Bombalurina leaned back against the pile of junk, half shutting her brown eyes. "Who?" She asked.
Demeter huffed. "Tugger, of course."
Cassandra glanced at Bombalurina with a grin. "Who else would she be taking about with such disgust?" She teased. Beside her, Rumpleteazer giggled.
Bombalurina flicked her red tail from side to side, keeping her eyes closed. "I'll bet you ten pounds that it'll take less than five minutes for the kittens to swarm him."
Demeter chuckled. "Are you joking? I'll bet you it'll take less than two."
"I'll bet above all of you," Cassandra proclaimed. "It'll take one."
However, today none of them were right. Instead of mingling with the kittens, the Rum Tum Tugger headed directly over to the five queens with a satisfied smirk.
Bombalurina kept her eyes closed, ignoring the seductive purr that was the Rum Tum Tugger's voice and fighting with a smirk. She had been pretending not to like him for the past week, and was waiting to see if her work would pay off.
"Is she asleep?" She heard him ask.
"Most loikely pretendin' ta." Rumpleteazer replied in her chipper Australian accent. Bombalurina heard a loud purr, and assumed the gold and black Maine coon had nuzzled the calico queen.
She felt someone sit down beside her. "Wake up, sleeping beauty."
She opened her eyes. "I wasn't asleep, idiot."
Tugger grinned. "How sweet."
The scarlet queen rolled her eyes and straightened, stretching her spine with a languid yawn. "I'm going to find a better place to nap before your fans come and butcher the peace." She stated, and started to walk off. Fingers curled around her tail and pulled, causing Bombalurina to turn around. "Why do that, babe? Isn't a little noise worth it?"
She yanked her tail free. "No." She called over her shoulder before walking off. Out of the corner of her eye, Bombalurina could still spot Tugger flirting with the other queens. A little shiver of jealousy squiggled through her, but she pointedly ignored it. Instead, Bombalurina headed out of the yard and into Victoria Grove, which was where she often went to entertain herself, partly because Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer lived there; partly because there was good company there, including her close friend, Joylette. Bombalurina would admit she hadn't visited her close friend in nearly four months, and this particular evening was the first time she had taken an effort to go and see her.
Speaking of which, Bombalurina caught a glimpse of slivery fur and turned into an alley between two houses. "Joy! Joy?"
A silver-white Persian emerged from the shadows, a smile on her face. Bombalurina couldnt help but notice she looked a bit more tired than she remembered, but her greeting was as chipper as ever. "Bombalurina! Hi!"
Joylette, true to her name, was the perkiest person the scarlet queen had ever met, aside from perhaps Etcetera.
Bombalurina gave her friend a hug. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit for a while! How's Fin?" Fin, or Finlay, was her tomfriend. Joylette offered a mysterious smile. "Wonderful. In fact..." she trailed off and gestured to the small shed that her and her tomfriend shared. "Fin! Come out for a minute!"
Fin, a dark Chantilly tom, emerged from the shed with a tiny silver kitten with flecks of black in his arms.
Bombalurina gasped. "You had a kitten?" She demanded.
Joylette looked about to burst with happiness. "Yes!" She replied.
Bombalurina squealed and gave her another hug. "Oh my gosh! I'm so happy for you! Name? How old?" She bombarded the new mother with questions.
Joylette smiled and took the kitten from her tomfriend. "His name is Phobos. He's three months." Bombalurina held out her arms for the baby, and he was placed in her arms. "Oh, how sweet." She cooed. "Hi, Phobos."
Finlay smiled. "I think Joy needs a break. Do you two want to go out shopping? I'll watch Trouble." He teased, tweaking his son's nose.
Joylette gave him a kiss on the cheek. "If it's okay with Bombs?" She looked at me expectantly.
Bombalurina nodded. "That sounds like fun. We can go window shopping!" She enthused.
Joylette grabbed her arm and dragged the red queen out of the alley. The pair headed downtown to the center of London.
"Oh my goodness, this collar would match Fin's!" Joylette squealed, holding up a small white leather collar with metal studs.
Bombalurina nodded in agreement, but fingered her own collar, which was black leather with pearly white spikes.
Suddenly, Bombalurina's ears pricked when she heard voices on the other side of a rack of collars. Familiar voices.
"My spikes are wearing out. D'you think I should get a new collar?" "I dunno, Tugger! Hurry up, I want to see the magic shop across the street!"
She gasped. "No. Oh, no."
Joylette turned curiously. "What's the matter?"
Bombalurina was already ducking behind her friend. "Hide me!" She squeaked. "Not him! Anyone but him!" Joylette was looking more confused by the moment. "What are you talking about?" Bombalurina knew that in the isle next to hers was Tugger and his half brother, Mistoffelees.
Through the crook of her friends elbow, Bombalurina saw Tugger stroll into the isle both queens were in, then freeze in surprise when he saw both of them already frozen like deer in headlights. "Bomba?"
Joylette instantly moved out of the way so Tugger could get the full view of an awkwardly crouching Bombalurina. "Bombs! Who is this handsome tom?" She asked. "You didn't tell me you were dating, too!"
Bombalurina glared at her. If there was one thing she hated, it was someone assuming her relationships. "I'm not-"
"Sure we're dating." Tugger interrupted.
The red queen turned her glare to him. "But-" She started.
Joylette interrupted with a laugh. "Why didn't you tell me? What's his name?" She asked eagerly.
Bombalurina growled. "His name is Tugger, but we are n-"
She was interrupted again. "He's sexy!" Joylette giggled in a conspiratorial tone.
Bombalurina felt color rise to her cheeks. "Yeah, but stop interrupting! We aren't-"
Tugger cut in this time. "I just came to get her something as a surprise, but I guess that got scrapped." He winked at Bombalurina, who now looked infuriated. She glared at him, while Joylette squealed. "Then I'll leave you guys alone! I'm going to find something for Bo and Fin." Bombalurina kept her glare on Tugger. "Where's Misto?" She demanded, knowing he wouldn't flirt in front of his half brother, due to the annoyance it caused him. Though arrogant and otherwise self centered, Tugger had a veritable respect for the young tuxedo tom. Tugger rolled his amber eyes. "I sent him to the magic shop across the street. He was begging to go." He replied. Bombalurina narrowed her eyes. "Why did you say that we're dating? We're not." She hissed.
Tugger stepped forward. "That was a lie," he admitted. "But I did get you something." Bombalurina raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Tugger pulled a package out of a bag in his other hand. She took it, and emitted a noise that was half scream, half gasp when she saw what it was. "No."
Inside the package was a set of four brushes, each with different handles; tiger's eye, tortoiseshell, ivory, and amber, cushioned in sawdust. The bristles, even though Bombalurina hadn't touched them, looked soft but strong. She looked up at Tugger, her eyes huge. "Thank you. I've... had my eye on these forever. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me." She whispered. Tugger smiled a little. "They'll make you look more beautiful that you already are." She smiled back, warmth filling her from head to tail. "Thank you." Tugger's smile became sly. "Now your friend will really think we're dating." Bombalurina scowled at him. "No. Cause I'll tell her." She retorted. "Well, why? Why don't you date me?" Tugger asked, raising an eyebrow.
Bombalurina's heart stopped. Yet, she decided to dodge answering for a little longer. "You'll drop me, probably both literally and figuratively." She replied, her mind flashing back to the previous jellicle ball.
Tugger took another step forward. "Give me a chance. What do you have to lose?" Bombalurina swallowed. Her brain was freezing, but she had to keep firm. "A lot. My heart, maybe." She almost stammered. "You... Don't make me feel safe. Not in a bad way, but not safe."
Tugger chuckled. "The phrase you're looking for is-" he pulled her forward my the waist. "Pushing your buttons." Bombalurina drew in a sharp breath. "N-No." but her voice quavered submissively.
Tugger chuckled. "No? You sure?" She slowly relaxed in his grip. "Okay. I'll date you." I muttered. Tugger grinned, tilting her chin back a little so she was looking up at him. "Good."
Bombalurina offered a small smile and leaned into his chest, feeling his arm adjust position to her slender shoulders. He nuzzled the top of her head, making her purr softly. Joylette popped her head around the corner. "I have to go soon, it's getting late. Are you going to buy a collar?" She asked.
Bombalurina smiled at Tugger. "I have something better." Joylette awwed. "You two are so cute." She cooed. "Maybe you could have kittens like me and Fin!"
Bombalurina felt Tugger stiffen beside her, and bit her lip in worry. She knew the subject of kittens was touchy with Tugger, since he constantly claimed he never intended on settling down.
But slowly, surely, he slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer to his side. "Perhaps."
Bombalurina leaned her head against his shoulder and smiled, relieved.
"What time is it?" Bombalurina mumbled. It was several weeks after Tugger's confession, and the middle of the night. The scarlet queen had no idea how to tell what time it was. Mind still foggy, she turned to Tugger, who was sleeping beside her. "Darling, are you awake? What time is it?"
"That doesn't matter." Tugger murmured back. "The question is, why are you awake at four thirty in the morning?"
She rolled onto my back, out of her tomfriend's arms. "I don't know," She replied. "Why are you awake?"
Tugger rolled onto his stomach, simultaneously propping himself up over her. "You woke me up, babe. You talk in your sleep."
Bombalurina shook her head, brain functioning at low power. "I do not."
Tugger lightly kissed her forehead. "Of course you can't tell. You're asleep." She half shut my eyes again. "Go away. I'm going back to sleep." She muttered drowsily.
Tugger stroked my cheek. "Not anymore. You're awake, I'm awake, we're staying up."
Bombalurina was already half asleep from his warm, gentle weight above her. "But I don't want to!" She whined. Bombalurina could feel Tugger carefully shift his balance to one arm so he could lean down. Her lips met his, then settled into a smile.
"I love you." She mumbled.
"I love you too, babe." Was the response. Bombalurina could feel herself sliding back into sleep. "I want to go back to bed now." I murmured drowsily.
A playful growl rumbled in his throat. "But you're so beautiful."
Her mind was barely functioning, so Bombalurina muttered, "No, you are."
Tugger chuckled. "You're more beautiful." He replied, playing along.
Half asleep now, she murmured, "You're beautiful-est..."
"Not a word, my love."
"It is now. Goodnight."
Slowly, Tugger rolled back onto his side. Bombalurina curled up against his chest, feeling both arms wrap around her.