Tales Of The Foxtaur Clans #2

Ketta's Christmas

by Bernard Doove © 1998

On nights like these, Ketta was very happy to have a job in a warm, dry diner. It kept her extra busy though because all the truck drivers had the same idea. She looked out the window to check out the weather again and decided that it had worsened even more. The heavy snow that was making driving hazardous for even the experienced rig drivers had become a blizzard. In the past few minutes alone, four of the monster truck-trailers had pulled into the yard beside the Gulp-N-Gallop Diner and their drivers had dashed inside to join the growing crowd. Usually at least half of the diner's customers were Quange, the equitaurs that were so common in the transport industry. Since Quange also ran the diner, the menu strongly favoured the herbivores, although there was always something available for the carnivorous clientele of which there were a large number tonight.

Ketta heard her name called and left the view of the snowstorm. "Get your mind back on the job, girl, or you'll never keep up!" she thought to herself. She trotted over to the person who had called her, expertly weaving her brown and red-furred foxtaur form between the tables and the customers. "Howdy, Mike! Cold enough for you tonight?"

The black Quange stallion grinned back at her. Like many of the regulars, he was quite used to seeing the petite vixen waitress. "Shor is, li'l filly! I'm needin' a big meal to warm me up!"

"Well, Joe has the grill going full tilt and nobody's gone hungry yet. What'll it be, hon?" Ketta had started taking on some of Carol's affectations, including calling the customers "hon" or other such terms. She had come to realise that the friendliness of the nicknames were all part of the pleasant atmosphere of the diner. Ketta had learned many things in the time that she had spent here. She had come to appreciate the fulfilment of a job well done and the camaraderie of all the truckers. She had never worked so hard in all her life, nor been happier. What had been the worst moment of her life had turned out to be the biggest blessing for it had turned her away from a life of indolence and greed. Instead, she had gained satisfaction, respect, friends and a mate.

"Half a dozen oatburgers, heavy on the lettuce and a gallon o' coffee, black!" Mike ordered.

"Coming at ya, soon, Mike." She smiled her most winning grin and trotted off to the counter. She plonked the order in front of the servery and announced, "Six oaters with lots of green!"

"What? More?!" complained Joe. "Dem truckers are gonna eat up all my stock in one night!"

Ketta grinned widely. The more Joe complained, the happier the Quange chef was. Right now they were doing the best business they'd had all year. Ketta grabbed Mike's mug from the long racks where all the regular customers had their own mugs. Like all Quange cups, it was more like a deep bowl with a handle, providing them with a suitable vessel for their equine lips and with the capacity to satisfy their thirst. She filled it up with freshly brewed coffee and took it back to Mike, who thanked her and tried to give her a slap on the rear as she walked off. Ketta skilfully fended him off with her tail, experience having taught her that the friendly slaps from a powerful Quange could sting. She looked back over her shoulder and winked at Mike who took the failure with good humour.

Aside from the weather and the number of customers, this night was pretty much like most nights on this shift. The evening was spent working pretty much non-stop, greeting old friends, welcoming new patrons and moving back and forth between the tables and the servery. Carol was no less busy, although she had an advantage in being able to carry more, whereas Ketta could slip through the crowd more easily. The two worked in practiced harmony now after many months together. Carol had been delighted with how well the vixetaur had fitted in, once she had gotten over her initial problems. The working relationship had deepened into a real friendship and they often socialised together whenever they had some rare time off together. Of course, this often meant that they were joined by Ketta's mate, Stargrey, but Carol understood that Ketta would want to spend as much time with hir as possible, and shi was a friend of long standing. The chakats were some of the few felines with whom Carol felt completely comfortable. There was something about them that somehow put hir at ease. Ketta would always tell Carol about how her mated life was going and while on the job, there was a constant banter between them, even at the busiest of times. This night was so busy though, Ketta didn't even realise that her shift had ended until Carol whickered at her to get her attention, then point in the direction of the door where she saw her mate's smiling face as shi squatted patiently.

Ketta grinned and trotted up to hir and gave hir a big hug. "Hello, Love. Is it that time already?"

Stargrey laughed, "Yes dear, but you looked set to keep going for hours more! Aren't you pawsore by now?"

Ketta thought about it a moment. "Yes, I suppose I am, but I've been too busy to notice."

"Come on home and I'll give them a rub," Stargrey offered.

"You've got a deal! Just give me a moment to finish up." Just then a young Quange mare came in the door. Ketta recognised Elizabeth, the waitress for the next shift. "Hello, Libby. Aren't you a bit late?"

"Hi Ketta," she replied. "Yeah, I am a bit. The storm slowed me down a lot." As further evidence, she slipped off her coat and quite a lot of snow slipped off it onto the floor of the foyer. "I hope that you brought your coat tonight."

"Don't worry," Stargrey spoke up, "I brought it along with me."

Elizabeth nodded and then hurried off to get started. Ketta gave Stargrey a quick kiss on the cheek and bustled off, saying, "Be back in a moment, Star!"

Stargrey watched as hir mate completed her last orders, then disappeared into the back room. Shi had watched the vixen over the past year or so, change from an angry young lady to a spirited and delightful person that people wanted to get to know. Stargrey had spotted her potential from early in their relationship and had been instrumental in healing the wounds between her and chakats in general. In the process, shi had fallen deeply in love with the vixen. Up until shi had met Ketta, shi'd had a happy life with several friends and an interesting career, but since then shi felt more fulfilled and had a greater purpose in life. Shi had found someone to whom shi wanted to devote hir greatest affections. Shi was very proud of her accomplishments, even if it was just as a waitress in a diner. Shi recognised that Ketta not only was very good at the job, but enjoyed it and the friendships she made from it. True, it wasn't exactly hugely paying work, but money was not an issue with them. Stargrey's profession had always paid more than shi had the immediate need for and, now that shi had a mate, was more than adequate to meet both their needs. Star knew that Ketta wouldn't give up her work though, even though the vixentaur was now over five months pregnant. As with most taurs, pregnancy didn't show obviously until later in their term and the four-legged form was many times abler at carrying a cub than the two-legged. As shi watched Ketta wave to her co-workers in farewell, shi felt the usual swell of pride in hir mate. Shi knew that she would continue to work right up until the last moment, much as a chakat would.

Stargrey held up Ketta's cloak for her as she approached. She slipped it on and then put her arm around the chakat's waist as they pushed through the big doors of the diner. The cold wind was a bit of a shock after the warmth of the diner, but their thick fur was more than adequate to keep them warm for the trip home. Ketta no longer lived at the boarding house, of course. She had moved into Stargrey's apartment soon after she had accepted hir as a mate. However, it was about the same distance away and in this weather, quite an arduous trip. Both of them were sinking into the deep fresh snowdrifts, although the chakat's broader paws were better adapted to the task. The strong wind in their faces made it uncomfortable to talk, so they both hastened in silence to get out of the storm as soon as possible. They were both glad to reach the shelter of the entrance to their apartment block and they shook the snow out of their cloaks and their exposed fur.

"Phew! What a night!" Ketta said as they made their way down the corridor to their apartment. "I'm getting a little worried. If this storm continues, it might spoil our Christmas plans."

Stargrey opened the door and let Ketta inside before following and closing the door behind hir. "I wouldn't panic yet. Snowstorms at this time of year aren't that unusual and this town has had plenty of practice in dealing with them."

"I hope you're right, dear. This is very important to me." Shi opened her carisak to bring out the food she had brought along for a late supper and laid it out on the table. Stargrey went to the cupboard to get some glasses and a bottle of wine that they both liked.

"This is a major transport centre. City officials won't let a little snow stop commerce. I'm not too worried. Besides, our friends have resources that many don't."

"A little snow? I've never seen it this heavy, even back at the Mountain Glade Community. But I suppose you're right. I'll wait and see what the morning brings."

They sat at the table to eat their supper and chat amiably about their day. When they were done, they took the plates and cutlery over to the sink and left them to be washed the next day. They both headed for the bathroom. As this apartment block was specifically designed with taurs in mind, the bathing facilities were generously sized. Large enough for an adult Quange, which meant that it was big enough also for a foxtaur and a chakat together. The amorous duo enjoyed washing each other's fur and generally playing around under the water jets. Ketta wondered how she could ever have possibly felt a dislike for chakats. True, her mate still looked more like a female, especially with hir fur plastered down over hir breasts by the water, but when it came down to hir affections, shi came across to Ketta as masculine as any tod that she had ever known. The duality of sexuality that once horrified her, now was a constant source of fascination. When the lovers finally tumbled onto the mattress in their sleeping den, it was to spend hours exploring their differences and their similarities in acts of undeniable passion.

*                    *                     *

The next day found the two fast asleep entwined about each other. A strong beam of sunlight fought its way past the folds of the curtains to shine directly on their faces. With a groan of annoyance, Ketta shifted hir head away from the light that shone through her eyelids. Moments later she wrenched them open. Sunlight! The storm was over! She carefully tried to extricate herself from hir mate's embrace without disturbing hir but realised she failed when Stargrey murmured, "Good morning".

Ketta walked over to the window, pulled the curtains apart and smiled as she blinked in the strong light. "A glorious day! It's like a picture postcard out there at the moment. It's beautiful!"

"Hmmm, that's not the most beautiful sight," Stargrey commented. Ketta turned around to see her mate with hir head propped up on one arm, admiring her silhouetted form. "Showing off for the neighbours again, dear?"

As was common for the foxtaurs of her home village, Ketta had no nudity inhibitions and she had been standing in full view clothed only in fur. While she had been living in the city though, she had always made it a practice to wear a top of some kind, but she still occasionally forgot. Of course she knew that Star was only teasing her because shi had no such inhibitions either, so instead she gave hir a few sexy poses while Star whistled and cheered in appreciation.

Ketta broke down into a fit of giggles. "Okay, that's enough, you sex-mad chakat! Time to get up. There's lots we've got to get done today now that the weather has improved."

"What do you mean we," Stargrey grumbled. "This is my day off, remember?"

"You volunteered to help, and you know it!"

Stargrey had to admit that shi had done so, and in fact really did want to help hir mate in this project. Shi surged to hir feet, walked over to hir mate to give her a kiss and a cuddle, then said, "I claim first turn in the bathroom."

Ketta nodded. "Okay. Don't be long." She turned back to the window to look at the scenery, not giving a damn if anyone was looking. As far as she could see, everything was covered in a thick blanket of snow. The trees in the courtyard were groaning under the weight of the snow trapped on their limbs. She thought she could see a couple of branches that hadn't managed to bear the weight and had broken overnight. The second-level apartment gave her good views of the neighbourhood and she could even see the diner from there. To her relief, she could see that snowploughs had managed to clear the road going past it, which was hardly surprising because that highway was a major commercial route that serviced the spaceport. She could also see that a larger number of rigs were still parked in the yard which suggested that several roads were still closed until the ploughs got around to them. She could see smoke and steam coming from the diner's vents. She guessed that Carol and Joe had gotten off to an early start today to cater for the snowbound truckers. Ketta's shift didn't start until the afternoon, but she was going in early today to make special preparations. Christmas was just around the corner and she had a special party planned with the blessing of Carol and Joe.

Ketta was shaken from her reverie by Stargrey announcing, "Finished! Your turn, love!" Shi then headed for the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Strangely enough, it was Stargrey that did most of the food preparation at home. Shi said that it made for a bit of a change from hir usual work and Ketta shouldn't have to do more of the same after getting home. Ketta freshened up and brushed her fur back into shape, then her long red-blonde hair. She loosely bound it behind her. After breakfast, Stargrey would braid it for her. It not only looked attractive on her, but was most practical in her line of work. She then headed for the kitchen where her mate had a stack of omelettes steaming on two plates.

"Perfect timing," Stargrey commented. "The coffee is just ready." Shi brought over two mugs and they both dug into their breakfast with gusto.

When she finished the last of the meal, Ketta leaned back with a sigh of pleasure. "You know that Joe has offered you a job as a cook at the diner just on the strength of your omelettes?"

Stargrey laughed. "It's nice to know that I have a job to fall back on if my present one ended!"

Ketta giggled at the thought of her engineer mate spending hir days behind the grill. Shi had only done it once when shi was showing Joe hir special omelette recipe. It was hard to impress the Quange cook, but Star had made quite an impression that day. "You might get a chance to show off again soon."

Stargrey shrugged. "Maybe," shi said noncommittally.

The two packed everything that needed to be cleaned into the dishwasher. Stargrey quickly and expertly braided Ketta's hair and then they both put on some clothes. Stargrey donned a tank-top while Ketta chose one of her village jackets, and they both grabbed their coats to head outside. They left the more all-covering cloaks behind now that the snow had stopped falling. While some effort had been made to clear some of the sidewalk, most of it was still buried in deep snow. However, in the bright, clear daylight, it didn't seem anywhere near as hard work to make their way through it as it had last night. As they reached the parking lot outside, Ketta started looking out for any damage done to the Christmas decorations by the storm. Fortunately it seemed that most had come through okay and the rest could be fixed readily. They went inside to find that the diner was already bustling with activity. Carol was already hard at it, serving the drivers of the snowbound rigs. Many of them greeted Ketta upon seeing her. Others were gloomily listening to the radio that was giving regular updates on the condition of roads and which were re-opened.

"Good morning, dearies!" Carol called out as she carried two trays laden with food to the tables.

"Morning, Carol," Ketta and Stargrey chorused. "Did you get any sleep at all?" Ketta added.

"Not much," Carol admitted, "But I couldn't ignore my stranded clientele. Don't you worry about me, hon. I've done this more often than you might guess. You're here to prepare for the Christmas party, so you concentrate on that and let me worry about the business."

Ketta shrugged. She knew that the Quange mare would be quite stubborn about it, so she conceded the point and headed for the storeroom. Ketta, with Carol's help, had planned a special Christmas celebration. It was to be an outdoor event which is why the weather had been so great a concern. The special lighting was already up, strung from the diner to the trees around the parking lot and a few lamp poles. One of those trees was a real living Christmas tree and naturally every year it was thoroughly decorated with tinsel and coloured lights. Carol had told her that she also hung real candy canes on the tree on Christmas morning for the local children. Ketta had organised a barbecue to be set up outside, plus some tables for assorted food and drink. Some local amateur musicians had been invited to provide music in exchange for a free feast. For weeks beforehand, truckers passing through were handed a flyer inviting them to a Christmas Eve party and the local regulars were also welcome.

"First things first," thought Ketta. She put her forepaws on a chair to get some height. "Attention please. I'm looking for some help for setting up for tonight's party. Seeing as some of you are stuck here anyway, perhaps you'd like to pitch in and help? If you're still stuck here tonight, you can join in the feast for free."

That grabbed the attention of a few. She managed to get sufficient volunteers to do everything that she thought needed doing. She set some of them to work clearing snow from some access ways. Others dragged out trestle tables, barbecue equipment and a small tent. The tent was to hold the food that was reserved for the party and to put the electric equipment, such as hot water urns, that needed to be protected in case the weather soured. There were actually two barbecues set up, one at either end of the tent. One was to prepare purely vegetarian fare, the other for cooking the steaks and sausages for the non-herbivores. Another area was roped off and the snow levelled out. It was to be reserved for dancing if the patrons got into the mood. Ketta was kept busy supervising and setting up until it was time for her shift to start, then she handed it over to Stargrey to finish off and make sure nobody meddled with arrangements until the party began.

Ketta shook the snow off her paws, took off her jacket and headed up back to grab her uniform. From the moment that she was ready, Ketta was kept flat-out busy. It was only when the crowd abruptly started thinning did she realise that it was now dark outside. She paused long enough to glance out of the window to see that were quite a large number of people milling about outside. Carol clopped up to her and started taking the plates that Ketta was collecting. "Ah think that it's time the hostess got out there, don't you, Sugah?"

Ketta grinned. Carol had been throwing the Christmas party for several years, but Ketta had persuaded Carol to let her take care of it this year. She had never been so impressed with Christmas celebrations until she had experienced her first with Carol the previous year. This year she wanted to return some of the friendship and good will that she gained while working at the diner. She also had one other goal and this evening would see if she achieved it. "Are you sure you'll be okay in here without me, Carol?" she asked.

"Of course, Dearie. Besides, Ah reckon that most people will be out there soon and Ah'll be able to join y'all."

"Okay. Wish me luck!" Ketta trotted off to the back of the shop, threw her uniform at the laundry basket, grabbed her jacket and opened the diner's front doors. The sounds and smells of the party hit her then. A constant babble of conversation was the first thing that Ketta noticed, the tone and volume of which told her that the event had gotten off to a good start without her. She smelled the bonfires that were lending cheerful warmth and light to the frozen tableau. Many were gathered around the fires chatting with colleagues and acquaintances. Children of all species were playing in the mounds of snow that had been shovelled aside earlier. The gaily coloured lights lent the cold white scenery a festive air and she noticed many couples, mostly taurform, chatting and enjoying the snacks from the heavily laden trestle tables. The scent of the smoke from the fires mixed with the smells of cooking food, the crisp, cold air lending a sharpness to the odours, making her mouth water with a previously unnoticed appetite. It seemed to Ketta that the party was going exactly as hoped and she was eager to join in.

Ketta wandered over to the barbecue area. Joe's nephew, Billy, was manning the vegetarian one. He gave her a cheery wave without pausing in his efforts. Billy was so different from his uncle, always cheerful and always happy to cook up anything unusual. Ketta enjoyed working with him when working any shift where Joe was off. However, like Carol and Joe, he had his quirks, but was deep down as decent as they were. Ketta walked up to the other barbecue and gave the chef a kiss. "How's it going, Love?" she asked.

Stargrey grinned and replied, "This cool night air must be giving everyone an appetite. I've been working my paws off!" Stargrey had on a barbecue apron which read: "KISS THE COOK, PLEASE!" Ketta was just the latest to take that at face value and the chakat was quite enjoying hirself. It wasn't often that the engineer got to show off hir cooking talents. Shi continued, saying, "But I don't think that food is going to keep them interested forever and the band hasn't turned up yet.

Ketta felt a twinge of panic. She hoped that her carefully made plans weren't coming unstuck. She pulled out her portable comm and called the person who had been organising the transport for the group and their instruments. A couple of minutes later, she put it away with a sigh of relief. Their vehicle had gotten stuck due to road blockages but they weren't far away. She bustled over to where they were to be set up and checked that everything was ready for them to set up as quickly as possible. A portable sound unit was playing music discs, but it wasn't the same thing. The raised platform was also a good place to oversee the area and Ketta looked at the party-goers with some satisfaction. So far, her plans were mostly working to schedule. She hoped that the last element for which she had made a special effort would also come to pass. Just then, she saw the band's van turn into the lot. She jumped down from the platform and started conscripting whomever she could to help ferry the equipment from the van to the stage.

Thankfully, it didn't take too long for the experienced band members to set up and Ketta turned off the recorded music. She then grabbed the microphone and called for attention. "Welcome, everyone, to Carol's annual Christmas Revelry. Your hostess will be joining us all a little later, but in the meantime, I've had the pleasure of organising this year's event. Well, I can tell you now that the band is all set up and raring to play. Who want's to dance?"

There was a general enthusiastic reply from the audience. Ketta grinned and said, "Then take your places and put your hands together for our local music-makers who have banded together for your entertainment. I present the Snow Wonders!"

There was a mixture of groans and laughs from the crowd, but plenty of eager applause. The band took its cue and burst into a sprightly dance tune and the guests immediately got into the swing of it. Ketta smiled and left the stage to join her mate. She took the opportunity to sample some of Stargrey's cooking. "Does it pass your inspection?" shi asked.

Ketta laughed. "That's not enough of a sample to make a decision. Let me try a bit more!" Stargrey promptly served up a grilled steak onto a paper plate and added some potato salad and coleslaw. Ketta got stuck into it with gusto after having worked up an appetite from all her efforts. She paused midway though to ask, "Have you seen anything of our special guests yet, Star?"

Stargrey shook hir head. "Don't work yourself up too much, Love. You know that they only said that they would consider coming, not that they promised to come."

"I know, I know," Ketta said. She finished off her food in silence before finally adding, "But I was so hoping that they would accept."

Stargrey cuddled comfortingly. "You've done all you could. Any more would not be appreciated. Come on, let's have a dance."

"What about the barbecue?" Ketta asked.

"Billy can handle both now that the rush has died down and people are getting into the entertainment."

Billy had obviously been overhearing the conversation because he immediately spoke up. "Shur! G'wan out dere and have fun, ya two love-boids!" Ketta grinned in thanks as Stargrey winked at hir co-chef. Billy might be of vastly different character to his uncle, but he had the same broad accent.

The band had switched to a tune better suited to slow dancing by the time Ketta and Stargrey walked onto the dance area. They stepped into each other's arms and laid their muzzles on each other's shoulders and danced, happy to be so close. The two were dwarfed by the many larger Quange couples, but they tended to stand out in other ways. No one there doubted for a moment just how deeply in love this particular couple was in. They lost themselves in the music and the mood of the moment. Both were a little startled when they realised the music had stopped and the dancers were clapping the players.

Stargrey smiled as shi looked deeply into Ketta's eyes. "I love you so much, my beautiful vixen. Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for bringing you into my life."

Ketta felt emotion swell in her. It was still not so long since her complete conversion to the chakat way of thinking and she still couldn't believe the good fortune that she'd had in finding Carol's diner and that one particular customer who'd turned her life around. She struggled to show just how much she appreciated hir. "You're everything that is good in my life, my gorgeous mate. I feel I'm the luckiest vixentaur in the world." Shi stopped trying to talk and, instead, locked her muzzle to Stargrey's in a long passionate kiss. It was a while before both lovers were brought back to Earth when they finally realised that the clapping and cheering was being aimed at them. They broke apart, a little chagrined, but pleased with the reaction. Then Stargrey pointed to something behind Ketta.

"It seems that the locals weren't the only ones to appreciate our little display. Your guests have arrived," shi announced.

Ketta spun around to see the group that had gathered to one side of the dance area. It was an interesting mixture of taurs and bipeds. Ketta could count two adult foxtaurs, four adult chakats, a wolftaur, two felinoids and even one human. Half a dozen various cubs were with them also. Most of the adults were applauding the couple's display too. Ketta felt a twinge of embarrassment, but shoved it aside and turned back to her mate. "Wish me luck, Star."

"You know that I do, Love, but if they've turned up, I think that you are already halfway towards your goal," Stargrey said confidently.

Ketta nodded, then left her mate to greet her guests. "Goldfur, thank you for coming. You and your family are more than welcome."

Goldfur gave her a slight smile. "Thank you. We arrived just in time to see you finish that dance in style. I must admit that it's still hard picturing you and Stargrey as mates, but I can't deny the love you two have for each other. If I had, I would never have accepted your invitation to this Christmas Eve party of yours. I found myself rather curious though and, since you had made such an effort, I decided to come." There was a coughing noise from one of the others in the party and Goldfur's eyes looked askance, then back again. "Although I admit there was a little bit of encouragement from various people!"

"It's enough that you came. I feel I still have a lot to make up to you and I want you to know how sincerely I want to heal the rift between us."

Goldfur sighed. "This isn't easy for me, Ketta. Until I met you, I had never mistrusted anyone. Since you became Star's mate, I've been pleased to find that you have become a much nicer person and, intellectually, I know that all the troubles between us are now done. However, it's my heart that needs convincing. Don't push too hard, Ketta. Perhaps we can one day call each other friends, but I need to be comfortable in your presence before that happens. Now, before I turn this into a complete downer, could you introduce me to Carol? I'd like to meet this Quange mare I've heard so much about."

Ketta brightened. "Sure! Would the cubs like to go play with the others in the meantime?"

All the cubs turned hopeful faces towards their parents. At a nod from each, they took off with mews and yips of joy and were soon mixing in with the rest of the children. Pausing only to give Stargrey the opportunity to greet the visitors and asking hir to keep an eye on the cubs, Ketta led the remaining adults into the diner where she introduced Carol to them.

"So, y'all the ones I've been told so much about?" Carol looked Goldfur up and down. "My! You're a big 'un! Biggest chakat I've ever met."

Goldfur was startled, not expecting this. "Umm, yes, I am rather tall for my kind."

Carol grinned. "Don't mind me, hon. Big felines tend to make me a little nervous and Ah just need to get to know y'all a bit to feel completely comfortable."

Goldfur hastened to reassure her about hirself and the other chakats. Nobody noticed that the uncomfortable tension between Goldfur and Ketta had suddenly disappeared as Carol skilfully turned the conversation to the chakat's family and was appropriately impressed and amazed by the interesting things the visitors had to tell. It wasn't until Eudora, looking for hir parents, came into the diner happily munching on a sausage that anyone realised just how easy they had become with each other. Carol had brought over coffee for all and they had been indulging in a few snacks as the conversation flowed. The Quange mare was delighted by the foxy-coloured chakat cub and scritched hir ears and listened to hir purrs.

"Y'all looking forward to having a cub like little Dora here, Ketta dear?"

"You know I am, Carol. Star and I are making so many plans already. So are Star's family and mine. Shi won't lack for loving family."

"Ah'm sure shi won't," Carol smiled. "Here, let me feel how shi's comin' along." The mare leaned over to feel the slight swell of Ketta's belly. "Did Ah feel hir kick just then?" At Ketta's nod, she looked to Goldfur. "You should feel this. A fine strong young 'un Ah reckon."

Goldfur hesitated, then stepped forward. Looking at the foxtaur vixen for a moment, shi leant over and felt Ketta's pregnant form. Another kick came at that moment and Goldfur smiled. "I have to agree with you, Carol, shi does kick quite strongly."

Ketta's blush of pleasure showed at her ears. She had to admit that she had felt nervous about Goldfur touching her as the last time shi had was at the height of hir rage. She felt strangely soothed by Goldfur's gentle touch and pleased with the chakat's verdict.

As for Goldfur, shi felt another barrier go down within hir. The empathy for an expectant mother came to the fore and Goldfur realised how much alike their situations were. Ketta needed to put her trust in the chakat and, once given, a bond had formed.

The chakat and the vixentaur eyed each other, both realising how they had been manipulated. They smiled at each other, then burst out laughing. They both turned on Carol and glared good-naturedly at the Quange mare who did her best innocent look and said, "Shall we join the others at the party?"

There was a general murmur of agreement. Carol took off her apron and grabbed a coat from the rack. "Joe! Come on out from behind that grill and join us!"

"Somebody's gotta clear up all dis mess for tomorra," Joe grumbled. G'wan out and enjoy yerself. I'll be out dere soon enuff."

"Okay, Dear. Don't y'all be too long!" Carol offered her arms to Ketta and Goldfur and led the two out of the diner, along with the rest of the family.

Joe watched them go and a grin spread on his normally taciturn face. "Score anudder for you, Carol," he said softly. He then turned back to finishing clearing up the kitchen. He wanted to go out and join his beloved as soon as possible!

Stargrey met Ketta as they walked over to join the revellers. A smile from Ketta was enough to tell the chakat that things had gone well and shi kissed hir love in pleasure. Ketta turned to the others and said, "Please excuse me, everyone. My mate and I wish to celebrate a bit more." The vixen and the chakat bounded off to the dance area where the band had just started up a merry jig and the two joined in with enthusiasm. Ketta's heart felt lighter than it had in a long time. Tomorrow might actually be Christmas, but she felt as if she had already gotten her best present. She had been granted something that she had only dared hope for: acceptance. She knew that it was also a responsibility, but she looked forward to taking that on. The shallow and selfish foxtaur vixen was gone, and Ketta intended that she would never let her back. She had learned the true meaning of love and caring and was so much happier because of it. The life that grew within her would know only love and happiness from both hir foxtaur and chakat kin and that was the way things should be. Malena had told her about the other dissident vixens in the village and she knew that she had a responsibility to see what she could do about that situation. But for now, she was with her love and her friends, and she intended to see in this Christmas with all the joy and enthusiasm she could bring.

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Next story in chronological order is Tales Of the Foxtaur Clans #4: A Busy Day

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