The tension in the air was so thick even a chainsaw high powered would have trouble slicing through it.
Mia was sitting quietly, awaiting Tobias to say something. Kuma was probably thinking of various ways to kill Caitlynn as humanlike as possible, or at least that’s what Caitlynn assumed since the glare she was receiving from the auburn hair girl could freeze hell over. Etsu was avoiding eye contact. Blaise was just staring out the window and onto the city, indifferent about it all.
Monti was sizing his biceps. He turned to Caitlynn and leaned over.
“Which is bigger? I feel like my selective exercise regime is making the left one smaller.” He asked her in a low voice.
“Monty, your biceps receive an equal amount of fat and fibre, one cannot possibly be bigger than the other.” Caitlynn whispered back.
Monty sighed in relief.
Tobias, naturally, was the one who broke the penetrating silence.
“I’m sorry about you parents Caitlynn.”
Caitlynn nodded numbly, her hands on her lip curling into a fist.
“As you have become aware, by my niece and nephew, they are ghouls and so am I and so is everyone in this room.” His voice was smooth and calm, not at all threatening. Yet the fact of the situation made her feel heavy. Everyone she knew and thought were like second family, were all ghouls. They ate human flesh; she was human.
“But you’re all different, right? I mean you guys saved me…unless you plan to fatten me up and—”
“Oh heavens no, we only eat twice a month and we do it with dead humans, so rest assured, we have no ulterior motives. We’re pacifist.” Tobias explained.
“Basically we’re like vegetarians compared to the other ghouls.” Mia chimed.
“Now that we have that cleared out, let’s move onto other matters. As I am aware you have no family in the city, or even the district. You had a bigger sister but she ran away from home. Yes?”
Caitlynn nodded. She could barely remember what her sister even looked like; as far as she was concerned her sister Genna was dead.
“You’re going to be placed in a foster system, which as far as I know, will be tough since you’re fifteen. And thus I took the liberty of signing a few papers and I am now your legal guardian.” He said.
Caitlynn’s jaw went slack as she gaped at him and everyone gasped. As it turns out this was news for them too.
Kuma was the first to respond.
“But sir, she’s a human.” Kuma said in a strangled voice. Her cheeks were red.
“I’m aware, would you rather we send her off to a foster system that might end up destroying her livelihood? Let’s make a vote now. Those in favour of taking in the human raise your hand.” He raised his hands.
So did Mia, Etsu and Monti and even the little girl standing behind Tobias’ seat.
“Those against?” Kuma didn’t even bother to raise her hand. Blaise just observed, not raising his hands at either favours.
Kuma glared daggers at Caitlynn who paled instantly.
“And what if the Death Circle catch wind that we have a human working and living with ghouls?” She snapped.
“What can they do? This is Neutral Ground. The fact that a human coexists with ghouls can be a fundamental key to showing the Others that there can be coexistence.” Tobias replied calmly.
Kuma was fuming. She huffed and gave one harsher glare at Caitlynn before storming off.
Tobias sighed as he watched her leave.
“Right.” Mia cleared her throat and stood up. “I’ll show you around Caitlynn.”
“Monti and I have work to do.” Etsu said, standing up. She walked over to Caitlynn and knelt down.
“I really am sorry for your loss. Kimi and Denji were the most kindred humans I have ever met. You will be safe here.”
“Obviously with this hunk of guy here, walking around.” Monti flexed his biceps flamboyantly.
Mia crinkled her nose. Etsu and Caitlynn chuckled.
“Flex anymore and they’re gonna burst.” Mia teased.
“No such thing, you really think these are gonna burst any time soon?” He passionately ripped his shirt apart to display his hard muscle and slid forward on his knees, like a stripper from Magic Mike, only whilst wearing reflectors. Yet again, iconic.
Mia toppled over laughing and Etsu shook her head in amusement. Caitlynn giggled. They might be ghouls, but they were still her friends and that was all that mattered,
Caitlynn turned and saw that Tobias had somehow already left. Figures, they had inhumane speed. She wondered who the little girl was. She caught sight of her violet hair next to Blaise by the other side of the room. She was reaching up, fingers grasping air. She was asking to be picked up.
Blaise stared down at the girl with annoyance and sighed. Caitlynn’s heart melted when he finally gave in and picked the girl with her doll up. The girl rested her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around the back of his neck, her doll still clutched to her arm.
Mia showed her around and explained everything. If her uncle trusted the human enough to legally take under his wing then she trusted him enough to not question his judgement.
Auxilia wasn’t just a guest house, it was Neutral Ground, meaning that all ghouls who wanted to pass on and eat dead human flesh only when necessary, come here for their stock ups, some come here for shelter, others rented and lived here. The point was, the whole place was a ghoul sanctuary. That was why it was called Auxilia Guesthouse and café; Auxilia was greek for ‘help’ or ‘safety granted’.
The Others were the ghouls who eat humans every day, sometimes just because they were bored. They even crossed over to ghoul kind. The more fresh and alive a human is during consumption, the more powerful and strong a ghoul becomes. The Others were the most powerful and unstable ghouls.
However due to the Anti-ghoul, only a few ghouls became the Others. As for the Death Circle, Caitlynn was aware of the fact that ghouls had gangs. Mia clarified that they were in fact clans, packs even, gangs made them seem like animals. A ghoul that hunts and eats alone has a higher risk of getting killed, either by the Anti-ghoul, or any other ghoul if they were caught on someone else’s Feeding Ground.
Ghoul clans were more organized. They had a leader and a Clan House all over the Districts. So far Orshor had the largest number of Ghoul Clan’s, the most powerful, dominant and resourceful being the Death Circle.
After meeting everyone who lived in the guest house and being familiar with everything ghoul related she went back to her room and collapsed.
When she woke up it was dark and the sheets were cold. She sat up, her light brown hair falling over her face. She groaned and pulled it back, tying it in a loose bun.
It was quiet; the only sound was the gentle humming of the night that slipped in through her open window.
She pulled her legs to her chest and the tears fell numbly. She couldn’t help it. It still felt foreign. Everything felt unreal. She couldn’t possibly be living with ghouls now. Caitlynn squeezed her eyes shut and rested her head against the bedframe.
Her parents were dead. They died right in front of her. She the sheets harder, so hard her knuckled turned white.
The shiver that ran down her spine gave her enough motivation to walk over to the window to shut it. Now that the room was finally warming up, she felt her stomach rumble. She skipped breakfast and with all that she had just been told, her life taking a rollercoaster spin, she felt like she had been starved for years. She knew where the kitchen was and the hallway light was on so she felt safe. Walking down a dimly lit hallway would have given her a panic attack. She clutched onto the hem of the oversized sweatshirt Mia had given her. Etsu had agreed to take her back to her apartment to collect her clothes the next day, not that she was complaining, baggy clothes were comfortable.
The kitchen was huge, which was expected since this was a guesthouse. She stood in front of the huge fridge. Anxiety washed over her entire being. No one had informed her of anything about the kitchen, did they keep their food here
She slowly reached over, fingers crossed with her left hand and her right hand shaking as she reached for the metal bar. When she gripped it, the cold surface made her shiver.
Shutting her eyes, she winced preparing herself in case her eyes were to witness something, she pulled and the fridge opened. The cool air contained within swept out and kissed her exposed skin.
She slowly, painfully slow, peeked with one eye. She felt her chest go light as she heaved a sigh of relief. It contained nothing but regular groceries.
“You done constipating?” A smooth boyish voice drawled from behind her.
Caitlynn gasped and twisted around so fast she had to tighten her grip on the handle so she wouldn’t sway.
Blaise was holding a big mug, there was no steam wisping out from within so whatever he was drinking was cold.
“Blaise! Geez, you scared me.” Caitlynn leaned against the fridge, closing it as she held a hand to her racing heart.
“No I didn’t, you’re just pathetically good at scaring.” He deadpanned; tilting is cup around so the contents of it swirl around.
“It’s in the middle of the night and besides I wasn’t constipating.” Caitlynn said defensively.
“Sure thing, Nerd.” Blaise took a sip and Caitlynn froze. It was red, whatever it was inside the cup; it was red.
Blaise noticed her paralysed look as she eyeballed the cup as if Pennywise would spring out any moment now and drag her to hell.
“You looked pretty jumpy when you opened the fridge.” Blaise said, taking a carelessly long stride towards her.
“I-I was just-”
He took another long step towards her.
“Almost as if you were scared of the fridge.” Blaise noted, cocking his head to the side.
Two more steps and he’d be right in front of her, invading personal space.
“I-It was pretty hard opening it is all.” She stuttered, still looking at the cup. By now he was close enough for her to see that the cup was filled, to the brim, with a red liquid.
That wasn’t…it couldn’t be…her thoughts trailed off.
He took a step forward and she swallowed.
“Really? Hmm, fine, I’ll believe you. I see you keep looking at my late night beverage, care to take a sip?” He lips pulled back into a smirked.
She shook her head as he stepped forward one last time. Caitlynn felt her heart beat fast and her breathing came out shallow. He was so tall her height came around his torso. Blaise’s electric blue orbs twinkled with mischief as he leaned down.
“Take a sip won’t you?”
“I’m good I—”
He pressed the thin cup against her lips swiftly and the contents dripped on her bottom lip. She screwed her eyes shut as she awaited the taste of human blood on her delicate tastebuds.
She heard him chuckle lowly. That’s when she nibbled on her bottom lip and tasted, shockingly, strawberry juice.
Caitlynn widened her eyes and felt her stomach drop in disappointment when she saw an empty kitchen. She licked her bottom lip; it was actually really sweet strawberry juice. She almost face palmed herself, her cheeks getting red. She made it so obvious she thought it was blood. She groaned and sunk her head back against the hard cold fridge, embarrassed.
“Nice job Caitlynn Nocella, nice job.” She patted herself on the back sarcastically.