The sounding of orchestra was a gentle breeze caressing her skin, giving more weight on her eyes to sleep pleasantly. Eyes were closed to feel every beat of melody coming from every instrument. The dancing tunes and elegant waves were all so beautiful. It was lifting the spirits up where the cleanest air, down the greenest grass, and deep the purest streams were. Simply relaxing, after a long day of work. If only the music could repaint her life, it would be the best thing in world. It was everything she ever wanted, peaceful and free to feel her heart’s desires.

As the last strike on the string of violin faded single claps emerged and it grew to a loud round of applause. A smile was instantly glued on her face, feeling satisfied. It was worth the risk she took for skipping the afternoon meeting. She and her friend were left in their seats seemingly waiting for somebody. Then a guy from the orchestra curiously looked at her making his way to them. “So, Venice, what do you think?” Wasting no moment, the guy asked halfway. The friend waved while she was still savoring the wonderful music. The latter was taken aback when someone called her name.

Through studying his face, although she didn’t hear the words after her name, she casually complimented the orchestra. “It’s nice.” Her tone was a little unenthusiastic which she intent not. There was sheer disappointment after realizing her understatement. It was not nice, it’s wonderful, she wanted to add. The guy offered his hand for a handshake, “I’m Alex, Tiffany’s boyfriend. It’s good to finally meet you.”

Another bunch of musicians joined them. They introduced a man named Kyo. “He’s the one playing the violin, remember?” Alex charaded. Looking at him up-close, he appeared to be more attractive and colder. The last one was a let-down. Undoubtfully handsome, her mind described the beautiful figure.

How beautiful? His eyes talk about coffees and caramel combined and they’re deep-set and Japanese-y, not squinted. He also has that perfect nose bridge giving him a fresh as a spring look in March. His lips; blinking a few times when she realized where she was looking. She diverted. He is tall; judging by their heights, she approximated using her 173cm-stance. But let us stop right there before everything got way too awkward.

The group noticed the prolonged staring, jolting Venice forward to the well-built frame of Kyo. Instinctively, she pulled away fast enough but sufficiently to feel contact,  leaving her some warmth in her palms. Throwing a dead glare at Alex before bringing her composure altogether.

“This is Venice Alexa” Alex shoved her warning and only teasingly smiled as he made his never-too-late introduction of Venice. When she glanced up to him, she realized the mild shock from  his look. That same look that did not leave her face for an awkwardly long lapse of time.

“Ahum!” Venice managed to make a sound and excused herself out of the already steaming tension. Her fast-pacing steps must look very unlady-like but she couldn’t afford to be persuaded to go back. Then, she looked at her palm again. “It doesn’t linger.” Futile denial and she knew it.

The light hit her pale skin making them glow as she walked under the sun. Then she thought, “Gosh, my umbrella.”She left it under the chair because it was wet from the rain that morning. Weather mood swings. In the future, we will just be accustomed to experiencing four seasons in one day. The heat was becoming prickly so she was down looking for a shade.

“Chotto matt- I mean, wait!”An unfamiliar voice from the crowd. Venice was busy seeking for a shadow to hide. She saw a petite old lady carrying a big plastic bag and an umbrella. “Let me help you.” Venice took the bag then, ofcourse, the lifesaver umbie from the lady. “Are you going in that direction?” Pointing at the bus stop, the old lady nodded. GOAL!

“Hey! I said wait!” The same voice called.

“Thank you, you’re one beautiful lady and heart.” The elder said. Venice cheapishly smiled at the compliment. She may not have the purest intention for helping the lady but it was hitting two birds with one stone. “No, thank you.” Venice replied. “For this.” Pertaining to the glorious umbrella. The lady soundly laughed.

“Hey!” A hand turned her around only to see an unexpected face. Puzzled, she uttered one word, “Why?” to Kyo who looked like disarrayed catching up with her.

“Why… why do I look like this or why do I go after you?” he replied with a tone that no one can tell if he’s mad, joking, or he’s just a plain arrogant bastard.

“No to both. Why– don’t you help me and this lady carrying this?” Kyo squinted in confusion but took the bag anyway because it was literally thrown in his face. Venice moved next to the lady to give her shade as the three of them walked their way to the bus stop. The old woman thanked the supposed young “couple” who lent her a hand. “Bless you.”

As soon as the woman left, Venice intended to run away but was blocked by the human wall she bumped into the second time that day. “What do you want?” She rolled her eyes before a grin creeped out when she smelled a mild cedarwood scent. A very cozy fragrance that it would not be half as bad to be enclosed in that body. As if getting the grasp of the situation, Kyo straightforwardly invited, “how about I treat you food and you do me a favor?” He negotiated.

It must be the scent or his naughty grin or how he towered over her, his image during the orchestra came out of the blue. Wondering if he could play other instruments, she blurted out, “do you play piano?” Although completely confused about the sudden twists-and-turns of their exchanges, he answered without showing much irritation. “A bit.” Both were silenced in the ambiguity of their conversation. “Want me to teach you?” She nodded to her own surprise. Venice had no intention having a tutorial with him. She blamed the scent and warmth that bothered her consciousness. “Call” said Kyo. “I don’t agree, I just nod.” Kyo grabbed her wrist and dragged her. “Okay, then. Let’s have a dinner, shall we?”
***
“Tell me what now?” Her tone a little too high than she intended which drew unnecessary attention from the other customers in the restaurant. Venice had completely find his favor ridiculous in so many different levels that she could not even enumerate one. He must be kidding, she reacted boisterously as if it would change the situation. But no trace of hilarity in his face, he was still unreadable. Then she pulled back, he was being serious about it. She even restated everything loud and clear which led Kyo to grab her arm and cover her lousy mouth.
“Will you calm down?” He tried hushing her because Venice just expicitly embarrassed him. Who wouldn’t? Kyo only asked her to be his pretend girlfriend tonight and in front of his mom. Like, even real girlfriends would panic. Adding more to her confusion was they barely know each other’s names.

At least she thought she had to ask what was needed to be ask. “Why me?”
He reached something from the back pocket of his black slacks.“It’s you, right?” Kyo said as he showed her a picture from his wallet. Everyday she looked at herself in the mirror and she had never doubted her 20/20 vision until that time. Those were her features. Perfectly-arched thin brows which gave her a refreshing look combined with a pair of emerald marbles framed by her luscious lashes. The soft curve of her nose spelled out innocence along with a plump lower lip adding more drama to her look.

“Who are you!” Venice was frightened when an obnoxious idea made its way to her mind. He sure didn’t seem even an ounce of that type of person but as the rustic saying went, don’t judge the book by its cover. Kyo raised a brow as if telling her that she talked nonsense. “A stalker?!”

Kyo could only shut his eyes firmly as yet marked another of his embarrassment. If he could literally zip her mouth, he would but no. Kyo could only grab her hand pulling her back to seat then ask her to calm her horses. “You are overreacting, I’m telling you.”

“You are understating, I’m telling you.” She fired back.

Heaving ever-so deeply, Kyo thought an explanation was necessary but he was nearing his limit. He hadn’t talked this much of a nonsense for the longest time. “I dreamt about you. I mean, her. Or whoever this is!” Before she had gotten the chance to answer, he continued, “Not that I’m obligating you but you can only say yes or nod.” He looked at me again. Silence for a moment before anyone of them could regain their wits back.

Venice crossed her arms and gazed at Kyo seriously. She gave him a millimeter short of undermining look. She was not a gullible type and even not a submissive person. Even in places with a narrow path, one could fly. It was never just going forward and straight. I can flee. And so she did. Sloppily, standing and taking quick step out of the scene.

“Running,” he took her hand and there went the electricity, “however, isn’t an option.”

Like a blur the next happenings had gone, Venice was held by the wrist in the parking lot. She was letting him drag her through the other end of the lot then she snapped out of her senses. She struggled to slip away, fighting each step. “Hey!” Kyo did stop instantly as he might have noticed her serious tone. She badly wanted to yell at him and tell how wrong his actions were but nothing was coming out from her mouth. An unfortunately beautiful charm his stares made her feel. Even in poor ventilated area, his double-colored irises looked captivating. She was captivated, not by the swirl of gold and emerald in his eyes but the story they told- the reminiscence they brought her. Venice gathered herself up and diverted her attention to anything but that. Focus. She realized it was useless, “Nevermind, just escape!” She thought.

Venice attempted but he was cautious enough to impede her effort. His “where do you think you’re going?” sounded like a dangerous warning. Frustration covered her because of unconscious submission. It should not be that hard to tell him off, he was not actually using physical force. There was a different force pulling Venice which would be impossible to explain; even his presence was inexplicable. And how her feet floated above the ground as she was being lifted by Kyo. Her stomach then resting on his broad shoulder, she squealed. She could only hold on for her dear life, it would have been a hard fall from the height of his shoulder to the concrete. She was not even half suspicious why people were not concerned about her situation. The most important thing that moment was the dress she was going to wear tonight.

They found themselves inside Salón de Belleza, Greek by theme. There were alot of swirls in the designs and all accentuations were rosegold metallic. From the spacious lounge area to meticulous parlor chairs, it was like breathing gold air. The stylists were looking as fabulous as those magazine models. Scissors and blowdryer sounded therapeutic as one escorted them to an enormous range of designer cocktail dresses being eyecandies. From the most demure classics to the daring modern styles, they had them all- fashionistas’ heaven. There were even no price tags to tarnish the dresses with quantifiable values. Sparkling in their hanger stands like precious gems in different shades.
“Choose.” His breath touching the back of her ear sent chills to her spine. One word working like an ecstasy, not because of its meaning but for that sinful voice echoing repeatedly.
“Wh-what?” Venice uttered panicky. She wasn’t ready for him at close distance. Kyo only eyed the clothes. “I can’t.” She said.

As the shopgoers begun taking notice of the two headturners, Kyo felt the weight of their stares. He was that sensitive eversince. So he decided to pick the dress for her himself, briefly examining every dress on the rack and imagining how each one of them would look good on her. He couldn’t even choose just one, “what am I doing?” He thought. He caught her glancing back and forth between the dresses and him like a lost kitten. Then, he went back to choosing with an appropriate style in his head for Venice. Alexander McQueen’s off-the-shoulder dress in maroon. It has an inch-thick conventional strap, square neckline, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and a pencil-cut skirt. The shop assistant ushered her in the room for fitting.

Meanwhile, Kyo was talking to his phone about moving the presentations to the client next week since there had been major revisions in the recent project. Costings needed verification before proceeding to recomputations. Simple problems which they could have work out on their own and yet, frustrating enough, they had to call him for the littlest things. He appeared calm on the outside but actually easily irritated. Nobody had seen him stutter or outwardly panicking as if he had always been in control. He was going to randomly look around when his world foucused in one rare sight of indescribable attraction that was oozing from the lovely woman that was Venice.

She was like a sky. A sky that will always be there above, reflecting different colors throughout the day. Whether it will get noticed or not, the beauty would stay. No matter how many chances one got to see it, gazillions of times it might be in a lifetime, amazement will never fade. Like each is the first time.

Since the boutique, they quietly made their way to the mansion of the Kitaoka’s. Kyo would only be stealing glances. After awhile they stopped in front of a million-dollar house. It only took a flick of his seatbelt to switch to a warm facade, “here we are, sweetie.” He said in an unusual tone.

“Who’s your sweetie?”

“We’re here so you have to be in character.” He got out his car and opened the door for her. “Ready?” he said gently.

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