Mami woke up but couldn’t see a thing. She felt her face and removed Cani’s arm from her eyes.
‘Right.’ she said to herself. ‘I’m back.’
‘Welcome home.’ Guy whispered.
She looked up at Guy’s face. ‘Thanks.’ she said and laid her head back on his shoulder. ‘I guess it wasn’t a dream that I got drafted in a certain pervert’s harem.’
He caressed her head and ear. ‘Life sentence.’
She stroked his chest. ‘Bummer.’
‘I’m glad you’re back.’
‘I bet you enjoy having a princess in your clutches.’
‘What princess? All I see is a very cute and sweet girl.’
She sighed. ‘You’re incorrigible.’ she said and pushed herself up to kiss him.
‘Looks like someone’s in denial.’ Ara said after they finished their long kiss.
‘I’m entitled to contradict myself. I’m royalty.’ she said and stuck out her tongue a bit. ‘Aren’t you denying you’re good looking?’
Ara fiddled with her fingers on Guy’s chest. ‘Not so much.’ she muttered.
‘I try my best to show her how good she looks.’ Guy said and kissed Ara’s head.
‘It’s working.’ she said and kissed him.
‘Hey!’ said Cani. ‘Us girls who have no selfesteem issues also want to be reminded.’
Guy laughed. ‘I’ll remind you as much as you want.’ he said and kissed her.
After the other girls had woken up and had their morning kisses too they got ready for the day.
‘I’m bringing Mami to her job this morning.’ Guy said during breakfast. ‘We still have to take care of train passes and the formalities there.’
Feli nodded. ‘We have to get back to our reports and diaries anyway since we haven’t had the time lately.’
Cani, Feli, Avia and Ara wished Mami good luck with her job when she left with Guy.
They walked over to the local trainstation where Guy helped Mami filling out the form for her train pass. While they waited for the train Guy saw her looking at him.
‘Is it okay to hold your hand?’ she asked.
He smiled and took hers. ‘Why wouldn’t it?’
‘Because people might think it’s strange. Either because they know who I am, or because I do look like a little girl to most.’
‘Then they would only think that of me. And I don’t care as long as you want to hold me so don’t you dare to worry about that.’
She smiled and leaned against him.
At the themepark they walked into the director’s room who got up from his chair. ‘You highn-‘ he said but Mami pressed her finger against her mouth.
‘I’m just Mami, a former thief who’s on her way to better her life.’
He nodded and handed her her contract for parttime work. ‘Either way, good luck on your first day here.’
‘Thank you, director. I’ll do my best.’ she said with a quick bow.
Guy stayed while she got her uniform fitted and showed him. He took a picture of her to show the others.
‘Good luck today. We’ll see you when you get back tonight.’ Guy said.
‘Thanks. See you tonight.’ she said and pulled him down for a quick kiss.
‘So, not only do you know how to steal a man’s wallet, but also his heart.’ a girl wearing the same guide uniform said after Guy had left the staff room.
Mami looked back embarressed because she thought no-one had seen it. ‘I..’
Another girl showed herself and leaned closer smiling. ‘We have an after work drink in a few days with the staff, so you had better tell us all about it then. No girl here gets to hide their lover. Especially in this case of bad girl and good guy getting together.’ she said and held out her hand. ‘I’m Janine, this is Ju-Oh. Welcome to the club. Let’s show you what we do.’
Mami nodded and shook their hands. ‘I’m in your care.’
‘So, would you mind?’ Mami asked Guy when she came back home.
‘Picking you up afterwards? Not at all.’ he said. ‘I don’t like to have you waiting at the station for the night train all
‘Arigato.’ she said and hugged him.
He stroked her head. ‘I know you’re a tough cookie, but if I can save you from some trouble I will.’
So it was that Guy drove the minivan late in the evening to the park a few days later. It rained lightly and the street was empty. He had turned on his collection of favorite music and sang softly along with it until he felt the car wanting to drift away. He slowed down and felt the reaction on the steering wheel.
‘Shit.’ he said and stopped.
A moment later he was looking at a flat tire.
‘Great.’ he said and took out his phone.
‘So, was that him?’ asked Janine after Mami hung up and came back to the table with the last of the staff drinking.
Mami nodded. ‘He told me he’d be later. Flat tire.’
‘Let me guess, he wanted to make sure you didn’t have to wait in the rain?’
‘I don’t want him to rush for my sake.’
Janine pondered for a moment, then called for Ju-oh.
Guy had just taken off the flat tire and wiped the rain from his brow. He looked up and down the street again but still nothing more than wet asphalt and the glowing lines embedded in it. For a moment he thought he saw a large shadow crossing the lines but figured it must have been because of the rain.
‘No time for childish fears.’ he told himself and got on with attaching the spare tire.
He had barely screwed on the nuts when he heard something breathing behind him. He quickly turned around to see what it was but saw nothing on the road. He did see something in the darkness beyond the glow of the road lines. Something that made that breathing sound.
He kept looking at the different shade of black as he picked up the spanner slowly.
‘Staayy.’ he whispered. ‘Just stay there and be a good boy.’ he said and tried to tighten the nuts behind his back.
The rain came down a little more. He couldn’t tighten the nuts a lot but he figured it would have to hold long enough to get away.
The thing let out a short burst of air. He could see the raindrops blown away. He trembled as he carefully lowered the jack. He didn’t dare to look away. If it tried to attack him he’d have to see it happening instantly.
He tensed as a black clawed paw moved across the outer line.
A burst of light stopped it and it pulled away immediately. Guy couldn’t get a good look at it but heard it rush away through the bushes and sank down.
The headlights dimmed again as the car came closer and eventually stopped.
‘Honey?’ said Mami as she stepped out and saw him leaning back against the car.
He explained what happened to Mami and the two girls who gave her a ride.
‘What could it have been?’ Ju-oh asked looking around into the darkness.
‘Probably a dog gone wild or something.’ Janine said as she handed Guy the bottle of water she kept in the car.
‘Thanks.’ he said and drank some to calm down.
Mami carefully moved to the spot where he’d seen it and sniffed the air.
‘Can you smell anything?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know. Something faint familiar.’ she said and backed away.
He wiped the rain from his face and his hair. ‘Let’s go back. I’ll inform the authorities tomorrow there might be something wild going around.’
She nodded and he took a few deep breaths before standing up.
‘Arigato.’ he said as he returned the bottle to Janine.
‘No problem.’ she said. ‘We just didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a good look at the one who captured the heart of our bad little mouse.’
He blushed. ‘I didn’t really..’
‘Guys!’ Mami said and the girls snickered.
Janine shook his hand. ‘I’m Janine, this is Ju-oh.’ she said and gestured at Ju-oh who nodded once. ‘We’ve been pestering Mami about you two but she only revealed a little about you two.’
He smiled a little. ‘I’m not going to say more than she’s willing to tell herself.’
Ju-oh nudged Mami. ‘So he’s not only a gentleman, but now we know it’s serious.’ she said with a smirk.
‘Guy!?’ Mami said looking desperately at him.
‘Gomen. I have no idea what to say.’
Janine took Guy by his arm. ‘We approve. As long as you know how precious she is.’
He looked at Mami and smiled. ‘I know she’s precious.’
Mami pushed the snickering girls into the car after they’d hugged Guy.
‘Get home quickly.’ Janine said after rolling down her window.
‘You too.’ Mami said. ‘I’ll see you at my next shift.’
They drove back and got in the car. Guy joined her after finishing up exchanging the tires and putting the tools away.
‘It really scared you?’ she asked as he turned the car and drove home.
She laid her hand on his hand on the gearshift.
‘I was so glad you came.’
‘They didn’t want to wait longer to meet you.’ she said smiling softly. ‘So they proposed to meet you on the way.’
‘They seem like good friends.’
She nodded. ‘They just take me for who I am. Poke a little fun at me for having been a thief, but they support me.’
He turned his hand to take hers. ‘I’m glad to hear things go well for you.’
At home he parked the car and asked Mami to take up the couple of shopping bags he got before going to pick her up while he put away the tools and flat tire. He had just finished and cloased the back door when he felt a shiver down his spine.
He turned around and looked at the dark alley behind the stairs. ‘You again.’ he said softly.
The same breathing answered his suspicion.
‘You’re targeting me?’ Guy asked feeling fear trying to get a hold of him.
A low grunt.
‘Do you have something against me?’
‘Did I do something to you!?’
This time Guy only heard the breathing and thought he saw glistening eyes.
‘Tell me! Either tell me or stop hiding and fight me!’ Guy shouted.
The thing growled loud and jumped from to shadows at him, all claws and fangs. Then it got hit.
Guy looked at the young woman holding a rolled up newspaper. ‘Gomen. He’s a bit stubborn.’
Guy watched Cani chew out her brother.
‘Gomen.’ the young woman said. ‘He wouldn’t listen to reason and went off on his own. It seems he just can’t accept his little sister living with a human man.’
‘I think I can understand, miss?’ Guy said.
‘Natalie.’ she said and extended her hand. ‘I’m also part of the exchange and live with Cani’s family.’
‘I figured he went after you after he dissapeared from home so I came here to see Cani. We were just talking about it when she could sense his presence. The rest you know.’
‘So he doesn’t like humans.’
‘I just don’t like you!’ he said.
‘Because!’ he said and got hit in the head by Cani.
‘He thinks men are too weak for their women after he got word of your relationship with Cani.’ Natalie said.
He sighed. ‘All right.’ he said and sat down on his knees in front of Tobias. ‘I understand. You’re worried about your sister’s happiness. If you really want to test me I will fight you if you think that proves it. I’m not strong, but I will do anything to prove I love her, or any one of them.’
Tobias glared at him. ‘You’ll give her up when you lose?’
‘But you’ve lost!?’
Guy nodded. ‘Still won’t make me give up on that wonderful girl.’
‘Has nothing to do with how much I love her.’ he said as Cani wrapped her arms around her.
‘He’s the one and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.’ Cani said.
Natalie scrathed under Tobias’s jaw. ‘See? It’s not only about physical strength.’
Tobias growled and gave in. ‘Fine. But if I hear anything about making her sad I will kill you.’
Guy extended his hand. ‘If I do that I volunteer to be shredded to pieces.’
‘Be a good boy now.’ Natalie whispered in Tobias’s ear.’
He shook Guy’s hand.
‘If it’s any consolation we’ll beat him up first.’ Feli said as she leaned against Guy.
‘We’re five against one, so he doesn’t have any chance anyway.’ Cani said grinning.
Tobias sighed. ‘I see.’
‘So what’s with you and Natalie?’ Ara asked.
‘Oh, that’s simple.’ Natalie said and kissed Tobias passionately.
After she let go he just looked dreamily and wagged his tail slowly.
‘He was so stubborn when I had arrived.’ Natalie said. ‘Especially after hearing his sister ended up living with a human male. He kept going on about how mates had to be strong and not naked apes. I thought it was so cute and teased him with my naked body.’
‘You?’ asked Mami.
Natalie nodded. ‘At first it was just meant as a joke, but then one day I wanted to tease him in the bath and got real close to him.’ she said and blushed.
Cani looked at her brother.
‘What!?’ he said and looked away. ‘It felt so good to be touched by her..’
Guy snickered. ‘I guess you’re in the same boat as me. Although it sounds you’ve gone farther over the edge.’
He shook his head. ‘There are many things to consider. Until that has been sorted out..’
Tobias hugged him. ‘You’re a good human.’
The next day they all had breakfast together, Guy had invited Natalie and Tobias to spend the night.
‘So, have you thought about marriage?’ Avia asked.
Natalie nodded and leaned against Tobias.
‘It’s just that it’s going to be such a special moment in our history.’ Tobias said.
‘Nerves.’ Natalie said squeezing Tobias’s hand and smiling at him.
Cani hugged them both. ‘Only you matter.’
Mami nodded glancing at Guy. ‘It stays personal, whatever anyone else may think.’
After breakfast they all went downstairs to see Natalie and Tobias off.
Guy shook Tobias’s hand.
‘I guess us guys are in the same boat everywhere.’ Tobias said.
‘Yeah.’ Guy said. ‘Congratulations and good luck with Natalie.’
Cani hugged Natalie. ‘Take care of my brother.’
Natalie blushed a little. ‘I’m never going to let that plush animal go.’
They all waved as the taxi drove Natalie and Tobias to the airport.
‘I think they’ll be happy together.’ Feli said.
Cani nodded. ‘He always was good for others.’
Mami looked at Guy staring into the distance. ‘You okay?’
He nodded. ‘I guess we need to talk.’