Chapter 1: Nothing without Her
He took a deep breath and lowered his head in his hands while he leaned on his desk. Finally, the working hours are over, leaving him tired and restless at the end of the day. He eyed the stack of files on his desk that are still waiting for him to be check and signed. Running the company took a lot of effort and sacrifices on his end.
Sacrifices. Does it really worth it? If someone asked him this question, he will tell them no. Why? Because he’d lost someone so special because of it. He stood up from his seat and looked at the darkening sky. Just like his life. Dark and lonely. He couldn’t blame anyone else aside from himself.
Ten years. It has been a long time since he saw his own sunshine, warming up his cold heart, filling it with so much love that he had never felt before but because of his selfishness and weakness, he’d lost it. How much pain it causes when he realized he could never have it again. How made it feel him like a fool to believe everything will be done on the way he pleased.
He’d never loved anyone so much before her. He couldn’t even believe he’s capable of love. Feelings that he believed aren’t necessary in the corporate world. They say time makes the broken heart heal somehow but he believes he’s still the same man who was left broken a decade ago. He could still the same pain on his chest when the memories passed on his mind.
Some of his friends told him to move on and find someone else and he will be over her. It would be easy for him especially with his status as the current CEO of a well-known company but no. How could he do that when every second and minute of his life reminds him of what he’d lost? How could he ever forget her smiling face that seems to haunt him even on his dreams? How could he ever forget the love they shared that he’d failed to protect?
He sighed, feeling every muscle in his body crying with fatigue. The dark circles under his eyes were enough to let anyone know he had overworked himself again. He pushed himself to his limits. Drowning himself in work so when he comes home so tired he will pass out from exhaustion. His phone rang from his desk and he reluctantly answered it.
It was his younger brother, the only one who helped him pick up his mess when he was half insane, half in love years ago. It took him a long time to accept that she’s gone from his life and he has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
“Yuuji. ” He’s still not in the mood to argue with him. Knowing Yuuji and his wife, he knew damn well that they will try to drag him again with another family dinner this weekend.
“She’s back. ” His brother replied on the other end. That was enough to make him freeze on the spot, eyes widened, making him feel like someone pour a cold bucket of water on his being. He knew what his younger brother meant.
” W-when? ” He wasn’t ready for this. She was gone for so long that the idea of that she’s coming back never passed on his mind. He had decided to spend the rest of his life alone to punish himself for his stupidity.
” This morning but Kanna said she went to Kyoto to visit her immediate family to settle some problems. ” Yuuji replied. “Look. I know I don’t have to say this but please don’t do anything stupid while she’s here. I don’t know much what happened to her since Kanna wouldn’t tell me. It would be the best not to face her too soon. ”
” I know. ” and he hung up the phone.
Deciding he had enough, he took his keys and put some files on his case to go home. Leaving his office and passing some of the completed contracts to his secretary, he silently walked to the private elevator still gathering attention from his employees for his unusual long hair and stoic face.
Women fall over heels with his undeniably manly features and wealth. Everyone seems too shallow and didn’t seem to see his worth beyond his wealth and status. Unlike her. Yes, only her. She didn’t care that he’s born with a silver spoon in his mouth, refused any gifts from him that she knows that will worth more than what she earned monthly. She’d never back down and refused to be intimidated by his cold demeanor.
She’s not afraid to put him in place when she knows she’s right. No one knows him well except her. Every glare, every ‘hn’, every twitch of his eyebrows, she can read them clearly and perfectly. He enjoyed those moments when she goes with him at the end of the day, relieving his tiredness with her presence.
The first time he met her, she was smiling and full of life. She was his brother’s co-band member during high school and Kanna’s cousin. He was arguing with Yuuji about his brother’s absence at school when she and Kanna visited their home so they can take his brother for their after school rehearsal. He was left speechless when his eyes set on her. She was on her sweet sixteen years of age at that time while he was fresh out from college at the age of twenty-three.
“Hey, Kanna. Rui. Just wait a minute, I’ll take my notes upstairs then we can go.” Yuuji said leaving his older brother with them.
“Oh, hi. So you’re Shun? The emotionally constipated older brother that Yuuji’s talking about? Nice to know that I can put a face now on your name. I’m Shinomiya Rui, by the way. ” She smiled as she offered her right hand to him which he didn’t take since he was still mesmerized by her smile. Realizing that he just made a fool out of himself, he shook his head and walked away to hide his embarrassment. He was used to be the one getting the attention of the opposite sex, not the other way around.
“Hey! His words, not mine,” she called out following with a girlish giggle.
He drove his car on the busy streets of Tokyo, eager to get home so he could rest and figure out what to do now that she’s back. Home? Could he still call it home after all these years? The memory of her waiting at his home, sitting on his couch with her headphones on while playing her favorite guitar passed on his mind. She was his home and while everyone did not know that she was and still his life.
No one could make him feel weak except her. All this time, he admits only to himself that he will never get over her. Opening the door of his home, he didn’t bother to open the lights and threw his case on the couch and directly walked towards the kitchen to take a can of beer in his fridge. Walking back to the living room, he took his old phone from one of the drawers on his bookshelf furniture and sat on the couch.
His beer was cold, his place was cold and dark, what else can he do to make his life bearable without her. Powering up his old phone, the picture of them shows on the lock screen. It was one of the selfie shot she took using his phone. His younger self-looking annoyed while she was grinning like a fool pulling him beside her, his cheek pressed against hers. She was so lovely, so beautiful. After more than two years of exclusively dating, he never thought he’d enough of her.
“Rui. ” Her name came in a whisper. A slight twinge of pain in his chest came with it. Opening his beer, he took a sip of it while checking on the gallery of his old phone. There are videos and pictures of her saved on it. Playing a video of her singing one of the songs with his brother, he felt himself release the tension and tiredness from his body. She was the lead singer of their band, occasionally wrote songs for the group and help Yuuji on music arrangements.
A barely noticeable smile crossed his lips, his amber eyes soften while watching her. She is seven years younger than his age, the opposite of his ideal woman back then. Before her, he wanted to be with someone with the same passion and ideas with him but she broke through him with her constant babbling and smiles that makes his heart skip a beat.
He wondered how she is. What made her comeback? When she left him ten years ago, he swears on his mother’s tomb that she’d taken his heart and life with her when she left. He isn’t the one who shed tears and isn’t the one who could freely express his emotions, unlike his brother. There were two times that he shed tears.
One was when his biological mother died in an accident when he’s just a kid and the other was three months after his beloved left. He was so broken and grieving even his younger brother couldn’t believe he will find him in his drunken state at his place, crying while calling her name. Yuuji took pity on him, telling him he would find a way to know where Rui is. Weeks later, Yuuji and Kanna arrived at his office to discuss what they know about her disappearance.
Kanna informed him that she transferred abroad to live with her only brother where she decided to continue her studies and may not come back to Japan. She also wishes that he respect Rui ‘s decision and not come after her. A silver necklace with a silver moon and flower with a white pearl on its center was handed to him. It was his last gift to her.
Their band has been disbanded and their last album never been launched into the public. It was clear that she finally made up her mind. He couldn’t blame her. He was the one who thought their family business and his career are more important than their relationship. He was so ready to break up with her, thinking that she’ll be adult enough to understand why he has to break up with her to marry another woman to save their company.
He leaned his head back on the couch and closed his eyes remembering the last time he saw her. She came to his place looking nervous and pre-occupied. He knew something was wrong. She couldn’t meet his gaze but he needed to tell her about his situation.
When he told her he’s getting married to someone else, he could see how broken she was. She tried not to cry. Their argument was so bad, she’d pointed out how weak he became, that he wasn’t the man she knew he is because no one can force him to do something out of his will, that he isn’t someone who’ll use other people to do something the easy way.
He knew she’d hit the nerve since he was so enraged on her accusations, deny her assumptions that he was weak. He tried to point out how it wasn’t easy for him to leave her behind.
“Of all the people, Shun. Why would you marry your ex? ” she questioned.
“It is one of the conditions for the merger, Rui. I have no other choice. ”
She narrowed her eyes at him. A look of disappointment and disgust written on her face. He knew what she was thinking. She knew there could be other options on his predicament that he didn’t acknowledge.
“Will that make you happy? ” He was caught off guard with that question. Would he? he asked himself.
“I have to do this to save the company. ” Wrong answer, he gritted his teeth in dismay.
Tears started to flow from her eyes. She stood up from her seat, turned around so she could leave.
” I love you. I was a fool to believe that you cared for me, that you cherish what we have. I’ll make it easy for you then, Shun.” she looked up at him and wiped away her tears. She took her bag and her guitar beside the table and walked out of his place. He watched her retreating back not knowing that it will be the last time he will see her.
She’s trembling but refused to show weaknesses, trying to keep her dignity intact even if it hurts. A week later, he accidentally overheard from Yuuji and Kanna’s conversation that she had left the country.
He pushed away his bangs from his face and sighed. She proved him wrong again and again. After his breakdown with Yuuji’s presence, he realized then that indeed like she knew, there were other ways to save their company without needing to merge it with others. It may take longer to see the effects but it will sure solve other problems and issues.
The only one he couldn’t fix was their relationship. He had hurt her so much, so much that she has chosen to leave everything behind. He contemplates to find out where she was, but the promise that he’d given to his sister-in-law stopped him from calling someone to find her. He knew that she’s now a well-known surgeon, that she finally achieved her dream to become a doctor just like her deceased mother.
Every now and then he tries to read medical articles online about her, imprinting the latest picture of her in his mind. How beautiful she becomes. Raven hair that reached up to her shoulders, heart-shaped face, chocolate hazel eyes that so expressive but something’s amiss. Her eyes lost the shine and glimmer that he knows she had before. Did she feel empty like him? Are you happy? he wondered.
There’s no sense living in the past. He knew that but he couldn’t. Her things that she’d left still on his home, her unfinished lyrics still kept in his office, her clothes still on his closet untouched. So much regret filled his entirety. Why didn’t he tell her what he really feels? Why did he tell lies? He knows it’s no use crying over spilled milk but sometimes he wished he could turn back the time and change everything.
Maybe now she’s still beside him, welcoming him at home from the long day of work, taking care of their children. How many times did he wonder what life they could have? Forcing himself to get up and move from the couch to lay on his bed, he left the phone on his bedside table and stare at the ceiling. Another day without her, the only difference is that now she’s back and just miles away from him. He missed her so badly. Sometimes, he wished he could wake up another day knowing she’s beside him once again. Waking up, snuggling on his side sleeping, murmurs his name on her lips like before.
Nothing can be done with it. Now at the age of thirty-five, he is alone and lifeless. Just like the other days, he could only love her on his dreams. He knows now that he’s nothing without her and without a doubt, he is stuck in the past.
End of Chapter 1.