Hikaru looked over the table at the woman in question, sitting with her legs folded under herself, and a cup of sweetened ice-tea in her hands.
“Right in front of me.” He answered back.
That jolted him from his seat.
Ruby sighed and held out her hand. “Let me talk to them.”
Without a second thought, he passed the phone over and sighed in relief. ‘Talk about scary woman. She really does bark orders at everyone.’
“Hey Chiyo…” Ruby’s chest rose up, but didn’t fall back. She looked like she was holding her breath. “I know, sorry. I left my phone… Hikaru let me sleep over… What?” Her eyes snapped to his. “He slept in the living room on the futon.”
‘And I now remember why I hate sleeping on that damn thing,’ at the mention of the torture device, his muscles seized up again.
“Yeah, I’m alright.”
She looked it too. Some colour had returned to her cheeks and she had even smiled and joked with him. ‘I told you that it gets easier.’
Then her eyes glazed over. “Um… Back to the house?”
“You can stay here if you like.” Hikaru suggested, knowing where the conversation was turning.
‘Shut up mouth! What the hell did you do that for? There’s only one bed and you can’t be thinking of making a move on her while she’s still mourning. Not to mention what are you going to do with her all day?’
Ruby gave him a weak smile. Covering the mouth piece, she spoke directly to him. “Are you sure?”
He nodded his head. “Unless you want to go back to Okinawa. If you have accommodation there.”
“I cancelled that when Takashi told me about the,” she inhaled sharply on top of her held breath. “The funeral.” She finished.
Blinking, she uncovered the mouth piece. “Yes, I’m still here. Hikaru said that I can stay with him… I don’t know if I can go back.”
‘Poor Takashi,’ Hikaru lamented. ‘He’s losing both women in one week.’
“I know, I’m sorry.” Looking confused, she offered the phone back to Hikaru. “Chiyo wants to talk to you.”
Chiyo paused. “I can’t blame her for not wanting to be here, but Takashi needs her. If you have any sense of how he’s feeling, you’ll kick her out and send her back here.”
Hikaru considered for a moment what was being suggested, no, ordered. He knew this was what Chiyo thought was best and so she was going to make it happen; first, the nice approach. ‘It is her adoptive family. She shouldn’t be running away from them.’
Ruby was watching him carefully. Her chest hadn’t deflated at all.
And that made Hikaru hold his own breath. ‘Takashi is hurting… but so is Ruby. And that’s killing me.’ He’d listened to her cry in the middle of the night, waking up to her sobs, not sure if he should go in and comfort her, or give her space to grieve the way she had to.
“It would be good if Ruby’s things could be dropped off today.” He charged ahead. ‘I’m not going to be the one to make her feel guilty for not wanting to be in that house.’ He tightened his jaw. “Yep, we’ll be here.”
Chiyo snarled. “Mamiya-san, this isn’t your problem. Don’t get involved with our family.”
“Takashi has the address. We’ll see you soon.” Before she could get anymore pissed with him, he hung up and placed the phone to the other corner of the table, eyeing it like it was going to kill him somehow.
“She wants me back there.”
Shocked, Hikaru started to deny the words.
“Thank you for the offer, but really, I should be there. I shouldn’t be putting you out.”
Ruby’s chest deflated.
Finally, Hikaru sighed. ‘It’ll be alright. She will be alright.’ “I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want you here.”
They continued breakfast in silence, until Hikaru placed a plate in front of Ruby and she pushed it away.
“You need to eat.”
“I’m not hungry,” she sipped her tea.
He gritted his teeth. “Do you normally eat breakfast?”
“Sometimes… I just don’t feel like eating. I’m happy with the tea.”
Patiently, Hikaru went through his normal routine of making himself breakfast. ‘I should make her eat at least something… she’s an adult, she can look after herself.’ He ate. She watched on.
“What do you normally do during the holidays?”
Hikaru blinked at her. Finishing his mouthful, he answered, “I read. Go out. Clean the house.”
“So you’ve finished your paper?”
“Yes, Hokuto is reading over it for me.”
“That means you have a lot of time to yourself now.”
Suspicion made him narrow his eyes at her. “Somewhat.”
She snorted. “No need to glare. I’m just enquiring.”
“I’m not glaring.”
“Really? It looks like it from here.”
“I was just getting ready for what you’re about to ask next.”
Ruby cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah? What’s there to worry about?”
“With you? It could be anything.”
“That’s not true. I don’t lead you into trouble.”
“True. But there is always a first.”
Ruby scratched her head. “Of course there is always a first, but you don’t have to glare now when there has been no prior crime committed.”
“Crime?!” The word burst out of his mouth.
“I swear I am not planning a crime!” She yelped. “I swear.” She was glowing.
“Don’t scare me like that. You’ll give me a heart attack.”
She bit her lip. “Sorry. But you did assume something.”
Hikaru rubbed at his temples. ‘This is crazy, but I haven’t felt this happy to be sharing my space with someone else in a long time. And this is fun.’
Hikaru smirked. “I’ve gotten into the habit of going out for the day and seeing new things. Would you like to join me?”
“But we have to wait for Chiyo…” her happy glow began to dim.
“She’ll be here soon, I think.” He stuck more food into his mouth. ‘Or more like, fear.’