Sweet Romance Angel
An Unexpected Meeting
The streets of the city of Benzai were busy as always. The roads were full of a multitude of cars, buses and other vehicles, honking amongst each other in the early morning light. Tall buildings lined in the busiest area of the city, with a crowd of people in different fashions walking along their own paths. Among the crowd was a young man with golden hair dressed in a blue jacket, white pants and black shoes. He looked at the shining sun with half-closed aquamarine-colored eyes.
"So, this is the world of humans?" he said, asking nobody in particular.
He stopped as he surveyed the people among him. None of them gave him a second glance and one man even collided at him without apologizing.
"This is a bleak place," he commented. He paused for a while and then sighed deeply. "I have to hurry and find her."
"Welcome to Peach Garden!" greeted Momoiro Ichigo cheerfully from behind the counter, smiling at the middle-aged woman who entered from the door. "Oh, good morning, Hahara-san!"
"Good morning, Ichigo-san," said Hahara-san, approaching Ichigo. "Don't you have school today?"
"I still have a few minutes, so I'm helping out a bit," said Ichigo with a smile.
"Ahhh, I see. Then I'll take three croissants and a strawberry start, please." Hahara-san pointed to the counter in front of Ichigo. The Peach Garden was a sweets shop Ichigo's father owned and it was quaint little store situated in the neighborhood, just beside a small patch of woods. The inside of the shop was small, but the lively pink wallpaper and assortment of freshly baked goods made up for it.
"Right away!" Ichigo grabbed a pair of tongs and lifted three piece of flaky moon-shaped bread roll. With a piece of brown paper bag, she carefully placed each piece inside it.
Ichigo handed the bag and then said, "Which strawberry tart would you like to have, Hahara-san?"
Hahara-san looked at the transparent glass of the counter and looked at the different strawberry tarts on display. Each had their own colors and designs, but she pointed at one with a white cream over it and a piece of strawberry on top. "I'll take that one."
"Oh!" said Ichigo, a bit embarassed. "I made this one. You won't mind, Hahara-san?"
"Of course not," said Hahara-san with a smile. "You have your father's talent, Ichigo-chan. Your sweets are always well-made and delicious!"
"Ah, thank you, Hahara-san! But I don't think I'm in the same level as my Dad's though." Ichigo carefully placed the strawberry tart inside a white box.
Ichigo handed over the box to Hahara-san. "Really," said the woman. "You're so modest, Ichigo-chan. But I guess that's what makes you really wonderful."
"Oh, Hahara-san, that's too kind!" said Ichigo, covering her mouth with her right hand and gesturing comically with her left, as if she was embarrassed.
The bell on the shop door rang as somebody came inside the shop. "Too kind is right!" said a male voice. "There's nothing wonderful about Ichigo-chan!"
Ichigo's embarrassed face turned into an angry one in a split second. "What? Tai-kun, take that back!"
Natsuki Tai crossed his arms and stared at Ichigo from head to toe with a critical eye. He shrugged and concluded, "Nope, nothing wonderful at all."
Flames spurted from all over Ichigo's body. Hahara-san had a sweat drop as the girl went out of the counter and pointed at Tai. "Well, what about you? Do you really think you're wonderful?"
"Of course!" said Tai with a wink. "I am the star of the Basketball Club. Girls go over me once in a while. Unlike a certain someone who always spent her time inside the kitchen making sweets for herself!"
Ichigo's right eyebrow shook at Tai's comment, but she had to give him credit though. Tai was tall and lean and he had sun-kissed skin. He had a great face, stylish black hair, mesmerizing green eyes and a good smile. He easily fitted the tall, dark and handsome criteria. He also had a nice fashion sense and can look great in anything, even in the dull black gakuran he was wearing. Tai was holding a basketball and Ichigo had to recognize his talents in the sport as well.
As for her… Ichigo was short and slim, but she was not exceptionally sexy or pretty. She had long pink hair, which never seemed to go the way she wanted it to be. She had blue eyes, not so ample breasts and a normal, round face. She was neither smart nor sporty and the only thing she was good at was making sweets. Compared to her really popular childhood friend, it was like comparing the sun with a candle.
Ichigo sighed as a dark depressed aura developed her. "You're right…" she said, bending her back. "There's nothing special about me at all…"
Tai was surprised at her depression and quickly went to her side. "There, there, Ichigo-chan," he said, patting her back. "I'm sure there'll be a normal boy who'd take an interest on you…" He paused as he reconsidered his statement. "Maybe…"
"Is that supposed to cheer me up?" said Ichigo.
"Now, now," said Tai with a nervous laugh. "Aren't we supposed to be heading to school?"
"Yes, you're right…" answered Ichigo with no emotions at all. She moved like a zombie as she headed towards the back of the store. Tai and Hahara-san looked at her go with a huge sweat drop on their heads.
Minutes after, Ichigo sighed deeply. She and Tai were walking beside a river bank, heading towards their school. She already changed to her uniform, which was a sailor-type white blouse with a green ribbon and green skirts. But she was still walking with a slight bend on her back.
"Oi, Ichigo-chan, how long are you gonna stay depressed?" asked Tai.
"Well, if you're childhood friend said you're ugly, aren't you going to feel bad about it?" said Ichigo with a puff in her cheeks.
"Haha, it's not like you're not immune to it."
"What?!" said Ichigo, the puff getting larger.
"I mean, I practically tease you about your looks since kindergarten," announced Tai nonchalantly. "You usually beat me up back then. You were quite the tomboy then. Oh, come to think of it, you're still quite the tomboy still. Like, your chest is as flat as board and…"
"Shut up!" yelled Ichigo, hitting Tai on the chin with her bag in an uppercut-like style. The boy dropped in the ground in a dead faint. "Oops, I think I overdid it…"
A few more minutes passed by and Ichigo and Tai were back on their way, this time the guy had a band aid on his chin.
"Really, Ichigo-chan," said Tai, rubbing his chin. "You are still a tomboy."
"Well, excuse me for being flat-chested and boyish," stated Ichigo, crossing her arms.
"Some guys find it nice, though." Tai told her. "Somehow, they find it cute or something. Honestly, I don't see what makes it so great."
"I'm really confused whether you're cheering me up or making me more depressed."
"Haha, of course I'm cheering you up!" said Tai, tapping her back. "You'll see! A guy will just turn up, hold your hands and shout 'Please go out with me!'."
Ichigo smiled. "When you say it like that, it felt like it is going to happen."
"Now, you're smiling, that's better!" said Tai with a huge grin. "Guys don't like the depressed type. Since you're not much of a beauty physically, you should try to capture men's hearts with a more lady-like personality!"
"Hey! Are you saying I'm not lady-like?"
"Well, it's more of a-" Tai suddenly stopped. "Eh, what's happening there?"
"Why?" Ichigo looked at what Tai noticed. For some reason, a bunch of girls were standing on the side, giggling, talking among themselves and pointing at someone who was walking on the road. "Is there some kind of celebrity there or something?"
Tai shrugged his arms. "Dunno."
Ichigo and Tai watched as the figure the girls were pointing at became more visible. And then, Ichigo suddenly knew what the girls were gawking about. There was a guy walking in the road and he was gorgeous.
This particular guy was dressed in a blue jacket and white pants. He had a really handsome face, golden hair that seemed like an angel's and clear blue eyes that glinted like sapphires. He was quite tall and lean, but he looked like he was in the age of a high school student, like Ichigo and Tai. They watched as the guy approached them with Ichigo looking awe-struck.
When the guy neared them, he looked at Ichigo and his face suddenly lit up. His eyes sparkled and he smiled widely.
"You're…" he said, staring at Ichigo.
Ichigo felt her cheeks turned. She pointed at herself. "M-me?"
The guy suddenly went to Ichigo, grabbed her hands and said to her, "Please come with me!"
"Ehhhhh?!" yelled a shocked Ichigo.
"Oi oi!" said Tai, who was also visibly surprised. "Don't you think you should think this over, bro? I mean, you sure you want to be with such a flat-chested girl?"
Ichigo's eyebrows shot up, but the guy did not even blink as he replied, "Why shouldn't I? She's perfect for me."
Perfect? Ichigo's cheeks grew scarlet as he heart suddenly raced. This was the first time somebody asked her out and she didn't know how to react. But this guy - was he real? Was somebody this handsome really interested in her? She elbowed Tai and whispered, "What am I going to do?"
"I don't know!" whispered Tai back. "I mean, I said this will happen a while ago but I didn't expect it to happen this fast!"
Ichigo didn't know what to do. So, she shook her head and said to the guy, "Sorry, but I have to go to school!" With that, she pulled her hands out and ran forward.
"I-Ichigo!" said Tai, as he quickly chased after her, leaving the guy behind.
The golden-haired boy turned around as he looked at the running forms of Ichigo and Tai. "That person…" he whispered.
"What was… that all about…?" said Ichigo, panting heavily after running so far. She and Tai were already inside Midorikawa High School, standing beside the shoe lockers that were near the main entrance of the building they were in.
Tai was also gasping. "Really, Ichigo-chan… You gave me quite the exercise today… But that was some kind of confession… And reaction!"
"I didn't know how to react…" explained Ichigo, her heart still beating faster than normal. "That was my first time…"
"I figured as much…" said Tai, as he suddenly sat on the ground.
"Tai-kun, are you okay?" asked Ichigo. "Don't tell me you're worn out after that…"
"Haha, of course not!" replied Tai with a grin. "I'm fine!"
"Are you sure?" asked Ichigo again. Tai was sweating a lot more than usual and he was panting heavily. There was also something wrong with the smiles he'd been giving her.
"Yup, don't worry!" Ichigo didn't move and still had a concerned look on his face, so Tai stood up to prove his point. "See, I'm fine! You worry too much!"
"Anyway, I'll see you after class, Ichigo-chan," said Tai.
"Okay…" Ichigo stepped away, leaving Tai in the lockers. He smiled broadly at her, so she gave him a cheerful one in return.
But as soon as Ichigo was out of sight, Tai leaned on the lockers, his legs shaking like a leaf. He banged the back of his head in the lockers. "Damn it…"
"Uwaaaaah! Ichigo-chan, this is soooo cute!" said a petite girl with short brown hair. She and Ichigo were inside the school's kitchens and Ichigo had just shown her some freshly-baked madeleines.
"You think so, Rinko-chan?" asked Ichigo, getting a new batch of the cookies from the oven.
"Yup!" replied Suzuhara Rinko. "The bunny ones and star ones are especially cute!" Rinko was Ichigo's classmate and one of her close friends. She was also with her in the Cooking Club, but her specialty was with curries and other dishes. Rinko had brown hair that rested up to her shoulders, sparkling violet eyes and a really bubbly personality.
Ichigo placed the tray of newly baked madeleines in the table. "I was just experimenting some new designs and flavors. Try this one." She said, getting a yellow-colored cat-shaped piece. "I tried lemon and honey on it."
"Lemon?" said Rinko, taking a bite. "Uwaaah, it's sooo delicious! The flavors really go together! As expected from the daughter of a first-class patissiere!"
"I'm glad you like it, Rinko-chan," said Ichigo, sitting down in the table opposite Rinko.
"Everyone!" announced Rinko, catching the attention of everyone in the room. "Ichigo finished a batch of new madeleines!"
The whole Cooking Club came and tasted some of Ichigo's madeleines. "Wow," said one girl. "The chocolate bunny ones are really tasty!"
"And the moon-shaped ones melt in your mouth!" stated another. "What did you use in this one, Momoiro-san?"
Ichigo did not reply, as she continued staring at space. "Momoiro-san?"
"Ah, what?" said Ichigo, surprised. "What was it again?"
"The moon-shaped ones, what did you use in it?"
"Oh, I used a bit of cheese in it," replied Ichigo, smiling a little. Rinko noticed something wrong and sat beside her. She then proceeded to stare intensely at her. "Ummm, Rinko-chan, is something on my face?"
"You're not yourself today, Ichigo-chan!" said Rinko. "Is something the matter?"
Rinko puffed her cheeks and looked pointedly at her. "How long do you think I know you? Come on, you should share your problems with me!"
Ichigo couldn't resist her friend's pestering. "Alright, I'll tell you as we clean up."
A few minutes later, Ichigo and Rinko washed the dishes together, sharing stories with each other. "Ehhhhh?" said Rinko after she finished. "Tai-kun said that? That's so mean!"
"I get to injure him in the chin though, so I guess I had my revenge," replied Ichigo.
"But what about this guy that confessed to you?" Rinko put a finger near her mouth. "Was it someone you know?"
"No, I don't know him."
"Still!" said Rinko, pulling her arms together and looking at Ichigo with sparkling eyes. "This is your chance, Ichigo-chan!"
Rinko grabbed hold of her hands and pressed it. "Yes, your chance! To experience first love!"
Ichigo's whole face was painted crimson. "First love?!"
"Give him a chance!" said Rinko with a wink.
"Eh, but…" Ichigo paused, looking at her reflection in the newly washed plate she was holding. "But I probably won't see him again…"
"Don't worry, fate will lead you back to him!" said Rinko with superb conviction. Then, she took something from the table and pushed it in Ichigo's hands. "Here!"
"Eh, isn't this my madeleines?" asked Ichigo, holding a bunch of her madeleines carefully wrapped in a cute pink plastic bag.
"I was thinking of bringing some to my brothers," answered Rinko. "But you can take it! If you see that guy again, talk to him and give him some of your home-baked madeleines!"
"Of course!" said Rinko with a wink. "After all, the best way to man's heart is through his stomach!"
"I guess…" said Ichigo. Both of them smiled and ended up laughing together.
"Ahhhhh, today's food was realllllly great!" said Rinko, as she and Ichigo walked in the courtyard of the school. "I think I ate too much!"
"Me too," said Ichigo. "I should be careful or I'll gain more weight." Her eyebrows shot up as he continued. "And Tai-kun will probably make fun of me more."
"Pssshaaaaw!" said Rinko dismissively. "There's nothing wrong with getting a bit heavier! Who likes skinny girls anyway?"
"Ah… All guys?"
"Well… Huh?" Rinko suddenly stopped.
"What's wrong, Rinko-chan?" asked Ichigo. Rinko was looking at something in the gate, so she did the same. Then she noticed someone. "Ehhhh?"
In front of the school gates, being gawked and admired at by a few other female students was the golden-haired guy Ichigo met that morning. When he saw her, he smiled and waved at her.
"Ichigo-chan…" said Rinko. "That really hot guy out there… Don't tell me…"
"Ummm…" Ichigo nodded. "Yup, that's him…"
"Then what are you waiting for?" said Rinko suddenly, pushing her to the gates with great force. "Go get him! It's a sin to let such a hot stud go to waste!"
However, Rinko pushed a little too forcefully that Ichigo did not regain her balance. She stumbled and fell headfirst towards the grounded. She landed with a really loud BAM!
"Ouch, that really hurt…" whimpered Ichigo, as she rubbed her reddening forehead.
"Are you alright?" said a voice. Ichigo looked up to see the golden-haired guy offering a hand to her.
"Ummm, yeah…" She took it and the guy helped her up.
"Do you mind if…" said the guy, looking really serious. "If I take you out for a moment?"
Ichigo did not know what to say so she turned to Rinko for advice. Her friend gave her a forceful nod and a thumb up.
Ichigo was thinking otherwise, but she guessed she had time to hear the guy out. She nodded. "Alright…"
"Ummmm…" said Ichigo a few minutes after. She and the golden-haired guy left the campus, but not once did he let go of her hand. She was really embarrassed about it now, since they were in the middle of a park and a lot of people had been looking at them.
"It's Eros…" replied the guy, who was pulling Ichigo with him.
"Eros-kun?" said Ichigo, wondering about how weird his name was.
"Yes." Eros continued walking, not even turning his face to answer her. "And you're Momoiro Ichigo, right?"
"Eh? How did you know my name?"
"I know all about you," replied Eros. "You're the daughter of the owner of Peach Garden, a small sweets shop in this city. You live alone with your father, who was a famous patisierre. You love to cook sweets as well and your favorite food is strawberry tarts."
Ichigo did not know how to react. How did he know all about these things? Don't tell me, she thought. He's a stalker?
"Ah, Eros-kun…" said Ichigo, getting nervous and uncomfortable at the same time. "Where are we going?"
"Here," replied Eros, stopping at the same time. Ichigo looked around her and found herself in the middle of the woods near the park. This looked like a really bad situation, with nobody around them. This situation even reminded her of one film she watched. On that movie, the helpless girl was fooled by a handsome man into coming with him and then… And then… And then!
"No, I won't let you!" screamed Ichigo as she suddenly made a martial artist-like pose. "I may not look like it, but I've been a black belter!" This was false of course, but she was able to down someone like Tai, so she can probably take care of Eros, who looked much weaker than her childhood friend.
Eros tilted his head. "What are you doing?"
"Eh? Aren't you gonna do something to me?"
"Do something…?" It was clear on Eros' face that he didn't know what she was talking about.
For some reason, this made Ichigo more depressed. She let her arms fall into her sides and her head stooped down a little. "Fine, let's just get over this. What do you want with me?"
"I want to recruit you," said Eros.
"Recruit m-me?" asked Ichigo. Was she going to be a model or an actress? That would show Tai a thing or two.
"Yes," replied Eros. "I want you to be an Angel."
"An-gel?" repeated Ichigo, not quite getting it. "Is that some kind of a model or something?"
Eros tilted his head again, which actually looked cute for Ichigo. "Model?"
"You know, somebody who showcases clothes and stuff…" Eros had a more confused expression so Ichigo decided to drop it. "Okay, um… Can you tell me what Angels do then?"
Eros smiled, which made him more gorgeous that Ichigo almost had a heart attack. "An Angel helps human hearts! By giving love to somebody who needs it! So that we can recover the Jewels!"
"Hearts… Love… Jewels…?"
"Really, Eros-kun, you don't know how to explain stuff!" said a perky voice.
Ichigo looked around for the disembodied voice. "Who's there? Who are you?"
Ichigo looked down and saw a white cat stuffed toy - a stuffed toy which seemed to be standing on its legs, looking up at her with shiny golden eyes and talking. "Greetings, Momoiro Ichigo-san!"
Ichigo had a blank expression in her face. "Eh? Did… Did the stuffed toy just talked?"
What the hell is going on?
To be continued…
Author's Note: Hello there! This is mjinx with a new (and another) manga story, Sweet Romance Angel. Sorry for the kinda lame title, but it's the only fitting one for this story. Anyway, this is still the first chapter but I hope you find it a good read! More exciting things will happen in the next chapter. And I won't spoil it, though!
Anyway, thanks for reading! Please leave a review as well!