Until Then: First Date

Ayane told Rei about the party and she picked a gown for Ayane to wear. While Ayane and Rei were preparing the outfit, the twins barged in on them. They were playing tag with each other that they didn't see how busy their mother was. Ayane looked at the both of them and laughed. She caught Kotaro in her arms as he ran away from Kayda.

"I got you!" Ayane said while planting kisses on Kotaro's cheeks. Kayda stopped and clung to her mother's leg. Ayane looked at her and she looked like she wanted to join in. Ayane picked her up and planted kisses on her as well. The twins were having fun with their mother which made them happy. They always spend every second together whenever their mother is around. Ayane also tried to be involved with the twins as much as possible but it was difficult for her at times since she has a company to run.

"Mommy, do we have… a daddy?" Kotaro asked out of the blue which caught Ayane off guard. She carried them to the bed and put them down. Ayane looked at Rei but Rei just shrugged at her. She tousled the twins' hair before she answered.

"Well, yes you do but daddy is lost. Someday, mommy's going to find him." She put up a brave front in front of the twins. They seemed to believe her story and didn't ask any more questions. Their nannies arrived to take them down to the dining room for dinner. When they left, Ayane sighed.

"Are you really going to look for the twins' father?" Rei asked. Ayane looked at her and shook her head. Rei became furious.

"Why not? Don't you want your kids to grow up with a complete family?" Rei spouted. Ayane understood her plight but she wasn't sure if she was ready to face the man who defiled her. She thought about what that man would say if he found out that he had children. She thought he'd probably deny everything.

"Of course I want them to grow up having a father figure but how can I even find that man? It's been 3 years already. I haven't had the slightest clue where I could find him and even if I did find him, we don't have a guarantee that he'll take responsibility. I don't want my kids to feel like they're not wanted." Ayane answered, frustrated. She sat down on the bed and covered her face with her hand. Rei felt guilty about making Ayane upset. She went to her side and put her hand on her shoulder.

"I understand what you mean. How about this; why don't you start dating again? Or how about taking that Ryuji seriously? He looks like he could be a great dad to the kids. They like him already." It was clear to Ayane that Rei was hoping she would fall for Ryuji. She tried to brush it off but her words stuck to her.

"What do you mean they already like him?" Ayane asked. Rei had forgotten to mention that Ryuji was the one who found the twins earlier today.

"Ryuji was carrying the kids when I found them in the lobby earlier. They weren't fussy when they were with him which really surprised me. Even their nannies could occasionally get frustrated because of how fussy they were." Rei explained. Ayane's phone started to vibrate in her pocket. Ayane stood up and took out her phone. It was a text message from an unregistered number. As Ayane read the text, a smile spread across her face. Rei noticed this and got curious.

"Who is it?" Rei asked. Ayane sent a short reply and put the phone back in her pocket.

"It's Ryuji. He said he'll pick me up at 7pm tomorrow." Rei noticed the lingering smile on Ayane's face. It made her hopeful that Ayane might just fall for Ryuji but she had her doubts. She wanted to be sure of Ryuji's intention whether it was true or not.

The day of the party came and Rei was much more excited about it than Ayane. She had her go to the spa to pamper herself. By the time 7pm came rolling in, Ayane was done prepping. Her hair was curled and it beautifully framed her face. Rei made sure her makeup was light and elegant and her gown was perfect for her. It was a red, off-shoulder mermaid gown with a slit at the side. Rei stepped back to marvel at her work.

"It's perfect. Everything you wear is just pure perfection." Rei complimented. Ayane didn't look quite comfortable since she isn't fond of wearing these types of clothes. In the midst of their conversation, the doorbell rang.

"Your prince has arrived." Rei said enthusiastically. Ayane rolled her eyes at Rei. She was about to leave the room when Rei blocked the door. With a raised eyebrow, Ayane asked what she was doing.

"I'm going to answer the door. Wait for my signal to come down." Ayane was agitated. She put her head in her hands.

"Is that really necessary?" Ayane asked. Rei looked adamant leaving Ayane no choice but to follow what she said. With an exasperated sigh, Ayane agreed. Rei was so happy that she practically ran down to open the door for Ryuji.

"Good evening Rei." Ryuji greeted politely. Rei pulled him inside without a word of warning which caught Ryuji by surprise. Rei pushed him all the way to the bottom of the staircase. He was confused by the string of events but had no plan of backing out. Rei cleared her throat before speaking.

"I present to you the lady of the night, Ms. Kamenaga Ayane." As if on cue, Ayane stepped out and stood on the top of the staircase looking elegant. Ryuji's eyes widened the moment he saw Ayane. It looked like his jaw was about to drop but he kept his composure. Ayane slowly walked down the stairs step-by-step. As she reached the bottom of the staircase, Ryuji came up to her and held out his hand. Ayane put her hand in his and Ryuji kissed it.

"It'll certainly be difficult for me to focus on the party tonight." Ryuji said which made Ayane blush. Linking her arm with his, they walked out of the house and into the car. Ryuji opened the car door for her but before she could enter, she looked back at Rei.

"Will you be okay with the kids tonight?" Although she trusts Rei, she knows her kids well and they tend to be stubborn at times. She's anxious whether Rei can keep up with their shenanigans. The twins barely knew Rei up until they we're at least a year old, because of Rei's old job. She had to stay an extra year at the company before she was given permission to resign. Although they quickly warmed up to her, Ayane was still anxious. Rei looked at her reassuringly.

"Don't worry. There's nothing these kids can do that I can't handle." She said confidently. Ayane giggled and nodded at her. She waved goodbye as she entered the car. Ryuji bowed at Rei before entering and starting the car. He drove off to the direction of the party. Ayane was silently looking out the window, admiring the view of the city lights.

"Ms. Kamenaga's beauty knows no bounds." Ryuji said. Ayane looked at him and smirked.

"Please, call me Ayane." She said. Ryuji's eyes were still on the road but he smiled with Ayane's words. They arrived at the mansion of the Tanakas. This was the type of party for socialites and businessmen alike. Ryuji parked his car, got out and opened the door for Ayane. With a pleased smile, Ayane took Ryuji's hand and they walked in together. The moment they stepped inside the grand ballroom, all eyes were on them.

"It seems your beauty attracts a lot of attention." Ryuji whispered. Ayane giggled under her breath.

"I don't think my beauty can live up to your charms." Ayane answered which made Ryuji smile. They went over to Mr. Tanaka Saijo, a wealthy businessman who owns this mansion. Ryuji's face went back to the cold and aloof façade he puts on.

"Mr. Tanaka, this is my date, Ms. Kamenaga Ayane. I'm sure you've heard of her." After the public announcement made by Archetive about the new President and owner of the company, Ayane's name became the talk of the town. Mr. Tanaka looked over at Ayane and smiled.

"Oh so this is the new president of Archetive. Welcome to my party, Ms. Kamenaga." He held out his hand and Ayane shook it. The guests started to flock towards her asking her questions about her succession of the company. Feeling overwhelmed, Ayane began to stutter while talking. She wasn't used to being the center of attention.

"If you excuse us, I'd like to dance with my date tonight." Ryuji wrapped his arm around Ayane's waist and pulled her away from the crowd. He led her to the center of the ballroom, putting his hands on her waist. Unconsciously, Ayane wrapped her arms around his neck.

"It seems you aren't fond of big crowds." Ryuji said. Ayane sighed and nodded her head. It wasn't much of the crowd itself but the higher risk of humiliation. Ayane suffered through so much humiliation that she feels inferior whenever there are a lot of people who pay attention to her.

"It's a weakness I had hoped to overcome." She lowered her head, avoiding Ryuji's gaze. Ryuji pulled Ayane closer towards him but it surprised Ayane that she realized how close they were. Her face flushed red and she pushed Ryuji away but she quickly realized that there was no reason for her to be flustered.

"My feet are tired. Let's get some drinks and have a seat." Ayane suggested. Ryuji nodded his head and led her towards a table. He excused himself and went to the bar to grab some drinks. Ayane was looking around and it made her anxious how crowded the party was. As she was looking around, her gaze found Ryuji by the bar. He seemed to be waiting for the drinks when a woman came up to him.

Who is she? Ayane thought. The woman was clearly trying to cling unto Ryuji but he seemed to be indifferent. The bartender handed the drinks to Ryuji and he turned around and headed toward Ayane. The woman followed Ryuji but he had the same cold gaze he had when he and Ayane first met. Ayane rested her chin on her hand while looking at the small scene by the bar.

I wonder what he'll do about her. Ayane thought to herself. Ryuji wanted the woman to leave him alone but she still tried to follow him to where Ayane was. Thinking that it'd be a bit of fun to mess around, Ayane had a sly smile on her face.

"Oh is this your date?" The woman's shrill voice annoyed Ayane almost immediately but she kept a smile on her face as if she wasn't bothered at all. Ryuji placed the glass of wine in front of Ayane but she didn't touch it. She was too busy looking at the woman who was clinging to Ryuji. Although she was being ignored, she was persistent to say the least. 

"I'm sorry to ask but who are you?" Ayane said; her voice was sweet and friendly. The woman didn't seem too fond of Ayane. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.

"If you must know, I am Suzuki Erika; the future heir of Suzuki Real Estate." She said proudly. Ayane still had a sly smile on her face which meant she was planning something.

"Ms. Erika, what purpose do you have for pursuing this man here? Do you know who he is?" Ryuji was still silently sipping his wine while the women talk. He was observing Ayane's behavior and how she handles conflict. Erika became furious over Ayane's question.

"Of course I know who he is. He's Tennouji Ryuji from Habitect Co. Who wouldn't know him?" She answered. Ayane was clearly having fun teasing this woman whereas Erika was exasperated from Ayane's questions.

"Oh I see; he's in architecture which could be helpful to your real estate business. But if your company hasn't already collaborated with Habitect, then whose architectural firms do you associate with?" Erika scoffed at her question.

"Of course with the number one architectural firm in Japan; Archetive. Although we are collaborating with them, it's different if I marry into Habitect." The way Erika speaks is just brimming with confidence that it made Ayane feel kind of bad for her plan of humiliating her. Not only was she digging her own grave, she was burying herself alive too. Ryuji seemed to be catching on with Ayane's plan and doesn't intend to interfere.

"Is that so? Well, you better find someone else to marry because Ryuji is already unavailable." Ayane taunted her. Her words were like butter; she said it without a second thought. Ryuji's ears perked up from what Ayane said. Erika's face was red with anger. She tried to brush it off with her arrogance.

"You? What a joke." She scoffed. Ayane shrugged at her, a cunning smile on her face. Erika laughed boisterously which made Ayane flinch. Ayane found her voice high-pitched and annoying and she wanted to shut her up immediately.

"Who even are you? I bet you're just some lowly gold-digger." Erika said while pointing at Ayane. With a smile on her face, Ayane was already up to her limit but she kept her composure.

"Who am I? Someone who probably isn't as important as you." Erika smiled as if she had won but Ayane spoke again.

"I'm just the current president and owner of Archetive." Erika's jaw dropped and it amused Ayane. Feeling bored, Ryuji stood up and held out his hand to Ayane.

"Shall I take you home?" He asked to which Ayane agreed to. She took his hand and he led her out of the mansion and into his car. Ayane thought Ryuji was being too touchy with her which made her assume that he was thinking that he'd won her over. While helping her get in the car, Ayane swatted his hand away.

"Don't think that you've won me over. I just said all those things to annoy that woman." Ryuji just smiled at her words. He got in the car and drove back to Ayane's mansion. They were silent for a while before Ayane decided to speak.

"Ryuji, I need to ask a favor from you." Ayane started off. Ryuji stopped at a red light and looked at Ayane. Their eyes met and Ayane could feel his sincerity. Ryuji gave her a look that says he'll be listening.

"Next month will be the opening of Archetive's new branch in Tokyo and I need to be there. Only a few people in Tokyo know me as the president of the company and we were planning on broadcasting the announcement after the cutting of the ribbon ceremony. I want you to be there with me." Ayane said those words monotonously. Ryuji looked at her and noticed that she was troubled. Not wanting to make things complicated, Ryuji left it alone and didn't ask any more questions.

"Okay, I'll go with you." Ryuji felt as if Ayane wanted to say something more but he didn't want to seem too demanding of her. They arrived at Ayane's mansion and being the gentleman that he was, Ryuji helped Ayane all the way to the door. Ayane smiled seeing how accommodating he was to her.

"You didn't have to do that, you know." Ayane said. Ryuji smiled at her.

"But I wanted to." He answered. Ayane looked at him in awe. His personality when they were together was totally different from when he's with other people. Ayane wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. She doesn't completely trust him yet. There are still a lot of things she didn't know about him. Whether his intentions were true, it's only a matter of time until Ayane can fully trust him.

"Well, you should get going. Thanks for the wonderful evening." Ayane smiled. Ryuji thought the evening was a disaster due to her fight with that woman at the party. Ayane noticed that he looked troubled so she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Don't worry, I had a great time. The best part of the evening was my banter with that Erika. The look on her face was pure gold." Ayane laughed. Ryuji's worries were gone in a flash when he saw Ayane's happy face. He put his hand on Ayane's head which surprised her. Ryuji was at least a foot taller than Ayane and he usually towered over her. Ayane was confused but when she saw Ryuji's smiling face it made her smile as well.

"Don't you dare make fun of my height or you can kiss that partnership goodbye." Ayane pouted which made Ryuji laugh. He put his hand away from her head.

"I wasn't even thinking about it." Ryuji said. His smiling face was like a breath of fresh air. He's giving off a friendly vibe whereas earlier this evening, he was aloof and stand-offish. He was a contradiction of himself which made Ayane feel uneasy. While they were talking outside the door, Rei was behind it listening to their conversation. When Ayane opened the door, Rei didn't have time to react and she fell over. She looked up to see Ayane and Ryuji's confused expression. As quickly as she fell, she picked herself back up and smiled at the two.

"Welcome back. How was your night? I hope you had a lot of fun." Rei was talking so fast that it made Ayane and Ryuji laugh. Ayane looked at Ryuji and smiled. Rei noticed this but tried to ignore it. Ryuji said he was leaving and waved goodbye at the two.

"Drive safely." Ayane told him. Ryuji nodded and went inside his car. Once he was out of sight, Ayane and Rei went inside. The twins were already asleep so Ayane washed her face in Rei's room while they talk about what happened.

"I have a really funny story to tell you." Ayane said as she wiped her face with a towel. Rei sat on her bed waiting for the story. Ayane sat next to her while removing the jewelry she wore. Ayane told Rei about her encounter with Erika. After the story, Rei was laughing really hard.

"Oh I wish I could've seen her face when you told her who you were." Rei said. She kept laughing until her stomach began to ache and there were tears in her eyes. When she calmed down, she looked at Ayane with a menacing smile.

"So what do we do with her company?" Rei asked. Ayane stood up and went to the door.

"Let's just give them a little scare." Ayane said; her voice was cold as ice. Rei already had a plan in mind. They said their goodnights to each other and Ayane went to her room where the twins were sleeping. She squeezed herself in between and they immediately snuggled closer to her. She kissed their foreheads before she went to sleep.

During the time that Ayane was at the party, Rei was planning something on her own. She was surely convinced that Ryuji harbors no ill intention towards Ayane. She was determined to get them together. During the visit of Ryuji and his grandfather at Archetive, she had asked for Mr. Taizo's phone number for company purposes but also she saved it in her phone. While putting the kids to sleep, Rei called Mr. Taizo to ask for a favor.

"Let's meet at the coffee shop near Habitect tomorrow morning." Mr. Taizo said. Rei agreed and she ended the call. The following day, Rei prepared breakfast for Ayane and the twins. When Ayane arrived in the dining room, she was confused why Rei was up so early.

"Aya, I have something important to attend to. Is it okay if you went to the company with the kids?" Ayane raised her eyebrow at Rei. It was the first time Rei had something to do outside of the company that wasn't business related. Thinking she had to meet with her lover, Ayane smiled and nodded.

"Sure thing; I can handle going to Archetive with the kids but please don't take long. We have a meeting with our investors today and I need you to be there with me." Ayane said. Rei nodded and went to get her bag. She left first using her car. She arrived at the coffee shop at exactly 8 am; Mr. Taizo was already waiting for her inside.

"Good morning Mr. Taizo. Sorry for calling you up this early." Rei sat down and apologized but Mr. Taizo just smiled at her.

"It's not a bother at all. To be honest, I was looking forward to discussing this with you." Mr. Taizo had already ordered coffee for the both of them and it arrived just in time as Rei took her seat. Mr. Taizo took a sip from his cup before speaking.

"I wouldn't think anything less of you if you doubt my grandson's intentions but I can assure you that he's an honest man." Rei took her cup and took a sip from it.

"It's natural for me to doubt a man who's after Ayane. She's been through so much already. I just want her to be happy." Rei had an apologetic smile on her face. To her surprise, Mr. Taizo had the same expression on his face.

"My grandson has always been cold towards other people because of his upbringing. His mother died during childbirth and his father remarried. He was abused ever since he was young and I had to step in before he could be killed. You may think I'm exaggerating but it's far from a lie." Mr. Taizo looked out the window as he spoke. Rei listened intently.

"Ms. Ayane is the first woman he ever had any interest in. When she disappeared 3 years ago, he didn't stop looking for her. He barely slept thinking of every possible way of looking for her. Even though I handed over my company to him, I had to continue his work since he was so preoccupied. Every small lead, he would investigate immediately. That boy's determination is quite strong." Mr. Taizo chuckled as he said those words. Rei's mouth was agape. She didn't expect Ryuji to be that determined. Rei thought something must've happen for him to dedicate his time into looking for someone like that.

"Did they have a relationship before, Mr. Taizo?" Rei asked. Mr. Taizo shook his head.

"They didn't interact much when he first visited the company but Ryuji often looked for her every time although he doesn't want her to know. Ryuji couldn't stop talking about Ayane when it was just the two of us." Rei was surprised to hear this since Ryuji seemed to be a man of few words. Rei thought he must've fallen for Ayane the first time they met. Her heart fluttered at the thought.

"What about Ms. Ayane? Does she feel the same way about Ryuji?" Mr. Taizo asked. Rei's smile suddenly disappeared. She lowered her head and shook it slowly.

"Mr. Taizo, I trust you enough to tell you about Ayane since you were her former boss and her suitor's grandfather." Rei took a sip of coffee to calm her nerves before speaking. Mr. Taizo leaned closer to Rei.

"Ayane was my childhood friend. When her parents died, her grandparents took her in and moved her to Tokyo. They didn't want her to go back to the place where their son and daughter-in-law were killed. They even changed her last name to hide her identity. Although she was forced to forget her home here in Osaka, we still kept in touch. She had a simple life in Tokyo. She even had a fiancé and her future in-laws welcomed her with open arms but…" Rei stopped for a while and took a deep breath. She looked at Mr. Taizo who was listening intently.

"She caught her fiancé in bed with another woman. She was heartbroken so much that she broke off the engagement and left Tokyo. When she was here, we found out she was pregnant with her ex's baby. She planned to keep the baby but something terrible happened. She was kidnapped and beaten by thugs who were ordered by her fiancé's mistress. She had a miscarriage after that." Mr. Taizo was in a complete shock. He covered his mouth with his hand as he tried to process what he heard.

"For the past 3 years, she's been working really hard. She wants to prove to those who look down on her that she is strong. She has had a lot of suitors in the past but she always turns them down but Ryuji was the first one she didn't reject. Even so, she's willing to give him a chance which means there might be hope for the two of them." Rei said. Mr. Taizo's face softened and he sighed happily.

"I hope so Ms. Kato. These two deserve to be happy after everything they've been through." Mr. Taizo said to which Rei agreed. Rei suddenly looked down.

"I hope Ryuji will be patient with Ayane. She may not be willing to fully open up herself right away but maybe he can make it happen eventually." Rei said. Mr. Taizo nodded in agreement with her. After their talk, Rei excused herself to go back to Archetive. She was already running late since their talk lasted longer than she anticipated. She drove as fast as she could and surprisingly she arrived on time.

"Where have you been?" Ayane asked her. Rei just smiled and told her that they need to talk later. They proceeded with the meeting with the investors. After the meeting, Ayane and Rei walked back to Ayane's office together when Rei noticed something different about the room next to Ayane's office. She opened the door and saw that it was filled with toys and games for kids. Rei looked back at Ayane who had smile on her face.

"I didn't tell you about this but I decided to turn this unused office to the kids' play place. What do you think?" Rei looked around the whole room. The walls were painted pastel colors and there was a ball pit in the corner. The floor was padded and there was carpeting on top of it. There were all kinds of toys from cooking sets to coloring books to toy cars.

"When did you have this made?" Rei asked, still in awe.

"Yesterday; the workers did a very good job with it." Rei was still in shock with the immediate transformation. The twins' were busy playing inside that they didn't even notice their mother and aunt by the door.

"Why the sudden decision?" Rei asked. Ayane looked at her kids and then back at Rei.

"I realized that I haven't been spending a lot of time with them lately and I don't want to miss out on them growing up." Ayane said with a smile. Rei was touched and went in and hugged her. Seeing as the twins' were busy, the two of them went to Ayane's office to talk.

"I haven't been completely honest with you. I met with Mr. Taizo this morning." Rei started off with a confession. She felt bad about lying to Ayane and so she caved in from her guilt. Ayane looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"Why did you meet up with Mr. Taizo?" Ayane asked.

"I wanted to make sure that Ryuji was sincere about you. I wanted to know what kind of person he was and who better to ask than his grandfather." Ayane swiveled her chair and looked out the window.

"And what did you find?" Ayane was also curious about Ryuji's sincerity. Rei began to tell Ayane what Mr. Taizo told her. About Ryuji's past and his struggles, Rei left nothing out. Ayane was listening intently, occasionally making a sad face when hearing about Ryuji's sufferings. After Rei told her everything, Ayane stood up and went up to Rei.

"I appreciate what you did. It's nice to find out that he's been quite honest with me about his feelings. Still, I can't give him an answer just because of that. I want to see if he can actually be patient enough to handle me." Ayane answered. She was reminded again of her horrible experiences with men. Although she promised herself to never fall for another man, she was willing to take the risk with Ryuji. She couldn't explain it herself but she felt that Ryuji was different.

Ayane and Rei went back to work after their short discussion. It was almost lunch time but Ayane still had a lot of work to be done. She decided to stay in the office for lunch; she was about to call for her secretary when her phone rang. It was Ryuji.

"Want to have lunch together?" He asked. Ayane was skimming through some documents as she answered the call.

"I can't leave my office to have lunch. Would you mind having lunch here in my office?" Thinking that Ryuji was still at Habitect, she expected a refusal. She was surprised when the door suddenly opened and Ryuji was standing by it. He had a paper bag filled with food with him. Ayane couldn't help but giggle from what she saw.

"You sly fox." She called Ryuji. He just chuckled and put the food on the coffee table.

"Would you like me to feed you?" Ayane was caught off-guard with his question. She couldn't help but laugh about it. She went with it as a joke.

"I won't fall for his cheesy tactics."

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