Chapter 8

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"Two hours! Two damn hours, Tsukiko!"

When Taiyou recognized the voice coming from the elevator, he halted in the middle of the hallway. The doors opened with a ding and he saw two girls he knew; one chuckling and the other breathing hard through her nose.

"Oh come on. Don't say that," Tsukiko said as she exited the elevator. Even from this distance, the boy could tell she was forcing the smile. "Admit it. You had fun, didn't you?"

Yui-san glared at the girl. "Oh yeah. I had so much fun watching you choose a damn photo frame for two hours. Best time of my life. I'll treasure this memory forever," she said, pressing her temples.

"Oh, come on, it wasn't so bad." Tsukiko let out a nervous chuckle. "Now let's leave this at my apartment and go eat something. I'm starving."

"Oh, really? I wonder why," Yui-san said, pulling all the sarcasm she had.

Tsukiko gave another awkward chuckled and avoided Yui-san' gaze. As she looked everywhere but her friend, she saw the boy standing in the middle of the hallway watching them and her face lit up with a smile. "Taiyou-kun!" the girl screamed and raced to him while her friend raised her gaze.

"Why were you two fighting?" he asked before she could say anything.

"Ah, that?" Tsukiko waved the hand as best with the purchases as she could and laughed. "We're not fighting. Yui's just a little upset 'cause—"

"I'm angry, not upset. And it's not a little," Yui-san interrupted Tsukiko when she caught up with them. "Listen to this, Taiyou. We wasted two hours so this girl could buy a damn photo frame. All because she needed 'the perfect frame for the perfect photo'!"

As the two girls started bickering, Taiyou's curiosity won. "What photo?"

Tsukiko pulled her phone from the pocket. After a second, she showed him the screen with a huge smile. "This one!"

When Taiyou saw the photo, he widened his eyes, his entire face an alarming shade of red. "Is that from—"

"Yes!" she answered before he finished asking. She looked at the screen again, the smile on her lips turning gentle. "That flower viewing day was the best one ever."

"Yeah..." Taiyou did his best to avoid looking at Tsukiko, but it was hard. Before he realized it, he caught himself glancing the girl and the memories flooded his mind against his will, making his face burn even more. "So what are you two doing now?" he quickly added before she noticed his cheeks. If she notices and asks the reason, I won't be able to keep hiding from her anymore...

"We were gonna leave these at this one's apartment and then finally lunch," Yui-san said in a tired voice.

"You're getting home from school now, right? You haven't eaten yet, right?" Her eyes sparkled as she stared him full of expectations. When the boy shook his head, her smile grew. "Then join us for lunch!" Under those eyes and that smile, Taiyou could only nod in silence.

"Great. Now that it's settled, Yui-san said in the emotionless voice. She turned to Tsukiko and shoved the bags she held to the girl. "Put these and let's go already." As Tsukiko raced to the door and unlocked it, Yui-san massaged her wrists.

With his face still hot, Taiyou turned to the girl and gave a curt bow. "I'll leave this in my home then," he said, showing the school bag on his hands. He turned around and walked towards his door, but before he could take three steps, a hand grabbed him by the collar.

"Wait a sec" Yui-san pulled him back and forced him to look her in the face. Her eyes sparkled just like Tsukiko's and with only those few words, Taiyou realized her voice was full of curiosity. "Hey, Taiyou-kun, why you were so embarrassed by that photo? And you changed the subject so quickly... Could it be that perhaps you're trying to, I don't know, hide something from Tsukiko?"

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