Vol. 1 Ch. 2: A problematic tenant
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Ethan stood outside a three-storey house with a frown. The witch was once again playing loud music from yesterday.

Ethan walked upstairs and pushed the doorbell. Moments later, a redhead opened the door. The burning cigarette pressed between her fingers let out trails of smoke.

"You need something boy?" she asked, her crimson eyes flickering with annoyance.

Standing a head shorter than Ethan, she appeared to be in her early thirties.

"Can you lower the sound please?" Ethan asked, trying to act like a polite landlord.

The woman narrowed her eyes to slits. Ethan felt the temperature drop by another level. This woman's aura reminded him of his mother; she always had a strong air about her that couldn't be put into words.

"If I don't?" she asked and hurled back her brown coat, revealing a revolver tucked into her black pants.

Officer?

Her outfit didn't look close to a uniform.

"You sure you wanna mess with me?"

Even under her gangster-like threat, his gaze remained firm. From the moment he beat the hell out of his new father, he swore to stay strong, to be someone his sister could look up to.

His plan somewhat backfired later, turning into a regrettable story.

"Can you do that for me or should I exert my right as a landlord?"

The woman rested her arms on her hips and leaned forward. The two loose buttons of her shirt exposed her creamy white cleavage. "Interesting. It's rare to see a kid with a spine nowadays."

Ethan glanced away from the tempting sight. The undeniable charm of a mature woman always enticed him.

"Name is Valentina. Valentina Wright, a warrior on a vacation," she introduced herself with a grin and extended her right hand.

Her swift change left him speechless.

Reluctantly, he shook her coarse hand befitting a trained soldier. "Ethan Carter."

"I will slow down the music. Don't kick Regina out. She only has this place where she can find peace."

Regina Velvet, the mysterious tenant his mother took in. She rarely left the room and survived on food deliveries for as far as he could remember. Their interaction started with a "Hello, how are you?" and ended with a "Bye, see you later".

Ethan sighed, slightly pitying the woman who remained as lonely as a witch. "Then we are good."

Valentina showed an appreciative smile. "Wanna come in?"

Ethan shook his head. "Thanks for the offer but I have to take care of some stuff."

Mio would raise hell if she found him in a room with two women.

"Too bad. Regina would have appreciated a good-looking boy's company." Valentina sighed.

"Tina, who is there?" A female voice came from inside.

"Gina, coming back in a jiffy," Valentina yelled and grinned at Ethan. "We will meet again, if the Goddess of Luck shines on you."

And she shut the door in his face.

The Goddess of Luck, heh.

Ethan smirked. His luck stat needed some real buffs if he wanted to survive what lay ahead in his life.

He returned to his apartment on the second floor and sprawled on the couch.

"I am beat."

His physical stats were above average but his sanity suffered from keeping Mio in check. Any carelessness and the ticking time bomb will explode.

He washed his face with cold water. Standing in front of the mirror, he swept up his brown bangs, revealing a pair of golden orbs looking back at him. One of the reasons he avoided dark alleys in fear someone mistook him as a cat with his glowing eyes.

His father also had the same eyes, or so his mother used to say. But the poor man passed away in a car accident a year after his birth.

I wonder what kind of man he was to make mother head over heels for him.

His mother later married Mio's father, making Mio his adopted sister.

Where are you, mom?

He sighed and returned to the living room. His eyes fell on Mio's black bag lying beside him.

Should I check it?

He shook his head and switched on the television.

"Boring… boring… urgh," he groaned in frustration. Everything was so repetitive.

Closing the television, he threw the remote aside and picked up Mio's bag, pondering whether to inspect her possessions.

It's related to her health…

Taking up an excuse, he unzipped the bag and pushed his hand inside.

"Ouch."

A sharp thing pricked his finger. He flipped the bag and unloaded everything on the couch. A pair of scissors, a gray diary held together with rusty wires, and a kitchen knife.

A woman carrying such items to school… what the hell was this supposed to mean? Mio was a little over the top, but this surpassed his wildest nightmares. This black cover matched the set of diaries his mother bought. No doubt it belonged to either mother or Mio.

This hides her deepest darkest secrets?

He let out a heavy sigh and undid the wiring. He read the very first page which was written in Japanese. He could barely speak Japanese but reading it was possible.

3/11/2002

Um… Mama gave me this diary. But what should I write? Something.

Hello to my future self, I guess. I should write about my great memories here.

4/11/2002

Today was a great day. Mama and I went everywheeeeeeere in Akihabara.

9/11/2002

I love my mom.

She is the best. She scolded my teacher for hitting me for homework.

10/11/2002

I found purple marks on mama's face. She didn't answer, so I searched for it on the internet.

They were marks of physical abuse?

Who hurt her…

I swear…

13/11/2002

Daddy is an idiot. I saw him beating mama with his belt. I couldn't do anything… I should have helped.

15/11/2002

It happened again. Daddy came from his work. I heard mama pleading from my room at midnight.

16/11/2002

Why daddy why?

19/11/2002

I am powerless...

26/11/2002

What should I do? I asked my teacher but she said it's nothing.

29/11/2002

Tomorrow is my fifth birthday. I wonder if mama remembers.

30/11/2002

She remembered!

I am going to visit lots of places in Tokyo alone with mama!

My idiot father isn't here.

"That scum… He used to abuse Mio's mother?"

He flipped a page.

2/12/2002

I searched the internet and found a number to help mama. They asked for my address.

3/12/2002

Some people in suits arrived.

They are supposed to help mama but… why are they laughing with daddy?

They did nothing.

Daddy slapped me. He hit me.

It hurts.

My face is swollen.

Mama tried to stop him but he started beating mama.

In front of me.

4/12/2002

He is beating mama again.

5/12/2002

He hit me again.

6/12/2002

Mama cried while hugging me.

"I am a bad mother."

"No, you are not. It's daddy's fault."

He is a monster.

A horrible monster.

7/12/2002

Mommy is stuffing things in a suitcase.

She took me to a very small place compared to my home.

8/12/2002

The monster isn't coming here.

9/12/2002

Mommy and I went out.

This is a different city.

Something happened.

A giant truck hit mama.

Wake up.

Wake up.

Mama

They aren't letting me meet her.

That monster also came.

Ethan held his breath. He never knew Mio had a past like this.

10/12/2002

He says mama died.

….

….

11/12/2002

...She really died.

Will I meet her if I also get hit by that truck?

12/12/2002

Should I?

13/12/2002

Should I?

14/12/2002

Should I?

24/12/2002

Mommy wouldn't want it.

I have to live.

31/12/2002

Daddy took me to a restaurant.

I didn't eat anything.

I don't wanna write anymore.

Sympathy rose inside his heart. Mio suffered a lot.

31/12/2006

It's been four years since I opened this, huh…

Four years of suffering.

Four entire years living on that bastard's money in a foreign country.

He came to my room yesterday. I wanted to puke at his rotten face.

"We will meet someone tomorrow. Wear your best clothes."

The next entry jumped four years.

1 Jan of 2007, this date seemed familiar.

"Ah, I met Mio that day."

The day his mother took him to meet Mio's father.

"Let's see what she thought back then."

1/1/2007

I met him in a restaurant. The boy of the woman who wants to marry my father.

A bright kid with golden eyes. I want to gouge his eyes out and play with them.

Great toy, aren't they?

Ethan gulped and continued.

2/1/2007

But his mother's eyes remind me of Mama.

I wonder why.

8/1/2007

They married.

Claudia, now my supposed mother, came to our house.

She tried talking to me but I stayed silent.

It fueled the bastard's rage.

I loved it.

Keep that face on 24x7.

I hope he dies.

So much resentment.

10/1/2007

What is the deal with this brother of mine? Always sticking his face in his games.

Fucking loser.

11/1/2007

Creep.

12/1/2007

Disgusting.

13/1/2007

Even the garbage collector refuses to take this trash.

The next few pages were filled with curses. Ethan glanced over them with a bitter smile. Mio's dangerous eyes had scared him at first, so he maintained distance and played his games in silence.

7/2/2007

Claudia keeps pestering me. What is her deal anyway?

I don't want my mother to be replaced.

But…

She is so gentle.

10/2/2007

I did it.

I couldn't control myself and hit her.

11/2/2007

Nothing changed.

She is treating me like nothing happened.

12/2/2007

I finally confronted her when Ethan left to play outside.

I yelled at her, cursed her for minutes but she just smiled and hugged me.

She was warm like mama...

13/2/2007

What should I do?

Should I accept her?

What if she also…

14/2/2007

I decided to accept her as a mother. Mama will always be my mama.

I can't accept this idiotic brother.

What is up with him?

He has the highest grade in his class and looks cute but no one likes him.

17/2/2007

I kicked him and it fucking hurts.

What is with his body?!

Ethan leaned on the couch and chuckled. Then, continued reading with an amused smile until one sentence chilled his heart.

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