The lush green trees, the flowers dotting the brick sidewalk, and the fresh morning Tomoeda breeze. All of these brought seventeen-year-old Daidouji Tomoyo mixed emotions, topped by nostalgia.
After five years of staying in Europe with her mother ever since their toy company has expanded operations globally, she was finally back home, in the warm, familiar arms of the town of Tomoeda.
It feels so good.
"I'm glad that you and Aunt Sonomi have decided to stay here for good," said Kinomoto Sakura in her usual genkiness. "Ever since onii-chan and Yukito moved to Tokyo to work, it's been kind of lonely here."
Kero-chan, remaining unchanged in its cute yellow mini-lion form, nodded as it bit on the strawberry cake Tomoyo brought home for them. "But she'll be leaving us soon too. She'll be marrying that brat next year."
Tomoyo arched a brow. "So soon? Why is it that I feel history is repeating itself?" she asked, recalling her Aunt Nadeshiko, Sakura's dear mother.
Her cousin blushed and looked down. "Papa understands. He told me that true love comes once in a lifetime only, and that I mustn't let my happiness get away."
"But if fate thinks you two are meant for each other, then you guys can wait! Gosh, you guys would just be turning 18!" she argued.
"We're in love," said Sakura softly, her emerald eyes shining with mute happiness.
"I know," she agreed, trying to keep the bitterness off her voice. She knew and had accepted that she would eventually lose her beloved cherryblossom to the little wolf, but she didn't expect it so soon!So selfish…
If I didn't move to Europe, I could have done something to not let this happen!
Sakura started to speak again. "Tomoyo-chan, are you going back to school?"
She was grateful for the change of topic. "Yes, and as a matter of fact, I have already been accepted in the university. I'm taking up a major in Music."
"Maybe you'll have Papa as one of your professors!"
"That would be nice. At least I know I won't fail in at least one subject."
After some more hours, Tomoyo stood up. "I have to go home. I promised my mother that I'll cook dinner especially for her. She's having a special guest over, I think."
"Aw, but we haven't even chatted decently yet! You didn't even tell me about your love life!" complained Sakura.
She laughed. "What you said doesn't exist in my vocabulary."
"You didn't have any relationships with any guy, even just a special friendship kind?" pressed her cousin.
"I was too busy helping my mom out with the toy company operation." She gave her cousin an affectionate peck. "See you tomorrow!"
"Take care, Tomoyo-chan!" The girl waved at her as she rode into her limousine.
Sakura sighed as she watched her cousin whisked off.
Just then Kero appeared, scratching its head. "You know, Sakura? I swear, she sounded so bitter while talking about your engagement to the brat."
The girl laughed. "Tomoyo-chan, bitter? Nice one." She turned to the road. "I can never imagine Tomoyo-chan feeling that way. I can always say if she's feeling bad."
"Five years can do a lot to a person."
"Well…" Sakura looked thoughtful, then her eyes lit up. "I know!"
Kero eyed her distrustfully. "You, thinking? OK, where's the real Sakura?"
"Oh, shut up! I just realized that maybe, Tomoyo-chan needs someone to make her happy too, just the way Li-kun does to me." Sakura clapped her hands excitedly. "I'm a genius!"
Kero turned pensive. Oh Sakura, if you only know that the person you are looking for is actually yourself.
"But the question is…who will I get?" Sakura tipped her chin, thinking.
"Mom, I'm home! Sorry if I went home too late. The traffic was awful!" she narrated as she walked on the marble floor of the Daidouji receiving room. She was expecting that her mother could hear her- Sonomi was always in the recliner, enjoying her get-away from her paperworks back in the office.
When she got no reply, she called on one of her maids.
"Miss Tomoyo, the Madam went out to see her friend. It's an emergency. But she was waiting for you ages ago. She told us that once you arrive, you take care of her guest."
She nodded. Back in Europe, she had learned almost everything a gracious and accommodating hostess must know. In fact, her mother often makes her the hostess of the company parties, if only for her talent and her beauty as a whole. Her mother always tells her that she attracts a lot of potential customers for the company.
"Please tell the guest that I'll be down in a minute. I will just get dressed properly." With that, she headed for the grand staircase and took it two steps at a time.
Ten minutes later, Tomoyo went down the stairs gracefully, dressed in a sleeveless cotton shirt accented by a small white ribbon and a pair of black silk trousers. Black pumps and pearl earrings completed her simple but classy look.
She fluffed her hair for the last time, making sure that her tresses would fall down behind her shoulders naturally, but still with artful elegance. She sat down the comfy chair of the receiving room. No one was there.
She called the maid again.
"Ms. Tomoyo, I can't find the guest," stammered the maid. "One minute he was just tinkling with the piano keys and the next minute, he vanished."
"People just don't vanish," she said impatiently. The last thing she wanted was for that guest to give her mother a negative feedback about how she treats guests. Fuming, she decided to look for the guest herself.
She took a look at the garage and immediately noticed the black sports car that she knew didn't belong to her mother's collection of vintage cars. She was sure that the guest was still here.Did he get lost while looking for a lavatory or something? She passed by the garden, sighing. "Where could that guest have gone to?" She turned to the left and noticed a pair of broad shoulders facing its back on her. He was touching the roses and orchids her mother was fond of taking care of.
"E-Excuse me?" she stammered, despite herself.
He slowly turned to her, his cerulean eyes boring into her amethyst ones. "I've been waiting for more than thirty minutes already," he snapped coolly.
Her eyes widened. Brute! She reminded herself that this man was her mother's guest, and therefore must be treated with respect. "I'm sorry," she said instead. "The traffic was terrible."
"Traffic jam will always be the inseparable partner of the road," he reprimanded. "What a flimsy excuse."
"I already apologized, Mister. What else could you possibly want?" she asked, fighting off the urge to strangle somebody, namely the rude man in front of her now.
He was about to say something when he looked like he changed his mind. "So Daidouji-san," he said instead, startling her upon the mention of her name. "Did your mother tell you already why I am here?"
"Obviously not. I don't even know you," she said, trying to contain her calm. "But do enlighten me, please."
"My pleasure," he said mockingly. "She wants you to meet the fiancé she chose for you."
"F-Fiancé?" she echoed, her forehead creasing.
"He's standing right in front of you already," he said. "Don't you think it's ill-mannered of you not to even greet him anything at all?"
"Y-You're lying! You are lying, Mr. Stranger!" she cried. "Mom would never do that!"
"Call her then." He took out his cel from his pocket and handed it to her. Trembling, she took the phone just as the boy turned his attention back to the plants, as if they were more interesting than the shock she was experiencing there.
Her mother answered in the fourth hello. She immediately exploded. "Mom, what is this lunatic saying?!! Mom, would you believe that he's telling me that you asked him to be my fiancé?"
Her mouth dropped open when she heard her mother confirm what she was told. Anger started to boil within her. "Why didn't you tell me??!!"
Her mother sounded unaffected by the edge in her frantic voice. "He'll do you good, and he can entertain you and keep your mind off Sakura's wedding."
"Mom…" Her voice trailed off. Her mother must have known what she was going through after the news about Sakura's marriage was broken. Heck, Daidouji Sonomi must have known that earlier than she did! "I don't need anybody else…" she insisted, her voice calmer.
"I've been through this time already way before. Your father was my only solace when I lost Nadeshiko."
"I'm not you! I'm not affected at all. I'm happy for Sakura, really I am!" she insisted. "I don't need a stranger for a fiancé, or anyone else for that matter. You're overstating the situation, Mother."
"Why don't you try being in his company even for a while? You'll find that you might be enjoying yourself soon. Bye Dear! Have fun!"
"Bull!" Tomoyo threw the phone on the ground, near to tears. She couldn't believe that her own mother would manipulate her like this!
"That was my cel, mind you," he said dryly.
Her blazing eyes turned to him. "I can't believe you agreed to do this, Mister! You are now engaged to a girl you don't know!"
"I know you well enough, Daidouji-san," he said calmly.
Her brows furrowed. There he goes again, calling her by her name. Obviously, it was a one-sided situation, with her put in a not so pleasant side. She didn't know who he was – not a single idea about him, and here he was, knowing almost everything about her. It wasn't fair at all.
"Besides, the pay is good," he said.
"Of course," she nodded sarcastically. No man in his right mind would get engaged to a girl he didn't know without a valid reason…and amount.
But there was something about him that felt so familiar…as if they had already met before. Although the face before him looked more haggard and mature, there was something about that pair of bored cerulean eyes that hit something within her.
"The people call me 'Eagle', but if you must know my name…" He held out his hand to her. "I'm Hiiragizawa Eriol."
She did a double take.
Me sleepy. o see ya next chapter!