“Master, Brandon is bringing a girl here.” stated Mila.
“What?” I asked, surprised by the announcement. “Please warn everyone who’s awake.”
“Does she really seem interested in him?” asked Cosette with a grin.
“The circumstances are a bit unusual from the conversation they’re having. Apparently, a fight had broken out in the bar he visited just after Portentia left. The girl he is bringing, Deyanira, is soaked in alcohol and is blaming Brandon for it. He has some minor injuries, so he probably didn’t use his abilities in the fight.” explained Mila.
“Is she attractive?” inquired Cosette.
“I believe you will feel she is.” stated Mila.
“Maybe I should wake Emma.” considered Cosette. “She wouldn’t want to miss this.”
Mila nodded and said, “I’ve already taken the liberty. She is hurrying out here. She probably would be nearly here had I not insisted that she put on her robe first.”
I was honestly more surprised that Brandon would be injured even without using his transformative abilities. He was a capable combatant these days. Was he not wearing his enhancement suit? If some of his opponents were more than human, I might want to investigate before Alma found out.
“Wasn’t there a video feed?” I asked.
“No, master. The bar’s security is very poor, and I hadn’t hacked into any cell phones inside. Brandon had left his in the car.” she replied.
“James. Brandon’s bringing a girl home. Aren’t you the least bit excited for him?” asked Cosette as she grinned at me. Then she turned to Mila and inquired “Did you wake Brenna?”
“No. She has a job early this morning and her ability to function might be impaired if she gets up this soon.” stated Mila.
“What about Raine?” asked Cosette.
“Raine’s been deciding whether or not to come in here for the past minute.” I told her, having heard Raine’s pacing quite clearly.
“I’m n-not spying!” insisted Raine after darting over to me.
“I figured. Can’t decide from where you want to spy on Brandon?” I teased.
“M-maybe.” she stated, lowering her head.
Cosette hugged her and said, “With me! We have to gossip with Emma. She’d be terribly disappointed if we did not.”
Raine looked at her for a moment and then hesitantly nodded.
“How soon!?” exclaimed Emma as she ran into the room.
“They’re coming up the drive now.” replied Mila.
“Guys, we have to act natural! Raine, get on Ancient Tribes of Earth. Let’s all try to meet up somewhere before they get inside.” stated Emma.
I rolled my eyes but went ahead with her plan. Wouldn’t hurt to look like everyone was having a late night gaming session instead of just Cosette and me. “We’ll be entering the city from the South.” I informed her.
I glanced up as another monitor lit up only to see Alma hurry into the room.
“You too?” I asked.
“Whatever could you mean?” she replied.
“Felt like a little late night gaming.” I suggested.
“Of course.” she lied.
Before I could say anything more, the front doors opened. The girl who entered in front of Brandon was a bit taller than his sister and had dark brown hair with blonde streak on her left side. Her large brown eyes looked completely unimpressed as they gazed around the room.
“Brandon.” called Alma. “Why are you not wearing a shirt?”
“Who’s that?” asked Deyanira.
“Uh… I guess I’ll introduce you to some of my friends.” he replied. When he walked into the room, he said, “I didn’t have a spare and kinda owed Deyanira here one. Deyanira, this is Lady Alma Lucy Pendreigh V.”
Alma, who had stood to meet them, merely nodded.
“Oooh. So smooth. What happened to your shirt?” asked Emma, kneeling on her seat to lean on the back and grin at Deyanira.
“This jerk spilled his beer on me.” she replied.
“Brandon, are you even old enough to drink?” teased Cosette.
“Duh.” he stated.
“Portentia isn’t. How did she get in?” I asked.
“Oh. Well, they didn’t actually check her ID.” he replied.
Alma looked over at me and said, “James, dear, relax. You know how she is.”
As Alma spoke, Deyanira elbowed Brandon in his gut and asked “You snuck someone underage into the bar?”
“Hey, I didn’t know!” he exclaimed.
“And you two live together?” she demanded.
“All of us do. I told you that. Whole company living under one roof.” he replied.
“The employee wing is similar in design to an apartment complex.” I informed her.
“And who are you?” she demanded.
“Umm… he’s my boss.” replied Brandon.
“What?” she asked, glancing at him. Then she walked over to me and stared down at me till I stood to face her. “You’re awfully big.”
“I am somewhat tall.” I admitted.
“How old are you?” she asked.
“Nineteen. And you?” I inquired.
“Twenty-two.” she told me before turning to face Brandon and saying, “You work for someone younger than you?”
“Pretty neat, isn’t it?” asked Emma. “I’m going to be nineteen soon if you’re interested.”
“Are there no adults here?” demanded Deyanira.
“Depends on how you care to define ‘adult’. I would argue that most of us, Brandon excluded, are more mature than average for our age.” stated Alma.
“Hey!” exclaimed Brandon. “I can be pretty mature.”
“Why, might I ask, did you decide to come here with Brandon?” asked Cosette, standing and walking over to Deyanira.
“He owes me a shirt and wouldn’t leave this one with me. Said he got it at some convention.” she replied.
She wasn’t telling the whole truth, but I wasn’t too surprised. She might actually like him.
“Given the length on you, I wouldn’t qualify that as a shirt to begin with, more of a dress. I’m sure Mila can come up with something that will fit you better if you wish to get cleaned up.” suggested Cosette.
“How many girls does he live with here!?” asked Deyanira.
“How many times do we count Mila?” replied Cosette with a grin.
“Huh?” asked Deyanira.
“I’m an Artificial Intelligence with two fabricated bodies which I use to better fulfill my duties.” explained Mila.
“What? No way.” stated Deyanira.
“No, really. She could pick you up with one arm if you want a demonstration.” suggested Brandon.
Deyanira looked between Brandon and Mila for a moment. Then she looked to Alma and asked “Isn’t she your sister?”
“No. She is what they say.” replied Alma.
“What is this place!?” exclaimed Deyanira.
“I told you. I’m a best friend for hire, which is also the name of this company. James is the owner and boss. Most of us work for him. Lady Pendreigh there is his girlfriend.” explained Brandon.
“And you live here?” asked Deyanira, still sounding doubtful.
“Yes.” stated Brandon, sounding exasperated.
“Why, are you looking for a job?” I asked.
“No! I’m in college, studying law.” she snapped.
“Ah. I hope that’s going well for you.” I told her.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” she demanded.
“No reason.” I stated, feeling the girl was a bit on edge. “Mila really can assist you if you want to get cleaned and changed. We can offer a car to get you home as well.”
“No!” exclaimed Emma. “She should stay here tonight. There are plenty of guest rooms, right? If not, she can totally stay in my room.”
“No. Definitely not.” stated Brandon.
“What? Don’t you want me to stay the night?” demanded Deyanira.
“Huh? Of course. Just not in Emma’s room. There’s no telling what she’ll do to you.” he warned her.
“I’m not staying in your room either.” she pointedly told him.
“I never suggested that you would.” he replied.
Turning to me, she asked “Can I really hire him?”
Nodding, I said, “Assuming you can afford his rates, sure.”
“To do what?” she asked.
“Anything you’d ask of a best friend as long as Brandon is comfortable with the job.” I told her.
“What if a girl wanted to go on a date with him?” she inquired.
“I’ve taken a couple jobs that could be interpreted as dates.” I told her.
“But no one would hire Brandon for that!” exclaimed Emma.
“Why not?” asked Deyanira.
“He’s too… Brandon.” stated Emma.
“Thanks, Emma. You’re a real pal.” he told her, sounding sour.
In a sing-song voice, she told him with a grin, “You’re welcome!”
I could be wrong, but I thought Deyanira appreciated Emma’s response. Her face seemed to lighten a bit at least.
“I’ll take you up on that shower and clean clothes.” stated Deyanira.
Mila motioned toward the door and said, “This way, please.”
“I for one am glad we didn’t take bets on Brandon getting a girl tonight. I would have lost.” stated Cosette.
“Me too!” exclaimed Emma, jumping over to Cosette and excitedly taking her hands.
“M-me too.” mumbled Raine from the chair in which she was hiding.
“I woudn’t bet on his success quite yet.” warned Alma.
“Is it really pick on Brandon day?” questioned Brandon, practically pouting.
“I-Isn’t it always?” asked Raine.
He laughed. “Maybe, but what did you guys think of her? Pretty cute, isn’t she?”
“Totally!” exclaimed Emma.
“I think you could find someone nicer.” stated Cosette.
“I don’t know if ‘nicer’ is what he needs.” argued Alma.
I didn’t feel we had enough information to make any conclusions. Most people would be thrown off by this place as Jemal would certainly confirm. I did feel that Deyanira seemed a bit aggressive, but she might not be a particularly bad person. Maybe we’d learn more in the morning.