Chapter Thirty-Four

"She is pretty cute; it makes me wish I could've taken one."

"Yeah—I'm surprised how quickly she's grown on me."

Kasumi watched Éclair chase after the yarn ball. The little black and white cat pounced on it, chewing on the ball for a second before flopping over and kicking at it with her back paws. Meanwhile, Claudia grinned and looked over at Beniko.

"If Beni here hadn't begged me for one, we might not have done it," she teased lightly.

"Hey," Beniko protested. "I didn't beg! I just…really wanted one…"

Manuel leaned back on the couch, smiling and shaking his head. He'd just gotten off work, and Kasumi had been the last person he'd checked out for the day. Both of them had been planning on visiting—Manuel to see how the kitten was doing, and Kasumi to return something she'd borrowed from Beniko—so they'd ended up coming together.

At any rate, Beniko got over her huffing quickly enough. Instead, she picked up the baking sheet Kasumi had just returned. She stood up, gave one last pout in Claudia's direction, and headed over to the kitchen. Despite not really needing it, she gave the sheet a quick rinse before putting it in the cabinet—probably an excuse for a distraction.

"Anyway," she said as she came back, "Éclair seems to have gotten used to the apartment pretty well."

"Yeah; she hid in the closet for a while yesterday, but she's spent most of today exploring," Claudia added. "She loves that yarn ball, too."

Éclair still hadn't tired of batting it around. Now, she seemed to be content with chasing it, sending it flying, and pouncing on it all over again. Manuel grinned again as he watched her, turning back to the other three after a moment.

"Well, that's good," he commented. "We've been trying to keep our cats inside. I'm surprised Princess doesn't try to get out more often, really."

Kasumi nodded. "Oh, right; I think you said she was a stray before."

"She was a bit friendly for one, but, yeah. She's taken to the house well enough."

Manuel shrugged, glancing around the apartment for a minute. There were still two or three boxes sitting around in the living room—Beniko had just finished moving in before they'd come over to pick up Éclair. They were probably full of smaller things, but Manuel had let Tamera know that he'd be coming over here after work. His fiancée was probably expecting him to stay a while, so he might as well ask…

"Is there anything else you two need help with? I could stay for a few minutes if you want me to."

"Ah…" Beniko paused. "Well, that box over by the TV has a few things that could go in the kitchen. Kasumi, you could go if you want—"

"I'm already here." Kasumi shrugged as she cut Beniko off. "I may as well help. What about that one over there?"

Claudia peered at it. "Oh, that looks like some movies and stuff. Under the TV cabinet should be fine."

Manuel and Kasumi nodded as they stood up. Honestly, he didn't mind—Manuel liked organizing things, and he'd always been the cleanest of his siblings. Getting the pots and utensils put away was actually fun, and it didn't take very long…even if he ended up rearranging a few other things in the cabinets, too.

…Oh, well; anything to help out. Once he was done, Manuel carefully stepped around Éclair as he made his way towards the door. He was closely followed by Kasumi, and they waved at Claudia and Beniko as they headed out. After sending a quick text message to Tamera, Manuel got in his car and headed home.

Yes, everything really had turned out well, he thought. Now it was time to relax and hope things stayed that way for a while. They'd done everything important now, hadn't they?

Manuel nodded to himself as he drove; he was sure everything would be fine from now on.