She kissed me!?
I keep replaying that moment over and over, in my mind. Even though a few days have passed I can still remember her soft lips, her light touch, her sweet voice, and my warm wet cheek.
Rika: Srry staying home, still not feeling well. (*´Д｀*)
Me: Don’t worry about it. See you soon.
Me: Um about that kiss| (delete delete delete)
I’ve been meaning to ask her about the kiss, but every time I try, something comes up. Since she’s still not feeling well, I should just ask her later. Why am I getting so worked up about it? It was just a kiss, on the cheek no less. Different cultures kiss on the cheek to say goodbye. It probably means nothing.
Still, ever since that day, I’ve been feeling uneasy. Just thinking about Rika causes my chest to tighten. It feels like I’m going to throw up. I should go see a doctor about this.
My head has been hurting lately too. I hope Rika is doing better. If only I had her address, I could send her a basket of fruit, or I could even try to make her soup. Hopefully her cold isn’t serious. Maybe I should send another text. No, she needs her rest.
“Hey, are you alright? You’ve been off these last few days.”
“Huh? You said something.”
“Kazu, let’s ditch club today.”
“Isn’t Prez going to flip?”
“Eh, she’ll be fine. Plus when was the last time we had a Bro-cation.”
“Come on, you, me batting cages. Let’s go.”
We headed up to the rooftop batting cages. I have to admit the cool breeze felt good.
“Wow Kazu, you’re on fire! You should have joined the baseball team instead.”
“Eh, I just like to play for fun.”
“Man, remember how we used to come here all the time when we were kids. You were pretty good back then too.”
“And I can see you’re still terrible at it.”
I have to give it to Dachi. This is just what I needed. Observant, huh? I guess Saori-senpai wasn’t wrong. I have to admit, even when we were younger Dachi has always been a pretty good friend.
“Hey Dachi, I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry for going non-contact back in elementary school. I should have reached out but…”
“Your dad wanted you to focus on school, right? Let me guess, he made some threat to you that if we continue hanging out he’ll ruin my life.”
“How did you…”
“Don’t sweat, I sort of figured it out. I mean we went from being best buds, to strangers. I thought something was up, but your dad's letter made things clearer too.”
I clenched my fists. “He sent a letter.”
“Yeah, my mom got it a few days after you went MIA. It talked about how I was wasting my potential, and ruining both our futures. That I’m throwing my education away, taking valuable resources, and just being a waste of space.”
“I suppose, but it was also a wake-up call. He wasn’t wrong. I really was wasting my potential. So I wanted to prove him wrong. From then on, I focus intently on my studies. Hoping I can stand side by side with you again.”
“And look at me now. Thanks to my studies, I ranked first in junior high, grabbed a scholarship to one of the most exclusive high schools in the country, and even beat the great Kazuma Ito in our most recent exams.
“Wait, didn't you rank seventh?”
“Well in junior high, once people found out about my test scores, people started to treat me differently, and I got bullied relentlessly. I guess I was afraid the same thing would happen again.”
“That’s not true, you know.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ll tell the others one day.”
“Who knew that you were an insightful idiot.”
“Kazuma, serious question.”
“You like Rika don’t you?”
“Of course not. Rika is just a friend.”
“I…don’t know. How do you know if you like someone anyway?”
“Usually you can stop thinking about them. Just seeing them smile brightens your day. You don’t mind listening to their long-winded tales. Or learning about their wants, flaws, and fears. You feel like you can be your true self. You don’t mind doing ridiculous things to make their day. You feel lonely when they're gone. And you sometimes feel pain in your heart. But that just shows how much you love them since you feel incomplete when apart.”
“Or for a more simplified version. It’s when you get the realization of, shit, I’m screwed.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. So Dachi, do you like Saori-senpai then?”
“Hehehe, noticeable, huh? Yeah, I do. I just love everything about her.”
“Sorry about the whole fake romantic competition. It must have been hard seeing us together."
“Nah, it was completely obvious that you two weren’t interested in each other. So no hard feelings.”
“Any plans to ask her out.”
“Of course not. I mean she’s older than me. I bet she wants someone her age or older. It’s alright, I’m happy to just be by her side.”
“I don’t know, she seems interested in you too.”
He gulps. “For real?” Then, if I hit this next ball and score a home run, I will ask her out.”
He gets into position.
“Really, now I actually hit it!”
“You don’t have to.”
“No, I am. If I say I’m going to do something then I’m going to do it. Plus I’ll finally get an answer.”
“That’s not surprising, you’ve always been like that.”
“So Kazu, how do you and Rika really know each other? I don’t buy that scene partner lie.”
“Me and Rika huh? I guess I could tell you. See we started this thing called operation L&D.”
“Operation labor and delivery?”
“No, Operation Lovey-Dovey.”
“Hahahahaha, seriously what a silly name.”
“I don’t know, it’s kind of growing on me.”
“It all started when I found Rika dancing in the rain. Then later we found out we were engaged.” I ended up explaining everything to Dachi about our lunch meetups, the romance training, our reasons for joining a club, and more.”
“So hold on, you're engaged!” He shouts.
“I explained that ages ago, was that the only part you heard?”
“Sorry, it’s still wild to hear that you’re engaged. But, if you think about it, this arranged marriage doesn’t make sense.”
“What do you mean?”
“Historically, arranged marriages occur to help increase one's status, money, and power. The same is true for modern times. So why is the daughter of some shareholder of an advertising company paired with the heir of an already famous company? It doesn’t make sense.”
I guess when he puts it that way, he is right. Especially since one of my previous partners was the daughter of a rival studio, and the other was the head of a travel company.
“Did you look her up?”
“I tried, but I couldn’t find anything.”
“Amateur. Allow me.”
“Dachi takes out his phone and begins typing rapidly. After a while, he finishes.”
“Easy, that took hours.”
“Well, you try searching for people on your phone. But, guess what! Turns out she’s the daughter of the founder of Circle Link Technologies.”
“Circle Link. You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Rika Tanaka is the daughter of a company worth billions that basically controls all modern technology. Heck, even our phones are Circle Link devices. I take back what I said. The question is, why is she with you.”
“Who cares about status anyway? I get why she hid her family background and to be honest I wish I could do the same. There are a lot of harmful people in the world. The less information you share, the better, trust me.”
“I supposed. So Kazu, what are you going to do now? The month is ending soon."
“Once the month is over, we’ll end our relationship like we agreed.”
“You’re okay with that?”
“Well whatever you decide, I’ll be here for you dude.”