
Susan and Debbye returned to her side. "Gonna hafta take you shopping next, girl!"
The two looked at Cindy -- she was staring after Trevor until he disappeared behind a room divider. Debbye waved a hand up and down in front of her. "Cindy?"
Cindy sighed and turned back. "Did you see that butt? That was a nice butt."
Susan nodded in agreement. Debbye looked at her. "She's gone. Two down, us to go."
Chris and Sabrina were laughing and talking. "Yeah, you need another phone line," Chris said. "I know from experience, it helps."
"It gets better!" Sabrina said. "I'm fighting with this software forever! Then just as I get it finally set up, Amy comes in with a magazine and tells me there's a brand new client for Amiga that's completely foolproof! She's reading the information to me, and I'm steaming, squeezing the mouse so hard I thought it was gonna crumble!"
"I warned her I was giving her a ten-second head start, but I yelled and cursed and eventually went out and bought the MiAMI program. It was easy too, and I've been using it ever since."
Chris gave her paw a gentle squeeze. "Well, I for one am glad you figured it out."
"Oh, you don't know the half of it! I finally get the IRC client launched, and when everybody on the channel found out I was really a woman, I got descended on by every one there! Here I am, my first time ever there, and not only is every one there a guy, and pretty much all the women there were guys, but I'm getting hit on from every direction!"
Chris's head was back, laughing along with Sabrina. "That's too wild a story!"
"It's true! Every word."
Chris shook his head and took a drink of water. "Well, they're all lonely guys. Lonely, horny guys looking for companionship online."
Sabrina and Chris were so focused on each other they never saw the lioness with the trim figure, swaying hips, and swaying tail walk past their table. Just behind her was the waitress who put a big salad in front of Sabrina and a hot sandwich in front of Chris.
Sabrina speared a forkful of lettuce. "Is that what made you page me last week?" she asked, sporting a wry smile.
"Well ... " Chris thought before he answered. "Not necessarily the horny part, but originally, yes. I was lonely, and I was hoping to find a nice lady to talk to."
Chris began eating and Sabrina swallowed her first bite. "Why didn't you try to hit on me?"
"You seemed like you needed a friend, and I've got a good ear."
"Did I ever!" Sabrina picked an onion out of the way. "You came along at just the right time."
As Sabrina took another bite of her salad, the lioness walked past a partition in the dining room and rejoined her friends at a table. "He passed the first test," Susan said. "He was so focused on Sabrina he never noticed me!" Then, "Hey, I think I ought to feel insulted!"
"Okay, let's look at the facts," said Cindy. "He's good-looking, he's charming, he drives a nice car and has a good job, he's sweeping Sabrina off her feet, ... "
Debbye nodded with Susan. "There has to be something wrong with him! No guy is that perfect!"
The sound of Sabrina laughing wafted over the room divider to the ears of The Clique. Each girl exchanged a glance with the other and smiled, then Debbye lost control and laughed out loud first. "Y'know," she said, "I don't think she's gonna need us to bail her out."
Cindy agreed. "No way."
And Sabrina would've agreed; months of reading romance novels were finally beginning to come true. The waitress refilled their drinks and Sabrina asked "So, what are your plans for today?"
Chris swallowed before he answered. "Well," he began, "I booked a room for the night, and as I'm stranger in a strange land I was hoping you could show me around town. Provided of course you don't have other plans."
"No." Sabrina couldn't help answering quickly. "I don't have any plans at all. I'll warn you though, there's not much to see. There's a really nice park in town I like to walk through, I could show you that first if you'd like."
"Sounds like a nice place to walk off lunch."
Sabrina and Chris looked up at the tawny-furred vixen standing beside their table. Sabrina smiled and got up. "Tammy!" she said as they hugged quickly. "How are you? I haven't seen you in ages!"
"Christmas Eve '95," she smiled. "I was passing by outside of town and Roxi told me Amy was expecting, so I detoured to see you two." She looked at Chris who also stood. "This your new boyfriend?"
Chris and Sabrina eyed each other. "Tammy, this is Chris Foxx. Chris, Tammy Vixen, an old friend."
She successfully skirted by Tammy's question. Chris stood and they shook hands. "Nice to meet you, Tammy."
Tammy smiled back to him, and Sabrina explained "Chris and I met on the Internet last week. And he came over from Pennsylvania to meet me."
"Oh, I see! So this is your first date, eh?"
Chris smiled. "Kinda sorta."
Tammy turned Sabrina slightly and whispered "If you don't snag him, I will!" Then, turning back, "I'm going to go see Amy before I leave town. Good seeing you again, and nice meeting you, Chris!"
Sabrina and Chris took their seats as Tammy disappeared to the cashier. Sabrina turned her head slightly to watch Tammy from the corner of her eye.
"Nice friend you have," Chris said.
"Yeah ... " What Tammy said bristled the fur on the back of Sabrina's neck. As innocent and as kiddingly as she had said what she said, Sabrina felt tiny pangs of jealousy bother her. Jealous? Me?? This is just a first date! She turned back to her salad and began eating with a fervor. When she realized what she was doing she swallowed fast. "I've known Tammy and her sister for a long time. At one time or another we all worked together at E.S."
"E.S. Productions, where my comic strip is drawn. Hey, there's somewhere else I can show you."
"Sounds good," Chris said. "But what'll we do with your car?"
"Mmf!" Sabrina swallowed her cucumber. "No problem." She put down her fork and fished through her purse for her car keys. "Be right back!"
"Hey! Howzit goin', girl?"
"Gr-eat!" Sabrina leaned into the table, keeping her voice down as much as her excitement would let her. "Listen, can one of you drive my car home for me? I'm going to show him around town."
"Oo, going in his car!" said Susan. "Sounds serious!"
"Please!" giggled Sabrina. "Seriously, can you please? Everything's going really well with him; I feel perfectly safe going with him."
"Sure," said Debbye, taking her keys. "I'll take it over for you."
"But Monday morning, we want details!"
Sabrina laughed an "Okay" and zipped back to her table.
"All taken care of," she said, and took a sip of her diet cola.
Chris tried to look around the partition. "That's what I call an efficient restaurant," he said. "They take your car home for you too?"
"Uh," Sabrina looked back toward where she'd just been, and turned back to Chris, slight embarrassment showing. "The Clique's around the corner."
Chris nodded. It was pretty much what he'd thought. "You asked them to come along to look after you, just in case Amy was right, right?"
Still embarrassed, Sabrina nodded. "I'm sorry Chris, I sorta let myself get talked into it. I didn't want you to know, and you're so sweet I thought I could get away with you not knowing; I'm sorry."
"I thought that was what Tammy was here for!" Chris put down the roll he was using to sop up the gravy from his plate. "Sabrina, you did the right thing. Don't apologize, and certainly don't feel embarrassed about it! I would've done the same thing, anybody would've."
Sabrina looked up at him again. "You don't mind?"
"The only thing I mind is you weren't going to introduce me to your best friends!"
"Sure I was!" Sabrina answered quickly. "Only, ah, ... "
" ... you didn't want me to think you didn't trust me."
"Sabrina," Chris put his paw back over hers, "You did everything one hundred percent right. A young woman can't be too careful, especially if she's meeting people from the Internet."
"I know ... " Sabrina smiled. "You really are a sweet guy." Two fingers went into her mouth and whistled a tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!!!
Chris felt the breeze against his fur before his eyes focused on her three girlfriends. "Hi," said the rabbit.
"Hi," said Chris as he stood, trying not to laugh but amused as anything!
Sabrina started the introductions. "Chris, The Clique."
"Don't tell me." Chris pointed left to right. "Susan, Debbye, Cindy."
"This guy is good," Susan told Sabrina.
"Clique, meet Chris."
"Nice to meet you," Debbye said, "You're all Sabrina's been talking about this week."
Chris glanced at Sabrina through the corner of his eye and caught her in the beginning of a blush. "Did she tell you about her homework last Wednesday?" she finished.
Sabrina brought her hand down from trying to hide the rosy glow in her cheeks. "Deb-bee!"
"Be nice to me, I'm driving your car home!"
"Yeah, she told me," Chris said.
"Say," said Cindy, "think we can add Chris to The Clique?"
"Cindy!" said Susan, "he's a guy!"
"Yeah, but he's Sabrina's guy!"
That did it! Even the black in Sabrina's fur turned beet red! Chris noticed and tried to help let her off the hook. "That's nice of you girls," he said, "but I'd never be able to make the meetings."
This eased the pressure off of Sabrina's shoulders, and had the other patrons scratching their heads wondering what the five people at that table were drinking. Finally Susan said "C'mon, let's leave 'em alone." After a chorus of "Nice meeting you"'s they returned to their table and Chris sat down with Sabrina.
"You've got some neat friends," he said.
"Thanks," she said. "I really had no idea Tammy was here - she was a bonus for you."
"What I liked is that everybody automatically thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend."
Sabrina glanced over the top of her lenses. Their eyes met. Then together they smiled.
Sabrina shook her head politely, then ran her hand over her tummy. "No, thanks. If I don't watch my figure, no one else will."
Wanna bet? Chris held Sabrina's chair, then her coat for her to slip into, and after Chris paid the tab they left Furry's. Lightly placing a paw on her back, Chris guided her to his car and held the door for her.
"Why, thank you," Sabrina said as she slid into her seat. "I'm not used to having doors held for me."
"You oughta be." Chris closed the door and ran around to the other side. "A girl like you should have doors held for her all over town."
Sabrina fought the oncoming blush. "Nice car," she said quickly. "Is a stick hard to drive?"
"Nah." Chris backed up and drove to the edge of the parking lot. "Takes practice, that's all. Wanna try?"
"Uh, maybe some other time," she politely said. Sabrina didn't have the first clue how to drive a stick shift. "A first date is a lousy time to total a guy's car. Turn left here."