Chapter 33:

Volume 2: Chapter 2: When Friendship Blooms - Part 1

Nephalem


I arrived home fifteen minutes after leaving the library, the small kitten now nestled in my arms. It seemed rather content there, which surprised me. Most animals ran from me in fear. They had an even greater ability to sense the danger I represented than humans.

My home was in the same spot as my previous apartment complex. The complex was gone, and in its place was a two-story house. Made with a modern architectural style, it seemed like a basic home with a hipped roof, a fence surrounding it, and a small garden that I could see a peek of from the front. There was also a large balcony that spanned a good portion of the second floor on one side.

The cat purred in my arms as I unlocked the front door and walked in. The hallway was empty of people. However, I spotted Alicia’s tennis shoes resting on the shoe rack, so I knew she had to be home.

“I’m home,” I called out.

Rushing footsteps padded along the floor after my announcement. They grew ever closer as I took off my shoes and put them next to Alicia’s. When I stood back up and turned toward the hall, Alicia was already wandering over toward me, her steps slowing down and her face glowing a vibrant shade of red.

I felt my own face become red as I noticed what she was wearing.

Alicia had put on an apron, which had been tied tightly around her small waist, enough so that it accentuated her large bust and shapely hips. In fact, it was so tight that it caused her breasts to practically spill out of either side. Milky white skin like porcelain glowed underneath the light fixtures overhead. Parts of her nipples were poking out from the side of the fabric.

Which brought another fact home. Alicia was wearing just the apron. There was nothing else underneath.

In other words, this was the infamous Naked Apron.

“W-welcome home, Master,” Alicia said, curtsying—trying to curtsy. She almost tripped over her own two feet but caught herself at the last second. “I-I am glad that you, uh, arrived home safely. W-would you like a bath, or some dinner, o-o-or—” her stuttering grew worse, and the redness of her cheeks grew until her skin tone reminded me of a fire hydrant “—p-p-perhaps you would… like me?”

The cat and I both stared at the practically naked girl. I wasn’t sure where to look. It made me feel like a hypocrite, but there was a part of me that wanted to look at her breasts, and indeed, my eyes kept trying to stray toward her chest. What made it worse was that every little movement she made caused her breasts to jiggle. It was only through sheer force of will that I stopped myself.

“A-Alicia,” I mumbled, doing my best to look away. “W-what are you… why are you wearing that?”

“I-it’s—I may have said some things today that I… regret,” Alicia said, turning her head. “So, um, I wanted to make it up to you somehow.” She paused. Then, in a low, stuttering mumble, she asked, “do you not… like it?”

“It’s not… a matter of whether I like it or not. Girls… girls shouldn’t wear something like this unless it's for, like, their husband and stuff.”

“T-that is true!” Alicia twitched as she laughed. I had the feeling that she’d been about to turn around, but had realized at the last second that if she did turn around, I’d get an eye full of her backside. After all, from the way her hips were visible, I could tell that she wasn’t even wearing underwear. “B-but you know… we live together, so it’s, you know, it’s kind of like you and I are…”

She trailed off at the end, but I got the gist of what she was saying, and it made my face burn worse than any sunburn that could be had from staying out in the sun for too long.

“Nya.”

Alicia and I might have stayed like that if it wasn’t for the kitten, who meowed in my arms. Alicia’s attention was diverted from her embarrassment to the feline. She leaned down, which didn’t help me one bit since I could now see down her apron, giving me an unfettered glimpse of her dangling breasts. She peered at the cat with inquisitive eyes.

“Jacob? Why do you have a cat with you?” Alicia asked.

Glad for the new topic, I scratched behind the cat’s ear as I said, “I found him in front of the library and decided to take him home with me.” The cat scratched at my arm and meowed. It seemed agitated for some reason. “He seems attached to me, so I thought it would be a good idea to bring him home with me.” More scratching. I ignored it.

“So, you want to keep this cat?” Alicia asked as she stuck out a single finger toward it. The cat eyed the finger.

“That’s not a problem, is it?” I asked.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem—IIYYAAAHHHH!!!”

Alicia was interrupted when, without warning, the cat chomped down on her finger. She tried to pull her hand away. It didn’t work. All she did when she jerked her hand back was take the cat with her.

“W-why is this thing biting me?! Get it off! Get it off!”

I really did want to help her, but my mind had frozen solid. Alicia was jumping all over the hall. In turn, her breasts, which were prominent on the best of days, were bouncing around without discretion. They were no longer even hidden behind the apron. I could see her light pink nipples clear as day.

I was such a disgusting pervert.

“What is all this commotion about?” asked Matilda as she walked into the hallway. She paused. Glancing at Alicia, a frown appeared on her face as she slowly switched her gaze to me. “Lord Jacob, may I ask why Lady Alicia is freaking out and has a cat biting on her finger?”

“It’s kind of a long story,” I said, surprised I even had the ability to speak. “Do you mind if we all sit down while I tell you about it?”

Matilda nodded after a moment’s consideration. “I believe that would be fine.”

“I don’t care what you two decide,” Alicia started, her voice raising in volume with every passing second. “Just get this thing off of me!!”

Realizing that the kitten was still chowing down on Alicia’s finger, I hastened to pry the thing off. Alicia blew on her poor finger, which was red, had a ring of bite marks around it, and was slightly bleeding. Once the kitten was back in my arms, we made our way into the living room. Alicia was glaring at the kitten.

“I’m going to get changed,” she said before storming off. She must have forgotten that she was wearing only an apron, or perhaps she was just too angry.

I’d like to say that I was a gentleman and didn’t stare at her swaying backside. I’d like to say that, but I couldn’t. Her backside was every bit as magnificent as her front, and I couldn’t stop from tracking the way it swayed, or the way her tight bubble butt bounced, as she walked off.

“Do you see something you like, Lord Jacob?” asked Matilda.

I turned to her, attempting to hide my blush. “N-no. Of course not. Why would you say that?”

“Hmm…” Even though Matilda’s expression hadn’t changed in the slightest, her gaze somehow made me feel naked, as though all my clothes had been stripped off—like Alicia. In the end, Matilda just shrugged. “My mistake. I could have sworn you were looking at Lady Alicia’s ass.”

The way she said that with such a straight face was more embarrassing than if she had acted coy. I could do nothing but silently follow her into the living room, which was about the size of my old apartment before it had been rebuilt into this place.

It had only been three days since I came home and discovered that my entire apartment complex had been demolished and rebuilt. Even now, it didn’t feel real.

Alicia walked out from the hallway leading to the second floor, now dressed in baggy pajama pants and a shirt that was several sizes too large. I recognized that shirt. It was one of the shirts I had given to her when she first started living with me.

She must have noticed my gaze on her. She looked at me, then down at herself, and then she blushed beet red and hurried over to the couch, sitting as far from me as possible. I couldn’t say I blamed her.

Matilda clapped her hands, gathering their attention. “Well, then. I believe it is time you told us about how you found that cat. While you’re at it, perhaps you could explain why you came home so late, Lord Jacob?”

I couldn’t get over how Matilda called me lord. Part of me wanted to tell her to stop, but the rest realized it was probably pointless. People like her wouldn’t listen to someone like me.

Since I didn’t have much choice, I told the two about how I stopped by the library on my way home and met the cat. I didn’t tell them about Gabriel. I didn’t necessarily like the fact that I was hiding Gabriel from them, but before she left, she asked me not to tell anyone about her.

While I found that someone suspicious, I figured she was dealing with some personal affairs and wanted to remain anonymous. I also didn’t want to give her up. If not saying anything would let me see her again, then I would keep my mouth shut.

“I see,” Matilda said as he finished his tale, hands in her lap, the picture perfect maid. “I have no issues with keeping a cat here. Alicia, on the other hand…”

“Absolutely not,” Alicia said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I don’t like that cat.” The response Alicia gave came complete with crossed arms and an indignant huff. Her cheeks swelled with air. I thought she looked cute, though I’d never say so out loud. “Besides, it might have fleas.”

As if it could understand her, the cat hissed. In response, Alicia glared at the cat. I could almost see the sparks shooting between them.

“But, Alicia, this cat doesn’t seem to have a home,” I said. “Don’t you feel sorry for it?”

“Not after it bit me,” Alicia said.

“I… I see.” Somehow, I was disappointed in Alicia. She was usually so nice. I guess I was expecting her to be a bit more accepting. “Then… I guess I’ll take him outside.”

I stood up, prepared to let the cat go. It didn’t feel right, but when I considered my precarious relationship with Alicia right now, there was little I could do. In the end, maintaining my friendship with her was more important than keeping a stray cat.
I walked began walking to the front door.

“Is that cat really so important to you?” Alicia asked.

I stopped walking.

“It’s not that he’s important to me,” I said, turning around and ignoring the cat’s pawing at my arm. “I just don’t feel right leaving a creature to fend for itself when I know that I could help.”

Before meeting Azazel, I had been homeless. For about six years I had wandered Japan, homeless, starving, alone. No one wanted me. No one helped me. The only friend I had ever made turned on me when she found out what I was. Those were times I never wanted to live again, and I didn’t want others to live that kind of life either, not even an animal like this cat.

Alicia stared at me for several long, silent seconds before, finally, with a resigned air, she sighed and said, “if this is really how you feel, then I suppose the cat can stay. Just be sure to keep it away from me.”

“Lady Alicia does not wish to get bitten again,” Matilda added.

Alicia glared at her maid, but I was staring at the redhead in shock. As the shock wore off, however, I smiled.

“I was right,” I said. “You’re a really wonderful person. Thank you.”

Alicia turned her head. I couldn’t be sure, but I was positive that she was blushing.

“You’re welcome,” she murmured, her voice barely heard.

Alicia was really cute, I decided.


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