One evening, as Akari returned home, her butler greeted her and told her, "Master has come back." Akari looked at him in surprise, and he nodded to confirm the news.
"Akari." The brunette was delighted to hear the voice. When she turned her head to the side, she saw a middle-aged man in his 50s walking down the stairs. His face was full of wrinkles and his hair was the same shade as Akari's, only with a tinge of white. He was wearing a plain white shirt with the buttons of his collar and cuffs taken off. Akari ran over and gave him an embrace. He gave a little chuckle.
"Do you really miss me that much?" he asked. Akari pulled herself away and nodded. The man laughed again.
"Sorry for being away so long," he said to his daughter, "Well, why don't you wash yourself up first, and we'll have dinner together?" Akari nodded cheerfully and went upstairs. The man smiled when he saw his daughter's cheerful face.
After that, when they got together in the dining room, they were served with luxurious food. "So, how is life in high school?" asked Akari's father.
"It's fine," Akari replied with a smile.
"Is that so?" said Akari's father, "I heard you played piano in Shirotori's son's birthday party." Akari lowered her head and wrote to her father.
"Didn't I tell you?" he said, "Music is just a waste of time. You're going to be my successor, you know?" Akari slightly nodded.
"So, what do you think of him?" Akari looked at him in puzzlement. "Shirotori's son." Akari thought for a while, and then she scribbled on her sketchbook.
"He's a nice guy." she replied.
"I see," replied the middle-aged man, "Actually, he told me to arrange a miai for the two of you."
"M-Miai?" she thought. She quickly scribbled on her sketchbook.
"Please refuse the offer!"
"I can't say it," Akari thought to herself, "I can't say I'm dating someone."
"Just go," said her father, "Maybe you two can get along well." After hesitating for a while, Akari nodded her head.
After a couple of days, Akari went to a restaurant while wearing a white baby-doll dress. There she saw Naoki waving at her. She sat down opposite him and wrote on her sketchbook, "Actually, I don't want to come to this miai." Naoki smiled at her when he saw what she wrote.
"Me too," he replied, "I guess it couldn't be helped since our parents arranged it. Why don't we enjoy ourselves here?" Akari smiled and nodded.
And so, the two of them stayed in the restaurant and had a meal there. As they were eating, Naoki asked, "Do you know Takanami?" Akari was a little taken aback by his question. She lowered her head as she showed him her sketchbook.
"Yes." Suddenly something struck Naoki.
"Don't tell me, you're dating him?" Akari looked at him in surprise. "I guessed it right, didn't I?" Akari lowered her head and blushed. Naoki leaned on the back of his seat and crossed his arms.
"Eh…His taste is quite good…" he said. When Akari looked at him in puzzlement, he said to her, "Oh, don't mind me."
"Shirotori-san know Takanami-kun too?"
"Yeah," Naoki replied, "We were rivals in a school concours. Didn't he tell you about that?"
"I know about the concours." Akari replied.
"I kinda feel bad about my behavior the other day," said Naoki, "I did punch him in the face after all." Akari looked at him in shock.
"You are the reason he got hurt?"
"Ah…I'm so sorry," said Naoki, "I admit I was a bit reckless…"
"Please don't blame him," Akari interrupted, "He didn't want to quit music too." Tears began to swell up in her eyes. Naoki was surprised when he saw this reaction of hers. He began to panic.
"Ah…Please don't cry." he said. He then calmed down and rose from his seat. By using his hand, he wiped off the tears in Akari's eyes.
"I'm sorry, please don't cry." he repeated himself.
In the meantime, Eiji was walking with Nanaka on the streets. "The movie was great, wasn't it?" asked Nanaka.
"Yeah," Eiji replied. Suddenly he stopped his footsteps. Nanaka looked at him in puzzlement.
"What is it?" she asked. She turned her head and looked at what Eiji was staring. Naoki was holding Akari's head, with the girl smiling at him. "Eh?" said Nanaka, "Isn't that Amakura-san? And who is that guy?" Eiji was still in shock. He then turned away and continued to walk.
"Let's go somewhere else." he said with his face darkened.
After that, Akari's facial expression changed. "How long are you planning to stay like this?" she asked with slightly irritated look. Naoki quickly sat back in his seat.
"I'm so sorry," he said, "I didn't realize what I was doing." He then noticed the sad look on Akari's face. "What's wrong?" he asked. Akari shook her head.
"Don't lie to me," said Naoki, "I can see it in your face." Akari hesitated for a while and began to scribble.
"Takanami-kun and I had a little disagreement." she told him, "I tried to persuade him to get back on stage but he refused. He said that if I want him to play music again, I have to join him in the upcoming competition."
"I can't play in public
"But didn't you-"
"My father wasn't pleased about it," Akari replied, "So that is the last time I played in public. And if I do, my family background will be revealed."
"You never told him about your family?" Naoki asked in surprise. Akari nodded.
"Why don't you just join the competition then?" asked Naoki. Akari was surprised at his suggestion. "You like him, don't you?" Naoki continued. Akari lowered her head and nodded.
"There's no problem in it then," said Naoki, "You have to tell him the truth." Akari merely sat in her own seat, thinking about his words.
The next day, when Akari reached the classroom, she saw Eiji sitting in his seat solemnly. She went forward to greet him, but she was ignored. Eiji got up from his seat and went out of the classroom. Sakura saw this and became very concerned.
In the girls' washroom, a couple of girls were talking to each other. "Hey, is Takanami-kun from Class 1-3 going out with Nanaka? I saw them together yesterday."
"Eh? I thought he's dating Amakura?"
"When you compare her and a famous model, of course you would choose the model," said one girl, "And I heard that they've dated each other before." Unbeknownst to them, Akari was hiding in one of the toilet cubicles, listening to their gossips.
Suddenly, the washroom door was slammed open, shocking the girls who were talking. An angry Sakura stormed in. She looked at the girls furiously. All of them were frightened and quickly ran out of the washroom. Sakura then sighed and went to push one of the toilet cubicles' doors. She found Akari just standing there, looking very depressed.
"So, you're here…" said Sakura. When Akari didn't give any response, she said with a chuckle, "Don't mind what they said. They're just rumors. Rumors." Akari lied her head on Sakura's shoulder. Sakura could feel her shirt getting damped by Akari's tears.
"Hey, don't cry," she said to the brunette. She comforted Akari by brushing her back.
After that, Sakura went to Nanaka, who was drinking water by the water dispenser. Nanaka raised her head and saw the furious look on Sakura's look. "What is it, Sa-chan?" asked Nanaka with an innocent look.
"Don't play dumb," said Sakura, "Why on earth are you going out with Eiji?"
"It's just a get-together. You can ask Eiji-kun if you don't believe me," Nanaka replied. Sakura grew even more furiously, and started to pull Nanaka's hair. Then Nanaka did the same thing to her. As they began to fight each other, the people around them looked at them in shock.
"How dare you go and hurt Akari-chan!" Sakura exclaimed.
"What did you say?" said Nanaka, "She's the one who's seeing other guys behind her boyfriend's back!"
"Akari-chan wouldn't do such a thing!"
"What are you two doing!?" exclaimed a female middle-aged teacher. She was the girls' discipline teacher. She pushed away the two girls from each other, though the two was still trying to get their hands on each other. "Now, can any of you tell me what is this all about?" asked the teacher.
"She's the one who started it!" Nanaka exclaimed as she pointed her finger at Sakura. The teacher then turned her attention to Sakura.
"Well?" Sakura lowered her head, unable to answer the teacher's question.
"Since this is the first time, I'll let you off this time," said the teacher, "You better not be caught by me next time. And that includes you, Tennomiya-san, no matter you are a celebrity or not."
"Yes, sensei." replied the two in unison. After the discipline teacher left, Nanaka stuck her tongue out at Sakura. Sakura clenched a fist in anger.
After that, when Sakura got back in class, Eiji came to her. "What's going on? I heard you got into a fight with Tamamura." he said to her. Sakura dragged his shirt and pulled him out of the classroom. "Hey!" Eiji exclaimed, "What are you doing!?"
"I have something to talk to you." Sakura replied. As they were passing by, the students were talking among themselves about what happened. Meanwhile, Minoru was among the crowd too. He saw Sakura dragging Eiji and narrowed his eyes a little.
When the two came to an empty place, Sakura finally released her grip. "What are you doing?" Eiji asked in a rather furious voice.
"Why did you ignore Akari-chan?" asked Sakura, "Why did you go out with Nana? Why aren't you doing anything about your relationship?"
"And why are you asking so much questions?" asked Eiji, "It doesn't matter to you, does it?"
"It does matter, because I like you!" Sakura exclaimed. Eiji was surprised by her reply. Sakura continued, "I've always liked you since we're kids. I always stay by your side, hoping that one day you'll see me as a girl instead of a friend. Then, you dated Nana. I wanted you to be happy so I kept my feelings. I did the same for Akari-chan. Only this time, I know that you truly like her."
"Please," Sakura said, "Make up with Akari-chan, or I won't be able to let you go." After that was a moment of silence. Then Eiji spoke.
"I saw her with another guy yesterday," he said. Sakura turned very shocked.
"So what Nana said is true?" Suddenly she hit Eiji's head with a fist from above. She then said to him, "If that's the case, you should go and ask her! Don't go and ignore her for something so trivial!"
"Sakura…" said Eiji, "I'm so-"
"Don't you dare apologize to me!" exclaimed Sakura, "Now go to Akari-chan!" Eiji quickly ran away from the place, leaving Sakura behind. Minoru then appeared in front of her. Sakura was surprised when she saw him.
"Hiroshima…senpai…" she said, "You heard…the whole conversation?"
"Yeah," Minoru replied. He then pulled Sakura into his arms and said to her, "You've gone through this for so many years…"
"Hiroshima-senpai…" After that Sakura burst out crying. "I've already told him…" she said between her sobs, "I've already told him…the feelings I kept for six years…."
"Yeah…" Minoru replied.
Meanwhile, Eiji came to the school hallway. "Amakura!" he called out. From far away Akari could hear his voice, she turned around with a surprised look. Eiji came to her and pulled her closer to give her a kiss. Everyone around them was shocked, and so was Akari. When Akari pulled herself away, her face was flushing red as she was covering her lips.
"Amakura," said Eiji, "Actually, I was jealous when I saw you with Shirotori."
"He's just a friend!" Akari replied in panic, "There's nothing going on between us."
"I know," said Eiji, "And I'm being such a jerk for doubting you." Akari lowered her head and started writing on the sketchbook again.
"I'll join the concours with you."
"R-Really?" Eiji asked in surprise. Akari smiled, and nodded as a reply. Eiji smiled and said, "Let's work together." Akari nodded her head again. Then, the two of them smiled at each other. The students around them gave them a round of applause. Both Eiji and Akari blushed in embarrassment.
"Sorry, I think I drew too much attention." said Eiji. Akari shook her head. After that, the two continued to gaze one another and smiled in bliss.
Miai: an arranged marriage meeting.
Author's Note: Hi, thanks for reading and your reviews. I appreciate it. Please continue to review, thanks.