Chapter 17:

Beauty and Beef Jerky

My Government-Issued Girlfriend Can't Be This Cute!

Roses, orchids, daffodils, lilies, chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds, violets, tulips . . . My knowledge of flowers was limited, though conjecture assured I was currently watering something similar at least.

A spray of water underneath my thumb showered onto colorful, garden foliage in our backyard that mom tasked me with maintaining. Even though both my parents were overseas, little relics of theirs still lingered around. Either mom or dad could randomly return home, so everything needed to look tip-top shape.

Fresh-cut grass below my feet sent up calming scents of damp petrichor. With a sigh, I laid the garden hose down and went back to shut off the water. As the valve turned, I heard our patio door above glide open.

"Nishikata! Sakura said she'll be here soon." My moochy girlfriend peeked outside. Her brunette hair had been styled to have more waves.

"Oh? Yeah I'm about finished down here."

"Hurry and make yourself look presentable, dummy."

I looked down at the casual clothes I wore. "Isn't this good enough?"

"You wouldn't meet God wearing a flannel, would you?"

"Depends? Aren't you holding your friend in too high regard though?"

"Higher regard than you at least." She cutely stuck her tongue out at me. "Anyway, come inside."

Our sliding door closed again and I was left alone with my thoughts.

Sakura. She was the only person from Asagiri's past that'd been mentioned in detail. In fact, whenever I tried learning more about my girlfriend's backstory, I was met with swift rejection or a subject change. Well, considering how conservative I've been about my own history, can't really fault her.

I took off my shoes before waltzing up the steps to our wooden porch and stepping into our house.

"Asagiri?" I said as I slid the door closed. She was supposed to be cleaning the kitchen and living room but both looked spotless already. Maybe she's upstairs changing?

Suddenly, the chime of the doorbell rang aloud.

"Oh, that's gotta be Sakura." Asagiri probably wouldn't like it if I kept her friend waiting outside.

A quick jog to my front door and I turned the doorknob. My face was prepped with a friendly smile, but it contorted into a wince when I saw the person standing ahead.

A woman whose eyes were eclipsed by jumbo, pitch-black sunglasses stared straight into me. She was draped in a long, stylish trench coat that hid most traces of her pearly skin. And a black face mask obscured what was more than likely a gorgeous face.

"Nishikata?" the woman said, trying to deepen her voice.

"Uhhh, yeah?" I replied. "I'm guessing you're Sakura?"

She tried peeking over my shoulder. "Asagiri? Is she present?"

Was I just ignored? "She's probably still getting ready. Feel free to come in in the meantime." I gave her ample space to walk by me.

The woman attempted reading my face again. With caution, she crept inside and removed her expensive looking shoes. A long, pink ponytail confirmed a theory of mine. Huh. So Sakura does have pink hair. Funny.

I led her to the living room and invited her to rest on our couch. "If you'd like, you can take off your coat. Our AC would feel a lot better."

She elected to silently hover around and inspect the area. From Furbolt's cat condo to dad's chair to the sliding door of our patio, no space was left unexamined.

"Ummm, do you want some water?" I asked.

"No," she grumbled while eyeing our pantry. "I'd like . . . beef jerky."

"Beef jerky? Sorry, no one eats that here so we don't have any." Not surprised Asagiri's friends are kinda weird too.

"Tsk. Fuck it, it's fine." She dropped her deep voice and reached into her purse, fishing out a packet of beef jerky slices. With finesse, she tore the plastic open and lowered her face mask, revealing a set of tantalizing, full lips—soon tarnished by crude insertions of meat between them.

"Uhhh . . .?" Literally what is going on?

Sakura's teeth chomped down vigorously. As she finished snacking, she removed her sunglasses and undid her ponytail, showcasing this mysterious girl's final form:

The face of a woman destined for modeling careers stared intently at me. Her petite nose and mouth but glittery, hot-pink eyes radiated celebrity energy. As Sakura unbuttoned her trench coat, a bead of sweat trinkled down her neck into voluminous cleavage that had been hidden from view. Large breasts stretched against her pink, fashionable blouse that seemed a size too small and hugged all her curves.

My eyes looked away. I wasn't besmirched by her beauty though, but rather, curious.

"Have we met somewhere before?" I asked, scrambling my brain to remember.

"No. Don't think about it," she said while chewed another jerky.

Pink hair, pink eyes, pink blouse, big boobs . . . Where have I seen her before? There's no way she's not a model, so maybe from a commercial or something? But what recent ad has showcased a pink haired woma—

"AHHHHH!" I pointed right at her. "You're the girl from the government-issued girlfriend commercial! I just saw it at the movies a few weeks ago!"

She chewed on jerky more zealously, as if it was an outlet to channel her frustration. "I have no clue what you're talking about. Munch-munch."

"No, you're definitely her! You were wearing a similar outfit but you had a cuter personality!"

"Excuse me? I am always cute!" she snapped. There was a slice of jerky sticking out from her angry mouth.

"So I'm right then! You were the girl in the commercial!"

"Stop saying nonsense! I'm just a regular pers—"

"Oh yeah, that was definitely her," a voice from behind us said.

Asagiri was venturing down the stairwell. In a change from her normal fashion, she wore a buttoned-up black blouse tucked into a red, plaid skirt. She'd also prettied up her hair more and applied gloss to already alluring lips.

"Asagiri!" Sakura shouted. "I thought you'd said we wouldn't tell him!"

"Yeah well, that was before he figured everything out and you tried seducing him."

"S-Seducing?" She embarrassingly brought in a fold of trench coat to cover her chest. "It was just getting hot . . ."

"I'd flaunt 'em too if I had them so whatever." Asagiri dashed over and wrapped her arms around Sakura. "Missed you bigly. Did you miss me too?"

The slightly taller Sakura hugged her friend back. "Sorry I couldn't come sooner. You know how crazy work has me these days."

"Mm-mm. You're right on time." My girlfriend looked back at me with a devious face.

"Alright, you both have some explaining to do." I said. "Asagiri, how are you friends with a famous bigshot? And Sakura—why were you dressed and acting like some child predator?"

The two girls split apart and glared at me like I just insulted their whole ancestry.

"What? What did I do?" I stumbled backwards, almost stepping on Furbolt passing by. "Ahhh! Come here!" I picked up my feline and brought him close to Sakura. "Does she check out, boy?"


Indifferent? That's peculiar.

"Hey! I said no boomer crap around her!" Asagiri shouted.

Furbolt shimmied out of my hands and scurried to safety in his cat condo tower. Two angry women were too much for him.

"Alright, group meeting!" I declared by clapping my hands. "Let's all take a seat in the living room."

Both girls sighed and huddled onto our long couch while I sat in dad's reclining chair across from them, waiting for the girl's statements.

"Well, what do you want from us?" Asagiri said. "Don't tell me you wanna ask for a threesome."

"T-Threesome?" Sakura looked shocked. "Is that how close you two are already?"

"Ehhh?" My girlfriend half-blushed. "Oh right, you don't know how we just dick around with each other."

"Dick? Dick-dick?"

I looked over towards Sakura. "You didn't know Asagiri was like this?"

"Oh. Hmmm . . ." Sakura pondered by putting a finger to her chin. "Well, towards the end of high school, she did completely change personali—"

Asagiri elbowed Sakura's side, silencing her.

"O-On second thought," she continued, "I think we agreed not to talk about each other's history, haha . . ."

Ok, now I'm definitely curious. "Well if history is off the table, how about you just tell me about yourself, Sakura? Why were you dressed like a mummy earlier?"

"Isn't it obvious?" she said. "I can't go anywhere without people recognizing me! I'm plastered on everything from fashion magazines to juice boxes!"

"You're a professional model then?"

"Yes! I'm just coming back from a photoshoot, so that's why I'm in a frilly pink blouse," she said with a blush. "Don't have much time to spare these days, so I can't visit Asagiri often."

"But if you were just visiting her and me, why the disguise?"

"I didn't know if you were creepy or not," Sakura pouted, covering her chest again. "Asagiri went out of her way to say you're a pervert after all."

"Oh, did she now?" I looked over towards my girlfriend who whistled nonchalantly. "What else did she say?"

"Besides the pervert part, nothing bad actually. She likes how you're really considerate about her, and thinks you're kinda handso—"

Asagiri elbowed her friend again, but directly in the tit.

"AYEEEEEH!" Sakura screamed, trying awkwardly to massage her left boob. "I thought you said to just not talk about your past!"

"Did you lose IQ when you walked in this house? Wouldn't blame you," she replied.

"Huh? I always had better grades than you in high school!"

"Who cares about high school? Move on!"

"You're the whole reason my last year of high school got complicated!"

The two girls prattled on and on until reaching a turning point: Asagiri leapt on top of and started play wrestling with her friend, both cutely pinching and tickling one another. Sakura's leg wrapped around Asagiri, pinning their chests together as their breasts rubbed and bounced off each other.

"MMey! Stahpdat!" Sakura said while two fingers clamped on her cheek.

"Baby fat!" Asagiri yelled. "Excess meat everywhere you don't need! Feed some starving kids in Africa!"

She escaped from my girlfriend's grasp and reversed their positions, pinning Asagiri below her. Their hands interlocked as both faces came critically close to kissing.

"Your ass is bigger than mine!" Sakura shouted. "I'm the one jealous of your meat!"

“Who cares about ass when guys like tits more?”

“Not true! Girls with asses on set get way more attention than me!”

“At least you get to be on a set!”

“You could’ve been there with me!”

“Shut up!”

Cute, girly noises emanated from the duo as they continued getting tangled on my couch.

Thank you God, for sending me a sign you exist. I brought my hands together to appease higher forces for the show that unfolded before me. But as the caring boyfriend I obviously was, keeping at least some appearances up benefited everyone.

"Alright girls," I said, "let's resolve our conflicts with dialogue instead of gags."

They suddenly stopped tugging at each other. Both women glanced over towards me with annoyed expressions and furrowed eyebrows.

"Hey Sakura," Asagiri below her said. "I think he's getting off to us. We should stop."

"Getting off?" Sakura looked down and blushed at her huge boobs threatening to pop out of her blouse. "AYEEEEEH!"

"Great, you've aroused my boyfriend now. Thanks."

Sakura brought in a fold of trench coat to cover herself and hopped off my girlfriend's crotch. "Pervert! Deviant! Idiot Nishikata!"

"What did I do now?" I stammered.

"You were born!"

Oof. That kind of hurts actually . . .

"Hey, only I'm allowed to be abusive towards him.” Asagiri raised a fist and punched her friend in the arm.

"Ow! He's been abusing me with his eyes this entire time though!"

"You get used to it."

Both girls straightened their clothes and properly sat on the couch again. Sakura reached into her designer purse, pulling out her half-empty jerky pack.

"Yeah, what's the deal with you and beef jerky too?" I said. "Never seen a girl that obsessed with it."

"Exactly!" She sunk her mouth down into a strip. "Try being a professional model and see how people react to you nibbling on jerky."

Nibbling? More like gobbling. "So basically, you just don't get tons of chances to eat your comfort food?"

"Sure." Her canine teeth ripped into another thick piece. "People just aren't cultured enough to think girls can like meat too."

My eyes darted to and away from her meaty chest before she noticed. "W-Well, that's case closed then. And you Asagiri? How did you meet her?"

She raised and crossed her arms into an "X" shape. "Not telling. I'll just say Sakura's been modeling since high school—total dick magnet ever since."

"Hey!" Sakura said. "Why are you allowed to mention my past, but we can't talk about yours?"

"I don't wanna taco-bout it."

"Always falling back on bad jokes or dead memes! Just because they helped solve your issues before doesn't mean they'll work forev—"

Asagiri's elbow hung over Sakura's left boob, like an impending guillotine soon to slice down. "I think it's in your best interest to pretend women don't have free speech."

"H-Hey!" Sakura looked over at me, trembling. "Is this how you've been raising your girlfriend?"

"Raising? It's what I've been tolerating. She's an angel right now if you can believe it."

"Fine, I'll believe anything at this point." She chewed into a new jerky. "I'm not a therapist, but I think if you two opened up more, you could get a lot closer. Neither of you have been very transparent with your pasts, so I've heard."

Both me and Asagiri fidgeted as we avoided eye contact. It was true: we hadn't been open about our respective histories at all. I knew why I had to be vague, but why did she? Was she covering up more than just government secrets? The only noteworthy detail I knew about her past was that she had a boyfriend in high school, and I'm surprised she even mentioned that. Did something happen between them? And why would that be worth hiding?

I thought about Noriko and what happened at the bridge that fateful night. Maybe some things were better worth burying than bringing to light.

Asagiri fiddled two fingers together. "Well, Nishikata is a smarty pants. If I tell him too much he might figure stuff out . . ."

"Guess he has his own reasons for being unforthcoming too then. " Sakura's glance rotated over towards me.  "So I've been thinking we all could use a bonding exercise."

"Bonding exercise?" Me and Asagiri said in unison.

"Yeah. I know you two have already been on a date, but let's go on a special one today—with me as the third wheel."

"What are you planning?" My girlfriend eyed her.

"No plan! Just a vanilla date so I can see how far along you guys are."

Might be a good idea actually. Asagiri would act more like a loving girlfriend to keep up appearances. Not like I can really say no anyway. "I'm game, but do you have a place in mind though?"

"Somewhere in walking distance; how about the nearby park?"

"The park?" It was the same place Mom obsessed taking me to as a kid, mostly as an excuse to snap photos of me.

"You lovebirds already did a movie theater, so might as well knock out the other cringe, early-couple dating spots too."

"Aren't I tan enough already?" Asagiri protested. "Big hot to walk around outside."

"You're just spoiled with the AC," her friend said. "Besides, you're already dressed anyway. Don't be lazy."

"Being lazy is her favorite pastime. You should've seen how I found her the first day I came back from work."

Asagiri scowled at me. "And you should've seen how I had to wake up to your morning wood in my face the other day!"

"H-Huh?" Sakura looked shocked. "You two have slept together?"

"Oh no! What I meant to say was—"

"Yeah, we did sleep together," I proudly said, remembering the night Asagiri snoozed by my bedside. "We held hands and everything!"

"S-Stop freaking out my friend with your jokes, honey." She looked like she wanted to strangle me. "Actually Sakura, the park sounds like a fantastic idea! Let's go! Now!"

"Hold up! You still gotta explain thi—"

Asagiri grabbed her friend's hand and yanked her off the couch. "No time like the present! We'll wait for you outside, Nishikata!"

And just like that, they were gone. Sakura's wails were echoing through the halls as she continued demanding answers.

Sometimes I'm too hilarious, haha. I peered over towards Furbolt snoozing in his cat scratch tower. He'd hadn't raised any major warnings about Sakura, but his indifference indicated there might've been more to her than met the eye.

'What are you planning?' I remembered what my girlfriend said earlier. If Sakura really was plotting something, why in particular suggest the park? It's not like she or even Asagiri knew about my history there.

Nah, I gotta be overthinking stuff. Maybe she really does just wanna see how close me and Asagiri have gotten. Reading too much Dominion's Paradise had probably hooked me on conspiracy theories.

I got a quick drink of water and hustled down the hallway towards an unknown future.

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