A Long Day to Remember
The soft, irritating knocks on the door stirred Yumi from her peaceful sleep to be on her feet. With sluggish and zigzag movements, she walked towards the door to open it. But before she could reach for the knob, the door slowly opened to reveal Yuuki's worried face. "Yu-Yumi?"
"What's wrong?" Yumi said in a gruff voice. When Yuuki did not respond, she grabbed his arm and tugged him inside her room and closed the door. "Okay." She eyed her brother for a minute, squinting her eyes in an irritated manner. "Speak." She sighed when Yuuki seemed to forget how to talk. "What is it, Yuuki?"
Yuuki glanced over Yumi's shoulder then back at her. He regarded Yumi in the eye gingerly. He swallowed hard before forcing up a smile and scratched the back of his head. "You see, Yumi..."
Yumi folded her arms and exhaled loudly. "Stop doing that. A true man never shows his emotion most especially if he's anxious or jealous."
'Look who's talking.' Yuuki thought. He flashed a small smile and lowered his arm then fretfully groped on the back of his jeans pockets.
"People will look down on you if you keep on doing that, Yuuki." She shifted her weight to her right and raised her brows. "So? Why did you wake me up so early? It's saturday. The Christmas party is still at five."
Yuuki cleared his throat nervously. "Yumi..." His eyes widened as if he was pleading her sister not to freak out. "uhmm...Yu—"
"What Yuuki!? Spill it out already!" Yumi cut him off, almost shouting at him. "I don't have the whole day, staring at you, waiting for you to tell me that the world has already ended. If you want— " Yumi paused and narrowed her eyes. "Wait. You want to borrow some money, don't you?" Yumi dropped her shoulders and turned around only to be pulled back by clammy, shaking hands.
"No! It's not it!" Yuuki's voice quivered. He looked so horrified than mere seconds ago. He let go of Yumi and smiled apologetically.
"Then what is it!?" Yumi said, raising her hands in frustration.
"He's here!" Yuuki blurted out after a loud, nervous sigh. "He is here, Yumi!" He repeated with a more prominent loudness. He was breathing heavily after noting her sister's stunned face. If someone would say Yumi was shock and petrified, Yuuki would mark it as a huge understatement. "Yumi." He softly called when the brunette appeared to be forgetting to take a breath. "He's waiting for you downstairs with mom and dad and—and an army of men outside the house."
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. "Wa-Why is he here?" She said after pinning herself against the wall. She opened her eyes, looking at Yuuki blankly and mumbled. "Is he going to—"
"No! We won't let that happen. You are part of this family, Yumi." He neared closer to his sister and gave her a comforting hug. "Mom won't let it happen. She lost you once and now you're here, she doesn't want to lose you again." He pulled his head to look at her sister. "And me neither." He broke off the embrace and sweetly smiled at her. "We love you, Yumi. No matter what will happen to us, we will never let you go." His serious face faded when Yumi shivered with soft giggles. "Eh?" He frowned with a small pout and crossed his arms. "What's so funny?"
Yumi stopped laughing and shook her head. "You're talking like I am about to be executed or something. It is still not the end of the world, Yuuki."
"With him being here, yes, I do think so!" He paused to take a step back and frowned. "But you're still as evil as him, Yumi! Don't you know that? After everything I said—" Yuuki's mock anger was sweetly shut off by Yumi's tight embrace. He smiled, feeling the love in her embrace. 'Yumi...'
"Thank you, Yuuki. Thank you for everything. I don't want to lose you, too." She whispered. "But please don't say that. He is a good man in some point. He loves me more than a parent does. He cares for me a lot." She said after letting go of her brother. She looked at him with kind eyes and smiled sadly. 'Yes. You definitely don't know him, Yuuki. He's very kind to me, but he's also the same implacable man behind every evil and darkness. He's the person you'll pray not to be on his bad side. If he wants me back, I can never say no. I'm sorry.'
She had asked Yuuki to inform everyone that she would be down in a few. Yuuki was reluctant to go; but after a pleading smile from his sister, he left the room without a word and went down. As he neared the vacant seat in the living room, his eyes directly flickered on the very intimidating man who looked to be in his late forties. His amber hair was neatly adorned to his side. He looked so tall and well-built than the four men standing steadily behind him. Yuuki wondered if he really was what they said he was—the cruel and heartless devil who was born in this world. His firm yet delicate face would give you an impression that he was kind, gentle and wiser than his age. He was remarkably very handsome, but his cold and formidable profile would alarmed you not to look at him even for a second.
Yuuki's inquisitive stare came to a halt when the man, who sat across his parents, looked at him with a blank expression. Even with the emptiness, Yuuki still felt the creepy feeling in his chest. The goose bumps on his arms and neck was an evidence of his trembling fear in meeting his dark, aggressive gaze. As he looked straight at the man, something in his head told him to say something, anything to break the heavy tension of their stares. Thankfully, his father, Yuuichiro, was the first to speak, asking him to sit beside him on the couch, thus breaking off their gaze. Before he sat beside his father, he told everyone that Yumi would be here in a minute. The man in front of him did not respond as though he did not hear Yuuki talking. Yuuki silently sat beside his father and dropped his gaze on his feet. 'Yumi, please hurry.'
After a couple of minutes of eerie silence, Yuuki was the first to notice Yumi on the stair. He failed to stop the audible gasp from leaving his throat as he stared hard at his beautiful sister. Instead of the pink pajamas she was on a while ago, she was now wearing a blue floral kimono and her hair was tied in a bun. Everyone followed his gaze and was mesmerized by Yumi's natural, breathtaking beauty. The tall, well-built man, in grey executive suit, stood at once after seeing the very person he so longed to see. Yumi stopped on her track, looking at the man apprehensively. "How are you doing, my dear Yumi?" He opened his arms wide and smiled delightedly at her. "Will you not give your old grandfather a big hug? He misses you so much."
Yumi smiled, relieved at hearing the cheerful voice coming from the very imposing man. She softly shook her head and grinned. "Of course not, grandfather." She said politely. She moved closer until she was inches away from the man. After taking a deep breath, she let her petite frame be encircled by the very hefty build. "I miss you, too, grandfather." She chuckled softly under the strong arms when she felt his grip tightened. "You're still as strong as ever."
"And you're smaller than I remember!" He inadvertently pushed Yumi rather harshly, which made Miki stood from her seat with Yuuichiro beside her. "Didn't I tell you to bring a chef and servants with you? You look like you never had eaten a good meal for months." He inhaled deeply and puckered his face. "You didn't even bring a single guard and your personal chauffeur after I told you so."
Yumi giggled nervously. "I'm doing well, grandfather. Please don't worry about that. I had my reasons why I did not bring them here." She glanced over to her mother for a moment then back at his grandfather, smiling. "I learned many things from staying here. Mother and Yuuichiro-san teach me a lot of things, great things. They take good care of me more than what servants could possibly do. And mother is really the best cook." She hoped her bright smile and her exaggerated answer were convincing enough to assure her awfully stern and unyielding grandfather that she was doing well. He might appear sweet and a loving grandparent towards her, but to other people, he was the all-powerful, ruthless, apathetic man behind the frighteningly enormous Sekamitomi Empire—the world's largest group of companies in the world. The ones who knew his name respected him with dread. Even the rulers of the world bowed down before him. He was the most powerful and most influential—the all-mighty Sekamitomi Senjii, the Head of the Sekamitomi Empire. Though the name was so known to the world, only a few could recognize his face with his name.
He looked at Miki in the eye with a stolid expression then shifted his icy gaze to the man beside her with disgust and animosity. He narrowed his eyes even more with open anger when Yuuichiro did not cower but instead, mirrored his glare.
Yumi saw the deadly, silent exchange between the two. She softly touched her grandfather's huge arms to bring him back his composure and attention to her. She smiled brightly when he returned his gaze with a loving smile. "I'm so happy you're here, grandfather." She said cheerfully.
Yumi sure was more surprised to see him here than the rest of the Fukuzawas. She knew how her grandfather worked all day, everyday. He was the busiest man she ever knew. For fifteen years she was with him, she never saw her grandfather resting or taking a break to go and talk to someone something so trivial. He had more than a hundred appointed deputies to do those works for him. For Yumi, his visitation today was the most insignificant meeting he had ever done. But in her heart, she was happy he was here. It only meant one thing—she's very important in her grandfather's life. The man became his only family after the most tragic incident happened in her life when she was only two years old. Since then, her grandfather made sure she had everything life could give. When she turned fifteen, her grandfather had asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she simply told him she wanted to see her mother.
"Yumi, my dear." His gentle, worried voice brought her back to the present. "What are you thinking?" He asked after discerning her solemn face.
She smiled sadly and embraced her grandfather once again. "Nothing. I just miss you. Thank you for seeing me, grandfather. I know how busy you are."
"It is always my greatest pleasure, my dear Yumi." They looked at each other's eyes after breaking off the embrace. His smile melted when he heard Yuuki coughing. Before he could glare at the boy, Yumi injected a nervous laugh. He looked at her, bewildered. "What is wrong, my dear?"
Yumi smiled and looked at him wistfully. "You have been working too hard, grandfather. You already have a wrinkle on your forehead." She earned a cheerful laugh from the man and a playful pat on her head. Thank goodness it worked. If not, poor Yuuki.
"I will stop working until you are ready to take over my power, my dear." He said with pride. His gaze traveled down from her face to her hand. "I am very pleased that you are still wearing that."
Yumi lifted her left hand, showing a very expensive-looking ring. The ring had an enormous letter S on the middle, which was coated with shiny blue diamonds. The blue diamonds were surrounded by pink diamonds and its black shoulders were paved with clear diamonds. "This is our family's symbol, grandfather. No matter where I am or who I am with, I am still your Yumi. I am always be a Sekamitomi. I will never take this off my finger."
"I am so glad to hear that." His pleasing smile was wide enough to reach his ears. "Come with me, my dear granddaughter. Your old grandfather wants to hear more of your stories." After glancing at his watch, he continued. "Ah! Let's have lunch, shall we?"
Yumi smiled and nodded. She turned and looked at the Fukuzawas behind her after her grandfather walked to the door with four guards hot on his heels. One female guard remained on her spot, seemingly waiting for Yumi to leave the house. "Megumi, please wait for me outside." Yumi said, not averting her gaze on her family. If she had just looked at her even for a flash, she would have caught the dejected look on her face.
"Forgive me, Ojou-sama. I am strictly not allowed to follow orders other than your grandfather's." The female guard said in a low, gentle voice. She bowed her head until Yumi moved towards the door after saying her sweet goodbyes to the Fukuzawas. She followed Yumi until her Ojou-sama got in the long, black limousine with her grandfather inside. She released a heavy breath with a small smile when she got in the passenger seat in the black sedan next to the limo. She was so happy she saw her beloved Ojou-sama once again. She had been depressed after she found out Yumi was leaving to be with her mother. Osaka Megumi was Yumi's only friend before the latter met the Fukuzawas. She was Yumi's partner in everything until to the very day Yumi left the mansion. Megumi had asked her commander if she could be with her Ojou-sama; but as she was one of the best guards the Sekamitomi had ever had, her request was directly declined. She's only eighteen years old, but her fighting skills and intelligence were incomparable. At the early age of sixteen, she became one of the five core guards of the Head of the Sekamitomi Empire, making her the youngest core guard in the history. A core guard was a highly noble position and distinguished privilege granted by the Head himself. It was greatly known worldwide for their exceptional talent in fighting, killing, and acquiring information. Other than the leaders and the most powerful men in the world, the core guards were the only ones who could directly talk to the Head. Yumi went on different intensive training with the best core guards as she grew up. Everyday was hell and every second was a nightmare. Megumi still remembered the day she went on training with her, the last day Yumi had spoken to her. It was that very day she extremely regretted until to this moment about telling her Ojou-sama what she had discovered while she went out for a task. If it was not for her, her most beloved Ojou-sama was probably still in her mansion, playing instruments and singing her self-composed songs to her. If she only did not divulge what she had learned, Yumi would not leave her. It was the greatest mistake she had ever done in her life. And she vowed to correct the wrong. She would do everything to have Yumi back. And it would be soon.
"Megumi, stay focus." A harsh, deep voice snapped her out of her painful reverie. She straightened up and nodded. "I'm sorry, sir." Her mind went back to Yumi's face as her eyes were locked on the back of the heavily tinted limousine.
They arrived at the very prestigious grand hotel where the fanciest and most expensive restaurant was at. As soon as the management found out who was on their guest list, they promptly prepared the biggest room for the special guest-of-honor—the Head of the Sekamitomi.
Yumi was walking gracefully beside her grandfather on a red carpet towards the golden, colossal doors. The room was secluded from the general view so possible threat was very minimal. Still, the core guards were always in high alert. Wherever the Head was, they always did their drills with perfection. Three core guards were closely following behind the Head and Yumi while the other two were at the front. The other thirty Sekamitomi securities were at the entrance and at different areas of the restaurant. Megumi and a man in his early twenties went in the room first. After the two gave a go signal, their middle-aged commander, who had a red Sekamitomi symbol on the upper left of his suit, directed the Head and Yumi inside the room.
The very fist thing Yumi saw was the circular table at the center of the room and huge chandeliers. Next to the circular table was a small table with cooking apparatus. Behind it were three of the restaurants best chefs. A fine young man, who introduced himself as the restaurant's manager and their servitor, greeted them with utmost respect. They all smiled and bowed after saying their greetings. Yumi smiled, but his grandfather did not even move a facial muscle. He barely looked at them and immediately sat on his seat. Yumi sat across her grandfather, glancing over the entire room. The room was pretty big, but there was nothing remarkable and extraordinary in Yumi's standards. It was something she often see in this kind of setting. In truth, it was nothing compared to the servants' sleeping quarters in her mansions. What impressed Yumi was the east wall of the room, which was entirely made of glass. It appeared to be the room was conveniently located where the people inside could clearly see the main dining hall of the restaurant.
"Don't worry, Yumi Ojou-sama. Only we could see the outside. The people in the main hall could not see us from there. What they only see is a huge mirror facing the hall." The commander explained.
Yumi nodded in understanding. She continued to look out and scanned the people in the hall. She could immediately tell they were from high socioeconomic status from their clothes and graceful bearings. What caught her eyes the most was the familiar, annoying face of Kashiwagi who talked animatedly to two grown men and a lady with a chubby face. What made her stopped breathing and eyes popped out was when Kashiwagi kissed the very beautiful raven-haired lady on the lips beside him. At once, Yumi's heart skipped a beat. What made her nerves trembled with cold feeling all over her body was the happy, satisfied smile on the lady's face. She felt her stomach tied in a nervous knot and her chest was so heavy that she wanted to puke out the sting of pain she felt inside. 'It can't be.' Heedlessly, she stood abruptly from her seat, not removing her intense gaze on the sweet, lovely couple outside. This did not go unnoticed by everyone who was greatly startled by her sudden action. Megumi and her grandfather, who knew her better, followed her gaze and were perplexed of what they saw. Megumi narrowed her eyes on the beautiful lady and glanced back at her Ojou-sama. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. Now, she knew. She understood.
"...Ojou-sama?" The light touch of her shoulder shook her out from her hysterical state. She was breathing heavily as she removed her gaze from the dining hall. She sat back on her seat, avoiding her grandfather's questioning stare as she tried hard to compose herself.
"My dear, Yumi? Is there anything wrong?" The worried voice of her grandfather had stuck in her ear, but she did not react as though she had not heard a word he had said. He regarded her thoughtfully for a moment and when he got nothing from her, he glanced at the man who had a red Sekamitomi symbol on his chest. "Hayashi, who are those young ones?" He looked back at the couple outside and noticed several familiar faces crowding the couple.
"The fine lady at the center is the only child and heiress of the Ogasawara and the young man beside her is her fiance, Senjii-sama." He answered smoothly with great respect.
"An Ogasawara?" He mumbled, quietly contemplating the scene before them. "Are they having a party or some sort?"
Hayashi gestured to the restaurant manager to speak and answer the Head's questions. With a big gulp, he bowed and faced the Head. "Ogasawara-sama and Kashiwagi-sama are Hibiki Yamazaki-sama's special guests. Hibiki-sama is the only son and the heir of the Yamazaki Corp. He is a good friend of Kashiwagi-sama and the Ogasawaras. It is said that today's gathering was his small present to the newly engaged couple."
"Newly engaged!?" Yumi's cold, daunting voice made the young manager jump and faced her with terror.
"Ye-Yes, they are engaged and their grand wedding has already been set."
Yumi's dark eyes glowed in an alarming shade of anger. Her grandfather knew all to well not to bother her. She was like him. Without a doubt, Yumi was definitely her granddaughter—having the dark blood of the Sekamitomi. But what was confusing to him was Yumi's furious reaction at seeing the couple. Whatever that bothered her, it was not his concern unless Yumi would ask him for his help.
The scrumptious, highly extravagant meal ended so well. Despite her anger and lack of interest on the food, she showed her grandfather that she was fine and glad she had a lone time with him. She did not let the dreadful news ruin their time together, especially, her grandfather's mood. It was just too rare to see him smiling and so happy. Yumi had stayed focus after recognizing the irritated look on her grandfather's face. Since then, she had avoided looking out the dining hall and had tried so hard to lighten up his mood.
At three, she asked her grandfather if she could go to the mall to buy things with him for the council's Christmas party. With a sad, regretful smile, her grandfather expressed his great pleasure in spending time with her, but explained that he had an important dinner-meeting in Russia and would be staying their until New Year. He embraced Yumi tightly and kissed her on the forehead, saying how much he would miss her beloved granddaughter.
They parted ways after her grandfather decided to drop her at the mall. He gave Yumi two small, blue boxes and a golden credit card with her name and picture on it, saying she did not need to get money in her bank accounts anymore. She bid her grandfather farewell and vented her gratitude and love for him with a kiss and a hug.
Inside the mall, she became highly curious of what the blue boxes were. She shook it twice and decided that it would be better to open it when she got home with Yuuki. Thinking of Yuuki, made her glance at her watch and was so shocked of the time. It was already four-thirty and she still had to find suitable gifts for him, her mom, and Yuuichiro-san. She also wanted to give her Yamayurikai family and Tsutako something this Christmas and a special gift she could give her girlfriend and Onee-sama. Her Onee-sama. She could never believe Sachiko would lie to her about the engagement, about their wedding. And seeing her kissed Kashiwagi with a happy, satisfied smile on her face was just too much for one day. She sighed hard, trying to let go the heaviness in her chest.
Yumi sighed loudly again, shaking her head vigorously. "No! No! I am not hearing this!" First, Kashiwagi's face kissing Sachiko had stuck in her head and now she heard his all too irritating voice. Could someone give her a break and leave her alone!?
Yumi walked hastily as if she was being chased. She strongly felt someone was following her; but with her still wearing the kimono, it was just so hard to run or walk faster.
Instantly, she stopped and turned around. A few feet away from her was Kashiwagi smiling with his signature idiotic smugness like it was permanently plastered on his unbearably handsome face. "Why are you running away from me, Yumi-chan?"
"Why are you chasing after me?" She snapped angrily like she was the victim of a sexual harassment. She peered over Kashiwagi's shoulder and furrowed his brow. "Why are you here?" She said, looking at Kashiwagi in the eye. "Where's Onee-sama?" She asked in a low tone, which made her wonder if Kashiwagi had heard her or not.
Kashiwagi stepped closer and arched a perfect brow. "You're at the restaurant with the Head of the Sekamitomi, aren't you." He pointed a finger to the kimono "And you're wearing that." His smirk widened as he moved a bit more closer. "Sa-chan is here, Yumi-chan." He turned and glanced at the well-lighted store near the mall's entrance. He turned back with a serious look on her face. 'You should be careful.' He smiled lightly and dramatically sighed, rolling his eyes. "Unless you want to be seen like that, go change your clothes and make sure it was the usual Fukuzawa Yumi outfit."
Yumi scrunched her brow in irritation. "I don't like the way you said it. Watch your tongue, Kashiwagi."
"I didn't mean to offend you, Sekamitomi Ojou-sama. I am just helping you remember that you are Fukuzawa Yumi-chan in the eyes of everyone." His gaze flickered on the dazzling ring on Yumi's finger. "In all honesty," He started. "I never understand why you are hiding your true identity. Sekamitomi is the most influential and powerful family. There is no other name like that in the world. You should be proud."
She raised her chin up and smirked. "I am proud, very proud. And as a matter of fact, I can kill you this instant and everyone else here if I wish to. That's how amazing having Sekamitomi in your blood, Kashiwagi. I would never deny who I am. But every family, no matter how rich or poor, has their own stories and secrets hidden somewhere in their past. Every one has its own history to tell or...bury. I know you have yours." She flashed an impish smile, which made Kashiwagi stepped a little back. "It will be too complicated if people know who I am. People who are dear to me will be interrogated, judged unfairly, and ridiculed restlessly. I can't let their peaceful lives shatter because of my selfish wants to be with them." She stepped forward and dropped her gaze on the granite floor. "Thank you for keeping my secret. Don't worry, I will tell her myself if the time is right. You know how your grandfather blame us for almost everything, from the fall of his empire to the death of his wife." She stopped at Kashiwagi's side and glanced sideways. "Congratulations on your engagement. You didn't even bother to tell me. It was so nice to see you kissed her so passionately, by the way. It made me want to hurl on your face." She continued her step and was later lost in the crowd.
Kashiwagi exhaled with force. He poked his brow with his palm as he turned around. "Aah..Yumi-chan...You—"
Kashiwagi's heart pounded so strong as though he had just seen a vicious criminal who wanted to take his head off. "Sa-chan!" He chuckled nervously. "What a pleasant surprise!"
"Are you out of your mind, Suguru-san?" Sachiko eyed Suguru sharply. "I heard you calling Yumi. Is she here?" 'I heartily felt her presence just like in the hotel. I can't shake the feeling off.'
"Ah! That! No. But I thought I saw her. It's funny how common Yumi-chan's face is." He burst out laughing, but mentally berating himself for acting so strange. It reminded him of Yumi acting all weird in front of Sachiko. It made him think whether Yumi was just acting it out or she was being real. Either way, she was proud of what Sachiko could do to Yumi. Not everyone could tame a beast. "Do you already have what you need, Sa-chan?" When Sachiko nodded, he smiled. "Ready to go?"
"Merry Christmas!" Jolly voices erupted the Yamayurikai meeting room. Takeshima Tsutako and the young Yamayurikai leaders were gathered around the table, all wearing their wide, joyful smiles, except Sachiko.
"Merry Christmas!" Yumi's cheery voice snapped everybody's attention to the opened door. Sachiko instantly lightened up at seeing Yumi who brought with her three shopping bags. "I'm so sorry I'm late, everyone." She took a glimpse of her Onee-sama and lowly smiled.
Sachiko returned the smile and shook her head softly. "It's okay."
"Yumi-chan! Is that all for me? Wow. You shouldn't have." Sei darted towards the door and offered Yumi to help her with her bags. She handed all her shopping bags other than the black leather bag hanging on her shoulder. Sei placed the bags on the small table at the corner of the room and went immediately to Youko and Eriko to help prepare the food.
Yumi was glad Sei changed greatly. Now, she acted like a responsible adult unlike the first time she met her. She was like a dirty old pervert back then who had lost control of her filthy hormones. "Thank you, Sei-sama!" Yumi called, smiling.
Sei grinned and waved. "Anything for my Yumi-chan! And don't you forget my gift and my kiss, Yumi-chan!" Or maybe she hadn't really changed at all. She was just acting responsible and all to get a kiss and her presents. Once a pervert, always a pervert.
A moment later, Yumi was called by Tsutako who was with Shimako and Yoshino at the kitchen. She went straight to her first year friends and greeted them with high spirit. They talked cheerfully with each other, not knowing Yumi was attentively being watched by her Onee-sama.
Sachiko gingerly and thoughtfully studied Yumi's every move, interaction, and expression. She closely watched how Yumi carried herself and talked to people. She had just noticed that the girl walked with natural grace. As if she was being trained to move like a fine lady for years. She moved like she was dancing on the air. Why did she not see it before? Maybe she had not really paying too much attention to her petite soeur. Because in her mind, Yumi was all too clumsy and uncoordinated. Was Yumi doing it on purpose in acting so lumpish? But why was she doing that? To get everyone's attention, her attention? Many questions already formed in her head and no answers could satisfy and quell the burning frustrations she felt inside. What ignited her need to know about the girl more was what happened five hours ago:
"I don't know if I really want to attend this gathering, Suguru-san. I have a bad feeling about this." Sachiko expressed her distress as she stared out the window.
"I understand, Sa-chan. You can take your time, but please don't make it too long. You know how those people are." Suguru was sitting next to her in the black sedan. They had already arrived at the hotel's driveway ten minutes ago. He was patiently waiting for Sachiko to collect herself before they would go inside the hotel's restaurant and meet the wealthy aristocrats.
Today's small gathering was very sudden. They were invited and informed a day and a half prior to the said party; so he could really not blame Sachiko to be so upset and uneasy. He knew how she hated gatherings like this and events with short notices were just a no-no to her. She only attended because his grandfather had eagerly asked them so. The hosts, the Yamazaki, were Ogasawara's old and closest family friend. They had helped them rose to power after they had fallen so bad in the past. Useful friends were to be cherished and valued while enemies and the worthless were to be destroyed. That's what it meant to be an Ogasawara.
"A minute more, Suguru-san." She asked, leaning her face against the window. She closed her eyes as she felt so lightheaded.
"Who are those!?"
The alarmed, curious voice of their chauffeur aroused her from her haze. She opened her eyes slowly, looking out the front window. What was laid before them was something they could only see on Hollywood movies. Men, who were geared up like national securities, were scattered in different locations in and outside the hotel. The hotel's highest management and their ten securities gathered at the main entrance, seemingly waiting for something really big. Everybody appeared to be so tense and excited. Her queries and curiosity were immediately answered by a long, black limousine and another two black sedans passing by their car. She didn't know why her heart was beating so fast, it only made her become more lightheaded when she saw the limo. Her breathing became heavy as she mindfully watched the limousine with deep interest. A female security from the first sedan opened the door and in a flash, a very tall, well-built man got off the limo. Seconds later, her eyes dilated at what was before her very own eyes. All her senses stirred up and at once, all she could see was the very beautiful, graceful lady wearing a blue, floral kimono. The crazy, nervous feeling in her stomach multiplied as she stared hard on her face. "Yumi." Her mouth fell open. She shook her head as she slowly moved to jump off the car, but Suguru grabbed her wrist before she could do so.
"Sa-chan! Don't do anything so reckless." He let her go after making sure she was in her composed self again. "We don't know that. As you can see, those people are really something. They will not hesitate to shoot us if we do something so stupid like chasing after them because we think the lady in blue kimono is our girlfriend."
Sachiko did not say anything. Maybe Suguru was right. She should not do such reckless things without thinking. But what she could not understand was why was her body—her heart and mind—were strongly telling her that she was right. The girl she saw was no other than the same girl she loved. That it was Yumi. Maybe her eyes would easily be deceived; but she was confident that her heart was strong enough that to tell if it was the girl she loved or not. "Yes. You're right, Suguru-san. My apologies. There's no way it could be Yumi. My eyes were just playing tricks on me." She looked at him for a while then smiled. "Shall we go inside?"
Sachiko blinked twice before the worried face of Yumi became clear in her hazy sight. She smiled, eyeing Yumi closely and noticed that the black leather bag was still hanging on her shoulder.
"Is there something bothering you?" Yumi canted her head to her side and furrowed her brow. She regarded her Onee-sama thoughtfully. "How was your day, Onee-sama?"
Sachiko was taken aback by her words. It was a usual greeting, in fact, Youko and Rei had asked her that a while ago. But there's something in Yumi's tone that made her so anxious. "Good. How about you, Yumi?"
"I had a great day. I was so fortunate to witness a romantic scene between two lovely people who were happily celebrating their engagement, Onee-sama. What moved my heart the most was when they kissed passionately in front of everyone like they were so in love." She grinned and averted her gaze. "They seemed so...so happy."
Sachiko became quiet for a while. She put a flawless deadpan mask, but at the back of her mind, she was extremely agitated. She couldn't tell if Yumi was telling her something or it was all a big coincidence. "Not all you see are real, Yumi. People lie and put on their masks all the time. Even to the people they love."
They met their gazes and the meaning behind the intensity of their stares was something the other was oblivious about. "Why are you suddenly so serious, Onee-sama?" She chuckled softly. "Do you do that to the ones you love?"
"I think we all do." was the simple, cool reply from Sachiko. She put a small, knowing smile and brushed Yumi's pigtail with her fingers. "I think tying your hair in a bun suits you more, Yumi."
Yumi forced a smile but inside, she was strikingly blown away by what Sachiko had said. Did she saw her in the restaurant? If so, why did Kashiwagi not tell her something that important? Or was it all just a coincidence? All the questions rumbled dreadfully in her head. She was becoming desperate and anxious to know the answers all at once. The serious debate in her head was cut by Sei calling them "Love birds!" so loud that it made everybody look at them.
Sachiko glowered at the Rosa Gigantea while Yumi was fighting back a wide smile. The brunette was silently thanking the blonde for unconsciously saving her from the awful predicament. It was much better than being on the hot seat with Sachiko.
"Itadakimasu!" They cheered around the table, all facing Rei who single-handedly prepared the mouthwatering foods. The heavenly desserts were made by Shimako and Yoshino with the small help of Tsutako.
"Wow! The roast beef is so tasty, so tender! It's so delicious!" Tsutako exclaimed, savoring every bite of her juicy meat. "Did you really cook this, Rei-sama?"
Rei opened her mouth to respond, but Yoshino cut in. "Of course, Tsutako-san! Rei-chan is the best cook there is!" Rei smiled humbly, quietly munching her food.
After their exquisite dinner, they exchanged gifts. Yumi first gave her gifts to the Roses then to Rei, Yoshino, and Tsutako. She handed her small rectangular gift to Shimako when she was alone at the table. "I hope you like it, Shimako-san. When I first saw it, I smiled because it greatly reminded me of you."
Shimako was speechless. She looked at Yumi then to the black, rectangular box. She highly wondered what it was. "Thank you, Yumi-san." She pulled the silver ribbon, but Yumi halted her hand when she was about to lift the cover.
"Please wait until Christmas." She smiled brightly, flashing her beautiful teeth.
Shimako dipped her head, flushing tremendously. "O-okay." She pushed back the cover and tied the ribbon back. "This is a Christmas gift, after all." She looked at Yumi again and mirrored her smile.
Shimako's sweet smile melted when she heard Sachiko's cold voice calling Yumi from behind. Yumi turned around immediately, but what made her heart stopped with joy was when Yumi turned back around to embrace her and softly kissed her on the neck, and whispered "Merry Christmas, Shimako."
Of course, what people only saw was Yumi was only embracing Shimako. They did not see the kiss or the whisper. Sachiko did not like the fact that Yumi did what she did. But she didn't like to act like an overly jealous and protective girlfriend to Yumi while she had done something much worst than hugging a friend without her girlfriend's consent. She shook her jealousy and told herself that Yumi was in love with her and not with Shimako. Shimako was just a good friend to her and to Yumi. There's nothing wrong being too friendly to your friend, right? She hoped she was right.
Sadly, the lively party ended fifteen minutes before nine. Though they still want to enjoy the party, two guards were already outside the Rose Mansion, waiting for them to end the night. They were only given permission to party until nine by the school board. Because they could not do anything about it, the Roses, particularly Sei, suggested to continue the party in a karaoke bar near her apartment. And everyone agreed that they would all be staying the night at Sei's house besides the kill-joy, Sachiko.
She apologized and vented her reason, saying her chauffeur was already at the gate and that her family would not allow her to stay so late and spend the night in someone else's house. Everyone seemed to understand her. They knew how strict her family were when it came to her safety so they assented and let her go. What surprised them was when Yumi said her quick apology, bid them goodbye, and ran after her Onee-sama.
When she was a couple of feet away from the gate, Yumi called her Onee-sama, who was about to get inside the sedan. Sachiko instantly turned around and smiled blissfully. "Yumi? What are you doing here?"
"Onee-sama? Can I spend the night with you instead?" She walked slowly towards her, looking straight into her eyes. "I rather be with you and do nothing than having fun with them without you."
Sachiko's smile widened and when she could not hold in her excitement any longer, she covered her mouth and started to giggle.
Yumi pouted with a frown. "Why are you laughing? Is my face really that hilarious?" She said, feigning a hurtful look on her face.
Sachiko's laughter subsided as she remembered what Suguru had told her about how common Yumi's face was. It only brought her back to the moment she stared hard at the lady in blue kimono. She considered Yumi's face closely, trailing from her hair down to her chin. The nervous feeling inside her stomach and the beat of her heart and what her eyes had seen were all telling her one thing—she was right. She could never be wrong. There would be only one thing left to do now. That was to—
"Onee-sama?" Yumi's crooked voice jerked her out of her thought. "You still didn't answer me."
Sachiko smiled slyly and teased. "What? If your face is really hilarious or the reason why I am laughing?" She giggled merrily when Yumi scrunched her face in a very adorable childish frown. "Hmm...let me see..." She pinched Yumi's cheeks and grinned. "Fine. You can stay with me." She ended it with a playful sigh.
Yumi perked up and embraced her. "Thanks, Onee-sama!"
The ride to the Ogasawara Mansion was silent, as usual. Sachiko pretended to be asleep while Yumi was clutching his black leather bag more tightly. Every now and then, Sachiko would steal a glimpse under her pink blanket at Yumi and the mysterious leather bag. She could not explain why, but after seeing that bag, it had shaken her doubts even more. She had this urgent need to look what was inside. She had known Yumi to be so careless to her things, but what was happening now was very much contrary to her usual carefree personality. She had guarded that bag the whole evening and not even once she let go of it.
She felt the car stopped and she pulled the blanket slowly from her face. She asked the chauffeur to go ahead and inform the maids to prepare her room. She smiled at Yumi, after telling her orders, who was also flashing her a smile. "I have to tell you something." She said with a smirk.
Yumi's eyes widened and grinned. "What? Is it something naughty again?" She laughed when Sachiko raised her brow in a sexy manner.
"No. And yes." She earned a puzzled look from the brunette and explained. "No, we are not talking dirty things because we are not Sei-sama. And Yes, I will consider this as something naughty since this will be the first time I will be doing this."
Yumi's eyes brightened. Her body trembled with overflowing excitement. She grinned knowingly and blurted out "We are really going to do this!?"
Sachiko furrowed her brow in confusion. She scrunched her nose when she finally realized what caused Yumi to be so thrilled. "No! We're too early for that, Yumi! We're just going to talk, no dirty talk. Just—I just want to know more about you. And I want you to know more about me, too."
Yumi fell silent. She felt quite nervous of their upcoming talk. Should this be the right moment to tell Sachiko the truth or forget it and lie again? Yes, she badly wanted to open up about the engagement and the wedding and she also loved to know every single thing about her, but could she also open up her own secrets as well? There were still so many things to tell and others were dark enough to ruin a bond and relationship. Not only her name but everyone she loved would also be tainted and disgraced. Should she tell her everything about her or continue the lie and the deceit? Was now really the right time? What would happen if she would tell her the truth? To make everything short, what should she do?
(to be continued...)
I hope the revelation is not too much for you, guys. This is only the beginning of the long drama. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story so watch out for that. Now that you know who Yumi really is, can you guess about the other characters? Don't be deceived. They are not what you think they are. Until next time. :D