Off in the distance, old-time Bing Crosby Christmas Carols were playing on a CD in another room. The four of us had gathered around the table, but as soon as the pot roast was served, there was noticably little conversation. For the longest time, the only sound is the occasional *tink* of silverware and cutlery against the plates.
“So….” my mother asks, breaking the silence at our Christmas eve dinner. “How did you two meet?”
I can’t help but chuckle as my girlfriend’s ears twitch a little. My mother is one of those NPR-listening, Saab driving east coast liberals who talks a good game about acceptance and tolerance, but part of me sensed that she had a difficult time accepting her son was now seeing one of those mamono women.
“Want me to take this?” I ask my girlfirend playfully.
The olive-skinned Anubis’ mouth is full as she put a napkin to it and stifled a nervous cough. The normally cool and collected beast woman was at a loss for words. Before she could object, I recount the tale.
“Well….it’s a hot afternoon in August and this is when I’m still stationed at Ft Huachuca. I gave one of the guys in my platoon a ride to the Arizona State campus and I have some time to kill, so I’m just wandering around….and all of a sudden I hear this voice call out You there, Human! I request that you immediately disclose the whereabouts of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology building!…..”
My girlfriend finally speaks up.
“I never said that!” Sakaali said defensively.
“Those were your words- almost verbatim.” I shot back, not surprised she wanted to argue over this.
“But I do not sound like that!” she harrumphed.
“I know, babydoll- your voice is as smooth as silk. Anyways, I turn around and standing before me is this gorgeous Anubis clutching some textbooks. I try telling her that I’m not actually a student, but instead I just play along and introduce myself becuase suddenly, I must know more about her. I tell her I’m new here myself, but I would be happy to try and help her find the building.”
“You smarmy little…” Dad chuckled.
“Oh…it gets better. As we’re walking around trying to find this building, out of the blue she tries flagging down a campus policeman.”
“Oh? Sounds like she was wise to you from the get-go.” Mom muses.
“That’s not quite it…” Sakaali speaks up, her tone markedly less standoffish now. “I detected an elevated heartbeat and shortness of breath in your son and assumed he was suffering from symptoms of heat stroke, so I was hoping the policeman could summon medical attention for him.”
“So the next thing I know, I have this cop and two medics telling me to sit down on the curb while they’re checking my pulse and getting ready strap me into a gurney and install an IV drip. And the whole time I can hear Sakaali calling out Are you well, human?“
“I notice that his heart rate had returned to normal, but he still seemed quite distressed and agitated at that point.” Sakaali adds.
“And with this growing crowd of cops, firemen, paramedics and looky-loos, I finally have to tell her that my pulse was elevated and my breathing was irregular because she took my breath away. I can’t believe that I just blurted it out, and if this were some sappy Hollywood romantic comedy, she’d be all Ah…thank you handsome stranger!” I say in an exaggerated falsetto “but instead, she reads me the riot act…..”
“You DID introduce yourself to me under false pretenses.” Sakaali adds.
“She says I’m unbelieveably ignorant and inconsiderate and that I’ve made her late on her first day of classes. I wait for her to finish up before pointing right behind her and asking Isn’t it this building?….so all of this unfolded there in front of the Science and Technology building she was looking for.”
“When I finished up my classes, there he was waiting for me outside.” my girlfriend continues. “He apologizes for making me late on her first day of classes and said that it’s customary in this nation to take someone you’ve wronged out to dinner as an apology.”
Dad was chortling now.
“You do know that we really don’t have such a custom here in America?” Mom asked.
“I….I found out after the fourth dinner date….” she says quietly, surpressing a little grin. “But even though he decieved me during our first encounter, I still found Graham strangely endearing.”
“That does sound like something he’d do, too….” pops muses. “So Sakaali- how do you like it here?” he asks my girlfirend.
“I’ve found the people of this nation to be a bit disorganized but at the same time quite welcoming and outgoing-” the Anubis beauty starts to say.
“Actually, dear, my husband means how do you like it here– In New Hampshire and in the little house that Grahamy-poo grew up in.” My mother says. I’m guessing the Anubis is leaving a good impression with her if she’s already trotting out my embrassing childhood pet name in front of her.
I can’t help but cringe a little- and not at the nickname. Sakaali has spent not even one afternoon in the little house in northern New Hampshire that I grew up in and my parents are already pressing her on what she thought. Jesus, dad. What not just ask her if she can sniff out any toxic mold in the basement while you’re at it? I lament quietly while absently massaging the bridge of my nose.
Without missing a beat, Sakaali changes gears. “Ah…here? Well, having lived in a desert for most of my life, all of this snow and ice requires some adjustments for me. This domicile, while somewhat more appressed, seems virtually ideal for raising a small family such as yours.”
She hesitates and shoots me a mischevious look before continuing. “Ah…say- you wouldn’t happen to have any photographic documentation of little Grahmmy-poo during prior Christmases, would you?” she asks mom.
“Well I’m glad you asked…” mom says as she excuses herself from the table, making a bee-line for a shelf in the next room containing a stack of photo albums.
“Oh…here’s the one of our family trip down to Colonial Williamsburg. Here we are! Christmas ’88…”
“Come on son…” dad groused as he got up from the table. “Let’s see who’s playing football tonight….”
“I think it’s Cincinati and San Diego….” my voice indicated that I didn’t think it would be that much of a contest.
“Would you rather stay out here?” he jerked his thumb to indicate mom and my Anubis girlfriend, who’s tail was swishing back and forth as they pored over the photo album from my seventh Christmas.
“I’ll get us some beers….” I sigh.
“Oh…Graham.” My girlfriend calls out sweetly. “What is this interesting garment you’re wearing in these pictures referred to?”
“Oh….those are called footie pajamas.” I hear Mom explain to Sakaali.
The more they look through the album, the quicker my pace is to heading to the kitchen. Dad has already settled into his recliner.
“Incoming beer approaching at beer o’clock!” I call out, although just simply hand him a bottle of Berkshire Steel Rail Pale Ale before using my keychain to pop the top off a bottle of my own.
“So….” I ask with some trepidation. “What do you think?”
“I think the Big Twelve conference got shafted again this year.” he said nonchalantly as he nodded towards the TV screen.
“C’mon….you know that wasn’t what I was talking about.”
“Looks like you got yourself a feisty one there, son.” he chuckles. “If I didn’t think you could handle it, this would be the part where I’d tell you to cut bait. Instead, I just have one question…..” he once again nods towards the TV. “What quarter is it? I can’t read that tiny print they have up there….”
“Second quarter…about five minutes ’til halftime.”
“Your mom seems to like her. Is she any good around the-“
“Whoa there, daddy-o….might wanna slow your roll.” I interrupt.
“She any good around the house?” he said, sounding a little annoyed at me cutting him off and misinterperting his question.
“Not just the house….she got her degree from ASU two years ahead of schedule and help walk me through all sorts of paperwork from the VA, the Small Business Administration and the MVD out in Arizona.”
Dad gives me a skeptical look.
“I’m not saying I owe her everything, but I don’t see myself being as well off as I am right now without her.”
“Such as finding clients on short notice, mapping out the best routes, making sure I have some sort of backhaul when I’m done, getting caught up on the insurance and….Good God is she ever a lifesaver when it comes to all that regulatory paperwork from the DOT…”
“I thought those raccoon-looking ones were the ones with a head for business.” dad said, referring to the Gyoubu Danuki, but unable to remember it by name.
“They are, but apparently where Sakaali comes from, her kind have a knack for administrative stuff. That translates over pretty well to some private sector businesses.”
“How does she….?” Dad begins to ask. “Well…you know..how does she even write with those big paws of hers?”
“They’re surprisingly nimble. She also gets alot of mileage out of that stylus that came with her tablet.
“What’s the name of your business again?”
“Desert Knight Vehicle Transport LLC. The name was her idea, too….” I gush. “You gotta admit, it’s a kind of badass name.”
“And what does your fleet consist of?”
“One GMC Sierra 3500 and a gooseneck trailer.” I sigh. Way to burst my bubble, dad.
“You couldn’t get a full-size Peterbilt or Kenmore….or hell…even a Volvo?” he asks.
“Financing would’ve been an issue if I started out that big right out of the gate, Dad.”
“This something she told you?” he asks.
“She and every bank, credit union and dealership in the Valley of the Sun. Not in that order, either. Besides- that GMC can’t haul too much, but she’s much easier to take over those mountain roads that a full tractor trailer combo.”
“And if something should happen to your one truck?”
“There’s a Plan B.” I tell him as I take another pull from the bottle. “Brought a Dodge Ram at an auction last year- used to carry de-icing fluid for the planes at an Air Force base up in Utah. Actually-” I jerk my thumb out to the driveway. “It’s what we drove out here to visit you guys in. It can used to pinch-hit if the need arises.”
“Was that her idea too?” dad asks.
“Nah….no backhaul, perfectly good low mileage truck being sold for dirt cheap. I figured I’d show some intiative for once.” I said.
“What do you mean ‘for once’?” dad asks. “Sounds like you showed plenty of intiative when you first met her.”
I start to cough as some beer goes down the wrong pipe.
“Everything okay, darling!?” Sakaali calls out from the kitchen.
“Yeah…” I say between coughs. “Me and dad are just swapping off-color ethnic jokes!”
“When you’re done telling Polish jokes with your father, would you like to help us out in the kitchen?” mom asks.
“That depends- are the albums still out?”
“Then no….” I pout.
“Come on, son…” dad groused as he reluctantly got out of his recliner. “You knew that shit was coming out as soon as you said you were bringing your girlfriend to visit for Christmas.”
The four of us made pretty quick work of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner when Dad surreptitously took me aside. Despite his earlier words, I figured this is where he was going to tell me he found Sakaali too controlling and I would need to ‘cut bait’.
Instead he hands me a pair of keys.
“What’s this?” I ask. They didn’t look like they were for any vehicle.
“You Uncle Bill and your cousins are staying in the guest room and your old bedroom for the next couple of days. These are the keys to the hunting cabin….”
“Shit, dad…I didn’t know you still had that.”
“So instead of staying with us, I figured you two could use some privacy.”
I was about to blurt out You don’t know the half of it but thought better of it.
“Well…thanks, dad…” I stammer as I’m trying not to think of all kinds of ways I can keep my Anubis girlfriend warm.
“I stocked up a few days ago- there’s plenty of firewood and the road is still passable. You remember how to get there?”
“Yeah….north on 39 to 115A, then to Mill Pond road-“
“Allright then…..now you and her get on out of here. Your mom still has some Christmas presents to wrap.”
“Sakaali, babe!” I call out. “Can you get your things? We’re heading out…”
“I assumed we were staying here.”
“Change of plans….” I say.
“Where are we going?”
Twin lights from the Dodge slice through the dark, wintry New England night sky, occasionally interrupted by the occasional snow flurry as we make our way north.
“So what did you think of my parents?” I hesitantly ask Sakaali as the lights from town quickly faded in the rearview.
“They seem like earnest, dilligent hardworking people.” she said. “Which makes the fact that they sired an incorrigable slacker such as yourself even more of a mystery.”
I chuckled. I wasn’t sure if it was true with every Anubis or just my girlfriend, but to her, praising someone’s work ethic was considered the highest compliment one could be paid.
“Are you having a good time?” I ask.
“I really don’t care for the cold…” she said, looking out the window as moonlit trees and meadows still coated with some fresh snow zipped by. “B-but I can see how much it meant for you to be with your family this time of year. And you thought it was important that they got to meet me.”
We arrive at the cabin a little quicker than I had anticipated. The clouds from the little squall that was dumping flurries on us earlier had parted and the two of us are looking at the cabin in a small clearing in the woods.
“Is this it?” she asks.
“Yep…” I said as I trudge to the door, using a little flashlight on my keychain to try and open up the cabin door with the keys dad gave me. It finally budges on the third try. I can hear Sakaali pad up behind me.
“Hey…I’ve got an idea.” I say mischievously.
“What is that?” the Anubis begins to ask before letting out a yelp as I pick her up and carry her bridal style into the cabin.
“P…put me down!” she protests. “You dundering oaf! Let me go before you drop me!”
“Can’t help it babe! You’re light as a feather and I’m as stiff as a board.”
“You lecher….is that all you can think about?” she huffs as I gently set her down.
“Mostly when I’m around you….” I laugh.
“What’s so funny!?” she asks. Her haughty and irritated tone indicates she still has her misgivings about coming out here.
I give her a quick peck on the cheek. “Nothing’s funny….I just…I’m so happy right now, I don’t think there are words to explain it. I get to see my parents again…..you get to experience a real New England Chistmas…and then….I get to share this cozy little cabin with the love of my life…”
“What’s so special about Christmas in New England?”
“Really? You gotta ask? All the old-time crooners would sing about sleigh rides out in the countryside with their sweethearts. There’s really something almost magical about it…”
“Idiot…” she scoffed. “I originally came from a kingdom that was in danger of being overrun by purple snake women who could turn anyone they bit into their slaves. I know a thing or two about magic…”
The smile on my face vanishes. Even though she’s a large part of the reason why I’m so happy, she seems determined to bring that to a screeching halt.
“Besides….” she continued. “It shouldn’t be where you are that makes you happy. It’s who you’re with, dummy.”
“Point taken….the bottom line is, I’m happy.” I say as I make my way to the stove and test the pilot light. To my delight, a blue gas flame flickers to life from one of the burners.
“Why don’t you go ahead and unpack while I’ll get to work on starting a fire…” I tell her as I dig through the cupboards and produce a kettle before filling it up with water and setting it on the burner.
“Right…I’ll do exactly that.” she said, her expression a little harder to read.
As the kettle is heating up, I do a quick inventory of the kitchen. It looks like dad recently stocked the place with some groceries as I spy some cans of soup, OJ, egg nog, cola, eggs and breakfast sausage patties.
By the little fireplace is a stack of old newspapers, flyers, junk mail and kindling. I get a pretty good fire going on the first try before I hear Sakaali angrily cry out my name.
“Graham- you cretin! You left the burner on…We’re here not even fifteen minutes and you’re already trying to burn this place down?”
“I’m making some hot chocolate, babe!” I yell out in reply.
“I’ll take care of it, since I’m already in the kitchen.”
“If you say so….come on in here when you’re done. I got a pretty good fire going right now.”
A few minutes later, I hear her padding in behind me as I’m feeling nice and toasty by the fire. She holds up a cup of hot coca in front of me with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
“Ah…thank you babe!”
“Don’t get the wrong idea….” she says looking away. “I only made it for you because you were too busy playing with fire. I didn’t want you burning the place down, you know…”
I say nothing right away, but she can feel her eyes on me.
“W-what? What are you gawking at…?” she asks impatiently.
On the tip of her nose is a dab of whipped cream. Just like mine, she also put a dab of whipped cream on her hot cocoa, but got some on her nose when she took her first sip.
“Sakaali the white-nosed Anuby-chan…” I began to sing to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, flicking the offending daub of cream off with my thumb.
“Ah! I’m not a child! Wh…why didn’t you just tell me I had whipped cream on my nose, you fool? I’m more than capable of removing it myself.” She huffs as she tries looking away from me.
“Because you’re so damn cute when you’re angry…”
“Come on….it’s Christmas! There’s snow on the ground, we’ve got a nice fire going in this cozy little cabin and I’m sipping hot cocoa with the love of my life….”
“I…it’s not entirely unpleasant, I’ll admit.” she says hesitantly as she sits down next to me by the fire, taking care to keep her tail away from the hot embers.
“Hey…should we exchange gifts right now?”
“No. I scheduled our gift exchange for Christmas Day. I see no reason to deviate from that now.”
“Aww….pretty please?” I pout.
“Graham- you’re behaving like a little child! Shall I get you your footie pajamas and send you to bed without desert!?” she admonishes.
“Good….then end of discussion.”
She says nothing for a moment but before I know it, she has her paws wrapped around me and is cuddling me.
“D-don’t get the wrong impression…” she says defensively, but never letting go. “The ambient air temperature is still currently suboptimal, therefore I require additional warmth from your body……..my…my desert knight.” she sweetly murmurs the last part as she nuzzles her face up against my chest.”
“Anything for my Empress of the desert….”
“D-don’t call me that, dummy!” she says, horrified, but still not pulling away from me. “You know I serve an empress of the desert kingdom! If she heard you calling me that, she may think I have designs on usurping her lock me away-“
My finger is now on her lips, shushing her.
“You’re MY queen….my empress….my love….my everything…” I whisper in her ear as she lets out a little sigh.
“I….I love you too…” she stammers quietly.
“What’s that?” I ask teasingly.
“YOU FOOL!” she pulls away from me and folds her arms. “All those things I did for you….helped you start and run your own business, helped you with all that VA paperwork, travelled with you across a continent to visit your family, and I STILL have to spell it out for you!?”
“No…no you don’t.” I say, pulling her back into my embrace. “I’m just so happy to have you at my side….”
“Then…then don’t make me say such silly, sentimental things….” she said as she gently squeezed me.
We stayed like that for a few minutes before I felt the fire growing a little dim behind us. Very reluctantly I got up from Sakaali’s embrace to get another log for the fire when I saw there wasn’t any.
When dad said there was plenty of firewood, he most likely meant the logs were kept outside under a tarp. I slip back into my boots and grab a flashlight before venturing out into the night. Scooping up an armload of logs out from under the tarp, I shiver a little bit before I head back in.
As I shut the door, I notice that Sakaali is nowhere to be seen. At least not right away.
“You Idiot! You simpleton! What’s wrong with you!?” the Anubis angrily barks almost in my ear. I’m so startled that I nearly drop the armload of logs. “You’re tracking dirt and snow everywhere! So unsightly….”
I turn and see that instead of her sweater and jeans, she’s now wearing her I-Dream-Of-Jeanie pants with that strategic cutout along the thighs, the dark bikini top which was now barely holding her massive breasts in check and a decorative golden armband. She also had her ornately decorated staff in her hand and is wearing a lewd and lecherous smirk on her face that could frighten a Cheshire Cat.
“Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean I’m going to let you get away with your reckless and inconsiderate-“
Her words stop abruptly as I reach out and start rubbing her ear, miraculously not dropping any logs in the process.
“Ah!…” she almost mewls. “No….don’t……….so sensitive.”
“Does my empress of the desert like that?”
“Y-yes…” she blushes.
“You…..you wore that just for me?” I ask.
She nods shyly, letting out an ecstatic whimper as I continue rubbing her ears. I’m having so much fun taking in the sight of her that I almost forget the armload of logs I’m clutching in my other hand.
“My empress….will you allow your Desert Knight to set down this firewood before disciplining him however you see fit?”
“Ah….such a chivalrous knight who knows his place.” she coos. “I will see to it that he’s rewarded handsomely.”
I toss a log onto the red-hot cinders in the fireplace and set the remainder of the logs on in front of the fireplace.
“Strip.” Sakaali orders abruptly.
“A-as you wish…” I say meekly, quickly stepping out of my winter clothes until I’m in my boxers.
“Remove everything” she orders.
In an instant, the boxers are off and my hands are folded in front of my shaft in a futile effort to preserve my modesty.
“You perverted squire! Attempting to pleasure yourself in front of your empress? I will not tolerate such insolence…”
“But I was only….”
“Backtalk to your empress with make your punishment harsher. Here- give me your hands.” she orders.
I do as she says and she now has my wrists bound together in front of me with the scarf she was wearing earlier. This is done with surprising dexterity given the size of her paws. She didn’t do it to restrict my movement, because if I wanted to, it would take all of five seconds to free myself. She did it because she knew I liked it.
“Perhaps some time bound naked to a tree outside tonight could cure you of your perverse habits, my desert knight.” she teases. “But your desert empress isn’t that cruel.” Sakaali then gently lifts up my bound wrists before sliding under them so that I am now embracing her “Instead, I shall use your body to keep me warm this chilly winter’s eve.”
“If that is what my empress commands….” I say a little nervously. As she’s pressing up against me, I’m backing up. This continues for a few paces until I stumble against a chair. Sakaali quickly wraps her arms around me to prevent me from falling and almost gently guides me into the chair before straddling me, my exposed, engorged and throbbing member now seperated from her folds by a thin layer of fabric.
“Oh…and Graham?” she says sternly, grinding herself against my shaft.
“Mmm?” I almost moan as she continues teasing me with her body.
She leans in and gently whispers in my ear.
“Merry Christmas….I’ve decided- I think I’ll let you have a very special present from me a little early.“