Two weeks have passed since the incident. The catastrophic room had returned to its original state and Hina lived in it again.
The landlord had a custom key made for her and the password for the lobby’s auto-lock doors had also been changed. Furthermore, the police have increased their patrol around their apartment so no strange things have happened since the day she had that encounter with the stalker. She also continued to commute with Hasegawa so despite what happened, she was able to live peacefully like before.
One day, as the end of the year approached…
“What a surprise, Ms. Uzuki! You look feminine today!”
“Boss, that’s sexual harassment, you know.”
Standing behind Hina, it was Mei who gave the retort against the old geezer known for sexual harassment within the company. The boss smirked and patted Hina’s hips. The impact almost made her stumble. Steadying herself, Hina handed the documents to her boss.
“This is the contract you asked for yesterday. And this is the list of the major trading companies. I’m still working on the rival companies, so I’ll pass that on later.”
“Excellent work as usual…”
As he gave his thanks, he gently patted Hina’s head as if complimenting a child. Hina stared at his hands with sharp eyes.
“So it’s true that love changes a woman. Are things going well between you and Hasegawa?”
“Whether things are going well or not, Hasegawa and I are not in a relationship. Boss, if you don’t cut it out, I’ll really sue you for sexual harassment!”
Hina warned while rubbing her temples. The boss felt a chill run through his body.
“That’s not what I mean, Hina~”
“Nothing will change even you talk in a sweet or a cute voice. Now, please get back to work!”
Watching his back as he leaves, Hina softly sighed. Behind her, Mei mumbled her displeasure, “Jeez.”
“Well, it’s not just the boss, I also think you look lovely today.” As if he’d been watching all along, her colleague chimed in with perfect timing. Hina turned her head as her face curled into a frown.
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. I didn’t think I’ll see the day when the Empress wears a skirt! You also let your hair down today! The rumor that you’ve become feminine has even spread outside the sales department!”
Just like he said, Hina wasn’t wearing her usual pants. She wore her usual shirt and blazer on top but below, she donned a skirt. Her hair wasn’t tied up as it normally was, but was hang down loosely.
“It just so happened that I had sent my pants for laundry today…”
Hina said as she averted her eyes. Her colleague moved closer.
“Oh my, you’ve got such gorgeous legs! What a feast for the eyes!”
“Q-quit staring at me!”
Hina grunted as she pushed him away. Feeling wrought with anxiety, Hina furrowed her brows.
“Could it be, Hasegawa likes that?”
“Like I said, Hasegawa and I aren’t in a relationship…”
Hina felt upset that the rumor was still going around. She wanted to be honest and tell the truth that they’re lovers, but if it spreads around, the more they will pester her.
Then in a protective gesture, Mei slipped her hands around her.
“That’s right. Instead of bothering with someone else’s lovelife, you should just worry about yours. By the way, did you hear that Kana from the reception, who you’ve been aiming for, recently got a boyfriend?”
Mei grinned wickedly as the colleague’s face paled and his shoulders slumped.
Sensing that it was a good opportunity to leave, Hina and Mei hurried away immediately. When she returned to her desk, Hina saw an incoming email.
The sender’s name alone gave her an ominous feeling.
Reluctantly, she opened the email. There was only one line written in it.
“At lunch break, I’ll be waiting at the usual place.”
She sensed someone looking at her and her hair stand on end. She raised her face and looked in the direction of Hasegawa’s desk. He was looking at her with a business smile plastered on his face.
(I thought it wasn’t bad…)
She was still in a foul mood so she just sent back a short reply. “Got it.”
Inside the unused reference room, Hina was cornered by Hasegawa. Since nobody usually goes there, it’s the perfect rendezvous for secret lovers. The room can be locked from the inside and it was soundproof.
Hina was pushed against the wall; to her right was the filing cabinet and to her left was Hasegawa’s arm locking her in place. She looked up at Hasegawa and found him staring back at her with his business smile on his face. Hina pursed her lips.
“What is it…?”
“I’ve been wondering since this morning but why are you in a skirt today? It’s a lie that you sent your pants for laundry, isn’t it?”
Hina inwardly sighed at their intimate position.
Of course, the laundry was a lie. Hina looked up at Hasegawa without raising her face and tilted her head.
“Does it look bad?”
“It doesn’t look bad. I think you look great. I just want to know the reason.”
It was hard for Hina to say so she turned her face away. Just then, Hasegawa touched Hina’s kneecap and drew circular motions on it. Hina’s body stiffened.
“H-Hey, at such a place?!”
“What’s the reason? Did you want to show off your skin to others? Or was it Ms. Katsuragi’s idea?”
Hasegawa slowly raised his finger up her skin despite Hina’s protest. Hina couldn’t take it any longer so she grabbed Hasegawa’s hands, her face flushed and eyes moist.
“It’s become a rumor in the sales department, you know. When people see your feminine look, a lot have considered inviting you out.”
His hand snaked up her thigh and a moan almost escaped her lips. His touch reminded her of their intimate time together but his hand didn’t move further. It was incredibly frustrating.
“Why did you suddenly dress up like that?”
He drew his lips to her ears and asked once again. Hina desperately pushed him away as she cast him a sharp glance.
“D-didn’t you say before that you’re into women like that?”
“You said you liked women in feminine clothes!”
Hina’s eyes were red as she spoke. Hasegawa’s hand dropped and the distance between them increased.
“Because I said that?”
He asked in confirmation and Hina nodded.
Indeed, when Hasegawa first confessed, he had said that he liked women with a feminine appearance. Hina simply wanted to please the person she likes, but it seems that the idea never crossed Hasegawa’s mind. He no longer wore his business smile but was instead staring blankly at Hina.
“I thought it’d make you happy…”
Hina said with reddened cheeks. Hasegawa creased his brows.
“I’m sorry. I felt quite anxious.”
As Hina cocked her head in confusion, Hasegawa gently stroked her head with the same hand that was just on her thigh.
“Since you suddenly dressed feminine, I thought that perhaps you’ve found the man you like. Even if that wasn’t the case, since you’ve become more attractive, more men will surely ask you out. Even though I’ve pursued you this far, I became anxious thinking that someone else might snatch you away. That’s why I’ve pressed you to tell me the reason…”
“The man I like?”
To Hina, the man she likes was Hasegawa. But it looks like Hasegawa didn’t think he was that same person.
(Eh? Does Hasegawa think we’re not dating?)
Hina thought back to herself. A thought suddenly popped in her mind.
(I haven’t told Hasegawa that I like him…)
She felt her blood drain from her face. Maybe because she’s been insisting to others that Hasegawa had no relationship with her whatsoever, Hasagawa thought they weren’t dating at all.
(I-I have to say it properly! At this rate, I’ll be regarded as a person who sleeps around with someone I’m not dating with! This is bad!)
“Hasegawa, um, I…”
Hina summoned her courage and called out. At that moment, noises echoed from outside the reference room.
The two went out of the room and saw a group of people in suits walking along the corridor.
One of them was a very beautiful woman who looked like she was the same age as Hina. However, in contrast to Hina, she looked more mature. And although there were other women around, she stood out amongst them. Hina thought that the woman could undoubtedly rival models with her physique and radiant vibe.
At that moment, her eyes darted to Hasegawa. He held his breath and was frozen in place. In an almost inaudible voice, he muttered.