The vixen released Amanda and, after a soft growl of appreciation, said, “Amanda, who’s your good-looking human friend?”
Amanda replied, “Sheila, this is a co-worker. His name is Michael Thomson.” Michael waited for the inevitable question but it never came.
Turning to Michael, Amanda said, “Michael, this is my, uh, first cousin—”
He finished for her, “Sheila Vixen.”
Sheila, who had accepted his proffered hand, said, “Oh? You’re a fan?”
“Yes, but not in the way you might think.”
Before anyone could say anything else, another loud voice pierced the air. “SHEEEEEILA! What did I tell you about running off from everyone else!?”
Michael turned toward the voice and saw a tall white skunk with black tiger stripes walking very quickly toward them. The white skunk was every bit as buxom as Sheila, perhaps even more so. The fact that she was proud of her assets was shown in the overly tight, bright red tube top and the equally tight short black skirt she was wearing. She was wearing lipstick and nail polish that matched her tube top in color. She was wearing sandals with a medium-high wide heel exposing her bright red painted toenails.
The white skunk was accompanied by a slightly shorter significantly less endowed American striped skunk. The striped skunk had relatively large expressive brown eyes and was wearing rather large frameless glasses. Her attire consisted of a light blue pullover shirt and pants that matched her fur pattern so perfectly that she looked nude from the waist down. She had on very little makeup, although her finger- and toe-nails were painted the same color as her rose pink lipstick. Both she and the white skunk looked to be very friendly, although the white skunk was wearing a look of mild consternation.
When he saw them, Michael whispered, so quietly that neither Amanda nor Sheila heard him, “Oh, my, God. Zig Zag and Sabrina. I don’t believe it.”
Just as the pair of skunks arrived, Sheila said, “I’m sorry, Zig Zag. I saw my most favorite cousin, Amanda, here and I couldn’t help myself. Isn’t she everything I said about her?”
Zig Zag gave Amanda an appreciative once over and replied, “That she is, Sheila. But still, you shouldn’t have run off like that. You know how easily you get lost.”
Zig Zag turned to Michael and, in an exaggerated sultry voice, said, “Well! What do we have here?”
Sheila said, “Duh. He’s a human, Zig, even I know that.”
Michael smiled and said, “Hello Zig Zag. My name is Michael Thomson.”
“Thomson? Like the—”
Smiling sweetly seductive, Zig Zag said, “I guess you’ve been asked that once or twice.”
“At least,” Michael replied laughing.
Michael glanced at Sheila and noticed that she seemed deep in thought. Finally, he saw a look of recognition on her face. “Oh, Thomson’s gazelle. I get it. I thought your name sounded familiar.” She said, triumphantly.
During this brief conversation, Amanda had eased as close to Michael as she could and wrapped her arms around his right arm as tightly as she could. Her low self-esteem was apparent in her being intimidated by these three, even the quiet, mild-manner Sabrina. She kept looking at Michael hoping for some reassurance. She got it when he gently disengaged her arms from around his arm and put his arm around her shoulders and gently pulled her closer to him.
Looking at Sheila, Michael said, “So, Sheila, you’re Amanda’s cousin?”
“Yes, my mother and her father are siblings. I’m five years older, but we pretty much grew up together. I remember the first time I saw her; she was about four months old and those tiger stripes made her look so beautifully exotic.”
“I thought the same thing the day she ran into me.”
Sabrina said, “You mean the day you met?”
“Well, we did meet that day, too,” Michael answered, laughing.
Zig Zag and Sabrina looked at Michael curiously and then at each other. Finally, incredulously, Sabrina said, “What?”
“The day that Amanda and I met, she literally ran into me. She hit me so hard we fell in a heap.” The three women laughed at the thought of Amanda, a relatively light woman, knocking Michael, who was easily three inches taller and seventy pounds heavier, down. Michael smiled as he said, “Well, remember, I wasn’t expecting to be run over by a 120-pound, tiger-striped missile, so I wasn’t prepared.
“By the way, Amanda and I were about to have a drink and talk while we waited on the computer expo to open. Would you three ladies care to join us?”
They looked at Amanda who semi-reluctantly nodded her head. Sheila grinned her toothy grin as she took Amanda’s arm and, chatting amiably with her, led her to a table. Zig Zag walked beside Michael surreptitiously giving him the once over and leering at him appreciatively. Meanwhile, Sabrina quietly walked a couple of steps behind everyone. Michael, for his part, was watching Amanda and smiling. He was kind of glad that Zig Zag and Sheila had shown up; it saved him from saying something he wanted to say but didn’t know how to put into words.
Zig asked Michael, “So, where are you from, Michael?”
“That all depends on what you’re asking, exactly. I was born in a small city called Brunswick. Brunswick was located about 70 miles north of present-day Jaguarville. Now, I live in Catlanna and work for SoGa Industries.”
They reached a table and the women sat down. Michael got everyone’s order and left. As he walked away, Zig Zag placed her elbow on the table, her chin in that hand, and said, “Amanda, how did you land such a good-looking human? I’ve met several attractive human men both before I got into the business and since, most of them work for me, but none of them are half as attractive as this Michael is.”
When Michael returned with their drinks, he knew something was definitely wrong because Amanda was the only one that didn’t give him a hard look upon his arrival. “Now, wait a minute,” he said, “There’s no way I could have offended all three of you by not being here. Why are you upset with me?”
Sheila responded, “I don’t like speciesists!”
“Do whut? Who’s a speciesist?”
“Sheila, where did you get the idea that I’m a speciesist?”
“You wouldn’t make love with Amanda when she was in heat and offered herself to you. Humph!” Sheila turned up her nose and turned her back on Michael.
Michael looked at Sheila dumbfounded. Under his breath, he said, “If that don’t beat all.” He looked at Zig Zag and Sabrina and said, “Do you think I’m a speciesist?”
Sabrina said, “I don’t know, Michael. You don’t talk or act like a speciesist but I don’t know what a speciesist would talk or act like.”
He turned and said, “Zig Zag?”
“I’m not sure, Michael. Are you a speciesist?”
“In words of one syllable, no, I’m not. Look at me. I’m a member of an endangered species. If things don’t turn around for us in the next 1,000 years, POOF, no more humans. What have I said or done to make you think I’m a speciesist?”
Zig Zag said, “Just because you’re a member of an endangered species doesn’t mean you aren’t a speciesist. It just means you’re a member of an endangered species. Why did you turn Amanda down when she offered her body to you?”
“Did you ask her?”
Amanda said, “They didn’t really have time, Michael.”
“Would you tell them what I said to you those nights? I doubt they’d believe me.”
Amanda looked at the other women and said, “Michael knows I’m a virgin and he said that he loves me and respects me and my future husband too much to take that from me.”
Sheila looked over her shoulder at Amanda and said, “He loves you?”
“Yes, I do love her, Sheila.”
“Just not in the way I want him to love me. Also, I was in heat last weekend and he let me sleep in bed with him as long as I was fully dressed.”
Zig Zag and Sheila said, “Ooooh, really?”
Michael rolled my eyes and whispered, “Too much information, Amanda.”
Zig leaned toward him seductively and, in an equally seductive voice, said, “So, you two shared a bed, huh?”
“Yes, we did, for four nights. I had heard that, by allowing her to sleep with me, it would ease the emotional stress Humanimal females experience during their heat.”
Sabrina said, “Michael, that emotional stress that you’re referring to only occurs when the Humanimal woman is near the man she’s in love with during her heat.”
“Amanda must be in love with you if she experiences that emotional stress when she’s in heat.”
Michael looked at each of the three of them before saying, “I know. I also know she loves me.”
Zig Zag said, “And you don’t love her?”
He replied, “I never said I didn’t love her. As a matter of fact, if you’ll recall I’ve already said I love her. I’ve told her more than once that I do love her.”
Amanda interrupted and said, “He just doesn’t love me in a romantic way.”
Sheila turned around and, looking at Amanda, said, “That doesn’t bother you?”
Amanda smiled wanly and said, “No, it doesn’t. At least, his lack of romantic love isn’t because of my fur pattern.”
Michael breathed a silent sigh of relief as Zig Zag said, “Speaking of which, are you half tiger?”
“No, my fur pattern is a heritage trait due to the fact that I’ve got tiger DNA on both sides of my family tree.”
“Really? How far back?”
“According to my dad, my great-great-great-,” she paused mentally counting before continuing, “great grandmother on my mother’s side was a full-blood Siberian tiger and my great-great-great-grandmother on my father’s side was a full-blood Javan tiger.”
Sabrina said, “So, recessive genes came together in you and made you look like a tiger with fox markings. Do you have any siblings with any kind of tiger markings?”
“No. I’m the only one,” Amanda replied somewhat sadly.
Michael jumped in, saying, “But, Mrs. Fuchs is still young enough that she could have one or two more kits. Perhaps one of them will have tiger markings.”
Sabrina replied, “Maybe, Michael, but, after six generations on her mother’s side and five on her father’s, and assuming that every succeeding generation only married a red fox, the tiger DNA is pretty diluted by now. It was by astronomical odds that two parents passed on such a diluted genetic strain to Amanda.”
“Meaning that it would take overcoming even greater astronomical odds for her to have a current or future sibling to look even remotely like her, even to one stripe or one white spot on either ear.”
Michael looked at Amanda and saw a noncommittal look on her face. She turned to look at him and smiled that sweet smile he thought looked so beautiful on her face. “I knew this, Michael. I had asked my biology teacher in school and he said that the odds were almost 100% against me having any siblings that looked like me, he also said that I was more likely to give birth to a striped kit than my mother was to give birth to another one.”
“I see. That probably explains Drs. Leo and Tigresa having six cubs and no two of them looking a lot alike.”
Michael turned to Zig Zag and asked, “So, Zig Zag, is it true?”
Leery, Zig Zag said, with a half-smile, “Is what true?”
“The fact that your mother’s father was a full blood Siberian tiger.”
Zig Zag stared at him in shock and fear. He could see that she was thinking furiously. Finally, after several seconds, she decided to attack this question before it got too far along that she couldn’t control the outcome. “Michael, I don’t know how you know about my personal life but, let me straighten you out a bit. Two of my four great-grandfathers were tigers, one, on my mother’s side was Siberian and one, on my father’s side, was Caspian. They emigrated here when they were young. As strangely coincidental as it may sound, both of them met, fell in love with, and married skunks. My other great-grandparents were skunks. Each of my parents was quarter-blood tigers which is why I’m a quarter-blood tiger. Somewhere along the line each of my parents gave me the gene for albinism; that’s why I don’t have red eyes. Now, I want you to tell me how you know so much about me.”
“Not just you, Zig Zag. I know a lot about Sabrina and a bit about Sheila.”
“Would you care to elucidate?”
“Ooh. Good one.”
“I’m full of surprises.” Zig Zag replied, smiling impishly.
“I bet. Anyway, to answer your question, I need to ask you one. How old would you think me to be?”
“Humans are easier to age than Humanimals; so, I’d guess you to be in your early to mid-twenties.”
“If we went by physical age, you’d be right. However, that isn’t what I’m asking. Chronologically, I’m the oldest living thing on Earth.” He looked at each of them before continuing, “I’m over 20,000 years old.” They looked at him for several seconds before they burst out laughing. “I’m serious. Did any of you read any newspaper articles about the human that was awakened from suspended animation hibernation?”
Sabrina said, “Yes, I did. That was you?”
“Yes, it was.”
Sabrina turned to Zig Zag and said, excitedly, “You remember that newspaper article I showed you about eight months ago? It was about Michael here. Don’t you remember that you said it might make a great movie?”
“Okay. How does that explain how he knows so much about me if he’s never seen me?”
“I never said I hadn’t seen you. I said that I hadn’t met you and, before you ask, I don’t watch porn.”
Shaking her head in confusion, Zig Zag said, “Elaborate please.”
“All right but first a little history. I was born in the middle of the 21st Century, human era. I grew up during the heyday of what we called the internet. The internet, which Humanimals have, as yet, not rediscovered, was used to connect literally thousands of mainframe computers. I guess Humanimals haven’t had a need to split the atom. Anyway, these computers communicated with each other and with small, desktop, personal computers.”
Zig, slightly bored, replied, “Okay.”
“Using these computers, people, humans, could learn virtually anything they wanted to learn. After all, virtually all the world’s knowledge was on all of the computers. In just a few years, less than 20, people started uploading pictures and videos to special websites that were dedicated to that purpose. Some of these artists created their own websites and dedicated them to drawings and comics they created. Two of those artists were Eric W. Schwartz and a man who called himself Max Blackrabbit. I specifically mentioned these two for a reason. In the late 20th Century, Eric Schwartz created several characters, notably a sexy female cat named Clarisse, an attractive blonde-haired squirrel named Amy, and a cute American striped skunk with a single white stripe, large expressive eyes, and relatively large frameless glasses. That skunk’s name was . . . Sabrina.” He looked directly at Sabrina and noted the look of shock on her face. “That isn’t all. Sabrina had a sister 20 years younger than she was. Her sister’s name was Tabitha; she was a rambunctious and precocious four-year-old. Her parent’s names were Endora and Warren. She was friends, and roommates, with Amy. Amy was a former model for a personal computer that Eric used to create Amy and the other characters. Amy started dating a wolf/fox mix that went to school with Sabrina. This guy’s name was Thomas Wolfe. She got pregnant with, and gave birth to, their son, Timmy.”
Still looking at Sabrina, he said, “Tell me when I get anything wrong.” Sabrina, staring at him with her mouth open, merely nodded.
“Shortly after receiving her Graphic Arts degree, Sabrina found a job but lost it a couple of months later when the company decided to purchase graphic art software and do their own artwork. However, a few days later, Sabrina saw a help wanted ad in the newspaper looking for a graphic artist at a local movie studio.”
Sabrina looked at Zig Zag and he continued, “Yes, ZZ Studios Sabrina was hired on the spot. Why? Because no one else responded to the ad. At least, that’s what Zig Zag said. Need I go further?”
Sabrina said, “No.”
Michael turned to Zig Zag and said, “I mentioned two names earlier. The other artist, Max Blackrabbit, created Zig Zag along with several other popular characters, among them a wolfess named Raven Hunt.”
“I know Raven. She’s a sociology teacher at Patreearch University.”
“Okay. That’s verified. Anyway, not a lot is known about Zig Zag because she’s very quiet about her past. However, what is known is that she’s a quarter-blood Siberian tiger; she was abused, both physically and sexually, as a kit and she’s no fan of her family except for her grandfather, who always told her how beautiful he thought her stripes were, and her siblings.”
“Your comics told you these things about me?”
“Remember, Zig Zag, you were a fictional character created by an artist and used by another artist to tell a story.”
“But, how could these artists know so much about me?”
“That, as they used to say, is the $64.00 question.”
“It’s from an old game show.” When Zig Zag stared at Michael, he shook his head and said, “Never mind. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t know for certain. It’s possible that those artists had a psychic connection to the future. None of them had an exclusive connection, otherwise, only one would have created all of you. But, literally, hundreds of those artists created thousands, if not millions, of anthropomorphic characters back then.”
All four of the women stared at him. “You don’t believe me and I don’t blame you. I’m not saying that what I said about the psychic connection is true. I’m just saying that all of the evidence points to it being true. I mean, do you have another explanation as to how I know intimate details about all of you?”
Zig Zag stared at him for several seconds more before she turned to Amanda and said, “So, Amanda, your great-great-great-great grandmother was a Siberian tiger. I didn’t know there were that many Siberians in this district.”
“Oh, she wasn’t from here. She lived in Molehio.”
Once again, Zig Zag stared. “Did you say, ‘Molehio’?”
“Where in Molehio?”
“I believe it was either Cowlumbus or Acorn.”
‘Do you know her maiden name?”
“I’m not sure I remember. Zum—, Zamb—. I can’t remember.”
“Was it Zumbrowski?”
“That sounds familiar. How do you know?”
“That was my mother’s grandfather’s name. We were one of the very few Humanimal families that chose human surnames. My mother retained her maiden name after she married my father and gave it to me. I remember him saying he wasn’t the first in our family to marry outside the tiger race. He mentioned that his great grandfather had a sister that married a red fox. She was pretty much ostracized for marrying outside her race so he never learned too much about her. Who knows? Maybe we’re distant cousins.”
“Maybe.” Amanda didn’t sound overly enthused about the possibility.
Sheila looked at Zig Zag and said, “We’re cousins?”
Amanda smiled and said, “No, Sheila. Your mother and my dad are siblings. Zig Zag’s great-great-great-great-grandfather is a distant uncle to my mother. So, you two aren’t even remotely related.”
“Oh. Too bad. It would be great to be working with my cousin.”
Michael smiled and said, “O-o-o-okay-y-y-y! Well, I’m going to the computer expo. Amanda, why don’t you stay here and get reacquainted with Sheila and acquainted with your other cousin.”
“Michael, I don’t know. You said we should go to the expo because we’re being paid to go to it.”
“I know, Amanda. But, it isn’t very often you find a long-lost cousin. I’ll be fine. Besides, you’re here at the convention center. I could say that you’re at the expo.”
Sabrina said, “May I join you, Michael? Since I’m not even remotely related to the others, I’d feel kind of left out of their conversation.”
“Sure. I don’t mind. We’ll be back around lunchtime, Amanda.” Sabrina and Michael walked toward the expos.
Once again, as Michael walked away, Zig Zag placed her elbow on the table and her chin in her hand as she watched him with a leer in her eyes. As she looked at him, she slowly shook her head and said, “Mm-mm-mm, Amanda. If I knew a human man just half, no, a quarter, as good-looking as your Michael is, I’d be all over him every minute of every day. How can you keep your hands off of him?”
“Michael is a friend, Zig Zag. I love him; I don’t deny that. But, he only sees me as a friend. It isn’t what I want but, I accept it.”
Sheila said, “He is very good looking, Amanda. Maybe you should be more aggressive. That’s how I got my boyfriend.”
Zig Zag said, “Sheila, you got your boyfriend by being good in bed, not to mention you met him on the set.”
“Well, that, too.” All three of the women laughed. Michael smiled as he heard this conversation.
As they walked toward the convention, Michael turned to Sabrina and said, “Zig Zag is every bit as lecherous as I remember reading. How do you deal with it?”
“I just remember my fiancé and how wonderfully he treats me.”
“Ah, Richard Conrad.”
“Richard Conrad? I don’t recognize that name. My fiancee is a snow leopard who was born in south Gargia in a city named Alblenny. His name is Lee Irbis. We met when I was 4 and he was 5. We were very close friends. My mother doesn’t like him, though.”
“One day I was waiting for Lee at the swing-set at the local park when some wolverine guy told me that my mother needed me to go home and she wanted him to take me. When he said that, I looked toward the bench my mother usually sat at while I played at the park. She was sitting there waiting for me. When I told the wolverine guy that I wasn’t going to go with him, he grabbed my arm and started to drag me away with him. Just then, I saw a spotted gray streak come running toward us, launch himself on the wolverine, and scratched him horribly from the top of his face to his chin. Lee has a heritage trait of leopard claws on his hands. Lee’s claws just missed the wolverine’s eye but he had four claw marks that were bleeding profusely.
“When my mother saw the altercation, she came running up with some other mothers. A police officer came with the mothers. Instead of telling Lee how brave he was for protecting me from a kidnapper, my mother screamed at him, calling him all kinds of bad names. The police officer threatened to arrest Lee and the wolverine wanted to press charges of assault against him. The police officer was seriously thinking of arresting Lee until I said that Lee only attacked the wolverine guy to protect me. When I said that, the police officer called in the wolverine’s name to the police department and found out he had outstanding warrants for kidnapping attempts. The police officer changed his tune and thanked Lee for helping him capture the wolverine. Despite hearing this, my mother took me by the hand and led me away telling me that I was to never speak to Lee again. She wouldn’t even listen to how Lee had protected me from the kidnapper.”
“Wow! I guess your mother changed her mind about Lee.”
“Not really. I met Lee again shortly after I started working for Zig Zag and I caught my previous fiancee in bed with another woman. I was more than a little upset about the situation and Zig decided to take me shopping. I wanted to go to a toy store and I saw Lee again after fifteen years. Lee went to the back to see if the store had a particular doll I was looking for. After he left, I noticed a photo on his desk. It was the woman I had caught my ex-fiancee in bed with. I didn’t know what to do until Zig told me Lee needed to know.
“I told him and he said, ‘I had a feeling she was cheating on me. She never really let me get near her and wouldn’t let me even kiss her.’
“A couple of weeks later, he contacted me to let me know that the doll I had wanted was in stock. I went down to pick it up and he told me that he had broken up with his fiance and he wanted to know if I’d like to go out with him. I said yes and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“Interesting. That’s definitely different from the way that Eric Schwartz told the story.”
“I guess that proves that those artists weren’t infallible.”
Michael and Sabrina entered the computer show and were lost to Amanda’s sight.
After Michael and Sabrina entered the computer show, Sheila and Zig Zag tried to engage Amanda in conversation and, even though she would respond, Amanda seemed to be in another room. Every five to ten minutes, Amanda would ask one or the other of them what time it was.
Finally, just before 0600, Amanda asked again what time it was and Zig Zag said, “Amanda, it’s five minutes later than it was the last time you asked. They’ll be back in less than ten minutes.”
Just then, they heard two sets of laughter coming from the vicinity of the door to the computer expo. They could hear Michael saying, “You’re kidding! She really did that to you? I’m surprised that you let her get away with it. That’s hilariously funny.” Michael laughed even harder.
Amanda had turned at the sound of the laughter. Seeing Michael walk so close to Sabrina was more than she could bear. She excused herself and walked, rather quickly, away. Her actions didn’t go unnoticed by Michael and they worried him. Amanda looked utterly distraught as she walked away.
When he arrived at the table, Michael asked Zig Zag, “Where’s Amanda going?”
“She said she had to go to the restroom.”
Pointing back the way he and Sabrina had just come, Michael said, “The restrooms are back there.” With a worried look on his face, he added, “I’ll be right back.”
After Michael left, Sabrina put her hands on her hips, looked directly at Zig Zag, and said, “All right Zig Zag, what did you say to Amanda?”
Amanda hadn’t wanted anyone to see her as upset as she was. Therefore, she walked to a corner and leaned against the wall as she faced the corner. As she stood there, she allowed her tears to flow freely. “Why am I allowing myself to be so upset about this?” She asked herself. “He’s never even remotely implied that he wanted a relationship with me. Sure, he’s told me, almost from the day we met that he thought I was beautiful but that doesn’t mean he’s interested in me in that way. But, I can’t help myself; he’s the kind of guy I’ve always dreamed of meeting.”
Michael walked quietly up to Amanda. He knew he had to be quiet until he could get into a position that would prevent her from getting away. When he got to her, he could see the tears working their way down her muzzle fur. He had to know why she was so upset.
When he got to less than an arm’s length of her, he said, “Amanda?”
Immediately upon hearing him call her name, Amanda turned, and, when she saw that she was effectively blocked from escape, she tensed and an instinctive snarl formed on her lips. Before she could do anything rash, Michael wrapped his arms around her. However, as quickly as Michael moved, Amanda was slightly quicker. As he pulled her toward him, she threw her arms in front of her chest defensively. Despite the warning snarl, she didn’t really want, or intend, to bite Michael. As she had mused a few seconds ago, he was her dream man and she had no desire to hurt him.
Calmly, Michael, said, “Amanda, what’s wrong?”
When she made no reply, Michael pressed his lips to hers and, for the first time since they met five months ago, initiated a kiss with her. At first, she struggled against the kiss. After a few seconds, though, she slipped her arms around Michael, held him close, and returned the kiss. After several seconds of holding the kiss, Amanda pulled back and pressed her face into Michael’s chest; Michael rested his chin on top of Amanda’s head for several seconds.
Finally, Michael repeated his question. “Amanda, what’s wrong?”
In a tear-filled voice, she said, “You want to be with her. Don’t you?”
Confused, Michael replied, “Who?”
Amanda said, “That skunk, Sabrina.” This caused Michael to smile and laugh. Irked, Amanda said, “What’s so funny?”
“When I was growing up, the skunk was considered to be one of the most obnoxious animals on Earth, mostly because of their method of self-defense.” Michael waved his hand in front of his nose as he said, “Whew!” He laughed and continued, “So, if someone didn’t care for someone else, it wasn’t unheard of for the one to call the other a skunk, as in ‘that skunk, Sabrina’.”
Despite the way she had felt several minutes ago, Amanda couldn’t help but laugh softly into Michael’s chest. “You know I didn’t mean it that way, Michael.”
“I know but it did come out sounding like that.”
Michael placed a finger under Amanda’s chin and lifted her face so he could look into her golden-amber eyes and kissed her again. Several seconds later, Michael said, “Amanda, Sabrina is a cute skunk and has a sweet personality. She’s even got a weird sense of humor but, she’s not my type. I’m looking for someone a bit different from her.”
Amanda ducked her head sadly and asked, “What kind of person are you looking for?”
“You want the truth?”
“I’m looking for someone exactly like you.”
Amanda stared at him in shock. “Like me?”
“And since there’s only one you, I’m looking for you. One of the things I wanted to say to you this morning is this. I love you, Amanda. I want to date you and get to know you even better than I know you now. So, am I forgiven?”
She looked at him with a shocked look on her face. Finally, she slipped her arms around his neck, pulled his face down to hers, and kissed him. After a few seconds, she pulled away from his lips and said, “I suppose so. But, I’m the one that should be asking for forgiveness.”
“That’s all right, Sweetheart. I guess I shouldn’t have assumed you wanted to spend time with Sheila and Zig Zag. I just thought you wanted to catch up on old times with Sheila and learn more about Zig Zag.”
They kissed for the third time. As they kissed, they could hear Sheila yelling from across the room. “Woo-hoo! Way to go, Amanda!”
Amanda broke the kiss and, smiling, whispered, “I’m going to kill her. She’s my cousin and I love her but I’m going to kill her.”
Michael, who was also smiling, said, “She’s just happy for her most favorite cousin. Come on. It’s lunchtime. I’ll treat all of you to whatever you want for lunch.”
Smiling shyly, Amanda said, “Anything?”
“Good. I want fried chicken.”
Michael turned his head as he smiled and said, “I should have known. Well, come on. Let’s eat.”