Chapter 1: Meeting an Angel
There was a Lamia waking up on a tree, wearing dirty clothes that were filled with dust, dirt, and sweat. It was so grotesque that it was impossible to believe that someone would wear such a thing. That was no problem for her, she had already gotten used to the smell. The only ones that would complain about her clothes, was the people that got too close to her. The Lamia started to descend from the tree, which was easy to do because of her tail. Then, she started her new day, a day that had been going over and over for a while. She would simply slide to a corner in the street or to a store and beg for change. Sometimes she would get enough to buy herself a drink or something to eat. If she was lucky, she would get both in a single day, just enough to live, what she considered, a pitiful existence. Of course, she believed that she deserved that, after what she did before. Other times, she would just slide around the city, with no particular destination. She was in her home city, but she wasn't there before. Since the Lamia saw no reason to leave again, she decided to stay. It might had been nostalgia, she was born there after all and that was where she grew up. The city was also the place where she started to get out into the world, to get success in life, and where she could have made some real friends. It was her fault that it ended the way it did, and she knew that. All she could do was simply regret that she didn't do things differently. Maybe she could have avoided it if she was different back then, if she didn't let it all go to her head and listened to those that actually cared. At that moment, she was just sliding around, with her thoughts as her only companion, and reached a TV store. Inside, she could see a TV showing a Lamia boxer with a belt around her waist and both arms lifted into the air. On her face, there was that smile, a smile that showed how much she actually worked to get it, how hard it was, how painful it was. There were times when the Lamia boxer wanted to quit, but she prevailed, and that was the result of her work. Then, the Lamia with the dirty clothes saw herself. She saw a dirty and ragged black sweater with a hood, with a blue t-shirt with a sleeve missing under the sweater, and jeans with holes on it. Her black hair was unkempt and messy, her white skin had smudges, her eyes were a dull blue, and her black scales were just as dull. It would be hard to recognize Lea Anderson as she was at that moment, especially since she lost some of her muscles over her time in the streets. Having seen enough, she decided to continue on her way to nowhere in particular, and she did that for the whole day. That night, Lea was going on her way to find a spot to sleep, but something got her attention. Lea started to hear voices in a barely lit alley, and she saw three figures inside: one of them was a tall and obese looking man. It was probably an orc, and the other one looked like a male human, but tough looking. At the end of the alley, there was a smaller person compared to the other two. There wasn't enough light to see the third person. It looked like they were robbing that person, but Lea wasn't sure, so she decided to hide outside of the alley and wait.
"Listen, sweetheart, if you want to avoid anything happening to you, you might as well give us whatever you have, right now." One of the men in the robbery was trying to sound threatening.
"I can't let you have it, I need this money." Lea could tell that the person been robbed was actually female, and she was worried.
"Do I look like I give a shit about that? Now give us the money." The robber sounded impatient, and the other men approached the girl, a hand aimed at the suitcase that she was carrying.
"No, I won't let you have it, they depend on this payment." The girl tried to sound brave, but failed to do so. She clutched the suitcase close to her chest, and held tightly. The man sighed, and talked to the orc.
"Hey, pal, why don't you give me a hand here?" The orc literally did that and he moved a hand to grab the girl's neck.
"Help!" Her cry for help was cut short by the large hand grabbing her neck and lifting her off the ground.
"Now listen, try to call for help one more time, and my friend here will have to snap that little neck of yours." The man tried to use a threat on the girl, and to help emphasize the threat, the orc squeezed her neck. The orc used just enough strength to send the message, and then loosen up. "Now, give me the money." The human grabbed the suitcase and pulled, but the female human held it tightly, with no signs of letting go.
Lea had seen that kind of thing before in her life on the streets, and usually, no one helped the needed. A smart person would simply walk away, and if they felt like it, they might call the cops. In all of Lea's time as a homeless, no one looked at her. Lea didn't see any gain in it, but she didn't see any loss either. Ever since her life as a homeless started, she didn't consider her life meaningful, she was dead as far as she knew. Lea never considered helping others but herself, maybe it was time for a change, maybe it was time to redeem herself and do something that was worth it. Maybe she could finally put an end to her worthless existence. With that in mind, Lea decided to help the girl, but Lea needed to be careful or the orc might kill the girl. On the left side of the alley, behind the robbers, Lea saw a trash can, and on its side, a glass bottle. Lea quickly got a plan in her head and put it into action. Lea slowly started to slide closer and closer to the trash can. It was a good thing that Lea was a Lamia, snake tails made very little noise when they slid through the ground. Lea could see that the robbers were having a hard time taking the suitcase from the girl, but it was clear that it would be just a matter of time. Lea reached the glass bottle and started to approach the robbers. The human robber managed to rip the suitcase from the girl's arms and opened it. He saw a good amount of money in it, and by that time, Lea grabbed the trash can with her tail and proceeded with her plan. Lea quickly struck the human with the glass bottle, breaking it in the process. That put the human down, which made him drop the suitcase. Surprisingly enough, it closed itself the moment it hit the floor. That got the attention of the orc, and he started to turn towards Lea, showing his surprised pig face. Then, Lea quickly threw the trash can and hit the orc's face, which made him drop the girl to her knees. While the orc was staggered, Lea quickly wrapped her tail on the orc's left leg and pulled on it, making the orc fall on his back.
"Come on, we have to go!" Lea kept an eye on the orc, knowing that he won't stay down for long. That snapped the girl back to focus and looked for the suitcase, which was close to her. When she saw it, she grabbed the suitcase, and started to run. The orc noticed that and got up quickly. Then, he tried to grab the girl, but Lea saw that and used her tail to slap the orc's hand away from the girl. Lea saw the girl run away, but Lea didn't mind, since someone had to keep the orc occupied.
"No wonder I didn't smelled you close by, you're as dirty as shit, and smell like shit." The orc finished with a snort, and anger could be heard in his voice.
"You might as well give up, she probably escaped already or called for help," said Lea.
"Yeah, but I might as well take a little payback for throwing that trash can at me." The orc cracked his knuckles, sending the message that he wouldn't leave until he got what he wanted.
"Then, let's go down to hell." Lea had an edge in her voice, letting the orc know that she was ready for the battle.
Lea knew that she was fairly weaker than the orc. She would have to rely on her speed to bring the orc down. The orc was bald, standing at least 8 ft. tall, black skin color with a pink snout, and standing pig ears. The orc decided to attack first by charging towards Lea and launched a right punch. Lea easily dodged to the left and grabbed his right foot. Then, she pulled it and made the orc fall face first. The orc tried to get up, but Lea struck the right side of the orc's face with her tail. Unfortunately, the orc grabbed her tail with his left and pulled her towards him. Then, he struck Lea's mid-section with his right forearm, launching Lea to the wall behind her and crashing to it. While Lea was down, the orc marched towards her, and once he got close enough, he launched a left punch. Fortunately, Lea quickly recovered and moved just in time to dodge the punch. Lea knew that she needed something to hit him with, since her tail didn't seem to be doing a lot of damage to the brutish orc. Then, close to the trash can that she threw, she saw an old baseball bat, and all she needed to do was to grab it. The orc was confident that he could win, so he charged at Lea with a right punch again. Lea dodged the punch and quickly slid towards the bat. Lea grabbed it just in time as the orc grabbed her tail and pulled her towards him. When Lea was close enough to hit with the bat, she swung the bat down as the orc was preparing to deal the finishing blow. The bat connected with the orc's forehead, making him stagger back. Then, Lea stood up and launched another swing, hitting him on the left side of his head. That hit seemed to do the trick because the orc suddenly fell to the ground and didn't move.
"This little piggy goes to sleep," that was all Lea said in her victory. Contemplating what she had done, it filled her with some pride. Not only did she defeated a gigantic enemy, but she saved someone. She did something worthwhile for once in her life. "I hope the girl is alright. Well, I better leave before the cops get here and-" Before Lea could finish that thought, she started to feel the effects of the attack that landed on her. Lea started to feel pain in her mid-section and felt dizzy. She tried to slid away, but she needed to support herself with the walls of the alley. "Man, didn't expect to be this weak…that really affected me." Lea groaned in pain once it took full effect on her weakened body. "Well…I guess…I can finally…rest." At that last thought, Lea started to fall unconscious and was falling to the ground, but she didn't hit the ground. Someone caught her before she hit the ground.
"Hey…me?" Lea heard someone, didn't know who it was, but she felt like she knew the voice.
"Who's that? I heard that voice before." Lea turned her head towards the source of the voice and could barely see a face. It was a beautiful girl, with long straight platinum blond hair, amber eyes, and light-olive skin color.
"Can…Hear me?" The girl kept saying.
"Is that an angel? Am I finally dead?" The last thing Lea remembered, was seen darkness before falling unconscious.
There was a human girl in an alley, in the middle of the night, holding an unconscious Lamia. The girl wasn't very tall, standing at 5ft 7in, so the Lamia was a little heavy for the girl, even though she was only carrying the upper body. She actually ran away from the alley because she was been robbed by a couple of people, one human and one orc. The girl managed to escape because the Lamia fought against the robbers to save the girl. Knowing that, she decided to return to the alley, wondering if she could help the Lamia against the orc that was left conscious. In the end, the girl wasn't needed because the Lamia was handling the orc just fine. Not wanting to get in the way, the girl decided to hide outside of the alley. Then, the girl saw the Lamia been launched to a nearby wall. The girl thought of calling the police, but they might take too long to arrive, especially in a poor area of the city. If there was no other option, she would give the money in return for their safety, but at that moment, all she could do was pray and hope that the Lamia could defeat the orc. Fortunately, the Lamia defeated the orc by striking him with a baseball bat. Once the girl was sure that the orc wasn't going to get up, she revealed herself, and started to approach the Lamia. Then, the girl saw the Lamia stagger and hold herself on a nearby wall. That was when the girl tried to help the Lamia up, but in the end, the Lamia fell unconscious.
"Oh no, oh no, what should I do? Wait, I know." She decided to call someone else for help, so she pulled out her cellphone and made a call. The other person answered.
"Hey, Julie." A friendly male voice could be heard from the other side of the phone.
"Nick, thank god you answered! Listen, I need you to come and pick me up, bring the van with you." Nick could hear desperation in Julie's voice and it made him worry.
"Yeah, I'll be right there. Where are you?"
"5th street and Alamo." Julie started to calm down, knowing that someone was coming to help her.
"Got it, I'll be there as soon as I can." With that said, Nick hanged up.
"I hope he gets here soon." Julie knew that the robbers might get up anytime soon, so she tried to carry the Lamia outside of the alley and walked to a nearby corner, while also carrying the suitcase. Julie waited with the Lamia on her shoulder, and no one was paying attention to them. For the people around them, they might be just friends that had been drinking all night and the Lamia was too drunk to stand up. There were bars close by, so they could have gone inside one of them.
Nick arrived shortly with the van. He came out of it, and walked towards Julie, noticing that she was holding an unconscious Lamia. Nick was a lizardman, with green scales on his body, yellow eyes, and no hair. He had a tail coming out from the back of his pants through a hole. He was in his early 30's, but he didn't look like it, he looked more like in his late 20's instead.
Lizardmen were half-human, half-reptile, resembling a type of lizard. In some countries, they were believed to be gods. Others believed them to be monsters. The male Lizardmen had more characteristics of a lizard than human. They had the lizard eyes, the tail, the tongue, the head of a reptile, cold blood, claws, and scales instead of skin. Their female counterparts had a more human-looking face and body, but still kept the scales around their arms and legs, claws, cold blood, and eyes. What could be considered the biggest difference between them was that the female Lizardmen actually had hair, while males didn't have any hair, they were practically bald. Since they had cold blood, they preferred hot and dry places, but they had spread out to other areas. In modern times, they were seen as normal citizens, just like any other inter-species people.
"Julie, are you alright? Who's that you're carrying?" asked Nick
"I'm alright, Nick, but we need to leave," said Julie in a hurry.
"Okay, you're taking her with us?" Nick pointed at the Lamia that Julie was carrying.
"Yes, Nick, I'll explain later, but we need to go now." That seemed to satisfy Nick, and he helped carry the Lamia towards the van. While they were taking the Lamia to the van, Nick started to sniff the air, and cough with a face that showed disgust.
"Damn, she really stinks, you sure she's a Lamia and not some bag of manure?"
"Just hold your breath. We're almost to the van."
"Fine, but you better have some air spray." Once they put the Lamia on the back of the van, Julie decided to stay with the Lamia. "Should we take her to the hospital?"
"I don't think she has the money to pay for it. Just look at her, they might just ignore her. Let's take her to our facility. We might be able to help her." Nick looked skeptical about that.
"If you say so, I hope we can." Nick started the van and drove away.
"That makes two of us." Julie started to calm down, and started checking on the Lamia. The Lamia didn't look well, not only was she attacked, but she seemed to be weak. The only way Julie could tell that the Lamia was alive, was by the faint rising of the Lamia's chest, indicating that the Lamia was breathing. Julie started to wonder just how long the Lamia would keep breathing. Julie could only hope that the Lamia could hold long enough, until they reached their destination.
"Did you call the cops?"
"No, they might have taken too long to arrive, especially those in this area." Julie had dealt with them before, and they didn't seem to take their jobs very seriously.
"True enough." Nick kept driving ahead. "I hope everything goes well."
Lea didn't know where she was, but she felt comfortable. She didn't feel pain anymore, she felt better than before. Lea woke up inside a white room, and looking at the ceiling. She realized that she was sleeping in a bed, surrounded by yellow curtains. The bed was large enough for her. She occupied the entire bed with her tail on the left side of the bed. Lea started to look around her space, and then, she looked to her right, where she saw a girl sleeping on a chair. Lea thought that the girl was very beautiful: long blond hair, smooth light-olive skin.
"Like an angel…Wait a minute." Lea realized that the girl sleeping beside the bed was the girl that Lea saved back at the alley. "Did she brought me here? Did she helped me?" It was a little shocking for Lea because in her entire life as a homeless, no one really helped her before. People didn't care about her, but the girl did. "Maybe, she just wanted to pay me back, but she could have just left me in the alley." Just as Lea finished that thought, the girl started to wake up. The girl slowly opened her eyes, getting a grasp of where she was. Then, she straightened up on her chair and stretched, pushing her chest forward, which let Lea take a good look at the girl's breasts. It was easy to tell that they were well shaped C-cups. After finishing her stretching, the girl focused her eyes on Lea and realized that she was awake.
"Thank goodness you're awake, how are you feeling?" asked the girl with sincere worry.
"G-good." Lea started to feel shy with the girl, especially when she was so beautiful and she was looking at Lea with those deep amber eyes. "A beautiful girl like her is worried about people like me?"
"Glad to hear that, you looked pretty bad when we brought you here, especially when the orc launched you against the wall."
"Do I have something broken?"
"Just some bruises, you mostly fainted because of malnutrition and dehydration. The doctor had to give you enough serum to help you get some strength back." The girl gave Lea a smile, happy to know that Lea didn't have anything serious.
"Thank you." Lea kept feeling shy, even if the girl had that smile on her face.
"Oh no, don't worry about it, the doctor did the whole work." After the girl said that, they fell in silence. They didn't know what else to say. Lea didn't want to end the conversation, so she thought of asking questions.
"Where am I?"
"You're in the infirmary of a group home. I didn't think it would be good to drop you in a hospital. Considering that you wouldn't be able to pay them back."
"Yeah, you could say that it's a type of orphanage, but they prefer to call it group home. We take care of children until they can go out into the world or are adopted by other families."
"That sounds nice." Lea started to sit up.
"Are you sure you're alright?"
"Don't worry, I feel better now, see?" Lea got out of bed with a smile, stood up, and moved her body to show that she was okay.
"Glad to see you up and moving." The girl's smile returned, and again, they fell silent. With nothing else to talk about, Lea said.
"Well, I guess, I should be going now." Then, Lea started to slide away. After seeing that, the girl stood up, and asked.
"Wait, are you hungry? Do you need something?" After the girl said that, Lea put her hands in front of herself and said.
"No no, it's alright, I don't want to impose on you. No more than what I already have."
"Don't worry about it. Come on, we're serving breakfast right now." The girl gave Lea a gentle smile, grabbed one of Lea's hands, which caused Lea to start blushing, and pulled her out of the infirmary. Lea was actually hungry, but didn't want to say it because she thought that she didn't matter to anyone.
"But, she worries about me, I matter to her. I don't want this to end so quickly, but I don't want to take advantage of her," thought Lea.
"Oh, I almost forgot, my name is Julie, Julie Johnson. What's your name?" Julie felt sheepish because she couldn't believe that she almost forgot to introduce herself to her savior. That made Lea smile in return.
"I'm Lea, Lea Anderson."
"Nice to meet you, Lea."
"Nice to meet you too. She's so nice to a complete stranger like me. It's almost hard to take."
They came out to the living room, and Lea could see that she was inside a 2-story building. A reception desk was located in a corner of the living room. The desk was located on the corner to the left of Lea. A corridor was located to the right of the desk, and the left wall had a double-entry door, which was the main entrance. Lea looked at the living room, which had its walls painted in a beige color. The floor was covered in vinyl sheets that looked like wood, and Lea could see that there was a carpet in the middle of the room. Over the carpet, were 4 couches, which formed a perfect square. On the ceiling, there was a gold-painted chandelier hanging over the couches, which was turned off at the moment. On the right wall, there were 2 stairs, one that led to the second floor and one that led downstairs, which Lea believed to be the basement. In the middle of the stairs, was a door, but Lea didn't know what that room was. On the wall in front of Lea, was a double-entry door, and to the left of the door was a corridor. Lea and Julie kept moving straight, reaching the double entry door, which had a sign at the top that said 'Cafeteria'. They both passed through the door and entered the cafeteria. The cafeteria was large, filled with round and long tables, which had different amounts of chairs that people could move around. At the end was the kitchen, which had a few people cooking, and the pickup area was right in-front of it. The cafeteria had three doors, one on the left wall, one on the right wall, and a third door was close to the corner to the right of Lea. There were people already eating inside the cafeteria, from children to teenagers. There were many different species and races, from humans to inter-species people, Lamias, Harpies, Centaurs, Lizardmen, and even some Mermaids were in there.
Mermaids were considered one of the most beautiful beings in the world, which was not always a good thing. In ancient times, they were captured because of that beauty, but there were other reasons for it. Some believed that drinking the blood of a mermaid would give immortality. Others believed that it was the flesh. Some believed that it would give them eternal youth. All of them wrong, which made the mermaids hide from human eyes as much as possible. Mermaids had the well-known half-fish from the waist down, gills on the side of the abdomen, which allowed them to breath under water, the ability to resist cold temperatures, and they could swim in either sea water or clean water. They actually had a male counterpart call Mermen, which was pretty much the same as the Mermaids. When on land, they usually go around with a wheelchair or other means of transportation.
Once they were inside the cafeteria, other kids noticed them, and greeted them.
"Good morning, Julie." All the kids started to greet her with smiles on their faces.
"Morning, everyone, how's breakfast today?" Greeted Julie, who returned their smiles with one of her own.
"Don't be silly, Julie, it's always good." A Cyclops child tried to make his voice sound funny, which Julie thought that it was adorable. Cyclops looked very human, except for the single big eye instead of two.
"Glad to hear that, I just like to tease her like that. I'm going to get something for us." A child elf noticed Lea and pointed at her with a finger.
"Who's that, Julie?" asked the young elf.
"Oh, I almost forgot, this here is Lea." Julie presented Lea to the kids.
"Hello, Ms. Lea." The children greeted with that same smile.
"Hello." Lea greeted back with a small wave of her hand.
"Okay, why don't you take a seat while I go and get us something to eat?" Julie tried to make Lea feel comfortable with a gentle voice.
"Okay." With that said, Julie left to get breakfast and Lea looked around for a table. Once she found one, she took a seat, and waited for Julie to come back.
Julie walked up to the kitchen and greeted one of the cooks.
"Hey, Lucy." The cook heard the cheerful tone of Julie and turned around.
"Good morning, Julie! We have some pancakes and waffles left if you would like some." Lucy, a female Minotaur around her 40's, showed Julie the food that was left. Just like every single time, Lucy was always happy to see Julie. Female Minotaurs actually have more human characteristics than their male counterpart. The female had a human face, but they had smaller horns and the fur in their ears, tails, and on their legs, was the color of a cow.
"Give me both. I'm actually eating with a guest of mine."
"Oh, you mean the Lamia that you brought here last night." That surprised Julie. She thought that no one would know about Lea so fast.
"How did you found out about it?"
"Oh please, everyone in the staff knows about her. Word comes around, you know? Why did you bring her here, though?"
"She saved me from some robbers when I was on my way to the bank, so I'm just trying to repay the favor."
"That's really nice of her, what's her name?" Lucy was starting to like Lea.
"Her name is Lea."
"That's a nice name, and on top of that, easy to remember. Where is she?" Lucy was so curious, that she started looking around the cafeteria.
"She's right there, at the corner." Julie pointed at the corner that she was talking about.
"Oh, I see her." Lucy could guess why Lea decided to sit in a corner. "She seems to be the shy type, but by the sounds of it, a good kid."
"I can tell you more about her later. I don't want to keep her waiting for long."
"Okay, I really would like to know the details about your intrepid friend, who saved you from the claws of evil villains." Lucy started to giggle about it. It wasn't that she didn't believe Julie, but Lea didn't seem to be the valiant type.
"Oh hush, you." They both shared a laugh together. Then, Lucy took her leave to prepare a plate for Julie and her guest. Once Lucy got the plates ready, she set them on a tray, and Julie took it to her table. It really pleased Lucy to see Julie having some friends.
"It's really nice to see that kind of thing, especially in these hard times."
Lea was looking at everything around her, she was looking at the children talking with each other, and laughing with each other. It was a happy place for them. "I wonder who is the owner of this place." Then, Julie arrived with their plates. Julie gave a plate to Lea, and then, Julie grabbed her own.
"Okay, Lea, food's ready. Man, am I starving," said Julie, and after that, she started to eat. She had scrambled eggs with ham, strips of bacon, sausage links, and 2 toasts with coffee as her drink. Lea's plate had 3 pancakes. The other plates had 2 pieces of ham, 3 medium cooked eggs, toasts, and waffles. It was like a buffet on their table. Lea's mouth started to water just by looking at it.
"I don't remember the last time I saw this much food," thought Lea, and then, she asked. "Is this for me?"
"Of course, you must be hungry after sleeping with nothing but those serums," answered Julie with a smile. Lea gave a nod as an answer and grabbed a fork that Julie brought. Then, Lea cut a piece of a pancake, put it in her fork, and bit on it. "Oh, I forgot about the syrup, let me-" Julie stopped mid-sentence because of something unexpected. Tears started to fall from Lea's eyes. Fortunately, they were far from the rest of the people in the cafeteria, so no one could see the scene. "Hey, Lea, what's wrong? You didn't like it?" Julie started to worry, she wasn't sure why Lea was crying, but believed the food to be the cause. Lea shook her head and kept putting food into her mouth. Lea managed to answer with food in her mouth.
"It's very good." Lea's tears were still streaming down her face. After that, Lea wiped her eyes and kept eating. That was the most food she had ever gotten in a long time. Most of the time, she found whatever she could in a trash can, or she would buy it from a store, but not enough to get her full. Julie smiled, understanding that there was no problem and Lea was just happy to be eating. After eating a little bit, Julie started to smell something strange. Julie sniffed around, and discovered that Lea smelled really bad.
"Hm?" Lea responded while eating.
"When was the last time that you took a bath?" Julie and Nick just threw some spray in the air when they took Lea into the house, and on Lea. The effects of the spray must have run out. Lea started to think about the last time that she took a shower, and couldn't remember the last time she took one. Then, she swallowed what she had in her mouth and answered.
"I don't remember." Julie didn't respond to that. She just kept staring at Lea with a perplexed view. "Do I smell that bad?"
"No, not at all, but it would help that you take a shower." Julie could barely resist the smell coming from Lea. Julie was sure that anyone passing by could smell Lea, but Julie didn't have the heart to say that. "You can take it after breakfast. I'll take you to a bathroom."
"Okay." Lea started to relax, knowing that she didn't cause any serious trouble to Julie. Lea didn't have any problem about taking a shower, nor did she had any problem about her smell. Of course, she would take a shower just to avoid causing any problem to anyone. After that, they fell silent again, until Julie realized something. She didn't know much about her savior, except her name. Julie thought that it might be a good moment to ask some questions, since Lea appeared to be in a good mood.
"So, Lea, where were you born?"
"How did you end up in the streets?" That question might have been too personal because Lea stopped eating for a moment.
"I'm sorry. I just…I don't want to talk about it." Julie could barely hear a painful tone in Lea's voice.
"Oh no, don't worry, you don't have to answer if it's too personal. Sorry about that."
"It's okay, what about you? Where do you live?"
"I actually live here. My parents died in a car accident when I was a little girl."
"…I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that." Lea started to feel sad about that and looked down.
"Don't worry about it. It was a long time ago." Julie gave Lea a smile, which made Lea start to feel better and made her lift her gaze.
"So, you ended up here?"
"Not really, I was sent to other places before, but they were different."
"What do you mean by different?"
"The staff of those places didn't really care about the orphans, they simply did their jobs and that was it. They didn't connect with us." Julie started to look at her coffee with a thoughtful look.
"Was it really that bad?"
"Enough to make me a very reserved person, and very suspicious of adults. Some of the staff tended to abuse the orphans. Some would go so far as hitting them. I remember trying to defend the younger orphans from the adults." That seemed to be a sensitive subject for Julie because she started to get a little upset about it. "I thought of hurting them, making them feel the same pain that the other orphans felt. There was this one time when I was about to attack a worker out of revenge, but in the end, I didn't"
"Why? What stopped you?"
"A little kid. A little kid that I wanted to avenge, but I saw the look of fear in his eyes. The surprising thing about that, is that I was the cause of his fear." Julie started to calm down after remembering that. "I started to realize that violence was a horrible thing. It didn't solve anything, it simply caused more violence, and it turned people into monsters." Julie looked into Lea's eyes and noticed that Lea was getting depressed. "Anyways, that's why I don't like, don't approve, and do not condone violence. You could say that it turned me into a hippie." After Julie said that, she gave a peace sign with a smile on her face.
"Did they sent you here after that?"
"They sent me to other places before arriving here. No one would adopt a little girl like me, so they sent me to other homes just to get rid of me." Julie gave a small laugh when she finished saying that.
"What about here? Was it better?"
"Much better, I didn't believe it at first. This is where I met her."
"Mataya, the previous owner of this house."
"What happened to her?"
"She passed away from natural causes. She was around 90 years old at the time."
"Sorry to hear that, what was she like?"
"She was very caring about everyone, not only with orphans, but with the workers too. She was very spiritual too, talking about spirits and higher powers. She was a short person, with brown hair, white skin, and brown eyes. When I arrived here the first day, I didn't trust her. I thought she would be no different than the rest of the adults." Julie started to look at her coffee again. That was a long memory for her, and a good one too because she kept smiling. "She would always give this smile to everyone, always greeting them, always been nice to everyone, and I thought it was all a lie. I wouldn't talk to her or I would avoid her."
"What did she do to change your mind?"
"She just kept talking to me, she didn't try to avoid me or ignore me, she just kept trying. One day, I asked, 'why do you talk to me?'"
"What did she said?"
"She said, 'because I want to know you'. She simply wanted to know me. No one really cared who I was. Everyone else just wanted me to live so that someone could adopt me. After that, we started to get closer, to the point where I would see her as a mother to me. So, I started to live here, went to school and everything. Mataya passed away a year ago." That made Julie a little sad, and Lea could see that Julie really loved Mataya.
"So, do you know who the new owner is?"
"Oh, I know her very well." Julie was giving a smile to Lea.
"Really, when could I meet her?" Julie started to giggle.
"You're actually looking at her." That surprised Lea, and Julie could see it on Lea's face. "She's really cute."
"You're the owner?!"
"I know, I know, I look too young to own it, don't I?"
"It's okay. Don't worry about it too much. A lot of people would be surprised to discover that a 19 year old girl owns a group home."
"How did you get this place? That is, if you don't mind telling me."
"Mataya inherited the house to me, since no one else seemed to care about it."
"No one gave you problems for it?"
"Actually, they were okay with it. They probably didn't want to deal with a lot of work. What a lazy bunch." Julie giggled after saying that. Lea smiled and the both of them continued with their breakfast.
Back in the kitchen, Lucy was watching both girls conversing and eating together, which brought a smile to Lucy's face.
"They really look like close friends," thought Lucy.
Another cook in the kitchen approached Lucy and was about to talk to her, but the cook noticed that Lucy was watching the couple in the corner.
"Hey, Lucy, isn't that Julie and the Lamia that she brought here?" asked the cook.
"They seem to be getting along very well." The cook liked the scene between them.
"They do. Julie needed something like this to brighten her day."
"Yeah, you're right about that. By the way, didn't you know that it's rude to be spying on people? You'll look like a stalker or something."
"Oh quiet you and get back to work, we got some mouths to feed later on." Lucy playfully glared at the cook and started cleaning some dishes. The cook simply laughed at that.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm going." With that said, the cook left. The little joke actually brought a smile to Lucy's face.
"I sure am going to miss this place." Lucy simply hoped that she didn't start too soon.
After Lea and Julie were done, they put their plates and the tray away. Then, Julie took Lea to the living room.
"Okay, Lea, as we said, you can take a shower in one of the bathrooms."
"All right, follow me." Julie started walking to the stairs that go to the second floor, and Lea started to follow her. They go up the stairs and they reached a corridor, which went left and right. The walls and floor of the second floor seemed to be the same as the living room, but it had a long carpet in the middle of the corridor. The ceiling had lights that were turned off at the moment because the ceiling also had skylight windows, which let some sunlight in. They started to move to the right of the stairs and they quickly stopped. Lea saw a door on both the left and right. The door on the left had a black sign with printed gold-colored letters that said 'Director's Office'. The door on the right had no sign on it, which made Lea believe that it was a bedroom. Julie turned towards the door on the right and said.
"Well, this is my room." Julie pulled some keys out of her pocket, and opened the door. "Come on in." Julie kept the door open so that Lea could slide in.
"Thank you. This is her room? I wonder what it looks like." Lea slid into the room, and the inside wasn't as impressive as she thought it would be, but it looked nice. In the far left corner, there was a single twin-size bed. Right next to the bed, was a 4 drawer chest with a lamp and photos on top of it. The ceiling had a skylight window, and on two of its sides, were two lights. On the near left corner was a cabinet with a large TV. On the near right corner was a closet, with a mirror on its right. On the far right corner, was a desk with a computer on it and a trash can to its right. On the wall in front of Lea was a door. "Your room looks nice, and cozy." Lea started feeling comfortable just by looking around.
"Thanks." Responded Julie with a smile. "The bathroom is through the door straight ahead." Julie pointed to the door. "And while you shower, I'm going to get you some new clothes to change into."
"Thank you," answered Lea with a smile, slid towards the bathroom, and went in. The bathroom looked simple. There was a toilet, a sink with a mirror, and a bathtub with a shower and with a curtain. Lea started the shower and waited for the water to get hot, since Lamias prefer warm temperatures. Meanwhile, Julie left her room to get clothes for Lea.
After getting some clothes for Lea, Julie was walking back to her room. Julie reached the door of her room, but someone stopped her from going inside.
"Julie." It turned out to be her friend, Nick, who had a serious expression on his face.
"Hey, Nick, what's up?" asked Julie.
"We need to talk. It concerns the 'problem'." Julie quickly knew what problem he was talking about, but she didn't want to talk about it in the corridor.
"We'll talk in my room." Responded Julie with a business tone. After that, Julie and Nick walked into her room. "I hope there's some good news. I don't think we can take any more problems than what we already have." At that moment, Julie forgot that Lea was in the bathroom, put the clothes on the bed, and prepared herself for what she was going to hear.
Lea heard a door opening, figuring that it might be Julie bringing clothes for Lea, but before Lea could open the door, she started to hear voices in the other room. Lea didn't want to intrude, but she managed to hear something serious.
"So, what's the matter, Nick? How bad is it?" Lea recognized Julie's voice. Then, a male voice that Lea didn't recognized, answered.
"Really bad, according to the payments and the calculations that I made, it appears that we won't be able to pay the debt after all."
"But, what about today's payment? We delivered in time, didn't we?"
"We did, but it only got us another year at best. If we are lucky, we might go another one, but we will eventually run out of time and money."
"We can't pay another year. We simply don't get enough as before. We can barely pay our staff and our food."
"I'm sorry, Julie, but that's how it is. I know that you don't want to close this place, neither do I, but we don't have an option." Nick paused, knowing that it was going to hurt Julie. It wasn't necessary, the idea itself was already tearing her apart.
"How am I going to tell everyone that I may have to sell the house, especially the kids?" Julie was close to tears by the very idea of having to fire everyone and send the kids away to other houses. Then, after Julie said that, they heard a gasp inside the bathroom, and Julie knew who it was.
"Lea?" With that said, Lea didn't see any point in hiding behind the door, so she came out of the bathroom. "Lea, were you listening the whole time?"
"Yeah," answered Lea, who was ashamed of that. Nick decided that it was best to end the conversation.
"I better get going. We can talk about it another time." With that said, Nick took his leave. The room fell silent afterward, until Lea decided to at least apologize for eavesdropping.
"Sorry, I just heard voices and didn't want to interrupt, but I let my curiosity get the best of me."
"It's alright. It's not that big a secret anyways. Before you woke up, I went to the bank to deliver a payment, but it turns out that it wasn't enough. People aren't adopting as much and donations were reduced because of the financial crisis that happened a while ago. At this rate, I'll have to sell the house." Julie looked at the photos on the drawer. One of the photos had a picture of Julie as a teenager with the previous owner, Mataya.
"Isn't there something that could be done, another way to pay the debt or at least get more time?"
"Don't worry about it, we'll find another way to deal with this. That was really nice of her." To make Lea feel better, Julie gave a smile, making the situation look less serious. Lea decided to just listen to Julie and headed back to the shower. Then, Julie remembered something. She forgot to give Lea the new clothes. Julie grabbed the clothes and got into the bathroom without knocking. The moment Julie opened the door, she got a big surprise because Lea just finished undressing to get into the shower. Julie couldn't deny it, she enjoyed the view. Lea had lost some of her muscles, but she was fit enough to impress. Lea's waist was slim, her skin looked smooth, her stomach was taut, and her breasts had a nice shape and firmness. Due to Lamias having a tail instead of legs, the anatomy of the lower body was different from female humans. Lamias still had the pelvis, but the lips of the 'special' part were facing forward. In short, the 'entrance' was facing forward instead of downwards, and Julie had a good look at it. "Damn." Is all Julie could think and her cheeks started to gain a blush, just like Lea's cheeks. Coming back to her senses, Julie quickly turned her head away and presented the set of clothes for Lea. "Sorry, I was just trying to bring you clothes." Lea quickly grabbed a towel and covered herself.
"It's alright. I forgot to lock the door. It's my fault." Lea started to reach for the clothes, but Julie moved.
"Let me just put them-" Julie walked forward and tripped over Lea's old clothes. Lea quickly moved forward and caught Julie. Anyone else would think that they were having some 'private' moment, but it was nothing like that. Their bodies were touching, but Julie had her clothes and Lea had a towel around her body. Lea was hugging Julie, while Julie had her arms in the air, holding the clothes. Their faces were centimeters away from each other, and they were looking at each others' eyes. Julie could see the deepness of Lea's eyes, like looking at the ocean, while Lea could see the brightness of Julie's eyes. It was a very awkward moment for the both of them, so they quickly moved away from each other, blushing because of the embarrassing moment.
"Are you okay?" Lea knew that Julie wasn't hurt, she just wanted to sound worried to make the situation less awkward.
"Y-yeah, here are your clothes." Responded Julie while looking at the clothes as she handed them to Lea.
"Thanks." Unable to stay in that awkward moment, Julie started to leave the bathroom.
"I'll be outside if you need something. Take your time." Julie quickly regained her normal cheerfulness.
"Okay." Then, Julie closed the door. "It felt good, to hug her." Outside, Julie was thinking something very similar to that.
"That felt good." After that, Julie decided to just rest and hope to cool off her head.
After that scene, Lea took her shower without a problem and dressed in a blue shirt, new jeans, new briefs, and a new sweater. The briefs were modified for the Lamias. It mostly focused on covering the front instead of the back because Lamias didn't have 'cheeks' on the back. If they needed to use the toilet to 'release', there was a hole in the lower part of their tail. Once she was finished dressing, she came out of the bathroom and found Julie seating on her bed with a book in hand. Julie heard Lea coming out of the bathroom, and Julie lifted her gaze from the book to give her attention to Lea. They were both silent, remembering the awkward moment in the bathroom. "Sorry…about what happened," said Julie with a faint blush on her face, obviously embarrassed about it. Lea got one as well at the mention of it.
"It's okay, it was an accident." Lea started to rub the back of her head. Then, they fell into silence.
"You know, you could stay here for the day. Of course, if you have nowhere else to go." Julie didn't know why she asked that, but she didn't feel like taking it back. Lea raised her hands in front of her and waved them.
"No, no, it's alright, I don't want to cause any trouble here. Besides, you might have stuff to do, and I don't want to get in the way."
"Are you sure? I can work some other time."
"I'm sure, don't worry. Besides, you have to save as much money as possible to keep this place going. I'm just going to be another mouth to feed, a bigger one at that." Julie didn't want Lea to leave, but Julie didn't want to force Lea to stay.
"Okay. Just…take care, okay?"
"Okay, thank you…for everything."
"Don't worry, after saving me, it's the least I could do," answered Julie with a smile.
"Well…take care." Lea started to head towards the door, and once she grabbed the doorknob, Julie got up from the bed and said
"I'll see you again?" Julie didn't know why she would ask such a thing. She had to focus on the house and the children living in it. Lea didn't know how to respond to that, but she gave an answer without thinking.
"You promise?" Lea didn't want to lie to Julie by saying yes. Lea didn't know when she could see Julie.
"Yeah, I promise." Lea didn't feel right doing a promise she might not keep, but it would put Julie at ease, if only for a little while. "Good bye." Lea left without looking back.
"Good bye." Julie gave a small wave, and started to feel all alone in her room. "I hope to see you again."
Lea reached the stairs, and went down. Once she was in the living room, someone recognized Lea, and said.
"Hey there, Lea." Lea turned around and saw that it was the Lizardman that was at Julie's room.
"Hello, uhh…" Lea didn't know his name.
"Nick, just call me Nick. I'm surprised Julie didn't mention me, especially since I helped her bring you here. Talk about ungrateful, right?" Lea could tell that he wasn't offended, he was joking around.
"It probably slipped her mind. Anyways, thanks for helping me." Lea could see that Nick was a good guy, so she felt at ease with him.
"No problem." Nick gave a friendly smile to Lea.
"Well, I got to go, have a good day, Nick."
"You're leaving? Why?"
"Well, you have enough problems as it is, and I don't want to get in the way."
"Well, if that's the case, I'll walk with you. I was already heading home for today."
"Okay." With that said, they head towards the door, and went outside of the house. Once outside, Lea started to ask questions for Nick. "Is there really no way to save the house?"
"You worry about it? Or is it because of Julie?" After Nick asked that, Lea started to blush.
"It's not like that, we're just friends. Besides, I don't know if she likes girls."
"Oh, she likes them, believe me. I know her well enough." Nick was okay with it.
"She does? Then, that explains it."
"Uh, nothing, don't worry about it." Lea started to give a nervous giggle, hoping that Nick wouldn't try to look further into it.
"Okay. Well, back to your question, we simply try to get this place going, but it's getting hard, especially for Julie. If we are lucky, we might survive another year, 2 years at best."
"I wish there was something that I could do. After all that she did for me, it would be the least I could do for her."
"I'm sure your time with her was good enough, it might have lifted her spirits to keep going." After hearing that, Lea dropped her head.
"I might have ruined it by leaving."
"Don't worry. It takes more than this to get her down. Besides, I'm sure you can visit anytime that you like." The knowledge that Julie made a good friend with people like Lea, brought a smile to Nick. "Lea looks very sincere about her wish to help." They finally reached Nick's car. "Need a lift?"
"No thanks, I'll just slide to the city."
"Okay." Nick got into his car, and started the engine. "Take care of yourself, and I hope to see you again, any friend of Julie is a friend of mine."
"Thanks, you too, Nick." After their farewells, Nick drove away.
Lea started to head back to the city, back to her old life as another nobody. At least she knew that someone in that house worried about her. Lea just slid around the city, doing nothing in particular. While sliding around, she couldn't let go of the knowledge that Julie was having problems with her debt. Lea had been thinking of ways to help Julie, but Lea couldn't come up with anything. She only finished high school, and she never went to college, so she couldn't find some job that could pay her enough. She didn't know anyone that could lend her some money. She didn't even have any friends to call for. Lea could only sit in a corner and beg for money, and even then, she had to worry about getting something to eat for herself. Lea quickly ran out of ideas because she didn't have many options to begin with. After sliding around for a while, she decided to rest in a park nearby, and took a seat under a tree. Lea felt so worthless at that moment. She couldn't help the one person that made her feel something more than just trash on the street. Lea felt like she let Julie down.
"Isn't there anything that I can do?" Lea slammed her fist on the ground, which it didn't hurt her because the ground was soft. Then, something hit her, looked at her closed fist, and she started to remember something. Lea remembered the one thing that she was actually good for, and it paid well too. The one thing that made her famous enough to appear on TV, to get interviews, to be recognized. It was also the one thing that turned her into a greedy, ignorant, and disrespectful person. "Things will be different this time, I won't let it corrupt me, I won't let it change me again. I will do it right this time. I will do it for the right reasons, not just for myself." Once she realized that, Lea got up, ready to help Julie. She was ready to return to the boxing ring.