Chapter 3:

Our First Shared Moment

The Sound of Love

As soon as classes were over, Airi jumped excitedly from her chair, hastily packing her backpack. Haru, seeing her enthusiasm, promptly joined her.

"Let's go already! Every minute that passes is one less minute for us to play," she exclaimed, already with her backpack on, her eyes shining with excitement.

"I won't be able to make it today. You can go without me," I said with a friendly smile, trying to hide the real reason why I couldn't join them.

Airi frowned, curious. "Is it work again?"

I nodded in agreement, even though it was just an excuse. In truth, I had previously agreed to help Kurokawa with her studies, but I hadn't found the right moment to tell them about it.

Every now and then, the arcade near the school organized tournaments in which Airi, Haru, and I occasionally participated. Haru had even achieved some victories, while I simply pressed the game buttons frantically, hoping for the best.

Airi grabbed Haru's arm, eager to go. "Leave him here! One less competitor for us!"

She dragged Haru out of the classroom, not wanting to waste any time.

"See you tomorrow, Yuuji!"

"When I win, I'll send you a picture of the trophy!"

Confidence was never lacking in Airi.

The two disappeared down the hallway, and I remained in the classroom, watching them leave and listening to their excited voices echoing through the corridors.

I started getting ready to go home. As I packed my things into my backpack, I noticed Kurokawa approaching, her steps were soft and graceful.

"I know we had plans for you to help me today, but they seemed eager to have you go with them..."

She spoke in a low and hesitant tone, keeping her hands elegantly hidden behind her back.

"Would you like to reschedule? I don't want to cause you any trouble."

I smiled gently, trying to dispel any sense of guilt that might arise in her.

"I had already made plans with you before. Besides, I need to let the others win once in a while."

I knew it was important to keep my word to Kurokawa, and I was excited to help her with her studies, even if it meant missing the Moon Fighter tournament with Haru and Airi.

As we walked home together, I noticed people's gazes turning towards her, as if they were analyzing every detail.

The more we advanced, the more I noticed how they were captivated by her beauty. It was evident the impact she made with her striking appearance.

So, this is what a model has to deal with on a daily basis, I thought to myself. Having all this attention focused on you must be troublesome. I didn't know if I could handle it if it were me.

As I observed Kurokawa, trying to understand what was going on in her mind, she seemed completely at ease, as if she was used to such situations.

"Do you mind people looking at you wherever you go?"

"Actually, I don't really like it, but you learn to deal with it better over time."

Her response revealed a certain maturity in handling these situations.

"Normally, I wear more discreet clothes when I'm out in public to avoid drawing so much attention. But in moments like this, I don't have much choice, since we have to wear the school uniform."

It was clear that being beautiful came with its drawbacks.

Before long, we arrived home. I didn't live far from the school, so we got there quickly. Upon entering, we were greeted by my mother, a young and welcoming woman, wearing an apron that characterized her as a typical housewife.

"Welcome, make yourself at home. I'm Satomi Tanaka, Yuuji's mother."

My mother greeted her with a friendly smile, and Kurokawa bowed politely, showing respect.

"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Tanaka. I'm Akane Kurokawa."

"Come in, don't just stand at the door."

Kurokawa thanked her and sat down on the living room sofa, attentively observing her surroundings.

"Is there something strange?" I asked.

"It's nothing. It's just that everything looks so clean and organized."

That was my mother's exclusive concern. She was a clean freak, always demanding that everything be in its proper place. I, on the other hand, had a love-hate relationship with that trait of hers.

My mother brought a tray with tea and some sweets, which Kurokawa graciously accepted.

As we enjoyed the treats, I noticed a curious gaze fixed on us from the foot of the stairs. It was my brother, Keiji. Since the moment we entered the house, he hadn't said a single word.

"What have you been up to today, Keiji?"

He sprinted up the stairs the moment I asked the question.

"I wish he would at least introduce himself..."

"You know how he is around strangers."

I heard my mother's voice as she prepared something in the kitchen.

I noticed Kurokawa was also a bit quiet, reminiscent of the impression I had of her before we started talking.

"How about we go upstairs, Kurokawa? We have a room on the floor above that we can use without disturbing the others too much."

Kurokawa thanked her again for the tea, and we went upstairs together. The room we were heading to was usually used by my father and occasionally by me. It was a space dedicated to music, where we practiced, listened to our favorite songs, and spent time together. Lately, however, the room hadn't been used as much.

As we entered, we were greeted by a light and inspiring atmosphere. Beams of light pierced through the curtains, softly illuminating the colorful walls. A gentle breeze carried the comforting aroma of the trees outside.

In the room, various instruments, such as guitars and basses, occupied strategic spaces, while voluminous shelves displayed a collection of records, CDs, and music books.

Kurokawa seemed to be in awe of the environment, exploring every detail with admiration. Her steps were slow as if she didn't want to disturb the silence that filled the room.

She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't realize she was still carrying the guitar case on her back. As she turned around, she accidentally hit one of the instruments that was right behind her, causing it to fall.

"Watch out!" I exclaimed, quickly reaching out to prevent her from falling.

In a swift motion, I managed to grab her waist, preventing any harm. In the background, the sound of various objects hitting the floor echoed.

Our gazes met, and our faces were very close to each other. The proximity created a tense and expectant atmosphere, as if time had stood still at that moment.

"T-Thank you," Kurokawa said slowly, and I could sense uneasiness in her expression.

"It's nothing."

At that moment, my heart was beating faster.

"I'm sorry for being so careless. I didn't break anything, did I?"

"No, I think it was just the shock."

An awkward atmosphere filled the room, leaving us in palpable silence.

"How about we tidy this up and start the lessons then?"

I suggested, awkwardly still holding her waist.

At that moment, my mother opened the door to the room, surprised by the noise she had heard.

"What happened here?"

She looked at us with curiosity.

♪ ♫ ♪

After we tidied up the instruments and objects that had fallen, we finally began the lessons.

Since I knew Kurokawa already had a basic understanding of music and was studying on her own, I started by evaluating her skills and focusing on the most fundamental aspects, such as tuning, notes, and chords. Patiently, I guided her on the correct finger positions on the guitar fretboard and the importance of proper posture for a good performance.

As she absorbed the information, I introduced some fingerpicking techniques, showing her how to apply them smoothly and accurately. She made an effort to get the chords right, and I could see progress with each attempt.

During the lesson, I saw her eyes light up with excitement. Sometimes, I felt a bit nervous, making mistakes while demonstrating something, but she didn't seem to notice. Her attention was fully focused on the sounds we were creating together.

We spent hours immersed in music, learning, playing, and creating melodies. With each chord she mastered, a satisfied smile appeared on her face, becoming a reward for my effort in teaching her.

Time flew by, and before we knew it, the darkness of the night had taken over outside, with only the moonlight standing out.

"It's getting late; I should probably go," Kurokawa said, stretching her body, looking tired.

"I think you made great progress today. Next time, we can explore more advanced things."

She seemed very pleased, flashing a beautiful smile.

We cleaned up the pile of books and CDs we had left around and went downstairs together, heading to the front door. I couldn't see where my mother or my brother were.

"Thank your mother again for the sweets, they were delicious."

A melancholic mood settled in, accompanied by a heavy silence that fell between us, leaving us speechless.

"I hope I was helpful to you today," I said, breaking the silence.

"I was very happy to come today. I hope I can count on you again soon."

As we bid farewell, we avoided making eye contact, and the silence seemed to follow us.

"Well... I should go before it gets any later. See you tomorrow at school."

We said goodbye, and I watched her walk down the street for a while.

Just as I was about to close the door, an impulse made me run towards her, who was already a bit far away.

"It's getting quite late, and I got worried. Do you mind if I walk you to the station?"

Kurokawa smiled, not saying a word. And she didn't need to. That smile conveyed everything I needed to know.

That day, I not only accompanied her to the station but went further, walking her all the way home.

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