“ERIKA SOMEONE’S AT THE DOOR!” Nao yelled out as she heard the bell ring from where she was playing with Mao and Erika nodded rushing from the kitchen where she was cooking to open the door. Mao laughed happily as she saw who was waiting behind the door reaching out forward towards her mother and undoubtedly the little boy in front of her.
Erika stared at the young male with a wide closed smile as she leaned down to ruffle his hair as he let out a rather foolish giggle. "JUN! What are you doing here?” She hugged the little boy and he returned it happily in the arms of the woman who had no doubt become his idol.
“I brought him.” Shota popped out from the side of the door and Erika felt the smile on her face drop as he continued speaking to her as if nothing had gone horribly wrong between their twisted relationship anyways. "He missed you too much Erika-chan."
But of course what had she expected when she’d seen the innocent boy at the door anyways? Of course his much-less-innocent father was using the boy.
“And what would you like to do with me?” It had been a week and she’d pretty much gotten used to the idea that Shota was three things.
B) A Prince
C) Someone who was going to make her life completely hell if she didn’t manage to control the situation that just arose around them.
She didn't know how to explain it...but being put in some sort of dramatic situation every time she met him couldn't just mean anything. He was completely responsible for the kiss and she didn't doubt it one bit...but she had obviously said something before to get him to act that way around her right? So she had to be more in control...otherwise she'd just be encouraging his behaviour which was absolutely not permitted!
“I don’t want to say you’re not welcome here but you’re not.” She admitted honestly as she reached for the door to shut it not quite thinking until she saw the way Jun was looking at her as he heard the words pour out of ‘his’ woman’s mouth.
It was as if someone had taken away his favourite candy that he'd waited days to eat. She turned around to look at her mother who simply shrugged and walked inside the play room.
“Erika-san you don’t want Jun-kun to play with you?” She realized how she’d made it sound and then she looked to Shota who was smiling cheekily.
This had been his plan the entire time! To use Jun to get into her house!
What a hateful little-
Jun pouted further, the cheeks on his face dropping lightly and she had to control her heart from going out to him. He had nothing to be that sad about...but god forbid he ask her for anything right now she would have given it to the most adorable little boy she'd ever seen. “Erika-san?”
"Jun go inside and play with Mao, my mother’s in the room with the door open.” She let out sweetly leaning down to tuck the stray ringlets of hair behind his ears. Happy to be let in he walked without much dispute and left her alone with the man who offended her very presence.
Who was smiling widely that his plan had somehow succeeded into getting him inside. All he’d really had to do to get in was charm her mother into letting him in. Obviously Nao would have admonished Erika for even trying to reject the prince entrance into their somewhat humble household...especially without offering him tea or something else equally polite!
“Why are you here ouji-sama?” She bit out angrily still upset from their last encounter.
“Are you still upset? Call me Shota...please.” The grin on his face only proved to fuel her fury with him more but she toned it down. Something about being kissed without permission really made her mad. Even the way he stood now, his body angled towards her just the slightest so only she could be paranoid about what it meant.
“I’m stating what I see, it’s not so much that I’m perceptive. Just that you’re way too obvious.” He walked in past her leaving her leaning by the open door by herself as he examined the entrance to her house. “You have a pretty large welcoming hall from the front door don’t you?”
“Well last time you came through back door so-“ Why was she making small talk when she wasn’t even sure what the guy was doing here? Last time should have been the last time she met him! He had no place in her life this man! She didn’t have any reason to keep running into him so this was just too out of place for him to be standing in her hall, just continuously talking to her as if they had been friends since birth! “What are you doing here Shota?”
“Honestly?” Shota turned back to her a mischevious grin playing on his features as he walked towards her and as she moved further back she felt the door shut and he smiled wider when he saw her flat against the oak door. “I really don’t understand how you become more attractive every single time you try to reject me.”
“Maybe you need your eyes checked out.” She flipped back easily as she felt him come up close to her and as she tried to slide out from underneath him she couldn’t help but notice how good brown looked on him. He didn’t push her though like she thought he would after the incident they had in the car. He simply sighed weakly.
She was glad he didn’t make some other seemingly-fake-yet-undeniably-charming comment that would make her blush like a little girl. “Why do you think I’m here Erika?” He looked like he expected her to know. Seriously what was she a mind reader? “Let me tell you why you think I’m here.”
“I honestly have no idea.”
“You think I’m interested in you.”
“It’s a hypothesis.” She agreed as he walked ahead of her leaving her with her folded arms staring after him as he walked towards the kitchen.
“You cook well do you?” She followed him somewhat unwillingly as she popped her head into the play room before continuing towards the kitchen and saw her mother give her a confused look as she shrugged her shoulders continuing behind the prince.
“You’re not staying for dinner.” Still Shota ducked over to the other side of the kitchen and picked up the spoon she was stirring her mixture with and tucked it into his mouth and she couldn’t help it.
For just a second she saw them again. She saw Jin and herself from the past laughing together in front of her. It was her imagination she knew that but she couldn’t help but feel happy seeing him there smiling laughing with her, his hands over her waist pulling her close to him as she let the sauce burn beside them. The way his hands ran across stroking the sheet of skin on her thigh.
She felt it too clearly, she shook her head the memory flew away with the smoke that was coming outside the pot and Shota smiled at her as he spoke again. “It’s good…but I can’t stay for dinner.”
“Because you’re not invited. Shota why are you here?” She asked yet again as she couldn’t help but feel as if he was avoiding the question completely.
At the sound of frustration coming forth from her tone he sobered up a bit as he turned towards her and “I’m here because I need to ask you something.” For some reason she saw the way the slightest bit of fear rose within his eyes. She couldn’t imagine why he would feel nervous or scared.
“It started today when Mayuko was rushed to the hospital for something I can’t tell you. It’s pretty daunting on all of us and frankly Ken’ichi’s shitting his pants.” Shota leaned back against the counter and folded his arms across his chest. She couldn’t tell where he was going with this but the way his face was starting to scrunch up awkwardly could tell her she would have to decline whatever he was about to proposition her with.
Shota’s eyes widened as he stood up quickly again and walked back beside her. “And? Isn’t it obvious?” When she shook her head, he rolled his eyes shaking his head back mockingly at her. “And I thought of you.”
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at here but if you’re suggesting you and I spend time together alone I rather think not.” She moved past him stirring the mixture in the pot lowering the heat further and placing a lid on top of it as she walked towards the children’s room where her mother was. Needless to say Shota followed her.
“You actually thought I was interested in you?” His words caused her to freeze midway as she whipped her body around to face him.
“Oh I’m sorry- is that not the general impression one receives when they’re assaulted in a car by another person’s lips?” She hissed the last part quietly so she could be sure her mother couldn’t hear her. Shota looked like he was about to burst into laughter and the more time she spent with him, the more she was sure she wanted to hit him. He definitely wasn’t a suitable leader for their country. Someone so immature wouldn’t be able to direct a population much less a cockroach.
“So wait…you thought I came here to ask you out to dinner with me?” As if it was a preposterous notion. Erika shrugged, the look of distaste ruining her youthful features as he laughed at her. She couldn't explain it but she really didn't like it when he laughed at her.
“YES!” She looked at him pointedly and he held his hands out. “Not the way you’d like to think though.”
“I believe you have my emotions misinterpreted. I think I’d rather hate to think that way.” She cursed silently walking away
“Some say you think what you don’t want to.” Shota shot back smiling in the most annoying manner as she simply growled lightly.
What on earth had ever made her see this boy as a man?
“I don’t like you very much you know,” Jun blurted out staring at Mao as she looked back at him with wide adoring eyes giggling lightly as she adjusted the small headband that rested on the few hairs on her head.
She was foolish about it as a baby though....and so the headband ended up somewhat lopsided as the cherry on top flopped uselessly on her forehead and Mao giggled laughing upwards reaching for it. Jun couldn't help but grow grumpy. He hadn't come here to spend time with this idiot baby. He'd had enough of her! Every time he wanted to get close to Erika-sama there she was blocking his path.
Baby Mao sidled up closer to him placing one fat large arm on his thigh and he turned to look at her appalled as he shifted away but she shifted closer.
“JUN DOESN’T LIKE THIS GAME!” He shouted at her grabbing her by the shoulders and pushing her back so that she fell on her back. As Nao came back with the big red ball she had been looking for she saw Mao wailing loudly as the young prince flushed red himself of embarrassment or anger she couldn’t quite tell. “I didn’t mean to hurt you- but you wouldn’t listen.” He pouted his overly large lower lip growing more apparent on a face that would break hearts in a few years Nao was sure.
Still a good looking boy didn't mean he could push around her granddaughter. She had half a mind to tell him off but it looked like the boy was already apologetic with the way he kept looking at Mao who wailed louder.
“Please be careful with Mao neh Jun-chan?” It felt odd referring to a child under her as sama and she wasn’t a palace servant so she didn’t see why she had to follow the rules. She lifted Mao in her hands and caressed the girls back slowly as she quieted down and Jun kept his gaze fixed on the little baby who started sucking on her finger. When her eyes landed aimlessly on him, he couldn’t help but notice as she turned away.
He did deserve the anger he got though...so he settled quietly even if an ugly little baby dared to ignore him! He didn’t like hurting her…he just didn’t like the way everyone was starting to notice how much this stupid little baby liked him! He didn’t want to marry something that drooled as much as she did! It really wasn't all that bad when you thought about it. What would he tell their country?
She liked me and drooled on me so I had to listen or else she'd wet the bed?
That didn't seem like a very royal conversation.
He looked up to see his father walk into the room and immediately ran to his side as his father approached the older woman he’d been playing with alongside Mao.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again Toda-san.” Shota bowed his head as he held on to Jun’s hand silently. Nao bowed low in front of the prince who stood in their house as if he belonged just as much as Mao’s crib.
Nao raised her eyebrows towards Erika who had no response for her silent query. How was she supposed to explain Shota’s presence here when he hadn’t even explained it to her? In fact he’d rather avoided the topic with a fervor she hadn’t really expected…he wanted to take her to dinner but not the way she thought? What on earth could that possibly even mean? What was this about him even thinking of her? And what had happened to his co-actress?
“Ouji-sama, how may I be of assistance to you?” Shota laughed shaking his head and bringing his hands forward assuring her there was no real way she could be of assistance to him. Jun left his side and came up beside his heart’s desire holding onto her hands instead…Erika’s hands were slim and delicate. Not at all like fat baby Mao’s…and it wasn’t sticky with drool either. She smelled like cinnamon and honey and Mao…Mao smelled like a mix of powder and bubbles. Alluring in it's own way but not his type.
“If at all possible I would like to take Erika out to a play tonight. I promise to keep her safe and treat her like I would treat any married woman.” At the sound of his words Erika couldn’t help but scoff…so he kissed all married women then? Her mother should be careful. “With respect and honor. Jun will accompany us of course as our chaperone.” He added turning to narrow his eyes playfully at his counterpart for the evening who stood behind him skeptically as Jun played with the edges of her dress.
“I don’t suppose you’ll understand if I did say no?” Nao attempted frowning lightly as she flicked her eyes back and forth unsure of what exactly was conspiring before her.
“Absolutely not. I will be at unrest until you say yes and refuse to leave until you give me your consent.” He demanded with a teasing expression coming across his features and Nao sighed.
She wasn’t a fool…she knew her daughter was beautiful and it was only a matter of time someone else took interest in her, even with a baby. The prince of their country just wasn’t exactly the boy she’d imagined taking Jin’s place.
Erika shook her head furiously to say no but Nao couldn’t help but look at Shota and think.
He couldn’t actually be serious about Erika…he was already married, had a son of his own who Mao was ready to jump on top of right now if she didn’t hold onto her tight within her arms. He couldn't actually care for Erika that way could he? It would be a preposterous claim.
This had to be about something else. “All right then…you will bring her home by a decent hour I presume?”
“She will enter the house no later than 10. I promise you.” He smiled widely turning to look at Nao’s daughter with a look of victory scrawled across his face as she grumbled turning to walk back to her room with Jun holding onto her hands.
"You know Jun..." Erika started looking at the eager little boy by her side who looked absolutely delighted that he got to accompany her to her room.
"I think you're a way better man than your father." She laughed as Jun looked absolutely stricken at the idea as she entered her room and couldn't help giggle.
Well...she'd only said the truth after all.