Chapter 1:

The 'Cheerful' Neighbors...

The Struggles from the Happy Girl Next Door

As I started walking towards the apartment complex that would I now call my home, a familiar moving truck arrived right then and there "I made it just in time. That's good to know"Bookmark here

I approached one of the workers and called out to him "Good morning"Bookmark here

The man turned his head towards me and bowed "Good morning sir, where do you want us to start droppings off your things?"Bookmark here

"It's the room at the far end of the hall in the second floor" I pointed over towards the room to which the man gave me a nod and started carrying the boxes up to the second floor.Bookmark here

As I was about to start on heading over towards my apartment to start unpacking everything and helping in any way I could, a single voice stopped me from doing "You must be the new tenant Kiyota, right?"Bookmark here

I looked over to where the voice called out to me and bowed at the person in question "Yes, ma'am" Bookmark here

The woman giggled at my words and smiled at me "There's no need to be so respectful. Just call me Yumiko" The woman standing before me was Usui Yumiko, my new landlady. At first, to be honest, I was more or less scared of the possibility of me having a rude, demanding and overly obnoxious landlord, but to my surprise, that wasn't the case.Bookmark here

Instead, a beautiful, kind and cheerful lady stood before me on the day I had came to check out the apartment and even though it was our first time meeting one another, she had started to grown on me and likewise, it was almost as if she were my mother while I was her son.Bookmark here

"It doesn't seem fair for me to call you without any honorifics..."Bookmark here

"Screw the honorifics. We're all humans. We're all equal"Bookmark here

"I-I see..." "I'm really not going to win here even if it tried..." A sigh escaped my breath "Thank you for letting me rent the apartment out, Miss Yumiko"Bookmark here

"Nonsense. It's about time someone new moved in" Yumiko smiled at me and then glanced over at the people bringing the boxes up the stairs "You seem to have a lot of things on you"Bookmark here

"Well, they're mostly books"Bookmark here

"You're an advent reader?"Bookmark here

"More or less. You could say that it's a pastime of mine"Bookmark here

"I see..." She stared at the boxes for a few more seconds and looked back towards me "Now that you're officially part of the apartment complex, you should probably go ahead and meet your neighbors if you haven't"
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"Yes, I was planning on doing that as soon as I arrived. To be honest, I tried to do that the time I had signed all of the paperwork for the place, but to my surprise, neither one of them was in..."Bookmark here

"It was a workday, it's only logical that they wouldn't be in, but I guess you didn't know that yourself"Bookmark here

"No..."Bookmark here

She giggled and glanced over at the room next to mine and then one below "I'd recommend meeting with the people upstairs first before meeting the one underneath you"Bookmark here

Hearing her tell me those words left a somewhat foul taste in my mouth "Is there a reason for that?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? No, I'm just saying that if you don't want to be stuck in a conversation for a long time, you should talk to the ones upstairs first" She inched herself closer to me and lowered her voice slightly "To be honest... The woman from downstairs is relatively talkative when she meets new people"Bookmark here

"I see..." "*sigh* You scared me there for a second"Bookmark here

"Scared you?"Bookmark here

"Yes, I thought you were going to say that the neighbor from downstairs was a psychopath or something of the sort"Bookmark here

 "Do you think I would let someone like that live in my apartments?" Bookmark here

"... No?"Bookmark here

"Are you really not sure?"Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

Yumiko sighed at my silence and lightly smacked me on the back "Either way, make sure to introduce yourself properly, got it?"Bookmark here

"I-I will" "Is it just me or does she really act like a mother?" I erased the thought from my mind and simply started heading on over upstairs towards the room beside mine. I rang the bell once and knocked on the door just in case. After a few seconds of waiting, the door opened up and standing before me was a cheerful girl.Bookmark here

Long dark brown hair, amber colored eyes and the sweetest smile I had ever seen laid before me. I was speechless and I could clearly tell that she was a bit surprised as well "E-Excuse me?"Bookmark here

"S-Sorry" I cleared my throat and bowed "My name is Kiyota Tokugawa, I'm the new tenant from next door"Bookmark here

"..." A moment of silence fell between the both of us, since I was still bowing at her, I couldn't tell exactly the expression that she had, but even then, the silence was enough for me to feel a bit anxious about my introduction "Do I seem to direct? Did it look like I was staring at her too intently? What do I do now?!"Bookmark here

"It's a pleasure to meet you, I'm Takahara Yukari~" To my surprise, she answered in the most cheerful way possible. I lifted my head and noticed that she was smiling at me just like she had when she had opened the door for me.Bookmark here

Seeing as how a family was living here, I could only guess that her parents weren't in, but even then, I needed to make sure "By any chance, are you're parents home? I'd like to introduce myself to them as well"Bookmark here

"Sorry, but their both at work today. They should be back at around 6 o clock"Bookmark here

"I see... Thank you very much" I bowed at her words and just when I was about to start on heading downstairs, she suddenly called out to me.Bookmark here

"Tokugawa-san!"Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

I glanced over my shoulder and noticed that she was smiling at me once more "How about you come over once you finish moving in so that we can talk? I'd like to get to know you a bit more"Bookmark here

"Umm... Wouldn't that be a problem?"Bookmark here

"A problem? Nonsense!" She stepped out of her apartment and stared directly at me "What do you say~?"Bookmark here

I wanted to get to know the neighbors a bit more, but a part of me still felt like it wasn't all right for me to be there with her, much less if her parents were the strict type of people "But if she says it's ok... Then they wouldn't mind, right?"Bookmark here

I debated with myself on what to do until I had come to a conclusion "If it's alright, sure, I'd love too"Bookmark here

"Perfect~ I'll be waiting" She beamed me one last smile before she headed on back inside her apartment and the single sound of her door closing resounded through the environment.Bookmark here

I let out a sigh and made my way back downstairs and headed towards the woman who lived underneath me "I wonder why Yumiko was so insistent on me going upstairs first... Is this person really that bad?"Bookmark here

I rang the bell once and waited there for a bit. Just when I was about to knock on the door, it suddenly opened up and just like with Takahara-san from upstairs, I was speechless.Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

Long black hair tied up in a ponytail, the gentle yet mature voice of a lady and the sweet smell of citrus wafted through the air. I unconsciously gulped and whenever I tried to speak up, no words appeared.Bookmark here

"Hmm?"Bookmark here

The lady leaned in a bit and once more, the smell of citrus pierced my nose "She smells nice..." I quickly shook my head and proceeded to introduce myself "I-I'm Kiyota Tokugawa, the new neighbor from upstairs"Bookmark here

The lady stared into my eyes for a brief second and before I knew it, she had grabbed hold of both my hands and smiled at me "I didn't know you were moving in today~!" "If I had known, I would have made some food for you"
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"Umm..."Bookmark here

"I know!" "How about you come have dinner with me?"Bookmark here

"I-I really wouldn't want to-"Bookmark here

"I'll be waiting and we can talk more then, ok~?"Bookmark here

"Now I understand why Yumiko wanted me to meet her last... She's overly kind and considering"  Seeing as there was no other way out of the situation I was in, I gulped and smiled back at her "I'd appreciate that very much Miss..."Bookmark here

"Sorry about that" She let go of my hands and bowed "My name is Matsubara Kuniko, Tokugawa-san"Bookmark here

"Nice to meet you" I bowed once more and glanced over at the time "I should get going then. I'll come by in a bit then"Bookmark here

"Of course, I'll be waiting~"Bookmark here

With those parting words, I made my way back towards my apartment, signed the paperwork from the moving company and thus started putting everything where it needed to be.Bookmark here

As I did everything, in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think about my new neighbors and the landlady. Each one of them was kind towards me even though we didn't know each other very well and for that, I was glad.Bookmark here

"I'm glad that I moved out and decided to start a new life for myself... Because of that, I met some kind and caring neighbors"Bookmark here

Even though that was the case on the outside, I hadn't seen anything about them at all. That was only what they wanted me to see. That was the only thing they knew for a fact wouldn't push me away from wanting to know more about them.Bookmark here

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