Until Then: The Trip

Ryuji pulled up in front of the Kamenaga house. It was the day of their flight to Tokyo. He promised to pick up Ayane and here he was, waiting outside for her. He walked up to the front door and was about to ring the doorbell when the door flew open, revealing a panting Ayane. 

“Are you okay?” Ryuji asked. Ayane looked at him and laughed. She tried to stifle her laughter but she failed. Ryuji, confused as to why she’s laughing, put his hand on her shoulder. Ayane saw that Ryuji was concerned so she pulled herself together. She straightened out her outfit and cleared her throat.

“Sorry about that. I was laughing because I thought I looked like an idiot in front of you when I opened the door.” Ryuji sighed and gave out a tiny chuckle. He put his hand on Ayane’s head. 

“No matter how you look, you’ll always be gorgeous to me.” Ayane stiffened from his serious expression. They were both silent for a while when the twins came running towards them. 

“Daddy!” The twins said in unison. Ryuji happily opened up his arms and carried the twins. Rei was finally able to catch up with the twins. She was panting and holding her chest trying to steady her breathing. Ryuji looked at Rei and then at Ayane.

“What happened to the two of you?” Ryuji asked. Rei and Ayane looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“The twins thought it would be funny to have us chase them around the house. So they took Rei’s phone and kept running so Rei and I were out of breath from chasing them. I was in the living room and I saw your car come in so I thought it would be funny to surprise you.” Ayane said. Ryuji couldn’t help himself from laughing. 

“I wouldn’t mind living in a house as lively as this.” Ryuji said. Rei’s eyes widened upon hearing this and she looked over at Ayane. 

“We’d love to have you around, won’t we Ayane.” Rei elbowed Ayane but Ayane shook her head and scoffed. 

“We’re going to be late for our flight.” She went inside and got her bags. Ryuji set the twins down and helped Ayane with her luggage. After putting her bags in the car, Ayane bent down to say goodbye to the twins. 

“Now you two be good to Mommy Rei.” She kissed their foreheads one by one. Ayane stood up and walked up to Rei. 

“Don’t get carried away over there or else.” Rei shot Ayane a warning look. Ayane laughed and hugged Rei. She waved goodbye as she was walking towards Ryuji’s car. Ryuji also waved goodbye to Rei and the twins. 

“Bye Daddy!” Kayda and Kotaro shouted. Ryuji smiled at the both of them before he went inside the car. He started the car and drove to the airport. Ayane was silent for the majority of the car ride but she wasn’t in a bad mood, in fact she was smiling the whole time. Ryuji noticed this and it made him smile as well. He reached out for her hand and held it in his. 

“Is there a problem?” Ayane asked. Ryuji shook his head and smiled. Ayane breathed a sigh of relief. 

“I thought something was wrong when you held my hand all of a sudden.” She said. Ryuji thought she’d pull her hand away but surprisingly she let it stay. They arrived at the airport an hour early. They checked in and waited for their flight at the boarding gate. A few minutes later and they boarded the plane to Tokyo. It was the moment that Ayane was waiting for. Her revenge plan starts here. 

“It’s been so long since I was back in Tokyo but I don’t miss it one bit.” Everything connecting to her old life in Tokyo was tainted by what had happened. She could never forget about that incident and everything that followed after that. Ryuji saw that Ayane was deep in thought so he put his arms around her and enveloped her in his embrace. Ayane quickly snapped out of her trance. 

“How are you so warm?” Ayane asked. She felt Ryuji’s chest reverberate from his laughter. She pulled herself away and smiled. 

“Let’s go to the hotel first. I have something to discuss with you.” Ryuji agreed and they went out to the arrival bay. There was already a car waiting for them. They got on and they were sent to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Akasaka. They went inside to the lobby to check in.

“Good morning Ms., how may I help you?” The receptionist asked. Ayane took out an ID from her purse. 

“I’m here to check in.” She handed her ID to the receptionist and was immediately recognized. The receptionist gave Ayane her ID back and requested some assistance. 

“We are honored to have you stay here, Ms. Kamenaga. Here is your key card. Please enjoy your stay.” Ayane took the key card and they went up to the VIP Suite. Much to Ryuji’s surprise, Ayane had only booked one room for the both of them. After the bellboys delivered their luggage, Ayane sat down on the sofa. 

“If you don’t mind me asking, why did you only book one room?” Ryuji asked. Ayane looked up at him and met his gaze. She smiled and patted the empty space on the couch next to her, beckoning Ryuji to come and sit down. Ryuji did so and sat next to her. 

“After tomorrow’s event, there will be eyes on me. I need them to see what they want to see.” Ayane answered. Ryuji didn’t ask any more questions. Ayane crossed her arms and looked across the room. 

“You’ve seen my ex-fiancé before, haven’t you Ryu?” Ayane asked. Ryuji’s heart would always skip a beat when Ayane calls her ‘Ryu’. Although he was happy on the inside but his face was serious on the outside. 

“The one at the mall a few years ago, right?” He asked to which Ayane nodded in response. 

“He won’t be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony but he’ll definitely be at the party.” Ryuji understood what Ayane wanted him to do. She wants him to stay by her side and protect her if need be. 

“Also, he and the woman he cheated on me with will be having an engagement party tonight at this exact hotel. I hope nothing terrible happens.” Ayane said sarcastically. Ryuji already knew about her plan since they’ve discussed this multiple times before. Ayane leaned her head on Ryuji’s shoulder. Seeing this, he moved his arm and put it behind Ayane’s head to support her. 

“The show will officially begin but you don’t even have to act like you like me, do you?” She said playfully. Ryuji cracked a smile from seeing Ayane’s delighted face. He planted a kiss on her forehead. Ayane was no longer surprised by this and just went with it. She stood up and clapped her hands. 

“Let’s go, Ryu. Help me pick out a dress for tomorrow’s party.” Ayane held out her hand and Ryuji took it. They went out to a nearby mall to look for dresses. Ryuji picked out a well-known store that had beautiful dresses available. While looking through all the dresses, Ayane looked at Ryuji and asked. 

“Did you bring a suit?” She asked. Ryuji shook his head for he was planning on buying a suit here in Tokyo. Ayane said something to the saleswoman and she left. Ryuji went up to Ayane and put his hand on her shoulder. 

“So, did you find anything you like?” He asked. 

“Well, I asked her to bring out their gowns that have matching suits.” Ryuji was surprised to hear that Ayane wanted them to have matching clothes. She usually treats their relationship like a game and she rarely does something sweet for Ryuji but this is the first time she’s shown this side of her. The lady came back with three pairs. One was a beautiful blue-colored mermaid gown with pearls on it. The second one was a green-colored cocktail dress and the last one was the one that caught both Ayane and Ryuji’s eye. It was a gold-colored body fit gown with lace sleeves. It had a matching suit that was black with gold trimmings and a gold tie. 

“We’ll try on the gold one.” Ayane and Ryuji said in unison. They looked at each other and laughed. The lady led them to two separate dressing rooms. They changed into the formal attire and went out in front of the mirror. Ryuji was stunning; his physique matched the suit very well. He looked over to his right and his eyes widened. He saw Ayane wearing the golden gown and she looked amazing. 

“There’s no other woman more mesmerizing than you.” Ryuji complimented Ayane. She just smiled and looked at herself in the mirror. Ryuji wasn’t the only one who was surprised. Ayane found Ryuji incredibly handsome with that suit but she refrained from saying it out loud. They changed back to their own clothes and paid for the outfits. 

“What do you want to do now?” Ryuji asked. Ayane looked around and noticed that someone was acting suspicious. She grits her teeth.

“Someone seems to be following us.” Ayane whispered to Ryuji. He scanned the area and saw the perpetrator. He held onto Ayane’s hand and pulled her into a run. He turned corners so fast that it made Ayane dizzy. When he felt that they‘ve lost him, Ryuji stopped to take a break. Ayane was panting like crazy.

“You could’ve warned me.” She said. Ryuji looked around once again but saw no sign of the stalker. 

“It seemed to be a photographer.” Ryuji said. Ayane looked at him, surprised. 

“Wait here.” Ryuji excused himself and went with the crowd. Ayane stood there for a few minutes before Ryuji came back. 

“Where did you go?” She asked but he didn’t answer. Instead, he took her hand in his and placed a ring on her finger. Surprised, Ayane pulled her hand away and examined the ring. 

“What is this for?” She asked. 

“I figured the stalker must’ve been a reporter. It’ll be easier for us if you’re seen wearing an engagement ring.” Ayane was surprised by Ryuji’s quick thinking. She sighed and let the ring be. She told Ryuji that she’ll pay him back for the ring but he refused leaving Ayane to accept the ring as a gift. They went out of their hiding spot and walked around the mall, hand-in-hand. They had lunch together before they returned to the hotel. Ayane placed the outfits they bought inside of the closet. 

“Want me to get you some water?” Ryuji offered. Ayane nodded and went to sit at the sofa. Ryuji brought her a glass of water and she drank it. Ryuji sat next to her when her phone rang. She answered it on the second ring. 

“Rei?” Ayane said. Rei was busy handling Archetive in Osaka and taking care of the twins. She called to ask about something. Although she was busy, Rei was planning something of her own. She felt something strange whenever the twins call Ryuji daddy. It was just a hunch but she believed that Ryuji was the father of the twins. Although seemingly farfetched, it wasn’t impossible. She planned to do a paternal test but she doesn’t have any DNA sample from Ryuji. The next best thing was to find an accomplice and Rei knew exactly who it would be. 

“Sorry for calling you again Mr. Taizo.” Rei apologized. Mr. Taizo chuckled and shook his head.

“It’s fine Rei. I’m always alone at home whenever Ryuji is not around so I enjoy your company.” Mr. Taizo said. They met at the same café where they met the last time. Mr. Taizo drank his coffee while Rei stared at hers. 

“Mr. Taizo, this might sound crazy but I believe that Ryuji is the father of the twins.” Mr. Taizo was taken by surprise by Rei’s words. He put down his coffee on the table and cleared his throat. 

“Rei, did you have a past relationship with my grandson?” Rei was confused by Mr. Taizo’s words. 

“What? No, why?” Mr. Taizo raised his eyebrow. 

“Then how can you say that my grandson is the father of the children?” He asked. Rei was getting more and more confused.

“What does it have to do with me?” Rei asked. Perplexed, Mr. Taizo raised his voice. 

“Aren’t you the mother of those children?” He asked. Rei almost choked on her own spit when Mr. Taizo said those words. She took a sip from her cup and cleared her throat. 

“What? No, the twins are Ayane’s children.” Mr. Taizo’s eyes widened and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. 

“Ryuji said the kids call you mommy.” He said. 

“Ayane taught them that so that they’d be able to say the word without having any problems.” A sudden realization came to Mr. Taizo. Before he could speak, Rei pulled out the photo of Kotaro from her wallet. Mr. Taizo quickly took it and compared it with the photo in his wallet. It was almost the same; the pose, the face, anyone who’d look at the two photos would surely think that they were twins.

“You see Mr. Taizo, when I found your wallet, I saw the picture inside and I was certain that I’ve seen it before. Kotaro looks just like Ryuji in more ways than one.” Rei said. Mr. Taizo couldn’t deny what Rei said. He could see from his own two eyes that they indeed look particularly similar. 

“So what do we do?” Mr. Taizo asked. 

“I plan to get a paternity test done but I don’t have any DNA samples from Ryuji.” Rei said. They both contemplated on what to do. They reached a conclusion to wait until Ryuji and Ayane come back from Tokyo before they can have the paternity test. They promised to keep it a secret for now, just until they find out the truth. 

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Ryuji ordered food for their dinner. Ayane had already set up the necessary materials downstairs; all they needed to do was wait. 

“I wish we could see the commotion downstairs. I’d like to see the looks on their faces.” Ayane said. Hearing this, Ryuji handed a plate of food to Ayane and they sat in front of the flat screen TV. Ryuji took the remote and before clicking it, he turned to look at Ayane and smiled.

“Your wish is my command.” He said and he pressed the power button on the remote. On the TV, it was a live feedback on what was happening downstairs. Ayane looked at Ryuji and smiled. 

“How did you do this?” She asked. Ryuji just shrugged. The party was about to start and the guests were starting to pour in. Ayane and Ryuji were eating while watching the live feedback. It was time for the couple to come out and greet the guests. Kenji was holding onto a little boy while Miyu walked beside him. Seeing her face, Ayane’s blood started to boil. Ryuji saw this and reached out for Ayane’s hand to calm her down. The couple was talking to some of the guests and the kid was clinging to his father. Ayane noticed something odd about the kid. 

“I forgot to give you this.” Ryuji handed a piece of paper to Ayane. When she opened it, her mouth was agape. 

What an interesting revelation. She thought. She looked at Ryuji who was focused on eating. 

“I thought I’d be immune to your surprises but you still have your way.” She said. They looked on at the TV, patiently waiting for something to happen. As she thought that, the monitor in the center of the stage suddenly turned on. Everyone turned their attention to the screen. 

“Showtime.” Ayane muttered. Just then, a video played on the monitor. It was a video of Miyu doing explicit things with another man. Everyone gasped at the sight of the video. Miyu started to panic. Kenji covered the boy’s ears and left the room. Miyu’s parents came up to her and scolded her and as for Kenji’s parents; they felt embarrassed and left without uttering a single word. Ryuji and Ayane laughed at the disaster that was supposed to be their engagement. This was only a part of the plan, there will be many more. 

“What a night.” Ayane said. She stretched her arms and slid into the bed. Ryuji stood there, not knowing whether to sleep beside her or sleep on the couch.

“I’ll go sleep on the couch.” Ryuji said but Ayane stopped him. 

“What are you doing? Just sleep here. The bed is gigantic for someone as small as me.” Ryuji chuckled at her response. 

“Aren’t you worried?” Ryuji asked. Ayane raised her eyebrow at him. 

“Are you planning on doing anything to me?” She asked. Ryuji shook his head. 

“Then I’ll trust your words. We’re partners after all.” Ayane answered. Ryuji agreed and slid into the bed. They faced opposite of each other. It wasn’t long before the both of them fell asleep. The next morning, Ayane felt warm all over. She opened her eyes and saw that she was in Ryuji’s arms. She wanted to push him away but she felt very comfortable in his embrace. 

“You seem to be enjoying your morning.” Ryuji said. Ayane quickly pushed him away from her when she realized that he was awake. 

“Don’t get me wrong, it was you who was clinging to me last night.” Ryuji said. Ayane rubbed her eyes and got out of bed. 

“What time is it?” She asked. Ryuji checked his phone for the time. 

“It’s almost 9 am.” Ayane opened the blinds and a blanket of sunlight poured over the hotel room. 

“We’d better get ready. We need to be at the new branch at 10am.” Ayane said. Ryuji took the initiative to order room service and have their breakfast delivered while Ayane took a bath. Their breakfast arrived just as Ayane was finished showering. Ryuji took a shower after her and after that they ate breakfast. 

“I’ll be in the bedroom, changing.” Ayane said. Ryuji nodded in response and Ayane went to the bedroom. She planned on wearing a white suit with her hair neatly combed back. She stepped out of the bedroom where Ryuji was waiting for her.

“How do I look?” Ayane asked. She looked up and saw Ryuji with his mouth agape. Coincidentally, they were both wearing a white suit. Ryuji took a step closer to Ayane and wrapped his arm around her waist. 

“It should be a crime to be that gorgeous.” He said. Ayane giggled and put her hand on Ryuji’s shoulder. 

“Then you and I would be in jail.” Ayane said. Ryuji tightened his hold on Ayane which brought their faces closer to each other. Their eyes met and there was a strange tension in the atmosphere. Ryuji leaned closer but Ayane wasn’t fazed by it. It was almost as if she was expecting for something to happen. Ryuji smiled at her and kissed her forehead. Realizing what had happened, Ayane pushed Ryuji away.

“I need that kind of enthusiasm later at the party, okay?” She said a she tried to hide her blushing face. Ryuji smiled and nodded. They left the hotel and went to Archetive’s newest branch for the ribbon-cutting. There were already a lot of people who gathered in the front to witness the event. There was a line of reporters waiting for her arrival. While in the car, Ayane straightened her suit. She looked over at Ryuji and straightened his collar and tie. Ryuji noticed he was still wearing the fake engagement ring he had bought her. Although it was an expensive ring, it was only there for their show but Ryuji planned to make it real. 

“Don’t be afraid to be too sweet when we’re in front of the cameras.” Ayane said. Ryuji nodded and he pushed a lock of hair behind Ayane’s ear. They were ready for the event. The driver drove up to where there was a carpet laid out for Ayane. The crowd turned their heads toward the direction of the car. Ryuji was the first to get out and then he held out his hand for Ayane. The reporters hurriedly took pictures of them. 

“She must be the president. She looks stunning.”

“Who is he?” 

“He must be the president’s fiancé. Look at the ring on her finger.” As they walked towards the building’s entrance, they could hear the gossip around them. Ayane intertwined her fingers with Ryuji's, making the crowd go crazy. They finally arrived at the entrance where the ribbon was. Ayane shook hands with the manager who’ll be in-charge of this branch. 

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you madam.” The manager said. He smiled at Ayane and noticed Ryuji. Ayane saw the manager’s confused expression. 

“This is my fiancé, Tennouji Ryuji. He’s the president of Habitect Co. in Osaka.” The manager’s face lightened up as his admiration for the couple grew. He quickly shook hands with Ryuji. 

“It’s an honor to meet you sir. I’ve heard that Habitect is quite reputable; a very worthy partner of Archetive.” He said. Ryuji looked at him and bowed his head a little. 

“Thank you.” Ryuji said monotonously. Without any further discussions, he ushered them to the seats and he went up to the podium to announce the arrival of the president. Ayane was supposed to give a short speech before they cut the ribbon. 

“Hmm, even in Tokyo, your company’s reputation is renowned. I might just sign that contract after all.” Ayane whispered to Ryuji. He leaned closer to Ayane’s ear.

“Sign it or not, my first priority is winning your heart.” He answered. Ayane was surprised to hear this and looked away. She was flustered by his words and tried to hide it. She quickly pulled herself together and looked at the podium. 

“Good morning everyone, without further ado, please help me welcome the owner and president of Archetive, Ms. Kamenaga Ayane.” The crowd cheered for Ayane. She stood up and walked up to the podium. She looked over at the crowd and smiled which sent the people crazy. 

“Oh my gosh, the president is so beautiful.” 

“She’s not only beautiful but intelligent.” Ayane could hear their words and it made her smile that so many people trust her. She cleared her throat before she began to speak. 

“Good morning, I am honored to be able to witness this event with you all. Archetive has been expanding and I’m so happy that we’ll finally be able to open here in Tokyo. I want to thank everyone for coming to this event and witnessing another milestone for the company. May there be many more.” The crowd cheered as Ayane closed her speech. She was about to step down the podium when Ryuji came up to her and held out his hand. She took it and they held hands towards the ribbon.

“Madam, here are the scissors.” The manager handed her a pair of scissors and they faced the cameras for a photo. Ryuji stood beside Ayane, helping her cut the ribbon. With a single snip, the ribbon fell on the floor and the crowd cheered. After the event, Ayane and Ryuji went up to the President’s office in the new building to check it out.

“It’s almost the same design as the one in Osaka.” Ryuji commented. Ayane giggled at his observation.

“Of course, I designed it myself. This building was my most recent design.” Ryuji was surprised to hear that. It was uncommon for the president herself to design a branch building for her own company but Ryuji understood that Ayane was just that kind of person. Although she owns a massive company, she grew up to humble beginnings and she isn’t the kind to be easily influenced by money and power. 

“Now that’s a dedicated president.” Ryuji answered as he walked up to Ayane. Just as he was about to wrap his arms around her, Ayane’s phone rang. She quickly took it out and answered it. 

“Rei?” She answered. Rei seemed to be out of breath, her panting could be heard through the phone. 

“Aya? Sorry for bothering you but I need a favor.” She said. She was talking really fast as if she was being chased. 

“What is it?” Ayane asked. 

“There’s a problem here in Osaka. I won’t divulge the details on the phone but I won’t be able to come home to the twins tonight. I was thinking of using the private jet and sending them to you. You know they won’t be able to sleep without either one of us.” She said. Ayane understood how important it was that Rei had to use the private jet. 

“Okay, what time will you be able to get them here?” Ayane asked. Ryuji looked at Ayane and noticed her worried expression. He held her hand as a way of showing his support. Ayane didn’t even mind. 

“Around 8pm. You have a party to attend to, right? Do you mind if I send them there with you?” Rei asked. Ayane didn’t mind, in fact she thought it was time to introduce her kids to her world. 

“No, I don’t mind. Just make them wear party appropriate clothes.” Rei agreed and ended the call. Ayane looked at Ryuji who was patiently waiting for her. 

“There’s a problem at the company and Rei’s sending the twins over here.” Ayane said. A smile formed on Ryuji’s face. Ayane saw this and sighed. She crossed her arms and looked at Ryuji.

“Let’s go and have lunch. We’ll be putting on a show this evening and I promise you, it’ll be interesting.” Ayane said. She went to the elevator and Ryuji followed after her. They were expecting a flock of reporters once they left the building. Ayane looked at Ryuji and arranged his collar. After that, she held his hand and they walked out of the building together. As they expected, the reporters quickly did their jobs and took pictures of the two. The car was already waiting for the two and Ryuji opened the door for Ayane before he stepped in. They were driven back to the hotel to prepare for tonight’s party. 

“Do you want to eat anything specific?” Ryuji asked Ayane as they arrived in their hotel room. She sat down on the couch and took off her high heels. 

“I’m craving for some ramen.” She said. After ordering the food, Ryuji ended the call and sat next to Ayane. They were both clearly bored after the event that happened earlier. Nothing much happened after the ceremony and so they didn’t have much fun. Both of them were leaning on the couch and looking up at the ceiling. Ayane stole a glance of Ryuji while his eyes were closed. She quickly took notice of Ryuji’s long eyelashes. She grazed them with her fingertips and it made Ryuji open his eyes. He saw what Ayane was doing and a smile quickly formed on his lips. 

“Have you fallen for me?” He asked. Ayane scoffed and lightly shoved his hand onto Ryuji’s face. He laughed at how flustered she had become. He reached out and put his hand on her cheek. He made her look at him and he put their foreheads together. Ryuji looked her in the eye and smiled. 

“I’m willing to surrender myself to you if you admit that you’ve fallen for me.” Ryuji said; his voice was calm and serious; there wasn’t a hint of doubt in his words. Ayane’s cheek slowly turned a rosy pink shade. She averted her gaze and muttered under her breath.

“Shameless.” She said. Ryuji heard this and he chuckled. He pulled away from Ayane but before she could say anything, he planted a kiss on her forehead. Ayane hid her blushing face from Ryuji’s gaze. She was starting to feel something for the man in front of her.

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