Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you all have been having a great time with your family and friends. It's been so long since I've written a story and now that I finally have a break from school, I can now return to my love for Skip Beat by writing about my all time favorite characters. This one will be a shorter story than I normally write, but I hope you will all enjoy it just the same. Thanks again for all the support! Please Read and Review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Skip Beat or any of its characters.
"Ahhh…" Kyoko groaned weakly as she curled her head into her chest. She had never felt so miserable in her life. Her head throbbed as if someone was pounding it with a meat cleaver, her eyes were squeezed tight against the blinding light that she knew would come to greet her as soon as she opened them, and her throat was as dry as the Sahara desert. Groaning again into her pillow, she was about to pull the thick covers over her head when it was suddenly wrenched away from her grasp.
"MO! KYOKO! GET UP ALREADY!"
"Moko-san," Kyoko whined as she covered her now-ringing ears with both hands. "Please don't yell...my head hurts."
She harrumphed. "Well no wonder," Kanae chided unsympathetically as she crouched down upon her calves and pulled her friend's hands away from her face. "Serves you right for drinking so much last night."
"Drinking?" Kyoko repeated weakly, curling herself into an even tighter ball.
"Yes, drinking. At the rate you were going, I'm surprised you're actually alive."
Confused beyond reason, Kyoko tentatively opened one eye and was nearly burned alive from the bright glare from the open windows. She moaned again and flipped herself over until her face was completely pressed against her pillow.
"MO!" Kanae shouted as she roughly rolled her friend back. "Enough already! Get up!"
"Moko-san, can you please shut the blinds?" Kyoko whimpered.
Kanae stood up and crossed her arms irritably. "NO. Thanks to you, I need to air out my room from the stench you brought home last night."
"Stench? What are you—?"
Jumping to action, Kyoko quickly lifted her head and forcefully opened her eyes. Squinting and rubbing her head with one hand, she rose to a sitting in a position and scanned her surroundings. There was a white desk in one corner, a neatly made bed on the opposite wall, and a closet brimming with clothes. All in all, this wasn't her room.
Grimacing from the sharp throb in her head that seemed to return tenfold, Kyoko ran her fingers through her hair and said, "What am I doing in your room, Moko-san?"
Kanae snorted. "Wow, you really don't remember a thing, do you?"
She gazed up at her towering friend who was already dressed in a delicate blue dress with her dark tresses combed off to one side. Kyoko shook her head pathetically at the sight of her and murmured, "Not really…"
"Not even the Christmas party?"
And that was when it finally clicked.
"The Christmas party…"
It was the end of the year LME extravaganza that President Lory threw in honor of everyone's hard work. Every single person, from the actors to the office workers to the help, was invited to his large mansion for what many people deemed to be the party of the year. The days that led up to the occasion practically crackled with excitement. If anyone knew President Lory, they would whole-heartedly understand that he'd pull out just about every stop to make this a night that will go down in history.
Of course, being the simple-minded girl she was, Kyoko had no plans on showing up. She was never comfortable at events like these when the time called to socialize and mingle. But after receiving the flamboyant invitation that was personally delivered by a group of green elves and Santa Clause himself (whom she highly suspected to be the president), Kyoko knew she didn't really have a choice in the matter.
Kanae had undoubtedly felt the same as her friend and had no desire to attend either. But considering there was no way out of the predicament, the two decided to at least have fun preparing for it by shopping and hitting the salon. The hours before the start of the party, however, were what Kyoko remembered most.
With her flaming hair straightened and elegantly held up by a shimmering crystal clip on one side, Kyoko chose to wear a deep ruby gown that left her slender shoulders bare and elegantly pooled at the feet of her black stilettos. Kanae, whose hair was also pinned up into soft curls, chose a beautiful dress with a sweet-heart neckline that hit right at her knees and flowed like a wave of ivory satin. So even though Kyoko dreaded the party, she couldn't help but enjoy the time she spent with her best friend. For the first time in her life, she finally felt like a regular teenager instead of a girl too mature beyond her years.
By eight o'clock that night, Kanae and Kyoko were promptly picked up at Darumaya by President Lory's private limo service. Unable to hold back their gasp of awe when the car rolled up, the two reluctantly climbed in and nearly felt their jaws drop to the carpeted floor at the heavenly sight before them. They weren't sitting in a car. They were sitting in a pad, decked with a thin plasma television, a fancy stereo system, and a leather couch that looped around the entire back area.
With so much to gawk at, the ride to President Lory's home didn't take nearly as long as they thought it would. But as soon as they stepped out, the girls realized with wide eyes that the glorious limo instantly paled in comparison to the decorations around the president's large estate.
Coated with what looked like real snow, the house glimmered in the moonlight like a white winter castle. Bright lights were strung all around the border and numerous Christmas figurines were smartly placed around the front yard. A winding, cobbled path led to the glittery front door that had a large green wreath attached to the top.
The view inside was even more breathtaking. The party was held on the fifth floor in a giant ballroom with top-to-bottom glass windows that were frosted with ice to give them a more wintery feel. Large, diamond-encrusted chandeliers dressed in holly hung from the ceiling and at every wall there sat a large white table filled with every kind of Christmas-influenced food known to man.
At least two hundred people were already on the dance floor and another couple of hundred people could have still fit comfortably if necessary. Classical music from the hired orchestra, whose members were all dressed in white and amusing red Santa hats, swept across the colossal space, creating an atmosphere that was both warm and inviting.
Kyoko and Kanae were right to decide on dressing fancy for the occasion because every guest had obviously thought the same. All the women wore some type of gown, whether flashy or plain, embroidered or beaded while the men donned tuxedos or suits. And to Kyoko's dismay, many people had approached her from across the dance floor and enthusiastically complimented her on her choice of dress, from her friend Itsumi to senior actor Kajima who oddly kept her company for most of the beginning of the party.
But the one compliment that really made her night came from someone who didn't arrive until much later. With just barely a foot inside the room, he instantly stole everyone's attention as they all turned in unison at his silent arrival. In a crisp tux of black and white with red holly cleverly pinned at his breast pocket, Tsuruga Ren easily overtook the show. Even Kyoko couldn't stop herself from gawking as he smoothly made his way across the glistening floor with his best friend and manager Yashiro in tow.
When he casually met her wide-eyed gaze, Ren flashed such a breath-taking smile in her direction that Kyoko was sure she was going to be blind forever. But instead of turning away, she shyly stood before him and bowed her head low in greeting. And in a voice that she couldn't help but compare to wind chimes, he said with softened eyes:
"You look lovely."
The present-day Kyoko pressed her face into her hands, feeling the heat pool at her cheeks from the memory. Even now, she could recall every detail from that very moment—his warm gaze, the way her heart thumped loudly in her chest, and the intense trembling in her knees. But oddly enough, the events that followed after were incredibly fuzzy. The only thing that really registered in her mind was that the nervousness she had felt from his arrival had slowly dissipated as the night passed.
"Mo, how far back can you remember?" Kanae piped in when she realized her friend wasn't going to start talking again.
Shaking her head, she replied, "Only the beginning, everything after is…" She shrugged.
"Hmm, that sounds about right."
Kyoko looked at her in puzzlement. "What do you mean?"
Sitting beside her upon the cot, Kanae said, "We were there for like an hour before you started to enjoy the eggnog a little too much."
Kanae nodded. "You know, that creamy, peppermint drink in the tall crystal glass with the tinsel wrapped around it?"
Kyoko's eyes brightened in remembrance. She did remember that. During the party, there was a drink that was served around all night. Never having tried eggnog before, Kyoko reluctantly took a sip and to her pleasant surprise found the drink to be quite delicious. Not to mention the meticulous decoration only made it even more appealing to the young actress and thus prompted her to drink even more of it.
She suddenly furrowed her eyebrows and turned back to her stern friend. "What does the eggnog have anything to do with it?"
"Mo, the drink had alcohol in it."
Snickering at her response, Kanae said, "I knew it. You forgot."
Kyoko dropped her leaden-shame-filled head into her hands. She couldn't believe how careless she was! Never once in her life had she ever drank that much alcohol. The occasional sip of wine and sake whenever she worked at the inn was really all the experience she had, but to think she drank to the point of being a drunk was horrendous!
"How…bad...was I?" she mumbled pathetically, not really wanting to know the answer at all.
Kanae scoffed. "How should I know? You disappeared shortly after."
Her head sprang up in surprise. "What?"
"Yeah, I lost track of you. You suddenly wandered off somewhere and I didn't see you until the very end of the party."
Kanae's eyes suddenly narrowed. "And to think, I was all concerned about you for nothing when you were just out having fun."
"Wait, what?" Kyoko said with another shake of her head. "What are you talking about, Moko-san?"
Then with an irritated huff, Kanae reached over the cot and grabbed Kyoko's pink cell phone lying upon the floor. Flipping the device open, she clicked a few buttons before looking at her friend sternly in the eye. Kyoko leaned back, somewhat fearful of what was going to come next. It couldn't possibly be good.
"I suggest you think long and hard about what happened, Kyoko, because I demand a damn good explanation."
"An explanation…for what, Moko-san?" she murmured hesitantly.
Kanae glared as she handed Kyoko the phone. "For this."
"OH MY GOD!"