Sweet Sorrows


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1. Painful Memory

 

The usual cool breeze of autumn sifted through the air as the girl in her blue and white high-school uniform laid down the bouquet of white lilies and lighted a bundle of incense sticks before the marble-stone slabs in front of her. She slowly knelt down and clasped her hands and muttered her sincere prayers.

A man wearing his gray suit, topped with his black trench coat appeared beside her and did the same ritual as she did earlier. “You should’ve told me you were passing by here, then we could’ve gone together,” the man spoke as he stood up. The girl, surprised that he was there, looked up to her brother who was smiling gently at her.

“Gomen, nii-chan!” she apologized immediately, “I didn’t want to disturb you this morning…” It seems that her brother just arrived at early dawn that same day from work.

“Well, I have to say you did a great job in doing so especially when you banged the door loudly before you left.” Ohara Ren chuckled which made her sister flustered. As his little sister, she didn’t want to be a burden to her brother even to the smallest detail, especially when he had sacrificed a lot just to care and protect her. She has resolved to herself since a long time ago that she would help him in any and every way possible in her own little ways as well.

“I-I didn’t mean to -----” she muttered with disappointment. He cut her off by lightly patting her head and raising her chin to gain a better view of her. “Don’t worry about it.” He assured, “In fact, I should be thankful because I really wanted to come here early today,” he said, gazing at the two tombstones before him where the neat Japanese calligraphy inscriptions contained two names of the people who were dear to them. “Especially that today is that day…”

 

Ohara Saiyuri briefly glanced at the hazel eyes of his brother, a feature he got from their mother and saw melancholy in them. Until now, they were never able to get over that particular incident 13 years ago, which is the main reason why they were at standing at that place right now.

“Do you think mom and dad are happy?” Saiyuri posed out of the blue. She never really had vivid memories of her parents and only depended on her brother’s accounts of them. Ren wrapped his arm over her slender shoulders and pulled her sideways to make her lean closer to him, “I’m sure they are… because they have a good daughter like you…” he whispered softly. There was warmth in every word he said.

“… but not fully happy…” she adduced, her tone changing to a stressed remorseful one. “We still have to let that person pay.” She referred to the person who murdered their parents thirteen years ago through an intentional car accident – an identity she has been searching for years now, an identity her brother knew but never told her.

"There's a proper time for that," he mumbled and breathed deeply, "We will make sure that mom and dad's death would not go to waste…" He vowed bitterly, renewing his pledge with Saiyuri once again – a habit which both of them always did each time that particular sad day of the 22nd of September came.

“Come on. I’ll walk you to school,” Ren offered after he checked his watch. “But don’t you have a lot of meetings scheduled today?” Saiyuri mused. He shook his head, “Nope. My meetings would not start until 10am… so there’s still time.” He swayed, which she promptly agreed on. Walking with her older brother by her side, whom she most admired and aspired to be was one of those moments that gave her genuine tinges of happiness. She had always felt the great sense of pride to be his sister especially when he was one of the most idolized and famous senpais and alumni in her school.

“SAIYURIIII!” her best friend who also happens to be their school’s student council vice-president and the most popular girl in their year, Hiromi Noriko greeted her cheerfully as soon as she saw her in front of the gates of Kinomoto High. She rapidly ran towards her direction followed closely by her boyfriend, Masuyo Daichi who was also Saiyuri’s friend.

“Good morning Noriko.” Saiyuri replied courteously. Noticing the man beside her, Noriko almost instantly halted her steps and blushed excessively. After all, Ohara Ren was her ultimate crush.

“Ohio, Hiromi-san…” Ren greeted flashing his signature handsome smile, making her all the more embarrassed, “O-o-hi-hio senpai…” she stuttered as she tried to bow low to allow her curly hair to conceal her face. After almost 5 years of friendship with Saiyuri since Junior High, she never really got used to stand in his presence.

“Good morning senpai!” the teenage boy in his glasses called Daichi also greeted. Two years ago, Ren saved him from a group of bullies who cornered him after school. Since then, he had always felt indebted to him and promised him to stand as his eyes and ears to Saiyuri and to protect her at all cost. “Ah… Daichi-kun,” he muttered, “Thank you for bringing my sister home yesterday.” “The pleasure is mine…” he proudly responded, “I can bring her home today too…” “There’s no need,” Ren butted in. “I’ll be off early so today is my call.” He glanced at her sister who seems happy from what she just heard, “…and besides…” his sight rested on Noriko, “I think you ought to spend more time with Hiromi-san,” he continued, “I’m sorry if I always trouble Daichi-kun,” he addressed Noriko. “No… please don’t think that.” Noriko dismissed swiftly, “We are happy to be of service to Saiyuri in any way possible.” She assured him.

Ren cackled and muttered a word of gratitude when the warning melody of the school chime suddenly interrupted them, “You better get going…” Ren turned their backs and ushered them inside the school grounds. “Uhmm, Saiyuri…” he called out his sister again. He took something from one of the pockets of his trench coat and put it on around her neck. It was a goodluck charm for exams he acquired for her when he visited one of the Buddhist temples nearby. “Do your best in your exams today.” He cheered on. “Arigatou!” she said. It was more than enough encouragement she needed from him for that day. Her attention was then caught by his disarrayed necktie beneath his coat. Like how it has always been, she offered to mend his tie for him, “Seriously nii-chan…I don’t get how a smart man like you could not even get this right,” she teased as she tied a neat knot.

“Gomen…let’s just say I’m doing it on purpose because I feel happy whenever my little sister does it for me.” He sweetly kidded back which only earned him a light laugh from her.

“There. It’s all done…” she remarked after she straightened some crumples from his tie and coat. “We have to go now.” The three of them politely bid their farewells and walked on through the school grounds.

“Gosh! When will I ever be able to act normally in front of your brother?” Noriko mulled, her embarrassment still fresh in her memories. Saiyuri merely chuckled at her and unconsciously held the charm necklace around her neck. “I’m sure you’ll get the highest scores in our exams again and defend your number one spot,” Noriko predicted seeing the smile on her best friend’s face. It was always the same inspired expression she always wore when Ren was around to support her.

“Oh yeah… I need to review…” Saiyuri declared and took one of her reviewers from her bag and swiftly run through her notes for their first test for the day. “You know, you have to be careful of that habit of yours.” Daichi warned, knowing how absorbed Saiyuri can be in reading while walking, to the point of not being aware of what is happening around her. “You might bump into a post or something.” True enough, his prophecy transpired when Saiyuri carelessly collided with someone which caused her things to drop on the floor.

She frantically picked up her things while apologizing, “I-I’m so so-sorry ---” she looked up at the person and her apologetic face transformed to her usual stoic façade when she recognized him immediately. It was Yuuki Ryo, her classmate, the current student council president, the most popular guy in their school and the person she doesn’t really want to deal with the most. Ryo only stared at her and was caught dumbfounded by the eyes behind her thick glasses. “I’m sorry Kaichou…” she said sternly and walked out from him before he could even reply. Daichi and Noriko greeted him briefly and caught up with her.

“You’re showing that face again.” Noriko pointed to her stoic and apathetic expression which she became so famous for in the school that some students are scared of talking with her.

“I’m sorry if my face was built like this.” She was irritated, especially after she met the least person she wanted to see in her school. She sulked in her chair and resumed reviewing her notes. Daichi squeezed Noriko’s arm to prevent her from answering back knowing that Saiyuri would flare up more which might just distract her while taking the test. They silently pulled back and sat on their designated desks and allowed their moody friend to mope on her own. ---- Ren halted in front of the high-rise building of Akihiro Architecture and Construction and like any other day, he resented the fact that he had to go work under the man he despised the most – the man who killed their parents, the current Chairman of AAC – Akihiro Katsuhiro. But today was a different day, his level of reproach was stronger and his motivation more solid than ever. Gaping at the building veneer for a few more seconds, he decided to march on, refurbishing in his mind, the grand scheme of his revenge.

As soon as he entered through the office’s revolving doors, he guised his usual smile, the smile which instantly charmed all of the employees of the building and greeted them in the sweetest voice he could muster. He was known as one of the best managers of the company famed for his fair and respectful treatment to all employees. The epitome of an ideal professional so to speak earning the title of being the most popular and well loved executives of their company.

He quietly made his way at the 13th floor where his new office was located. Just a week ago, he was assigned as the new General Manager of AAC, a promotion from being the Head of the Design Department.

“Good morning, Sir!” his secretary hoisted from his chair to greet him. “President Akihiro is waiting inside,” she informed him. Ren nodded as an acknowledgement and went straight to his glass office.

“Can you stop coming here everyday?” Ren scolded the man whose legs rested on his desk while seated comfortably in his chair. The man briskly lowered his legs and sat properly.

“Is that the way to greet the new President of this company?” Kei said playfully as he brushed his hand through his stylishly tousled hair. Like Ren, he was also promoted from being the GM. Annoyed with his remark, Ren eyed at his mocking face and uttered strictly, “Really? If you consider yourself as the president maybe you should start acting like one.” He went to his desk and shoved him away from his working place. Kei treaded and bragged his body to the nearest leather couch and formed his lips to a pout, “Why are you so strict with me and so kind to the employees?” he whined, “To think that I’m even your best friend…” he twiddled his fingers as he sulked on. They have been good friends since their college years and though Ren always treated him that way, Kei had always admired him for his cleverness and flexibility in their field, that despite being a working student, Ren still earned the highest academic honor during their graduation. It was due to this fact that he was offered by Kei’s father to work for AAC as a member of the Design Department which Ren headed a year later.

“Because of that.” Ren replied, referring to his childish antics which exasperated him greatly. “Try acting more mature then maybe I can be lenient on you…” he said, “You have a company to run in case you’re forgetting…” he started skimming through the numerous documents his secretary placed on his table.

“Geez, you sound like dad…” he referred to their Chairman, “No wonder he favors you so much…” he scoffed but he never really took it against his friend because he personally understood the gap between his and Ren’s abilities. He was actually proud of him and admired for his ability to stand strong in a lot of things despite his sad past of being an orphan. Ren merely chuckled at him, though he took it as an insult rather than a compliment. As much as possible, he didn’t want anything to do much with the Chairman.

“What brings you here anyway?” Ren suddenly asked, maintaining his stern tone. From the look on his face, he was certain that he was going to request something from him again.

“It’s about Kaori…” he hesitated. Ren paused to glimpse at him and bluntly said, “No.” and continued typing at his desktop. Koari is Kei’s current girlfriend. “But, Ren…” Kei appealed, “I have a lunch meeting today…” “Then call her and cancel it…” he suggested. “But I did that yesterday and the other day too…I’m sure she’ll get mad at me if I cancel it again,” he argued and slumped on Ren’s table. “…and do you think she’ll be happy if I show up instead of you?” Ren answered back. “No… but at least you’re there. When she sees you, she’ll know that I really tried my best to show up…” he told him. “... I promise I’ll try to follow after my meeting o-or at least just stay with her until I show up?” he proposed. Ren heaved a sigh and pointed to the bundle of paper on the side of his desk, “Can’t you see this? I have lots of work to do and lots of meetings scheduled…”

“B-b-but I-I asked your secretary… she said you don’t have anything to do for lunch…” he curled his lips and reasoned like a child. “…and besides I’m your boss. I can extend your deadlines if you want… but please just meet with Kaori for today. I won’t be able to stand it if she gets angry with me again…” he pleaded and made a pitiful face. Ren frowned in frustration, “What do you take me for---” he was then interrupted by his secretary who told him that the Department Heads were already waiting in the conference room for their scheduled conference.

“I’m coming,” he told his secretary and rose from his desk and headed for the door but Kei hindered his way, “I’m not letting you go unless you agree…” he insisted.

“Kei, I said ‘no’, so stop nagging me…” Ren emphasized trying to escape from him but Kei even stretched his arms sideways, “I won’t take ‘No’ for answer.” He said firmly. Seeing that there was nowhere to go and that he was going to be late for his meeting, Ren finally conceded, “Okay… okay… I’ll go. So long as you don’t force me to proxy for you in case both of you get married.” Kei quickly grabbed him for an embrace and thanked him thoroughly, “In case that happens, I’ll make sure you’ll stand in as my best man!” he winked at him.

“If you say so Ren derided, “Now can you please get out of the way.” Kei trigged his suit first before he stepped aside and walked ahead of Ren out of the office as protocol dictated. As soon as Kei spotted Ren’s secretary and some of the Department Heads who were making their way to the conference room, he turned to Ren, faked a cough and said, “Ohara-san, I’ll expect you’ll do a good job for your proposal.” Ren gazed at him weirdly, completely clueless of what he was talking about but later realized he was acting superior either to annoy him or to impress his company employees. “I understand, Sir.” He played on, he still needed to act as professional as he could, right? --- As soon as the clock hit lunch time and the secretary told him that he was free for the meantime, he headed straight for the parking lot to use one of Kei’s cars which he lent to him.

He dropped by Kaori’s favorite flower shop bought her favorite white lilies then immediately drove to the restaurant which was a few blocks away from where he was and there he spotted the famous only daughter and heiress of the Yaguchi Inc., the largest enterprise of the interior design industry in the country, Yaguchi Kaori, wearing her long beige coat, her black leather bag rammed perfectly with her knee-high boots. She immediately recognized Kei’s car but was slightly dismayed when he saw Ren descend from it.

“He’s not coming again, is he?” she asked, her bright expression turning grim. “I’m afraid that is the case, Yaguchi-sama,” he addressed formally and gave her the bouquet of lilies, “He asked me to give you this…” and just like he predicted, Kaori’s lips curved into a smile. “He sends his deep apologies for not being able to come today.” He then heard her chortle, “Aren’t you tired of having to repeat yourself over and over again?” she teased. Ren had always said the same lines of apology whenever Kei failed to show up for their date.

“I’m just simply rephrasing Kei’s words, my lady…” he retorted formally. Kaori sighed at his reaction, she could not understand why Ren was formal with her when she had told him countless times to do away with it since he was Kei’s best friend, not to mention that out of the ten dates she would schedule, Kei would only show up 2 times, the other 3 would be cancelled and the last 5 would be actually attended by Ren. With this self-computed statistics in mind, in her opinion, she must’ve been good friends with him already and she wanted to be since he was the person that Kei respected so much.

“Let’s go somewhere…” she told him vivaciously. “But aren’t you at least going to eat first?” Ren reminded her. “I am but I don’t like it here …It’s too ceremonial and the servings too little…” she pointed at the high-class formal restaurant behind her. “…and I know you don’t like these places too… so since its you I’m having lunch with, wanna try going somewhere?” she proposed. Ren understood and obediently brought her to the regular pasta restaurant nearby. It was actually Ren’s favorite place and recently Kaori too had taken into liking the spaghetti when he brought her there once.

“Ah, Ohara-san!” the owner of the place welcomed them casually, “Yaguchi-san… I see you’re here again.” He alluded to the pretty lady beside him.

“It seems I just can’t get over your delicious menu here…” she laughed. The owner led them to one of the empty tables, “So it’s the same order I guess?” the owner assumed, knowing Kaori very well.

“Yes please…” the owner quickly listed down her request as well as Ren’s. “Don’t worry about it. This one’s on the house,” he told them happily. “Yesterday, Yaguchi-san came to help when one of our waitresses got sick,” he narrated to Ren who had no idea what they were talking about. “She really saved us.” Ren silently looked at her and was not actually surprised with what he just heard. Based from the times he had spent with her, he had known her to be agile and restless, always finding a taste of adventure in everything she does but that is not to be mistaken for, since Kaori was actually the embodiment of the perfect heiress of a famous family name – pretty, has a good academic background, responsible and refined daughter, fashionable, cooks well, and most of all friendly to anyone regardless of socio-economic background. Something that any man can ever dream of, except for Ren, whom in his own humble judgment, saw her as a person too cheerful and spirited for someone who had a sad and dark past like him. Other than that, a side that a lot of people didn’t know about this ideal woman was that she ate a lot. Ren watched amusingly as she gulped down her portion and even asked for seconds from the owner.

“You ought to be careful not to stain your clothes…” Ren cautioned her and handed his own napkin, which he instructed to use to cover her blouse. “It’s okay. I’m an expert when eating this already,” she boasted, remembering how she messed her clothes the first time she ate with Ren. “I don’t like taking chances,” he insisted to which she obediently followed. His authority was just too compelling even for her. “If Kei and your father learn about your helping out here, they’ll surely get mad…” Ren reprimanded. Despite his formal treatment of her most of the time, they were somehow at a point where he can give his opinions freely. “Well, they won’t get mad so long as you keep it a secret…” she scoffed. “and I’m sure dad wouldn’t really mind me doing these things and Kei is too busy to even check on me. So basically everything is okay…” Ren felt the upset tone in her voice at the mention of Kei which he really can't blame her. Truthfully, he felt pity for her who always had to put up with her boyfriend’s impossible schedule and not act as a spoiled demanding girlfriend like many other would. “Kei is doing his best on his own way too…” he defended, knowing how demanding the Chairman was of him, “…and he really regretted not being able to spend this day with you…”

“I know and I understand. Kei is really a hardworking person and I really like that about him,” she smiled, her face lightening up at the thought of her loving boyfriend. Although, he may often ditch her on their dates, Kei had always a unique way of making up for it and that includes sending his best friend, Ren whom she was comfortable to hang out with despite his peculiar display of etiquette on her.

Ren drove her all the way to the office of Yaguchi Inc, after their lunch. Their encounter was brief but she was relieved since she didn’t really like the idea of eating alone and thanked him for it, “Thank for chipping in for Kei today. I really had a good time. Next time, I’ll treat you…” she promised but Ren politely declined, “There is no need my lady, please be assured that I will ask Kei for an additional payment for this service,” Kaori laughed at his joke while Ren maintained his seriousness. Ren descended from the car and opened the door of the car and escorted her until the entrance of the building, “How about you treat me instead after you earn that additional payment you are talking about.” She suggested. “Eh?” Ren reacted cluelessly. “I mean take it as a consequence for consistently calling me my lady, Yaguchi-sama, Ms. Kaori. You know I might sound a nag but can you stop calling me those stuffs?” she pleaded. “C’mon try calling me Kaori… KA-O-RI…” she opened her mouth wide to emphasize each syllable, “See? Its easy KA-O-RI…” Ren held back his laughter at the sight of her funny face, “I understand my lady. I shall treat you next time,” he said which made her frustrated, “Next time bring me to an arcade place.” She snapped and folded her arms. “Very well then my lady.” Ren promised and gestured her to enter the building before he left. ----

The second years of Kinomoto Senior High had only three exams for that day and being the smartest in her batch, Saiyuri eased through every number, dedicating every question to Ren and her parents. Her irritation from earlier seemed lost to nowhere as she found joy in being able to answer the questions in her favorite History exam without any difficulty. By the end of the test, she was almost sure that she can make Ren proud of her again especially that he was also a top student during his time. After their dismissal, Noriko requested her to stay for a few more minutes to assist her in finishing the reports she needed to present in the Student Council meeting that day.

“Noriko… these are the other copies,” Saiyuri laid down a bundle of the reports on her friend’s table in the SC meeting room, shortly after photocopying them. It was the last task she was requested to do.

“Thank you very much, Saiyuri. I wouldn’t know what I’d do without you…” she sweetly appreciated, which made Saiyuri chuckle and told her that she was glad lend her a hand. She then heard her phone ring and when she saw who was calling, she quickly picked her things up, “It’s onii…I gotta go!” she excitedly said and skidded to the door which was exactly opened by someone, just when she was about to grab the handle. For the second time that day, she met again with Ryo but this time she only stared at him for a few seconds and smoothly walked pass him. Ryo observed her with bewilderment, confused with the way the girl was treating him which was far different from the squealing and fainting girls he saw everyday whenever he looked them in the eye.

“Noriko… what is her name again?” Ryo asked his Vice President who was busy finalizing her presentation.

“What name?” she verified, not really paying attention to what he was saying.

“The one who just came from here… the one who you were with this morning…” he relayed. Noriko looked at him and gawked at him unbelievingly, “You don’t know her? We’re classmates for two years now and you don’t know her?” she reproached.

Ryo glanced sideways and tried to re-think. She was familiar though, but not familiar enough for him to remember her, “No, really…” he innocently admitted. Noriko leaned backwards to her chair and breathed a sigh, “She’s Ohara Saiyuri… for heaven’s sake!” Ryo’s eyes automatically widened in shock, “So she is Ohara Saiyuri…” he mumbled, “… otherwise known as the ‘Scary Nerd Saiyuri’…” he reiterated based from the rumors he heard about her. This was actually the first time he met her or be close to her since he only heard of her from his friends and classmates. For him, her presence was so inconspicuous that he didn’t know they were actually classmates. Who can blame him, when he was constantly surrounded by his friends and numerous fan girls who confessed to him everyday that he can’t remember their names any longer? Ryo walked to the window only to see Saiyuri trudging the school grounds. “But I wonder why she hates me? I mean her stares say that at least…” he pondered, though his tone suggested that probably she was interested him.

“Haha…Very funny…” Noriko sarcastically retorted back. “Don’t worry… She doesn’t have the slightest bit of interest in you…” she boasted. “In case you don’t know, she leads the Anti-Ryo/Pro-Ren faction of this school…” Ryo frowned in confusion hearing this for the first time, “Anti-Ryo/Pro-Ren faction?” he reflected. “Yeah… it actually consists of 1/3 no 1/4 or maybe 1/5 of this school…whatever. I’m not really sure of the number.” She proudly said, being a faithful member of the club, “We are the people who remain loyal to the greatest senpai that ever graced this school… her brother… Ohara Ren.” She dreamily glanced at the corner where Ren’s picture along with the pictures of the other past presidents of the student council was commemorated. “We are a strong minority I must say.” A crease deepened on Ryo’s forehead at the mention of Ren’s name. Of course he knew of the greatness of certain President Ren which even the faculty and staff highly regarded about, but the name Ohara Ren strangely rang a bell. He had heard it before but he couldn’t remember where.

“Onii!” Saiyuri waved her hand and happily ran towards her brother who was waiting under one of the trees’ shade. “Sorry I was late. Something just came up.” Ren apologized and carried her things for her. Saiyuri swung her head, “You were just in time. Noriko actually asked me to help her out while waiting…” “Yokatta, ne. I was worried that you were bored. Actually, I was thinking of calling Daichi-kun again. Things suddenly became busy towards the end of the day.” He said while they strolled around the neighborhood. “It’s okay, nii-chan, you and Daichi don’t really have to bother sending me and bringing me home from school everyday. I can walk alone,” she consoled, knowing how protective he was of her. “No.” Ren swiftly disagreed, “Do you have any idea how dangerous the streets are. Some carnivore guy might just prance at you out of nowhere…” his thoughts slowly filled with paranoia. Saiyuri giggled at him as a reply, finding his over reaction amusing. “What’s so funny?” Ren asked as he opened the door of their condominium unit. After taking their coats off, Saiyuri immediately went to the kitchen prepare their dinner while Ren rested on the seats of the dining table. “Nothing. It’s just that no man in their right mind would even take interest in an ugly nerd like me,” she laughed amusingly, “So… practically I’m safe…” she said as she laid down the plates on the table. Ren rashly seized her large thick glasses from her face, which exposed her round piercing black eyes. “Who said you’re ugly?” his eyes examined her silky straight hair, to her fairly skinned, well-refined contoured face taken from their beautiful mother. “How can the one and only cute sister of Ohara Ren, be ugly?” he repeated again. “Whatever, onii…” she grabbed her glasses back and brought out their newly heated-food from the microwave oven. “You know, you should stop wearing your glasses…” he pointed out as she settled across him at their dinner table, “Maybe that’s the reason why you can’t find a boyfriend… Your eyes are your greatest asset…” Saiyuri raised her head and glowered at him, “I don’t want a boyfriend.” She hated having these discussions with her brother. “But if you have a boyfriend, then at least I’ll be relieved that someone can take care of you, protect you or at least bring and send you to school…” he argued. “Which is why I’m telling you not to worry about me… I don’t need any guy to take care of me. I can take care of myself.” She refuted back. “… and as long as I don’t find a guy that can match my nii-chan, I won’t have a boyfriend.” She snapped before Ren could even argue. “Why are you so insistent about this anyway? You don’t even have a girlfriend too…” she huffed and snickered at him. “Well…” he started but couldn’t really answer back. Perhaps, he hasn’t found the right woman yet? “Ne…why don’t you try asking Mitsuru-nee out? Everybody knows she is interested in you…” Mitsuru was their noisy and insouciant neighbor who sometimes came over to look after Saiyuri when Ren had trips out of town. Saiyuri had taken a liking to her since she had this eerie and funny personality which was completely the opposite of her cool, composed brother. She often thought that their contradiction would make them a good pair, especially when Mitsuru would randomly throw herself at Ren only to be fended. “Mitsuru is just a friend, ‘kay? Nothing more…” he said stubbornly but Saiyuri didn’t give up the thought. --- Ryo descended their grand staircase and made his way to their long dining room to have dinner. As expected, their parents were nowhere to be seen again. His mom had a business trip while his dad was coming home late that night. It was a good thing that he had his older brother there to dine with.

“Aniki, ever heard of the name Ohara Ren?” he asked curiously as he took his place. The maids then began serving their appetizers.

“Oh, Ren? He’s my best friend since college.” Kei remarked. “Wait. You met him once, remember?” he referred to his graduation ceremony where the whole family attended. “I think he’s an alumnus from your school." He recalled, "Why are you asking anyway?”

“I thought he sounded familiar.” He replied, “Does he have a sister?”

“You mean Saiyuri? Yes he does.” He answered casually, chugging a forkful of lettuce leaves.

“I just found out today that she has been my classmate for two years now.”

“Really?” he looked at him as he passed his plate to the maids, “She’s one pretty lady, isn’t she?”

“Pretty?” he reflected, wondering if they were talking about the same person.

“She is pretty. I saw her twice or thrice already during some of our company functions when Ren brought her,” he eyed Ryo carefully since he rarely asks things about women, “Interested in her?”

“No.” Ryo quickly denied, though he’s hesitation came after. “Just asking…”

“If you like her I better warn you to be careful of Ren,” Kei stated, basing his observations from years of knowing of his best friend. There was no other person more important in his life than his sister.

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