Ayaka stopped as she saw her boss, Tezuka who was walking toward the print-out machine at the workers place. She tossed her hair and checked her reflection in her compact mirror. She placed it on her desk and neared him.
“Hi,” she said. Her voice sounded a bit flirty.
Tezuka looked at her and back to a person who was in charge on doing the print-out. “I want you to print these four packs of documents and leave them on my desk after you’re finished.”
The person nodded. Ayaka fell into step beside her boss as he started to walk. “Boss, how are you?”
Tezuka grunted. “I’m not in a good mood.”
“But I wanna if you’re okay,” Ayaka blurted. She followed her boss into his office. The door was closed and Tezuka made his way to his desk. He continued to do his work. Ayaka sighed. She stood across from him and leaned down.
Before she could say anything, her boss gave her a file. She took it with a puzzle look.
“Please check the totals. Since Maimi is not here, do her job for a while,” he ordered. Ayaka cleared her throat. She held the file tightly, feeling the handprint of her boss’s. She could smell his perfume on the file.
“When will she be back?” Ayaka asked. She did not like that question coming out from her own mouth but she wanted to show her care in front of her boss.
Tezuka sighed. “Until everything goes back to normal.”
Ayaka nodded. “Until everything goes back to normal,” she repeated. She was thinking of asking her boss out for a cup of coffee but she was too afraid. Nevertheless, she needed to try.
“Let’s go out for coffee. It’s already evening,” she said. Her heart leaped with joy.
Maimi played with her anchovies during dinner. She had been doing that for almost an hour. Mrs. Kazui sighed. She patted her daughter’s shoulder.
“Stop doing that. Those anchovies are waiting for you to munch them,” she said. Maimi looked up at the television solemnly.
“I don’t feel like eating, mom,” she told her. Maimi looked back at her anchovies. “I don’t.”
Mrs. Kazui knew the reason. Her daughter was thinking of Tezuka. She noticed Maimi had been glancing at her cell phone many times this evening.
Maimi sighed. She stood up and bow. “I’m sorry. I wanna go to bed.” She left her mother alone in the small living room and got into her room. Sitting on the floor slowly, she snatched her cell phone next to her closet. She went through the phone book. There were only Tezuka and Peppei’s phone numbers.
Maimi called Tezuka’s number. She waited anxiously, heading her body back and forth. Her eyes studied the flickering lamp. Tezuka received the call.
“Hey,” he sounded.
Maimi’s heart danced. She smiled and her eyes watering. “Nezumi?”
Tezuka silenced. “Hey.” His calm, stern and tense voice somehow made Maimi felt better than before. “What is it?”
“I miss you!” she said eagerly.
“What are you gonna talk about actually?” Tezuka snarled. Maimi was disappointed. She held back her tears. Her usual serious husband never changed.
“Nothing,” she finally answered sarcastically. “Nothing.”
Again, another silence came. Tezuka’s sigh and a door being unlocked could be heard from the phone. Maimi suggested that he had just come home after working.
“Hey, have you eaten?” Tezuka asked at last. Maimi curled a tiny smile. She wiped her tears.
“I don’t have the appetite. If you’re here, then I won’t mind eating five bowls of rice!” she laughed.
“You’ll need to eat, old miss. You’re too skinny,” Tezuka told her. A blast of water rushing out of a faucet into the sink was heard. Maimi thought her was washing his hands.
“I’m glad you care for me, Nezumi,” she teased. “Nezumi likes cheese! Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!” Then, she giggled by herself.
There were no words came out of Tezuka’s mouth. He did not need to respond to that silly joke. Maimi licked her lips playfully, hoping for him to see that and she said, “I feel like kissing you!”
Tezuka sighed. He was lying in his bed alone, watching the ceiling. He had just called the newspapers and dealt with them about the date and the day. It was a day of tomorrow. He needed to cancel all the meetings on that day.
He was too tension about his work and the incident. For the current state, Ayaka announced that the company was still going well but despite that some important meetings were cancelled, the money won’t go in as much as before.
Tezuka tossed to his left. He tried to close his eyes to rest and sleep but it did not work. His mind was still rewinding the conversation he had with Maimi a little while ago. He was actually relieved that Maimi had finally recovered and back to her cheerful side. She even wanted to kiss him again.
Putting his hand at his forehead, he groaned. As if they had been kissing everyday. He realized both of them shared kisses twice or even once since they got married. The first kiss was when he felt sorry for Maimi’s background. The second was when he was angry with Andrew and he kissed Maimi just to show that to Andrew.
But he thought about that, did he really love her? Did the kisses really mean it? Tezuka got up. He went to the kitchen and opened the freezer. He was looking for any healthy snacks but nothing. Tezuka was too absorbed with his work life and he never had time for groceries shop.
And I never have time with old miss. He reminded himself.
The next day came. Maimi was having homemade salad in front of the television that morning while her mother sat by the Japanese table, cutting vegetables on the floor. Maimi sighed as her favourite show took a break and a toothbrush commercial came out.
“Don’t you have anything to do, dear?” Mrs. Kazui asked without looking up. Maimi glanced at her and back at the television, aware of the show. She shook her head. “Nope.”
Mrs. Kazui smiled to herself and put down her knife. “Are you okay? You seem fine.”
“Of course I’m fine, mom. Here I am, eating salad and watching the television,” Maimi told her. She munched her last cabbage and placed the plate on the table. “By the way, I think not going to work is better. I can have a rest.”
As soon as she lied onto the floor, her mother said, “I thought you miss your hubby. What do you call that…Nezumi?”
Maimi’s eyes widened. She got up. “How did you—oh….”
Mrs. Kazui giggled. “Sorry if I secretly heard your conversation with Tezuka last night. You know that our house is too tiny. You can even hear someone farts in the bathroom when you’re at the lawn.”
Maimi laughed. She poked her mother’s shoulder. “It’s you, right?!”
“Hey, I’m your mother! It’s not like you’re a stranger living with me. You know I fart a lot!” Mrs. Kazui joked. Maimi laughed again. She held her stomach tightly.
“I lose count!” she said out loud. Then, when both of them settled down from laughing too much, she breathed out. A car that honked its horn startled her. She recognized that horn.
Maimi went out of the house to see Tezuka’s BMW shone its dark black under the sunlight. Her heart leaped with joy as Tezuka got out of the car and their eyes met. “Nezumi!”
She ran toward him and pulled out her arms. Unfortunately, Tezuka stepped aside making Maimi fell down onto the ground with a thud. “Ouch!”
Tezuka rolled his eyes. He saw Mrs. Kazui coming out so he bowed. The three of them sat at the edge of the open balcony later. Tezuka told about the upcoming press conference that was going to run tomorrow. Maimi and Mrs. Kazui nodded.
“So, I drop by here to tell you about that,” he finished. Maimi sensed something fishy.
“You can just dial my number,” she said innocently. Tezuka looked away. Actually he dropped by there to see Maimi so he brought the news along just to cover it. But he forgot about the technology and even dumb Maimi told him to just call her.
Tezuka cleared his throat. “I’m running out of credit,” he lied.
Maimi pouted. Mrs. Kazui sighed in. “That’s great, Tezuka. At least you can tell everyone about what they want to hear. I hope this thing could calm down as fast as it could.”
“So, that I can go home with you,” Maimi butted in. Her childish smile melted Tezuka’s heart. He got up and adjusted his black coat.
“I need to go to work,” he said. Mrs. Kazui nodded while Maimi climbed down of the balcony and rushed toward him.
“Can I go with you? Please?” she demanded.
“Mai-chan!” Mrs. Kazui called.
Tezuka sighed. He stared at her. “No can do. You can’t go out there before the press conference. I’m afraid the reporters will hit you down.” He fastened his steps to his car and quickly got in. He realized Maimi’s pouting face that was about to burst into tears from the passenger seat. Tezuka breathed out.
No, work is work.
Ayaka was sitting at her desk. She was flipping through the file. There was a meeting that was going to be held in a few more minutes. She was told by Tezuka that he was going to be there a bit late due to some problems in which was related with Maimi.
Ayaka groaned. She could not do her work properly since the last two days because she kept thinking of her boss and the news. Her affection toward Tezuka was more than a worker. It was love. She loved her boss.
A regret feel hit her whenever she remembered the married couple. She was supposed to be Tezuka’s wife. She was supposed to steal his heart. But it was too late. Ayaka had regretted more than anything when she had not even tried to get close to her boss before this. The sudden Maimi that appeared out of nowhere did make her mad.
Ayaka put down her file and grabbed a cup of coffee on the desk. The coffee was already lost its heat so she gulped it. The cup was slammed on the desk and she sighed. She glared back at every eye that darted at her reaction.
Tezuka had been spending his time more with Maimi rather than herself. Of course, they were married and she was only a PA but she was an important worker next to the manager. Before Maimi came to story of her life, Ayaka always had work conversations with her boss.
Both of them would go out for lunches and dinners to talk about work. Besides, she could look at Tezuka’s perfect face and figure in that office suits. His perfume caught her nose and it pleased her. She kept dreaming of snuggling with her boss and she hoped for a marriage.
But Tezuka did not show his true feelings on females so it was hard to get near him. He never showed any interest with different sex. All he did was work and work.
Ayaka took a pencil and shook her head from side to side. She opened the file that her boss had just given to her yesterday. She was ordered to check the totals. It was actually Maimi’s work since she was great in mathematics but if the order came from her beloved boss, she would do it. She had been doing that task since last night and now the files seemed to thin.
Scanning through the numbers that reached for about ten digits made her dizzy. “How come that silly lady can do this?” she asked herself. Maimi could finish a pile of files in only an hour. But Ayaka was still stammering.
She cleared her throat and scan through the page for the second time. “Man, it sucks!”
“Good morning, sir,” the workers greeted one by one. Ayaka looked up. The sight of Tezuka made her head spinning with cupids. She got up and neared him. “Morning, boss,” she said.
Tezuka gave her a tired look but he managed to nod as an answer. “Have you finished the task that I gave to you yesterday?” he asked while entering his office. Ayaka tailed from behind and pulled a strand of her hair behind her ear.
“Ten more to go,” she replied.
“Maimi can finish those four packs in just an hour,” Tezuka told her sternly. He was unloading his briefcase on his desk.
Ayaka was taken back by his words but she knew it right. She came closer to the desk and opened her management book, trying to ignore that. “The meeting will be running in another twenty minutes but the clients haven’t come yet.”
“Let the clients be late, not us,” Tezuka mentioned. Ayaka’s lips flickered a smile at the mention of us. Her confidence rose. She was hoping Tezuka will look up grinning but he was not that kind of person.