"Are you almost ready to go?" Dad asked as he straightened his tie.
"Yes, I am. You?" Mom asked in return, having finished putting on her makeup
"Me, too," Dad said. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his already clean shirt, and then put his glasses back on.
"I'm not sure I like the idea of working late tonight," said Mom. "It almost feels like a punishment..."
"Don't worry, honey, we're doing fine," said Dad. "And besides, we'll make some more money. By the way, have you called a babysitter yet?"
Mom's eyes went wide as her pupils shrunk in realization.
"Oh... Oh, dear!"
"What's wrong?" Dad wanted to know.
"I haven't called the babysitter yet!" Mom cried.
"Wait, what?!" Dad couldn't believe it.
"But there's still time! I'll just have to choose the closest neighbor we have!"
Mom quickly went over to the telephone, picked it up and pressed a couple of buttons. She waited a few seconds for a response.
"Hello, Lumpy? This is Mrs. Cat," Mom said. "My husband and I have to work late tonight. Would you please come over and look after Kit and Kate until we come home?"
"Oh, sure," Lumpy responded. "I'm not sure if I can do it, though..."
"I'll tell you what. If you make sure Kit and Kate stay under control until we come back, I'll give you $200."
"Okay, I'll be right over."
"Thank you." Mom proceeded to hang up and put the phone back. Feeling much calmer, she called for her kids. "Kit! Kate! Would you please come here?"
Kit and Kate went down the stairs and stopped when they reached Mom.
"What is it?" Kit asked.
"We're going to be gone a little later than usual, so I asked Lumpy to look after you," Mom said. "And he should be here any minute. Would you please try to behave until we come home?"
"Oh, okay," Kate said.
"We'll do the best we can," Kit added.
"That would be wonderful. Thank you so much," Mom said.
The doorbell rang. Mom went over to it, put her paw on the doorknob, twisted it and opened the door. It was Lumpy.
"Excuse me, are you Kit and Kate's mom?" he asked. Sometimes, he just couldn't remember who she was.
"Yes, I am. I'm not sure how long we're going to be gone, but please do the best you can to keep our kids under control," Mom said.
"I've been around kids before," Lumpy said. "I think I'll be fine."
He proceeded into the house. Kit and Kate saw him and gasped in joy.
"Lumpy!" They both jumped into Lumpy's arms and hugged him. They could almost see him blushing as they did so.
"Well, now that he's here, we might as well leave," Dad said. "The sooner we get there, the better!"
He started to head out the door just as Lumpy put the two kittens down. Mom went up to them to wish them goodbye.
"Bye-bye, kids. Be good with Mister Lumpy until we come home." She kissed Kit on the forehead, and then Kate on the forehead. She then headed out the door with Dad.
"Bye, Mom and Dad!" Kate said.
"Good luck!" Kit said.
Mom and Dad headed out to their car, opened the doors and got inside. Dad started the engine, backed up the car until it was out on the road and drove away.
"You two must really be excited to see me," Lumpy said.
"You bet we are!" Kate responded.
"This is gonna be a great night!" Kit agreed.
"Well, can I trust you two to be good like your mother asked you to?" Lumpy asked.
"Don't worry about that," Kit said. "We can definitely do that."
"It's just that we wanna have fun all day long!" Kate said.
"Well, now that I'm here, what would you like to do first?" Lumpy asked.
Kit and Kate thought about this for a few moments, but couldn't come up with anything at first.
"You might wanna give us a little bit," said Kit.
Lumpy nodded in understanding. Kit and Kate continued to think about what to do. While they were thinking, Lumpy tried to think of something as well. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. It involved something that he did quite frequently, but had never seen Kit or Kate do before.
"Um, kids? Can I ask you something?" Lumpy asked.
"Sure, Lumpy," Kit said.
"You can ask us about anything you want," Kate added.
"Kit and Kate... um..." Lumpy looked away as he blushed slightly. "Do you sneeze?"
"Well, yeah. Of course we do," Kit said.
"Everyone sneezes," said Kate.
"Well, what makes you sneeze?" Lumpy wanted to know.
"I've sneezed from flowers a few times," Kate stated. "Except I'm not allergic to them."
"And this one time, when we were out playing, a feather got on my nose and made me sneeze," Kit said.
"Really? That happens to me, too!" Lumpy said, referring to Kit.
"Why'd you ask that?" Kate asked, trying to make it sound polite.
"I'd say it's because I sneeze from lots of things, but to be honest, I've never seen either of you sneeze before," said Lumpy.
"You wanna make us sneeze?" Kit asked.
Lumpy blushed a bright red almost as soon as he heard that.
"Sure, Lumpy. You can make us sneeze," Kit said.
"We haven't had any really good sneezes in a while, anyway," Kate said.
"Really?" Lumpy couldn't believe it. "Um... thanks."
Lumpy looked around the room for something to make the kids sneeze with, but he couldn't find anything he wanted to use. Then, however, another idea appeared in his head.
"How sensitive are your noses?"
"They're pretty touchy," Kit said. "Even the littlest tickles can make us sneeze pretty fast."
"Our dad likes to poke our noses and make us sneeze," Kate said.
After he had heard that, a mischievous smile slowly appeared on Lumpy's face. The kittens looked at him in curiosity.
"Um... Lumpy?" Kate asked.
Without thinking, Lumpy raised both of his forefingers and poked Kit right where his nose would be. He tried to be gentle enough to not hurt him, but he could see him wince.
"Hey, why'd you do th- tha-" Kit tilted his neck back as he inhaled a little, his eyes closing slightly as he was about to sneeze. "Aaaah... Ahhhh..."
Lumpy pulled his finger away from Kit's nose and watched. He could relate to Kit's reaction, and he knew what was going to happen. Was this going to be a sneeze as big as his own?
"Aaaaaaaahhhhh-" Kit shut his eyes completely, tilted his neck as far back as he could, and then sneezed into his hand. "CHOOoooooo!"
The sneeze started out loud, then got much smaller. Kit removed his hand from his mouth, sniffled and rubbed his nose with his hand.
"Wow. Bless you," Lumpy said.
"Thanks." Kit was still rubbing his nose.
"And sorry about that. I couldn't resist," said Lumpy.
"It's okay. Just be careful, my nose is really ticklish," Kit said.
Lumpy then looked over at Kate, who appeared to be almost nervous. This time, however, instead of poking her nose, Lumpy raised his forefinger to where her nose would be and stroked her nose softly.
"Um, Lumpy? Whatcha doing?" she asked.
Without responding, Lumpy continued tickling her nose with his forefinger. Her eyes started to twitch slightly as she felt a sneeze coming to get her. Just as he decided to pull his finger away, her eyelids lowered halfway as she tilted her head back and inhaled.
"Aaah... Haaaaaah..." Kate brought both of her hands up to her mouth and prepared to sneeze into them. "HaaaaaaaAAAH-"
As Kate was about to sneeze, Lumpy was just standing where he was and watching. He had the strangest feeling that this was going to be absolutely adorable...
"HAAAAAHHHH-CHEEEEEEW!" Kate doubled over as she sneezed loudly into her hands. A few moments later, she recovered and removed her hands, her expression appearing to be a mix of sadness and embarrassment. She sniffled and rubbed her nose adorably with her forefinger.
"Awww. Bless you," Lumpy said in complete adoration. He thought the sneeze could have been quieter, but it was still adorable.
"Thank you," Kate said as she was still rubbing her nose.
"I sure wish I could sneeze like that," Lumpy said. "It was really cute..."
Kate blushed slightly as she sniffled one more time, then pulled her finger away from her face.
"Yeah. She likes making her sneezes sound cute," Kit pointed out.
"By the way, Lumpy, how do you sneeze?" Kate asked.
Lumpy didn't know how to respond, but he decided that he didn't have much of a choice. He took a deep breath and spoke.
"My sneezes are loud. Really loud. And I think they're really strong, too..."
"They are?" asked Kate. "Your nose must be really ticklish if your sneezes are really strong."
"Yeah, my nose is pretty darn sensitive."
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Kate suddenly got an idea. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a flower, not noticing as Lumpy's eyes widened and pupils shrunk. "I picked this pretty flower earlier today, and I wanna show it to you!"
"Um, Kate? I don't think that'd be a good idea..." Lumpy was really allergic to flowers, and he knew just how much they could make him sneeze. So he really didn't want Kate to do what he was pretty sure she would do.
However, Kate didn't want to listen. She held the flower right in front of Lumpy's nose, trying to get him to smell it. Immediately, Lumpy's nose twitched and his nostrils flared up. They could sense the pollen. He was going to sneeze.
"Aaaaaah... AaaaaaAAAAAAH..." Lumpy immediately tilted his neck back, twice, and then turned away from Kit and Kate. "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-"
Kate looked almost confused, but Kit covered his ears with his paws. He knew that Lumpy was going to sneeze. With a final backward jerk of his neck and a final dramatic inhale, Lumpy exploded.
The three of them could feel the floor shaking beneath them as Lumpy released the sneeze. Kate dropped the flower in her hand and covered her ears with her hands, but she was just a few moments too late. The sneeze could be heard from the entire house. Kit and Kate were lucky their parents weren't home when this happened.
Lumpy then recovered from the sneeze, sniffled and rubbed his nose on his forefinger several times. Kit and Kate looked at him, both appearing shocked.
"Oh, my! Bless you!" Kate said, emphatically.
"Ugh... thank you," Lumpy said as he continued to rub his nose.
"That was some sneeze!" Kit commented. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Lumpy took another sniffle. "But I'm afraid I'm allergic to flowers. That's why I didn't want that flower you offered to me."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Kate apologized. She looked down at the flower on the floor, picked it up and put it back in her pocket. "I didn't know."
"It's fine. I figured you wouldn't..."
Finally pulling his finger away from his nose, Lumpy went onto the couch and sat down on it. He tried to think of something as Kit and Kate sat down next to him.
"So what do you wanna do now?" Kate asked.
"You might wanna give me a second..."
Unbeknownst to the kittens, Lumpy actually had plenty of things he wanted to do with them tonight. He just didn't know where to start. But he didn't really have a problem with that. He was going to try to make this a fun night for both himself, and Kit and Kate.