“Come on, Jarod.” stated Mai as she grabbed his shoulder.
“You should have breakfast with us in our wing.” whispered Ai, bending down to lean toward his ear.
I was amazed at how easily I could hear her from across the room.
Suddenly, they both stood and faced Cosette, saying, “Unless you’d prefer to be someone’s breakfast.”
“Oh. Sorry. I already ate.” replied Cosette with complete sincerity.
I stared at her in shock for a moment. The girl didn’t seem to realize the twins were being rude.
“Before you go, I’d like to get permission for Cosette to join us in your gym for our daily exercises. Alma seems to have mentioned that Cosette will be working for me now.” I told them.
“What?” asked Mai.
“You must be joking, James.” stated Ai.
“We’ll willing let a vampire enter our wing the day you beat us both in a duel.” they declared.
“Oh. Okay. After breakfast work for you both?” I asked, thinking my odds had improved significantly after last night. I got the feeling that Alma didn’t mention my change to the twins. Before, they were a blur to me when they went all out, but they never came close to Alma. With how well I kept up with Alma last night, I felt I stood a fair chance against the twins.
The twins didn’t precisely gape, but shock was evident on their faces for a moment. Then they glanced at one another.
“We won’t be holding back.” stated Mai.
Then Ai smiled and said, “In fact, we may have to give you something to remind you not to cross us.”
“Umm… James, maybe you should just use a different room. I can help you clear one out.” offered Jarod.
“I’m with him. There’s no need to get in a fight. I really don’t need exercise.” claimed Cosette, looking worried.
“If nothing else, this should show you the importance of our exercises.” I told her. Turning back to the twins, I said, “Besides, I want everyone to get along. If I win, you’ll try to become friends with Cosette.”
The girls smiled venomously as they said, “Deal, but when we win, you have to find that vampire a new home.”
Cosette ran off, quickly followed by Aaliyah.
“Deal.” I told them. If Ai and Mai were going to be like this, I wasn’t entirely certain how safe the mansion would be for Cosette if I lost. I’d have to be careful.
“Marco, would you mind bringing breakfast for four to Cosette’s room?” I asked. Then I turned to Portentia and said, “Well, assuming you’re joining us.”
“Of course. No problem at all.” replied Marco.
“Don’t trouble yourself, Marco. I’ll gladly bring the master’s breakfast to him.” stated Mila.
Noticing how Ai and Mai were pointedly looking away from Mila, I got the impression that they didn’t care for her body either, despite their interest in one of its inventors.
Marco, however, smiled at Mila, and said, “Ah. Grazie.”
“Prego.” replied Mila, returning his smile.
I jogged toward Cosette’s wing, but stopped partway there. Cosette was on the ground in one of the rooms on the way with Aaliyah sitting on her back while twisting one of her arms up behind her.
“What is going on here?” I asked.
“James, help! She won’t let me up.” complained Cosette, sounding quite distressed.
“Don’t worry, boss-man, sir. Cosette and I spent a day doing this when she babysat me the first time.” claimed Aaliyah, quite cheerfully.
“What? Why?” I asked, knowing better than to try intervening.
“Because she can be a horrible brat when she’s not getting her way!” exclaimed Cosette.
Aaliyah pouted at her as she said, “That’s so mean… You’re the one who doesn’t want to be reasonable. James was being all cool, sticking up for you, and you were acting like you wanted to run away, despite the sun being up.”
“I would have figured something out.” sulked Cosette. Then she looked up at me and said, “James, I’m so sorry for causing you trouble. I’m sure those girls have a reason for hating vampires. You really don’t need to fight them.”
Her position made her look all the more pitiful, and there was no way I was going to let her run. She had been through enough.
“Relax. You’re safe now. We’re not going to let anything happen to you. You probably should know that Ai and Mai come from a family that kills everything they feel is dangerous to humanity. Alma is from that family as well.” I told her.
“They’re part of the Slayer family?” asked Cosette, disbelief plain on her face.
“I… umm… well, I don’t really get the details of their family too much, honestly, but Ai and Mai are named Drache. Alma is Lady Pendreigh, but her cousin is named Adelmar Slayer. How do you know the name?” I told her.
“One of father’s silly stories. If his stories are true, I’ve moved in with the one family he warned me to hide from at all costs.” stated Cosette.
“That’s not all, Cosette. They’re your family too, remember?” asked Aaliyah.
I stepped back, shocked as Cosette’s body seemed to melt and twist out from under Aaliyah. Then she reformed next to the little girl.
“Are you messing with me? Father was joking, wasn’t he?” asked Cosette, staring intently into Aaliyah’s eyes.
“Most nobles have ties to the Slayer family, silly, and your daddy really was a king.” claimed Aaliyah.
Cosette looked dubious.
“I’d believe Aaliyah if I were you. She tends to be right whether you want her to be or not. I wouldn’t go advertising your heritage to anyone though. Alma and the twins don’t seem to be very reasonable where their family is concerned. I fear they might not like the idea that you’re related in any way.” I explained.
Aaliyah smiled and said, “And if you really don’t believe me, you will after you look through your daddy’s things. They’ll be here in a couple days.”
“For now though, let’s have breakfast. Mila’s almost here with a couple others by the sound of things.” I stated, wondering if that cart needed maintenance. I didn’t remember there being a faint squeal before.
“Master, are you wanting to eat in here instead of in Cosette’s wing?” asked Mila, arriving with Brandon and Brenna in tow.
Brenna waved at Cosette and said, “I hope you don’t mind, but we wanted a chance to chat with you as well.”
“Yeah… What she said.” claimed Brandon.
Though Brenna was completely sincere, I felt Brandon might have something else in mind. Not only did I feel he wasn’t being entirely honest, but there was something in his tone and his stance. Looking at how he was watching Cosette, I realized I didn’t want to know. Brandon was single, and Cosette was attractive. There were some things better left unsaid.
“Rather than dealing with the stairs, let’s just move into the dining room.” I suggested.
Without any argument, we moved a room over, ate, and enjoyed the company. I was thankful Brandon and Brenna came along, reaffirming to Cosette that not everyone here was against her. Despite Brandon’s flirting, Cosette seemed to enjoy herself.
With everyone finished, I said, “Mila, will you inform Jarod that I’ll be ready in ten minutes? I’m sure he won’t mind telling the twins for us. Oh, and ask him where the twins would like to do this, preferably somewhere Cosette can watch.”
“James, please be careful. If they are who you say they are, they’re dangerous.” stated Cosette.
“Who’s dangerous, and why are you all in here?” asked Emma, still in her pajamas.
“Hey, Emma! The boss challenged the twins to a duel.” claimed Brandon with a grin.
“What? Why?” she asked.
“They’re being difficult with regard to Cosette joining us in their gym.” I explained.
“How are you going to beat them, James? We can’t let Cosette leave.” stated Brenna.
Emma looked around and asked “What do you mean? Why would Cosette be leaving? I just made her furniture last night! When did you guys even sleep?”
“Don’t worry. She’ll be staying.” I told her, knowing I had to win now.
“You’re seriously fighting them both? You’re insane.” stated Emma.
“Maybe.” I told her with a grin.
Cosette, looking worried, said, “I still would prefer if you called this off. This can’t be worth it.”
I believed the twins were good for their word, so getting them to try becoming friends with Cosette was very much worth it. I couldn’t have hoped for a quicker way to settle things, but I couldn’t risk running out of energy like I did against Alma.
I told everyone “Please excuse me. I’m going to get ready.”
Then I went to my room and changed into my workout clothes. Looking at my phone, I was confident I had plenty of time to take a quick trip into the forest to borrow some energy. Mila would’ve told me if Jarod had replied already. I could handle this.