Chapter ONE: Love Breeds Cherry Blossoms

Time moved slowly as she shifted uncomfortably on the examining table, her eyes darting nervously at the clock. This gave her time to think, trying to understand what her unusual symptoms meant. The nausea, the light-headedness, and absence of her monthly body change. Ririchiyo wrinkled her small hands in the ruffles of her skirts, counting the moments until the head orderly would return with answers. Thoughts of Miketsukami flowed into her mind, seeing his smiling face in her mind's eye.

"Why am I thinking of him at this moment?" she asked herself, wrapping her arms around her shoulders.

The door opened and Head Nurse Keiko walked into the room, looking down at the clipboard in her hand.

"Well, Miss Shirakin," she said in a sweet, sugary voice, "It seems there's a simple explanation as to why you have been having these symptoms."

Ririhchiyo's quickly shifted her gaze towards Nurse Keiko, hoping her questions are finally going to be answered.

"So? What is the meaning of my condition?" Ririchiyo asked in her signature cold tone.

Nurse Keiko sits down in her rotating chair and smiles up at Ririchiyo.

"Well, it seems you are pregnant, Miss Shirakin."

Ririhchiyo's mind came to a halt, all thoughts blurring together in her mind. She could believe what she was hearing. Her? Pregnant? It was utterly impossible. Although she was locked away within the walls of the Shirkin estate, she was well aware of how children came to be. It was true that her and Miketsukami too part in a healthy intercourse at least once a week, but it was no where near enough to produce a child. She thought of the extreme amount of protection that is used during their most intimate evenings, but she was certain they were very careful while ensuing their love-filled passion.

"A-Are you sure? There…isn't a miscalculation, is there?"

Nurse Keiko shook her head and sets the clipboard on the counter.

"Miss Shirakin, how old are, if I may ask."

"I'm…19." she said with careful consideration.

Nurse Keiko nodded and stood up from her chair.

"Look, I know you're in a bit of shock right now, but you must not panic, Miss Shirakin."

Ririchiyo was not easily convinced.

"What do you mean I should not panic? I am a 19 year old girl who knows very little of children, let alone how to mother one, Miss Keiko." she answered as calmly as she muster.

"You'll have more than enough support and love to allow you to cope and learn of child-birth, Miss Shirakin."

Somehow Nurse Keiko's support was not helping. Her mind was beginning to race and spin, feeling as if she had been spun like a top. How was she going to do this? She knew she wouldn't be alone..she had Soushi and her friends to guide her, but how was she going to tell them? How was she going to deliver the news to Miketsukami?

"Miss Shirakin, please, we will answer any questions you may have.."

Ririchiyo shook her head and clenched the fabric of her skirt in her trembling fingers.

"Miss Keiko…may I please step out for a moment?"

Nurse Keiko nodded and helped Ririchiyo down from the examining table. Ririchiyo walks out of the room and towards the restroom. She closed the door behind her, locking it quickly. The room smelled of disinfectant and imported soap. She leaned against the sink, her hands gripping the round porcelain. Ririchiyo jerked on the faucet and ran her hands under the warm water, splashing her cold skin thoroughly. She wasn't believing this…She couldn't possibly be expecting a child…It was all a horrible illusion and that she would wake up and expect normalcy. Ririchiyo suddenly lurched forward, dry heaving over the sink. After no real regurgitation, she raised her head and shakily moved her long silkly hair away from her eyes. She knew this was REAL. All too real, all too soon for her. Moments passed and her shock began to fade, leaving her face still ashen and her hands still clammy and trembling. She gathered herself and left the lavatory, heading back to the examining room.

"Are you all right, Miss Shirakin?"

Ririchiyo nodded and sat back down on the examining table.

"I'll be fine…"

Nurse Keiko forward in her chair and smiled kindly at Ririchiyo.

"I know you are unsettled right now, but would you like me to share with you your due date?"

She looked up at Nurse Keiko, her expression stricken with a mixture of panic and unexpected excitement. Of course she was stunned by this news, she was eager to know of when this child might meet her.

"Very well. Your scheduled due date is December 24th."

Ririchiyo's heart fluttered, a rekindled spark flaring in her mind.

"That's…wonderful."

"Oh? Is that date significant somehow, Miss Shirakin?" Nurse Keiko asked, her own interest sparking.

"It's…my boyfriend's birthday.."

"Oh, how exciting! It seems you'll be celebrating both their lives in 9 months!"

A red flush spread over Ririchiyo's face, wanting to take back her answer.

"Well, I must say, Congratulations, Miss Shirakin."

Ririchiyo nervously smiled back at Nurse Keiko, wanting desperately to bring this appointment to a close.s

"Thank you, Miss Keiko."