The Bloody Rose

✣⊱ Chapter One: The Morning Mood

"Are you awake, my rose?" his voice was soft as he whispered in her ears with so much gentleness. Kahoko's eyes were still closed. She looked so angelic while asleep. Whenever he sees her like this, he just falls in love over and over again. He placed a flock of her hair in his fingers and tucked her silky red hair behind her ear. He kissed her cheek with his lips.

"What time is it?" she mumbled drowsily.

"8 o'clock. It's time to wake up. Did you enjoy yourself last night? Slept well?"

Kahoko opened her eyes slowly. The bright sun rays struck her vision which caused her to narrow her eyes. "Yes, I did" she replied with her lips curving up into a smile. She was looking at his face. It was as gorgeous as ever with gentleness.

But one thing that bothers her is his eyes. When he smiled, it didn't reach his eyes, like he was forcing it. Kahoko ignored the sudden gloom in his eyes into thinking that maybe he only needs more sleep.

She thought that seeing his bare chest would make her feel uneasy but she was wrong. She was also as bare as he is.

He leaned closer to her lips and caressed them tenderly with his. "I love you, Kahoko" it was actually the first time that Kahoko heard this from him. It was an awkward thing from him to say considering the weight of his male pride. But maybe he ignored his pride and had the courage to tell his woman what he feels on their first day as husband and wife.

Their first night in bed together was fantastic. Having to marry such a man would make her the luckiest woman alive. To her, he was the world and to him, she was his universe. Two lovers in the same bed, showing each other the kind of love they're willing to give with all the passion they could offer one another. It was love.

"I love you too, Len" she responded. He smiled again, but this time it reached his eyes.

"You're mine only" he whispered with an unexpected trace of agony in his tone.

Kahoko sat up while she held the blanket on her chest to cover her nudity. "Only yours" she said and held his face with her free hand. "Why do you look worried all of a sudden?"

Len faked a smile again then shook his head lightly. "I'm only yours, Tsukimori Kahoko-san" his tone was serious.

"Yes!" she smiled.

"Don't ever take that ring off of your finger. Promise me" he eyes were in glum.

"I will never" she said sincerely. "Uhm . . . Len, why are you saying all these stuff now? I mean it's not like I don't want you to say it. But it really sound so different in your lips"

"Maybe I should've said those words earlier, then you wouldn't be this new to these kind of words from me. Well I think you should get used to it; now that you're my wife."

She nodded. "I love you, Len" she smiled again then kissed his lips swiftly.

"So . . . What does Tsukimori Kahoko-san want for breakfast? I'll cook for you. I'll be your slave for the rest of our honeymoon, my rose" he smiled to her. He was use to calling her 'my rose' since he proposed to her.

"I want omelet for breakfast. Serve me well, slave" she joked.

He smiled. "Right away, my Queen" Len grabbed the blue robe beside the bed and handed the pink one to Kahoko. "But let's shower first shall we? Or do you want me to bathe you?" he teased.

She blushed. "Len, please stop teasing me. You're beginning to sound like—" she stopped at the midsentence as she just comprehended what she was about to say. Azuma. If she wasn't careful, she must've said his name in front of her husband.

Len threw her a wondering glare. "Huh?"

"You're beginning to sound like Onee-chan who always tease me" she tried to cover up her mistake.

"Len, you burned it" Kahoko said as she looked at the brown thing on the pan.

"Sorry, I-I was still sleepy . . . Hehe" he said bashfully as he scratch his head. Len was lying he was never this irresponsible whenever it comes to cooking. He was being reminded by the scene earlier before Kahoko woke up:

Len developed the habit of staring at Kahoko for a long time. It was just 6 in the morning and he's awake all he was doing is watching her sleep like an angel. It was a precious moment for him. He was stroking her red hair between his slender fingers and watch it slid off gracefully. In that moment, he has the world.

But a word surprised him when he heard it escape her lips in the most innocent whisper. "Azuma" she said while she was tightly tucked in and in her deepest slumber. Len was sure of what he heard, he was wide awake then. Suddenly, he never felt so deprived of himself. The girl, who was his world, was dreaming of another man during their honeymoon. He felt anxious all at once.

He thought he was the only she ever loved but on the first day of them in bed together, she was thinking of Yunoki Azuma.

It was the thought that made him space out. It was because of that why he was saying those words to Kahoko.

"I'll just cook the hotdogs from the freezer" Kahoko said to Len, making him snap back to his current stance.

"Sorry, I wasn't able to make what you want" he apologized.

"It's okay, you can do that some other time" Kahoko smiled at him.

After preparing for breakfast, the two of them sat on the dinner table and prayed before having the meal. While they were eating, Len couldn't think of anything else besides that name that came out in her sleep. The dream she's having doesn't include him but another man. He was staring at her for a long moment while she consumes her meal.

"Please don't stare like that" she broke the silence.

He responded with a weak smile.

"Tell me . . . what are you thinking?" she wondered.

"You and work" he responded. "Work is stress but if I think of you, it just dissolves the stress away" it surprised him that he responded with another lie, though he was really thinking of her . . . not work but Azuma.

She just smiled and continued her meal. There was silence for a long moment.

"By any chance, did you talk to Azuma about the wedding?" he broke the awkward stillness. "You know, all our friends and the concour participants from high school were present except for him. Maybe you thought of inviting him? You know, talk to him?

"No" she answered abruptly without doubt and without lies. "I haven't talked to him since he went for England 8 years ago. I don't even have any contact of him in England" there was a trace of agony in her voice.

"Okay. Too bad though."

"Why do you ask suddenly?" she raised her eyebrow.

"Nothing, I was just wondering how's he's doing. I heard he never visited Japan even once in the past eight years . . . Do you think he's even alive?" he tried to test her reaction.

Kahoko faked a smile. "What makes you think he's dead?" she swallowed hard.

"Not even Hihara-san has any contact of him" he said.

"Which Hihara? His best friend or his sister?" Kahoko was trying to be more specific.

"Hihara Miyabi-san"

"Uhm . . . Yeah" she took a sip of her orange juice and then gulped heavily. "Len, can we stop talking about Azu—" she stopped her lips before she could say his name fully. "Yu-Yunoki-senpai" she corrected.

He just nodded. Len was concealing all his emotions to prevent himself from being seen by Kahoko. He doesn't want to reveal the agony he was feeling now. Len knew there was something between them back in high school even though he already has feelings for Kahoko, he never wanted to interfere but when Azuma left Japan and he got his chance to Kahoko, he didn't let the opportunity slip away. When he noticed she was slowly falling for him he immediately confessed his feelings to Kahoko. He was surprised that even after 8 years of their relationship, Kahoko can't get over the so-called Prince of Seiso.

"Hey, Kaho-chan, how's your honeymoon?" Shouko asked while holding the three-year-old Keiiko in her arms while sitting on the couch in the Shimizu residences.

"It went smoothly but Len was acting a little strange on our first day as . . . husband and wife" it was a bit her for her to the last two words together, she's not used to being married yet.

Another three-year-old came running to Shouko. Shouchi grabbed Shouko's blouse and started pulling it. "Mommy, I'm hungry, I want some cake" he interrupted further. "Mommy, let's go to the bakeshop please" he demanded.

Keiiko stood up and grabbed the other side of her blouse. "Mommy, I want to go to the playground with Kazumi-chan, onegaishimas" Keiiko begged.

Kahoko giggled. "It must be hard to have twins"

"Yes, very" she replied. "But I just love them so much that seeing them smile makes all my exhaustion disappear."

Kahoko smiled and then turned her attention to the twins. "Keiiko-chan, Shouchi-kun, where do you want to go first?"

"Playground!" Keiiko said.

"No, Bakeshop!" Shouchi opposed.

"Playground!" she shouted.

"Bakeshop!" Shouchi pushed Keiiko strongly. Shouko grabbed him and pulled her away from Keiiko.

Keiiko started crying and ran to Kahoko. Kahoko embraced the blond-haired child and patted her back. "Shouchi-kun, that's not a good way to treat your sister. Say sorry"

"Gomen Keiiko, let's go to the playground first please stop crying."

Keiiko sniffed and wiped her tears away with her little fingers. "Are you alright now?"

She nodded once. Kahoko kissed her chubby little cheek.

"Shouchi, don't ever do that to your sister again, okay?"

"Hai, Okaa-san"

In the playground.

"Kaho-san, why can't Kazumi come?" Keiiko asked in her littlest voice.

"Because she's in a family trip with Miyabi-chan and Hihara-san" Shouko replied.

Keiiko's face was saddened. "Then let's go to the bakeshop now, I can't play without Kazumi-chan"

"Don't you like Shouchi to play with you?" Shouko asked her daughter.

"He never wants to play with me" she said sadly.

Shouko said nothing anymore while they walk their way to the nearest bakeshop.

"Kaho-chan" Shouko called her attention.

"Hmm?" she looked up.

"Keiichi and I were considering if I could enroll Shouchi and Keiiko to your violin lessons. That way, they can get closer as siblings. They could spend more time while have fun together. Will that be alright?"

"Yes, of course!" she said excitedly.

"But there's just one problem, Keiiko, will not play at the tutorial unless Kazumi-chan is with her." Shouko said with a hint of sadness in her tone.

"I'll try to talk to Miyabi-chan about it, but for what I know, Kazumi is also music inclined, I just don't know which instrument." Kahoko took a bite of her strawberry cake. "I'll ask her also."

"Okay, good morning everyone. Everyone knows me, right?" Kahoko said bashfully. "No need for formal introductions"

"Yes, Tsukimori-san" the three kids said in unison. "Tsukimori-san? That's a name I should get use to from now on" she said in her thoughts while flashing a dull expression.

"Tsukimori-san, are you alright?" Kazumi asked in her chaste little tone.

Kahoko faked a smile. "Yes, of course I'm alright." She tapped Kazumi's shoulder. "So, what instrument do you love to play?"

"Uhm . . . I was thinking if I'd play the piano or the flute like Uncle Azuma" Kahoko's smile faded. "Or maybe the violin, like Tsukimori-san. I always hear you play and whenever I hear your connoisseurship, my world just stops. I love your music so much" she said in excitement. "Will you play for us before you start teaching, please?" she pleaded with her puppy eyes.

"I want you to play the flute, please, please" Kazumi looked at her with her earnest eyes.

"Uhm . . ." she mumbled. "Any requests?"

"The Morning Mood by Edvard Greig!" Keiiko shouted. "I'll play the accompaniment, o, please, please, o, please" her hands were clasped tightly together as she begged for the part.

Kahoko nodded with a true smile on her lips. The picked up her flute case and took out her flute—or Azuma's.

She started playing while Keiiko was on the piano bench. Keiiko was taught advanced in Ryotaro's tutoring class. It was the one of the two pieces that she mastered.

Kahoko raised her arms and held the flute the exact position as Azuma held the instrument. She started playing the wondrous tone of serenity. The tranquil melody started to fill the small condo unit thus transforming the room into a peaceful environment where the sun shines brightly and the bamboo trees sway in the morning breeze. Where the city was in at a long distance and the clamor of the city was nowhere to be found. She had her eyes shut, filling with all the thousand imageries of her memories. Through the enormous bamboo trees there emerged a purple-haired prince in his dark Prussian blue robe. He began to approach her. His hand draws closer to her face, closer, and closer—CLING! CLING! CLING! The metal flute dropped on the floor while the sharp sound diminishes slowly, leaving her expression shocked, her eyes wide open. "Do I still love you, Yunoki Azuma? Why do I still recall your vivid perfection in my memories even after 8 long years had passed?" her brow were clutched together.

"Tsu-Tsukimori-san. Are you alright?" Kazumi asked.

"Uh . . . yeah. I just need to go to the bathroom for a second. "Excuse me, sorry"

"Ok"

She ran to the comfort room and washed her face. "No . . . starting today, I'll forget you finally" She stared at her face for a long minute. It didn't change so much. It was the same as it is 8 years ago. The same simple pretty face.

"I can't love you, I have to stop loving you, Yunoki Azuma. I'm married now, so stop filling my thoughts" She whispered to her reflection.

DING! DONG! DING! DONG!

She wiped her face with a clean towel. "Kazumi, please get the door" she said through a small crease of the bathroom door.

"Hai" she replied.

Kahoko closed the door and stared at her reflection again. "When I step out of that door. I will forget you, I'll stop thinking of you." She breathed heavily and composed herself.

She was about to turn the knob when—

"OH MY GOSH! UNCLE AZUMA WHY ARE YOU HERE?" Kazumi screamed with excitement in her tone.

"Your Okaa-san was also surprised when she saw me, she also wanted to surprise you by letting me treat you to an amusement park today" it was the same voice she missed for the past 8 years.

Her whole body was trembling with so much nervousness as she heard his voice. Her hands were trembling excessively.

"Well, the tutorial is just going to start but Tsukimori-san didn't feel good all of a sudden." She responded.

"Tsukimori Len-san?" he wondered.

"No, Tsukimori Kahoko-san" She gulped hard upon hearing the child's voice.

Azuma, on the other hand, was extremely surprised by the sudden turn of events.

"Is she here now?" he asked coldly.

Her eyes widened as her heart beat started pacing tremendously.

Ok, first chapter's done. I'm not really sure if I could still continue on updating this story every week since my senior year had started. All I can depend on is your encouragement for the author. And that's by giving me your opinion through your lovely REVIEWS! Thank you so much.

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~ FANFICTION BY: MsDayDream …..