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Old 02-27-2016, 09:05 PM   #71
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“Ah, okay. Good. I don’t think you’ll need more than one, though. It’s not that scary,” Suzanna assured her.

“Sure. I’ll be the judge of that,” Carrie replied, and handed Suzanna a glass over the counter. She pulled up a couple of chairs to a small end table, set out her “Closed” sign, and locked the shop door, leaving the key in the lock inside. The two women raised a toast to cats, sipped, and the cats stole out from behind the screen.

“Excuse us,” said Meows. “Suzanna, my friends have not heard the tale. They were separated from the group before they were able to hear it. May they listen in, please?”

“Of course,” replied Suzanna, raising her glass to them.

Bart eyed the cognac. “Perhaps some ice cream for us might be in order?”

“Okay,” agreed Carrie. She got up and went to the little refrigerator she kept in the back, and came back with vanilla ice cream for them. She put the bowls on the floor around the end table so the cats could have their treats and listen in easily.

“The Ash Mountain Ferals, as they are officially called, began in England in the days of King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon. There was a very young farmer living on the west coast of Wales who was said to have some very special powers. In fact, it was said at the time he was a healer, and some claimed to have seen the great Taliesin riding out to meet with him in the groves,” began Suzanna. “The young man’s name was Garaen, and one night he was summoned to the town in the middle of the night.

“One of the town’s richest merchants’ daughter was ill with a fever, and the merchant begged the young farmer to do everything he could to save her, and that he would pay the young man anything he wished if he would save her life and restore her health. Garaen told the father he would try, and if she did survive and get well, they would discuss and agree on a payment later. If she died, the merchant owed the farmer nothing. So the deal was struck, and the young man went in to the daughter’s bedside.”

Suzanna paused to sip her cognac, then continued:

“She was about dead, and after examining her, he realized that there was only one thing he could do. It was risky at best and involved a spell, and it had to be done exactly right or there would be disastrous results. He stepped back out of her room and told her father what he had found and the conclusion to which that had led, and after some thought, the father asked the healer about the spell. Garaen told him about it, and since it took the two of them to do it, he explained what the father’s role in the spell was.”

“What was the spell?” asked Belle.

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Old 02-27-2016, 09:08 PM   #72
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“Ssssshhhh!” hissed Bart.

“No one knows,” replied Suzanna. “It’s never been attempted since, and after a time no one remained who knew about it. Anyway, so the young man and the father go into the daughter’s room, and – “

“What was her name?” Belle wanted to know.

“Eliana,” said Suzanna. “So, they start the spell, but unknown to the healer, the father did not believe in magic or spellwork and halfway through the spell, he got nervous and very frightened, and became convinced the healer was actually trying to harm his daughter and take her from him. As I said, if the spell is messed up, well, here comes disaster.

“The door to Eliana’s room had been left open, and in walked a cat. The father went nuts, taking the cat’s presence as a sign that his daughter was being harmed somehow, and suddenly he fell over with a stroke, dead, just like that. Garaen and Eliana, because Garaen believed and Eliana was the object of his ministrations, turned into sentient cats.

“They knew they couldn’t stay in town, so they ran to the hills, and there they lived and started a family. The clowders grew from them, ending up in Europe and, later, Egypt, by ship. The cats were caught and put on board to keep the rats under control, and in 1492, on the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria….”

“That’s how we got here!” Pook cried.

“Exactly,” smiled Suzanna.

“Holy cow. That’s a wild one,” Carrie muttered. “And I thought Jack and the Beanstalk was weird.”

“Makes sense, though. If you find it hard to believe in magic, you’re going to have a hell of a time believing in sentient cats. Ask someone who’s a real witch or a Druid if their cats talk to them exactly as yours do. They’ll look at you as if you’re out of your tree,” Suzanna explained.

“Well, that’s true,” nodded Carrie.

“What was the father’s name?” asked Belle.

They all smiled at her.

“No one knows,” Suzanna replied.

The cats finished their ice cream and went back to the computer.

Carrie laughed. She went over to the coffeemaker on the end of the counter. "Would you like some coffee now? That wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it might be.”

"Actually...." Suzanna checked her watch. "If you haven't had lunch yet, would you join me for a bite?"

"Sure," said Carrie. "I'd love to."

Meows stuck his head out again. "May I stay here please?"

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Old 02-27-2016, 09:10 PM   #73
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"Yes," smiled Suzanna. "If it's okay with Carrie."

"Of course. They're having fun."

"Okay, you can stay. Just be good and don't break anything or make a mess."

Meows looked insulted. "Far be it from me to make a mess in a fine establishment such as this," he sniffed, and disappeared again.

Carrie's eyebrows went up. Suzanna laughed.

"That's a polite way of saying go jump," she whispered to Carrie.

"It certainly is," Carrie agreed, putting her coat on and picking up her purse.

The afternoon flew by for the cats. Meows turned out to be a wealth of information as well as an excellent and patient teacher, and little Belle absorbed the maps of the world as fast as Meows could show them to her. Then she wanted to learn about the oceans, then volcanoes, and from there she learned about earthquakes and hurricanes. Meows seemed never to run out of interesting facts and he answered her incessant questions simply and accurately. They took another break around three, when Ralph called them for a snack. Meows and Suzanna were very happy to find Carrie and the cats, and the two women were fast friends by the end of the day. When Joyce arrived to pick up Pook and Saav, she was glad to meet Suzanna and Meows, and to share their secret with them. Meows was sorry to see two of his new friends leave, but Joyce promised she would bring them over the next day, Saturday, for a visit. Carrie asked Suzanna to bring Meows over any time she wished, and he promptly asked if he could visit on Saturday. It would be New Year's Eve, and they decided to have a little party for all the cats that afternoon in the store.

Carrie told Joyce that Ralph now knew of the cats' amazing abilities, and she wasn’t upset at all, though Belle did apologize. It wasn't necessary, Joyce was comfortable with Ralph and after all, she felt Ralph deserved to share the exciting secret because he was so good and generous to the cats. Also, Pook had spoken suddenly without warning to Carrie, so Joyce understood how sometimes it happened, but to the right people. Carrie and Suzanna agreed with that, too. Joyce, along with Carrie, was also very impressed with Meows's 'people manners'.

When everyone left and Carrie, Bart and Belle were left, Belle looked around.

"Sometimes it seems empty in here when all our friends leave to go to their forever homes," she sighed, nuzzling Carrie's hand. Carrie looked down at the tiny blue-eyed kitten.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:12 PM   #74
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"It does, doesn't it, little one?" she replied, petting her.

"Don't worry, we'll be meeting them on the computer later," Bart reminded her.

Meows was going to add them all to his contact list so they could chat and he could continue to teach Belle and answer all her questions from home. Bart was eternally grateful to Meows for that.

"It's been quite a day," said Carrie. "We made some new friends."

"I'm glad you and Suzanna get along so well. I never see you with friends much at all," said Bart.

"I don't really have many friends," Carrie said. "I just work all the time when Kyle's away."

"Well, it's good for both of you. Suzanna's only been here a few weeks, and she doesn't know anyone, and she's almost as busy as you, getting that place in shape down there."

"I like them a lot," said Belle. "Meows is so smart!"

"He really is. He's an entire Encyclopedia Brittanica on paws," Bart agreed. "I knew he was smart when I saw him from the window this morning."

Down the street half a block away, Suzanna let Meows off her shoulder and plopped the pile of catalogs on the desk next to her computer in their hotel suite.

"Whew. I have a lot to look at," she told the cat.

He nodded. "True. But I think you found the right person to help you with it. And you've got me, too. You know I'll help."

She smiled that dazzling, warm smile of hers, and scratched his chin. "I know, and I appreciate you. Hungry?"

Meows gave her a helpless look. "After all I ate today? You should have seen Ralph's idea of a 'snack.' Not right now, Suzanna, maybe later. But thank you, anyway. Where'd you and Carrie go for lunch?"

"Oh, down to that little Chinese restaurant a couple blocks from the B and B. They have a great lunch buffet."

"That's nice. Looks like you two get along real well," he replied, hopping up on the nightstand on his side of the bed where he kept his laptop. Meows pawed it on. "I'm adding my new friends to my messenger. I never use the thing, but I stuck it on here anyway just a few days ago just in case I needed it."

"Good thing you did," she said, and turned on the news on TV and picked up a catalog and put it on the little sofa. She went to the tiny kitchenette and put on a kettle of water for tea. "You guys seemed to get along really well."
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:00 AM   #75
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Meows laughed. "That little one, Belle. She's a smart little thing. She learns so quickly and pelts questions at me so fast I can barely keep up with her. Bart's a good guy. The half-grown girls are pretty funny. I liked their owner, too."

"Yeah, that's a bunch of nice people. Nice little town, wonderful people...beats the heck out of the big city. I'm glad to be out of that ratrace. Here, I can walk to work...and it's safe. I hardly ever use the car any more." She flopped on the sofa. "Finally. Forty years of the big-city claustrophobia is over. I feel like I can breathe again."

Meows, pawing in his new friends' addresses, smiled to himself. As for me, he thought, nearly three years of seeing you stressing out is over. Now we both can breathe again.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:49 AM   #76
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I'm still reading and loving this...
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:10 AM   #77
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It's delightful! Keep 'em coming, Cat!
She who dies with the most toys, wins.
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:52 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I'm still reading and loving this...
Isn't this wonderful? My English is getting better again as I read each page!

I learned a new phrase last night. Joyce watched me copying and pasting this and she hugged me. She said, "This is a real labor of love, Cat. I'm really honored you would do this for me."

A labor of love is when one does a hard task for someone one loves. I love her, and I love you all, and I love her book. There is much love in this labor, yes?

Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
It's delightful! Keep 'em coming, Cat!
I shall! I do as much as I can in the evenings when my work is all done. I am so very happy you like this!

With very much love poured onto each page I post for you all and Joyce,
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Old 02-28-2016, 09:57 PM   #79
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Chapter 5 – Sunshine Inn

Pook and Saav made a beeline for the front door of their house when Joyce let them out. She opened the door, and they scooted in, looking for their canine sister. They always worried about her and missed her when they were at the shop. Ruffie, the big wolfdog, came out from the back, yapping happily in greeting. They rubbed against her legs and traded whisker-kisses and head-bonks. The little girls then raced back out to the kitchen, where Joyce was cleaning out her lunchbox.

"What's for dinner?" asked Saav, hopping up on the kitchen table.

Joyce looked at her. "You pigged out on seafood and hush puppies all day and you're still hungry?"

Saav smiled and belched. "Yes."

Joyce shook her head. “Might want to get you checked for tapeworms.”

“She doesn’t have worms, Mom. Look at her. She just had another growth spurt,” Pook pointed out.

“Yep,” said Saav proudly, stretching. “I am getting a little bigger.”

“Well, you sure are,” Joyce smiled, and petted the preening Saav.

Pook jumped up beside her. "Would you believe Belle likes veggies? Today she was eating salad! I'm talking lettuce, carrots, rabbit food. Gaaahhhh! And you wouldn't believe what broccoli does to her."

"I can just imagine," said Joyce, wrinkling up her nose.

“They all joined our forum today,” Saav announced, swatting at the peppermill on the table. “We made them their own sections with forums for their blogs, pictures, stuff they write, whatever, like our personal forums. Meows wanted a special forum for his book reviews, Belle wanted a section on poetry, and Bart wanted a spot where he could post pet news. Kinda neat!”

“Well, good, that will be interesting to read,” said Joyce.

"What did you think of Suzanna and Meows?" Saav asked.

"Suzanna is gorgeous and seems to be so interesting. I hope we see much more of her. Meows is a perfect little gentleman, and seemed to really take to Belle."

"Yeah," said Pook, smoothing her whiskers with a paw. "He's kinda like a mentor to her, teaching her about all kinds of things. Meows is real smart."

"Carrie needs a good friend like Suzanna," added Saav. "She spends too much time alone."

"I know she does. I wish I didn't have to get up so early, otherwise I'd try to get over to her house more during the week," said Joyce.

"So what are we going to be doing for our cat party tomorrow?" asked Pook.

"Probably eat a lot and visit," Joyce laughed.

"Sounds like fun to me. We're good at that," said Saav with a giggle.

"Can we give presents?" Pook asked.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:03 PM   #80
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"Well, sure, if you'd like to." Joyce smiled at Pook. “What did you have in mind?”

"Just a little something for Meows and Suzanna. They're new here, and we didn't get to have Christmas with them," Saav explained.

"Yeah, and they were here on Christmas, and probably spent it alone in that hotel room," Pook added.

"Yuck. I see your point. Okay, we'll find them something nice before we go. It may be a week late, but at least it's something," nodded Joyce.

After a dinner of homemade chicken soup and salad, Joyce, Pook, and Saav sat in the living room. Joyce was on her laptop editing some pictures, while Saav helped Pook with her class assignment online.

Pook finished her class project, and sent it in. She turned the computer over to Saav, who had a short story to finish.

“I hate this,” Saav snarled, bringing up her document.

“You hate what?” asked Joyce.

“Writing this crap,” replied the black cat.

“What crap?” Joyce leaned over and looked at the screen. “Ohhh…you have to write a love story.”

“Makes me want to retch,” grumbled Saav.

“That’s why I’m not helping you with this one. Any more of that and I will retch,” said Pook. “That’s disgusting.”

Joyce read it. “Why, that’s not bad at all. Just a little kissing, is all. I’ve seen worse.”

“Phooey on that. I think it’s horrible. They’re gonna get run over by a train,” muttered Saav.

“That’ll work. A terrible tragedy,” said Pook. “They aren’t real people anyway.”

“Geez! That’s awful!” exclaimed Joyce.

Saav giggled. “What do you think, Pooks? Passenger or freight train?”

“Freight trains are heavier, aren’t they?” Pook asked.

“Oh, Pook! You’re not helping,” Joyce said, wincing.

“I said I wasn’t helping with this one in the first place,” said Pook. “Go for it, Saav.”

Saav sighed, frustrated. “I would, but the instructor might hate it and I need a good grade on this to keep up my average.”

“Oh. But Saav, we’ll never graduate,” Pook pointed out.

“So? That should make you not want to do your best to learn?” asked Saav.

“Well, no, of course not, but if you really wanted to mess with the instructor and do it, you could and it won’t hurt you,” said Pook.

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