The grand ballroom of Paradise Hotel was set and highlighted to compliment the summer evening sky and the hotel's opening night. Large white drapes hung from the corners of the ceiling as each curtain meet in an ornamental floral and crystal chandelier situated in the center of the atrium. Large marble vases with dark and colourful marigolds, chrysanthemums, English lavender, birds-of-paradise, and tuberoses as well as the lights provided a perfect summer ambience and beauty of the room. On each side of the hall is a long table of scrumptious delights and finger foods ranging from seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables along with tall glass vases of floral arrangements with wooden twigs and crystals. At one end of the room is a made-up stage with a small orchestra that plays a mellow and beautiful rhythm of slow jazz.
Guests from different walks of life filled the hall as they paraded and boasted their formal attires. As a common dress code, the gentlemen garbed their best tailored tuxedos and suits while the ladies donned their flattering and fashionable evening gowns. Some started the night in the dance floor while others mingled with fellow patrons.
With the vibrant crowd, Kimura Fujiwara stood elegantly and sleek with his unbuttoned white tuxedo with black shawl lapel and ribbon. His tuxedo shoes were as white as his clothing though his combed hair and a red rose bud pinned on his chest gave him the distinction of a dashing Casanova. He was surrounded by young female college students who gave their best impression in order to get his attention.
Where is she? Kimura's eyes explored the entire function room ignoring the ogling ladies. Where are they?
His search finally stopped and did not fail him as Kimura's orbs caught something overwhelming. Kimura was astonished and speechless as he set his eyes on her standing by the arched entrance with absolute poise and elegance. It was Sunako Nakahara. He met her before in several aristocratic gatherings however she was a little girl at that time. Then, he bumped into her in a market place. He did not recognize her although she reminded him of an important person whom he knew for years. Nevertheless, there was something different about her that night and she simply took his breath away.
Sunako wore a rouge pink baby doll tube dress with a long flowing chiffon skirt, which danced stylishly with Sunako's every move, and was accentuated with Swarovski crystals on her bodice. Her unparalleled beauty and charm even stood out with her raven hair fashioned in a wavy side swept hairdo, a pair of ivory pumps, and make-up that made her seem mature despite her youthful age. Her set of diamond jewellery – dangling earrings, fashion bracelet, and evening necklace – completed her stature as a noble young lady, born from an influential clan.
She's so beautiful...
Unknown to him, he was not the lone admirer. Every men and even women in the room either guests or hotel employees, both young and old, ogled and were enchanted by Sunako's grace and loveliness. To them, they envisioned the young mademoiselle as the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, clothed in white champagne silk peplos with golden trimmings as she was enveloped with white doves and orchids.
"My, who is that girl?" a stout and elderly woman whispered to her female companion.
"Is she a model or an A-list actress?" a young male waiter inquired to the female colleague beside him and replied back, "I bet she is."
"I hope I get her to dance with me," a foreign bachelor pondered with other gentlemen around him.
Kimura marvelled at her for quite some time and was completely unaware of his environment as well as Sunako's tall and blonde escort, who approached her from behind and stood beside her. He rested his right hand comfortably on her slender waist and uttered a few words to her. Sunako nodded as if she agreed of an idea she was advised on. Kimura gained his consciousness as he eyed feistily and smirked on the familiar figure. Well, what do we have here? I never thought I'll meet you again.
"Oh...she's with someone," a crowd of college men frowned at a dreadful sight.
"Aren't they the couple we met at the lobby?" a trio of girls babbled in frustration. This is so heartbreaking!
This is so embarrassing. I can't take this anymore! Kyouhei wept in humiliation. Not to mention I have to go on a 'date' with her. He was shaking as he took the lead and guided Sunako to the queue. I'm going to kill those three if it's the best thing to do. Tricking me into this, this is bullshit!
"Hey, don't forget I'm doing this because I was deceived," Kyouhei peeped at a perplexed Sunako.
I think I'm going to die, right here. I'm melting...I can't stand this...Sunako panicked as she was near Kyouhei. To their audience, they were intimately cozy with each other, like a newly married couple.
"Get a grip, will you?" Kyouhei reminded her, "if we don't pass this, who knows what they'll do next." First, they announced that we'll be Ruu's parents. Second, they let us stayed in one room. Then what?!
"Heh...at least you're used to this kind of crowd," Sunako implied feebly, "unlike me, I'd rather hide myself in a secluded area and be with my friends." I think I'm going to bleed.
What the...? Not now. Kyouhei noticed that Sunako was about to faint and trickles of blood flowed from her nose. He quickly grabbed his handkerchief from his trouser's pocket and handed it to her. "Use this. It's such a pity if you stained your dress with blood." And this tuxedo can cost me my life!
Sunako accepted the clean handkerchief and dabbed it on her nose. Although the cloth reeked with a strong and sweet scent of men's perfume, she reluctantly used it and kept it close in case of nose bleeding.
"A...arigatou," Sunako muttered, and mustered all her strength to continue. I will survive from this, and then I am going to kill those Creatures of Light and this Radiant Being. Her purple orbs sparkled with enthusiasm.
I think I know what she's thinking. Kyouhei feared for his life. I'll never forgive them for using Ruu.
True enough, Kyouhei and Sunako were tricked by their fellow housemates into attending the opening gala of Paradise Hotel and used Ruu, their newest member in the household, to successfully carry out their schemes.
A familiar figure in a navy blue tuxedo suit with a golden nameplate on his left breast area approached them. "Kyouhei-sama and Sunako-sama, it is a great pleasure that you've come," Yamada smiled and greeted them with respect.
"Thank you," Kyouhei plainly said while Sunako managed to give her best smile, a demure smile of a lady.
Kyouhei saw a glimpse of her smile and felt his face reddened. Her smile was so sincere and her lavender eyes showed naturalness and serenity. She is unbelievable.
Yamada, despite his old age, could not deny the he was struck by Sunako's transformation. From a scary guest he met that day to a stunning swan that evening. He was told by his young master, Ranmaru, that the couple are very much in love and they were destined to be married. Looking at his noble guests, he was in high spirits and rekindled his memory of falling in love.
"Kyouhei-sama, you are very lucky to have Sunako-sama as your fiancé," Yamada beamed and shook Kyouhei's hand.
"Wait! What did you just say?" Kyouhei retorted. Fiance?! That stupid Ranmaru! He's making up stories again.
"You must have mistaken us for someone else, Yamada-san," Sunako remained her calmness and apologized. Fiance?! I'd rather marry a skeleton instead of him.
"You may deny it but my eyes can't fool me. I can sense that you two were born for each other. You are like yin and yang." Yamada took Kyouhei's and Sunako's hands and held them together, "Anyway, please enjoy yourselves." As he said this, he bowed and left the two teenagers with puzzled look in their face.
Kyouhei took a quick glance on Sunako and studied her face. Born for each other? I don't believe in that crap. Unknowingly,Kyouhei brushed his thumb on Sunako's hand but he swiftly removed his grip as if he touched a hot surface and shook the idea of kissing her hand out of his head. What the...? Everybody's giving me the creeps. Love and marriage? I don't need anyone!
"Hey, don't get any ideas about what the old man said," Kyouhei uttered with distinctness, "Ranmaru must have said something about us."
"I know that," Sunako asserted, "I already have thought about that and I'm going to kill him for making up stories such as that." Besides, I'd rather be alone for the rest of my life than being with you.
"You have my support. I won't stop you from doing that," Kyouhei gave her a smug look which Sunako also gave him in return.
As he lead Sunako towards the room, Kyouhei sensed a malevolent stare trailing towards him and felt the very same cold shiver as he had when he went for an errand few days ago. It was not a mistake for Kyouhei. It was an indistinguishable feeling. That's not possible! Or could it be? Instead of showing his vulnerability, Kyouhei remained calm and sophisticated as his brown eyes hunted down the source of the bloodcurdling aura. His search did not fail him as he discovered where the exhilarating sensation originated from. He was frenzied as he caught the glimpse of the stranger he previously made contact with. The so-called unknown individual leaned on a wall between two arched floor length colonial windows with crossed arms and legs. He stood defensively as they exchanged furious glares like high voltage electricity radiated from their eyes. Darn it! It's him. Why is he here?!
Kimura was amused as their eyes met and remembered the ruthless encounter they formerly had. He was uninterested and never bothered to waste his precious time towards a teenaged lad in the past yet their connection gave him a worthy explanation to continue what they started. He studied the fretful adolescent and admitted to himself that he was fine-looking nonetheless a formidable fighter for his young age. The tall and yellow-haired gentleman donned a black tuxedo inclusive of a black tailored vest, white collared shirt, and sandy silver tie. With his black polished formal Oxfords shoes and athletic frame, he stood confidently like the suave James Bond. Not bad, for a kid like you.
What do want? If you're here to fight me then it's better to get started. Kyouhei knew he was probed at from head to foot. Even though he was tired from dodging and controlling Sunako's wrath and attempted fights, he felt an unexplained and exciting urge from a nameless person for a short exchange of blows. For a moment, Kyouhei was in high spirits. He followed his adversary's intent gaze and never left his sight on him, not even a blink. Eh? White doesn't suit you well.
Kimura took note of the youth's mouth as it formed a sarcastic grin. So...You're up for a challenge. Aren't we a bit hasty? You'll be very disappointed. He suddenly shifted and fixed his eyes on the ebony-haired femme fetale. He gave her the impression of immense lust and desire, an inexplicable sensation of fantasy and admiration. He wished he was her escort instead of the ashen-haired guy.
Then, he glanced back at her companion, who was well aware of his sudden change of attitude. I like your girlfriend. I'll let you enjoy this night with her because tomorrow she's mine.
Eh? So want her? I won't give her to you easily. Kyouhei sneered and instinctively he drew Sunako closer to him, who was stupefied by his unexpected gesture and reflexively laid her hands on his chest to keep her from slipping. Sunako's purple eyes grew wider as Kyouhei kissed her on her forehead and whispered a few words that was unimaginable but made her tremble and her heart flutter.
"You look beautiful tonight, Sunako Nakahara."
Wha...wha...WHAT?! Is he taunting me?! Sunako frozed as the words echoed inside her auditory canals. Despite the close proximity with the Radiant Being, Sunako was more concerned of the bewildering statement than in a state of losing blood. Why...why...why? Why did he say that?! Her inner self was spinning in disbelief and angst.
Wait...What the heck did I just say?! Are you stupid Kyouhei Takano?! You, of all people, complimented her? This is not good. Kyouhei dreaded for his life as he robotically peeked at Sunako. Kami-sama, save me! He felt like he wanted to burst into tears and shrink into a thumb-sized creature and escape from humiliation.
"Hey, are you okay?" Kyouhei asked uneasily. He knew he'd be a dead man by midnight. Why did I have to say that?!
"Eh?" Sunako was immobile and senseless.
She looked like an idiot. I guess I reacted too much. Kyouhei felt relieved. It was a common rule within the Nakahara household that the word 'ugly' is taboo. But telling her the opposite was uncalled for.
"I asked you, Nakahara."
"Uh-huh," Sunako nodded mindlessly.
I guess she's okay. Kyouhei raised one eyebrow in disbelief. But at least I will still be alive tomorrow. "Let's go, I'm hungry."
"Uh-huh." Sunako remained stationary.
She's odd. Kyouhei was more transfixed on Sunako's reaction as well as he was concerned for his life and stomach as he has completely forgotten about his other audience.
Unsuspectingly, Kimura witnessed everything and he was provoked by the couple's intimate display. A public display of affection, huh? I accept your challenge kid. He composed himself, buttoned his jacket, and made his way towards them.
As Kyouhei and Sunako walked towards to buffet area, Sunako halted as she felt someone grabbed her forearm. On impulse, she turned her head and gaped as she set her eyes of her culprit. It was a tall, yellow-brown haired adult male with deep blue pair of orbs. She looked at him carefully and knew instantaneously that she saw him before. He looks familiar.
Kyouhei was even more dumbfounded at the stranger, who he had exchanged with menacing look in the eyes and challenged him awhile ago, was now close at hand. What the...?! Damn it!
"Good evening, milady," Kimura took Sunako's hand and kissed it.
Another Creature of Light! What is he doing?! Sunako hastily removed her hand.
I won't turn my back on you, bastard! Kyouhei was infuriated, clenched his fist, and stepped forward.
Kimura got the impression that the teenager detested his presence, and for the second time around he surprised and teased him. Calm down, kid.
"You may not know me but I know you very well, Lady Sunako Nakahara," Kimura remained casual in spite of the evil and intent look he received, "My name is Kimura Fujiwara. You may not remember it well but we've met before from social parties. Our clan has a good relation with your family."
Fujiwara? It sounds familiar. "I...I don't remember well," Sunako expressed her regret, "I'm sorry, Sir."
"Daijoubu ojou-sama. I am pleased that we've meet again," Kimura continued then glanced at the irritated blonde young man. "Oh...I apologize for my rude behaviour. You must be Lady Nakahara's date." I find it amusing when you are as mad as a rabid dog.
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance," Kimura offered his hand, "Mister?"
Kyouhei assessed Kimura's hand then feasted his eyes on him and accepted his hand, "Kyouhei Takano."
Kyouhei tightened his grip as their hands both touched. He wanted to break his phalanges apart and send him a message that he is not someone he can easily mess with. Unexpectedly and to his surprise, the so-called Kimura Fujiwara also squeezed his hand. Their eyes met and exchanged an invisible yet clear intense message of fire and electricity. I'm beginning to take an interest on you, old man!
Sunako was amused as she saw the two men exchanged their rage with intensity and vigour. Bloodbath! This will be a good night after all. The eerie environment sent a daunting and tensed impression among the other patrons as well as the hotel employees. Both men sensed the apprehension and worry of the other guests.
"I apologize for my rudeness and spoiling your date," Kimura released his hand from Kyouhei's constricting grip.
"Not at all, Kimura-san," Kyouhei smirked as he composed himself despite the surge of his rage.
Kimura gave him a sinister grin, "But the two of you reminded me of someone I knew. Someone really close to me." He gradually moved towards Sunako and slightly bends his torso and stopped as his face was few inches from Sunako, "especially you, my sweet young Lady Nakahara."
Stunned, Sunako stepped back while Kyouhei unpredictably pulled Sunako to him, shifted his body, and moved his right hand in between Sunako and Kimura, protecting his female companion from an unexpected harassment.
"Please look after her, Takano-san, otherwise someone might steal her from you," Kimura continued and straightened himself. Someone like me.
"You don't have to remind me," Kyouhei grunted. Kimura grinned and left them silently. Kyouhei never left his eyes on him as Kimura departed and mingled with other guests.
"Do you know him?" Sunako broke the silence and turned to her blonde date, "Something tells me you've met him before."
"How would I know? He said he met you before," Kyouhei said with irritation and raised an eyebrow.
"His last name sounds familiar," Sunako answered as she studied the man they just met. Where did I meet him? I think I've seen him before.
While Sunako was in deep thought, Kyouhei took notice of the other men in the room as they ogled at Sunako. Undeniably, Sunako was the most attractive woman in the room especially with her simplicity and charm. He, however, hated the fact that they were scrutinized. Hungry wolves.
"Let's get out of here," Kyouhei seized Sunako's hand and dragged her towards the balcony entranceway.
"Where are we going? I am hungry," Sunako said. How about the food?!
"Somewhere other than this party. I don't like people looking at me." Kyouhei explained as they walked in between guests, determined to leave the party.
Sunako knew what he meant and simply nodded in agreement. It was only during these times that Sunako agreed with Kyouhei, they both hated a large crowd and a party. Along the way, Kyouhei and Sunako could hear whispers from other guests. It was a fact then that they were the centre of attraction at the gala.
"My, what a lovely couple."
"They look good together."
"A perfect picturesque."
Irritably, Kyouhei and Sunako continued their way through the hall and left the ball through the majestic marble archway, which served both as an entrance and exit between the hotel ballroom and the balcony and connects to a beautiful esplanade.
"Finally, peace and quiet," Kyouhei heaved a sigh and released his grip from Sunako's hand. He paced towards the large Greek-inspired fountain and sat comfortably in a corner. "If I ever get into this kind of plot again, I will definitely punch their faces!"
"Who are you referring to?" Sunako, who was still standing, looked him in bewilderment.
"Who?! It's those three stooges, of course!" Kyouhei barked. They always put me into this crap!
"You could have refused them if you don't want to."
"Heh! Look who's talking," Kyouhei snickered, "They both dragged us into coming here whether we liked it or not."
"If it was not for Ruu, I wouldn't be here." Sunako looked down at Kyouhei as he loosened his tie.
"They used Ruu against you too?" Kyouhei already knew the answer but he wanted a confirmation from her.
"Yes, I even have to agree with the parental arrangement too," Sunako simply nodded. They even promised me rare videos and assortments.
I knew it. There's something fishy. "Well, I'm sorry. I am not a perfect gentleman or a parent. Besides, you are not even a good date. " Kyouhei teased her as he sat comfortably on the granite fountain seat.
"I never liked to be with you anyway but they always pair us up. I just don't get it." Sunako finally conceded and sat beside Kyouhei. Why him? I'm fine just being myself.
"It's all their illusive idea of love and us," Kyouhei studied her as Sunako sat few inches away from him. She really looks so different.
"Love? You and me? They must be dreaming. I don't even know what that means." Sunako raised her eyebrow in bewilderment.
"Ditto. But you used to like someone, isn't it?" Darn it!...I shouldn't have mentioned that. Kyouhei thought of suicide at that very moment.
"Ohh...That? It was in junior high and I was probably influenced by my friends." Sunako answered casually and was given a look of disbelief from her date.
"But, do you really like that guy?" Kyouhei pried, "but you don't have to answer it if you don't want to."
"I don't know. Why are you asking?" This time, it was Sunako who was giving him a perplexed stare.
"Well, it was pretty obvious that because of him you turned from a normal girl into a creepy one." Kyouhei shrugged as he stated in his serious tone of voice. I wonder how you look as a NORMAL girl.
"Are you insulting me?!" Sunako questioned his honesty and frankness.
"No, I was actually complimenting you. I like you now." Kyouhei looked at her, searching within her purple eyes. I have to admit, she's completely different tonight.
Sunako felt the intense look from Kyouhei. She never had that encounter from anyone, more so from a man. "You just want your life to be spared."
"That's part of it." Kyouhei gave her a sarcastic grin, never leaving his eyes on hers. She's...
"Heh! I just don't get it. Girls are all over you but you are a despicable and immature guy." Sunako looked away as she felt a tinge of feeling on her cheeks and felt drops of blood coming out from her nose. She quickly dabbed her nose with Kyouhei's handkerchief, which he gave her earlier. I really can't stand his radiance!
"Are you insulting me now?" the blonde lad was pleased on her quick reaction. Kyouhei could not help but smile. Could it be?
"It's not an insult. It's the truth. You have lots of issues" Sunako managed to compose herself and moved few inches away from him. Too much radiance!
"What are you trying to say?" Kyouhei searched her lavender eyes for answers as he slid himself closer to her. Is it even possible?
"One, you have anger management issues. Two, you hate vegetables. Three, you steal my food rations. Four, you always pick a fight. Five, you simply undress your clothes along the hall and wait for me to pick them up for you..." Sunako started counting her fingers as she enumerated very single flaws of his ashen-haired housemate.
Kyouhei looked at her and smiled. He never knew that a single woman could know the real him and yet, somehow, accepted him. Not even his biological mother knows a lot about him. Something inside him made him feel happy. He looked at her and he was amused that someone like her would know a lot about him. He stared at her more and he remembered someone, a close resemblance of Sunako Nakahara, which he promised to marry when he was a young child. I'll marry you. Those were the words he uttered.
"I'll marry you..." Kyouhei pronounced the words with seriousness and tenderness. His eyes longed for Sunako's orbs and took a quick glance on her luscious lips.
Sunako stared at him blankly and eyes widened. For a long time they were both silent.
"Excuse me?!" Sunako blinked in disbelief. Is he out of his mind?!
"What?!" Kyouhei was dumbfounded. What did I just say?!
Sunako's eyes were widened and almost left her speechless, "You just said it!"
"Forget about what I just said! I simply remembered a line from a drama, that's all. Don't get any wrong ideas!" Kyouhei was stuttering. What the heck did I just say again?!
"Baka!" Sunako rolled her eyes in disbelief. Is he really this stupid?
"What did you just say?!" Kyouhei retorted. All these love, match-ups, and marriage give me the creeps! I should stay away from those guys.
"Where is Ruu?" Sunako ignored him, changing the topic. Stupid!
"He's with the guys. They promised to look after him tonight," Kyouhei replied and he was thankful that Sunako changed the topic and atmosphere, "but I haven't seen them in the ball. I trust Takenaga and Yuki but not Ranmaru."
Hearing this from him, Sunako looked worried. "Don't be a worrisome, the kid will be alright. You are not his real mother, you have to remember that," Kyouhei assured her.
Sunako knew from the start what her role is in Ruu's life. "That's true but having him around makes me happy. He is still small yet he was left alone to a stranger's house. I cannot possibly think of anyone who could do that to an innocent child."
"They have their reasons. Maybe his parents were in grave danger and they have to leave him to protect him," Kyouhei guessed in full confidence as he looked at the velvety and starry sky.
Sunako simply raised her eyebrow in scepticism. Kyouhei sensed the silence from her, "That's how the story goes in most dramas on TV,"
You watch too many dramas. "Are you serious? This is a reality," Sunako sighed, "What if they won't show up? What will happen to Ruu?"
"We could all take care of him," Kyouhei shrugged her insult, "and the thought of putting him into adoption is dreadful." And I know how it feels to be unwanted.
"I wouldn't mind raising him as my own," Sunako answered.
"You?! A creepy woman as his mother?" Kyouhei laughed at the idea.
"Rather than a father who is lazy and arrogant like you," Sunako retorted. Heh! Ruu might grow up lazy and disrespectful if he was the father.
Kyouhei only looked at her intently. Sunako sensed his terrifying aura, "Sorry."
"But I'm getting used to the way he calls me Papa. I felt contentment and it's quite hard to explain his presence whenever I'm with Ruu." Kyouhei enlightened her and stared blankly at the dark horizon over the sea.
Sunako smiled as she looked at him. She knew what he meant and she didn't have to say it. Slowly, she followed his gaze and everything went silent. They let the cold sea breeze streamed into their bodies as they listened to the crashing waves like a lullaby at night. They let the tranquillity of the night flowed within them, as if Sunako and Kyouhei both understood what that moment meant, and admired the magnificence of the dark starry sky and fullness of the moon.