❤︎Chapter 31: A Distant Winter Is When We Part

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Tomomi's Pov

1 Year later...WINTER - 1st WEEK OF DECEMBER...

"I don't think I understand..."

"I'll explain it again, I suppose."

"Uh, in simpler terms, please, it's all a bit overwhelming..."

Momoka and Tomomi sat perfectly still on the couch in Tomomi's living room, glancing briefly at each other every so often. On the couch opposite them sat Tomomi's grandmother with elegant posture and an expression as stern as ever.

Tomomi was able to comprehend everything his grandmother was saying, but he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. Momoka, on the other hand, had just asked for the second time for her to repeat the information. He could understand why it was confusing — his grandmother was technically being nice to the both of them.

Mrs. Maruyama cleared her throat and tucked a strand of her chin length snow white hair behind her ear. Tossing one leg over her other knee, she started to speak again.

"I had my doubts about your relationship. Tomomi's heart wasn't strong enough for him to be in such a complicated relationship — and at his young age, I didn't believe he could be in love with anyone. I believed he was much too young. But during his operation, I had a chance to see just how much the two of you had feelings for each other, and my viewpoint has changed."

Tomomi clenched his jaw, glancing away from his grandmother. He didn't like how suddenly she was going to be the supportive grandmother. What was she up to? There had to be a catch to this.

"Every male in the Maruyama family that is to take over the company attends a prestigious academy in America. It's family tradition."

"I told you I'm not going to America."

"And I understand your reasons. But my job as your guardian is not over yet, so I get to propose this idea. Once you graduate this academy, I will no longer assert my authority over you, and will allow you to marry Momoka and live here with her if you so choose. I will proceed to move out of this house and live on my own away from you both. You'll have both reached the age of 18 by then. The same age as Tomomi's parents when they married."

Tomomi ran his fingers through his hair at the mention of his late parents. They'd passed in a car accident when he was a baby and left him to be raised by his harsh grandmother. He didn't like talking about them and often snapped at the mention, but he didn't want Momoka was there, and he didn't want her to see him like that.

"You think I'm going to just agree to let you send me off to another country? What about the school I'm in now? What about my friends? I won't let you keep me from Momoka."

"That's not the idea here. I've had to do everything in my power to raise you the best that I can, in honor of your parents. My last task is to ensure you receive the very best education and carry out tradition the way your parents would have wanted. That's all that I ask of you. And if you agree, I will make sure you two are able to visit each other whenever you like." Tomomi's grandmother turned to Momoka and gave her a slight smile.

"I know it seems cruel, but discipline is all that I know. When you've taught a child everything they need to know, you let them go to make their own decisions. This is the last I ask of you. I'll discuss details with you further, but for now I'll leave you to make your decision."

With that, she stands up and leaves Momoka and Tomomi alone in the living room.

It's quiet for a moment, and Tomomi starts to suspect Momoka has finally understood the proposal.

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