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Chapter 8

I had never once dreamt my one and only wish would come true. Senpai confessing to me felt so out of my reach yet here he is right now, beside me. My heart just won't stop beating abnormally and I couldn't even look him in the eyes. Today is a holiday and he has asked me out on a date. I almost made Marumi's room into a mess—as if a storm had been there. Well, a storm had been there, my heart, my mind—every fiber of my being.

I had swum into the closet, frantically looking for clothes to wear. I somehow managed to pair up my jeans and grey sweater, which wasn't a bad choice, Marumi said. It just didn't fit right with the weather that day.

So she helped me dress up and lent me her white, knee-length dress with roses printed on it. Its shoulders were a bit puffed and I really liked it.

"Do you want to try out that new crepe there by the stall, Akane?"

I winced after hearing him say my name. I turned to look at him. He was wearing a white shirt underneath his black polo which was rolled halfway across his arms. He paired it with his jeans and grey sneakers. He had a necklace on, too. His green eyes were looking at me and as the wind blew, his hair danced, revealing a tinge of red on his ears.

"Sen..Senpai," I said, attempting to point out the fact that his ears were red. My eyes grew wider upon seeing them burn even redder as he looked away, "Y-You should call me Naoki."

"Na—" I heaved a deep breath. My heart was beginning to pound harder that I clutched my chest. I looked up at him and smiled shyly, "I-I'd like to try out that crepe, Naoki."

That was when the redness of his ears spread throughout his face. Then he scoffed until he had grinned like a little child, "Alright! You wait here for me!" Then he happily walked towards the stall and fell in line.

As for me, I sat on the bench as I watched him. He was fidgety and seemed impatient. He kept glancing my way and smiling. I couldn't help but feel a surge of happiness fill my chest. Seriously, just how lucky am I right now? Any girl would die just to see that kind of expression from Senpai. From Naoki. "Naoki," I muttered under my breath. Just by saying his name, I could just melt.

I looked up at the blue sky and a flock of birds flew by. I heard the leaves rustling from the tree that was behind me. I closed my eyes. I could faintly hear the laughter of the children and the chattering of the crowd. I breathed deep and released it. My chest felt lighter now and that thing that happened in my apartment seemed too far from me now. It felt as if it never really happened.

Speaking of which, I wonder what happened to Aoi Jin? I haven't seen him at school lately.

"Just call me whatever happens alright? I'll be there wherever I am."

Maybe I should try calling him. Or send an email.

I fished my phone out from my sling bag and scrolled through my contacts. When I found Jin's, I clicked his name and began typing when Naoki suddenly appeared in front of me, blocking the sun.

"Who are you texting?"

His voice was ice cold it sent shivers to my spine. My finger froze and I slowly looked up. He was hovering above me. His green eyes seemed to gleam. His hair was being swayed by the wind and he wore no specific expression. "Na-Naoki?"

"Who are you texting?" he repeated. This time, his voice chimed in my head. It sounded calm yet dangerous enough to make my skin crawl.

"Jus...Just a friend."

When he didn't answer and remained looking at me with that glare, my hands started to tremble and I felt weak.

"Oh, is that so?"

The place lit up when he grinned and sat beside me. He handed me the crepe, "Here you go! It's strawberry flavoured! You could just send a text message later when you get home, right?"

"Y-Yeah, I-I think so," I answered as I slid my phone inside my bag and took the crepe from his hand. As he began eating, I glanced at him.

What was that expression just then? It seemed so far from the Naoki everyone admired.

He seemed to have noticed when he looked at me and patted my head, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I was just fooling around."

"I-I see," I answered and forced a small laughter.

He smiled back and continued eating his crepe. "You shouldn't really be scared of me, Akane," he said a couple of seconds later. His tone was serious. "I mean, really," then he looked at me and our eyes met. "I told you that I'll protect you, right? I won't let anyone harm you or even lay a finger on you, I promise."

I should feel happy and giddy at what he said. Him being that protective should send butterflies flying with no direction in my stomach but why, instead of butterflies, a big hand squeezed my heart, as if telling me it won't let go even when my heart's about to burst.

I feel suffocated.

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