The third time we met was at the convenient store. It was a week from our last meeting. I got the feeling he lived locally just like me and he moved in recently because I’ve never seen him around before since I lived here all my life.
As I neared him, it registered to me what he was looking at. Pads. I stopped before I could go any further. He finally found the one he wanted to buy and turned on his heel only to stop abruptly when he saw me.
“Oh my God!” he gasped. The packet of pads fell off his hands and onto the floor with a soft thud. “W-w-what are you doing here?”
I noted how he was stammering again. It was only when he was embarrassed. He tried to kick the packet behind him but instead he missed it and when he swung his leg back forward it kicked towards her. Another gasp escaped him.
I stared at the packet near my feet for several seconds before I looked back up at his red face. I quickly covered my mouth to stop myself from laughing out loud.
“Hmm... I was going to tease you again and say I was stalking you but I guess that would only worsen the situation,” I spoke gingerly. He refused to look at me now or talk to me. He just stood there like a statue. “So...” I tried again. “Are you going to tell me you’re actually a girl?”
This seemed to get him panicky. “No!” he yelled, a little too loud to make other shoppers turn to face them. He lowered his voice. “No.” When the attention was off him he went on. “It’s not for me but my sister. She’s forcing me to buy them for her. I swear I’m hundred percent male. I can show...” he stopped short before he could say ‘you’.
I couldn't stop myself this time and burst out laughing. I know it was rude to laugh at his face but I just couldn't help it. I didn't care that he was glaring at me or the fact that everyone in the store was looking at me as if I was a crazy woman. Once I finished and calmed down, he picked up the packet and left me hurriedly.
I realised my mistake.
Our fourth encounter was not a coincidence. I waited for him outside the convenient store for hours knowing well he would turn up eventually. I didn't care that my face was frozen up by the gusty wind. When he finally showed up he stared at me a feet away from me.
“So, are you stalking me now?” he asked warily.
I giggled but stopped abruptly seeing him glare at me. “Sorry. I came to apologise. I shouldn’t have laughed like that. You were already embarrassed enough and I just laughed like that.”
He eyed me suspiciously. “You don't need to keep mentioning it. I’m still wondering if I should be near you since all the embarrassing stuff happens around you.”
I raised a brow. “It’s my fault?”
“N-no, but I just make an ass out of myself around you.”
A smile tugged on the corner of my mouth. “Don’t worry. I still think you’re cute.” Realising what I had just blurted out it was too late to retract them because he jerked his head back in surprise.
“You know...” he finally broke the awkward silence. “A guy doesn't like to be referred as cute.”
I nodded. “Sorry, that was meant to be kept a secret.”
I saw his smile the second time and just like the first time, my breath hitched and my heart began beating faster. Ah, he didn't look cute anymore. He looked drop-dead-gorgeous. Now I’m definitely not blurting that out.
“Urm... so... you want to go get something hot to eat?” I suggested. Then I added, “On me.”
He hesitated then obliged to my offer. There was a small restaurant close by that we went to. At first we sat in silence until I started blabbing about my life. He was so nice that he never interrupted nor did he look like he was bored.
He then shared his own story. His name I finally found out was Ryo Nishikido, aged 25. He used to live in Osaka until his sister decided to move to Tokyo. His parents wouldn't allow her to move alone so he was forced to come as well. He also managed to drag his best friend with him. I was surprised that he not only works as a bartender but three other jobs. He works as a waiter in a restaurant few days a week, deliver for a takeaway at some nights when his not working as a bartender and he even worked in a housing agency as a sales person.
We were in the restaurant for more than two hours until he had to leave for his work. I was disappointed at first but he invited me for movies the next time he was free.
He didn't call me until a week later just when I thought he had changed his mind and was going to give up waiting. He said that his best friend was bugging him to hang out with him since he hadn't spent time with him for a long time. He felt guilty after all he was the one who brought him along.
I was a little upset that I would have to wait longer just to see him again. A thought occurred in my head.
“How about I bring my friends and you bring yours and we’ll meet at the club you work?” I suggested. Hopefully I didn't sound too desperate.
He liked the idea. “Sure. I’ll tell Pi. He’ll be ecstatic to see some girls.”
I giggled over the phone as he told me the time to meet. As soon as I hung up, I was on the phone with my friends who were happy to hang around with Ryo or as they call him ‘Hottie’.
I dressed up more carefully than the last time where I didn't care about my appearance. Bam, Christine and Jessie came one at a time meeting over at mines first and then we’d go to the club. I had to lie to Bam though. She had refused to come because Jaejoong had come back today and she wanted to see him. I had said that I invited him to the club which I had to quickly look up his number and text him. If he didn't come I’d just say he was busy.
Even Jess, who usually comes anywhere any of us ask her to, also had declined because Hangeng had come down for few days and she wanted to spend all her time with him. Whenever it came to Hengeng, Jess was always selfish to keep him to herself. It wasn't like I would take him from her. None of us would. I managed to coax her into bringing him along.
But I guess this is how you are when you’re in love. I just hope I don't turn up like that. Being crazy over a guy.
Christine was my favourite. Like me, she wasn't boy crazy.
Later I found out I was wrong. Once we all met up with Ryo and his friends, she went gaga over the friend. Yamashita Tomohisa, prefers to be called Yamapi or Pi, seemed to be smitten by her also. The two seemed to have hit it off.
Ryo and I looked at each other in puzzlement on how they could like each other so suddenly. Bam was sulking because Jaejoong hasn’t turned up yet that she was drowning her sorrows with alcohol. Jess was having a staring competition with Hangeng, well that’s what I think they were doing.
So, just Ryo and I were stuck talking to each other. Not that I minded. It suited me fine.
“Do you want to dance?” he asked nervously.
“Only if you don't step on my toes,” I cheekily quipped.
He flushed with embarrassment and was about to take it back but I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. It was there that I realised what a great dancer he was. I felt competitive and was giving my best at whatever moves I knew.
By the time we returned to the table, Chri and Pi were missing. After searching for them around the dark room I found them making out at the back of the club. I quickly looked away feeling a blush rising on my cheeks. Chri was never the rash type but it seemed like love really could change people.
Bam was now fully drunk and complaining to Jess and Hangeng about their relationship. I sighed because when Bam saw us, she had found new targets to vent her frustration at. But her venting went out of hand when she was up on the table and trying to thrash both Ryo and Jess’s boyfriend. The two of us tried to get her down but for a drunk she was stronger than us.
We were rescued when Jaejoong finally made his appearance. Bam didn't acknowledge his presence as she was too busy flogging at the guys. He raised a brow at me as if to say ‘how did I allow this to happen’. I glared at him making sure he understood it was his fault. Letting out an exasperating breath, he grabbed her and plied her off the table. He then guided her out of the club promising us that he’d take her home.
Jessie and her boyfriend also got to their feet and decided to head back home. We weren't able to have fun together but the girls wanted to be with the guy they liked and I couldn't stop them.
“It’s just the two of us now,” he said once the two left.
“We still have Chris and Pi,” I pointed out.
He snorted. “If those to even come back to this world.”
I chuckled and he joined in. Although it was just the two of us, we enjoyed each other’s company. We even kept going back and forth to the dance floor every time a song we liked played.