This is a direct sequel to Lovely Brides. Like with that story, the characters in this come from a number of my previous works. As such all the missing history of their lives lay there. As usual, I've attempted to explain all the plot crucial events in this story so it wasn't necessary to go back and do a lot of back reading, but to understand everything completely it's best to have some passing knowledge of those older works. Sorry about that.
The most important older works relevant to this story are: High School Sweetheart (that's my first story, so I apologize beforehand on the poor writing), Small Crush, Kitsune no Megumi-gumi, and Lovely Brides. Of course some of the Love Letter Lovelies stories and Feudal Bride pop up, BUT they aren't necessary. Other than that disclaimer, I hope THIS story explained itself well enough on it's own that new readers don't feel like they need to do homework. Please enjoy.
Tapping her breaks lightly, the faded aqua Honda Civic reached a complete stop. With the jingle, she pulled her key from the ignition and placed the mass of clustered keys, discount cards, and various cute dangling bobbles into her purse. Then, boosting herself up to her rear-mirror height, she took one last look at her hair and make-up. Her bangs were pinned away from her forehead, as she'd be wearing a chef's hat over it, but she checked her short light brown hair anyway. Working for Chiharu Akamatsu meant she was expected to look her best at all times, and at the moment Nodoka Odo was achieving that perfection.
Before opening the door and swinging her legs to the outside, Nodoka gave a soft yawn and tiny stretch. She still was in Holiday mode, having spend Christmas in Yumoto for a wedding, then returning back to Shibuya to celebrate the holiday with her friends. Unfortunately for her, it was time to get back to work, even if a part of her still was snuggled up in her warm bed back in Hoshino Apartments.
Once her shoes touched the strangely pristine pavement where the staff parked their vehicles, Nodoka paused to look at her covered legs. She was still wearing her traveling track-pants over her ridiculous kinky chef's uniform and knew she had to remove them. Part of her rebelled against it, as she was feeling nice and cozy, but ever the trooper she lifted her behind off the driver's seat so she could pull her pants off. Immediately she regretted it as now her exposed smooth legs was open game for the chilly December breeze.
With the coldness came a new motivation to enter the Akamatsu manor. Nodoka got up, smoothed down the barely covering chef's jacket (which really was a tight dress sewn to look like a chef-wear) as low as it could go, then dashed to the back of her car to gather the groceries she had bought. Then, as quickly and graceful as possible, she went into the servant's entrance and entered into the back of the mansion.
On entering, there was the usually bustling around from the help, but on seeing her one of them dashed over and took the grocery bags from her arms. Like everyone hired by Lady Chiharu, she was extremely beautiful and was wearing a skimpy outfit. As for the assistance by the door, this wasn't uncommon. The maids all looked out for each other, and that included Nodoka as well. It seemed that sexy maid Risa Noda was doing just that.
"Is there anything else in the car?" She asked breathlessly.
"No, everything else is here, unless my substitute broke away from my meal plan."
"About that…" Risa gave her a look. "…I guess it'll just be easier to show you."
Feeling a sense of dread on that, she followed the maid down the hall into the kitchen. She had expected it to be out of sorts while she was on holiday, but the whole thing was a mess. Aoi Eto and Anna Hashiwara (fellow maids) were doing their best to clean up, as it looked as if someone had thrown a food fight inside her kitchen.
"What's the meaning of all this?" Nodoka placed her hands on her hips, no longer feeling like that cute girl she had been over break. It was back to business is seemed.
"Lady Tsukasa took offense to Chef Kitsake's cooking last night and threw a fit." Aoi Eto explained bitterly.
"That brat." Nodoka grumbled, looking at the day a head of her. She knew she was staying late now. "Where is the Lady now?"
"Which one?" Risa asked.
That normally would have been a good question if the context of the conversation wasn't telling Risa who Nodoka wanted to talk too. Lady Chiharu, mistress of the manor, had an identical twin sister named Tsukasa. The two were glued at the hip, and when she got married to Shinji Kojima, she took her bratty sister with her. Both sisters had their good qualities and quirks. Lady Chiharu was easy to get along with, if one followed her strict rules. However Lady Tsukasa was a child who everyone had to tolerate, despite being around college age. Well, almost everyone.
On learning that the Akamatsu's were upstairs, Nodoka left the kitchen, used the service stairs, and climbed up. Exiting on the living floor, she made swift strides to Lady Tsukasa's bedroom. Before knocking, she listened for a moment to make sure she wasn't having sex (this house always had something kinky going on), then wrapped on the door. Moments later it opened revealing one of the twins. It should have been Tsukasa, but they switched around so often one never knew for sure.
"Chef Odo?" The young woman asked in mild surprise. "What are you doing up here?"
"I'm hear about the state of the kitchen." Nodoka spoke with no apprehension. "Are you Lady Tsukasa or Lady Chiharu?"
"T-Tsukasa…" The girl looked guilty. She already knew what was coming and cowered back like a little girl. This sweet and innocent act was something she did often, and most people believed that it was her natural nature. In a way it was, but she also had a dark personality that only people below her station saw.
"I took this job with the understanding that the kitchen is my domain. Your sister has given me free reign down there so I can serve you the best meals possible, but I can't do that when the place is a war zone."
"I-I know! I'm really sorry, Odo-san, I really am! It's just that that guy made me awful food! When I went to confront him about it, he started yelling at me. So I yelled back. I got really angry and… I couldn't help it!"
Nodoka sighed, knowing how picky Lady Tsukasa was with her meals. One of the reasons Nodoka was hired before people more qualified was that Tsukasa really had taken a liking to Nodoka's cooking when she worked at a small restaurant near their High School. Nodoka was from a small town and cooked very homey, which was something the rich girl apparently appreciated. However, she also came with quirks and a list of foods she would not eat. Nodoka understood this and cooked around it, but some times people forgot about that.
"Look, I understand that you were displeased with Kitsake, but the state of my kitchen is unacceptable."
"I have the maids-"
"No." Nodoka rebuke softly. "This is your mess. Just because your sister owns the place doesn't mean you can go around acting like this. You know that."
"Get changed and help clean up."
Somehow, the way Nodoka told her to do it made it seem like she had to. Of course Lady Tsukasa was well within her rights not to listen to a single word of Nodoka's rebuke, but for one reason or another she respected her. Unlike the other maids, she saw her on the same level as her school friends. So without complaining any further, the small girl turned around and went to her dresser.
In all honesty, Lady Tsukasa's presence downstairs wasn't all that helpful, but the fact that she took responsibility was important. All the maids looked envious at Nodoka for having the guts to pull something off like that, which made her feel a bit better. She assigned the Lady to light duty, as the rich girl had no way of knowing on how to do anything more than that. At the same time she assigned her with Anna, so there was always someone near by who could help her. Nodoka kept an eye on the Lady herself, but there was another reason, one she'd never admit to anyone.
With all the commotion first thing in the morning, Nodoka didn't have time to take in the appearance of the beautiful goddess she admired. Anna Hashiwara, the object of her obsession, was currently on her hands and knees next to Lady Tsukasa, trying to scrape melted cheese off the floor. Like the others, she was wearing that stupid maid's outfit, but on that body Nodoka couldn't help but admire it. Now the skirt was raised on her lower back, exposing her panties to all to see, but that was a common occurrence in this house. The uniforms were so tiny, everyone flashed each other on a daily bases.
"How's she doing?"
Nodoka nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of that voice. She had been watching Anna for some time now, that she spaced out. Standing next to her now was Lady Chiharu. She had her arms crossed under her chest, watching the punishment of her sister going on right in front of her.
"She's doing her best, and that's enough." Nodoka said kindly, forcing her eyes away from Anna's butt and into the good twin's eyes.
"Good." Lady Chiharu smiled slightly. "I'm glad that she's helping out after what she did. She really looks up to you."
"I don't know why, but I'm pleased she likes me." Nodoka admitted truthfully. It was a mystery.
"Will dinner be delayed because of all this?" Lady Chiharu asked, back to business.
"I had planned out something more elaborate, but some of the ingredients I needed are all over the walls. So I hope you don't mind something more simpler. If you do, I can always run out and-"
"That's fine." Lady Chiharu nodded her head. "Shinji is in one of his moods anyway, so simple is good."
Her husband's mood basically was a way of saying that he had reached his limit of rich pampering. It was no secret that he came from poverty, but his family name made him important to the Akamatsu. Chiharu's father had forced the two into an arranged marriage when they were in High School, and ever since it had been a clash of cultures. Lady Chiharu was always trying to find ways to appease her husband's apprehension of being waited upon, to various degrees of success. It was for this reason that Anna was employed as Master Shinji's maid, as she was a friend before the wedding.
"You know… you should just talk to her." Lady Chiharu's voice interrupted Nodoka's thoughts.
"Huh?" Nodoka heart beat a bit fast. Was she caught looking at Anna again?
"My sister." Lady Chiharu elaborated. "Ever since we entered University, she's had trouble making friends. You know how she is, introverted and shy. People find that cute to a point, but then get turned off. Since Shinji and I are busy with our studies, it's been difficult for us to keep an eye on her. So, it might be unorthodox to ask someone I pay for this, but I'd like it if the two of you became friends. She really admires you."
Nodoka did not like the idea of that one bit. Lady Tsukasu could be sweet, but she still was a rich brat. Nodoka's roll to her now was more like a big sister, not a friend. Plus, when did she have time to babysit Lady Tsukasu? It was true that as a chef her hours weren't all that bad. She didn't spend so much time at the manor that she needed to live there like Anna and the rest. But, when she wasn't in the kitchen, she was planning meals and out shopping. She not only cooked for the family, but the help as well. She knew that Lady Tsukasa wouldn't enjoy following Nodoka around on her job, and she sure as hell wouldn't like her peasant friends.
"Lady Chiharu…" Nodoka opened her mouth to voice some of those concerns, when she got interrupted by Anna.
"We've finished over here Nodo, would you like for us to start on the wall?"
"Nodo?" Chiharu asked, turning to Nodoka. It was a nickname combining her given name and surname.
"She calls me that for some reason." Nodoka waved that away, turning to the other twin. "Lady Tsukasa, are you able to do more, or would you like a break?"
"I'm not a weakling!" Tsukasa pouted, then crawled over to the wall in question and started scrubbing hard with her rag.
Anna gave a cute expression and crawled over next to her. Despite herself, Nodoka smiled, watching her. Her heart beat faster and her body felt warm. It was just like a High School crush. She remembered how she used to have a thing for a girl named Miki back then, and it was exactly the same. She always had trouble keeping her eyes off her.
"You're really taken with my sister, aren't you?" Lady Chiharu asked, mistaking Nodoka's gaze on Anna for her Lady Tsukasa.
"I just don't want her to over do it."
"Liar." Chiharu giggled. "You think it's cute that she's working like a maid."
Nodoka was about to disagree, but saw that playful perverted side in her mistress now. The girl was notorious for being overly flirty and had a huge sex drive. Most of the maids signed contracts that allowed for that sort of behavior to occur without there being any kind of lawsuits later on. If one worked here, they should expect certain things. Many of them had done perverted acts with the sisters, mostly behind Master Shinji's back. However, the one person who refused to sign the sex-clause was Nodoka. Since she was on high demand, somehow she got away with it. She still had to wear this disgusting uniform, but given she wasn't acting as a bed-warmer for the twisted twins, she could live with that.
"I think you're the one who wants to see Lady Tsukasa in the maids uniform." Nodoka quickly turned the perverted accusation back on Lady Chiharu. It was a dance, one that Nodoka had learned how to do well by now.
"It might be funny." Chiharu admitted with no shame. "Maybe Shinji might like it."
"He's a boy." Nodoka commented, as if that settled the matter.
"Yeah-" Lady Chiharu was wandering off, not listening. Clearly she was planning for another elaborate threesome. Nodoka was just happy that she wasn't a maid and didn't have to clean up afterwards. The kitchen was safe from all of that.
Walking over to her, Anna was wiping her brow, watching the non-working twin leave. She gestured towards Tsukasa and gave a silent giggle. Apparently she found the girl cleaning amusing.
"Now that the sister is gone, how's Lady Tsukasa really doing?" Nodoka asked, feeling slightly tingly from being so close to Anna. She didn't really care about Tsukasa, she just wanted to hear her speak. She could feel the girl's body heat radiating off her person and it tickled Nodoka's sensitive skin.
"She's giving it her all. She's really sorry she disappointed you."
"Don't let her cuteness fool you." Nodoka warned. "That girl is a scorpion. Before you know it, she'll sting you in a heartbeat."
"I know… but I like her when she's like this." Anna watched Lady Tsukasa's tiny tongue stick out of her mouth as she scrubbed up and down on the cabinet door. "I wish she was like this all the time."
"It's the people she's around. She wants to be like her sister but doesn't understand how Lady Chiharu balances those sides to herself. I knew a girl like that once. She was a bully, but deep down she-"
But Nodoka stopped. Somehow she was thinking about her again, Megumi Takahashi. How strange. She hadn't seen the girl since High School, yet every so often she thought about her. Now that she was getting older, it seemed her memories drifted back to those years more often. There always was a mixture of emotions associated with Megumi; some good, some bad. However, the ones she chose to accept were the negative ones. Away from the situation she was in back then, she could see just how messed up her life was. She shouldn't have felt anything positive towards Megumi, and yet…
"Whoa! I think I stumbled onto your secret dark side, huh?" Anna giggled, sensing Nodoka's discomfort. She was joking, of course, and had no clue just how close to the truth she really was.
Smiling a small fake smile Nodoka admitted the truth. "It was a bad time back then. I try not to think about it."
"Oh." Anna's sweet smile left her. "Did you want to talk about it?"
Shaking her head, Nodoka gestured to the job in front of them. "Not now! We have so much to do."
Anna's eyes lingered on her for a moment. It was the only time Nodoka wished she'd stop looking at her. She didn't want Anna do know about any of that. That time was the worst in her life, and she didn't want her fantasy girl mixed up in those memories. Anna was too good for that, too pure for the sick part of her that still existed due to Megumi. That's why Nodoka couldn't admit her feelings or talk to her. Anna deserved better.