Skye fell to the wooden floor. A man hovered above him, his face red with rage and embarrassment. There were four men holding this man back and a woman was shouting at him. She looked at Skye, then proceeded to shout back at the man. She pushed the man back and ran to Skye.
Skye wiped his mouth. There was a slight sting when he hit the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. Blood smeared his knuckles as he moved his hand away. The woman took a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed it on Skye's wound. Skye shrugged her efforts away and stood up. He dusted his pants and made his way through the crowd that gathered.
Skye took his knit cap from his coat pocket and placed it on his head, pulling it until it reached his eyebrows. He buttoned his coat and walked out of the bar.
The wind was cool against his skin. He could feel the heat rising just below his cheek. He walked through the small, dimly-lit street, murmuring to himself. "I believe this is going to bruise."
Skye continued walking down the path and passed through a forest. He stopped by a large lake, and sat by the water. He rested on his back, his hands behind his head. He gazed at the stars, naming the constellations he could see. He closed his eyes. The memory of his ex-girlfriend—now, sister-in-law—flooded his mind.
He remembered how she looked when she asked to break up with him, stating that she wanted to be with someone who had eyes only for her. She looked desperate. 'Why did she look so desperate?', Skye had always wondered to himself. He would have expected her to look more sad or hurt, but not desperate.
At first, he was just confused as to why she looked like that. The days passed and little by little, he found out that his brother was always speaking with her on the telephone, his face always happy, if not giddy. Weeks started passing, he noticed that she still kept visiting their house, spending all her time with his twin.
During their family reunion the next year, Steiner, while holding onto her hand, announced to their family that they were engaged. Skye had finally understood why she had looked so desperate. She was already in love with Steiner and their relationship was the only thing that hindered her from going all-out with his twin.
Skye had wanted to punch Steiner at that moment, but he saw the happiness in his twin's face and he knew he couldn't try to destroy that. And, he knew his twin. This kind of an announcement wasn't Steiner's cup of tea.
He opened his eyes. He could hear footsteps approaching and he wasn't up to speaking with the woman from earlier. She was just another one of his 'stress-relievers', but she, apparently, took him seriously. He couldn't even remember her name properly. Was it Ara? Ada? Ana? He always only called her 'A'.
The figure walked toward him, albeit cautiously. "Hey," Skye called out.
"Are you", the figure started, the voice obviously female, "the one who started something in the inn?"
Skye looked at the woman. Her hair was scattered over her shoulders, her sleeves messily folded up to her elbows. He lowered his knit cap, tucking more of his hair in it. "So, what if I am?"
Claire packed one of her bags. She was nearly done packing the not-so-useful items that she had accumulated the past few months along with those she already owned. It had already been a week since she had called her grandfather but everything she heard was still a big shock to her. Questions filled her head. Was she really married to Nathaniel? Did her grandfather really sell her out? Is that why he was really intent on having her marry him?
She gripped at her hair, her tears streaming down her cheeks. She wiped them away with her palms. She zipped her bag close and looked at her house. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. So many things were happening too fast.
Ciel was sitting by the door, watching Claire pace back and forth. He wagged his tail as she turned to face him and speak his name.
"I'm just going to the inn, I'll see you later." She patted his head and exited the door. The sun's light was beginning to fade from the sky, the moon becoming more and more visible. She walked toward the inn. She noticed the one lamp flickering on. Usually, it would have already been lit by now. She entered the inn and walked over to the counter. She sat on the stool near the telephone and ordered a glass of wine.
A man entered the inn with a woman clinging to his arm. They sat on one of the tables on the far-end of the inn, opposite where Claire was seated, sipping wine.
She looked at her wineglass and whirled the wine inside. She stared at the glass. It looked brand new.
The minutes passed by quickly while Claire alternated between contemplating the contents of her glass and actually drinking it. She asked for another refill and looked at the clock. It was already 8:30, nearly two and a half hours since she entered. She looked at the empty plate in front of her, thinking how she found what she ate delicious.
Duke slammed the door open, startling Claire and causing her to look at the scene unfolding. Manna was right behind him, gripping his arm. "Aja!" Duke shouted.
The woman holding onto the man's arm looked at Duke quickly, then back at the man. She whispered something into the man's ear and smiled. The man looked at Duke and regarded him for a second. He looked back at the woman and nodded to her. She looked at Duke and pointed to the man. "This," she said, "is my fiancé."
The man's, Duke's and Manna's eyes widened in shock. The man faced the woman, his eyebrows furrowed. She looked back at him and smiled.
"Aja, you can't be serious!" said Manna, her hands loosening their grip on Duke's arm.
"No," Aja shook her head. "I am very serious." She wrapped her arms around the man and looked at her father.
Duke looked at the man. "And who are you?"
The man shrugged Aja's arms away and stood up. He wore his coat and faced Duke. "You don't need to know who I am, sir." He looked at Aja, his eyes full of anger. Aja shrank in her seat. "I cut my ties with this woman. Our relationship does not exi—"
Duke punched the man in the face, causing the latter to fall on his back. Aja stood and ran to Duke, shouting at him. A few of the men present in the inn grabbed Duke. His face was red.
The man stood up and pushed his way from the crowd. He placed a knit cap over his head and walked out of the inn.
Claire watched the scene from her seat, Ann standing beside her. "This must be the first time you're seeing Aja, am I right?" said Ann. Claire nodded. She drank the remaining wine from her glass and stood up. She got money from her pocket and handed it to Ann. "Thanks a lot," said Claire, "but, I think I have to go now. Could you keep me updated?" She smiled at Ann and walked out of the inn.
From the distance, she saw the man turn in the path by Saibara's. She wondered if he was going to the dock and boarding the next boat. She wanted to follow him and ask him questions. First, he seemed quite rude and she hated men who disrespected women. Second, he looked familiar. Very familiar.
She walked straight into her farm and looked around. It was definitely cleaner than when she had first arrived. Back then, weeds were growing all around. Now, it was mostly full of crops and flowers. She looked at the wooden fence in front of the barn. She was going to miss getting them in and out of it. Her animals were going to be brought to Forget-Me-Not a day after she arrived.
She glanced at the river near her chicken coop, wondering if the land in Forget-Me-Not also had a river. She walked over to the small bridge and glanced at the forest farther down the path. She saw a figure walking near the trees and settle by the edge of the lake. "Is that Aja's fiancé?" she said to herself.
She walked over to the lake. A twig cracked under her foot.
"Hey," the man called out.
Claire looked at the man. He was looking at the lake, although from his angle, she knew he could see her from the corner of his eyes. His facial features were highlighted by the moonlight. His eyes shone brightly. His lips turned downward at the corner, blood clotting on the side that she could see. His cheeks were of a reddish-color.
"Are you", she saw his eyebrows raise at the sound of her voice. "The one who started something in the inn?"
He turned his face to look at her. He lowered his knit cap, tucking more of his hair. "So, what if I am?" His lips were a straight line, his eyes blank.
Claire stood still and shook her head. "It doesn't matter. I don't really know Aja, although I am friends with her parents."
"What," said the man, "you're here to tell me off?" He looked back into the lake.
Claire looked at him. Even though she was just seeing his back, she could tell that he wasn't exactly happy. She walked over to him. "Could I sit...near you?"
The man smirked as he faced her. "Why not beside me?"
"Are you flirting with me?" She moved toward the man and sat beside him. She could smell beer from his shirt. "You shouldn't be, what with you having a fiancée and all."
"She's not my fiancée. She's just a woman who asked me to meet her parents."
"Why do you think she would do that?" Claire brushed her hair to one side.
The man shrugged. "She's really nothing to me. She just paid extra in the host club I work at, so I felt obliged to accompany her here."
Claire looked at the man disapprovingly. He really didn't seem like he cared for Aja. "Do you enjoy doing that?"
"Doing what?" He looked at her. She could see that he was inspecting her face. She started feeling very conscious of how she looked. Their eyes locked. She could feel herself becoming paralyzed.
"D—I can't move."
"Don't worry about that. You'll be able to move again in a while. It happens. So, do I enjoy doing what?" He tilted his head away from her although his eyes were obviously still watching her.
"I—Do you enjoy fooling around with women so much?"
"Don't you want to know my name?" He looked back at her, his eyes had lost that brightness she saw earlier.
"By knowing your name, I would end up having some sort of connection with you." Her eyes looked at the water. "I'd rather not have that. You seem...troublesome."'
The man laughed. "You're right, you know. That's why lots of girls like me." He looked straight into her eyes. "But, I want to tell you. Just look up. Whatever it is you'd call what that is, that's who I am."
Claire would have smiled if she could. "So, you're Heaven? Star? Cloud?" she said, with a tinge of sarcasm.
The man smiled at her and shook his head. "Why did you follow me?"
Claire looked away from him, her face reddening. "I wasn't following you!"
"Then, why are you turning red?"
"I-I just happened to notice you walking here when I was by the bridge in my farm."
"Yeah, right. Then, tell me, why did you leave that place when I left?"
"I-I-I wasn't finished packing my things! I needed to go back immediately."
"Yes, but," he reached for her hair and pulled out a loose strand then started twirling a lock between his fingers. "Someone rushing wouldn't have taken long drinking a glass of wine."
Claire sighed. She guessed this man was good with words but she wondered if he had been paying attention to her to notice such a fact. "The happiness when she announced your relationship seemed too one-sided. I wanted to know your side."
"Well," the man dropped the lock of hair between his fingers. "Now, you know."
"You still haven't answered my question,"
"You are very persistent." He turned away from her. "I find that amusing."
"It's not really something that I enjoy. It just helps me, I guess."
Claire could feel her mobility coming back. "How so?" She gave the man a quick glance. "I doubt we'll ever meet again, so you can tell me anything."
He smiled at her, turning to face her again. "It helps me forget about my first love."
Claire saw the sadness in his eyes. "Haven't you moved on?"
"It's difficult to move on when you still see her every now and then." He looked up at the sky. Claire looked up as well. It was darker now, and more stars appeared. "You see," the man paused and looked at her eyes. "She's my sister-in-law."
"You fell in love with your brother's wife?" She looked at his eyes which immediately locked into hers.
He shook his head. "More like my girlfriend fell in love with my brother."
Claire moved her legs, checking if she could rely on them to stand up. "I'm not trying to judge you, but, did you do anything that might have—"
The man shot her a warning look. "You don't know the story and you're thinking I did something wrong?"
Claire shook her head and reached out to the man. "It's in the way you treated Aja. Something about it gave me the sense that you don't respect the women who swoon at your feet."
He tilted his head to the side. "You're probably right. My brother said that I didn't seem serious about our relationship. In fact, I probably wasn't. I just hate the fact that she left me," he folded his arms across his chest. "For my uptight twin brother."
Claire bit her lip. "Were you...fooling around with other girls?"
The man nodded. "Even before, I was a playbo—" He was cut off by a slap to his cheek. Claire looked at him, her eyebrows knitted together. "How dare you!" she shouted at him. He was left stunned. Her slap taking him by surprise. He saw her eyes widen, her expression changing suddenly.
"I-I'm sorry!" She looked away from him as she apologized.
He spat out blood. She had hit the wound that Duke had given him, accidentally removing the blood clot. She handed him her handkerchief which he took quickly and put to the bleeding area. "Do you have anything against playboys?"
"I caught my boyfriend making out in bed with another woman."
The man looked at her, analyzing her face once again. He moved closer to her.
"And now," she continued. "He's forcing his way into my life. In fact, when my grandfather dies, I think I'm doomed." She stood up quickly, but because she had just regained the mobility in her legs, she stumbled forward, landing directly on top of the man. "I'm sorry." A tear rolled down her left cheek. "Sky—is that your name?"
Skye nodded. "Just remember," he pulled her closer to him, his heart beginning to beat fast against his chest. "My name is spelled with an 'e' at the end."
Claire allowed herself to be pulled forward, allowed her lips to brush against his. "Now, I have some connection with you." she whispered as she closed her eyes. Her heart had begun to beat faster as well as though it was trying to resonate with Skye's.
Skye pressed his lips against hers, closing his eyes. He moved his hands from her head, slid his hands down her neck and pressed her back down towards him. She felt her blood rush to her cheeks, giving them a burning sensation.
She blinked her eyes open and pushed herself up and out of Skye's grip. "I don't think we should be doing this," she said. "We hardly know each other." She stood up and moved away from Skye.
Skye sat up and dusted his shirt. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't usually do that to women I meet, well, women who don't 'swoon at my feet' as you say it." He stared blankly at Claire who had begun to walk back to her farm. "May I at least," he shouted, "have your name?"
"It's Claire." She looked back at him quickly. "I'm Claire."