My Rental Boyfriend Is My Boss?! - Chapter 17
Chapter 17. Sea of Stars
‘No, I can’t.’
A few minutes later, she realized that her encouragement had had little effect.
The Ferris Wheel swayed as it left the ground, and there was a breeze blowing through the structure. Michiru couldn’t tell if it was the age of the wheel itself or just a normal thing, but the combo of the sound of the motor and the creaking of the metal was completely breaking her heart. She was completely broken.
“Are you okay?”
The other side of the room, Kamijemori, also felt uncomfortable with Michiru, and gave her a caring look.
“You’re not okay, aren’t you?”
“Not really. I just found out I’m not very good at this.”
“Well, I’ve discovered a new side of me, and you’ve discovered a new side of… you.”
Michiru was sure Kamijemori was having trouble dealing with her, who had become so stiff. It was a strange thing to say, but Michiru didn’t have much time to think about it right now.
Seeing Michiru restlessly clasping her hands tightly, Kamijemori hesitated and then opened his mouth. Though she thought that he began to say something weird, Michiru couldn’t afford to think about that right now.
“Do you want me to sit next to you?”
As soon as she thought she had misheard the sound of the motor, Kamijemori slowly sat up and sat down next to Michiru. Michiru felt the Ferris Wheel tilt, and in her haste she raised her hips.
“The center of gravity is off.”
“Wait. It’s made for two adults to ride on one side.”
“Look at the Ferris Wheel below. It’s got three people on one side, and they’re fine.”
As Michiru hurried to move to the chair facing him, Kamijemori nodded towards the lower Ferris Wheel carriage with his chin. She was sure there were three college-aged women riding in a row on one side of the wheel.
“It’s really… okay…”
For the first time, Michiru took a good look out the window.
The lights of the park, which stretched far into the distance, glowed like a sea of stars, unlike when she was on the ground. Beyond the park, she could see a few lights of the city, and they seemed to be gathering in various colors and going on forever.
As she exhaled a sigh of relief and lowered her wobbling hips again, Michiru suddenly realized that she was in the right place at the right time.
‘O-Oh…? This can’t be right.’
She was sure it’s because he was trying to catch the panicked Michiru, but Kamijemori’s big, strong arms were grabbing her waist, making it look like she was being hugged.
When Michiru glanced at him, she saw that he was also fascinated by the scenery outside the window, just like she had been earlier.
‘Should I? If I do, how should I…? I don’t want him to think I’m a pervert or something.’
It’s a little bit of a waste to lose the warmth of his body, the feel of his muscles, and the faint scent of his manly perfume, which can only be felt through such close contact with him, to trivial words.
Michiru told herself that it was only for now, and savored the feeling of the first hug of her life with all her might, hoping that Kamijemori would not notice the thud of her heart beating loudly in her temples.
The secret enjoyment ended sooner than she had expected. He suddenly let go of her body and when she looked at Kamijemori, he smiled in embarrassment.
“You were shivering. You didn’t bring a jacket today, so… I’m sorry.”
“Oh… no, it’s fine.”
The shivering was from fear, and Michiru wasn’t feeling the cold at all, but it was a pain in her conscience to be so honest about his generosity.
But there was no way Michiru could honestly say she was enjoying the hug, so she pretended to be embarrassed and looked away out the window.
Below them was a glittering sea of stars. The sight was so extraordinary that it made her feel happy, but also uneasy.
The sadness of it all brought back a thought that had been nagging at her for a while.
“I just remembered what Minoru said before…”
Kamijemori’s head tilted to the side, wondering what she was talking about.
“The one about if Kimitaka was a special friend because I thought we’d be together one day.”
Kamijemori nodded, remembering it well.
“You’re right. Even if we get together, or even if we don’t, the time we spent together will still be special. Besides, I think I would have regretted it if we had gone out.”
She was sure they would’ve both regretted it. Michiru has never been with anyone before, so her fear of the end of the friendship was probably just that. But she was sure it’s the same for Kato.
“If I really liked him enough to want to go out with him, I could have told him at any time, and he could have told me at any time. We didn’t do it because we both thought it was the best relationship for us…”
As Michiru spoke, she realized that she had hardly thought about Kato since the wedding.
She was so preoccupied with the next party and Kamijemori as a rental boyfriend that she had no time to think about anything else.
“But when I put it this way, it sounds like the grumpy attitude of a loser.”
Michiru laughed. She didn’t like to talk about serious things, nor was she not very good at talking about herself. So, as Michiru was racking her brain to change the subject, Kamijemori said, “Hmm.”
“So, what kind of person do you think you want to be with?”
For a moment, Michiru thought he was teasing her. But no. Kamijemori’s expression was serious, and he rarely joked. Michiru had learned enough to know when he did.
“What kind of…?”
It’s hard to answer immediately when asked again.
Michiru has liked at least one person in her life. But when she was a kid, the only people she liked were the ones who were fast or the ones that all the girls around her liked. For example…
One, two, three… One, two, three…
There was a glittering tree and a big star at the top with children dancing underneath it.
Immediately, a shiver ran through Michiru’s body, causing her to shudder involuntarily.
Whenever that memory came back, Michiru’s heart got cold. She felt that she shouldn’t have expectations of people. In fact, maybe Michiru herself didn’t want to be with anyone. The more she thought about that, the more she couldn’t stop her heart from getting cold.
Michiru held her chest tightly as she shivered involuntarily.
Oh. It’s only for now, so she didn’t have to take it so seriously. He’ll soon forget what she said here and now anyway. She was sure that when he’s done pretending to be her boyfriend, she’ll go back to work with a look on her face that said she never had personal conversations with him.
Something dark inside Michiru whispered in her ear.
She wanted to believe him. But how could she believe him?
Kamijemori was the one who was here now because Michiru was paying him.
In a moment, Michiru pushed down all of her emotions and smiled.
“Someone who’s like a prince, I guess? Someone who’s kind, rich and handsome.”
As before, Michiru played the role of the foolish woman the world thought she was. She pretended to be a woman who said boring things that didn’t leave an impression. That way, she wouldn’t get hurt. And she wouldn’t be swayed by the expectations that come with the price of speaking your mind.
“… I see.”
But Kamijemori looked at Michiru closely and then turned his face away, somewhat sadly.
He had seen through her. She had a hunch, but Michiru didn’t have any more words for it.