The sea breeze was cool, taking the sting out of the summer heat as he sat on the back deck.
Inside, Hokuto was fussing about them having to share a room.
‘I’m not thrilled about that either.’ He had grumbled when they were trying to figure out where everyone would be sleeping. Three rooms, and the couple were expected to arrive the next day, so only two rooms for three people to decide. ‘This isn’t ideal.’
Just to make sure he wouldn’t be caught, Hikaru looked around.
Ruby had gone back to the office. Very quickly she had explained that Chiyo-chan had first been an exchange student in Australia when she was sixteen. That’s where Ruby met her and became friends with her. Chiyo-chan had suggested her cousins could be her host family and Ruby could be an exchange student too. Though, they never did go to the same school, they saw each other every holiday and every other chance they got. Even at university they were in separate schools.
Hikaru rotated his wrist before placing the tip of the lead to the pristine white paper.
He couldn’t stop his mind; it was replaying the meeting with Shinjo like a movie.
He began to sketch.
An hour later he had filled pages of his sketch pad with more than appreciative character drawings, but had divided the pages into panels and made them flow from one into the other.
“Wow, is that what happened?”
Hikaru yelped and leapt away from Hokuto, crashing into the table. “What?”
“When you met Shinjo-san? You were blushing so much. It was adorable.” Hokuto grinned like a fool.
Hikaru grimaced. “Yeah. I accidentally saw.” He passed the sketch pad over when the hand came out.
“When you put the effort in, your drawings can be very good.”
Hikaru bristled at the comment. He knew that everyone in the department knew he could draw, they’d all caught him at one time or another. ‘That’s why it’s so important that I gain recognition for my professional work. They’ll take me more seriously and stop treating me like a child.’
Hokuto laughed. “This is good. You should develop it more and send it to an editor. The arts department could help you with contacts.”
Hikaru snatched back the pad. “I don’t have time for this normally.”
“So you keep saying,” Hokuto sighed and dropped into the other seat at the outdoor setting. “Get over it. We all do the same work there, just some of us don’t let it consume us like you do.”
Hikaru had no way of countering that. He knew what they all did, how they worked. He’d helped many of them with research. “How are your projects going?”
“Good. I have a good research team helping me.”
Hikaru regretted asking. ‘Why does everybody get others to do their work? Jeez, we’re in literature, we read books and write based on what we’ve read. It’s not like we’re developing rockets.’
“Things are a little easier if you ask for help. Even better if the students receive credits for helping out.” Hokuto leaned back in his seat and stared out over the ocean. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“I wish I could say something original about it.”
Hikaru snorted. “But we know that every writer has said that the ocean sparkles like diamonds.”
“And the waves roar and crash,” Hokuto grinned.
“And the air is fresh.”
“Yeah. Maybe that’s what it really is and we shouldn’t be looking for new ways to describe it, just enjoy it the way it is.”
Hikaru watched his companion carefully. “Why don’t you write?”
“Really?” That was shocking.
“I write all of the time. Even had a few stories published, under a pseudonym.”
“What do you write?”
Hikaru waited for more. “Anything I might’ve read?”
Hokuto pursed his lips and shook his head. “Not going to say.”
‘Why use a pseudonym? Unless it was something that would affect his professional career? That makes sense.’ Hikaru left it be.
Hokuto didn’t beg for attention on the subject again. “Are you going to keep drawing? Add me and Ruby to the story? Or is it going to be a summer fling? Just remember, you’ve already ventured into hentai with the peeping act.”
“It was an accident!”
Hokuto laughed. “Hentai!”
This time, Hokuto flipped the page in the sketch book and slapped it with his palm.
Hikaru didn’t have to look to see what image he’d chosen to make his point on. “It isn’t like I draw shojo.”
“No, more ecchi.”
“Shut up.” He tugged his materials back to his side and flipped a new page.
“Are you going to draw me?” Sitting up straight, Hokuto looked so excited.
“Yeah, you being eaten by a shark.” In broad strokes, he did just that. “See.”
“Ha.” Pouting now, Hokuto stood from the table headed back inside.
Alone, Hikaru flicked to earlier sketches. Ruby was smiling back at him. Not all of his drawings were done in the manga style with huge eyes; he found the one that had proper proportions, just as a shadow fell over his shoulder.
“I didn’t know that you drew.”
Tilting his head back, he gazed up at the underside of Ruby’s chin. He swallowed hard. “Only a little.” His mouth was dry.
Ruby bent over so he no longer saw only the smooth skin of her throat and chin, but could meet her eyes now. “And you decided to draw me? Only a little?”
“I’m flattered.” Her eyes drifted half closed.
He flicked his tongue over his lips.
She lowered down, turning her face one way so when they met, their lips fitted perfectly.
She jerked away just before it happened. “Hokuto.”
“No making out in front of me,” he placed his glass on the table and dropped into a seat. “It makes me feel oh so lonely.”
Hikaru wanted to murder him.