An Arrival of a Rival. CH11


(Previous Chapter:http://touchfluffytail.org/story/an-arrival-of-a-rival-ch10/)

 

Chapter 11

A Hectic Night of Chance

“So…this is one of Brandy’s offices, huh?” After their long-winded drive, Faulkner and Trisha arrived at their destination.

“I expected this place to have some security, but I never would’ve guessed it’d be this tight.” Sitting two miles away from the highway they drove at earlier, the fully enclosed office building had a guard house with barriers blocking both the entrance and exit points. Driving up next to the guard house, they saw a Golem girl in full security uniform as she turned to face Faulkner before he rolled his window down. Undoing her seatbelt, Trisha leaned towards Faulkner’s window as she hung onto the car window opening.

“Ah, hello there. We have an appointment with Miss Reiss.” Staring blankly at Trisha, the Golem guard turns her attention to a laptop in front of her. Checking for Trisha’s name, she was indeed listed for an appointment before she turned back around and nodded slowly.

“Miss Trisha and Mr. Faulkner. Lady Reiss has been waiting for you. Please follow the patrol vehicle to the designated parking lot. An employee shall lead you to Lady Reiss’s office.” With a push of a button sitting next to her laptop, the barrier blocking the entrance raised upward, granting them access to the property.

“Thank you.” With a thankful bow from both Trisha and Faulkner, they drove onward before a patrol vehicle driven by a human male rolled down his window.

“Hello. Just follow by closely, alright? Don’t fall behind or deviate from me.” Following closely behind, they passed multiple employees and security guards walking outside. Aside from the tight security measures in place, the employees coming in and out of the office building varied from humans to monster girls like an Ogre that would usually be too belligerent or wild to work in an office setting.

“Huh…an Ogre wearing an office appropriate button shirt and long skirt combo…that’s surprising to see…” Scattered around the facility, warning signs in all red caps warned trespassers of the surveillance cameras on the property.

When they finally stopped, the security driver led them to a guest parking space in the parking lot before Faulkner and Trisha stepped out of the car. Parking next to them was the security guard before walking over to greet the two in person.

“Alright, you two. Please follow closely behind me.” With a nod from Trisha and Faulkner, they followed the security guard as he led the way to the building. When they got inside, two more security guards were stationed near a metal detector gate. One of the guards was another man. The other was an Automaton.

“Jeromy, who are those two?” Speaking to Jeromy was the automaton. Her blank, purple eyes looked as if they were scanning Faulkner and Trisha’s bodies.

“They’re Lady Reiss’s guests.” Pulling out a PDA from one of his shirt pockets, the other security guard checks it before nodding.

“I see. It matches the databanks stored in today’s schedule. They may pass.” With a nod of confirmation, Jeromy smiled at Trisha and Faulkner before motioning to continue following him.

Walking past the gate and the two guards, they bowed at them before they reached an elevator. Walking inside when it opened, Jeromy pressed the button leading to the top fifth floor of the building.

“…” Without moving her head, Trisha stared at Faulkner and saw how nervous he looked. Watching how stiff his arms and legs were the entire time, she couldn’t help but chuckle softly. Hearing her, Jeromy turned his head back and smiled at the two.

“No need to be so nervous, young man. You’re an important guest here, so there’s no need to be so stiff and formal around here.”

“Ehehe…you say that, but isn’t Miss Reiss a rich, influential woman?” Staring straight up at nothing in particular, Jeromy smiled at Faulkner and patted his right shoulder in a friendly manner.

“That she is. But once you know the little missy, you’ll find that she’s friendlier than one would imagine a woman of her status would be.” With an audible ding, the elevator door opened to the fifth floor of the building. “Ah! We’re here.” Walking out of the elevator, the only thing on the fifth floor was a narrow hallway. Lined with framed works of art on both sides of the walls, each piece they passed by seemed intricately drawn.

“I guess Miss Reiss is a fan of the arts?” Looking left and right to appreciate the artwork before her, Trisha has always been interested in the fine arts but has no talent for drawing them.

“Oh, those? She put them there to make the hallway feel less bare. The first few months I worked here, the walls were completely white.” With a hearty chuckle, Faulkner and Trisha laughed with him as they made it to the other side of the hallway.

“Hmm? Sweetie, what’re you doing here? Shouldn’t you be patrolling outside?” Standing over six feet tall, the Jabberwock guard looked surprised when she saw Jeromy.

“Hey there, Yelen. I’m here to guide the two guests here to little Miss Reiss. You did get the memo that she’s expecting guests today, right?” Raising his right eyebrow in suspicion, Yelen avoided his gaze while playing with her pointing clawed fingers.

“I…uh…”

“Why am I not surprised…just check your PDA. You’ll see it there…”

“Right” Reaching inside her cleavage, Faulkner averted his gaze, getting a giggle from Trisha when she noticed the slight blush on his cheeks. “Let’s see…ah! I see it now. We shouldn’t keep our guests waiting then.” Pulling his PDA out, Jeromy and Yelen pressed their PDA against what looked like an electronic reader on both sides of the door. With an audible click, the locks on the door disengaged before the door slid open. Stepping out of their way, Jeromy and Yelen sat against the wall on their side.

“Alright. You two go on ahead. Little Miss Reiss is up ahead.” Smiling at Faulkner and Trisha, Jeromy bowed to Trisha and Faulkner.

“Thank you for the warm hospitality Jeromy.” With a light bow of his own, Faulkner and Trisha made their way inside before the sliding door behind them closed. When the door closed, nothing but darkness surrounded the two. The only light visible in the room where a few beams of sunlight piercing through what looked like window blinds in front of them.

“Damn…it’s dark in here.”

“Welcome to my private office, Trisha, Faulkner.” Slowly, the blinds folded open, allowing more light into the room. In front of them, sitting behind an intricately made executive wooden desk, Brandy Reiss smiled at Trisha and Faulkner. Standing next to her was her Ratatoskr assistant. Wearing a typical office worker assistant uniform consisting of a light gray collared sleeveless button shirt, her light brown undershirt popped up and over the upper three buttons on her shirt due to her ample bosom. An acorn design embroidered in the center sits just below her short necktie before she bowed lightly at the two with a light flick of her bushy tail, unimpeded by a specially made knee-length pencil skirt.

“You must be…Miss Reiss…” Standing up from her chair, Reiss wore a similar outfit to her assistant, though her collared shirt was black and had a more regal sheen with matching black dress pants tailor-made to accommodate her abnormally bushy tail. While not as well endowed as her assistant, she stood a few good inches above her. Pinned to the left side of her shirt was a gold-plated metal brooch in a shape of a tanuki leaf.

“That’s right! Brandy Helen Reiss, nice to meet you. Sorry for the abrupt invitation. I’m glad you could come, Mr. Faulkner. Given the circumstances regarding one of your lovers, I only expected to see Miss Trisha today. I’m glad I was wrong.”

“Y-you know about Reiza and what happened to her?” Pacing back and forth from left to right behind her desk, Reiss smiled while glancing over at Faulkner with each turn she made.

“I’m a very well-informed gal, especially when it concerns individuals that catch my eye. Aside from that, it was on the news, so I put two and two together based on what I knew about you from the public TMRC documents I read.” After a few more paces, Reiss stopped in the middle of her desk. “Anyway, you two should sit down for the time being. We have a lot to discuss.” Referring to the two wide cushion seats next to them, Trisha and Faulkner sat down before Reiss turned her attention to her assistant.

“Nakoto, can you fetch us some refreshments?” Turning to Reiss, her Ratatoskr assistant Nakoto bowed to Reiss.

“Right away.” Walking past the two, Nakoto went out of the office to fetch the refreshments Reiss requested, leaving the three alone.

“Now, while Nakoto is out getting our refreshments, let me explain why I invited you two here.” Hovering her right pointing finger on her table, she pressed her finger down on it before a soft white LED light flashed under her finger. A projection screen started lowering above her, casting a shadow over her, Faulkner, and Trisha. When it stopped, a portion of the wall directly behind them opened above the sliding door, revealing a projector lens. The window blinds started closing on their own, leaving just enough light to keep the room from being completely dark before an image of a Tanuki leaf with the title ‘Monsterous Access.’ is shown on the projection screen.

“I’m the CEO of Monsterous Access, a parent company that deals with multiple businesses to give every monster girl species a comfortable way to live in Earth’s modern society. I’m sure you’ve heard about us at least once.” With a nod of acknowledgment from Trisha and Faulkner, Reiss turned her attention to the screen before pressing another button to flip through a different image. This time, a picture of the TMRC building pops up.

“I firmly believe that all monster girls, regardless of their race, have a place of employment given the proper education and guidance. But there’s a problem. Misconceptions, false information, and general fear of monster girls is still a widespread problem here on Earth.” It was slight, but Faulkner grunted in discontent, something Trisha noticed but decided to keep to herself.

“So color me surprised when an ambitious dream I had resurfaced into a seemingly vague institute that successfully managed to do what I failed to do when I came here to Earth twenty years ago.”

“What you failed to do? What do you mean by that, Miss Reiss?” Frowning slightly at Trisha’s question, Reiss brought her hands together and looked out at the window behind her.

“I mean that I tried to open similar institutes that aimed to reform unruly monster girls so they can work while following the societal norms humans here on Earth have placed. I failed in that venture time and time again, so I had to give up on that dream…” The entire time she explained why she failed, Reiss’s melancholic tone told Trisha and Faulkner how emotionally invested Reiss was.

“Then…as if by a miracle, I found Denise on a job recruitment site that I happened to pass by!” Standing up and as happy as could be, Reiss’s tone turned a whole one-eighty as she spread her arms out with her palms wide open. “I never thought a Ushi-Oni could act so formally and speak so fluently, yet there she was!” Sitting back down, Reiss flipped through another image. Standing in front of a mansion, Reiss was posing for a picture with her right arm wrapped around the back of Denise’s waist. There was also another person standing next to Reiss on her left. With her hands down to her waist and clenching them together, her gentle smile and ruby-red eyes spoke volumes of what that woman was like.

“I was so shocked when she was interested in working as a Home Realtor, but she did her research and became an invaluable asset to one of the companies I oversee! Remodeling houses in disarray left and right to give the less fortunate or less physically abled monsters a home to call their own!” Coming back from grabbing refreshments as per Reiss’s request earlier, Nakoto returned with a double-compartment service cart with an assortment of cakes and snacks on a rotating cake display. On the lower compartment are various bottles ranging from fine wine to sparkling drinks with four champagne glasses, one for each person in the office.

“Apologies for the wait Miss Reiss. I brought refreshments as you requested.”

“Thank you, Nakoto. Trisha, Faulkner, please, help yourselves.” With a nod from both of them, they seemed perplexed as they didn’t know which snacks and drinks they should grab.

“Hmm…I guess I’ll take this one.” Taking one of the chocolate cupcakes, the chocolate frosting on top of the cupcake drizzled with white cream had a transparent, amber barometz fruit sitting at the very top. Dazzling as it looked, it looked too good to eat. Almost.

“Ah…i-is that…is that the ‘Azure Bloom’ Oni brand sake?!” With her whole body shaking in disbelief, Reiss smiled as she found amusement in Trisha’s reaction. Trisha’s arms were shaking as she reached down to try and grab the blue-colored sake bottle but stopped short and looked back at Reiss as if she was asking for permission.

“Oh, by all means, go ahead.” With a stupified grin, Trisha grabbed the bottle as if it were a baby, cradling it in her arms and giggling like a schoolgirl.

“OH, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!” Handing over a champagne glass to Faulkner, he smiled nervously at Nakoto before looking down at the other drinks.

“I’m driving, so do you have something non-alcoholic?”

“Of course. Does flavored purified water work?”

“Yeah, that works.” With a light nod, Nakoto reached for a metal pitcher next to the bottles. The sound of ice cubes clattering inside the pitcher echoes in the office before she pours some water on Faulkner’s glass.

“Thank you.” Pouring for herself, Trisha reluctantly handed the bottle of sake back to Nakoto before she bowed to her. Moving until she stood next to Reiss, Nakoto placed a champagne glass on Reiss’s table before pouring sparkling red wine into the glass. To go along with her wine, she took one of the rice cake snacks on the cart and unwrapped it before taking a bite.

“Now, to summarize what I want, I want to hire more people like Denise. I heard that your whole class graduated. So to me, those graduates are prime candidates for hire. I oversee multiple businesses, so I’m certain half of them will be interested in working for me.” Being too busy having a metaphorical orgasm in her mouth from the exquisite taste of the sake she was drinking, Faulkner leaned forward on the table as he felt mildly concerned about Reiss’s intentions.

“So you want to scout the graduates? I hope you’re not forcing them.”

“Oh, perish the thought! I should’ve phrased that better. I want to allow them to find a place of work that pays and treats them fairly. They can reject my offer for all I care, but that’s not the reason I asked you two to come here. Hiring your graduates is just a bonus.”

“Okay, what do you want from us then?” Finished with her drink, Nakoto poured another helping into Trisha’s glass.

“Simple. So for you, Mr. Faulkner, I want to hire you as an educator for other aspiring teachers.” Raising his right eyebrow in confusion, Reiss knew everything she needed to from how lost he looked. “Simply put, I want other teachers like you. Ones that pour their passions into teaching the less fortunate monsters with the same level of commitment and drive as you.”

“The same drive as me? So you want me to mentor other teachers so they can teach societal norms as I do?”

“Exactly! Denise told me much about how caring and considerate you were when she needed guidance. If I can get other teachers like you, then other institutes from different parts of the country, or dare I say, different parts of the world, can be made available for all Monster girls willing to learn!”

“So, in other words, you’re interested in opening more TMRC institutes. And you want Faulkner to pass on his knowledge of societal norms teaching to other teachers to work in those new institutes?” Despite downing her second glass of Sake, Trisha looked as composed as could be, holding onto her chin with her right hand.

“Yup. I want to experiment and see if having a Monster Girl teacher or even Human female yields the same successful results as Faulkner.” Stopping just before biting his cupcake, he was even more confused than Reiss’s earlier request.

“Wait, does it make any difference if the teacher’s a monster girl or a human female?”

“Plenty…” Answering for Reiss, the sake Trisha had been drinking did nothing to change the seriousness of her tone as she stared at Faulkner. “Think of it like this. It’d be easier for humans to take lessons seriously from their kind, right? If you were to discuss sex ed, for example, monster girls would be biased since they take preserving their species much more seriously than humans. In our world, it’s the difference between breeding humans to extinction or going extinct ourselves.” Getting a third serving poured into her glass, Reiss took over where Trisha had left off.

“Another way to look at it, how out of place do you think a person of a different ethnic group would feel if they’re in a school where there was no one like them? The same applies to Monster girls. Whether for personal or factual reasons, a lot of them feel animosity towards human females because of those things. A world where humans and Monster girls coexist can’t happen if there’s dissent between different species, and I want to help both humans and monster girls understand that there’s no need for bad blood between us. That’s the kind of world I want!” Ambition. That’s what Faulkner thought of when he saw how serious Reiss in both her tone and mannerisms was.

“Now…concerning TMRC itself…this applies more to Miss Trisha. Tell me, TMRC’s built with Monster girls in mind, right?” Nodding after taking a sip of her third helping of sake, Trisha twirled her glass around as she watched the clear sake swirl inside.

“That’s right. TMRC, which stands for The Monster Reformation Class, was made to help Monster girls foreigners adjust to societal norms here on Earth.”

“Now…what if we flipped the scenario around and have humans from Earth learn how societal norms work in our world?” Taking them both by surprise, Faulkner and Trisha stood up in unison before Faulkner spoke up first.

“Ah…I…never thought about doing that…” Sitting down first, Trisha took another sip of her sake before closing her eyes in deep thought. Faulkner sat back down soon after.

“Right? There are just as many humans curious about our world as humans and monster girls here. Our world has different rules that humans must abide by that depend on the territories they visit, as some lands are ungoverned or lawless. I’ve heard far too many stories of thrill-seeking humans on Earth coming to our world only to meet their untimely death there. Some use our world for more nefarious schemes like drug trafficking or even slave trading…” Getting serious, Reiss got up from her chair and started pacing around the office.

“I find the lack of education from both sides to be…worrisome. Customs regarding what we can and cannot bring from one world to another is strictly regulated by the government established in this world and ours. Even still, we can’t prevent all illegal immigration since there are clever humans who work together with powerful monster girls to come from this world to ours and vice versa. Educating troublemakers is a good way to prevent them from getting the wrong idea. So I want to establish institutes to help reduce the chances of those ignorant from being taken advantage of. I want those like Denise to have a fair chance to live in this world without prejudice getting in the way! And…” Walking back to her chair after pacing around in the office, she grabbed her glass of wine and sipped it. Taking her time, she let the bubbly wine permeate her tongue, gulping it down before she pointed at Faulkner with her right hand.

“I need someone like you, Faulkner. I need more people like you who take their time and teach those around them with kindness and patience. Denise and how she came out of her shell tells me all I need to know about you. So I need you for this dream to become a reality.” Feeling somewhat intimidated by her proposal, Faulkner’s body shook with anticipation before Reiss pointed at Trisha next.

“I also need you, Trisha. I researched TMRC and found out that you’ve only recently gotten ownership of it, right?”

“That’s right. A good friend I look up to founded TMRC. She handed ownership to it to me after her duties back in our world took priority.”

“The Dragoness princess Tama Mitsuyuki…” While Trisha and Reiss were talking, Faulkner saw it as his opportunity to eat his cupcake while the two were busy with their conversation. With the first bite, the decadent chocolate frosting had a perfect balance of sweetness and fluffiness. The white cream drizzle was slightly sweeter than the chocolate frosting added to its flavor. Then, the metaphorical cherry on top, the Barometz fruit beckoned him to take a bite from its somewhat transparent skin. Taking his first bite, the juices inside ooze down to the cupcake and his chin. Resembling the taste of peaches, the complementary flavor it added to the cupcake as he took another bite sent his tastebuds to sugary nirvana.

“…t…tasty…” Staying as quiet as he could, Reiss glanced at Faulkner’s reaction and smiled while carrying on with her conversation with Trisha.

“Tama built TMRC when she came to Earth. She noticed how much monster girls struggled to normalize themselves here. She saw my potential and I became an educator soon after. She was the owner for a while but frequently left due to her duties back in Zipangu. Eventually, she had no choice but to put all her time and effort into Zipangu, so she transferred ownership of TMRC to me roughly a year and a half ago.” Finished with his cupcake, Faulkner took a sip of his water to wash it down before wincing in surprise at how tasty the water was.

“So that’s how it happened. Ryu’s have a lot of responsibilities in Zipangu as their followers see them as goddesses of prosperity. That said, Ryu are often pressured into their duties by their followers, so I can’t help but feel bad for Tama.” While Nakoto poured more red wine into Reiss’s glass, she rested her elbows on the table with her hands clasped together. “Trisha…I’ll make this nice and blunt. I want to buy TMRC and make you the superintendent once it’s under my ownership.” Taken by surprise by her proposal, Trisha and Faulkner flinched before they leaned forward with their hands on the office table.

“Wh-what?! I…I don’t know if I can decide that so abruptly…” Sitting back down first, Faulkner noticed Nakoto giggling with her right hand over her mouth.

“Well, I don’t expect you to give me an answer right now. That’s my plan for the future IF TMRC succeeds. For the time being, I want to offer financial aid and additional staff to work in TMRC. I understand that you’re understaffed due to a lack of talented employees. I can provide them since I have many eager candidates who want to work as educators. In addition, I’m sure a general increase in everyone’s salaries will help motivate everyone to do their best. I’m fully aware that motivation from increased pay is often frowned upon from a moral standpoint, but being greedy isn’t always bad. You need money to pay bills and buy things you need or want to relax. And maybe…” With a knowing glance, Reiss stared right at Faulkner and smiled. “Secure funds for your future…prospects.”

“H…how much of an increase are you suggesting?” Prudent as could be, Faulkner wanted to get an idea of how good the offer would be.

“Hmm…If I were to lowball my offer…it’d be at least three times as much compared to what you make annually now.” His eyes nearly bulging out of his eye sockets, Faulkner couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Heh. That said, I need to see results bearing fruit first before I can make any promises. I can’t guarantee that wage increase until I know you can make up the amount I’m paying you. I want you to understand. I said ‘lowball’ because if I can get more teachers like you spread around from different parts of the world, both here and ours, then the difference I’ll be making from their success will make up for the salary increase you’ll be getting.” Left utterly baffled by her offer, Faulkner slumped down on his chair in deep thought. He wouldn’t have to worry about any financial strain of having kids.

“Hmm…we could certainly use more staff. At the moment, TMRC is more or less a niche institute since we mainly cover societal reformation. For instance, Faulkner works as an English teacher aside from his societal norms class. Then there’s Fae Fae with her social studies class.” Recognizing TMRC and its struggles, Trisha had to contemplate Reiss’s offer seriously. As it stands, TMRC was still new compared to similar institutes before it. While it’s the only institute that provided substantial results, the lack of publicity and initial results made it difficult to attract more students and staff. “Still…I’m not the one who built TMRC. Tama did. I’m not confident enough to accept such a big offer without her permission. That’s why I can’t accept your offer at this time…”

“I see. Relating to why I wanted to meet you two as soon as possible, I have a business meeting back in Zipangu, so I need to be there by tomorrow evening. After that, I should have enough time to find Tama, so I’ll be sure to ask her. You don’t have to decide now, Trisha. I just want you to be ready when the time does come.”

“Sure, I can work with that.” Satisfied with Trisha’s answer, Reiss turned her attention back to Faulkner. Licking his fingers clean after finishing his cupcake, he chuckled nervously before Nakoto graciously handed him a moist towel to wipe his hands clean.

“Now that I covered what I have to pitch for the both of you, there’s a separate matter I got to bring up specifically for you, Faulkner.”

“Something else? Like what?” Taking another sip of her red wine Reiss pressed her right pointing finger on her table, flipping through another picture on the screen. With four different images on the projection screen at once, the first picture in the top left corner showed a large two-story house with a garage door opening. The picture on the top right corner of the screen shows an ariel view revealing a set of solar panels distributed evenly on the roof with a chimney crown close by. In the bottom left, a wooden fenced-off backyard stretching a generous eight and a half acres across with an inground rectangle-shaped pool with bright green grass all around the yard. The last image on the bottom right is a picture of the house’s interior with its spacious living room where the bottom part of the chimney resides.

“As I mentioned, Denise has done numerous house renovations and sold nearly all of them to my clients. This house is one she renovated that went unsold since it didn’t match any of my prior client’s desires. It’s not like she did a terrible job with her renovations in that house, but the clients I had at the time had specific needs that this particular house didn’t meet.” Admittingly, the house looked gorgeous. A far cry from his apartment, seeing this house gave Faulkner an idea of what to look for soon for housing.

“Okay, but what does this have to do with me?” Developing a wry smile, Reiss stood up before pointing directly at him with her right pointing finger.

“Simple! I want to give you this house!” Waiting for his response, Faulkner nearly dropped his glass before setting it down on the office table.

“Wh-what?! I appreciate the offer, but there’s no way I can afford to pay for that house! And why would you give it to me in the first place?!” Sitting back down, Reiss takes another sip of her red wine before raising her right pointing finger.

“First, I’m giving the house to you for free. The house, insured by one of the businesses I run, comes with the house at no additional cost. You’ll still need to pay for your gas, electric, and internet bill.” Leaving Faulkner in suspense, she takes another sip before raising her middle finger next. “Second, I heard from Trisha that you’re looking for new housing. Since you have two lovers, there’s no doubt that you’ll have lots of kids too. Considering one of your wives is used to living in big groups, I’d say it’s better to move into a house now rather than later.” Turning briefly to look at Trisha, she was drinking her third sake glass while averting her eyes from Faulkners.

“You sneaky little…so you already knew about this.” Lifting her free left hand dismissively, she put her glass down before pursing her lips.

“I only told her about your situation. After all, she wanted to know why you couldn’t visit her, and I told her why you wouldn’t be able to show up.” Making a fair point, Faulkner couldn’t say anything in response and closed his mouth.

“From what I know, you live ten minute’s away from TMRC, right? Well, this house sits closer to where you work. You could walk to TMRC in the time it’d take you to drive.” Giving him further incentive to accept, Faulkner was the type to be suspicious of things given to him for free, especially when it involves something too good to be true.

“Look, I deeply appreciate this. It’s more than I deserve. But it’s for that reason that I can’t accept it.” Furrowing her eyebrows in irritation, Reiss wasn’t having any of Faulkner’s defiance.

“Is that right? I’m willing to give you a whole house, fully paid and covered under an insurance plan, yet you still refuse to take a gift given to you graciously? How about I give you two more reasons why you SHOULD take my offer?”

“And…what would those reasons be?” While Nakoto poured Trisha’s fourth helping of sake, Faulkner finished his water while Reiss brought her hands together with her elbows on the table.

“The cost to renovate that house was next to nothing. Giving you free insurance from one of my businesses would’ve been one of the things that would cost me money. Since I want to invest in TMRC with you in its expansion, I can easily make the difference it’d cost me to give you free insurance with the future teachers you’ll be cultivating for me. Besides, since I want to fund TMRC’s expansion in the first place, you can think of me as a boss above Trisha, and as your boss, I can provide free health, house, and car insurance for my workers.” From a business standpoint, everything she said made sense. Factoring the profits she could gain from having more teachers like Faulkner in multiple TMRC institutes that Reiss is planning on building, giving him free insurance would make sense since he’s an employee in one of her branch businesses.

“Putting the whole insurance thing aside, technically, the costs of the house renovation and the profits made from having the house sold wouldn’t go to me either. I’d get some royalties from the workforce and equipment, but the person who would profit from the house would be Denise.”

“That’s right. Denise was the one who renovated that house in the first place. But wait, wouldn’t I fuck her over if I just took a house she worked so hard on for free?! I know you’re the one who helped her become a House Realtor, but you can’t make decisions like selling a house she worked on for her.” With a hint of anger and agitation in his voice, Reiss’s ears perked up in surprise before she raised both hands as if asking him to wait.

“Now hold your horses, Faulkner. I know damn well I can’t do that! If you’d let me finish, I’d tell you that I asked for Denise’s input first. The person who suggested giving you the home for free in the first place was hers. Before I asked her, I considered giving you the house if you’d pay for the house in installments. I would’ve made the deal reasonably cheap for you while showing appreciation for Denise’s hard work.” Calming down, Faulkner calmed down as the guilt of prematurely accusing Reiss of foul play got to him.

“I’m sorry, Miss Reiss. That was unfair and incredibly rude of me to accuse you so suddenly…” Bowing apologetically, Reiss shook her head and dismissed his outburst.

“Hehe…you really do act like a dad she considers you to be…” Blushing deep red in embarrassment, Faulkner raised his head as fast as he could.

“Wh-where did that come from?!” Staring at him in amusement, Reiss, Nakoto, and Trisha all giggled at him before Reiss cleared her throat.

“Simple, it’s Denise who said that. When I talked to Denise and brought up the idea of offering that house to you, she insisted I give it to you for free. When I asked her why she was so adamant about her decision, she told me this…” With a warm smile, Reiss squinted her eyes lightly as she happily reminisced about her earlier conversation with Denise. “Faulkner made me feel like I belonged somewhere, and he made me feel like I was wanted and loved.” Faulkner’s heart skipped a beat from an overwhelming sense of gratitude. He wanted to say something. However, he’d choke on his words each time he tried to speak. His body shook uncontrollably.

“Faulkner?” Watching him closely, Trisha watched how his lips started to quiver before tears ran down from the corners of his eyes.

“Denise…you…” Sniffling as his slow tears became harder and harder to contain, Nakoto simply handed a clean handkerchief to Faulkner. Taking it graciously, he wiped his face clean and hid his face as he felt embarrassed to be seen crying. After a few more moments, Faulkner took deep breaths and looked back at Reiss. Redness around his eyes and cheeks was still visible from his tears from earlier.

“So…will you take the house? Don’t think of it as me or even Denise as giving it to you for free. Denise loves you like a daughter. Take the house as a gesture of her love and gratitude…”

“Yeah…I will…”

“Great! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but make sure you thank Denise later.” With a nod, Faulkner smiled and set the damp handkerchief on his lap.

“I will…” Turning her chair to face Nakoto, Reiss snapped her finger while holding her empty glass of wine. “Nakoto, bring the legal documents Faulkner needs to sign here along with documents regarding my plans to expand TMRC.”

“Right away, Miss Reiss.” With a bow, Nakoto left the office to fetch said documents before Reiss turned her attention back to Faulkner and Trisha.

“With all that out of the way, that concludes my offer to both of you…” After a few more seconds, Reiss slumped on her chair and groaned. “Ugh…I just got back to this branch office yesterday, and now I have to go back to Zipangu for another meeting…such a pain in the ass.” Staring at each other, Trisha and Faulkner chuckled in pity at Reiss’s relentless schedule. “While we’re waiting for Nakoto, I have a question for you, Faulkner.”

“Hmm? What is it?”

“I did a bit of digging regarding your background when Denise first told me about you. I find your past…interesting.” Suddenly, the mood in the room went south as Faulkner’s face became melancholy. Trisha shared the same look of sadness in her eyes as Faulkner did. “I know looking up your past the way I did is insensitive. But please…I want to confirm if what I dug up is true…” Clenching his hands into fists, Faulkner took a deep breath to prepare himself.

____________________

Happening around the time Faulkner and Trisha arrived at Reiss’s branch office, Tera, Kilala, Reiza, and Karika arrived at their destination shortly after they finished dropping Reiza’s stuff off from Karika’s apartment.

“Here we are. I wonder what horrors await us…” Tera wasn’t too confident going inside the Aphrodishiack. Apprehensive as she imagined the rowdiness of her classmates causing chaos in the bar.

“Don’t be such a prude, Tera! We graduated from Faulkner’s class, didn’t we? I’m sure the lessons we learned stuck and are behaving as they should.” Exchanging doubtful looks with each other, Karika, Trisha, and Reiza stared at Kilala, expecting her response to be sarcastic. “What?! It could happen.” Landing on Reiza’s head, she held onto her horns before they opened the door. To their surprise, the bar wasn’t nearly as noisy as they thought it’d be, though, upon closer inspection, the rest of the class was nowhere in sight.

“Huh? Didn’t they just call us from the bar? They were so damn loud over the phone too…” Looking as confused as could be, Vanessa spotted the group after handing out her orders to her table.

“Oi! Karika, that you?” Karika’s ears perked up when she heard her name before she turned to face Vanessa, the Sundew Alraune.

“Vanessa. Nice to see you again. Has it been a busy afternoon?” Looking around some more, the number of customers started to pick up as it was past five O’clock. Still, there was no sign of Persha and the others. “Where’s everyone in TMRC? They’re already here, aren’t they?”

“Yeah, they’re here. They reserved one of the newly installed private lounges over on the back of the building.”

“Private lounge?” Confused together, the girls tilted their heads sideways, making for an amusing reaction for Vanessa to see.

“Ahaha. Aphrodishiack’s become a popular hangout place lately, but it also comes with its troubles as the noise levels kept getting higher and higher. Janice suggested party rooms with sound-dampening walls, and our superiors approved of her idea.”

“Ah. So like one of those private Karaoke rooms in Japan.” Nodding at Karika’s guess, Vanessa smiled before continuing.

“Yup. Those two rooms so far are only available through reservations. Your friend Sena and her friends reserved one of the party rooms. You four are the last to arrive.”

“Tsk, they couldn’t even wait for us to finish? Impatient little fucks…” Slightly annoyed and offended by being left behind, Tera grumbled to herself before Karika patted her on the back.

“Forget it. Asking them to wait for us is pointless anyways. Let’s go over there and give’em a piece of our minds.” Laughing nervously with Tera and Karika, Reiza looked up at Kilala while she looked down at her, wondering why Vanessa was laughing the way she did. Unbeknownst to those two, Vanessa knew something that they didn’t.

“Ahaha…why don’t I bring you girl’s over there now?” With a nod from all four of them, the girls follow Vanessa as she leads them to one of the new party rooms.

“Wow…look at the walls…” Lined with acoustic foam, they could barely hear anything on the other side of the wall. The door had an LED sign that read ‘Reserved’

“Yeah, the walls around the rooms are layered with soundproof drywall too. That way, the noise from the two-party rooms doesn’t leak into one another. Anyways, I should get back to my orders, have fun girls.” Leaving the group, Vanessa went back to tend to her customers.

“…alright…let’s see what kind of shenanigans they’re all up to…” With doubt written all over their faces, Reiza, Karika, and Tera lowered their expectations as they opened the door. To their surprise, it was surprisingly quiet inside as they saw everyone else in class inside.

“Ah!, Karika, Reiza, Tera, Kilala. You’re all here!” Standing closest to the door, Jun ran towards Karika and hugged her. “Hehe! We missed you, oh leader of ours!”

“Right…so this is what you girls were doing while the rest of us were helping Reiza huh?” A lot was going on at once in the party room as everyone seemed scattered all over the place.

On their right sitting at the end of the wall, two rectangular party tables sat against the wall. Party food fare ranging from chicken tenders, pizzas, hot dogs, and cheese-filled potato skins lined the tables. There were also brownies, cookies, and muffins for desserts. Vodka Jello shots of various flavors were also there.

“That was quick. You guys got here before we could finish setting things up.” Walking to join Karika and the others, Zedrada had her hands on her hips while Fereida was putting the last of the food the Orcs prepared for them on the table.

“Of course, we took more time taking a break since we just dropped the boxes off.”

“Ah, that makes sense…” On each side of the room’s walls were sixty-five-inch TVs with a bouncing karaoke logo bouncing on the screen. There are also speakers hanging on the top corners of the room to give full sound coverage all around.

“We’re pretty much done at this point, so I’d say you four made it on time.” Six more rectangular party tables sat front to back in the party room. Each side of the tables had eight chairs for a total of sixteen. Setting up the plastic cups, utensils, and paper plates in front of each chair, Nala and Mala made quick work of them while the rest of the orcs had just finished with the tables.

After looking around, Reiza thought everyone in the class was there, but Chelsy and Erma were nowhere to be seen.

“Hey…I just noticed that Chelsy and Erma aren’t here. They couldn’t make it or what?” Shaking her head at Reiza, Zedrada’s tentacle eyes all looked at the door Reiza and the others came in from earlier.

“Nah, those two did volunteer work here before, so Janice had them help her since they have experience working here.”

“They volunteered?” With snark written all over her face, Fereida joined them after she finished on her end, giggling in amusement as she answered for Zedrada.

“I’d say they were…‘coerced’ into helping out. They agreed in the end, and it’s not like Janice was forcing them either.”

“I see…” After everything was done and set up, they all took their seats. Karika and Reiza sat next to each other while Tera sat next to Karika and Kilala with Reiza.

“How long do we have this party room for?” While asking Sena how long they’d be there, she pulled out her phone that she got back from her apartment earlier and saw that it was barely six in the afternoon before texting Faulkner and letting him know they were hanging out at Aphrodishiack.

“Until the place closes at ten. It’s six right now, so four hours in total.” Letting curiosity get the better of her, Karika looked down at Reiza’s phone while Reiza was talking with Sena.

“Hey, small tits, did Faulkner text you back yet?”

“No…not yet…porky…” Calling each other by their mock nicknames, the two glared at each other in annoyance. Tera and Kilala, who sat by their best friends, simply laughed it off before the door in the room opened.

“Hey, we’re back with buckets of beer for everyone!” Talking inside first was Chelsy carrying two buckets of ice-cold beer of various brands.

“If you girls want specialty drinks, Let Erma know, and she’ll get them for you.” Walking in next, Janice waved hi to the group before noticing Karika and Reiza. Butting heads with each other, they didn’t even notice Janice’s presence before she smiled lewdly at them. “Ah, you’re both here now! Faulkner’s told me all about you Reiza…” Being called out, Reiza pulled her head away from Karika.

“You know who I am?” With a gentle smile, she nodded before crossing her arms.

“It’d be strange if I didn’t know. I didn’t think a stiffy like Faulkner would have another lover aside from Karika.” Turning her attention to Karika, all it took was one knowing glance from Janice before Karika’s cheeks turned red. “Of course…the main reason why he hasn’t had a harem of ladies flocking to him is because of Karika…” Taking it all in, Janice looked around and saw some girls blushing when they overheard Janice. Lana, Mala, and Zedrada avoided eye contact with Janice before she closed her eyes.

“Ehehe. Anyway, I’ll be in charge of this party room. In other words, I’m your host and waiter. Aside from the food the Orc ladies provided, feel free to order some in-house food. Get some cocktails and drinks while you’re at it, though I already mentioned that earlier.”

“Sure, you got a menu for us to look through?” Asking the question Janice was fervently waiting for, she bared her toothy grin at Zedrada posed the question.

“Oh, how silly of me! How would you be able to order if you don’t know what we have to offer.” Playing dumb, Janice turned around and moved her paws on her cheeks as if to yell at someone. “Erma! Be a dear and bring the menu to party room number one!” Exchanging confused looks at one another, everyone in the class apart from Chelsy felt the tension building up inside them as they eagerly wait for Erma.

“…h-here…” Steering clear from everyone’s line of sight, they could make out Erma’s paws holding onto several laminated menu cards in her attempts to hand them out to Janice. Noticing that Erma’s arm was shaking, Janice took Erma by surprise by grabbing Erma’s arm with both paws and dragging her into the rest of the girl’s line of sight.

“Tada! Your wonderful server Erma is here!” Forced to wear a Christmas theme costume, Erma’s cheeks turned a deep shade of red from embarrassment. Wearing a red shoulder crop top with fake white fur around the top made for a great contrast to her natural black fur resting above her exposed cleavage. Connecting her top with her bottom green skirt were four brown belts, two in the front and two in the back. To top off her festive costume, Janice had tied a mistletoe on the tip of Erma’s right ear.

“…” Staring back at her classmates, the flames around her eyes shrunk into small embers. Waiting for the inevitable wave of laughter, Chelsy was the first to crack as a chuckle escaped her lips before everyone else cracked with her.

“BWAHAHAHAHA!” With a wave of laughter, Erma tried to hide behind Janice, but she overpowered the embarrassed pup and pushed her inside the party room.

“Sh-SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!” Try as she might, no one listened to her plea. Chelsy was even pointing at her before their laughter eventually faded into chuckles, then silence.

“Ah…man, that looks good on you, Erma!”

“Bite my ass, Chelsy!” Walking over to the table, Erma hands out menu cards evenly so everyone can see what’s on them.

“I know it’s close to Christmas, but why are you wearing something like that, Erma?” Asking the question on everyone’s minds, Tera got up and took a closer look at Erma’s clothes. At the same time, to get a better look at her costume, Nala and Mala sandwiched themselves between Erma, touching her from top to bottom.

“Wah! Get off me!”

“Simple, before you girls got here, I asked Chelsy and Erma if they could wear matching Christmas uniforms together. They refused at first, but when I made a bet out of it, they both agreed.”

“A bet? What kind of bet?” Picking up where Tera left off, Karika stared questioningly at Janice before Chelsy answered for her.

“We played a simple game of cards. The person who wins the bet gets a one-hundred-dollar gift card to use here.” Pulling out a gift card from her hand, it was a gift card for Aphrodishiack. “As for the person who loses…well…” Proudly showing the gift card and waving it around in Erma’s line of sight, she bared her fangs and flipped Chelsy off. “Love you too, Erma!”

“Fuck you! Ah, Dammit, Fereida! Stop pulling on my top!” Wrestling Nala, Mala, and now Fereida off herself, the girls got another good laugh out of their system before Janice clapped her paws together to get their attention.

“Alright! Everyone’s here now, so tell me what you girls would like to order.” One by one, Janice walked through the party room and jotted down everyone’s orders before looking back at Chelsy. “Chelsy, mind if you help me make some of the drinks?”

“Hmm? Yeah.” Briefly leaving the party room with Janice to help bring the food and drinks they ordered, the rest of the girls in the class grabbed their plates and started grabbing whatever food they wanted.

“Between you two, we won’t have enough food for seconds…” Staring judgingly at Tera and Karika’s filled platters, Zedrada only had a slice of Pizza and potato skins. Compared to her plate, both Tera and Karika’s plates were filled to the brim with food.

“What? Takes a lot of fuel to keep these muscles…” Flexing her arms to prove her point, Karika sneered at Zedrada. “Don’t want to end up being a stick like you.”

“To be fair, the food we’re eating here isn’t the healthiest. But we’re not here to eat healthily today.” Subtly making her point, Tera affixed her gaze to Reiza. Staying still in her seat, she ordered food rather than grabbing the ones in the party room.

By the time everyone got their food, Janice, Erma, and Chelsy had gotten back to hand out everyone else’s orders. When everyone had their drinks and food ready, Kilala flew to the center of the room with a Microphone floating next to her using magic.

“Hey! Everyone’s got their food and drinks, right?!” With a cheerful reply from everyone, Kilala nodded before turning to Reiza. “Tonight, we dine and celebrate in style as graduates of TMRC. Some of you may wonder, ‘Why are we celebrating our graduation here when we have a graduation party in TRMC already?’ We all know why. Say it with me!” Raising their drinks high, everyone aside from Reiza knew why.

“Booze!”

“That’s right! We can’t drink in TMRC, so we’ll drink our fill here! Sing like idiots, and…” Closing her eyes, Kilala tenderly smiled as she looked at everyone in the eyes one by one. “We’ll swear to be friends forever, even when we’re worlds apart! Everyone, raise your drinks one more time!” Staring at one another, they all raise their drinks, fully aware of what Kilala would say. “While this is our last party as classmates of TMRC, this will also be the first of many parties we’ll have. As friends!”

“Cheers!” Thinking to herself, Reiza felt a sense of relief knowing that everyone felt the same way about staying together. She wasn’t there for very long, but Reiza grew to cherish everyone there as close friends. She wasn’t the only one who felt that way since Karika thought of the same thing. They smiled at one another before giving each other a fist bump. From there, things got more chaotic as time flew faster than it felt for everyone.

Taking turns on the karaoke, catching up with one another, and generally having a good time, everyone ate and drank their fill of food and booze.

Well…almost everyone.

“Reiza…how come you’re not drinking? Do you have one of those rich girl palates?” Noticing the soda can next to Reiza’s burger, the ‘Death Cap Supreme’, Kilala was curious why Reiza wasn’t drinking alcohol.

“Two things. I hate the taste of most alcoholic drinks, and more importantly, I’m nineteen. I’m not old enough to drink yet.”

“What?! Oh shit!” Since Reiza was the last person to join their class, everyone else aside from Karika assumed Reiza was of drinking age since everyone else in the class was.

“Still, even if you’re not old enough, the fact that you mentioned you hate the taste of alcohol means you have drunk before you could, didn’t you?” Nodding in response to Karika’s question, Reiza took a bite of her burger. Being a fan of spicy food, Reiza giggled in delight before washing her burger down.

“Yup. That said, I could only drink at home or when I was at some rando’s house when I slept around before. I’m not exactly proud to admit that, especially now that I’m with Faulkner…” Sitting across from her, Zedrada ordered one of the specialty cocktails that Chelsy invented for Aphrodishiack’s use. Made with Dark Slime, Chelsy called the drink ‘Abyssal Nectar.’

“That’s all in the past, isn’t it? Besides, Faulkner’s not a shallow dick bag. He wouldn’t dislike you because of what you did in the past.” Bringing the topic up reminded Reiza of her and Faulkner’s prior conversation on their date. He told her he didn’t care what she was like before, but hearing someone else talk about him endearingly made her smile. Though, Karika noticed something else entirely.

“Hold on…Zedrada, do you have your eyes set on Faulkner too? Cuz it sounds like you’re awfully familiar with what he’s like…” Blushing as if caught red-handed, Zedrada shook her head vigorously in denial.

“O-Of course I’d know! We’ve only been in his class for two years! Anyone else here could tell you that!”

“Yeah! Mr. Faulkner’s…really…nice…” Jumping into their conversation, Nala’s red cheeks and slurred speech showed that she was already drunk.

“And cute…” Sharing her sister’s fate, Mala was also drunk. Sharing one of the house’s special drinks known as ‘Silvervine Delight’, they weren’t just drunk, they were feeling a heightened sense of euphoria that was made only worse by alcohol.

“Speaking of Faulkner…it was him who supervised you two when we did our final test right? What was it like?” Letting curiosity get the better of her, Fereida was dead set on knowing any juicy gossip she could get her hands on. She wasn’t the only one curious though as everyone huddled together close to her.

“Oh…you guys want to know? Well…why don’t we all share details of what our tests were like?” Mala’s suggestion made everyone blush as they suddenly acted in disinterest, something Nala wouldn’t let slip by.

“We’re not sharing unless everyone shares! After all…there’s something Faulkner had to do for our tests that I’m sure you’d all find hilarious…” Knowing what to say to get them to crack, the girls all looked at one another in hesitation.

“Fine…I guess we’ll start first since we’re the biggest group…” Speaking for the Orcs, Sena raised her hand before looking at her Orc brethren, “You girls alright with that?” With a nod from each of the Orc girls, it was unanimously decided for everyone else to share their experiences.

Starting first as they agreed to, the Orcs generally had an easy time with their test. It was more tiring than anything, but the experiences they learned from interacting with the less fortunate gave them a sense of appreciation for what they do have. Even after their test, they plan on visiting the place frequently to help the people they’ve met there.

Zedrada and Fereida’s story was simple and uneventful. They mentioned that Miss Fae Fae wasn’t around nearly as often as they thought she’d be, unaware that Fae Fae was observing them from afar.

In Erma and Chelsy’s story, it was a struggle for everyone to take Erma seriously given the Christmas-themed clothes she had to wear. That didn’t stop her from voicing her annoyance with the customers she served. She did learn how to maximize her tips, though it cost some of her pride to do so. As for Chelsy, she went on a long-winded explanation of all the specialty drinks she made. A few of them got approved for public use, such as the drink Zedrada was drinking now. When she finished explaining her story, Chelsy pointed at Karika and Tera.

“What about you Karika, Tera? I bet working with Denise again must’ve been fun, right?” Staring at each other, they indeed had lots of fun having Denise as their mentor. Bragging about how easy their jobs were, they were the center of envy when they bragged about eating out at ‘HadesHound Grillers.’ Though, speaking of their dining experience reminded Karika of something.

“You lucky SOB’s. I can’t believe you got to eat out like that with Denise. She’s been doing alright?” Asking about Denise’s well-being, Erma was relatively close with Denise during her first year in TMRC.

“Ha! She’s more than alright. Denise is fucking loaded!”

“Loaded? Like as in she’s rich?” Slapping Karika firmly behind her head, Tera cleared her throat to get Erma and the other’s attention.

“Stop exaggerating, Karika. Just because she has a green Danuki credit card, doesn’t mean she’s rich. It just means she can spend a lot of money that’s approved by her boss.” Rubbing the back of her head, Karika glared at Tera.

“Oww! Tera you asshole…” Patting Karika on her right shoulder, Reiza worked on calming Karika down.

“Green Danuki card? What kind of job does she have to have one of those? I know Denise wanted a job oriented towards helping other monster girls, but she never specified what it was when she was a student in TMRC…”

“Right, I guess we hadn’t said anything about that yet, did we, Karika?” After calming down, Karika nodded in agreement with Tera before she took over.

“Denise works as a House Realtor. Her clients are all monster girls with specific household needs. Like a larger space for centaurs or a landing perch for harpies.”

“Oooo…” Gasping in amazement, everyone recognized just how incredible it was for a monster girl like Denise to have a job as a House Realtor.

“Sounds to me like she has her future secured. Makes me wonder what I’ll do with myself now that I’ve graduated…” Erma hadn’t given it much thought until now, but she wondered what she’d do now that she’s graduated. That sentiment wasn’t mutually exclusive to her thought as most of the others felt the same way, sighing in indistinction. Before the mood got depressive, Zedrada brought the topic of their test experiences back on track.

“A-anyways…Reiza, Kilala. How did your test go?” Staring up at Kilala, they smiled at each other before Kilala jumped off Reiza’s head and landed feet first on the table.

“Glad you asked, my inquisitive friend! Miss Trisha took us to work at a local state fair. It was so much fun, at least for me. Reiza was a grouch for the first day…” Sneering at Reiza, she responded by picking Kilala up by her wings. “Wah! Hey!”

“Shut up. Though…” Setting Kilala back down on the table, Reiza smiled softly and nodded in agreement. “You’re not wrong. I was a grouch on the first day since going to that state fair reminded me of similar places where I went on dates with guys and girls. ‘I had so much fun with them.’ I said to myself. But really, I was just fooling myself. The ‘fun’ I had with them felt empty, devoid of meaning and substance.” Aside from Karika and Kilala who knew Reiza more intimately, everyone else was caught off guard by Reiza’s tone. Melancholic and speaking from the heart, Reiza saw the looks of concern around her and giggled.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring the mood down. That’s all in the past.” Trying to find a way to change the mood shift in the room, Fereida snapped her fingers and smiled at Reiza.

“By the way…what other naughty things have you done with Faulkner?” Reeling back from shock, Reiza fell off her chair before getting back up.

“Wh-WHY WOULD YOU ASK THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN?!”

“Why not?” Chiming in, Zedrada quickly got the gist of what Fereida was planning. “You’ve already stolen what was supposed to be a cumshot for Karika. You even said he tasted reeeeaaallll goooood…” Standing up in anger, the chair Karika was sitting in flew backward from how quickly she stood up before she clashed heads with Reiza.

“HUH?! Why did you tell them that small tits?! I outta beat you black and blue for telling them without asking me for permission first!” Pushing back at Karika, the black flames on Reiza’s horns grew in size before she stood up in retaliation.

“Since when did I need your permission for anything porky?! I can tell them whatever I want!” Aggravating one another, they pushed back and forth against one another. Before things would escalate, Kilala intervened by posing a question.

“Oh really? In that case, why don’t you share one now? You’re both in a relationship with Faulkner now, so surely you two double-teamed him already, right?” Freezing in the middle of their banter, Karika and Reiza’s eyes widened in synch before they turned to Kilala. “Don’t give me that look! There’s no way in hell you two hadn’t done something together with Faulkner!”

“Uh…well…about that…” Getting stuck between her words, Reiza didn’t know what else to say. Thinking that she knew what Reiza wanted to say, Karika took a deep breath before squinting her eyes with her hands balled into fists. Her ears and tail pointed straight up as her cheeks turned a bright shade of red.

“We didn’t do anything with Faulkner yet, but we did have sex with each other!” As her jaw hung open in utter disbelief, the flames on Reiza’s horns and tail completely disappeared before she turned her attention to Kilala and the others. Staring daggers at both of them, everyone in the class was eager to know what the two did. Left with little choice but to elaborate, the next half hour was filled with gasps of shock and excitement. By the time they were done, Reiza and Karika were beet red while the others had mixed feelings about what they’d heard.

“W-wow…that story got me all hot and bothered to tell the truth…” Putting her hands on her cheeks, Kilala shook her head left to right submissively to tease them.

“Really? Cuz I guess you’re not alone in that sentiment…” Covering her eyes with her left hand, Tera pointed at Nala and Mala with her right hand.

“Mwaahh…Nala…” Having downed their ‘Silvervine Delight’ drinks, Nala and Mala were making out with one another. Groping each other’s breasts, they sat on top of each other’s thighs, rubbing their nether regions on each other.

“Aahh…fuwaah…Mala…” Intertwining with one another, their tongue and tail coiled around one another while their passionate moans filled the party room.

“S-stop stop stop stop stop! You idiots! Why’re you two making out like that?!” Surprising everyone in the class, Erma intervened and stopped Nala and Mala by wedging her paws between their faces.

“What?” Turning to face Erma, they pursed their lips and pouted at her.

“Don’t go saying ‘what’ to me! You two are sisters, aren’t you?! Why are you making out and rubbing each other off all of a sudden?!”

“But we always do stuff like this…” Even without the influence of alcohol or Silvervine, the twins would occasionally engage in sexual conduct with each other. Staring back at Mala, Nala gently caressed her sister, scratching behind her ears.

“E-excuse me?”

“Listening to Karika and Reiza’s story got us in the mood.” Petting her sister back the same way, Erma backed away from the two. Erma loved to brag about having sex, so it surprised everyone when they saw Erma blushing as much as she did.

“Still, unlike us, those two have Faulkner to fond over…”

“Unlike you two…” Crossing her arms in thought, Reiza knew what Nala and Mala were implying, but she didn’t want to jump to conclusions. That didn’t last long when Karika got up from her seat and stared daggers at the two.

“Huh?! Is that why you two got so intimate with Faulkner earlier? And speaking of, now that everyone’s finished sharing their stories….” Pointing at Nala and Mala, Karika’s face was just as red as Erma’s. Feeling envious of the two since they had Faulkner all to themselves, Karika was the most eager to know what the twins were doing with him.

“Oh right! Hehe…you girls wouldn’t believe the things he had to do or where he had us work.” Grasping one another’s paws, Nala and Mala smiled at everyone as they eagerly waited for an answer.

“We worked at ‘Kitty Gritty Cafe.’ And Faulkner worked alongside us as a kitty cat butler!”

“WHAT?!” Laughing in delight as Nala and Mala took the sights of everyone’s shocked expressions into their minds, they flashed a knowing smile at Zedrada. When Zedrada noticed, she closed all of her eyes and imagined Faulkner wearing a butler costume with kitty cat ears and a tail. The scenario of Faulkner serving her tea at a mansion balcony while she jumps him on the spot made her cheeks blush while shaking her head in denial.

For a bit of their retelling, they regaled their classmates with Faulkner’s experiences with the middle-aged customers that he unintentionally attracted, to the dances and lines he had to remember and perform for said customers. Much to Karika’s chagrin, she bit her lip in anger, wishing she was there to chase them away while Reiza tried to calm her down.

The girl’s mood changed when Nala and Mala frowned when they briefly talked about being separated. Their frowns quickly turned upside down when they remembered their heart-to-heart conversation with Faulkner.

“What’s up? Why’re you two smiling all of a sudden?”

“Karika…” Disappearing from her line of sight, Mala teleported and popped back into existence right in front of Karika. Taking her by surprise, Karika fell to the ground with Mala sitting on top of her waist.

Following her sister’s example, Nala did the same thing to Reiza.

“Ah! You too?!” Pinned down by the twins, they licked their lips before they brought their faces down closer to their perspective victims.

“Tell us…what kind of kinky stuff have you done with Faulkner?” Blushing as they were pinned to the ground with no escape, Karika and Reiza looked at each other in concern while Nala and Mala brought their faces even closer to theirs.

“You three were late earlier. One of you must’ve at least done something beforehand, right?” Averting her gaze, Karika dug her own grave when Mala picked up on her reaction.

“Aha! Nala, it looks like it was Karika who held them back! Come on Karika, you LOVE to brag about the dirty things you do with Faulkner, don’t you? Don’t be stingy and tell us!” Snickering while purring happily, the mischievous and naughty nature of their Cheshire roots took hold from the influence of alcohol and silvervine.

“Reiza…you’ve done more than just drink Faulkner’s cum right? Have you two gone past that and straight to hand-holding, lovey-dovey sex yet?” While staring up at Nala, Reiza’s mind played tricks on her as she visualized her love session with him just last night. Taking Nala’s place, it didn’t help that Nala placed her left paw at her left cheek, just like how Faulkner caressed her before they made love.

“Ah…I…” Increasing in size yet again, the black flames on Reiza’s horns grew in intensity. With her mind in shambles, she was torn between confessing the truth and hiding it. Desperate to seek a second opinion on the only other person in her situation, Reiza looked back at her sister in arms. Blushing and equally indecisive as Reiza was, Karika took the plunge and nodded at Reiza, seemingly knowing why Reiza looked at her in the first place.

Standing close by, Tera and Kilala were next to their besties, ready to pry the twins off them. They wanted to help, but they were also curious to hear about their stories. Left with little choice but to comply, the two shared their recent steamy moments with Faulkner.

As another hour passed, it was close to closing time. There were a few more songs some of the girls wanted to sing. It was a pleasant surprise for everyone when it was Reiza’s turn on the mic.

“Can I ask you, god? Despite all of this…
Could the sandglass somehow take back the time?
One last time is all I ask from you
Can you please spare me some time with the one man I loved?
I wouldn’t care how and where it should be
But I need one last time I want to tell you, how I feel inside for you
I want you to know…”

Smooth and buttery. The only proper way they could describe Reiza’s singing voice. For how loud and tomboyish she sounds any other time, the pitch of her voice would make one think that she sang many times before. Kilala, a talented singer in her own right, could tell that Reiza was singing from the bottom of her heart.

When she finished, there was no loud applause like there was with the others. Instead, they were gentle and done in an orderly manner. At first, Reiza was worried she sang horribly from how quiet they were, but the smiling faces of everyone in the class proved her wrong.

Nearly everyone, anyways.

“Ah! H-how could you sing like that, small tits?!” Pointing at Reiza in disbelief, Karika’s performance had her classmates clapping awkwardly. Singing both out of tune and out of synch, everyone clapped and cheered in pity. It didn’t help that Karika was singing while she was drunk, making her naturally awful singing voice even worse.

“Oh come on, I never said I couldn’t sing. Here, why don’t you try again, porky? Maybe pick a song you can sing in tune with like ‘ABC’ or something?” Tossing the mic to Karika, Zedrada, Erma, Nala, and Mala ran interception as they grabbed the mic from Karika’s hand.

“Fuck that! I’m not listening to her shitty voice again!” With the most sensitive hearing of the group, Erma didn’t want to hear Karika’s awful singing voice as the five of them played a veritable tug of war with the mic. Taking all four of them. just to contest with Karika, the rest of the girls started chanting against Karika, leaving Reiza alone with Tera as she sat back down next to her.

“Not bad at all, Reiza. You’ve got a pretty voice…”

“Thanks…I was a bit nervous, to be honest. The last time I sang, It was for shits and giggles, so I probably would’ve sounded just as bad as Karika.” Laughing together, Tera was munching on some seasoned french fries. While looking at what else Tera was munching on, Reiza noticed that Tera didn’t have a single bottle or glass of alcohol on her side of the table.

“I just noticed that you’re not drinking alcohol. You don’t like the taste of it?”

“Huh? It’s not that I don’t like the taste of alcohol, but I can’t drink right now. I have to drive you and Karika back safely. Neither you nor Karika has a driver’s license yet, right? So I have to drive you two for the time being.” Having failed her written tests twice, Karika had yet to earn a permit. As for Reiza, she didn’t need a driver’s license up until now.

“True. Sorry for the trouble. Especially since you brought us here on that storage Truck Miss Trisha rented earlier.”

“Don’t worry about it. I was exchanging text messages with Miss Trisha earlier about the truck. So, I’ll drop you guys off at Karika’s place, then leave the truck there. Faulkner will drive it the next day to drop it off.”

“Wait, what about you? How are you gonna get back once you drop us off?” Pulling out her phone, Tera showed a list of local drivers in an app.

“I’ll be taking a cab back home. So don’t worry about me.” Smiling to reassure her, Reiza nodded before looking back at Karika.

“I should probably text Faulkner and update him on what’s happening. We’ll probably leave pretty soon now that it’s nine twenty in the evening.” Doing just that, Reiza got an update on Faulkner’s situation.

After a lengthy discussion with Reiss, they ended up eating at a local fine dining restaurant ‘Saphire Sea’s’. He’s still eating there with Trisha, so he doesn’t know when he’ll get home.

“Hey, girls!” Opening the door to the party room, Janice popped her head in. “We’ll be closing in thirty minutes. Probably a good time to clean up…” Seeing Karika on the ground with Nala, Mala, Zedrada, and Erma freeze up just as they pulled the mic from Karika’s grasp, Janice slapped her face with her right paw and sighed in annoyance. “And make sure you don’t make a bigger mess while cleaning too…” Closing the door, everyone in class stared at one another for a few seconds in silence before they all laughed. Pitching in with the clean-up effort, Reiza attempted to help but was quickly stopped by Sena.

“Hey, don’t worry about the mess here. You three can head back home.”

“A-*Hic* Are you sure?” Having drunk herself silly, Naeomi, who stood next to Sena, shook her head and smiled back at Karika.

“Nah, you’d be no help the way you are now, Karika. We’ll see you guys on the graduation ceremony day.” While saying their goodbyes to everyone, Reiza walked over to Kilala who was talking with Fereida.

“Come on, Kilala. We should get going.” Shaking her head, Kilala looked at the mess in front of her. Aside from her, Kami, Sena, Naeomi, and Chelsy were the only girls in the group sober enough to help with the cleanup.

“Nah, I’ll hitch a ride with Sena and the others.” Knowing Kilala well, her willingness to help those around her was something Reiza knew very well.

“I see. Kilala…um…thanks for being such a good friend to me. I’ll be going now, so take care, alright?” Taken by Reiza’s sudden act of gratitude, Kilala blinked for a few seconds before she smiled back at Reiza.

“Heh, you say that, but you don’t even have my phone number! What kind of a bestie are you if you don’t have me in your contacts? Is there no room for me in your life since I have to compete with Karika as your sister?” Playing a little prank on Reiza, Kilala tried to act like a victim by sounding like a neglected friend.

“I…I’m sorry, Kilala. I didn’t mean to be an awful, neglectful friend…” Defeated in tone and appearance, Reiza had no excuse as she lowered her head in defeat.

“W-wah, hold on! I was just kidding! I swear I’m not mad or disappointed or anything like that!” Panicking when her plan backfired, Kilala flew frantically around Reiza, only for her to giggle before laughing uproariously.

“Bwahahaha! I was just fucking with you. Man, you sure can deliver, but you can’t take the heat can you?” Aside from her wings which beat furiously to keep her afloat, Kilala’s whole body went stiff with her jaw dropped as far as it could go.

“Y-you bitch! I can’t believe I fell for that!” While laughing, Reiza pulled out her phone and showed Kilala her cell info.

“I was telling the truth about you being a good friend. Let’s build our friendship up more in the future, bestie.” Bamboozled yet again, Reiza expected Kilala to go off on her yet again.

Instead…

“Oh! You’re such a bitch, bestie! I love you!” With an explosion of smoke, Kilala emerged in her human-size form before tackling Reiza. “Hehe! You’d better be ready! Cuz this is going to be a recurring thing for us!” Laughing at what they got themselves into, Reiza and Kilala exchanged contacts before they went their separate ways.

Dragging Karika together, Reiza and Tera helped Karika into the storage truck as she was too drunk to walk properly.

After a quiet drive back home, Tera carried Karika back to her apartment. They gently set Karika down on her couch, passing out when she felt the soft pillows on her couch. Tera placed the storage truck keys on the coffee table next to the couch for Faulkner to get later.

“Passing out after drinking…some things never change.” Staring at Karika with her arms crossed, Tera let out a soft sigh while Reiza chuckled at Karika.

“So…this is a common occurrence then?” Turning over to hide her face from any source of light in the room, Karika tossed around as she unconsciously tried to find the perfect sleeping position.

“I wouldn’t say common. Karika doesn’t drink too often since she has a painful hangover afterward. Still, she does drink when others around her drink.” Looking at the time on her phone, Tera let out a yawn, clearly exhausted. “I should go now and call a cab.”

“Hold on. I’ll wait with you until your cab arrives.” Following Trisha back outside, Reiza stood next to her while Tera was busy setting up a cab driver to pick her up on her phone. Getting a brief test message from Faulkner, he mentioned that he was finally on his way back and should be home in an hour or less.

“Any updates on when Faulkner’s coming back?” When she picked out the nearest cab driver to pick her up, Tera shoved her phone in her right pant pocket before looking down at Reiza, wondering if she should stay until Faulkner got back.

“He’s on his way now.”

“Okay, that’s good.” Standing together in silence, the two awkwardly exchanged knowing stares at one another.

“Say…you’ve known Karika for longer than I have…so I was wondering. How come Karika doesn’t consider you like a sister?” Crossing her arms in thought, Tera smiled and knew the exact reason why.

“We’re definitely close friends. But if you’re asking if Karika would consider me her sister, that possibility is out of the question.”

“Okay, but why?”

“For starters, I’m four years older than her. You know Karika well enough, right? She’s too proud to have a sister that’s older than her.” Scowling in annoyance, Reiza had to admit that Karika would be that vain. “Though…if I had to give you a more serious answer…Karika’s more of a protective type than one that needs to rely on someone. Another way of putting it is that she wants to be the elder sister that cares for others. Whether it’s born out of her instinct to lead from her genetics or personal reasons, Karika can’t see me as her sister. Instead, she sees me as her close friend.” Shaking her head, Tera patted Reiza firmly on her back, sending her tumbling forward for a bit.

“Ow! What was that for?!”

“Ehehe…to let off some steam. Quite frankly, I was jealous of you at first.” Reiza rubbed her back from where she was patted only for a moment before her ears twitched when she heard of Tera’s envy towards her.

“Jealous? Why would you be jealous of me?”

“I was jealous because Karika called you her rival. I thought I was Karika’s only rival! Thankfully, Karika was just being dishonest and considered you as her younger sister more than a rival.” Momentarily blinding the two, a pair of card headlights flashed, signaling to Tera as her cab had arrived.

“Ah, there’s my ride. Walking to the passenger seat door, Tera stopped just before she opened the door and turned to Reiza one last time. “Take care of one another, alright? I’ll see you at the graduation ceremony the day after tomorrow.” Waving goodbye to each other, Reiza watched the cab drive off. As soon as she was out of sight, Reiza turned around and headed back to Karika’s apartment. Getting back inside, Reiza’s body flinched when she noticed that Karika was gone from her couch.

“Huh? Where’d that moron go?” It didn’t take much looking around before she saw a beam of light from the kitchen area. Standing in front of her fridge, Karika clumsily closed the door as she ambled about with a bottle of sour bubble slime apple pucker liqueur on her hand.

“Th-there you-*Hic*…are!” Staring back at her in disbelief, Reiza slapped her face with her right hand and shook her head.

“Really? You’ve already drank a crap ton at the bar. You’re gonna drink even more?” Standing still, the corners of Karika’s lips slowly rose upward. Mischievously squinting her eyes, she slowly shook her head while walking toward Reiza.

Feeling the blood in her body run cold, the flames on Reiza’s horns and tail shrunk as she slowly backed away from Karika. Moving backward without looking, Reiza tripped on the armrest of the couch behind her, falling backward onto the sofa. Before she could get up, Karika jumped on top of her.

Pinned down with only her right arm free, Reiza’s futile efforts to push Karika away from her only made Karika giggle in delight. Hovering the bottle of liqueur above Reiza’s face, Karika slowly moved the tip of the bottle toward Reiza’s quivering lips.

“We’re home now where age is irrelevant! I want to see what you’re like when you’re drunk…”

____________________

“Wah…thanks for walking me home, stud muffin!” After a long, mentally draining drive back home, Faulkner begrudgingly helps Trisha walk back to her door. With two bottles of the ‘Azure Bloom’ Sake in her hands, she graciously accepted them as a welcoming gift from Reiss.

“Considering how much you were stumbling around when we finished at the restaurant, I had no choice but to.” Finding amusement in Faulker’s annoyed expression, Trisha laughed hysterically, annoying Faulkner even more. “Oh, for the love of…just-.”

“Are you going to tell Karika and Reiza about your parents, Faulkner?” Taking a serious tone, Trisha stood up straight and unmoving. Her striking yellow eyes stared sharply into Faulkner’s very being.

“…I…I’m not sure. I don’t involve myself with them anymore, so why should I bring them up?” Unflinching, Trisha leaned against her front door while keeping her gaze affixed to him.

“Listen. Things like this will often come back to bite you on the ass down the road. Ultimately, it’s your decision whether you want to tell them. I won’t admonish you if you leave them in the dark. But, Reiza and Karika aren’t the types to judge you because of ‘your’ parents, you know?” Taking her advice to heart, Trisha closed her eyes before smiling. “Putting that aside, here.” Shoving the Sake bottle on her right hand to his chest, Faulkner instinctively grabbed it with both hands before she let go of the bottle.

“Huh? Why are you giving me a bottle?”

“I already finished the first bottle when we were at her office. Besides, I’m sure she meant to give a bottle to each of us, so just take it. Goodnight Faulkner!”

“H-hey wai-” Moving swiftly, Trisha opened and closed her front door before Faulkner could say anything back at her. “Dammit.” Staring at the bottle, he shook his head before turning back to his car with the bottle in hand. “I should get going.” Getting back into his SUV, he drives back home with a smiling Trisha watching him leave from her living room window.

Relatively desolate, there was hardly any traffic slowing him down now that it was past ten in the evening. It didn’t take long for Faulkner to arrive at Karika’s apartment. Parking next to the storage truck, he made a mental note to thank Tera later for driving Karika and Reiza around. Grabbing his keys, he uses a spare key Karika gave him to get inside her apartment.

“Hello?” Expecting Karika to come charging at him, he was surprised that no one was waiting for him in the dimly lit living room. Though, with the pillows and plushies on her couch scattered about in the living room, he at least knew that they were already here. “They’re probably sound asleep in the bedroom…” Noticing the storage truck keys, he smiled before looking at the sake bottle he was holding. “How much alcohol content does this have anyway?”

“HYAAHH!!!” Hearing Karika’s scream, Faulkner’s body tensed up before turning his attention to the bedroom door where he heard Karika. Moving without thinking, Faulkner rushed towards the bedroom with his left hand outstretched, ready to grab the door handle. “R-Reiza…not there…” Freezing up just before he turned the handle, he suddenly stopped before listening in closely.

“Come on…don’t tell me you came already? Who’s the hot shot now?” Though muffled by the door in front of him, Faulkner could hear the indecent noises on the other side. Hearing Karika moan lasciviously, accompanied by Reiza’s flirtatious tone, caused his heartbeat to rise in anticipation. Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, he gripped the door handle. Turning it slowly and quietly, he opens the door just enough to get a peek at what’s happening on the other side.

“I…I’m sorry, alright? I didn’t mean to taunt you like that. J-just give me five mi-minutes! I’ll go insane if you keep going!” Completely naked and at her mercy, Karika begs forgiveness from Reiza. Using the spade of her tail, Reiza lightly rubs Karika’s vaginal folds. Covered in black flames, the arousing heat produced by her tail sends Karika into a convulsing mess as she lies on her back with Reiza right behind her.

“It’s your fault for lighting my flames and getting me drunk, you know? So just sit back, relax, and let me take care of you…” Clutching the Faulkner plushie between her chest, Karika’s eyes were tearing up from the onslaught of orgasms she endured when Reiza fingered her. Drooling uncontrollably from the searing hot stimulation her body was going through, Reiza giggled at Karika’s enraptured expression.

“What a waste. Letting your drool leak down to your chin. C’mere, before your drool get’s all over the Faulkner plushie you’re so desperately clinging to…” While her left hand hovered above Karika’s crotch, Reiza used her right hand to pull Karika’s lips towards hers. With their moans echoing in the bedroom, Faulkner’s eyes and ears were glued to the sight before him as Reiza sucked on Karika’s tongue and gulped down her saliva.

“Nnnnaggaahhhhh…” Sending her mind into a frenzy, Karika continued to convulse as she obediently moved to Reiza’s will. Worse yet, Reiza had already breathed in a healthy amount of Karika’s scent, decimating what little reserve she would’ve had. Reiza wasn’t the only one affected by Karika’s scent. Breathing in her intoxicating body odor, Faulkner blankly stared at their lips.

When Reiza spotted Faulkner staring at them, her amber eyes squinted in delight before slowly pulling away from Karika’s lips.

“You’re back, Faulkner…” Without hesitation or thought, Faulkner opened the door as Karika’s ears sprang straight up in surprise, clutching the plush version of him even tighter between her chest.

“F-F-F-Faulkner?!” Snapping out of her dazed, pleasure-driven state, Karika tried to move her limbs to no avail. Having her strength sapped from the orgasms she went through earlier, she squealed in embarrassment before noticing the look on Faulkner’s face.

From his bright red cheeks to the soft, deep breaths he took. He slowly moved closer and closer to them until he was standing in front of the bed.

“What’re you waiting for? Strip…” Following her verbal demand without hesitation, he set the sake bottle down on the bed before taking his clothes off. “Good. Now…shove your dick inside here…” Moving the spade of her tail away from Karika’s crotch, Reiza flaunts Karika’s dripping wet pussy in front of him. “Take it all in, Faulkner. Look at how ready she is…” To drive her point home, Reiza moved her hands down to Karika’s pussy and spread her pussy lips open in front of him.

“F-Faulkner…” Pressing the plushie version of Faulkner tighter against her chest, her tail sitting until her butt wags in anticipation.

Getting on the bed on all fours, he crawls towards Karika. Putting his hands on her shoulders for support, he smiled before kissing her forehead.

“Hehe…you look so damn cute when you’re clutching ‘me’ between your chest like that.”

(Next Chapter:http://touchfluffytail.org/story/an-arrival-of-a-rival-ch12/)

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