‘I’ve got to go home.’
‘What?’ Avia asked watching Feli reading a letter. ‘Did something happen?’
‘The family is getting together for a day, so I have to be there as well. It’s sort of a tradition to get together once in a while.’
Avia nodded. ‘Soon?’
‘Sometime next week.’
‘Well, we don’t have anything important planned so it shouldn’t be a problem if you go home for a bit.’
‘Yeah, I just got so used to being here going home feels strange to me.’
‘I get the feeling.’
Everyone had gathered at the trainstation to see her off. She hugged Guy last.
‘Going to miss you.’ he whispered.
‘With the others next to you I’m sure you won’t.’ she whispered back.
‘You’re just as much part of me as they are so don’t say that.’
She kissed him and reluctantly let go.
‘Just come back quickly, for all of us.’ Cani said.
Feli nodded and got on the train.
They waved goodbye even as they lost sight.
‘Now who’s going to keep an eye on us to not cause any trouble?’ Mami asked snickering a little.
‘I guess I’ll have to.’ Cani said and ruffled Mami’s hair.
Mami pushed Cani, ‘You’re the one causing most trouble!’
Avia and Ara took Guy’s hands as they watched the train diasappear around a corner.
‘We’ll miss her, but let’s have fun so she won’t feel troubled for us.’ Guy said.
The girls agreed and they walked back home.
Early in the evening Feli called to say she had arrived safely. Guy and Cani talked to her for a little while before she had to go again. A car had come to pick her up.
‘Have you heard from Feli?’
Guy looked up from his writing at Cani looking at her mobile. ‘No, not yet. Why?’
‘I had sent her a message about the date for the theater this morning but haven’t gotten any answer so far.’
‘She’s probably very busy right now with the family meeting. Let’s wait until tomorrow.’
Cani nodded. ‘Yeah.’
The next day she still hadn’t heard from Feli so she tried calling her.
‘Did you get her?’ Guy asked as he returned from the kitchen.
‘No, she didn’t pick up the phone.’
‘Let’s go shopping, then you can try again when we get back.’
‘Still no answer.’ Cani said after disconnecting.
Guy took his mobile and tried calling. ‘Nothing.’ he said after a minute.
‘I don’t like this.’
Guy nodded. ‘Avia?’
‘Hai?’ she called out from the other room.
‘Could you by any chance find out what’s going on at Feli’s home through your supervisor?’
She came into the room. ‘I already asked when you didn’t get through first time. I expect an answer any time now.
Some time later someone knocked on the door and Guy opened it to find a black bird dressed in black suit.
‘Package for you.’ he said, handed over a black envelope and left quietly.
‘Was that?’ Avia asked.
‘Unless I’m suddenly a member of the Paint it Black club, I think it’s what you asked for.
He opened the envelope and found a couple of pictures with some notes.
‘What does it say?’ Cani asked as she came into the room.
‘She hasn’t left the house since she arrived, the pictures show she has only been seen in one room upstairs. And there have been frequent visits from families of other large industries.’
‘Don’t tell me..’ Cani said.
Guy looked at her and Avia. ‘Arranged marriage?’
‘Damned!’ Cani said and called Miss Tesha.
‘She hasn’t heard anything about it, but she would try to find out.’ she said after hanging up.
‘I don’t like the way she looks in these pictures.’ Guy said. ‘I’m going to bring her back if she’s forced to do something she doesn’t want to.’
‘I’m with you.’ Cani said and went to get their passports.
‘I’ll inform the office, see what we can do.’ said Avia.
‘Arigato.’ Guy said and kissed her. ‘We’re off, so can you tell Ara and Mami?’
Avia nodded. ‘I’ll call them afterwards.’
Guy drove as fast as was safely possible to the airport while Cani booked two seats on the first available airship.
When they stepped into the departure hall they were greeted by miss Tesha.
‘Don’t stop us.’ Guy said.
‘You sure you want to do this? They’re a powerful family and it might cause an international incident.’
‘I’ll take whatever heat there is when we get back but I’m not going to see her unhappy.’
‘You won’t have to take it alone.’ Cani said squeezing his hand.
Miss Tesha smiled and handed them their tickets. ‘You can go straight through to gate 11. I already took care of the formalities.’
‘Arigato!’ they said as they hurried off.
A minute later they were catching their breath in their seats.
‘We’ll depart soon since all passangers are on board.’ the steward said as he checked up on them. ‘Can I already take an order for drinks?’
Guy sat back and sighed after the steward had left. Cani took his hand in hers.
‘We’ll get her back.’ she said.
He smiled at her. ‘Even if I have to take apart that house brick by brick. I won’t have any of you girls be treated like assets.’
Cani leaned closer and kissed him. ‘That’s right, the only one who’s an asset will be you to us.’ she said and grinned.
‘Is that so?’ he said and poked her nose with his. ‘I’ll start a revolution for the freedom of men.’
‘You think you can?’
‘Sure do. Right after I prepared breakfast and cleaned the bathroom. But it might have to wait because I’ve got that article to write and pick up the groceries. But definitely thereafter.’
Cani snickered and snuggled up to him. ‘Maybe we’ll give you a few days off in the year.’
They spend the time aboard the roomy airship by exploring it, getting some fresh air on the balconies, watching movies and trying to read. They couldn’t sleep much at night and spend some time on the aft balcony with a bottle of liquor and counting the stars until it helped them fall asleep.
The next morning they had enough time to eat breakfast before they’d land. Both fell nervous as they exited the airport.
‘Here we are then. Let’s get a taxi.’ Cani said.
When they showed the address to one cabdriver he said it wasn’t too far by car. They got in and watched the landscape and towns during the drive.
At the driveway leading up to the house they got out. Cani checked his appearance and straightened his blouse while he fixed her hair.
‘Ready?’ she asked.
‘Sort of. Let’s pay them a visit.’
They walked up the driveway between rows of tall trees.
‘It does feel like nobility here.’ he said.
‘They can afford it.’
Before they could ring the doorbell the front door already opened and a butler greeted them.
‘Arigato.’ Guy said and they were led into a large room at the back where they could sit while waiting for the master of the house.
‘Impressive, but why have they adopted the same middle aged sense of decorating as humans?’ Guy said as he looked around.
‘I think it’s mainly because there wasn’t really a period in history like that in our societies.’ Cani said looking into a big vase. ‘So this is the best visible way to show how old the family is.’
The door opened and in came a tall grey cat in darkblue suit.
‘Mr Thorsson.’ he said holding out his hand. ‘I’m Feli’s father, Thom Mefow. What can I do for you?’
Guy shook his hand. ‘We’re here because we heard rumours about Feli getting married.’
‘That is correct. The groom is the son of one of our largest families. Very good breed.’
‘And how does Feli feel about that?’ Cani asked.
‘Well, he’s very respectable and will make for a good husband.’
‘That’s., not what I asked.’
‘She will come to appreciate him.’
‘So, you’re saying she doesn’t love him.’
He huffed. ‘Love will come in time when she realises how well off she is.’
‘I guess I’ve heard enough.’ Guy said. ‘Mr Mefow, I’m afraid I’ll be taking Feli back with us if she wants to.’
‘Hah!’ Thom said. ‘I’m afraid things are already arranged.’
‘Is she already married then?’
‘Not yet, but-‘
‘Then nothing is set so I’d like to ask Feli what she thinks about this.’
‘You have no business here.’
‘When it comes to preventing people being used as objects, especially when it concerns those close to me, I make it my business.’ Guy said surpressing his anger.
‘I’ll have you removed from the premises!’
‘Make us.’ Cani said growling and bearing her fangs.
Thom grabbed a bell and rang it. A moment later a couple of big butlers walked in.
‘Please show our guests out.’
Before they could move Cani jumped them and crashed them into the wall where one knocked over the large vase and shattered it. They quickly got up and tried to catch her but she was too agile and strong for them, punching them at any opportunity.
‘Stop that and get out!’ Thom shouted.
Guy and her father looked at the doorway where Feli stood.
‘Guy?’ she said, then rushed up to him and hugged him tight. ‘How come you’re here? And Cani? I’m so happy to see you!’
Guy hugged her back. ‘We came as soon as we heard something about an arranged marriage.’
She looked into his eyes. ‘So you came to save me and take me back home?’
‘Something like that.’
She kissed him, then turned back to her father. ‘I told you I’m not going through with that.’
‘Then what can he offer you? He has no money!’
‘I might not have that much, but I have enough to get by.’
‘I’m not going to let you go with him!’
‘Or else?’ she asked.
‘I will stop you myself!’
Guy moved Feli aside. ‘If you want to, I will take you up on your offer to fight you myself. But wether I win or lose, I am taking Feli home.’
‘You will not!’ Thom said grinding his teeth.
‘If all you can think of is reputation, then you are not fit to be a father.’
‘Is your daughter’s happiness not the most important thing?’
‘That’s why I’m making sure she has the best husband!’
‘Was her mother happy when she married you?’
‘Of course she was!’
‘Is that true, mom?’
Thom looked back at the doorway where he found his wife looking at the mess and Cani grinning while sitting on top of the butlers.
‘Well, not more than I am now with this situation.’ the white feline said and walked up to Guy and Feli. ‘Mero.’
she said holding out her hand.
‘Guy.’ he said and shook her hand. ‘Pleasure to meet you.’
‘Mero? We talked about it.’
She turned back to him. ‘Yes, we talked. But we didn’t agree.’ She turned back to Guy. ‘Gomen, he’s as stubborn as ever. Ours is also an arranged marriage, which is why I don’t want to take away Feli’s choice in her partner.’
‘Gomen. I didn’t want to bring up..’
She waved her hand. ‘Oh, I didn’t really love him at first, but eventually I found out his weakness and how much of a kitten he was at heart and did find love with him. Otherwise Feli wouldn’t be standing here.’
‘I still won’t have it! You admit ours has worked out too! I will ruin him if he takes her!’
‘I think it’s better to reconsider how much that would ruin you.’
This time Thom found Mami standing in the doorway. ‘Now who?’
Mami came forward holding a few papers in front of her. ‘I’ve ran a few numbers. When we make public how you forced Feli into a marriage against her will on our journals you will lose so much marketshare in domestic and foreign products that you can say goodbye to sixty-seven percent of your revenue within one week. Seeing how most of your profit comes from everyday household products while your bigger industries barely break even at the moment you’d be looking at financial ruin.’
She folded up the papers and put them in Thom’s pocket. ‘Our fans don’t take such matters as inequality lightly.’
‘Mami?’ Feli asked. ‘You’re here too?’
‘You’re scary.’ Guy said.
Mami smirked. ‘I thought I’d provide backup. Avia gave me the info on the Mefow family which I used to calculate the numbers. She’s outside with Ara who kept the rest of the staff peaceful.’
Feli grabbed Mami and hugged her tight. ‘So good to see you.’
Feli looked at her father. ‘Now do you see why I want to live with them?’
Thom sighed, grabbed a chair and sat down. ‘I just wanted what was best for you.’
Feli walked up to him, then hugged him. ‘I know, but realise I’m old enough to know what’s best for me.’
‘It’s hard to let go of your own daughter.’
‘Silly. Who said you’d have to let go just because I’m going to live my own life?’
‘But what if he’s in for the money?’
‘He’s not like that, right dear?’ she said looking back at Guy.
He looked around. ‘Well, it does make for a nice incentive..’
‘Guy!’ said Mami and jumped him.
He fell on his back with her and laughed.
‘Gomen! But I never had any idea she came from such a wealthy family. It didn’t matter to me.’
‘Looks like this marriage thing is settled now.’ Mero said.
‘Not quite.’ Thom said. ‘Will you still want to be wih her if I set the condition that you will never get anything belonging to the family?’
Guy looked up at Feli and smiled. ‘The only part of this family I’m interested in is her.’
Mero wrapped an arm around Feli’s shoulders. ‘Seems we can breath more easily about our daughter’s future. How about you all stay tonight so we can get to know eachother better?’
‘We don’t want to be a bother.’ Guy said as he got up. ‘At least, not more than we already have, heh.’
She smiled. ‘You think I’d let my daughter’s love interest just go like that? You’re staying until I know enough about you.’
Feli took his hand. ‘And once you get to know my father better he’s not so bad.’
‘If you girls don’t mind?’
The girls didn’t and he nodded. ‘Thank you very much.’
Cani patched up the butlers and helped them clear up the mess from the fighting. Feli showed the others around the house in the meantime because Cani already knew the place.
They even got the opportunity to soak in the large bath before lunch and Feli remarked it was the first time Cani went in without a struggle.
They had lunch outside on the grass under a tent which made everything taste even better. After lunch Feli suggested a short walk to the patio on a small hill. It was a perfect spot for relaxing by reading or writing on their journals.
Guy bend closer to Mero to whisper something in her ear. She nodded and he stood up.
‘You’ll have to excuse me though. Now that we’re staying I’ll head down for some quick shopping. We did came here without anything.’
‘I’ll come with you.’ Feli said but her mother held up her hand.
‘You stay here and entertain your friends. I’ll go with Guy to guide him.’ she said and stood up as well. ‘Besides, I want to head to the shop myself anyway.’ She held out her arm to Guy. ‘Shall we?’
‘Certainly.’ he answered and hooked his arm in hers. ‘Lead the way.’
The girls giggled as the pair walked to the car and they started their stroll to the patio.
Guy found the girls still at the patio later in the afternoon and brought snacks and drinks.
‘Did you have fun with my mother?’
He nodded. ‘Yeah, she showed me around the shopping square at the town. It’s really cozy there.’
‘Yeah, I always love it when there’s a holiday and they decorate the square. It’s just a small town but it’s special to me.’
‘She asked me to tell you dinner will start in about an hour. I’m heading back to have a talk with your father.’
‘Are you going to be okay?’
‘Need me to be your bodyguard?’ Ara asked a grin.
‘I’ll be fine. We have a truce now.’
He kissed the girls before returning and Mami kept an eye on him. ‘Did he seem nervous to you?’
‘How do you mean?’ Feli asked. ‘Because of the talk with my father?’
She shook her head. ‘It was in the way he looked at us just now. He looked more intensly at each of us.’
‘You think something might be wrong?’ Avia asked.
‘I don’t know. Maybe it’s nothing.’
Cani chewed on a snack and sat back. ‘Then we’ll just ask him tonight.’
Mami nodded and sat back down with her drink.
They had a festive dinner in the large dining room and settled down on the large, soft couches with drinks in the living room while Thom and Guy looked through his music collection for background music. They settled on a collection of smooth jazz.
The girls were telling Mero about the adventures they had since the time they lived with Guy when he quietly pulled out a box from under the low table. Thom went over to the bar setting up a row of glasses on top.
Guy opened the box slowly, then placed five coloured smaller boxes on the table. A white one for Feli, red for Ara, yellow for Avia, grey for Mami and a black one for Cani.
‘Guy?’ Mami asked when she noticed.
The other girls slowly stopped talking and Mero slipped away to join Thom at the bar.
Feli looked at Guy, then at her mother who cried softly. ‘Mom?’
Thom dimmed the lights lightly while Guy tapped one finger on the table looking at the boxes.
‘I’ve had a hard time lately, especially today. Miss Tesha had warned me about having to make tough choices but there’s no way to really understand it without experiencing this situation.’ He took a deep breath. ‘So much has happened in a short time, all because someone made a mistake in writing down an address. I could have lived my quiet life writing my stories and articles, live hopefully to an old age and perhaps even finding a nice girl and start my own family.’ He took the big box and rotated it slowly. ‘But now I found myself living with five foreign girls in a mashed together apartment and decided it can’t go on like this.’
‘Guy?’ asked Cani and looked at the other girls who looked as worried as her.
‘So,’ he said putting away the box and looking at them. ‘with the help of miss Tesha I bought the top floor of the building across the street to turn it into a new home.’
‘You want to move out?’ Feli asked.
‘No way!’ Mami said.
‘You can’t leave!’ Cani said.
He held up his hands. ‘That’s not all. Let me finish.’ he said and took another deep breath. ‘The misunderstanding today also showed me something that I’ve actually known for a while, and that I never want to experience again. It was not an easy decision because I just know there will tough times in the future but I’m willing to go through with it. As long as you are too.’ he said and opened each box revealing a ring with a stone in the same colour as the box.