Maimi came out of her room, dressing in her white short dress in the next morning. She pinned a cute frog hair clip on her bun and she felt free that day. She became happier as she saw her husband was in the living room, doing his work with his netbook on the couch. He was wearing black long sleeves shirt and a dark grey pants. He adjusted his glasses and continued flipping through his paperwork and back at his netbook.
They had just finished their breakfast but despite that Maimi woke up late, Tezuka was the one that prepared the macaroni and cheese meal. She cleared her throat, wanting to get an attention from him.
Tezuka gave her a frosty look. Maimi covered her mouth. She laughed. Tezuka rolled his eyes and watched back at his netbook. Maimi sighed. She wanted to spend sometime with her husband that sunny day but he was so busy.
Maimi sat next to him. He took a side-glance at her. She did not notice that since his glasses was reflected by the shining sun light. Maimi wagged her legs. Tezuka grunted. She stopped then leaned forward, “Nezumi-chan, can I go to my mom’s house today?”
Tezuka faced her. Maimi was taken back as she detected in his face a careworn, grief-stricken expression. She pouted, “Please? I’m worried. Just for these two days, okay?”
Tezuka shook his head. “No, I’m busy.”
“Please! I miss my mom!”
“How would you miss your mom when you’re already an office woman?” he shot back. Maimi looked down, “But I’m worried about that previous day. He might come back.”
Tezuka looked up. She got the point. He doubted that evil man would come back ask for money again and again. But, despite Tezuka had come there to witness and know everything about Maimi’s background, he decided to take care of Maimi. He thought he could do it. He thought.
“Please?” Maimi pouted and she showed her cute face in front of him. Tezuka took sneak peek at her and he was truly amazed by her cute, puppy face. But she was an old miss! He still couldn’t believe he was married to an old miss. But she was still his wife. He could not do anything.
Tezuka sighed. He reached for his glasses but Maimi quickly grabbed it and ran away. “Catch this!” she yelled out. Tezuka rolled his eyes. He hated that silly game. He could not see very well without that glasses, of course and plus, he needed to catch that old miss to get back his glasses.
“Give it back!” he shouted. Maimi jeered out her tounge and hopped onto a single couch. Tezuka grunted and put away his laptop. He went towards her and swung his hands to get back his glasses. Maimi kept waving it up the air, giggling.
“Give it back, old miss!”
“Don’t call me old miss!” Maimi shot back. Tezuka pushed her and she fell back along with the couch. The glasses flew off her hand and placed itself to the balcony. Tezuka quickly went there but Maimi caught his left leg. Tezuka wagged his leg to let go of her grip. “Let go of me, you slut!”
Maimi was so shocked by his words. She immediately hugged his bottom body and said, “No way!”
Tezuka pushed her by her head but it was useless. She kept smirking and held on tight, “You have to agree to send me to my mom!”
“You go by yourself then!”
“But I wanna go with you! Come home with me, okay?”
“Dream it,” Tezuka gave his last answer while trying to escape. He dragged her towards the balcony and finally, he got back his glasses. Maimi clutched at him tighter. Tezuka kept pushing her aside. Maimi did not argue, instead she even kissed his legs happily.
Tezuka put back his glasses on. He put his hands on both hips and looked at her with a glower face. Maimi faced up and smiled with her eyes dancing. Tezuka shook his head. Maimi shot him another sweet smile and a seductive one. Tezuka sighed with his eyes closed.
“Oka-san!” Maimi called out as she came out of the car. She hugged her mother. Mrs. Kazui laughed but still in confusion. “What’s the problem?” she asked.
“Nothing! I just wanna see you, I miss you so much! Daddy probably will come and beat you up again,” Maimi explained. Mrs. Kazui smiled and noticed her tall, handsome, tough son-in-law stepping into the front yard with his sunglasses. She smiled broadly and nodded.
Maimi clapped her hands and jumped slightly. She grabbed her husband’s forearm and brought him into the house. She made him sit on the old, torn out tatami floor by the Japanese table. Later, she went into the kitchen and making drinks. Mrs. Kazui came in and joined Tezuka.
“Welcome home, son,” she began. Tezuka bowed down and sighed as soon as he got up. “She forced me bring her here. She misses you,” he said. Mrs. Kazui sniggered, “She is always like that. She’s only child. All I can do is to love alone. And she’s protective. She protects me.” Then, she laughed. Tezuka just looked at her and glanced at Maimi as she reached them with a tray of three glasses. She put it on the table. She smiled.
Mrs. Kazui nodded. Maimi took a glass and gave it to Tezuka. He sighed and received it. He looked into the glass and surprised to see that it was only plain water. He looked at the two of them. They were having fun drinking the water. He sighed again. He knew they were poor as he was told before. He needed to understand that. He never sat on an old tatami before and it felt uncomfortable.
It was almost afternoon. Maimi was delighted to cook for lunch with her mother. As she changed into her ordinary clothes, an old t-shirt with shorts, she began to cook with her mother in the kitchen while Tezuka was doing his job with his laptop in the small living room. It was so hot and Tezuka kept wagged his shirt, sweating. He breathed out in depression to see an old table fan. It produced crack sounds everytime it spun side to side, giving weak air. He kept telling himself that he was a very rich person, born with a silver spoon, but he could not believe that he was sitting in a low-price house. He even got married with a poor girl!
Tezuka glanced at the kitchen. He asked, “Do you need anything?”
“No,” Maimi replied. She was talking to her mother. The sound of water blasting out in the sink and knife cutting the ingredients somewhat calmed Tezuka’s mind. He knew he cook for himself at home but by hearing all that noises, he felt good. Just then, Maimi came out. She bent down in front of him, “Nezumi-chan, let’s go grab some veggies!”
Tezuka frowned. Maimi grabbed his forearm, “Come on!”
Tezuka sighed while putting his laptop on the Japanese table and got up. They went out. Mrs. Kazui smiled.
“We’ll walk,” Maimi said, giggling as she noticed Tezuka was holding his car keys. She wore her flip flops. Tezuka wore his shoes. Not suitable for outing in the neighbourhood. “Since you’re here, let’s go for a walk along to get some veggies,” Maimi said.
They walked straight from their house into a long road. The scenery was calmed with even though the houses there were not too beautiful of neat. Tezuka sucked his hands into his pocket jeans. He watched some children were playing tag-a-log. He saw a small flower garden with roses and sunflowers. Roses and sunflowers? What a weird combination!
“Mai-chan!” an aunt greeted Maimi. She waved back. “That’s Aunt Mary. She’s my mom’s best friend!”
Tezuka did not respond. His eyes kept rolling when he realized that everytime they passes a house, the people there would stare at him and began to whisper. He sighed. Maimi stopped at a garden with plenty of vegetables. They were all fresh. “We can take these veggies as many as we want as long as we are the neighbours,” Maimi explained.
Tezuka was playing with his car keys in his pockets. He was not focusing at Maimi, instead he was eavesdropping at a conversation of two aunts behind him.
“That’s Maimi’s husband!”
“Really? Wow, he’s good-looking and rich! He’s the manager of the popular share company, right?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Maimi is so lucky to have him! I wonder how many children they want?”
“Probably more than three! That guy is tough!”
Tezuka shook his head, avoiding them. He followed Maimi into the garden. Maimi took a basket and went to the lettuce area. She knelt down and picked the lettuce. Tezuka came behind her. He just watched her doing that.
Maimi turned her head back and looked up. “Come and help me,” she said.
“You do it yourself,” Tezuka said, running his hand through his hair. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. The afternoon was very hot. He was dreaming of sitting back in his apartment and felt that cool air-cond.
Maimi pouted. She continued to pick the lettuce and put into the basket. Tezuka sighed. He looked around. People were gathering around the garden, watching him. He cleared his throat and bent down to join Maimi.
She smiled, “Good. Now, you can pick over there.” She pointed her index finger at a big lettuce in front of Tezuka. “Here, let me show you.”
She placed her hands on the big one then pulled it out easily. She put it into the basket. “There. It’s easy, right?”
Tezuka gawped at her. He folded his shirt’s sleeves and adjusted his glasses. He placed his hands on a lettuce and grabbed it out abruptly. The wings of the lettuce broke. He was shocked. Maimi hit him on the forearm, “Don’t do like that! Pity on it!”
“Why? I do as you say. And by the way, why should we pity on this lettuce that we’re gonna it later?” Tezuka shot back. He put the lettuce into the basket angrily. Maimi pouted again. She continued to pick another one and got up. “Okay, that’s all.”
Tezuka got up too and straightened his jeans. He could feel all eyes were at him. Maimi carried the basket. She began to exit the garden along with Tezuka. She nodded at every people there. Tezuka nodded too.
“You’re so popular, honey,” she said.
“I don’t like that,” Tezuka answered. Maimi giggled.
“Um! Yummy!” Maimi said, chewing the lettuce that she had just picked with Tezuka just now. The lunch was ready and they had begun eating. The meals were raw lettuce, fried anchovies, fired chicken and less rice for each bowl. She faced her husband, “Right?”
Tezuka ate his rice quietly. He was not comfortable to eat that regular and less lunch. That was his first time. Mrs. Kazui leaned forward, “I’m sorry. We can only serve you this. It’s not much but I hope you won’t mind.”
Tezuka shook his head. “No, it’s okay. I’ll get used to it later.”
Maimi smiled. Mrs. Kazui seemed reliefed but she knew that was not what he was thinking. He was a rich person and he had his own company. There was no way he would like that food and the house.
Maimi hugged Tezuka’s left arm. “That’s why I love you!”
Tezuka was pleased. Mrs. Kazui giggled. Maimi smiled, still chewing her rice.
Tezuka sighed in depress. He was in front of his laptop that was placed on his lap. He was on an open balcony made of wood outside of the house. It was already night. They just had dinner. A simple dinner too. Tezuka was kind of hungry. He admitted that the food was not very finger licking good. It was dull...
Maimi came out and approached him with two cups of hot coffee. Mrs. Kazui was cleaning the kitchen. “Nezumi-chan!”
“Don’t call me that, old miss,” Tezuka shot. Maimi smirked and sat next to him. She folded her legs and handed him a cup of coffee. Tezuka looked at it then back on his laptop.
“Later,” he said. Maimi pouted. She took a sip at the coffee and breathed in. Her eyes dazed over at the stars. There were many stars and zodiac formed that night. She smiled. The wind blew through her long sweater and her stomach was appealed. Tezuka noticed that. Maimi’s mouth was opened wide. She quickly pulled her sweater to cover her tight pants. She blushed. So did Tezuka.
He cleared his throat and pretended to look back at his work. Maimi pulled some strand of her hair back her ears and continued to drink the coffee. The atmosphere was....dull and tense. The breezy night seemed quiet and peace. Only the sound of the crickets could be heard. Maimi put her cup back on the wood and looked at Tezuka’s laptop.
“What’s that?” she asked.
Tezuka rolled his eyes. “You don’t need to know,” he replied.
“But I’m your little manager, right?” Maimi said with a smile. Tezuka did not respond made her drank back her coffee.
“He was great and kind,” Maimi’s soft voice sounded. Tezuka turned at her, wrinkling her eyebrows. Maimi smiled and looked at her coffee, “My real dad, I mean. He was a great guy. He protected me and my mom. He never cared about himself but us.”
She giggled. “I remembered that he bought me cheesecake. A slice of cheesecake, with a small strawberry on it. Hmm...,” she said, looking in front. “It was....delicious. That was my first taste of cheesecake. It was very yummy.”
Tezuka swallowed. His eyes were locked at her. He was weird for that sudden confession. Maimi breathed out, “He shouldn’t die.”
“How did he die?” Tezuka asked, interested in that topic. He would get to know her well. That was his chance to do so.
Maimi looked back at her coffee. “Car accident...,” she said. Her voice cracked. Tears started to flood her big eyes. In a second, they ran down her cheeks. “He was going to the shop to buy me cheesecake again. I shouldn’t have told him to buy one. It’s all my fault!”
She put away her coffee and cried in her palms. She sobbed loudly. Tezuka felt sorry. He did not now what to do at that time. But Maimi had already leaned forward and cried on his chest. She gripped his shirt tightly and pasted her face on his six packs body. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Tezuka was surprised. He did not expect that to come. He tried to push her but it would make her upset more.
“Nezumi! I want my dad!” she cried.
Tezuka sighed. He reached for her back tentatively. “I’m....sorry for what happens.”
His shirt was wet by Maimi’s tears. He closed his eyes, could not bear with it. Maimi finally backed up and wiped her tears. She looked terrible. She caught Tezuka’s eyes and cried again.
“Nezumi-chan,” she began. “You can protect me, can you?”
Tezuka was taken back. He tried not to make an eye contact with her but he could not help by looking at her crying over her death dad. His hands were already at her back. He felt a sudden twinge. His eyes were at hers. Maimi kept waiting for his response.
Tezuka neared his face at hers. “I protect women,” he whispered. He licked his lips of nervousness. Their faces were just an inch away. He was trapped in that situation. There was no way out. “And I’ll protect you.”
“You will?” Maimi asked in naive. She closed her eyes. Her tears ran again down her cheeks. Tezuka closed his eyes too and urged himself to touch her lips with his. Finally, they kissed. Maimi was happy as she felt his lips. They were warm and very protective. They shared a passionate kiss.Mrs. Kazui was about to check on the couple for bedtime but despite that she saw them were kissing, she smiled with satisfaction and backed away towards her room.
Tezuka held at the back of Maimi’s neck as their kiss began to be more serious. It was like there was no tomorrow. Suddenly, Peppei came into the front yard. She screamed as she saw them. Both of the couple quickly pushed each other and covered their mouths. Tezuka turned back at his laptop and grunted. Maimi straightened her hair and got up, “Pei-chan?”
Peppei was shocked. Mrs. Kazui came out. “What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry! My bet for interrupting you guys! Sorry! Please forgive me!” Peppei bowed in front of Tezuka and Maimi by the bedroom. Maimi shook her head, “No, no! It’s okay.”
Tezuka rolled his eyes. He was mad at Peppei. And himself. He told himself that he made a big mistake a sudden move. The kiss was too early. But it felt good. It was very romantic.
“I was going to sleep here actually but seing you guys are here, I would be better go home,” Peppei told them. Maimi grabbed her hands, “NO! Just stay here. We’re fine.”
Mrs. Kazui saw Tezuka’s dissatisfied face and she smiled. “Pei-chan, you sleep with me, okay?”
Peppei nodded and brought her backpack into the room. Mrs. Kazui giggled, “Sorry, Tezuka-san. She’ll sleepover here every weekend.”
Tezuka nodded slightly and sighed. Maimi hugged her mother and dragged her husband into the small room. It was Maimi’s bedroom. It was very, very, small. Only a mattress can fit in there. There was no other things besides the closet. Everything seemed too old and rusty. There was only a lamp, a dim light lamp. It was difficult to see in that room during night even with the light on.
Maimi had prepared her bed and asked Tezuka to come along. He cleared his throat, “Is this your bed?”
“Yes! Now it’s ours!”
Tezuka’s mouth was opened wide. He calmed down and reminded himself about the old miss’s reputation. She was a poor girl. That was the reality. He sat down next to that old miss. His body was too tired from working all day and about the kiss just now, he felt like lying down and rest while thinking about those things. The comforter was for single person. He faced at the wall from his left and let his head on the mattress without the pillow.
“Here,” Maimi gave him her pillow and the comforter. Tezuka sighed and closed his eyes. He took off his glasses, “No thanks.”
Maimi pouted. She lied beside him and giggled alone, “I love how you kissed me just now. You’re a good kisser. Oh, speaking about it make me blush!”
Tezuka closed his eyes tightly. His cheeks redden after he heard her said that. He felt the same and he never knew he was a good kisser. That was his first kiss. Maimi placed a hand on his hip. Tezuka was shocked and he pushed her hand aside.
“Dream it,” he said plainly. Maimi was disappointed. She slowly turned to her right. She never thought Tezuka would not want to keep the make out process. She wanted more. Now that she was sleeping with him, she should be okay with it. But she knew she could not resist it.
Suddenly, her disappointment feeling made her cry. She held her tears, trying not to let Tezuka hear her. The tears came out, fell onto her pillow. She gasped for air and covered her mouth. Tezuka heard that but he did not expect anything. But when he heard a small squeal and sob came out from her, he sighed softly.
She’s crying. He told himself. Maimi wiped away her tears and breathed in later. Tezuka was so tensed. He was being too harsh towards her. He noticed that he needed to give more than just a kiss.