I just had a light bulb moment!
I was picking more of those nasty little parasites off The Boy (over 30 this morning!!), and I was struck with how docile he is when I do that. About that time, he licked my hand again several times. And I realized .......
.... what I'm doing is a grooming behavior in the animal world. It is commonly done by the dominant animal, the mother, etc., and tells the animal being groomed that he/she is under the control of the dominant one. He is seeing that I am his boss, but not his tormentor or one who ignores him!! Hah hoooooo! I stumbled into something really good here! That may be why he is coming around late yesterday and this morning. Maybe???
I'll pick nasties off him for the next week if that's what it takes!!!
Look at this .... he is resting his chin over China's neck. She's not crazy about his choice of places, but she was very still for a couple minutes, almost as if she knew he needs to connect by cuddling with her. Pretty touching.