“My sister? Madison?”
The two girls nodded excitedly in unison. “Yes, we’re supposed to warn you that she’s in trouble! Some girls have been bullying her.”
I immediately moved forward and grabbed the redhead, who let out a yelp. “Please, show me the way.”
“Ah! Th-that… Yahhhh…” as she tried to look away, I grabbed her hand and immediately began pulling.
Her friend looked on flustered as I dragged the redhead named Brianna with me, heading in the direction the pair had come from.
“P-please, stop holding… she’ll be angry if we touch!” Brianna cried.
As she spoke, her friend also followed, looking at a loss of what to do.
“Huh?” I turned back on Brianna. “Who is she?”
“Eh!” Brianna waved her hand. “I mean everyone! I’m only a Freshman! If anyone sees me holding a boy’s hand the girls will make my life miserable!”
Seeing that the look she was giving me seemed genuinely fearful, I felt a pang of guilt and let go of her. She immediately pulled her hand back, lowering her gaze like someone who had just been chastised. Did my sisters also have to face this sort of thing? Was harassment a constant fear among women at the Academy? If this was the case, Madison had never mentioned it to me. If she was being bullied, I would have… I would… I realized there wasn’t much I could have done. However, now that I’m here, I wouldn’t allow it anymore!
“Please, lead the way.” I infused as much repentance as I could in that look.
“I-it’s okay…” Brianna blushed, looking away somewhat shyly. “It’s not that big of a deal… probably.”
Brianna was touched her hand where I had held it in an odd way. She almost looked regretful that she had pulled her hand away. It took her friend Syph pinching her hip before she jumped and nodded.
“F-follow me!” She turned, grabbing Syph’s hand, and the pair started moving forward.
The other guys had all exchanged looks, and whether it was from brotherly feelings or simply interest, they followed behind us. The pace was a bit brisk, and four guys being led by two girls certainly caught quite a few eyes. The girls showed a surprising amount of defiance, glaring back at a few of the women who dared to shoot them angry looks. The more I watched this dynamic, the more I learned about this Academy.
Amaryllis was a place where the best of the best women came to gain their education. These were the brightest, richest, and most beautiful women. From 15-18, they spent four years struggling to gain an education before beginning an apprenticeship. Although this was one of the goals, one of the others was to become pregnant. Pregnancy gave them citizenship, which gave them access to a myriad of benefits, as well as two years of stipends that functioned very well as startup funds for starting a new life.
With only forty men and nearly five thousand women, the competition became quite fierce. Men were trained to use women and maximize their slice, gaining long-lasting benefits for the rest of their lives. Women were trained to avoid male tricks while gaining their seed at all cost. The end result turned out to be an incredibly hostile environment, not just between men and women, but between women and other women. Whether it was because of Lipsticks, Hares, Sluts, or simply the battle of the sexes, women became their own worst enemy, spending as much time cutting each other down as they did seeking the seed from the male staff.
I had feared my life on Amaryllis would be like that ferry ride up to the island, being constantly accosted by women at every turn. As it turned out, that might have been a freak occurrence caused by a man’s sudden appearance and the population being a predominately clueless freshman. For most students, they quickly learned their place in the Academy, and thus their capacity to gain seed had to be subversive. I didn’t need to worry about women attacking me in the street, but I might need to worry about someone sneaking into my dorm at night. Suddenly, mom’s story about the time she snuck into dad’s room and chained herself to the bed seemed much more understandable.
It wasn’t long before the two girls slowed and stepped to the side. It was clear they didn’t intend to go any farther. Fortunately, they didn’t have to. I could see the commotion ahead. There wasn’t a particularly large crowd, but a fair amount of women had congregated around an area. In the center of that area was Madison, who was lying in a puddle, covered in mud. Immediately, I quickened my steps.
As the scene unfolded, there were three rich looking women standing nearby looking down. However, what caught my eye the most was the presence of a guy. He had his hand out as if he was offering Madison help. However, Madison had a stubborn look on her face, and it seemed like she was trying to avoid meeting his eyes. The boy had a simple look, with short cropped dark brown hair and dark eyes. He looked somewhat handsome with a boyish face just short of being called a pretty boy, but it was clear he was someone who was concerned about his looks.
“Why don’t you just take your boyfriend’s hand Madison?” One of the girls snorted teasingly. “Although you’re so filthy, you’ll get your stink all over him.”
“Don’t be like that, Rosetta. You’re going a bit too far.” The boy said politely before turning to Madison. “Take my hand. I don’t want you getting a cold. Especially, not before our date.”
“Madison…” I stopped dead, my eyes narrowing, still quite a distance away.
Rigor stopped next to me, his eyes blinking. “M-madison? Your sister is the Slut Queen?”
Without a breath, I turned and grabbed Rigor’s collar, “What did you call her?”
Rigor raised up his hands. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know! I just asked for the identity of the Queens from that Peter kid. Someone called Madison is the Slut Queen. It’s probably a different Madison! Her last name is Bonholdt.”
Ashton bumped Rigor’s side. “He’s Clyburn Bonholdt…”
Rigor coughed, growing flushed. “I-I…it’s just a name, right?”
I let him go and sighed. “S-sorry…”
“No-no, I get it. I’d be pissed too if my sisters were… well… I’d probably do something about it…” Rigor laughed nervously.
A few girls had noticed the four boys appearing nearby, and were shooting looks of interest over, dividing the interest between Madison and us. However, Madison and the people around her were still focused on her situation.
Madison had given the three women behind the boy a nervous look, and the boy nodded and smiled. “Ladies, do you think perhaps you went a little overboard pushing her into the puddle.”
The girls shot the boy a polite smile, but when their eyes passed over Madison it was clear they didn’t have an ounce of respect. Their leader Rosetta was a girl in heels wearing a rather fancy summer dress. She wore a lot of makeup and her hair was done up like she was going to prom. Her hair was light brown, large and elaborately curled. She had an elegance to her, with full lips and bright blue eyes. However, her face looked somewhat cruel and haughty. She had high cheekbones and narrow eyes which made her look like she was looking down on people.
“It’s fine,” The one named Rosetta responded, waving her hand. “As long as Madison apologizes, I’ll be happy to forgive the slut.”
The boy nodded as if this was a perfectly acceptable thing to say before turning to Madison. “Can you apologize to her, Madison? Then this will all be over, right?”
“Apologize for what?” Madison glared angrily.
“Hmph… you tried to talk to a boy out of turn.” Rosetta growled. “Don’t you understand your place? We were talking to him, so don’t think you can just run up and ask him something…”
“He-he asked me out… I was going to talk to him… about that…” Madison lowered her eyes under the glare of the three women.
“Why would Ben ask a slut like you out?” Rosetta snorted, her two friends chuckling behind her.
“Now, now… Rosey, it’s true…” The boy called Ben kept smiling like Rosetta’s attacks had nothing to do with him.
“Yo-you’re s-seriously taking this slut on a date?” Rosetta shouted in disbelief, further embarrassing Madison while causing the rest of the people still paying attention to them to shake their heads and grin.
Ben leaned toward Rosetta, grabbing her hand, causing her to grow a little flustered. “You know as well as I do that she’s already a junior and hasn’t had a baby. I’m doing my part so that Amaryllis remains a place for the best and brightest women.”
The way he spoke was like he was whispering to Rosetta, but he spoke loudly enough everyone could hear. Some of the women were nodding their heads, gaining a great deal of respect for what he said. It was a man’s duty to provide seed, so a man who was graciously providing it to an undesirable could be considered more manly than most. Personally, I had enough listening to this shit. I immediately headed towards my sister.
“Ah… well… if it’s that…” Rosetta seemed to melt as Ben stroked her cheek intimately. “I suppose she is just a freak.”
I couldn’t really believe this guy. Wasn’t he Madison’s boyfriend? Well, at least, they were going on a date, right? Why was this guy being so intimate with Rosetta right in front of Madison? Was he two-timing her? No, that was my old logic again. In this world, men probably had a lot of women they needed to please. This guy wasn’t a two-timer, he was a guy who was desperately trying to please everyone. However, he was worrying more about soothing Rosetta’s fierce anger and ignoring Madison’s pain. Instantly, I disliked him.
I loved Madison, and if she genuinely wanted to be with someone else, I would step aside. However, it would need to be with someone who I approved of, of course. This asshole right here was not appropriate for my sister at all. Since that’s the case, excuse me for raining on his parade.
“So, Madison, it seems like this was all a misunderstanding!” Ben said, scratching the back of his head and laughing. “If you’d just apologize to Rosey than we can all just be friends, rig-“
“Ahhh!” Madison let out a cry.
She had her scowl trained specifically on Rosetta and Ben, thus she hadn’t seen a third person approach her from behind. Suddenly, arms wrapped around her, one going under her legs and the other wrapping around her back in a very familiar way. Madison couldn’t help but be extremely startled at being grabbed. Before she could react, however, she was picked up out of the puddle, and her body fell against some muscular skin. She kicked a few times, but the person was incredibly strong, far stronger than she expected, and she found herself unable to free herself. She turned and glared at the person, and when her face saw me standing there, she froze.
“Wh-what?” Ben seemed taken aback by someone suddenly scooping up Madison in his arms.
My sure was instantly drenched in muddy water, but it was no worse than Madison. Madison had grown in the last year since I had seen her. She was still tall, only a couple inches shorter than me. Her breasts had grown, but only slightly. Her body was still slender and lanky, but if anything, she looked more beautiful than I remembered her. At some point, she had tried to curl her hair, and now had a hint of curl around her braid. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked down at my big sister.
“Cl-clyburn?” She worded it like a question like she wasn’t sure if she could believe it herself.
“Hello, sister, I said I was coming for you.”
“O-oh…” That’s all she could respond with, still stunned.
Of course, she remembered that today was the day the freshman came. She also knew that I was an incoming freshman. What she hadn’t expected was the way I looked. I was taller now, with more muscles. My chin was stronger, my face had a little stubble. Basically, I looked a far cry different from the twelve-year-old she once knew.
“L-let me down…” She murmured shyly. “I’m making you dirty…”
“How could that be possible?” I smiled down at her.
“Ah…” She was clueless about how to respond. “I-I’m not your sister.”
“It’s fine if you see it that way,” I responded.
A small frown formed on Madison’s lips, clearly displeased by my answer. However, I had a whole year to think about this. I had a year to discuss things with Rose and Morgan. I had a year to come to terms with my feeling. In the end, I decided it was fine whether Madison saw me as a sister or not. As Madison herself said, sisters, came a dime a dozen. Madison was more meaningful to me than a sister.
“I… understand…” Madison responded sadly.
“As long as you don’t see me as your brother then I can make you see me as a man…” I finally added.
“Ah…” Madison’s skin turned bright red in a familiar blush I hadn’t seen in forever.
She was so adorable, I couldn’t help myself. My lips moved closer to her. Madison looked up at me, her eyes watering while her lips trembled. Her entire body shook in my grasp, although it wasn’t from the cold. In fact, Madison felt unbelievably comfortable in my body. It felt right. It felt like she had been missing something for ages and only now was it set right. Her eyes closed, and her lips parted.
“Ahem…” A boy coughed politely, causing the two of us to look up at him. “And you are?”
He looked genuinely displeased. The three girls behind him had their mouths open, not sure what to make with what they were looking at. In fact, everyone there was staring aghast. Only the other three boys who had followed me were looking on with amused looks, seeming somewhat impressed. A freshman like me had simply walked into the scene, picked up the girl, and suddenly acted like the world around us didn’t exist.
We spoke closely to each other in a light tone, so no one heard everything that was said, but from any distance, this was clearly a pink scene full of romance and affection. Even among courting individuals, the scene would rarely be this affectionate in public. If a girl was lucky, she might be held like this a couple of times in her entire life, and almost certainly not around other people.
Madison’s pale skin began to turn various shades of red as the realization of her exposure hit her. Immediately, she started trying to get out of my grip again.
“Ah! Will… you stop that!” I growled as she fought harder to get out of my grip now.
“Let me go! Let me go!”
“You’ll fall in the puddle, stupid!”
“I’m not stupid! You’re stupid!” She cried. “You grab your sister in public! It’s not proper!”
“Oh! Now I’m your brother again!”
“Yes, you’re a brother, just a stupid brother!” She cried, then seeing my hand, bit it.
“Ahhh!” I cried out, “You keep this up, and brother will give you a spanking!”
I couldn’t even believe her sudden change. I mean, I had been thinking about how to get around this whole half-sister thing forever! It took a lot for me to realize that not being my sister was perfectly fine. I’d just make her my family some other way. Now, she was suddenly fine being my sister again? Women were so annoying!”
“Excuse me, uh… sir… maybe you should let this girl down.” Ben stood, his hand on his hips, his chin up like he was trying to act superior.
I glared at the guy while still fighting with the squirrely sister in my arms. “Ah… you… Berno, was it?”
“Ah… my name is Benjamin…”
“Well… Berno, the thing here is… my sister here is mine!”
“I-I’m not!” Madison protested, causing me to reach out and grab her chest. “Ah… my nipple! D-don’t twist!”
Madison cried grabbing my hands but otherwise stopped fighting back as she glared at me. I kept my finger on her nipple, just in case. Her hands were too afraid to pull my hands off, so we sat there in a deadlock, her glaring at me and me casually looking over at Berno.
“Either way, you’re her boyfriend?”
“He-he’s not…” Madison breathed out. “He asked me to go to a welcoming week after party with him. I was going to cancel when…”
I nodded thoughtfully. So, this guy had just asked Madison to some party. Berno probably pressured her to agree, and then she tried to come back to cancel while the three bitches were flirting with Berno. They got pissy that she wanted to talk with him in private, pushed her into a puddle, and then demanded that she apologize for it. At least, that was my guess, and I suspected it was close enough to the truth.
“Well, you heard her.” I shrugged. “The dates off. Go ask one of those girls to go.”
A look of pure rage popped on Berno’s face, but it dissipated almost in an instant behind a cool and mysterious look. “Ah, well, I really want to go with Madison. As her brother, you should understand she’s getting up there in age. I tell you what, give me your sister and I’ll introduce you to my own. We could trade and…”
“I’m gonna stop you right there, Berny… can I call you Berny?”
“Please don’t…” Berno’s smile was slanted a bit and he stood somewhat stiffly.
“Anyway, Berny, I’m not going to trade my sister for anything. So, since she doesn’t want to go to your stupid party, let’s not push it, okay?”
“I-it’s going to be an epic party, right? This year is going to be a big one. Even your friends over there can come.” Berny’s face looked desperate, pointing at the other three men.
“You already let my sister get pushed around,” I growled. “She sat in a puddle while you wouldn’t give more than a hand for fear of dirtying your… outfit.”
I looked down at his perfect dress. He wasn’t in the school uniform at the moment. Rather, he was dressed up in a fancy outfit of white. It was clear he valued his dress highly.
“What does that have to do-“
“Just this… Berny, my sister means the world to me. I wouldn’t give her to anyone who doesn’t feel the same. Your non-committal bullshit just pisses me off. You can’t make everyone happy and when you try you end up making no one happy. At some point, you need to pick who you’re going to protect. For me, it will always be my sister and the women I love. That’s what it means to be a true man!”
“Ah… ah…” Berny didn’t know how to react, instead, shooting the girl behind him a look as if he was begging for help.
“If you let her go… you can take me as your date?” Rosetta suddenly spoke up, winking.
Berny let out a cough and a flash of surprise. “Eh! R-rosey! That…”
“Eh? Why would I be interested in going out with you?” I frowned.
“Huh?” Rosey raised an eyebrow and then chuckled. “Oh, yes, perhaps you don’t know me? You’re a Freshmen, right? I’m Rosetta Hyren. I’m a daughter to the Hyren conglomerate… Hyren Automotive?”
I nodded thoughtfully. “You make cars…”
Rosetta chuckled. “I don’t simply make cars… my family is one of the richest families in Amaryllis. My mother has promised the man who gets me pregnant a $10k stipend a month for the rest of his life. If he gives me a boy, $50k…”
“Eh? So, you’re a virgin then? I’m surprised…”
Rosetta’s cheeks flushed red. “Just because I gave it to the wrong man doesn’t mean I’m a slut. Even if I’m not a virgin, my value is still much higher than that sister of yours. It’s a good trade, right?”
I looked contemplative for a second as Madison now clung to my shoulder, but it was just an act to humor her. A second later, I shook my head.
“I’m not interested in your money.”
Rosetta blinked, clearly taken aback by my words. Her surprised look turned into a glare.
“Wh-what does that mean? Every man is interested in money! How dare you turn me down!”
“Sorry Rose… Ben… you’ll just have to play with yourselves,” I said, turning away from the pair.
“W-wait!” Rosetta took a step forward. “No man turns me down. I’m a Hyren, do you understand? $100,000!”
“Huh?” I looked back curiously.
“$100,000, I’ll give you $100,000!” Rosetta looked strangely triumphant like she was trying to prove a point.
“The answer is no.” I snorted, turning and continuing to walk.
“Yo-you…” Rosetta growled angrily. “I won’t be told no, I won’t!”
I didn’t turn back, continuing to walk. Madison had stopped struggling, and instead merely allowed herself to be carried by me. She wore a complicated look on her face. It was as if she was unsure of what to do. We approached the four guys, who were standing a distance away. The two girls that had brought us there had seemingly vanished during the commotion. I could feel quite a few eyes on my back, but I ignored them all.
“That… was kind of badass…” Trey said, nodded with a grin.
“Well, there is no doubt you’re going to be the talk of the school by tomorrow,” Rigor laughed wryly.
I shrugged. “I’m taking her back to her room.”
“We still on for tonight?” Rigor asked.
I shrugged. “Doesn’t that depend on you finding someone?”
“Haha… of course! I’ll let you know the plan!” Rigor gave me an excited thumbs up.
I continued on with Madison in my arms in the direction that they pointed. As we walked, we gained the glances of quite a few Academy students. Eventually, Madison couldn’t take it anymore.
“C-can you put me down?”
“E-excuse me? I’m your big sister, you can’t just bully me!”
“I promised myself once I got you, I wouldn’t let you go again,” I responded instantly.
Madison turned away again. “Why do you have to say things like that?”
I sigh, letting Madison back down on her feet. When I finally pulled away, she had another complicated look on her face. She was looking down at the ground uncomfortably.
“Clyburn… I… I didn’t want to go, but I’ve been helping the welcoming committee this year and he sort of convinced me I should go. I… really should go.”
“You want to go on a date with that tool?” I demanded.
“Not a date… but… I no longer have my virginity… you know that makes it harder to… nobody knows, of course… but I heard guys can tell. Benjamin is nice… so maybe he’ll…”
“He’s not nice…”
“The Berny guy… he’s not a nice person. I could see it in his eyes. He’s a user. I don’t like him.”
“I-“ Madison reached out her hand, and then pulled it back, her resolve hardening. “I can’t be with you…”
“Why?” I demanded. “What’s wrong with me?”
“I’m… not mom…” Madison looked away. “If I’m with you… I’d expect things… it wouldn’t be fair to you. I wouldn’t expect those things from… someone else”
“It’s not fair to me now… watching you go…” I shook my head in aggravation. “Madison, I’d give you anything you want.”
Madison gave a weak smile. “That’s what I’m afraid of…”
While I was still looking on with confusion, Madison turned away and started walking.
“You’ve caused me a lot of problems.” Madison looked back and then shook her head. “Everyone who saw us today is going to make me pay.”
“I’m going to the party with him. Maybe… if I… maybe you’ll give up.”
Madison turned back away and kept on walking. Madison continued on until she was out of my sight. I couldn’t figure out what to say to make her stay. After she entered the dorms, a place that wasn’t restricted like the men’s dorms, I turned around and walked away after a few girls nearby started whispering to each other in interest.
I had Madison in my arms again, and she left just as easily. The breeze cutting into me felt cold in my dirty wet shirt. I sighed, my fist tightening. I wasn’t going to let her go so easily.
“The welcoming committee… huh?”
As a freshman, there was no chance I could be on the welcoming committee. My only choice was to get into that party. If I couldn’t get into the party myself, then I’d have to be invited. Like… as a date. Rosetta? No… if I ended up going with Rosetta, it’d make that asshole Berny think I was giving my consent. Plus, something about giving her what she wanted irked me. That’s when it hit me. Wasn’t there someone else I knew on the welcoming committee?
“Lyra…” I grinned as the name of the girl I’d met three times before popped in my mind.
It’s time to set up a date.