Kotoko rose from her seat and saved her pencils in her purse and slid the notebook afterward. Carrying her books close to her chest, she glanced to a side and found Keita gone. She searched for him throughout the small crowd huddle around the exit, but she did not find him.
She turned her attention to Tomoko. "Have you seen Keita?"
Tomoko searched for him out of instinct. "I saw him a moment ago. He probably left."
"Oh... Okay. Well... I'll see you around then."
She waved a hand, and in return, her friend smiled.
"See you next week, Kotoko."
The crowd had dispersed around the exit. She left the classroom and walked down the corridor, her shoes tapping away the silence shrouded around her. She heard faintly the idle chatter nearby as a group of friends walked in front of her, lost in their own conversation.
She walked around them and headed toward Irie's location. To her surprise, Motoki rested against the wall, waiting patiently for someone. Or maybe he was waiting for her husband to ogle and offer his companionship. But when his eyes rested on hers, she somehow knew that he was waiting for her as he eased off the wall and awaited her approach.
"Hey, are you heading out tonight?" she asked.
"Nah, I'm heading home. What about you? What are you doing tonight?"
Kotoko gave him a smile. "Spend some time with my hubby."
Motoki glanced down the hallway, and then gave a knowing smile. "Are you sure about that?"
Kotoko perked an eyebrow. "What makes you think otherwise?"
He still kept that know-it-all smile. It irked her that she knew nothing at what he was suggesting.
"Trust me, he has plans," he said.
At first, she had thought he was toying with her. But he then grabbed her by the arms and spun her around. Down the hallway, Irie stood near the classroom door, chatting to a woman Kotoko had never met. Tall with a lean physique, she had an acquittal face. Her dark hair was pulled in a low ponytail, and she was dressed professionally—dark slacks with a pretty blouse.
From where she stood, Kotoko could barely hear their conversation. But she knew the woman was no threat to her. Irie was a loyal man, incapable of cheating.
In a few seconds, the woman left down the hallway. Irie returned to the classroom after her departure.
Motoki then released her.
She quickly needed to explain her husband's actions, not wanting a misinterpretation. The last thing she wanted was rumors that her husband was cheating when clearly that was not the case.
"She's a friend. She probably invited him out to eat with the rest of their classmates."
"Would a friend pull you to a side and talk to you when no one is around?" he countered.
"Do you want me to worry?" She turned to look at him. "I trust Irie."
"Do you really?"
"Yes, of course," she said quickly. Irie would never cheat on her, she had thought to herself. But still Motoki had managed to fill her mind with doubts. "They are friends. Nothing is going to happen," she insisted, mostly to her benefit.
Even she found that to be a lie.
Motoki apprehensively looked at her. "Are you sure you're not jealous?"
Shaking her head, she said, "No."
But, in fact, she was. Motoki did not need to know that, however. It was just an instinct reaction to what she had seen. Jealously was common to occur in relationships.
"I'm going to go." She no longer wanted to think about the other woman. "Oh, by the way, have you seen Keita?"
"He left with Marina," he answered.
"Oh… Thanks for telling me."
Disappointed, she turned on her heel and concealed her confused expression. All day, Keita had ignored her, without giving a clue to what she had done. She had wanted to talk to him in private, but it seemed she would have to call him later tonight, if he responded to her calls that is.
She turned halfway, quizzically looking at her friend.
"You know you can tell me anything right?"
It was as if Motoki was hinting at something. But she didn't pay much attention to him, not when her mind was thinking about someone else.
He gave her a soft smile. "Take care."
He glided down the hallway to the exit with relative ease. She liked how confident he was in his steps.
She headed toward the opposite direction and entered Irie's classroom. With a black, slim briefcase, he closed it shut and snapped the locks on. He held it in one hand, wrapping his fingers against the cool handle.
"You ready?" she asked.
He slipped past her with little effort. Ignored, she hugged her books tighter to her chest and retreated from the doorway to follow after her husband.
Kotoko closed the door behind her and bended to remove her shoes. Resting them next to her husband's, she placed on her slippers and watched as her husband headed up the stairs in slow steps.
"Do you want anything to eat?" she asked.
He answered harshly, "No."
He then disappeared around the corner, his steps fading behind the slam of a door. She moved her feet forward and dumped her books on the coffee table and her purse on the couch. Heading into the kitchen, she heated up a bowl of leftover ramen.
"What am I going to do?" she mumbled to herself.
Kotoko had thought that after last night things would've run much smoother now between Irie and her. Instead, he had grown distant and pushed her away when she had wanted to give him a hug this morning.
He had told her a little after, "I need to get going," as if last night had meant nothing to him.
She felt disappointed in him. In high hopes, she was waiting for the morning sex; the opportunity to see his face above her just like last night. With soft eyes, he had gazed at her from above, resting on elbows. He had pushed away her bangs from her sweaty face and had planted a kiss along her jawline. He was delicate. He was passionate. And for once, he had shown concern.
He had showered her with love and brutally took it away the next day.
The microwave dinged and distracted her from her thoughts. She slowly pulled out her bowl of ramen and walked toward the coffee table, resting in the living room. Returning to the kitchen, she closed the microwave door and grabbed a pair of chopsticks.
On the floor, she grabbed the remote nearby and turned on the television, setting it on a drama program. The dramatic music blocked out the silence as she slurped her noodles and concentrated on the television screen.
Irie entered the living room area when the program became intense. He had a hand tucked in his jean pocket as he glanced at the screen.
"Your mother made some ramen. It's on the stove," she informed.
He responded, "I'm not hungry."
He had taken the empty couch beside her and focused on watching the program. Two of the main characters were in a deep confrontation. Any second one of them would snap and shove the other off the edge.
A shocking tune played as a commercial took the screen. Kotoko pushed her bowl to a side and looked at her husband.
"You're acting strange today."
He chose not to respond.
She asked, "If something was bothering you, you would tell me, right?"
"It depends if you did the same."
She looked away for a moment. Could she really tell him that his attitude was what was bothering her? What would his response be if she told him that? Would it be something terrible that will ruin their marriage?
"Well, do you have something that is bothering you, Kotoko?" he asked, almost as if he was taunting her.
"No," she denied.
She did not want to face the result to her action; in other words, losing Irie was not worth telling her troubles.
"I don't either," he responded.
He stood up from his seat and headed to the backyard. Alone, Kotoko placed her hands on her face and sighed. The noodles turned cold in a matter of minutes. She stood up and dumped them in the trash, no longer hungry.
She did not see her husband again until 7:30 rolled by. Wearing a button-up crisped, white shirt, he strapped a black tie around his neck and then placed on the coat. He looked dashing in a suit.
"Where are you going?"
He never dressed that fancy unless there was an important matter to attend.
He headed to the main entrance. She followed behind his trail of cologne.
Slipping on his dress shoes, he opened the door.
"I'll be back later."
And without telling her where he was going, he closed the door behind his exit and entered a taxi. She returned to the living room and muted the television. Taking several breaths, she rested on the couch, her back pressed against the cushions. She blankly looked at the ceiling.
Her phone then vibrated against the coffee table. She reached for it and answered the call, without checking the caller id.
"Kotoko, we'll be home tomorrow morning."
Hearing Mrs. Irie's voice on the other end lifted her sadden mood somewhat.
"I understand. I'll tell Irie."
"Oh, by the way, if you look under your bed, you will find a pair of sexy lingerie. Trust me, you will love them, and so will Irie."
She heard Yuuki shout in the background, "Don't talk about this stuff in front of me!"
Mrs. Irie laughed, unbothered that her son had listened.
"Don't worry, Yuuki. I'll buy your future wife some sexy lingerie to make you happy."
"Mom!" His voice shrieked behind the line, no doubt embarrassed.
"Anyway, take care and have some fun."
Mrs. Irie hung up.
Kotoko rested her phone on the table. But not a second later, her phone vibrated to life. She rolled off the couch and sat on her knees. This time she checked the caller id.
It was Keita who was calling.
Flipping her phone open, she answered, "Keita, what's going on?"
"I'm outside your door."
He hung up after that.
Shocked, she placed her phone on the table and rushed to her feet. In a quick stride, she opened the main door, and surely enough, he stood with both hands in his jean pockets.
"What are you doing here?"
He quickly explained, "I came to see you, even though I shouldn't after you ditched me last night."
She gasped. How could she have forgotten that last night she had plans with him? She pressed her fingers against her forehead, ashamed that she didn't even called him to explain.
Then he said, "I am a little upset but not over that. I'm upset because you told me that I couldn't see you anymore."
She jerked away from shame and into confusion. "I never told you that."
He persisted, "Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't."
He pulled out his phone and located the message that she 'supposedly' sent him. He quickly handed his phone over to her when he found it.
"There is the text message to prove it."
She took the phone from his hand. The message no doubt came from her phone. How was it possible? She drew away from the door, reading the message over and over, as if she was searching for a clue. Keita entered the house and shut the door behind him.
She turned to him. "I didn't—"
Then it clicked. Her husband had her phone last night for a moment. Could it be that he sent a text message to Keita? Could her husband do such a thing?
She snapped to reality.
"I'm sorry, Keita. I was drinking last night with Irie. I wanted to text you and tell you that I wouldn't make it, but I was angry."
He frowned. "Why were you angry?"
She forced a smile through her nervousness, not wanting to get caught in her lie. "I was arguing with Irie."
He quickly grew worried. "You guys were arguing?"
Kotoko looked away. "Y-yes."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." She then asked, "Are you hungry, by the way?"
Keita nodded his head. "A bit."
And just like that, she had managed to convince him.
She beckoned him to the kitchen and heated up a second bowl of ramen. Sitting on the living room floor, they both lost track of the time as a suspenseful movie played, catching their attention.
The woman in the scene kept inching forward in the dark, searching for the light switch. She was unaware of the trap laid in front of her. Just as her foot moved over the spikes, Kotoko screamed in tune with the main character as Keita had purposely touched her knee and shouted, "Boo!"
He laughed at her face of horror.
"I'm sorry. I had to. You were really into the movie."
She punched him in the arm lightly and scowled softly. He totally caught her off guard. It was not her fault that the scene captivated her as the woman fell into the trap. But still, she could not help but giggle at her silliness.
With his hand still resting on her knee, she was unaware of her husband entering the living room until the lights flashed on. She had turned them off to experience the movie better in the dark. She blinked her eyes several times to adjust to the light as she looked at her husband in shocked.
The color in her face had drained into a pale complexion. She then glanced at Keita and noticed that his hand was still resting on her knee. Following her eye, he slowly removed his hand and looked toward the coffee table.
Kotoko quickly reached for the remote as a loud commercial came to the screen. Shutting it off, she placed the remote back on the table and anxiously waited for her husband to speak. Instead, as the silence grew, so did her nerves.
"Welcome home," she said.
He scoffed and looked away for a moment. "What are you doing here?" he addressed Keita.
Kotoko looked at her friend and watched as he returned Irie's serious gaze with his own. He then stood on his feet and faced her husband directly. Her heart raced uncontrollably in her chest when her husband made the first move and approached them.
Notes: I apologize for being late with the update. I did have writer's block, but as you can see, I overcame it. I will try update regularly, but at the moment, I'm trying to finish one story at a time. But I will try to update weekly, if not monthly.
Thanks for reading and/or reviewing and/or putting this in favorites and/or following.