Chapter 2:

Fire and Thunder

Married To A Sweet Devil Bride Who Is Already Married

The sunlight was filtering itself through the window. The days were just starting to get longer, and the dawn was earlier each day. After three years at the same office, I'm already used to wake up on my own, without even needing the cellphone's alarm clock.Bookmark here

The everyday routine begins then: I wake up, grab my shirt and black pants, dress up, brush my teeth, grab my bag and belongings, and go straight to the station. I used to take some time for having breakfast, but not anymore. I just buy some cold coffee at any machine I find on my road to the station.Bookmark here

While I'm doing the things I always do, I remember what happened yesterday. Even when most people wouldn't even care, or think about it, it was something curious and exciting to my uneventful life.Bookmark here

Maybe she's also going to work or something like that and maybe I'll meet her outside the apartment. Just the thought of that was exciting enough to keep me entertained while I was preparing myself to go to work.
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I try to remember her voice, her soft touch, scared of forgetting everything in just a few hours. I really don't want to think I'm falling in love, I probably did it a lot some years ago, but not now. It's like something I'd want to happen, but I'm not sure.
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So I went out of my apartment, but no one was outside. I felt a bit disappointed, but I shouldn't think about it too much. After all, I'll probably see her soon.
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While I'm walking on the street towards the station, I see a girl walking a few steps ahead. The hair and clothes style definitely matches Ai's. I get really excited, but I wouldn't want so seem like a stalker. Besides, I'm not even sure it's her.
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I continue walking at the same rhythm and then I hear a weird noise, like static, floating in the air. I turn around to search where the sound comes, but everything seems to be OK. When I turn around again, the girl has disappeared.
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Now that's something I wasn't expecting. Maybe it's just a coincidence. Or maybe she turned at the next street. Who knows. Maybe it was just an illusion or a mirage. Or maybe I'm just thinking too much.
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I get to the station, but no trace of her either. I'm not sure it was her to begin with. But I get it's pretty common wanting to find someone you like in the street, even when the city has millions of persons. I might be getting obssessed with this.Bookmark here

The train comes, and the rest of the trip to my office is uneventful. I always take the train at the same exact wagon, in front of the same billboard. I feel like I'm a robot sometimes. I wonder if everybody is the same...Bookmark here

It's no different at the office: I always drink the same amount of coffee, sit down on my working place and browse the exact same websites for a while before getting to work again for the same amount of hours until lunch. When I entered this job, I was hoping for it to be exciting: I thought I'd meet many friends, and maybe even a girlfriend. It turns out it was the same as college: I met some people but we would never see each other outside work. Maybe when we go drinking every week, as in every other office, but no more than that.Bookmark here

The entire day passes and it's already 17 o'clock. Time to go back home, as always. Nothing happened at work either, well, nothing important enough to mention it. I chatted a bit with Suzuki from the Sales department about pro wrestling, and I ate one of those conbini bento, pretty much as always.Bookmark here

The train back home arrived at the same time as always, and as always, I took it at the same place. The only real difference is that my eyes were constantly looking for Ai. Like, I was expecting to see her anywhere, and any girl that had any resemblance to her caught my attention.Bookmark here

I arrived at my neighborhood station and then I started walking down the usual road. But I decided to take another street. I don't know why, but I think it might be a good idea. I know all these places, it's not like I'm exploring or something, but I felt like it. Also maybe I can buy on another conbini store instead of the usual. Maybe I can eat some ice cream.Bookmark here

Then I walk past a store I haven't seen before. It seems like one of those small cafes that only open a few hours during evening. There's no one inside it seems. Except, for one person behind the counter. Bookmark here

It's her.Bookmark here

I feel extremely excited and nervous. I wonder if she works here or just came to pay a visit or if she's a customer. I try to stay calm and decide to enter. I really don't know why I'm doing this, but today I'm feeling brave, I guess.Bookmark here

I open the heavy glass door and a few bells sound over my head. The ambience is calm and relaxed inside. Probably because there's no one except for her. Bookmark here

-Hi....-I say while walking past the door.Bookmark here

-Welcome.-she says in a gentle manner.-Oh, it's you! Kazuki-sanBookmark here

I wasn't expecting her to call me by my first name, or even remember it, so I was a bit surprised, after all, I'm not used to this kind of treatment coming from a girl.Bookmark here

Ichinose-san, glad to meet you. Do you work here?-I asked as straightly as I could, which is not much.Bookmark here

She was dressed with a tight light yellow sweater and a long skirt, with a red apron over them. Yeah, she looks like she works here.Bookmark here

-Yes, I'm kind of a manager or something-she giggled nervously-The waitress is on the back, so if you want, I can take your request.Bookmark here

-Yeah, I think it would be a great idea. Do you have a menu?Bookmark here

Ai gets closer to the counter and gets a small menu.Bookmark here

-It's not very fancy, but I hope you like it.-she says, smiling modestly.Bookmark here

-Yes, I'm not into very fancy stuff, so something simple will do.-I sayBookmark here

Ai smiles again in a really beautiful way. I can't believe I found her after thinking about her all day.Bookmark here

-OK,-I say while sitting down in one of the chairs,-I'll have a milk tea and a cupcake.Bookmark here

-Very well, I'll ask Sumire to bring it to you.-she says and then goes inside of the kitchen.Bookmark here

I feel my cheeks hot and probably red. It's not like the place is hot, but I'm feeling a bit embarrassed when I'm with her. Like words have a hard time getting out of my mouth and stuff.Bookmark here

Ai comes out of the kitchen again bringing a plate with a homemade cupcake.Bookmark here

-This looks delicious-I say smiling.Bookmark here

-Thanks. It's our special recipe. I hope you like it-Bookmark here

-Is this a new store? I've never seen it around.Bookmark here

-Well, you could say so... We've just opened last week.Bookmark here

-I get that's the reason why you moved out then...Bookmark here

-Yes, you could say so.-she says smiling again a bit nervously.Bookmark here

-Where were you living before?Bookmark here

-Well, how can I say's a bit far from here, a very hot place.Bookmark here

-Okinawa then?-I askBookmark here

-Guess that's the way you call it.-she says a bit surprised.Bookmark here

It came out as a very strange thing to say, but I get that she must be as nervous as I am. Bookmark here

-I've never been there. But I've heard it's a beautiful place-I say enthusiastically, just trying to make her feel comfortable.Bookmark here

-It is? I've always thought it was normal... nothing out of the ordinary.Bookmark here

-Well, I guess people get used to beautiful things too.-I say smiling.Bookmark here

-I think you can find beauty in things most people don't find beautiful too.-she says in a very soft manner.Bookmark here

-That's an interesting way of thinking.-I say agreeing with her. It was a pretty particular point of view after all.-I've always lived here, but I think sometimes I fail to see the beauty of what surrounds me.Bookmark here

-It happens.-Ai said smiling-We're not perfect after all.Bookmark here

I just wanted to say that she was perfect. I mean, at least to me, she was. I don't feel brave enough to do something like that. It's just not my style. And I've just met her yesterday. We're not friends, just neighbors. I wish it was different though.Bookmark here

After a few more comments, the tea was ready and a girl dressed with a waitress uniform came out the kitchen. The uniform was not quite a maid one, but one of those hybrid uniforms that some cafes use. Like to distinguish it from the rest of the clients. She has light purple hair, and a pretty stern look, which doesn't really suits her waitress looks. Her chest is a bit smaller than Ai's but still on the large side. I don't know why I'm paying attention to that though, as I'm a bit distracted with Ai.Bookmark here

-You know this guy?-the purpled haired girl asks Ai with a tone that sounds a bit angry.Bookmark here

-Yes, he's my neighbor next door-she says sweetly.-She's Sumire- Ai presents her to me.Bookmark here

-Glad to meet you. My name is Umemura Kazuki.Bookmark here

-I'm Sumire.-the girl says in a straight manner. I guess she's not very happy to have me here at the cafe.Bookmark here

-She's a bit rough sometimes-Ai says smiling.-Please understand.Bookmark here

-No big deal. Don't worry.-I say. Sumire's behavior is still weird to me but I don't really mind. Ai is occupying a lot of space in my head right now. It's strange because in another situation most guys would probably find Sumire attractive too.Bookmark here

-I can go away if you want.-Sumire says to Ai.Bookmark here

-There's no need for it- I say-You can stay here if you want-I feel like I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't necessary.Bookmark here

Sumire walked away from the table in silence after leaving the plate with the tea. The scene was a bit unsettling if you ask me.Bookmark here

-She's like that sometimes-Ai says a bit embarrassed-Please understand.Bookmark here

-It's OK, don't worry.Bookmark here

-She's a good girl, but I think she gets jealous sometimes.-The choice of words was strange enough for me. Jealous is not a word I'd use to describe this situation.Bookmark here

-Since how do you know each other?-I ask a bit curious about her.Bookmark here

-Well, we're pretty close friends, you could say. She's my junior for two years.Bookmark here

-I haven't asked how old are you. I mean, it's not exactly a polite question I guess.Bookmark here

-Haha, don't worry, it's OK. I'm 23, but some say I look a bit older.Bookmark here

-Don't worry, I think you look your age I guess haha-I say in the most informal way I can, which is not muchBookmark here

-Maybe it's because I act in a different way from other girls, who knows.Bookmark here

I just wanted so hard to say something silly like "I like you because of that" or "It makes you even hotter" but I think it'll be too much. Like, we just know each otherBookmark here

-I'm 28, by the way, so I'm actually older.-I said in a tired toneBookmark here

-You don't look like it-she said in a sweet way, like trying to make me feel good. So far, it's working. I feel so relieved inside, that even if she's lying I'd feel happy.Bookmark here

What I would really like to ask is if she's single. She seems like she is. After all, she was alone last night, and if she was moving, even if moving alone, she would have her boyfriend around if she had one. So I don't think I should ask then. Or maybe her boyfriend is still in Okinawa and waiting to come here. I can't really imagine how her boyfriend would look though. I just imagine those faceless hentai characters that get it on with all the girls.Bookmark here

After that I try drinking my tea. It's delicious indeed. But no conversation topics come to my head. I try to think on any comment, question, or silly joke, but nothing comes out.Bookmark here

-This tea is amazing-I say putting my best on seeming happy about it. Well, I'm happy, so it should come pretty naturally I guess.Bookmark here

-Thanks, I'm really glad you like it.-Ai says with a smile.-We put out best to bring this homemade flavors to our clients.Bookmark here

-Do many people come here?- I askBookmark here

-Well, not yet as you can see. But I think it'll get better soon. Bookmark here

I thought to myself that maybe Ai with a maid outfit would bring dozens of clients. But I don't really imagine her doing that. Or maybe yes? Who knows. Still, I don't think that would match the place's ambience.Bookmark here

-Yeah, I think many people will come and they'll discover how good the food here is-I say Bookmark here

-I hope so.-she says-Thanks for the kind words.Bookmark here

-It's nothing. I'm just glad to be here.Bookmark here

I look at her for a second. She's extremely beautiful under the dying sun rays that shine through the window. Her cheeks are filled with a slight pink colour and her hair shines softly under the light. I could stay a long while watching her. I know it sounds kinda creepy, but I think I might be falling in love with her.Bookmark here

The tea is almost over, but no other customers have entered the cafe. I can hear people passing by the store's front, but the sound is unclear, like it's coming from far away. It's like I have entered a place that works in a different way from the outside world. I'm feeling a bit tired and dizzy. I hope it's not a big deal.Bookmark here

I try to get up, to go back home, but I find it hard. I grab the chair while trying to get up. Ai seems to notice it and grabs my arm to help me. I can feel her big chest pressing against it.Bookmark here

-Are you OK?-she asks worried.Bookmark here

-Yeah, maybe I need some fresh air-I tell her trying to look strong or something around those lines.Bookmark here

-Please tell me if you need anything.-Ai says-I'll go back to my apartment after 21 o'clock.Bookmark here

-I'll have it in mind. Thanks.-I really don't want to seem cold, but the way I said it sounded pretty harsh. Maybe the discomfort I'm feeling is making me act that way. I hope she can understand that. I think she probably will. She seems so caring...Bookmark here

-Are you sure you're feeling well?-she says leaning forward towards me, letting me catch a quick glimpse of her breasts covered by the sweater getting really close to me. I try not to stare too much.Bookmark here

-Yeah, it's just, maybe I haven't been eating well lately.Bookmark here

-OK then, as I said, if you need anything just ask. After all I'm just a door away.-she said with a tender smile.Bookmark here

I said goodbye and started walking down the street, slowly, as if I was carrying something heavy on my shoulders. The feeling was similar to that of being watched by someone. At the same time weird thoughts were floating inside my head. I can't say I was sad: after all I met Ai again, but I wasn't fully convinced of it being a good thing.Bookmark here

I get to my apartment and sit down on my bed. I feel like going to sleep, but I really can't. The images and sounds burn inside my head. Her voice soothes me and keeps me awake at the same time in a way I've never thought possible.Bookmark here

I end up sleeping and having pretty weird dreams about a place filled with fire and stone. Maybe the place where she's from is close to a volcano. Or maybe I should stop drinking so many energy drinks.Bookmark here

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