Amber was furious! She knew everything about snowy and Leo’s blossoming relationship, and she hated everything about it! She couldn’t see how Leo, a huge male lion, with the pick of any lioness he wanted, could possibly sink so low as to cuddle up with snowy, a misfit of a tigress, who Amber loathed intensely. The fat, unfit, genetic mess should have been drowned at birth as far as Amber was concerned. Snowy did not good for anyone according to Amber,, even though the tigress had saved Whitie and Blanche single pawed. Amber listened to Snowy and Leo’s talk through a crack in the floorboards of the room she was in. She was directly above where snowy and Leo lay, and could hear them talking, as well as hear everyone else talking too, so she knew very well what had taken place downstairs between Snowy and Leo, Theo and Tembi and Elsa and Tommy. Amber couldn’t stand the thought of Snowy and Leo together, the idea sickened her. Crawling downstairs, Amber crawled into the living room, where Leo was sleeping. Snowy too was sleeping peacefully after their love making. Amber crawled up to snowy, grateful there was no wind to carry her scent to the tigress. When Amber was almost paw to paw with snowy, she raised her left forepaw and brought it smashing down on Snowy’s nose! Snowy woke, screaming with pain. Leo leapt upon Amber, belting her round the head with his paw, knocking the female snow leopard unconscious! Leo turned back to snowy to find her rubbing her nose with both forepaws.
“Why did she do that!” Snowy yelled, her eyes streaming.
“I know why,” Kalahari said, “Amber hates you snowy, she can’t stand the ground you walk on.”
“I’ve done her no harm,” Snowy mewed, “no harm at all Kalahari.”
“We know that,” the meerkat replied, “but Amber hates you from your ears to the pads on your paws. She wants you dead!”
“I saved her cubs!” Snowy sobbed, now extremely upset.
“I know that,” Kalahari replied, “but Amber seems to have forgotten, or if she hasn’t, she chooses to forget. My views on your relationship with Leo are positive, but Amber’s are anything but positive.” Leo dragged Amber back up the stairs to her own place, dumping the groggy female snow leopard on the floor of the bedroom.
“You remember my paws Amber,” Leo warned, “for they will do you more harm if you dare come near Snowy or any other animal ever again. Your intentions were black, your heart is too. Now let everyone live in peace. Amber curled into a miserable heap on the carpet.
Meanwhile, Brunetta and Arki were talking and stroking each other’s paws. Ever since Arki had overcome her fear of paw massage, she’d been a keen exponent of the art for the cure of everything from sleeplessness to stress. Now it was Arki’s turn to have her paws stroked, and she was glad of the massage. Brunetta started with Arki’s right forepaw, taking it in hers and gently stroking it. Arki was soon asleep. Brunetta felt the female polar bear getting deeper into sleep by the way her paws reacted to her massage. At first Arki’s paws were slightly tense, but as she relaxed and drifted deeper into sleep, they relaxed totally. Brunetta massaged and stroked all four of Arki’s paws, then stroked her from her ears to the pads of her paws. When all was over, Arki instinctively curled into a white ball of fur, tucking in her paws. Brunetta embraced the sleeping polar bear as best she could, Arki now deeply asleep.
“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve woken in Arki’s paws,” Brunetta thought as she stroked Arki’s ears, “they’ve been many and all have been pleasant.” Brunetta looked at Arki curled up comfortably on the quilt beside her.
“She looks so peaceful,” the female brown bear thought, “it’s really rather sweet.” Curling up herself, Brunetta fell asleep also.
Meanwhile, Theo and Tembi were awake after the going’s on with Amber, and discovering afresh how good and for filling a decent paw massage was. Curling up together, Theo holding Tembi’s tiny forepaw in his large’’’’’’’’’’ one, both fell asleep.
Back on the quilt, Arki was dreaming of a dark place. She knew the dark place, it was a box like the one she remembered from when she was very young. There was something else too, the feel and smell of plastic. Arki could feel the plastic bag against her nose and the soles of all four paws. It was even making her paws damp with sweat, just like it used to in the box. Arki tried to breathe, but she couldn’t! terrified, Arki lashed out with all four paws, screaming to be let out! Brunetta woke when Arki’s left forepaw smacked her on the nose. Blinking hard, Brunetta was about to remonstrate with Arki, when she realised what was happening.
Holding tightly onto Arki’s forepaws, Brunetta tried to wake the screaming female polar bear. Arki woke, finally, and stared round her.
“You were having another one of your nightmares weren’t you Arki,” Brunetta said gently to the weeping polar bear.
“I was,” Arki sobbed, “I wish I could control it! I wish it would stop! Did I hurt you Brunetta?”
“You punched me on the nose, but nothing much,” Brunetta replied. Arki buried her head in Brunetta’s shoulder.
“I’m so sorry!” Arki sobbed. Brunetta stroked Arki’s paws reassuringly, and this seemed to calm her down.
Leo crawled into the room.
“What was all that banging!” He asked irritably.
“I know what it was Leo,” Theo said, crawling alongside his brother and touching his paw. Leo looked angrily at Theo.
“What was it then?” He snapped.
“Arki’s nightmare,” Theo replied, “and please don’t snap at me Leo, I did nothing wrong.” Leo looked at his brother’s face. Theo’s eyes had their familiar hunted expression, and Leo remembered how easily his brother was frightened.
“I’m sorry Theo,” Leo said, taking the younger lion’s paw in his, “I forget sometimes.”
“Arki has nightmares about plastic bags, boxes and things,” Theo replied.
“I’m so sorry, both of you,” Leo said. Arki crawled off the quilt and took Leo’s paw in hers. Leo felt the Polar bear’s soft warm paw envelope his, and it felt wonderful!
“You are beautiful Arki, and you have the softest paws,” Leo said impulsively.
“Does she Leo?” Snowy asked, making the lion whirl round.
“I, I meant, meant no more than that snowy!” Leo protested. Snowy, her eyes smiling at him, patted Leo’s paw.
“Arki does have soft warm paws,” Snowy said. Snowy gasped as Arki took one of her forepaws in both of hers.
“How are you snowy my dear,” Arki asked. Snowy felt her throat constrict as she looked into the polar bear’s eyes. Snowy fought back tears.
“Are you okay snowy?” Arki asked. Snowy felt her paw in that of the female polar bear, and desperately wanted to be close to her, for Arki to hug her. Arki felt Snowy’s mood.
“Come here Snowy my pet,” Arki said softly. Snowy felt herself embraced by Arki. Snowy let herself go.
“Even huge snow tigress’s need a hug sometimes,” Arki said. Snowy buried her paws in Arki’s fur.
“Thank you Arki, Thank you so much,” snowy sniffed. Arki nuzzled Snowy’s ear, her simple gesture reducing snowy to tears.
“come to me any time Snowy,” Arki whispered. Snowy promised she would, and went to thank Arki again, but she waved it away.
“Just remember I’m here snowy dear,” Arki replied, “when ever you need me, I‘m here.” Snowy wiped her eyes with one huge fat paw.
“thank you Arki,” she said, trying hard to compose herself. Arki patted Snowy’s paw reassuringly.
“Nice big, soft, very strokable paws you have there snowy,” Arki said. Snowy smiled. Arki took one of her paws and began to stroke it, snowy purring with pleasure.
“that’s wonderful to see,” Theo said, turning and crawling back down the stairs, Leo following. Meanwhile, Snowy, her brain being rapidly consumed by the affects of Arki’s paw massage, stretched out on the quilt, gradually going deeper and deeper into sleep.
“Sleep well Snowy dear,” Arki whispered.
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