Chapter 1:

Unspoken Words

Sincere Pretenses

“Hey, let’s be naughty tonight.”

What the hell is Collette thinking? We’re in the middle of class! I should just ignore her. I really should, but she’s making it damn near impossible.

For one thing, she’s speaking loud enough that those around us can hear. Even if she’s oblivious to their muffled snickers, I’m not. For another, she’s close—really close. I can feel the heat of her breath on my cheek, and I swear I heard a faint popping noise as her lips parted.

Even though I’m not looking at her, I can see her mouth clearly in my mind’s eye. As she continues to plead with me, I imagine the devilish smile at the corner of her lips and every small movement of her tongue. I can even visualize the reflection of the overhead lights off her clear lip gloss. Every syllable is clear as day, not just audibly, but visually.

“Come on, I want to do it. Say yes. Please, say yes.”

Ignoring her’s not working. If she keeps this up, the teacher’s going to notice. I turn my head slightly to look at her, and despite myself, I clench my fist in victory as I notice that her mouth is in the exact position I imagined it.

Guess that’s to be expected when I spend so much time thinking about it. I mean her. So much time thinking about her.

She turns her head away so I can whisper my response. “Let’s talk after class.”

Her lower lip presses up in the cutest pout. “But I’m bored now. I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I can’t take it anymore. I’m itching for it.”

“Coco, think about the words you’re using. People can hear us. They’ll think we’re digging each other out.”

Giggling at my crass language, she leans close again and whispers. “Who cares what other people think? I just want to have fun, but if you don’t want to, maybe I’ll find someone else who does.”

With a heavy sigh, I admit defeat. “OK, but I’ve got club today. Let’s meet up after that.”

Her face lights up, and for a moment, I worry that she’s going to throw her arms around me, but mercifully, she shifts back into her seat right as the teacher turns away from the whiteboard. Outwardly, she appears to be paying attention to class, but from the dreamy look in her eyes, I can tell her thoughts are elsewhere.

The sun’s already setting, but Collette is nowhere to be seen. She was in such a hurry earlier, but now she’s keeping me waiting. Oh well, this isn’t the first time. Better go find her.

It doesn’t take long. She’s exactly where I expected: at the confession spot in the courtyard. A second-year boy is gesticulating wildly, no doubt in the middle of a passionate speech. Collette’s leaning back against the wall, an amused smile on her face.

Funny how many guys seem to be determined to get shot down by her. In middle school, Collette wasn't popular at all. She didn’t get a single confession. Everyone saw her as just a plain girl whose only interesting point was that her mother gave her a Western name on a whim.

Everyone except me, that is.

Now that she’s developed a sense of fashion, guys are all over her. It’s amazing what a little lip gloss and hair dye will do. Don’t get me wrong, I think she looks nice with her new wavy brown hair, but she was cute before, too.

On the inside, she’s still the same Collette. She’s a bit ditsy, but she always comes through for her friends. Her sense of humor is a little weird, but somehow I can’t help but laugh along with her.

No, it’s not quite right to say she hasn’t changed. I don’t know how she got the idea for our recent after-school activity, but she’s definitely developed a mean streak, especially towards anyone who shows the slightest romantic interest in her.

Like this poor guy. I don’t catch what she says to him, but he stomps his foot in rage and yells at her. Time for me to step in.

Right as he’s about to go for an intimidating kabedon, I grab his shoulder and spin him around. “She says she’s not interested. Take a hike. Go cool off.”

Well, shit. The guy is my senpai from track, and he’s in no mood to back down. Spittle flies from his mouth as he shouts. “I guess the rumors are true. You’re a couple of carpet munchers.” He tries to turn back towards Collette, but I hold him tight, so he twists his head as far as he can to look at her. “Are you really satisfied with her? A real man—”

I’ve had about enough. He may be a guy, and a year older than me, and tall for his age, but I still have a couple centimeters on him. If it comes to blows, I won’t come out unscathed, but I won’t lose.

Pulling him away from her, I somehow manage to pivot and place myself between them, then I shout as loud as I can to try to shock him. “A real man, huh? So you’re saying that trans men aren’t real men?”

His eyes widen. “No, I was just trying to say—”

“That two girls isn’t a real relationship? That only a man can provide what a woman wants?”

“No, I…” He falls silent, and I let him struggle to come up with a reply for a good ten seconds.

“So were you being transphobic, or homophobic? Take your pick.”

“Forget it. I’m sorry.” He looks at his feet, the will to fight completely quashed, so I let him go.

Collette bounces up to me. “I didn’t know you were a trans man.” There’s no malice or curiosity in her voice. If anything, she sounds uninterested.

“I’m not.” My shoulders slump as I realize that’s how my words came off. “I was just calling him out on his bullshit. He got worked up and said something he’s gonna regret for a long while. Figured I should stop him before he did any more damage.”

“Well, whatever.” She shrugs. “You were really cool. Shall we go?”

“You know, we’re going to get caught if we keep doing this.”

Raising a finger in front of her, she tut-tuts me. “You promised. Don’t try to get out of it now.”
She caught me. I rub the back of my head in embarrassment. “OK, but this is the last one for a while. At least a week.”

At first she frowns, but it doesn’t take long for her to regain her composure. “Then we’d better make it a good one.”

It’s dark by the time we emerge from the convenience store. Perfect timing. Collette has a large sucker in hand.

“I didn’t know they made them that big,” I admit. “How much did that cost?”

“About three hundred yen.” She pulls the wrapper off, hands it to me, and then takes a lick of the large spherical candy. “Like I said, I want to make it a good one.”

Looking around, I can’t find a trash can, so I decide to stick the wrapper in my backpack for now. By the time I’m done, Collette has already walked off towards the train station. I follow slowly. She finds a bench and starts going to town on her sucker, licking slowly, but never putting it all the way in her mouth. I take a seat half a block away and pretend to be interested in my smartphone.

It’s a slow night, and the few salarymen who walk past don’t even look at her. She crosses her legs, causing her skirt to ride dangerously high up.

Man, I wish I had legs like hers. Mine aren’t bad, but the muscles bulge out and ruin the allure. I try to buy long skirts to hide the worst of it, but since I’m so tall, they just look like regular skirts.

More men walk by without sparing her a second glance. That’s the right, moral thing to do, but I can’t help feeling irritated. The deal is we go home if she doesn’t hook one by the time she finishes her sucker, but given the size of that thing, we’ll be out here for an hour, at least. I just want to get it over with.

Besides, if we don’t get one tonight, she’ll bug me again tomorrow.

Finally, after about fifteen minutes, a telltale smirk spreads across her face and she calls out to a lone salaryman passing by. Though I’m too far away to hear what she’s saying, I can perfectly read her lips. Not that I need to, it goes the same way every time.

“Hey, daddy.”

The man is louder, and I can barely make out his voice. “Well hello there, sweetie.”

“I’ve been a very good girl today, daddy. Do you think I could have my allowance?”

“Well, I don’t know… I think you still have one more chore to take care of.” Seriously, how predictable can these perverts get?

“I’m ready to earn it, daddy.”

That’s the signal. I stand up and stretch first, then she stands up and begins leading the man to the love hotel. I follow at a distance, making sure not to catch anyone’s attention as I creep closer to them.

The hotel itself is just a few blocks away, but it seems like it belongs in a different time period. It’s old, rundown, and cheap. Just five-hundred yen for a short stay. Not a camera in the place, and the staff don’t bat an eye at a full-grown man escorting a teenage girl.

Actually, I’ve only ever seen the old man behind the counter. I don’t know if he’s OK with what we do, or if he’s just too blind and deaf to notice. For whatever reason, he hasn’t snitched on us yet.

Slipping into the hotel is the tricky part. I have to time it just right so that I can keep Collette in my vision without being seen by her companion. It’s difficult, but I’ve never failed before, and I don’t fail this time. Quietly, I stalk them down the hallway. He opens the door for her, and she enters first.

Go time. I take off down the hallway like Usain Bolt. I have to get there before the door closes. The sound of my footsteps alerts him to my presence, but before he can turn to look, I’m already behind him. I shove him into the room and kick him in the back of the knees to send him into a kneeling position, then close the door behind us.

“Hey, what gives?” He tries to stand up but I kick him in the side. He wheezes in pain, so loud that I almost don’t hear the springs squeak as Collette sits on the foot of the bed.

“Shut up and give me your wallet,” I hiss. He freezes up, so I kick him again, then I reach into his pocket and pull out his wallet and phone and toss them onto the bed.

“Police! Someone—” He tries to call for help, but I’m ready for it and kick him, harder this time.

“Don’t be an idiot,” I grunt. “You’re in a seedy hotel with two underage girls. What do you think the police are going to do? Who are they gonna believe?”

That shuts him up. He curls up and starts sobbing quietly, like they all do. Colette finally pops the sucker into her mouth so she can use both hands to open his wallet. At the same time, I retrieve a sheet of paper from my backpack that reads “I proposition underage girls” in big letters.

“Hey, look at me, not her.” I tap him on the head a few times with the paper and he turns on his hands and knees to face me. I hand him the paper and he holds it, his jaw slack in confusion. When I pull out my smartphone and start snapping photos, he wises up real quick and tries to hide his face behind the sign. This earns him another kick in the side. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

Collette gets my attention by clacking the sucker against her teeth with her tongue. The sound is so loud that it causes the man to flinch. She hands me his health insurance card, and I hold it next to his head as I snap more photos.

Though he doesn’t try to hide again, tears begin falling from his face. “Please, please…” I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. However, his next words destroy any sympathy I had. “My wife will leave me if she finds out.”

“He has a wife? Naughty boy.” It’s amazing how clearly Collette can talk with her mouth full of candy, a testament to her lingual dexterity. The excitement in her voice is also palpable, and as much as it disturbs me, I understand. This is where it gets exciting for me, too.

“Looks like someone needs to be taught a lesson.” Bringing my foot back, I kick him in the gut, harder than before, but not hard enough to do any permanent damage. He doubles over and falls on his side, but I’ve only just begun.

Collette leans forward, her eyes widening as she takes in the sight. I don’t know why she gets such a kick out of this, and right now, I don’t really care. The important part is that it sends her tongue into overdrive, licking the sucker all over.

Once again, I see nothing but her mouth in my mind’s eye. Every time my foot connects with the man, she clacks the sucker against her teeth, sending a jolt through my entire body. The world fades away, and it’s as if it’s just the two of us, connecting in a manner so primal, so illogical, that we couldn’t describe it in words if we wanted to.

Right as I’m nearing the peak of my exuberance, the man’s cries grow louder, intruding on our private world, and the illusion breaks. I look at him as if for the first time. Pudgy, balding, pathetic, and I feel disgust wash over me. What am I doing? What kind of monster have I become, getting my kicks—literally—from sadistic violence?

With a heavy sigh, I place my foot back on the ground. “As long as you don’t tell anyone, we won’t release the pictures. We’ll take the cash, but you can have your wallet back, and we’ll both go our separate ways.”

But Collette wasn’t done yet. “He’s only got four-thousand yen on him.”

Rage rekindles in my belly. “Is that how little you think she’s worth?” My hardest kick yet lands on his ribs. “Were you even planning on paying at all?”

Just like that, he fades away again. Insignificant. It’s just me and Collette. Well, Collette’s mouth. I can visualize her every tongue movement. I hear nothing but the sound of her breathing and the clacking of the sucker. Hell, it even feels like it’s me, not the sucker, being licked all over.

It’s too much. I can’t control myself anymore. I don’t give a damn if he winds up in the hospital. I kick as hard as I can. Then I do it again. And again. And again. And—

A loud cracking sound splits the room as Collette bites down on the sucker. That’s her signal that she’s done. The spell breaks, but not before I wince in pain imagining her biting down on me.

My breathing heavy and ragged, I grab the wallet off the bed and drop it on the man. “Get out.”

He doesn’t waste any time scrambling to his feet and fleeing from the room. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s not limping. Must be tougher than he looks. Either that, or I’m losing my touch.

The springs squeak as Collette leans backward, turns her head, and spits the stick into a bedside trash can. She looks back at me with a big smile on her face.

It looks almost as if she’s inviting me to crawl on top of her. We are in a love hotel, after all. Part of me almost does it. I’m sure if I were still delirious with excitement I would have made that mistake.

And yes, it would have been a mistake, for Collette disdains those who yearn or lust for her. Perhaps I could have forced myself on her once, but that would make me a terrible friend, and an even more hideous monster than I am now.

Besides, I know how she operates. She uses me to push away those who come after her. If I were to show myself to be just like them, she’d find someone else, someone bigger and stronger, to do the same to me.

And I couldn’t stand that. I couldn’t stand to be hated by Collette. That’s why this sucks so much. I can’t even talk to her about my feelings without ending our friendship.

Ever since middle school, I’ve loved her. Day after day, she’s been the only thing on my mind. She’s the only person I’ve ever loved.

And the only person I can never confess to.

Damn, Shizuka is so hot. The way she moves with perfect grace as she kicks that guy sends shivers down my spine. Doesn’t hurt that the sweat running down her thighs is making her muscles glisten in the dim light.

She was always a hottie, but ever since she hit her growth spurt, I haven’t been able to keep her out of my mind. Oh, what I want her to do to me with those muscles of hers.

I can see it now. She’ll push me down onto the bed, pinning me firmly but delicately. Then she’ll kiss me. Hot, breathy, passionate kisses, first on my lips, then my cheeks, my neck, my—


In my excitement, I accidentally bite down on the sucker in my mouth. I’m such a klutz! Why do I always ruin it right when things are getting good?

Shizuka’s done now. It’s obvious that I won’t be able to get her going again tonight. Oh well, there’s always next time.

As the man clambers out of the room, I lie back, trying once again to entice her. The wild look returns to her eyes, but disappointingly, only for a moment.

I just don’t get it. She’s obviously loved me since middle school, so why won’t she confess? I started acting friendly with boys so she’d get jealous, but so far, all she does is defend me from them. Why would she do that if she doesn’t want me for herself? That makes no sense.

What does she think I’m doing this for? Hurry up already.

Why won’t the only person I’ve ever loved confess to me?

Pope Evaristus