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Chapter Thirteen: Queen Miki:

On Sunday, I awoke to a loud surprise. I nearly fell out of bed when I heard pounding on the door.

“What the?!” I screamed. I grabbed my sheets to break my fall.

“Get up!” Akemi yelled. “Miki’s here!” I tilted my head, confused.

“Miki?” I asked.

“Yes!” my sister shouted. “Now get moving!”

“Okay, okay,” I said. I climbed out of bed and gathered up my towels. “Wait, why are we rushing around again?” I ask. Akemi groaned and rolled her eyes.

“Miki’s coming home!” she shouted.

“I get that,” I said. “But what’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal?!” my sister repeated. “What’s the big deal?! It’s Miki!”

“So?” I asked. “Is she famous or something?”

“You can say that,” Akemi said. “Now get going!”

“Okay, okay!” I said. “I’m going! I’m going!” I walked all the way to the bathroom. My sister clapped her hands behind me.

“Hurry up!” she shouted.

“Okay!” I yelled. I slammed door in an attempt to drown her out.

------

I made it down to the front door twenty minutes later. Everyone stood by waiting. Yusuke and Isaac held up a small “welcome home” banner. I glanced around, still unable to get what was about to unfold here.

“Is it really that big of a deal?” I whispered in Cassius’ ear.

“She’s worked for years to get into that gallery,” he explained. “We all supported her up to this point.”

“Oh…” I mumbled. Suddenly, we all looked up when we heard the door unlocking. A woman about in her late twenties walked in mumbling to herself.

“Welcome home!” the others greeted her. The long black-haired woman looked at each one of them with a sharp glare through her glasses. Her eyes rested on me.

“Who’s this?” she asked. Akemi stepped forward.

“He’s my brother, Kichiro,” she explained. “I told you about him over the phone last night, remember?” The other woman frowned at me as she narrowed her eyes. I glanced around as if trying to find an escape.

“Is that so?” she asked.

“Yes,” Akemi told her.

“Oh,” the woman said before walking past the welcoming party and up the stairs. I gave her back a puzzled look.

“What’s wrong with her?” I asked.

“She’s just tired,” Romi explained. “Let her sleep it off until dinner.”

“Right…” I mumbled.

------

Around dinnertime, that same woman returned. This time, she looked a little bit better. Romi clapped her hands together.

“Miki-chan, so nice of you to come back!” she asked. The woman with the black-framed glasses eyes us all.

“Who’s cooking tonight?” she asked.

“Cassius,” Sunao answered.

“Good,” she said. Miki took a seat across from me. “So this is the new guy, huh?”

“More or less,” Isaac said.

“I’m studying to get into Todai,” I answered.

“Cute,” Miki brushed off. The curls in her hair made it look like a cape. I had never seen a woman with such a round face before. Earlier, Miki was frowning, but now I can’t tell if she’s still frowning or slightly smiling. Something about her said, “I am the queen of this palace and you are in my castle! Deal with it!” Looking at her made me feel like I was shrinking in her presence.

“So what made you come here in the first place?” she asked.

“His little friend died!” Sakura-hime blurted out. “She committed suicide!” Romi quickly pinched her on the ankle.

“Ow!” the wilder woman yelped.

“Stop being a cunt,” Romi hissed under her breath.

“Bitch,” Sakura-hime hissed back.

“Sorry to hear that,” Miki addressed me.

“It’s okay, I’m fine, really,” I replied.

“So how the exhibition?” Yusuke cut in. Miki pushed up her glasses.

“Slightly boring, but it was successful,” she said.

“What type of art do you do?” I asked. The reserved woman that I believed her to be flashed me a wild grin.

“Modern art with the body,” she replied. Something about her tone with that answer made me sweat.

“What kind of modern art with the body?” I asked, not liking where this could be headed. Her face came within inches of mine with that grin of hers.

“Why do you come model for me and see?” she asked in a low voice that made me want to run out of the room screaming.

“Uh…” was all that I could say. Akemi quickly put up her hand between us.

“Back off, bitch!” she barked. “You lay a hand on my little brother and I’ll kill you!” Her words sounded threatening, but her tone suggested that she was half-joking. Miki puffed up her bangs as she sat back in place.

“I was only joking,” she said. I wanted to believe her, but something in my stomach told me she was lying. The tense broke up when someone cleared their throat at us. We looked up to see Cassius standing in the kitchen doorway with a big spoon in his hand. I had to admit, he looked good in a bright pink apron.

“Dinner’s ready,” he said. Miki flashed a huge angelic smile as she clapped her hands together.

“Wonderful!” she said. “I missed your cooking, Cassius-tan.”

“I’m flattered, Honey,” he said.

“Well, aren’t you truly delightful?” Miki asked. Her smile reminded me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice and Wonderland. Heh, Alice and Wonderland, that sums up this house completely.

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