‘Please?’ asked Ana and Michelle at the same time.
Feli and Cani looked at Guy.
‘Hey, you don’t have to ask for my permission to give them a hand with their project.’
‘All right. We’ll ask Avia and Ara. I’m sure they’ll love to help.’ said Feli.
‘Thank you!’ they said hugging Feli and Cani.
The baker smiled looking at them. ‘They’re so happy to get to work on their project.’
‘A lecture on foreign species and their culture.’ Guy said. ‘I think it’s a wonderful idea for school.’
Later that day Guy served drinks while the whole group went over what Anna and Michelle had come up with so far. They all made suggestions and the girls wrote down everything that was said. He went back to the kitchen when his phone rang.
‘Miss Thesa.’ he said.
‘Can we talk in private?’
‘Meet you downstairs at the coffeeshop.’
‘Okay.’ he said and she hung up.
He put down a plate of snacks for the girls. ‘I’m just off for a bit to the coffeeshop.’
‘Hurry back.’ Feli said.
‘Don’t tell me you’ll miss me when you’re this busy.’
‘I miss you when I can’t sense your presence.’ she said and the others whistled to his embarrassement.
‘I feel the same though.’ Ara said and Anna and Michelle looked at Guy. ‘Do you have some sort of black magic?’
Guy snickered. ‘Then I’d have to reveal my black heart and the evil things I’ve done to get these lovely creatures into myclutches.’
‘New topic.’ Anna said writing. ‘The love life of foreign species.’
‘Nooo!’ the girls said and wrestled for the paper laughing.
Guy Laughed and went downstairs feeling worried again. “I don’t have a good feeling about this private meeting.” he thought going down the street.
Inside the shop he saw miss Thesa in a corner and sat down at her table. She had ordered a cup of tea for him and he stirred it slowly.
‘I don’t want the girls to know this yet, but Nymina has gone missing again.’
‘Missing? When? How?’
‘It seems she ran off on her own. No indication that it was a kidnapping or anything.’
‘Why? She’s only been there for a few weeks.’
‘No word on that. They’re keeping things quiet for now. They asked me to check if she was hiding at your place.’
Guy sat back. ‘You think I’d hide her?’
Miss Thesa shook her head. ‘No, you would have told me anyway and asked me to keep it secret. I told them she’s not with you.’
He nodded. ‘Yeah.’
‘I’d like you to keep secret from the others as long as you can. I know eventually you’ll have to tell them but I hope she’ll show up before then. There’s nothing you can do other than stay put waiting for her to show up.’
He nodded. ‘I understand.’
‘So, anything new on your side?’
He ordered a bunch of the different cookies they made at the shop while he finished his tea and told her about the school project.
‘Sounds like fun.’ she said.
He nodded. ‘They enjoy talking about their own cultures.’
The bag with cookies arrived and miss Thesa took the bill. ‘It’s on me.’
‘Thanks.’ Guy said as he got up to leave.
‘Try not to worry too much.’
He nodded. ‘She’s one tough girl. I have faith in her.’ he said and left.
Back home they were still busy writing and discussing.
‘Cookies!’ Cani said and wagged her tail as she smelled them.
‘These are for later. Dinner first.’ Guy said.
‘Aww.’ she said flattening her ears.
‘The similarity of the effect of cookies on domestic dogs and the canine species.’ said Michelle as she wrote it down.
‘Hey! Wait!’ said Cani and the others laughed.
The next day the girls came over after school to say the project had been approved and they could even use the gym to present it to the whole school.
Guy smiled as he saw them all getting busy with making plans and looked out the window. “Mami, come back safely as fast as you can.”
The next two days they all spent at the gym setting up the exhibition. Anna and Michelle got permission to skip their classes for this since they already had good grades. Guy came over at the end of the second day to pick them all up for the drive home.
‘Can I talk to you for a moment?’ Ara asked Guy as he took a quick look at what they had done.
‘Something wrong?’ he asked seeing her worried expression.
‘I spun some threads around the building to see if someone would try to take a peek at what we’ve done. A couple were broken at the back door and I saw that the door lock had been disabled.’ she said as she took him to the back to show him. ‘Call me paranoid but I don’t like this.’
‘You’re thinking possible sabotage?’
‘Want me to keep an eye out here tonight?’
‘Would you? I’ll be here too.’
He smiled. ‘If anyone tries anything, we’ll catch them.’
Guy and Ara told the others of their plan after they had dropped off Anna and Michelle at home.
‘You really are a protector of all girls.’ Feli said folding her arms.
‘Gomen.’ Guy said. ‘I just don’t want their and your hard work to be destroyed.’
Feli sighed, pulled him to her and kissed him. ‘This is why I love you.’
‘Keep him safe.’ she said to Ara.
‘No worries. My web will catch any bad guy.’
Guy and Ara returned at the gym via a detour and Ara set up threads and trap webs.
Guy handed her something to drink when she was finished. ‘And now we wait.’
‘I just hope I’m wrong.’
He nodded. ‘Know what you mean.’
‘And it would mean more time alone with you.’ she said and snuggled up to him.
He stroked her hair. ‘Aren’t you quite the predator?’ he said.
‘You know it.’ she said and kissed him.
They spend quite some intimate time when her feeling was proven right.
‘My signal threads.’ whispered Ara as she felt it at the tip of her leg that someone touched them.
‘Showtime.’ Guy whipered.
‘I’ll get them for not just sabotaging this but also ruining our time.’ she said and they took up their positions.
Not long after they heard the backdoor open and a couple of flashlights appeared.
‘You take that side, I’ll take this side.’ a girl’s voice said.
‘Okay.’ another girl said.
The first girl held up a baseball bat to swing it up at the table when she saw something move behind it. ‘Someone here?’
The second girl held a hockey stick, ready to hit the board in front of her. ‘What?’
‘I think I saw something move here.’
‘Don’t be silly. No-one’s here.’
The first girl shone her flashlight around the back of the table when she lit up Ara holding her legs up in attack position and hissed loud.
She screamed out her longs and scrambled to get away. The second girl turned around to see what happened and Guy lit up his face with his flashlight. ‘Got ya!’ he shouted and the girl screamed in terror.
She almost stumbled running away to the backdoor but reached it just after the first girl. Ara had lowered her web in front of it though and both ran right into it. They screamed trying to untangle themselves.
Ara let out another hiss and the girls cried for mercy when Guy switched on the lights.
He let them scream until they noticed nothing happened to them and calmed down a bit.
He leaned closer to their crying faces. ‘Mind telling me why?’
‘Oh. I’ve seen them before.’ said Ara. ‘Anna said they are the two most popular girls at school.’
He sighed. ‘Don’t tell me, you were jealous and afraid Anna and Michelle would get more attention?’
The girls nodded.
‘Tell me, is your popularity so shallow that you had to resort to this?’
The girls looked down.
‘So, what shall we do with them?’ Ara asked.
‘I don’t know.’ he said and the girls pleaded not to eat them.
Ara snickered. ‘I have better tastes.’
‘Oh, I know.’ Guy said snapping his finger. ‘Let’s make you prove you popularity. Meet me at the end of the exhibition here, okay?’
The girls nodded and Ara removed her webbing from them. They stood meekly in front of Guy a moment later.
‘Are we agreed?’ he asked.
The girls nodded.
‘All right, let’s get you home safely. You shouldn’t walk alone on the street at this late hour.’
He drove them home, then went home with Ara.
He parked the car and stretched after getting out. ‘What a night.’
‘What’s that?’ Ara asked looking at a dark figure halfway down the block.
Before he could take a good look a car moved next to it and man in black ran out to catch the figure.
‘Let me go!’ shouted a familiar voice.
‘Mami!’ shouted Guy and ran to her.
‘Mami!?’ said Ara, then ran after him.
He saw her struggle as two men tried to pull her into the car and pounced them, hitting one in the face. ‘Let go of her!’ he shouted.
The other man swung his fists at him but he ducked and sank his head into the man’s stomach bending him over.
A third man moved closer but Ara caught him with a sticky thread. ‘Oh no you don’t!’
Guy tried to fight one man while Mami fought the second but had no experience and soon expected to get knocked out. The man got ready to deliver another punch when a black shadow rushed him.
‘Cani!’ Guy said.
‘We heard you shouting while we waited for you to come home!’ she said and snarled at the man.
Another car arrived and more men jumped out to join the fight.
Guy saw Feli jump them and Avia flying down.
‘Avia! Take Mami!’ he said hitting her attacker and snatching her up as he ran towards Avia.
She took Mami in her arms and flew higher avoiding the webbing above the street.
‘No! I can fight!’ Mami shouted as she saw Guy taking on another man in a fist fight.
‘Get to safety!’ he shouted just before he got hit hard onto the ground.
He looked up and Cani saved him again by jumping the man.
He looked quickly at Feli who took out the last of her prey with Ara.
He stood up and Cani, Ara and Feli joined him.
‘Are you okay?’ Cani asked checking his face.
‘Yeah, thanks to the three of you.’ he said and moved his jaw. ‘If only I was more of a man you wouldn’t have to save me.’
‘Hey, you saved us in other ways, remember?’ Feli said.
At that moment several more cars arrived and more men surrounded them.
‘Looks like we’re not out of trouble yet.’ Guy said. ‘I’ll try to do better this time.’
‘You leave them to us and take care of us afterwards.’ Feli said tensing her body. ‘That will give us enough inscentive to take them down with the two of us.’
‘Ready?’ Cani asked ready to pounce the closest one.
‘You take them down, I keep them down.’ Ara said pulling her thread.
Before they could attack another figure stepped out of a car.
‘Grandma!?’ shouted Mami.
They watched the eldery mouse walk up to them, escorted by two mice in black.
‘So you’re Guy?’ she said looking at him, then looked at the others. ‘Cani, Feli, Ara. And the one flying above us is Avia,
‘Ehm, yes.’ said Guy. ‘If I heard correctly, then you’re..’
She nodded. ‘Yes, former queen of our country, grandmother of Nymina.’
He bowed. ‘Your majesty.’
She smiled. ‘Polite as ever. I figured you’d be.’ She gestured for the men to stand down. ‘No need to be violent anymore.’
she said and the girls relaxed a little but kept ready to fight.
She moved up close to Guy who got down on one knee so she wouldn’t have to look up.
‘You were more concerned with my granddaughter’s safety?’
‘She has been through enough trouble already.’
She looked at the girls. ‘And you fight hard for this human?’
‘He does his best for us.’ Feli said.
The grandmother nodded. ‘I can see why she kept talking about you all the time, even if you’d just been together a short while. I’m glad she found such good friends.’
She looked up at Avia. ‘Please let her down.’
Avia looked at Guy who nodded and she flew back down to the ground, letting Mami go. Mami hurried closer.
‘Grandma?’ she said.
‘She has been so difficult to handle. Constantly trying to do things on her own, trying to help the staff with their work and never letting go of that plush animal.’ her grandmother said. ‘Instead of learning how to host receptions, support a future husband on official business, attend events.’
Guy smiled and looked at Mami. ‘Somehow I can imagine, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we like her better that way.’
‘I guess I do too.’ her grandmother said to Mami’s surprise.
‘You mean that?’ Mami asked.
‘She had a rough time growing up, but I can see she’s better off with you.’
‘We do think of her as part of the family.’ Guy said.
‘I hereby put her officially in your hands. Guide her well into her new future.’
Guy bowed his head. ‘It’s my honour.’
‘Hear that?’ Cani said to Mami. ‘You’re not getting away from us.’
‘I only have to get away from you.’ Mami said.
‘Not until you grow up.’ Cani said and pounced her playfully.
‘Ah! You damned dog!’ Mami said and wrestled her.
‘Looks like they’re having fun.’ Feli said.
‘She did prefer to be called Mami.’ her grandmother said. ‘I think it reflects her better than her royal name.’
‘Looks like things have been settled already.’ miss Thesa said coming up the street.
‘You’re late.’ Ara said.
‘I waited to see if things could be settled peacefully before pulling out this force.’ she said snapping her finger.
At that moment several dozen men appeared at the rooftops and a couple of helicopters arrived above the street.
‘I see I can count on your protection as well.’ the grandmother said to miss Tesha.
‘Your majesty need not to worry. So far Guy and the girls have been able to handle things in their own way. I doubt even this many men would be able to take them down when it comes to it.’ she said with a wink to Guy.
‘We’ll take care of her.’ Guy said to the grandmother. ‘I wear upon my life.’
She nodded and gestured fo the men to retun to their cars. ‘Nymina. No, Mami, take care of yourself, and your friends.’
Mami hurried up to her grandmother willing to hug her, then hesitated and did a curtsy instead.
Her grandmother held out her arms. ‘Oh, come here.’ she said and Mami hugged her tight.
‘Thank you.’ she said and waved her grandmother goodbye as she left.
‘Looks like I’ll have to buy a round for these guys.’ miss Thesa said as her men packed up their stuff.
‘Thanks.’ Guy said.
‘Just get some sleep. Big day ahead.’
‘Right.’ Guy said. ‘We have to be ready in time.’
Mami picked up her bag and they went back home together. She pulled Guy into the bath to make him wash her back as she hadn’t bathed since she ran away.
‘What’s this big day?’ she asked.
‘The baker’s daughters are giving a presentation about the cultures the girls came from. They’ve been at it for the last couple of days.’
‘Yeah, we wished you could have been here.’ Ara said frshening up. ‘Or we have to do something last minute.’
Guy stopped massaging Mami’s back for a moment. ‘Why not?’
Ara looked at him. ‘Something really last minute?’
He nodded and rinsed Mami. ‘If you’re willing to help, Mami.’
‘What are you thinking of?’ she asked and Guy explained what he had in mind.
Guy brought everyone in time before the end of lunch when the whole school would gather at the gym for the presentation. Anna and Michelle felt rather nervous but Cani and Feli reassured them.
When the gym filled up the lights dimmed and Anna started presenting Cani’s country with her. Cani did her usual playful thing and made everybody laugh. Michelle followed up with Feli who impressed with her grace. Then Anna went on again with Avia who got their attention with her flying skills. And last Michelle presented Ara’s country and showed off her skills by lighting the webbing created from the stage up along the roof of the gym at the beat of dance music.
The teachers tested their knowledge by giving Anna and Michelle questions and having Cani, Feli, Ara and Avia say if their answers were correct.
They were correct on all answers and their homeroom teacher wanted to conclude the presentation when Feli took the microphone.
‘Actually, we also have a couple of questions for you.’ she said to Anne and Michelle.
They looked at her not sure what to expect.
‘First question, which species have recently found a lost member of their society?’
Anna and Michelle whispered, then Anna answered. ‘Mouse.’
‘Correct. And who are we talking about?’
‘Princess Nymina.’ Michelle answered.
‘Correct. Now, do you know where she is right now?’
The girls whispered amongst themselves, then Anna spoke up. ‘We’d have to guess at home.’
‘Almost correct.’ Feli said and the girls looked a little confused at her. ‘She’s currently at a school presentation close to her home.’
The girls wondered what she meant when spotlights came on at the end of the gym showing Mami in royal dress with Guy in suit escorting her.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the seventh princess Nymina.’
All the students looked in awe, then applauded as Mami and Guy walked up to the stage. Anna and Michelle curtsied and Feli handed the microphone over to Mami.
‘Thank you.’ she said to the students, then turned to Anna and Michelle. ‘And thank you for a great presentation about my dear friends.’
‘She called me a dear friend.’ Cani said.
‘Don’t push it.’ Mami said and got a burst of laughter from the students. ‘I didn’t get back in time to help them add something about my own country, but I would still like to contribute to their presentation with something popular in my country.
Music started playing and Mami started singing softly while light played with Ara’s webbing. They couldn’t understand her speech but they felt the emotion. Her tones touched heir hearts and told them about the wide open countryside, young couples in love and the long happy lives they would live.
When she finished the students cheered.
‘Looks like it has been a success.’ Feli said to Guy.
‘Indeed. So there’s just one thing to wrap it all up.’
Crissy and Medama, the girls they caught yesterday showed up as promised. Anna and Michelle saw them and walked up to them.
‘How did you like it?’ Anna asked.
Crissy fiddled with her skirt. ‘It was very good.’ she said and Medama agreed.
‘Thanks!’ Michelle said. ‘Actually, we have to thank you for inspiration.’
‘Because your presentation on media showed us that it helps to keep things interesting by keeping things lively.’
Crissy looked troubled for a moment. ‘Actually, we-‘
‘They have to get going now.’ Guy interrupted. ‘I promised a friend to drop them off.’
‘Okay.’ Anna said. ‘See you later then.’ she said and both went off in search of Cani and Ara.
‘No need to tell anyone about a certain mistake, right?’
The girls nodded. ‘Arigato.’
‘Let’s get going. I have to be back to take them all home.’ he said and walked with the girls to his minivan.
During the drive he saw Medama acting nervous.
‘Worried where I migh take you?’
‘You’re not going to drop us off at some weird place?’
‘Where we have to do dirty things, or dress up..’
He pondered for a moment. ‘I guess there will be something dirty on occasion, and you dfinitely have to dress up.’
‘What!?’ Crissy said. ‘We can’t do that!’
‘Why not? Plenty of girls your age do that.’
‘But! We’re not like that!’
‘I guess you can learn.’
The girls looked at each other and expected the worst.
‘Ah,’ said Guy and parked. ‘we’re here.’
He got out and opened the side door. The girls didn’t dare to look at first, then took a quick look. When they realised they were parked in front of the cofeeshop they felt a little confused.
‘Come.’ Guy said and they followed him inside.
Mister Backster saw them coming and greeted them.
‘So these are the girls you were talking about?’
‘They’re so cute indeed.’ mister Backster said. ‘Have you ever waited tables before?’ he asked the girls.
‘Waited tables?’ Crissy asked.
‘Well, no worries. I’m sure you’ll learn. And you’ll look fabulous in uniform.’
‘Uniform?’ Medama asked and Guy pointed at one of the waitresses.
‘Mika and Esther will quit when college starts but it should be enough time to learn the ropes from them.’
Crissy looked at Guy. ‘You intended for us to become waitresses here.’
He looked at her raising an eyebrow. ‘Did you have something else in mind?’
She felt embarrassed until mister Backster urged them to the back to try on the uniform.
Just before they went into the back the girls turned their heads, thanked him silently, then stuck out their tongues.
He laughed and went back to school to pick up the girls.