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It was just a temporary situation.

That's what Caldina kept telling herself. This was only temporary. Eventually, she would have enough money that she and Ascot could go on and find a better place to live - without all of these losers.

A place without that bitchy Alcyone writing passive aggressive notes on the whiteboard about other people not doing the washing up.

It was one thing for her to do it. Another, entirely, for her to be doing it with a permanent marker rather than a dry erase one. Was she too narcissistic to notice the difference, or was she just stupid?

And what was she doing including Zagato in her notes? She didn't speak for him, or his feelings on cleanliness. (Caldina was pretty sure Zagato was one of the ones leaving dirty plates in the sink, just to piss Alcyone off.) It also wasn't like Alcyone had a chance with him. The guy had a girlfriend, and a serious one, at that - Caldina had heard him talking to Innouva about a ring a few months ago.

Pulling the board off the wall for the third time that week - and it was only Thursday - Caldina pulled the cleaning spray out of the cabinet and started to scrub off that sickeningly girly handwriting. There was a part of her that dearly, desperately wanted to just write FUCK OFF across the board with the biggest, brightest, and stinkiest permanent marker she could find. But she wasn't ready for the drama that would unleash.

And Ascot didn't like the squabbling. (It made him nervous. Poor kid.)

She hung the blank board back up on the wall. There was no point rewriting the cooking rota. She and Zagato were taking turns this week because Innouva was too busy with some big project, and Alcyone couldn't be bothered. Ascot still offered to do a night on his own, but after the pasta incident, none of them were ready to let him alone with the hob again.

Turning on the water, she picked up the bottle of washing up liquid and a sponge.

Caldina was just putting the last dish on the draining board when the front door rattled open and Ascot called that he was home. She dried off her hands and walked out into the corridor to greet him, only to find herself face to face with a hulk of tall, blond muscle carrying an almost equally large box.

"This is LaFarga," Ascot said cheerfully, pushing his way around toward the kitchen. His school tie missing, cardigan hanging off his left shoulder, and what looked to be paw prints on his shirt - again. "He's moving into Lantis's old room. LaFarga, this is Aunt Caldina."

"Oh," Caldina said, looking up at LaFarga. "Hi."

"Hi," LaFarga said with a gentle smile. "Which room is mine, then? All Zagato told me was that it was his brother's."

"Um, upstairs," she said. "Second door on the right. I think it still has an old 'keep out' sticker on the door."

"Thanks!" he said, heading the way she pointed.

Caldina tried her best not to stare as he walked away, but damn that man was fit!

Maybe this living situation wasn't so bad after all.