Authors: Ann Somerville
Tags: #m/m, #gay romance, #M/M-romance, #fluffy
A Fluffy Tale
These stories are a
work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be
construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events,
locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
‘A Fluffy Tale 2:
Warm and Fuzzy’ Copyright © 2011 by Ann Somerville
All Rights Are
Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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by Ann Somerville
As Daniel opened the front door, Kani
popped his head out of Daniel’s pocket and chirped.
“You smell pizza too?” Kems never ate but
for some strange reason Kani found the scent of cooking pizza irresistible. To
Daniel, it meant food, and he was starving. Something healthier for supper
might have been better, but the relief of not having to cook after an
exhausting day, and knowing Dee would have just pulled out one of the frozen
ones they’d made in bulk last week, made it difficult to feel really guilty.
“Go find Veen and Lili. Go play,” he said,
putting his kem on the ground and patting his little grey bottom. Kani squeaked
and scampered off up the stairs.
He opened his mouth to tell everyone he was
home, but Dee bounced out of the kitchen before he could make a sound. She came
to a halt and put her hands on her hips. “Well?” Her kem, Lili, perching on her
shoulder, put her head up with an identical expectant expression on her furry
“I start next Monday.”
Dee yelled and ran for him, Lili jumping
off with a squeak before she was squished in a sibling sandwich. Daniel caught
Dee up and swung her around. “You did it,” she bellowed into his right ear.
“Proud of you!”
“Thanks, Dee. Where’s Alex?”
Daniel stuck a finger into his now deafened
ear and let her go so she could shout up the stairs. “Daniel got the job! Come
Alex thundered down the stairs and jumped
straight at Daniel. “Really? Are we going to be rich?”
Daniel grinned and ruffled his brother’s
red hair. “Not quite, squirt. Who’s hungry? I’m starving.”
“We’re having pizza,” Dee confirmed. Veen,
Lili, and Kani tumbled down the stairs, and Kani squeaked excitedly as the
magic word ‘pizza’ was mentioned. Dee bent and picked up her kem. “Daniel, you
should call Grandma.”
“I will, but after I eat. I didn’t have
She pulled a face that reminded Daniel
achingly of their mother. “That’s a bad habit.”
“Nag, nag,” he said, tugging on her
ponytail, then scooping up Kani and putting him on his shoulder. “Come on.”
As they ate the pizza, Daniel vowed that
some of his new salary would go towards better food. The pizza was delicious
but the household budget was tight, and he hated opening the fridge and seeing
all the discount stickers on the new items, meaning Dee had been scouring the
bargains again. It took her time which she didn’t have to spare, between her
studies, her archery, looking after Alex while Daniel had searched fruitlessly
for a job that an unqualified would-be engineer with no experience could do,
and spending a tiny number of hours of week socializing with her
friends—something Daniel was determined she should continue to do. He
didn’t want her turning into Alex’s ‘mother’—or his own.
“Maybe we should hire a cleaner once a
week,” he said after he wiped his mouth, burping a little.
“We can’t afford it,” Dee snapped.
He did a double-take,
her outrage as uncharacteristic as it was shocking. “It was just an idea,
DeeDee. We can afford it with me working—”
“No way. We can manage. The house is clean,
right, Alex?” Her little brother nodded vigorously.
“Yes, it is,” Daniel
said, patting her arm. “But your exams are coming up, and I’ll be out of the
house all day—”
“No. You’re not working to pay for someone
to do what we can do ourselves. Mum would have hated that.”
“But she had a cleaner for a couple of years
when Alex was smaller....” He shut up, as the mulish set to his sister’s jaw
became something sadder, and her eyes started to fill. “It was just an idea,
Dee. I’m worried about you doing too much.”
“I’m fine. We’re all fine, right, Alex?” His
brother nodded again. “There you go. I better go phone Grandma. Alex, dishes.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Alex grumbled,
climbing off the stool.
“No, I don’t. You’re a good kid. You’re
both good kids.”
“Huh, you’re not exactly an old man,” Dee
said, smiling a little.
“Maybe not, but I have to fake being a
responsible adult now. Why don’t you go up and talk to Susan?”
“She’s got a new
.” She made it sound like ‘herpes’. “Natalie wanted me to
go online though, when I finish my assignment.”
“Need any help with it?”
“No, big brother, I do not need you to do
my homework. Go call Grandma and tell them I send my love.”
He grinned and went to his parents’ office
to make the call. He couldn’t call it ‘his’ office in his head, and never
would. His parents’ books and papers, their desks, were just as they’d been
left, and though Daniel had cleared a small space for his own laptop, he
couldn’t bring himself to disturb the rest of it more than absolutely
necessary. If he’d had any inclination to, it would have disappeared after
coming in one afternoon and finding Dee curled around one of their mother’s
medical books, sobbing her heart out in their mother’s chair. It was too soon
to think of changing anything. It probably always would be.
His grandmother took a long time to answer
the phone and even though this wasn’t unusual, Daniel’s chest still tightened
with anxiety. He couldn’t help having bad associations with people not
responding to his telephone calls. He wondered if he would ever react normally
to perfectly ordinary things like building sites and unanswered calls again.
Finally his grandmother’s voice came on the
line. “Daniel? How are you, dear?”
“I’m fine, Grandma. I just wanted to let
you know I got a job.”
“Oh, wonderful. Which one?”
“Personal assistant in a company which
works with job creation charities. Microloans and that kind of thing.”
“Oh goodness. I didn’t know you knew about
that kind of thing, dear.”
“I don’t. But the guy I’ll be working for
says all that matters is that I’m smart and willing to learn, which I am.”
“Well, I hope it goes splendidly for you.”
She paused to cough and Daniel’s chest got tight again. “How are the children?”
“All good, and sending their love. How’s
She paused and Daniel had a horrible
feeling she was preparing to deliver bad news. “He just finished the chemo
today. He’s tired, but holding up. He’ll be so pleased to hear about the job.”
“As soon as Alex and Dee finish school this
year, we’ll come up. At least, they will. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get
holidays so soon.”
“That’d be lovely, dear. Alex knows not to
be too noisy, doesn’t he? Joseph hasn’t been sleeping well.”
“He’ll be good, Grandma. They’re great
kids, you know that.”
“You all are, dear. I wish we could have
you here to stay. It’s so worrying that you’re all so far away.”
“I know. Can’t be helped. I’ll call you
again after I start work next week, let you know how
I’m getting on. And you’ll let us know how Grandpa is?”
“Yes, of course. He’s doing as well as we
hoped. You mustn’t worry about us, dear.”
hope of that
. “Tell Grandpa to get lots of rest.
“You too, Daniel. Love to you all.”
He hung up. He often wished he hadn’t felt
it so important to keep the family house and stay here, instead of moving
across the country. He hadn’t wanted to disrupt Dee and Alex’s schooling, not
on top of all the other changes in their lives, and, selfishly, he hadn’t
wanted to deal with the hassle. When Grandma had the heart attack and then they
heard about Grandpa’s cancer, he’d felt paralysed by fresh grief and worry, and
that had made making a decision to move even more impossible.
Too late now, after he’d spent months
looking for a job and finally got one. Now he’d have to make the best of it,
earn and save enough to give them security, let Dee and Alex have the freedom
to do the things their parents had wanted them to do. If he could at least
afford to send them to their grandparents for the long hols,
that would be something. It would be good for all of them, and if he’d
be a little lonely for two months, it didn’t matter so long as the kids had a much needed break and his grandparents had company.
Kani licked his face, and Daniel smiled at
the gentle touch. He patted his kem, who nuzzled affectionately under his chin,
reminding Daniel was still wearing his tie. He tugged it off with a sigh. No
hope that his new job would be relaxed about such things. Anthony—“Call
me Tony,” he’d said—Noble, his new boss, had explained that the company
had a strict dress code to inspire professionalism in their clients and
confidence in their wealthy sponsors. Daniel hated ties with a passion. But he
hated denying his sister and brother security and little luxuries even more. So
ties were in, at least until the bank account was a little healthier.
“Come on you, let’s go help Alex and Veen.”
Kani chirped, jumped down and scampered off towards the kitchen. If only Daniel
could feel so much innocent excitement about his new job. Once he settled in,
it would all be easier. He just had to get through the first few weeks.
“Spencer, have you time to come and meet my
new assistant and talk about the project?”
Spen patted Myko away from his mobile phone
and wagged his finger at his kem as he listened to the call through his earpiece.
“Sure, Tony. I’ll be along in ten minutes.”
Tony closed the call, and Myko made an odd
little hiss as Spen took his earpiece off to rub the spot behind his ear.
“What’s the matter with you?”
Myko sniffed but declined to give any more
clues. Spen could guess. His kem didn’t like Tony Noble for some reason, and
the signs of disapproval had only increased in the six months since Noble had
joined the company. Spen didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other,
except he wished the high and mighties had picked a more IT literate manager to
supervise the implementation of the software designed to coordinate
communications between the company, trainers and trainees. Although a more IT
literate manager might have interfered more, which would have been definitely
unwanted. Spen had very strong ideas about managers stomping all over his
department and his team.
He lifted his head and caught the eye of
his deputy manager, Jyoti. “Off to a meeting, number two. You have the conn.”
She saluted with a grin. “Aye aye,
captain.” Spen’s team was one big geek hive, and he loved it.
Myko rode on his shoulder, chirping happily
in greeting to other people and their kems as Spen walked through the corridors
and rode in the lift. It reminded Spen again that he’d never seen Tony Noble’s
kem. Some people, strange to say, didn’t care for their kem’s company during
the working day—or at all—and Noble seemed to be of that mind.
Stroking Myko’s fluffy tail, Spen couldn’t imagine enduring the office day
without his little friend. Myko, apparently reading his thoughts, gave his
cheek a lick.
“Yes, I was thinking about you, you
nuisance. Now behave and don’t hiss at anyone. Not even him, okay?” Myko
squeaked, but the mischievous glint in his golden eyes didn’t reassure. Kems
did what they wanted in the end. Their humans could only hold their hands up
and say “Wasn’t me, honest”.
He knocked on Noble’s office door and
walked in. A young man stood as he entered. Spen’s first thought was to wonder
if the school kids on work experience had started early this year.
“Ah, Spencer, thanks for coming,” Noble
said, without rising. “This is Daniel Walkinshaw, my new PA. Daniel, Spencer