Waking up the next morning was a chore. It was Saturday, which meant no school—for me. There were some kids who had classes on the weekend, or had club activities, but as a member of the going home club, I had no need to get up early so I could head off to school.
Of course, today I would be going to school, but it wouldn’t be until much later.
The choice to wake up early or stay in bed was taken out of my hands when someone pulled the curtains back from the window, allowing sunlight to spill into my eyelids.
It burned. Even with my eyes closed, the light still damaged my retinas. It was like having a hot poker or a branding iron shoved into my eyes.
I groaned. Unable to block out the light, I slowly sat up and opened my eyes. Once my eyesight had adjusted, I turned to the window, or rather, the figure beside it.
Yūgure was standing by the window. Decked in her new maid outfit made her undeniably cute. The black complimented her darker skin tone, while the white contrasted with it. Her outfit wasn’t as complimentary as Matilda’s, whose skin was several shades darker than Yūgure’s, but it was still nice.
She stared at me, and her eyes seemed to say, “it’s time to get out of bed”, or that was my interpretation anyway. While I did want to get some more rest, I decided to humor her by climbing out of bed and stretching my arms. Several loud pops echoed in my ears as my muscles were stretched.
“All right. I’m up.”
Yūgure didn’t respond, naturally, but I had expected this. Since I was up, I figured now would be the time to rinse off my face. I barely made it two steps to the bathroom before a hand grabbed my arm. I looked back. It was Yūgure, staring at me with an expression that I interpreted as concern.
“Are you worried?”
Feeling my lips peel back into a smile, I turned back around, reached out, and placed my hand on her head.
Yūgure was nearly two heads shorter than myself. Her dark hair, which complimented her dark, dusk colored tan, was soft to the touch. I ran my hands through it.
A purr escaped from Yūgure’s throat. She tilted her head up like a cat as though directing my hands, subconsciously telling me where to rub her head. I thought it odd that she didn’t fear me. If she really was from the yōkai village that I had visited, then it meant she had seen my power, which meant she should have been petrified. Anyone would have been. Yet she wasn’t. If anything, this girl was quite affectionate.
“I just realized: you’ve been wearing that maid outfit for the past few days,” I said. “Are you working to become a maid?”
Yūgure nodded as she grabbed his hand and directed it toward her left ear. I got the hint. Her ear twitched as I rubbed it. The purring grew louder.
“That would mean you’re learning from Matilda, huh?” Yūgure nodded again. “I’m sure you’ll work hard to become a great maid.”
I had no idea why she wanted to be a maid, but I also wasn’t going to question someone else’s life choices since they were none of my business. Yūgure could do whatever she wanted. All I could do in return was help out any way I could.
“Why don’t you head downstairs to see if Matilda needs help?” I suggested. “I’ll be down once I get dressed.”
It was only after I said this that I realized something—namely, that I was still wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, which Yūgure noticed as well, if the way her eyes were staring at my stomach and chest were any indication.
Was she licking her lips?
“Erm, right.” I suddenly felt the urge to cover my body. “I’ll see you downstairs.”
I didn’t say anything else as I walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. Placing a hand over my chest, feeling the erratic way my heart was beating, I needed several moments to calm down.
After my heartbeat receded back to its steady pace, I went over to the sink and turned on the faucet. Water filled my hands as I cupped them. Splashing the water in face, I placed my hands on either side of the sink and stared at myself in the mirror.
Messy blond hair. Blue eyes hidden beneath a fringe of bangs. Angular features. Broad shoulders. Light tan skin. I really did have to wonder if my family had any Japanese blood in it. My appearance really was that of an American, a Yankee, as the Japanese students often called them.
Then again, I was a Nephalem. Far as I knew, Nephalem had no human blood in them. We were born from the union of a devil and an angel, which meant I didn’t carry the blood of any nation from this world.
When I re-entered my room, I noticed with a sigh of relief that Yūgure had left. I went over to my closet and got dressed. The outfit I donned was simple, blue jeans and a dark T-shirt. Once dressed, I left, wandering into the kitchen.
Alicia was already there.
She was sitting in her usual spot, the chair right next to the one I normally sat in. As the door clicked shut behind her, she looked up, our eyes made contact for a brief moment, and then we both looked away.
My face felt like it was on fire.
Our conversation the night before played itself in my mind like a vivid erotic dream. My back could easily recall the way her soft hands had felt as she washed me, just as I could still picture her naked body, the way her breasts sat proudly on her chest like two large hills, capped with light pink nipples instead of white snow. I even shivered from the phantom feeling of those nipples pressing into my back. She had practically bared all of herself to me the previous night. As the images and phantom sensations ran through my body, I realized that my pants were getting abnormally tight.
Think unsexy thoughts, Jacob. Think unsexy thoughts.
“G-good morning,” Alicia mumbled before taking a bite of her breakfast. I didn’t recognize the food, though it reminded me of porridge.
“Um, morning,” I mumbled back.
I thought about sitting far away from her, but that might have made the situation worse. She might question whether or not I truly meant what I had promised the night before. With more than a little apprehension, I sat down right next to her.
“So, um, the school festival starts today,” she said.
“Yeah… it does, doesn’t it?”
God, this was awkward.
“Um, right.” Alicia wasn’t even looking at him as she spoke. “I was wondering—I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but would you like to, you know, come with me? I thought it might be nice to attend the festival, even though our event isn’t until tomorrow.”
It was late spring. June 1st. The weather was becoming hotter. We had already changed into our summer uniforms several week ago, before Alicia had even arrived, in fact.
“I don’t mind attending,” I said. I figured we were going to attend anyway, though I wouldn’t have said anything because I didn’t want to be presumptuous.
A palpable breath of relief blew from Alicia’s mouth. “Okay. The festival will be starting soon. We can leave after breakfast.”
As they spoke, Matilda came in with some breakfast for him, walking up and setting a bowl of the same stuff that Alicia was eating on the table in front of him. Walking beside her was Yūgure.The young nekomata was looking at Matilda and trying to copy her mannerisms. Considering she couldn’t speak, she was unable to quite pull it off.
“Here you are, Lord Jacob. I have prepared grits with chopped bacon bits inside. I hope you like it.”
“I like everything you make.”
“You are too kind.”
After lunch, myself and Alicia were getting ready to head out. We were stopped before we could get out of the door by Yūgure. I looked down at the little nekomata, who stared up at me, her hand gripping my sleeve.
“Do you want to come with us?”
A nod. I looked at Alicia.
“All right.” She sighed as though resigned to suffer unbearable agony. “She can come along.”
Yūgure’s lips twitched into a slight smile, a kind of victorious expression, or what I imagined a triumphant appearance would be on someone who didn’t express emotions.
The three of set off, Matilda waving goodbye from the porch.
As we walked, I looked at Alicia, who was so close our shoulders were touching. Then I looked at Yūgure. She was practically glued to my side.
A thick tension hung in the air. I could’ve sworn the two were glaring at each other, even though they didn’t say anything. Being stuck between them, I couldn’t stop the cold sweat from breaking out on my skin.
Just what the heck was wrong with these two?