Happy almost New Year everyone! I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas with your friends and family. Once again, thank you for the positive reviews and support. It was a great gift! :D I hope you like this chapter as much as the rest! Please Read and Review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Skip Beat or any of its characters.


There were only two things that registered within Kyoko's mind. One: she had to breathe. Two: she needed to reply. Any word would do, any word at all. Because the longer she stared into his large brown eyes, the more she was drowning, drowning into something she knew she wouldn't be able to pull herself out of. She had to speak!

Ren, whose sensual smile hadn't changed, gently curled his longer fingers around her smooth neck and murmured, "We were just like this."

Kyoko's eyes widen, her body trembling from the deep, seductive tremor of his voice.

"Just this close, just this intimate," he whispered softly. "There was no one in the garden except for us. I remember the feel of the cool grass pressing into my back, the sounds of cold water falling onto stone, the golden glow from the lights above us."

Ren then raised his other hand and brushed his fingers across her frozen lips. Kyoko's heart lurched in her chest as he continued, "But the one thing I remember most is you."

She took in a shaky breath, dreading the humiliating words that would follow.

Ren must have noticed her change in mood because he suddenly cupped her blushing cheek within his hand and smiled gently. "It was freezing outside. I was quite worried about you. But no matter the temperature, no matter how much your body trembled, your cheeks were still stained this beautiful crimson."

His gaze softened. "Your eyes were somewhat glazed over, but your lips were curved into the most angelic smile, as if there was nothing in the world that could ever go wrong. I was completely entranced."

Kyoko had the strongest urge to lower her head, away from his penetrating gaze, but he held her so firmly that she could only stare deeply into his heated eyes. The feeling of his smooth skin against hers burned like fire and it was as if he was the only anchor holding her to reality—even when this moment felt absolutely surreal. She was very aware of what kind of position she was in, but the will to move had escaped her. Ren was just everywhere.

Then with barely a feather's touch, he rubbed his thumb across her cheek and murmured, "I think a part of me knew that it was bound to happen, but I didn't bother to stop it."

Kyoko swallowed the heavy lump in her throat and closed her eyes shut. "Is that when…?"

He smiled and nodded. "I kissed you."

"Oh my god….Tsuruga-san, I'm so—"

She suddenly wrenched her eyes open in surprise. "Wait, what?"

Ren's smiled broadened at her dumbstruck expression as he asked, "Yes?"

"W-w-w-what did you say?"

"I kissed you."

"You…kissed me?" she repeated reluctantly, her eyes now the size of golden baseballs as she tried to find the lie within his calm expression.

"Yes."

Kyoko couldn't believe it. It couldn't be true. Then without thinking about it, she leaned back into a sitting position until she was comfortably straddling his hips. Ren stayed where he was, watching her eyes flicker with confusion.

"I didn't kiss you?" Kyoko whispered.

Shaking his head, Ren replied, "No, you didn't."

"Then why is there a picture on my phone?"

Ren laughed, casually running his hand through his hair. "Mogami-san, in your state of mind, did you really think it would be hard for me to convince you to take your phone out so I could snap a shot?"

Kyoko moved her head back and forth vigorously. "Hold on! This doesn't make any sense! Why—?"

She stopped.

Then feeling the heat rush straight to her face, she tried again in a quiet murmur, "Why would you kiss me, Tsuruga-san?"

Ren's eyes glinted dangerously. "Do you really want to know the answer to that question, Mogami-san?" he answered in a low voice.

She froze, feeling her heart constrict tightly in her chest.

Ren suddenly exhaled and stared at her with a thoughtful expression. "I wonder, Mogami-san," he began slowly. "How is it that you see me?"

"What do you mean?" she murmured.

Ren's eyes darkened. Then in a fluid motion, he swiftly sat up until both of her hands naturally went to his chest, eliciting a small gasp from her lips. Pressing their bodies together, he wrapped a powerful arm around her waist and whispered, "Right now, what am I to you?"

Kyoko bit down on her lip, painfully aware of their intimacy. But forcing herself to breathe, she replied, "You're my senior, Tsuruga-san."

"Your senior and your mentor, am I right?"

Kyoko nodded helplessly.

Deliberately slow, Ren suddenly leaned forward until their foreheads touched, his dark eyes boring deeply into her amber gaze. Then in a voice for her ears only, he murmured under his breath, "But there is one factor you must never forget, Mogami-san."

She blinked confusedly.

Ren's eyes gleamed. "That I'm also a man with only so much self-restraint."

Her body shivered unconsciously. His words slithered through her veins, casting a flame to all of her nerves. She instinctively gripped the fabric of his shirt tighter within her tiny fist, trying with all her might to get back to the ground. Although she should be afraid of the words that escaped his lips, Kyoko realized that it wasn't fear that had clamped her mouth shut. It was something else entirely, something she shouldn't be feeling at all.

Ren's gaze softened. He knew he was reaching the edge of his limit. His hands nearly shook with the desire to go onward, to take this to the level he so desperately wanted. In the position he was in, he could have easily push her onto her back, press her body into the couch, and let the events unfurl. But that wasn't why he lied.

He lied because he didn't want her to be ashamed. He lied because he wanted to give her peace of mind. But more importantly, he lied so that she would understand that their kiss was shared as a man and woman, and nothing else.

But noticing that she hadn't moved at all in the last couple of minutes, Ren gently released her and leaned back until there was sufficient space between them. "Let this be a lesson to you, Mogami-san," he began in his usual, professional tone, "that not everyone has the purest intentions even while you do."

"And you?" she whispered.

Ren felt the beast inside him stir in eagerness. She asked, didn't she? Shouldn't he show her? But firmly reigning himself back, he only flashed a small, controlled smile and said, "If you could see yourself through my eyes, you would understand that even I'm not immune to your charms."

Kyoko blushed beet red. What in the world did she become when she was drunk?

"However, that still doesn't excuse me for what I did," Ren said with a shake of his head. "Therefore, I sincerely apologize for causing you such distress, Mogami-san."

Grateful now that they were on a topic she felt better control of, Kyoko crossly stared at the man before her and said, "So why did you take a picture?"

Ren chuckled amusedly and replied, "As proof."

She arched an eyebrow.

"To show you that your antics, whether you meant them or not, are incredibly dangerous."

"Well you don't have to worry, Tsuruga-san," Kyoko began stubbornly, "Because I will never drink a sip of alcohol ever again."

"Does this mean I'm forgiven?"

"Of course not! You took advantage of me!"

"Like I said before, Mogami-san…"

Ren smiled brightly.

"…I'm only but a man."

Then like a bolt of lightning, Kyoko suddenly realized she was still straddling his hips and with a start, she jumped off of his lap and stood a couple of feet away. Her heart was pounding a mile a minute and her hands shook violently. But as soon as she moved, Kyoko couldn't ignore the fact that she did indeed miss his warmth.

And in those few quick seconds, Kyoko finally saw Ren for who he really was: a man, a man who dominates, a man who was so much more than she had ever anticipated, and even more worryingly, a man who could completely undo her in seconds.

Elegantly, Ren swung his legs over the side of the couch and looked at her wide-eyed expression. He smoothly cleared his throat, pulling her focus back to the present, and said with an apologetic smile, "I really do apologize, Mogami-san. You have every right to be mad."

Kyoko bit down on her lower lip. She should be mad. She should be fuming by now. But she wasn't. She wasn't mad at him at all. In fact, as she stared at him, being mad was the last thing Kyoko felt. So with a defeated sigh, she sunk back down on the couch beside him and mumbled, "It wouldn't have happened if I wasn't drunk."

Ren smiled gratefully, eliciting a smile from her in response. But as if she realized what she was doing, Kyoko instantly narrowed her eyes and said, "That doesn't mean you're off the hook though."

"I know. That's why I took the liberty of ordering in dinner tonight."

"When did you do that?" Kyoko asked in surprise.

"I had it planned beforehand. I knew you would demand an explanation from me sooner or later."

She clicked her tongue and picked up her open cell phone from off the floor. "Now the matter about the picture."

And at that precise moment, the doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of their food. Ren fluidly got to his feet and said over his shoulder, "I figure you would want to delete it, right?" He chuckled and unlatched the lock.

"I should," Kyoko thought with a puzzled frown. But instead of hitting delete, instead of erasing all proof of that still-fuzzy night, she had only snapped her pink cell shut and helped him with the take-out, leaving the picture as is.


"Mogami-san?" Ren whispered, barely a breath away from her lips.

Slowly, she moved back and met his eyes with a heavy-lidded gaze of her own. "Yes?"

"Do you know what you just did?"

Kyoko smiled and nodded. "I kissed you."

"Why?"

Giggling breathlessly, she said, "Because I've always wanted to know what it was like to kiss someone like you."

"Someone like me?" Ren inquired with a raised eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

She snuggled closer to his broad chest and closed her eyes. "Someone not of this world, someone who's different from everyone else, someone who's perfect in so many ways."

Ren laughed gently, running his hand through her silky hair, something he had always dreamt of doing. "I'm not perfect," he murmured into the quiet darkness.

But Kyoko didn't reply. Confused, Ren was about to ask if anything was wrong when he noticed how her breathing was becoming more and more even and how relaxed she was. Tenderly, he stroked a hand down her arm and whispered, "Are you falling sleep, Mogami-san?"

"Hmm…"

He chuckled quietly. "Shall I carry you back then?"

"As long as you promise not to leave," she sighed, tightening her grip on his shirt as if he'd vanish.

"Leave where?"

"Back to your world, back to where I can't find you."

Ren smiled gently. "I won't leave you, Mogami-san."

"Promise?"

And at that moment, Ren suddenly woke with a start. Highly confused by the intrusion, he was about to get up when he surprisingly felt a warm, comforting weight upon his shoulder. He turned his head to the side and nearly felt his heart stutter to a halt. It was Kyoko and she was completely fast asleep. Glancing about the room he noticed the empty take-out boxes upon the coffee table, the lights somewhat dimmed, and the television glowing from the currently playing movie.

He smiled.

"Dinner and a movie? I should have thought of this a while ago," he thought amusedly to himself as he nestled deeper into the couch. If this was all it took to prolong her stay with him, he will gladly do this all the time. But uninterested in whatever that was playing, Ren returned his gaze back to her face.

As always, his heart thumped warmly merely from her presence and his skin burned hot from where she was leaning against him. Her hands were clasped together and her hair was casually splayed across her closed eyes. She was beautiful. Ren smiled and was about to brush the strands away from her face when she suddenly mumbled in a sleepy voice,

"Corn…"

Ren's hand froze in mid-air.

"Don't leave…"

His eyes softened. "I won't leave you."

She sweetly nestled her head deeper into his broad shoulder. "Promise?"

He smiled gently and nodded. "I promise." Ren then pressed his lips against her forehead, murmuring, "Shall I carry you back now?"

But this time around, Kyoko didn't answer. She had already fallen too deep into her slumber.

He laughed silently and with a grace that would have put all dancers to shame, cradled her warm body to his chest as he rose to his feet. Although a part of him desperately wanted to carry her into his bedroom, he understood that would be pushing the boundaries too far. Besides, with her in his bed, there was no telling what might happen.

Thus, he was grateful to feel the weight of his car keys in his trouser pocket. It was a good reminder as to what he should do. Ren then carefully unlocked the front door and stepped into the hall. Instinctively, he glanced down again at the peaceful woman nestled comfortably in his arms.

He sighed heavily, finding himself in the same situation as the night before. "Kotonami-san will not be pleased."

But with one last tender smile, Ren silently strode to the private garage and held the woman he loved closer, relishing in another beautiful night he knew he would cherish and remember forever.


The End! Thank you for reading, reviewing, following, and favoriting! I can't appreciate it enough! :D