“Uzuki, you’ve made another mistake here.”
“I’m sorry! I’ll fix it right away!”
After receiving the documents from her boss, Hina hurriedly went back to her desk. Her co-workers whispered among themselves as they watched her.
“It’s rare for the Empress to make mistakes at work.”
“But, isn’t it pretty brazen of her to be slacking at work?”
“Oma, she can hear you!”
Ignoring the ill talk about her, Hina worked on the documents in front of her. She couldn’t concentrate at work today. The reason was obvious.
“I’m going out with Kaoru…”
Rin’s voice rang in her ears. This morning, she had said those words with a smile on her face. She was beautiful and had an excellent reputation at work. The co-workers who have dissed Hina also seemed to think highly of Rin.
If she carried herself around like Rin, she wouldn’t have been called names like the “empress”. Rin’s amicable personality was probably what Hasegawa liked about her.
She rubbed her temples and tried to focus her attention on the work in front of her, as she fought down the bitter feelings rising in her heart.
She poured herself intensely into work so even though she made a lot of mistakes during the first half of the day, she was able to finish her work earlier than usual. There’s still a lot of work left but they weren’t urgent so they can be pushed back the next morning.
“Hina. If you’re done for the day, you can go home early and rest.”
Perhaps he has been worried about her since she made mistakes in the morning, her boss called out. Hina was thankful for his thoughtful concern and started preparing to go home.
At that moment, the cellphone on her desk vibrated. The screen lit up with a message from a familiar name.
“I’ll be returning to the company after about 30 minutes. Please be ready then. -Hasegawa”
Hina sighed. Written on the company’s whiteboard was “Hasegawa, out of office, returning home directly.” In other words, Hasegawa was still going to back to the company just to pick her up.
(Why are you still so kind to me…)
Hasegawa already has a new lover and they’re also living together.
There was no need for him to continue being kind to her. But the fact that he was still kind to her just like when he confessed made Hina happy even though it was also painful.
Hina cast a glance towards Rin. She was still busy working.
(If I was in Rin’s shoes, I won’t be able to tolerate it…)
The boyfriend she’s dating was still taking care of a woman he previously liked. Even if he doesn’t have feelings for her anymore, it makes her look bad.
(I have to properly refuse…)
With that determination in mind, Hina clasped her phone.
Hasegawa was probably taking care of her out of pity. He just couldn’t resist helping someone in need.
She shouldn’t cause trouble for the two of them any longer. This is her own problem so has to solve it on her own.
Hina started typing on her screen.
“I’m very grateful for your help. Nothing has happened lately so I’ll just go home alone today. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me.”
After typing the last letter, Hina gave it a once over. Her message was simple and unromantic, considering that once she sends it, their current relationship will end.
But she can’t write the words “I like you” either. If she tells him now, she’ll only be a nuisance and bother him.
(In this case, even more I should tell him..)
Hina thought but shook her head right away. Even if she tells him her feelings, it’ll just be one step away before he tells her to break up. The result surely won’t change.
It might be better this way. She didn’t have to feel miserable after being dumped by a boyfriend she barely went out with.
Hina pressed the send button gently.
Hina walked at a slow pace towards the train station and rode the packed train by herself. The train felt more cramped now that Hasegawa wasn’t with her, probably because he had been protecting her all those times.
After getting off the train, Hina continued walking home. The dark alley illuminated by street lights at regular intervals still frightened her. There’s no light on the sidewalk, so if someone was hiding there, she won’t be able to notice it.
Hina held on to the crime prevention buzzer attached to her bag. Hasegawa gave it to her the day after she felt someone tailing her. She gave it a gentle squeeze, as if it was a talisman, and continued on her way.
Only the sound of Hina’s heel clicking echoed in the alley. Although the main road was boisterous with engine noises and endless chatters, it was like another world once she entered the alley.
“There’s no one following me…” Hina felt relieved.
She could have just been extremely tensed that she overreacted and imagined someone behind her.
Because she relaxed, she didn’t notice the arm reaching towards her from the sidewalk.
She didn’t know what happened next. When she came to her senses, she had been taken to a narrow alley, firmly held against the concrete wall, which hit her back and rubbed against her skin.
When she gazed upwards, she saw the person who grabbed her clearly.
It was her ex with a grin plastered on his face as he held down her mouth. The moonlight illuminated his huge smile and was clearly visible. In contrast, his eyes were dark, almost as if devoid of life.
“Hina, long time no see.”
He said with a laugh. Hina felt her body tremble. Her teeth made a rattling noise beneath his hand.
Hide wasn’t in his right mind by any means.
“Recently, you always went home with that guy so I wasn’t able to approach you, but finally I had my chance today as you’re alone. I’ve gone to your house once. Did you know?”
She thought back to her ransacked room. She took a deep breath, then Hide spoke, as if to confirm her thoughts.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve used the key, but then you changed it. I had no other choice. I got mad so I broke everything in your house. I’m sorry, okay?”
She saw a dark shadow flicker over his face after saying so.
When they were dating before, Hina had given him a spare key. He didn’t return it when they broke up. Then he used it to break into her apartment.
“I was planning to wait in your room today, you know. I couldn’t believe you turned me down so I wanted to ask you about it immediately… But how come the door lock at the lobby also changed?”
Hina shrugged her shoulders and felt regretful that the person in front of her wasn’t the same person she knew.