Ayanomi walked into the hotel’s ballroom where the engagement party was to be held. She was clad in a light silver dress, with feathery silver-colored cloth lining for the left strap and a very thin strap on the right which is barely noticeable and her foot was clad in a pair of silver sandals which made her feet look more slender. Her hair was tied up in a bun with soft tendrils of hair escaping the pins and hung low at the sides of her neck.
She trotted across the room with a broken heart and a heavy feeling. This was the day she would be meeting the man she had tried to run away from. Her face couldn’t get any cloudier than it already was, she had already resigned herself being damned for the rest of her life.
“Ayanomi!” Her mother greeted her as soon as she entered through the doors.
“What are you doing? You should smile to the guests. You’re aunts and uncles are here to congratulate you.”
She forced a tight smile, though all she wanted to do was to cry.
“Mother… what’s the name of the man I am supposed to marry?” She finally took the courage to ask.
“His name is… Junichi.” Her mother replied.
“Junichi?” Her heart started to thump with this news.
"By any chance is his real name Akanishi Junichi?" She asked her mother eagerly.
Maybe… by some chance this person could be connected with Jinsuke.
“Yes. I was very surprised that it took you so long to ask about him. Junichi is a very bright young man, love. He is after all the son of a tycoon.”
This answer merely made her nod, she didn’t hate her parents for her ordeal. She just hated her situation, being in this arranged marriage was inevitable. As what Haruma said months ago, she had to face her own problems.
If this was her fate, then she should better open her eyes for a new prospect in life… better forget promises that were made… better… to become someone’s wife even if it meant sacrificing one’s own happiness. But putting these thoughts aside maybe this person could help her locate the one man who changed her perspective in life and by fate shared his family name.
There was no happiness left in her, only anticipation.
What else did she have to lose in this situation? She had once tasted freedom but reality has finally knocked at her door and made her life miserable. If being with Jinsuke was just a fairytale… then it was time she read “the end” and closed the book.
Ayanomi sighed heavily as she walked towards her seat, not enjoying the party at all, dreading and anticipating at the same time when her name would be called and introduced to the man she has to marry.
While she was sitting in her chair, she noticed someone familiar walking amongst the guest.
Her eyes suddenly went big…
“Haruma!?!” She called out loud, quickly standing about and automatically striding towards that direction but all of a sudden she bumped into someone’s shoulder which set her balance off, causing her to topple on the side.
Ayanomi would have hit the floor if that same person was not able to catch her.
“I’m sorry… I wasn’t looking.” She apologized quickly, not even glancing at the person who caught her.
She was already too much preoccupied searching for Haruma amongst the crowd. There was a slight panic in her chest when she lost the sight of him right after she bumped into someone.
“It’s alright, as long as you are fine.” The person told her, his voice ringing into her ears.
It was very familiar to her.
Hearing that voice made Ayanomi slowly lift her face upward to look at that person and the moment their eyes met, she almost fainted.
“Jin.” A hoarse whisper escaped her lips instead.
It was the only thing she could say.
“You look beautiful tonight.” He said with a smile.
Jinsuke looked striking himself, wearing that metallic brown tie and suit, it was a far cry from the clothes he wore back in Akihabara. Never did she try to imagine Jinsuke wearing something as formal as this.
“That’s beside the point. What are you doing here?” She gushed while standing up straight after recovering from her initial shock.
“Come.” He told her instead and took her hand to lead her towards the front of the ballroom.
“What are you doing?” She asked him looking alarmed as she almost stumbled just to follow suit.
They stood in front of the crowd, as Jinsuke signaled the maitre de for a mike, they produced one immediately and gave it to him. He held the mike in his right hand while he clutched Ayanomi's hand with the other.
“Good evening ladies and gentle men.” He greeted everyone confidently with a smile that warmed anyone who looked at it.
Ayanomi still couldn’t understand what was happening.
“Thank you for attending this engagement party tonight. In magazines and news I have always been known as Junichi Akanishi but I haven’t been completely honest in the reports nor have I circulated my photograph around. To make things clearer for the guests, my real name is Jinsuke Junichi Akanishi, I try to hide my other name to avoid any further inquiries about my private life. My deceased father already had his share of limelight in the world and I do not wish to participate in it too. As some of you know I am a man who doesn’t like to have his photograph taken. I am somewhat... a camera-shy type of person as it is commonly known.” Jinsuke gave a huge grin to the people listening to him which set them off into a small chuckle.
Ayanomi stood there beside him, shocked as she looked at him in a different light. Her eyes darted to her hand which was clasping Jinsuke’s… Junichi. Whatever name it was he used.
When the crowd settled down to silence he continued to talk.
“Tonight I have a story to tell…” Jinsuke paused and looked at Ayanomi then he subtly gave her a wink while she just stood speechless beside him, eyes intently staring at his.
“Ten years ago, I fell in love with a girl… a girl I saw in magazines, the media and the news papers. I followed her grow up into a beautiful woman that she is today. I have always loved her… only I never had the courage to tell her personally or even ask her on a date. I was that bad in personal communication when it came to building relationships with the opposite sex…” he sighed exasperatedly and the audience gave another laugh.
“…so instead, I sent her parents a letter. A very long letter mind you. It was a letter about proposing to marry their child and providing everything she needs. That was two years ago and during that time I was confident to be taken in as a son in law. As I have mentioned already, I am a man who does not dwell too much in public but instead I show my talents in my work than in words.
Well somehow… that changed when the parents of the woman I have always loved denied my request.
They denied me, the son of a famous tycoon. I cannot believe that a person like me would be deprived of such a request.
Two years ago I was deeply frustrated with their response because I was certain that they would easily agree to my proposal. That’s when I realized that letters where not a clear judgment for such a proposition so I went to them personally, gathering all the courage that I have to set things straight and show my sincerity. To my surprise, the only response I got from them was, ‘You have not tasted the real world yet, if there came a time when you think being out there is better than being in the secured perimeter of your life, then maybe we could arrange the marriage for you instead’.
How could these people say something like that to someone with stature like me? How could they give me an ultimatum that I could just pretend my way out? It made me think for a long time until I came to the conclusion that if I were genuinely in love with their daughter I must leave my company and see the world for myself.” He stopped talking and nodded at my parents who were standing proudly in front of the crowd.
“One year ago when my father passed away, I left the company temporarily in the hands of my trusted subordinates to venture the world outside the rich and the famous. I lived in the name I am not known for, learned things on my own even feared by people not because of the things I had but because of the things I could do. I was known for myself and not for what I had stood for. There were times I was caught in trouble but got out of it on my own. I have met wonderful people along the way too and learned from them.” He smiled at Haruma whom Ayanomi did not notice was already standing just a few paces away from them.
“When I knew I have already experienced it all… I told the news to the parents of my beloved one. I wrote her parents that I knew how to live in the world that was presented to common people. That if I may choose between, I would have chosen the one I was living right then but since the woman I have loved was not capable of living in that same environment, I had to stay on the top that I may tell her the things I have learned. Her parents were really clever for coming up with such a response to my letter; because of this, I am indebted to these two wonderful people. Riches can never really bring you anywhere unless you have experienced the real terms of leaving in poverty. Armed with this thought and experience they have finally accepted me. True to their promise, they have set the engagement themselves.
The evening I was prepared to leave Akihabara…” by the mention of this place, everyone gasped and couldn’t believe that he indeed stayed in that place for a year.
“Yes, it was Akihabara that took me in… and it was the same place I met the girl of my dreams in flesh for the first time. The day I was prepared to leave Akihabara, imagine my shock to see Ueto Ayanomi walking on the streets of such a place, scared and alone. I too was scared for her for there were men who tried to mug her…” there were more gasps when they heard this, the eyes of Ayanomi’s parents almost bulged out of their sockets.
“But I was there and those people knew me, knew what I was capable of. I stood as a threat instead of being an ally. Of course I wouldn’t let anyone touch her, so I took her in my house and postponed for my comeback. If her parents wanted me to experience the real world, maybe they too would want that for her too. I told them the news… and they decided to let her be. For a month, I have lived under one roof with this beautiful woman at my side, the woman I have always loved from a far. She was also able to experience the real world, with me at her side. I was finally able to have a personal relationship with someone I cherished, though it was hard keeping it platonic for I respected her parents and most of all I respected her as a woman. What made me really happy was when she told me she was willing to throw everything away just to be with me, the poor me. Hearing that made me genuinely happy, I felt that Kamesama gave me not just wealth but he also threw in a goddess with a heart to be with me forever.” Jinsuke paused for one last time before throwing his last words to the crowd.
“Thank you for listening everyone. This has been a very long story… but the bottom line is, if destiny works for two people, they shall find happiness.” After saying this Jinsuke stooped down to kiss Ayanomi, who received those lips willingly. Everyone’s clap drowned both of them as they kissed each other fervently.
On the veranda just outside the ballroom Ayanomi and Jinsuke sat side by side while holding hands.
“You are a really good liar.” She said as she snuggled to him closely.
“No, I’m just not showy.” Jinsuke said as he traced her face with his fingers.
“But you said you said you were 28!”
“Adding a couple of years in my age adds charisma you know… besides you fell for it too.” He teased her while giving off a grin.
“That’s still lying.” She said as she tried to dart away from his fingers.
“Are you saying we shouldn’t have met? Then I wouldn’t have to lie?” He asked looking really hurt as his fingers was left hanging in the air.
For a few seconds they stared at each other in silence and then Ayanomi began to talk in a soft voice.
“The truth is I’m glad you saw me in Akihabara… and also it was you I was supposed to marry.”
This seemed to pacify whatever Jinsuke was thinking that his facial expression became lighter.
“I wondered why you have to run away from me in the first place when in fact I am that same person you are supposed to end up with.”
“As you have said, I was also probably supposed to experience things just as you did.”
“Probably… but I really thank Kamesama because of that.” He nodded to himself and then took something out of his breast pocket.
“Here.” He shoved his hand to hers.
A ring touched the middle of her palm. Carved on the band was intricate designs of oriental flowers and a small leaf shaped diamond was embedded in it.
The sight of the ring made Ayanomi’s eyes glow, but a thought came to her instead.
“Aren’t you supposed to wear this to my finger?” She pouted at him instead of wearing it on.
“Oh… yeah. That’s how it was supposed to be. Sorry.” He immediately took the ring from her hand, which she found funny because he was totally clueless on how things like this were supposed to work.
Jinsuke fumbled with the ring and slipped it onto her finger.
“That looks just perfect on you.” He held her hand upward, facing the ring towards him then grinned, he looked so cute that Ayanomi couldn’t help but give him a small kiss on the lips.
This took him by surprise.
“We’ll be staying under one roof again in a couple of days.” He said with a mischievous grin on his face.
“That seems to be the plan.” She nodded in agreement.
“You want to do it before we get married?” Jinsuke asked her with his eyebrows going up and down looking hopeful as his face crept slowly towards hers, his mouth aiming for her soft parted lips.
Trying to avoid eye contact Ayanomi thought for a second before answering.
“Jin…” Her voice trailed off… agonizing Jinsuke even more.
“I respect you as a man and I would want to make things right. Let’s just wait until the wedding night.” Ayanomi answered then laughed at him as he groaned loudly, she hugged him instead to make up for her small announcement which Jinsuke gruffly accepted in exchange with a kiss.