Clarence Skunk, Cindy Lapine, Wanda the Vixen, Susan Felin, Debbye Squirrel, Chris Foxx, Rodney and Ellen Lapine, and Mark the Lemur are copyright Chris Yost. Martin Lupina, Nathan Fenicus, Clint Aardwulf, Nancy David, Pacidy Angelou, Vernon Procyon, Miranda Civet, and most others not listed here are copyright Joe McCauley. Zig Zag is copyright Max Black Rabbit. Sabrina Mustelidae is copyright Eric W. Schwartz. James Sheppard, Rhonda Badger, Lilian Bartholomew, and Gypsy Coyote are copyright James Bruner. Marvin Badger is copyright James Bruner after a description by Chris Yost. Lee Evans is copyright Evan Mayerle. Joshua Fox is copyright Joshua Fox. Jake Mackelroy is copyright David S. Adrian. Kittiara Seng and "Callahans" are copyright Kittiara.
This story is copyright © 2003-2007 by Joe McCauley. This story may not be sold or used for commercial profit in any form or fashion. This story may not be modified in any way. This story may not be posted on any Internet site, archive, or newsgroup without the written permission of the author. Permission is granted for readers to produce an individual copy in print, magnetic or optical media for personal use only.
Characters listed as copyright this author may not be used in other works without the written permission of the author. Permission to use characters that are copyright other individuals was obtained prior to the appearance of said characters.
This is an independent work of fiction that is not canonical with any other work occurring in the same setting or featuring the same characters.
The skunkette opened her eyes, and squinted as the morning sun spilled into the room. The scents that surrounded her had long since become familiar to her, yet it still felt different than it had a month ago now that the vows had been spoken, the commitment had been made, and they were officially married. Tired though she felt, she smiled. It would be another enjoyable day. Life was good.
Sliding out of the bed, careful not to disturb Chris just yet, Sabrina made her way to the bathroom to freshen up, then out to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. Nothing fancy for breakfast today - they would probably just boil water to make instant oatmeal or something like that. Once the coffee was going, she settled down at her computer to see if there was anything that demanded her attention before getting dressed for work. It only took her a few seconds to sign on to the Double Z Studios system. Thank goodness Zig Zag had offered to pay for her to have broadband access once it became evident how long it took to get anything done using dialup; indeed, she wouldn't even be checking the site in the mornings at that speed. Chris certainly didn't complain since he got to use it from his computer as well. Within seconds Sabrina had her e-mail open. One of the new messages was from Mark to Marvin on which she had been carbon copied about a bunch of newly uploaded photos.
She opened her ftp client and pointed it to the indicated directory. She was in the process of browsing through the photos when she heard a voice from behind her. "I like that one," said Chris, padding up quietly behind her with two coffee mugs, one of which he set on the desk beside the keyboard.
Sabrina looked away from the picture of a scantily dressed Wanda smiling invitingly to the camera while on all fours atop the brass bed in a meadow, and up at the fox. "These are unpublished," she said, sitting back and reaching up and backwards to hug her husband. "You didn't see these," she continued. "Yet."
"The only one I see here is you, kitten," he replied, taking her arm in his free paw. He grinned as he studied the fur of her forearm, noting where it was still matted around her wrists from the previous evening's activities. "And what a lovely sight you are."
The skunkette gave a dismissive sniff at his words, but couldn't hide the slight blush that colored her ears. "You always say that," she shot back.
"Because it's true," he replied, releasing her wrist. He leaned forward to kiss her, and she turned and lifted her muzzle to meet his.
After a couple of moments of passion and fighting temptation, she was sipping at her coffee, having returned to the task of previewing the photos. Very interesting. Some of these will make great additions to the pay site, she mused. I can include a few of the tamer ones as teasers for the free section. Unfortunately, she had to be thinking about getting dressed and on her way to work and as such didn't have time just then to properly set up a page for them, so she did what she often did in this situation. She chose a dozen and a half or so of the best and added them to the not-yet-sorted page of the website, where many of the regular pay site customers knew to look for the latest new photos. Then she chose four of the less explicit ones, including a couple in which Wanda had a particularly sultry look in her eyes, and made a quick-and-dirty page for the free preview section, making sure to include a mention of Wild Southern Rose, the studio's forthcoming movie. Finally, after a quick check to make sure everything looked proper, she added the changes to the public section of the website. Having done this sort of thing many times before, it was all less than twenty minutes work for her. She signed off, refilled her mug, and went back to the bedroom and Chris, and got dressed for her real job.
* * *
"I'm so excited," said Nathan over the breakfast table. "I get to drive that Model T today." He broke into the boisterous, southern voice of his character. "I get to drive a Model T! Idn't that sumptin'?" With a chuckle, he reverted back to being himself. "Sometimes this job can be pretty interesting."
Clarence smiled wryly at him. "You're profession isn't exactly, uh, unpopular," he observed.
The fennec nodded. "True," he said. "But sometimes it takes a little luck to get into just the right place."
The skunk thought back to how he'd ended up working for Double Z Studios. "D..did you hear how... I got hired?" He paused, then continued. "I was just v..visiting the flower shop next door, and... and foiled a robbery attempt, b...by accident."
Nathan laughed and nodded. "I heard something about that. Mine wasn't quite so dramatic. I just started off with the wrong company." He paused to take a bite of his sausage before continuing. "I prefer working with women, if you get my meaning, but when I sent out solicitations, I said I could work either side of the fence. Just trying to be flexible, you know, trying to get my foot in the door." He paused another moment. "I did, all right, but the first parts I ended up getting were in gay male films. It was a start, I figured, maybe enough for more opportunities. Well, I got more opportunities, all right. They liked me so much I got a couple more bigger parts, still in gay films." He struck a pose that one might expect a gay man to find attractive. "I was popular, the money was decent, but all the while I'm thinking, this isn't what was supposed to happen. When do I get to do any straight films?"
As Nathan paused to catch his breath and take another bite of his sausage, Clarence managed to get a word out to fill the void. "Ss..so, what happened?"
The fennec continued his story. "My studio asked me to attend an adult film convention as one of their rising stars. I didn't want to go but they talked me into it." He paused and let out a sigh. "It turned out to be the best thing that's happened to me. While I was there I met Zig Zag, and she recognized me from seeing one of my films. We got into a conversation and I got a chance to talk about how my career was going and where it was headed. A week later I was in Columbus trying out for a part, and as they say, the rest is history. I've been working for her ever since."
The skunk nodded. "Eh, yeah, funny how that works."
* * *
Bordering one side of one of the cotton fields on the Crutchfield estate was an intermittent row of trees, resplendent with blossoms and dangling with Spanish moss. On the opposite side of the trees was a cart path, and opposite the cart path where the crew was filming was overgrown heavy weeds and scrub.
"Tyler!" the vixen stage-whispered. "What are you doing here?" Wanda, in a period summer dress that showed her off well, was stopped on the cart path facing the weeds.
"I couldn't wait, Rose. I just had to see you again," the fennec replied.
"You're hidin' in the bushes, for cryin' out loud! If you get caught trespassin'..."
"A chance I had to take. Rose, you're..."
"If my pa sees you, Tyler, he might shoot first and save the questions for later!"
The fennec shrugged it off and kept looking at her affectionately. "Ever since the other day, Rose, you're all I think about. I just had to see you while I still can."
A smile crept across her face. "Ah know," she sighed dreamily. "Ah've thought about it every..." The vixen's face turned to a frown as Wanda broke character. "Crap, let me try that line again..."
Nate maintained his posture as Tyler. From the director's chair, Nancy glanced at Aaron on the main camera, and at Jason on the soundboard. They both nodded, and she looked back at Wanda. "Ready?"
Wanda took a deep breath, then took on her character's face. "Ready."
"Okay, good. Nate, give her the line before."
"Yes, ma'am," he replied in his character voice.
"Ever since the other day, Rose, you're all I think about. I just had to see you while I still can."
As before, Wanda's frown turned to a smile. "Ah know. Ah've been thinkin' about it a lot too. But Ah can't just..."
"Rose, I'm beggin' you..." He sighed audibly. "You are the best I've known since... well, since ever."
She smiled again. "You were..." Wanda stammered again, then looked down.
Nancy sighed. "Cut," she said and stood up, tossing her copy of the script on her canvas seat as she approached the vixen. "What's the matter, Wanda?"
Wanda looked at her. "I don't know. I guess I'm just having trouble getting into my acting zone today."
The otter appraised her, then nodded. She looked around. "All right, everyone. Take ten. Clarence," she said a little louder, turning toward where the skunk was waiting a short distance away. "Baby-sit the set for us. Don't let anyone touch anything, especially if any outsiders show up."
Clarence straightened up. "Yes, ma'am," he replied as he padded over to the set. As everyone else took off to relax for a few minutes and get drinks, he looked around, surveying the area and making sure where everything was. He knew from experience that 'don't touch anything' primarily meant any part of the set that was being filmed and didn't strictly apply to anything off-camera other than the equipment.
After less than five minutes at his post, he saw Wanda returning. Their eyes met briefly as she set aside the bottle of water she was carrying, and she briefly shot him a smile that gave him a slight shiver. Please, Wanda, don't do anything too forward. We don't need another run-in with Nancy. But she didn't hold his gaze, moving instead to her starting mark for the scene, and her face took on an intent look. Her face changed again and she became 'Rose' as she began walking and reciting her lines quietly, finally stopping where she stood facing an absent Tyler. After a couple of attempts to get through a line, she stopped, her posture returning to her normal self, and she turned to face the skunk. "Clarence, can you help me here?"
"I need to run through a few lines and it would help if I had someone to do Tyler's part."
"Well... I don't know..."
Wanda picked up the script from Nancy's chair and handed it to Clarence, pointing to a line. "Just read Tyler's part starting here. Don't worry if your acting isn't the best." As she saw the skunk's shoulders sag, she reached out and put a finger under his chin. "It's not hard. Just do your best." Her demeanor shifted to her character again. "If it helps, remember that it's Rose you're talkin' to, not Wanda. Okay."
Clarence smiled slightly and took the script from her, struggling to keep his paws from shaking. "I'll... try," he replied.
Rather than standing in Tyler's spot (which he himself had cleared before they started shooting) he stood on the path in front of the tall weeds, while Wanda stood a corresponding distance further back. Wanda began with the line before the one she had indicated. Clarence read Tyler's lines in turn - he was too nervous to try playing the character of Tyler in his delivery but managed to get them out smoothly enough as long as he was just trying to read words on a page. "Ever since the other day, Rose, you're all I think about. I just had to see you while I still can."
"I know. I've been thinking about it a lot too. But I can't just..."
After an awkward pause before a line where he was supposed to interrupt her, Clarence continued. "Rose, I'm begging you. You're the best I've known since, uh, since ever."
"You too, Tyler," 'Rose' replied dreamily. "That was the best Ah've felt in a long time."
Clarence recited Tyler's next line. "How could I not want to do that again? You were so hot!" The skunk's ears flushed noticeably as his voice started to catch on the last couple of words.
"You were pretty hot yourself," 'Rose' drawled seductively.
Looking decidedly ill at ease, Clarence forced himself to continue. "When I s... see you, Rose, it just g... gets me... uh, it just gets me go... going." There was a long unscripted pause. "It's, uh... It's what you d... do to... aw, jeez!" Clarence squeezed his eyes shut.
"You okay, Clarence?" asked Wanda in her normal voice. "It's just lines from a script."
The skunk opened his eyes slightly. "I don't know."
The vixen glanced further down his body, then back up at his face. "I guess you were taking that a little too... personally," she observed.
Clarence shifted on his feet, then bent forward and repositioned his arms to make the effect the reading had had on him a little less obvious. "I duh.. don't think I... c-can d-d-do this anymore," he stammered out, ears and nose red.
"It's okay, Clarence," said Wanda, trying to keep her face from breaking out into a huge grin of amusement and not entirely succeeding. "Why don't you go get a drink and I'll keep an eye on the set."
She watched him pad off in the wrong direction - or rather, the direction where he would be least likely to run into anyone else, she realized - and smiled to herself, feeling somewhat guilty. I wasn't trying to put him on the spot or anything. I just needed some help getting into the right frame of mind.
Her thoughts were interrupted a few seconds later when Nancy, Nathan, and the rest of the crew returned. "Okay, are we about ready to try this again?" Nancy asked, then paused. "Where's Clarence?" she asked, looking around.
"He needed a break. He was helping me," Wanda replied. "I'm ready to try again," she said with a big smile.
"But he's... Okay, whatever. Let's do it."
Ten minutes later, Nancy was smiling as she watched Wanda deliver her performance. "Don'tcha see? How can Ah keep seein' you when Ah gotta marry Malachi?" 'Rose' pointed out to her clandestine lover.
"But that's all the more reason to see each other while we still can," 'Tyler' replied. "Please don't leave me hangin', Rose."
They held each other's gaze for a long pause, until Nancy finally announced, "Cut! Print!" After a quick survey of the crew, everyone breathed a little easier. "Fantastic job, Nathan. Excellent, Wanda."
"Thank you," they both said in unison.
The otter smiled. "Wanda, you were so much better than earlier. Just what did you and Clarence do?"
"Nothing much," the vixen replied. "He just helped me go over a few lines."
Nancy looked intently at Wanda. "I get the feeling there's more to it than that." Her gaze relaxed. "Whatever you two did, it made all the difference. I'll have to remember that." She looked around again. "Where did that boy disappear to?"
* * *
Rhonda frowned at the orderly as he brought in the wheelchair. "I don't need that," she insisted. "I'm well enough to walk on my own two feet."
The large deer smiled pleasantly. "I get that a lot," he said sideways to Marvin, who was busy loading the last of her possessions and flower vases on a cart, before replying to the badger femme. "Doctor's orders are for you to take it easy, so I get to be your limo driver from here to the parking lot."
Rhonda sighed. "Well, I guess I can't refuse that kind of service," she said as she stood up from her bed and prepared to take a seat.
"I'll let you walk around some at home," Marvin quipped. "The view of you is nicer that way."
Rhonda shot him a dirty yet sultry look. "I can provide a spectacular view from any position I want to."
Marvin nodded as his ears flushed. "True, very true. Shall we get this show on the road?"
"Yeah, I can't wait to see what shape the house is in," Rhonda said wryly. "Ahead full!" And with that, the buck pushed her through the door and out of her room, followed by Marvin and the cart.
* * *
"Are you getting used to the pedals yet?" asked the elder gray wolf from the passenger seat of his Model T Ford.
"Getting the hang of it," Nathan replied, glancing briefly down at the pedals once again, then returning his eyes to the rural road. "I didn't realize it would be so different driving a Model T."
The wolf chuckled. "The pedals everyone takes for granted in cars didn't become standard until the late 1920s. This baby's about ten years older than that."
"Ah," Nathan replied. "But when you're just cruising down the road there's nothing different, really. Steering works the same."
"Just make sure you know what you're doing if you have to make a sudden stop."
Pacing them about a hundred yards ahead was the rental truck. The back was open, and Mark was trying to steady himself while he experimented with various shots of the Model T using the handicam. "You know what?" he said to Clarence, who was riding beside him. "It's hard to concentrate on working the camera when you're nervous about falling out if the truck hits a bump or something."
Clarence thought a moment. "M...maybe if we had a... rock climbing belt, or some...thing similar," he replied.
"Did you hear that, Vernon," shouted Mark toward the access door to the cab.
"I don't think we have one, and we'd probably have to go all the way to Macon to find something like that," the raccoon replied, turning his head only slightly in order to keep his eyes on the road. "But we could probably rig up something. Safer that way, and you can concentrate on getting the best shot."
Mark smiled back at Clarence. "Good idea, Clarence. Thanks."
* * *
He stared at the page before him, which already had several cross-outs and not much else. The paw that wasn't holding the pen had a fistful of his own hair. Why am I trying to write a poem about Wanda?, he asked himself for the hundredth time. It wasn't this much of a struggle to write poetry for Cindy or Sabrina, and it was more fun. But Jake was right, I have to admit - it's making me take a closer look at why I react to her the way I do.
It was also dragging up some memories...
"Who are you going to the dance with, Clarence?" That question, asked in a patronizing, sarcastic tone, came from Shannon Noseworthy, a palomino he always thought was more annoying than attractive. He turned from his locker to look at her and her two giggling friends, Annalise the sable ferret and Roberta the bear, either of whom could be just as annoying.
"I... uh... d..don't have a... a date," he stammered. "I'm pro..probably not g..going."
"You're not?", Shannon replied shrilly. "Aww, too bad. Lenore will be sooo disappointed!"
Annalise piped up. "Yeah, she said she was hoping you'd ask her."
Clarence gave her a puzzled look. "I don't think she... she'd go with me."
"Oooh, here she comes now," said Shannon, looking past him down the hall. "Why don't you go ask her?"
He turned to see her approaching. He regarded Lenore, a red fox, as the least annoying of the four of them. At moments like this he regretted ever admitting to any of his friends that he found her attractive, as he had been too naive to realize that asking them to keep a secret was a surefire way to insure that word got around and came back to haunt him. She arrived at her locker nearby and began dialing her combination as she greeted the group, unaware of the conversation that had taken place moments earlier. "Hey, guys..."
A jumble of thoughts went through Clarence's head. Is there any way I could just get away from this gang? Am I being sucked into this? Could I enjoy a date with Lenore? He closed his locker and tried to take a few steps backward, hoping he might be able to slip away.
"Well Clarence..." egged Shannon.
Lenore looked straight at him. "Does Clarence want something," she said.
"He wants to ask you something," said Annalise and Roberta almost in unison.
The skunk, having failed his escape attempt, was feeling very awkward at this point, wishing he could be anywhere but here. There didn't seem to be any easy way out of this situation. "Well..." was all he could get out at first.
"Go on..." Shannon again.
The fox was looking straight at him, and he could feel himself almost shaking. "Would you... like to... to go to the dance?"
Lenore looked back at him and laughed. "With you, Stinky?" She glanced briefly at Shannon, then back at him. "Why would I want to go to the dance with you?" she continued, sounding almost whiny. The other three girls all giggled loudly.
Clarence was crushed. Suckered by the hope that something might come of this, and embarrassed that a gang of girls were having a good laugh at his expense. He punched his locker and turned to head to his next class, moving as quickly as possible to get out of earshot of their singsong giggles.
His scalp hurt, and he realized it was because his clutched fist was pulling too hard on his headfur. Did Wanda remind him a little too much of Lenore? Was there something about her that was just a bit too similar to Shannon and her gang, and all the other girls who used to tease him in high school? More to the point, could Wanda ever be like them?
He was able to get one verse of a poem down and fragments of a couple more before he gave up in frustration and went to bed.
* * *
Somewhere on the Internet:
** WenWolf has joined **
SnugZ79: heyaz, wen
WenWolf: Hi everyone
BiggerFish: Im bored
SnugZ79: check out the new pics on zz
SnugZ79: double z studios, new pics section
BiggerFish: wow that vixens hot
WenWolf: Were those just posted?
SnugZ79: yep, within the last day or so
WenWolf: She looks good with all those flowers
BlackAngel33: yep, love all teh daisies
WenWolf: Black-eyed Susans, actually
BiggerFish: who carez? shes the one to look at
BlackAngel33: I wonder where they took those
WenWolf: Looks like somewhere in the south
pizzacowboy: *drools* Who is she?
SnugZ79: wanda the vixen, one of their ladies
BiggerFish: r there more pics of her?
SnugZ79: lots - best ones are in the paysite
mETAPseudo: *reaches for credit card*
pizzacowboy: *does too*
WenWolf: I think she's got some new fans
On to Chapter 8
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