Chapter 4:

The Happiest Days

Married To A Sweet Devil Bride Who Is Already Married

After spending all the night sleeping next to the girl I like, the morning after was still a bit awkward. It's not like all the barriers between us are down, and even when I feel closer to Ai, I still feel nervous when we talk or interact.

We spent a few more hours together at my apartment: we had breakfast and we talked about our own lives. I learnt a lot of things about her: Ai wasn't actually from Okinawa, after high school she did a patisserie training course at her neighborhood, and with help from her parents she set up this small café. Sumire is actually her junior from high school and they're very close friends, that's the reason why she decided to help her as an assistant, while she's finishing her last year in law school.

And I had a hard time asking it, but I did it in the weirdest of ways: she's single. The moment I heard that coming from her, I felt like blushing inmediately. Although I guess I should have suspected it: if she had a boyfriend, she would've probably called it after the cockroach incident, and any decent boyfriend would probably've come to help her. That, and the fact she didn't mind sleeping next to me in the same bed. I think most people wouldn't even think about it if they were in a relationship, but who knows, I don't know much about people in general, I guess.

She also told me she moved here because it would be closer to her café and because it wasn't really expensive. I agree with that as I still can pay the rent with no trouble at all even when I'm just a lone salaryman. The neighborhood is quiet and nice, and overall it's a nice place for a café.

I think about all the "adult" stuff we talk about, and wonder if we would have chatted differently if we were younger, like highschool kids. I wonder if we would have been like this back then. It's not something important, but it crosses my thoughts.

I agree with her that she might look a bit more mature than other girls her age, but not much. I guess Sumire looks a bit younger though. I like how Ai looks so I don't mind. It really seems like I was a superficial person, and she seems like the opposite, well, otherwise, she probably wouldn't be talking to me.

I would like to be like her. I admire the way she is. I wish I'd be so compassionate and caring, so sincere and loving. I think that I'm too selfish sometimes. And that's probably the reason why I'm lonely. When I think about her, I also think about myself and my own life, and I wish I had the positive outlook she has.

All this things make me look like I'm deeply in love with her. And probably I am. I still can't find the strength to tell her. And I wonder if I should.

At least now I have her number. And we began to chat. I feel a lot closer to her now. Like, we ask each other how we are, or if we're OK, simple things. But watching my cellphone screen with a message from her is enough to make me smile. I've never received many messages. I see people that are constantly receiving and sending them. But not me. So whenever she writes me something I feel happy. She sends cute emojis too.

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I also feel a lot stronger right now: I'm not afraid of going to her café and greeting her or stay for a while anymore. There are a lot more customers right now, and things are looking great for her. I'm glad that Ai's being successful with this, because it's not easy to put a store in a quiet commuter neighborhood. She treats everybody with lots of care and I see people are thankful for that. Just the sight of that is enough to make me smile. Sumire is still shy as always, I can't read much into her, but Ai tells me she's a really great girl, even if she seems tough sometimes.

Sometimes I feel like an teen boy with his first crush. In the past I used to think that I would love to have had these feelings when I was younger, but I don't care anymore if it's the first time I'm feeling it right now. I'm happy I'm able to feel all of this, and think that it might be reciprocal.

After all, maybe this time is the one.Bookmark here

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I spent the next few weeks this way: going to work like always and passing by the café after work to see Ai. We chat a bit and sometimes I have tea or coffee. She looks really happy, and that makes me feel happy too.Bookmark here

I'm thinking a lot about it lately, and I realized I should be giving the "first step" anytime soon. Maybe I'm rushing too much, but after being so close that night I realized I can't wait forever. Time passes fast, and I have let many chances go by in my life. Probably because I was scared or something like that. But not anymore.Bookmark here

So I've decided to invite her on a date. Even if she rejects me, we will still be friends. I know it, she's the kind of person who wouldn't feel like I'm hurting her if I say I like her, that's why I feel safe. I understand that just thinking about it makes me feel super nervous, but I have to try. If I have already slept with Ai (not in that way, of course) I'm already really close to her.Bookmark here

I entered the cafe as always greeting Sumire who is at the door. She seems as stern as she always do.Bookmark here

-Good evening.-she says in the coldest of ways.-You can sit down anywhere you want.Bookmark here

I understand she probably doesn't want to look like a maid doing this job. It'll probably make her look submissive and she must hate the idea of people thinking about her as a weak girl. But who knows, I can't really read her mind. Not that I'm really interested either, although it makes me curious sometimes.Bookmark here

I'd really like to read Ai's mind though. I'm sure.Bookmark here

I sit down close to the window as always. I like receiving the last sunrays while looking to the people walk by the front of the café.Bookmark here

-What are you going to ask?-Sumire says while grabbing a notepad and a pen.Bookmark here

-Well, I'll have some coffee and two cookies.-I wanted to say something more original, like, "I want to ask something special today", but I don't feel that brave.Bookmark here

-Understood, wait a moment please.Bookmark here

Sumire goes back to the kitchen, and then Ai appears from there too. She seems to have heard me talking to Sumire.Bookmark here

-Good evening Kazuki-kun. How was your work day?Bookmark here

-Nothing special I guess. What about yours?Bookmark here

-I had a pretty good day so far. Lots of new customers came to the store.Bookmark here

-I'm really glad to hear that. It's doing very well for such a quiet neighborhood.Bookmark here

-That's true-Ai says smiling- I wasn't expecting so much people. And they seem to like the place a lot too.Bookmark here

I wanted to say something silly like "That maybe because of you", but I'm not that kind of guy I guess.Bookmark here

Sumire comes with the coffee and the two cookies. She leaves them at  the table and goes back to the kitchen, like she's hiding or she wants to leave us alone. It's weird.Bookmark here

-Do you have a minute to chat?-I ask Ai, who is standing by my table.Bookmark here

-Yes, don't worry. I wasn't doing anything important.-she says-May I take a seat?Bookmark here

-Of course, sorry for not offering it, I'm sorry.Bookmark here

-No, no -she giggles-don't worry, it's OK.Bookmark here

We talk for a while, about the most mundane stuff: climate, crows in the neighborhood, food prices, TV shows and other things that are not really relevant. I try to get to the point, but we start talking about lots of different stuff.Bookmark here

After a while, in a moment of silence after we talked about coffee, I decide to take a chance.Bookmark here

-Eh, I-I was thinking...-words are having a hard time coming out of my mouth-that maybe it would be a great idea to go visit one of those big fancy cafés in downtown. I mean, so we can see how they work and what they do to be so successful, something like that.Bookmark here

-I think it's a great idea too-Ai says smiling brightly-I'm pretty curious about it.Bookmark here

-Are you free on Sundays?Bookmark here

-Yes, we can go out this Sunday, if it's OK with you.Bookmark here

Done. I never thought it would be so easy. I thought it would be a lot more difficult. I feel relieved because I've been thinking about this for a really long time. My face must look super red right now I think.Bookmark here

-Yeah, yeah, it's OK then, this Sunday- I answer a bit later than expected-We won't have to go too far to find each other though, haha.Bookmark here

-It's true-she says laughing together with me.-It's almost like we are living together.Bookmark here

-You could put it that way, I guess.Bookmark here

I imagine myself living with her and well, I can't think too much about it without daydreaming and getting lost in my own thoughts. Like, getting home and finding her waiting for me with a smile. Or maybe I would be waiting for her as she comes later from work. I don't mind.  I really shouldn't imagine her in a naked apron or preparing a hot bath right now though...Bookmark here

After a while, we finish our chat and I get up to go back home, as always. Both Sumire and Ai greet me while I'm going out and then return to their normal activities. I wonder if Sumire heard about me and Ai going out on Sunday. I can't read what she thinks about me, but Ai always tells me she's a really great girl. I believe it must be true.Bookmark here

I walk home with a huge grin in my face. People must think I'm crazy. After all it's not something that happens everyday. Getting a first date with the girl of my dreams. And the fact she accepted. I can't stop imagining everything. Of course, it makes me a bit nervous: I really wouldn't like to ruin everything.Bookmark here

After all these years hoping for something good to happen in my life, finally, the best days seem to have come. All that talk about the "days of youth" is finally coming. A bit late, I guess, but I don't care anymore. A shiny future is waiting for me, I'm sure. Bookmark here

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The day has finally come: it's Sunday. I never awaited for a day with so much expectation. I have been training myself mentally, well not much, to get ready for what's about to come. I understand it's probably not a big deal, since we already talk almost everyday, but the situation is different. When I think deep enough about it I realize that maybe I'm worrying too much, but I can't help but thinking and imagining different situations.Bookmark here

I tried to look for my best clothes, not that I have many, but the ones I have should work. She already knows me in my most casual look, and I know her that way too, so I shouldn't worry that much I guess. I also don't have to go too far to find her, as we will go together from home. I know that sounds like if we were married or something.Bookmark here

I await until the time for us to find each other comes, and get out of the apartment as always just at the same time she's also leaving home.Bookmark here

-Oh, Kazuki.-Ai says lookingsurprised.-I wasn't expecting you to be already waiting.Bookmark here

-Don't worry, I just closed the door.Bookmark here

She looks as cute as ever, but probably even more cuter. She's wearing a soft pink blouse and a long skirt. The blouse looks really tight on her chest, even when probably shouldn't be.Bookmark here

-You look very elegant-Ai says while smiling.Bookmark here

-You think so? I'm glad-I don't really think I look like that. I think she's the one that looks that way. I could use dozens of adjectives to describe her.Bookmark here

-Yes, of course! Why would I lie about it?Bookmark here

She has a point. Bookmark here

We walk to the station and then we go to the district where the café is located. The people in the street look at Ai a lot. I can understand why: she's quite a looker. But she's also transmits some kind of aura that makes her different from other girls. I can't really put it into words. It's like she blesses everything when she walks by. Or maybe I like her that much.Bookmark here

When we get to the café there's already a lot of people waiting to get in. Bookmark here

-Is it really that popular?-I ask her.Bookmark here

-Yes, it's the most popular around, I think. Most people ask for reservations even months before going.Bookmark here

-I guess we should have done that before coming here. -I say a bit dissapointed.Bookmark here

-I know, right? Maybe we should take a walk around and eat ice cream-Ai says smiling with enthusiasm.Bookmark here

-If you're OK with it...Bookmark here

-Yeah, why not. After all, I don't really think you can reject a good ice cream!Bookmark here

I think she's right. I don't know many people who would reject ice cream.Bookmark here

So we decided to leave the place and start walking towards a big park. There's a big fountain in the middle, and lots of children and families around. Also some couples, like us. I'm thinking about us as a couple and it sounds so weird to me. Guess I'm not used to this. It's sunny out here and it's a great day, not too warm but not cold either. That kind of spring days most people enjoy.Bookmark here

We walk side by side while talking about the things we always talk about, while we look for a place to buy an icecream. There's a small store near the fountain, and we go there, and then we seat in a nearby bench.Bookmark here

-It was a great idea to come here.-I say to Ai, while she's eating.-I think I spend too much indoors and I forget the nice things that you can find outside.Bookmark here

-I agree. There's a lot of nice little things we tend to overlook. Like, those are the things that makes us happy in the end, I guess. Maybe I'm wrong.Bookmark here

-I understand what you're saying. It's a really nice point of view.Bookmark here

-You think so? We are talking really deep stuff this evening.Bookmark here

-Do you have any dreams?-I ask Ai, as she looks as me.Bookmark here

-Well, I wish everyone around us was a lot more happier. I know it might sound silly but I'm happy when other people feel good too.Bookmark here

-No, not at all. I-I think it's great.Bookmark here

I won't say my dream is to marry her and to live all my life by her side. Some people might say it's too simple of a dream, but I don't care. But I think I'm not yet ready to tell her that. She might be scared, and I really wouldn't want that to happen.Bookmark here

-And what about you?-Ai asks me while pointing at me with the ice cream.Bookmark here

-I think I'd really love to live in the countryside. Maybe not now, but in the future. My parents used to live there, and I used to go on vacation. Bookmark here

-I think it's a very beautiful dream too-Ai says.Bookmark here

I imagine the two of us living in a small house, working and doing all things together. And then sharing food close to the fireplace.... To begin with my parents' country house didn't even had a fireplace. But who cares, it's my fantasy I guess.Bookmark here

I look at her face and I can't help feeling so in love. Like I'd love to be able to say something like the things guys on movies say, and kiss her with not reason at all. Her soft, pink lips look so cute and kissable. I really want to know how it feels. I don't think I'm ready though, and I must be the worst kisser ever.Bookmark here

-Are you OK?-Ai asks me while I'm lost in my thoughts.Bookmark here

-Y-yeah, I was just thinking about my dreams.Bookmark here

-I can understand why: it's a very nice dream.Bookmark here

We keep on talking while the sun begins to fall. We share a lot more things, and I feel really happy to be here. I haven't felt like this in a really long time. I'd want to be here sitting next to her forever. Like if I could freeze this moment, and then come back whenever I want, I'd do it for sure.Bookmark here

I wish I could know how she feels about it. I think she likes being here with me, but I expect confirming that anytime soon. Maybe it's to early for an "I like you" but I think it might come sooner than expected.Bookmark here

While we go back to our home, we keep on walking side by side. I wish I was brave enough to hold hands with her and go walking like a lovey dovey couple. I look at her once in a while and I can't help feeling blessed by life. Like, her presence only is enough to make me feel happy.Bookmark here

We get to our neigborhood's station, and begin to walk. It's already dark, and there's not many people in the streets. A cold wind  starts to blow when we get closer to our building. It's strange, the day was wonderful so far. The wind feels like coming straight from the coldest winter. Bookmark here

Everything around us looks a lot darker all of a sudden. I look at Ai's face, she seems a bit scared. I can't really understand why, until I hear a loud voice screaming in the dark and getting closer to us.Bookmark here

A huge humanoid figure falls from the sky and stands over a building. It looks like a man, dressed in a black scale armor. He jumps out of nowhere straight to the place where we are and thrusts his arm towards us.Bookmark here

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