"Missing someone is like having a piece of your heart missing--an ache that settles in, reminding you of their absence. We all have that special someone we hold dear, and when they're not around, we can't help but yearn for their presence, eagerly awaiting the moment we can be together with them once again."
Senthie Salvador had long forgotten this feeling, yearning to rediscover it once more.
The clear sky cast an orange hue during sunset, captivating Senthie through her window. Her gaze fixed on the swaying tree branches, lost in the beauty. Abruptly, she jolted back, softly slapping her cheeks to refocus.
"I should prepare before Kenzo arrives," she mumbled, her reflection in the dressing table mirror reminding her of the task at hand. Picking up her red lipstick, she lightly tapped it onto her lips, and pressed them together, ensuring an even spread. As she attempted a smile, she couldn't help but notice it didn't quite reach her eyes. Chuckling at herself, she rolled her eyes playfully.
"Okay, let's give it another shot." She flashed an even wider smile, revealing her perfect set of white teeth as she tucked strands of hair behind her ears.
"I do look pretty," she murmured, fastening golden diamond-shaped tassel earrings. Her long, green-dyed hair cascaded loosely, showcasing the see-through bangs she'd cut herself just a month ago, complemented by her green contact lenses.
A few minutes later, the sound of a car engine brought her to the window, confirming that Kenzo had arrived. She hastily descended the stairs, clutching her black purse, perfectly matching her ruffled off-shoulder dress adorned with a golden rose pattern. The knee-length mermaid-style dress hugged her figure flawlessly.
The doorbell chimed seconds later, and Senthie made her way to the door, eager to welcome her guest.
Before her, stood Kenzo Yamamoto, a man whose cute and innocent face belied his height advantage over her. His features were striking, a captivating blend of handsome and pretty. His Japanese-style haircut looked impeccable, with his glossy black hair dancing in the gentle breeze as if straight out of a shampoo commercial. He casually ran his fingers through his hair, tucking it behind his ear to prevent it from falling across his face. Senthie couldn't help but feel a smile grace her lips.
In a bluish-green button-up shirt, neatly tucked in with two undone buttons, Kenzo's collarbone peeked out, catching Senthie's attention. Her gaze traveled further down, revealing fitted brown jeans, a sleek black belt, and polished black leather shoes, completing his ensemble.
Kenzo's eyes traveled appreciatively over her, then met hers. "You look gorgeous, babe," he complimented with a hint of nervousness in his smile.
Senthie beamed at him. "And so do you."
With a gentle hug, Kenzo drew her close, his breath sending a shiver down her spine as he whispered in her ear, "I missed you a lot, Sen."
"Me too," she muttered, a tinge of guilt in her voice as she lightly patted his back. The truth was, she hadn't missed him at all.
After their warm embrace, Kenzo courteously led Senthie to the waiting car, opening the door for her.
Kenzo had just returned from Japan earlier that day, summoned by his father to assist with various projects in their gaming company--a pattern that had persisted since his college graduation. His longest stint in Japan had recently stretched to six months. Despite his demanding schedule, he unfailingly called and checked up on her every day. He made it abundantly clear that she was his top priority and consistently reminded her of his deep love for her. He was, by all accounts, the embodiment of an ideal boyfriend.
The hotel was just a thirty-minute drive away. With Senthie holding onto Kenzo's arm, he led her to the elevator and pressed the button for the fifth floor. Elevators weren't Senthie's favorite, often making her feel dizzy as her ears struggled with the pressure, akin to a reverse free-fall. Her grip on Kenzo's arm tightened, seeking his support. Being familiar with her discomfort, Kenzo gently held her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. When Senthie heard the comforting click of the elevator doors opening, she finally exhaled in relief as they stepped out.
They walked straight for a bit, then turned right, arriving at the restaurant called Belle's. At the counter, they asked an employee to guide them to their reserved table. The staff at Belle's wore formal attire: ivory-colored long-sleeved shirts neatly tucked in for the men, and brown slacks, while the women sported brown pencil-cut skirts.
Senthie's eyes swept across the restaurant, taking in its overwhelming elegance. The dominant theme was a blend of brown and ivory, creating an opulent atmosphere. The chandeliers sparkled, candles and fresh flowers on each table were meticulously arranged. Her eyes widened when she caught sight of the breathtaking view through the glass walls. The cityscape outside, illuminated by countless twinkling stars and a brilliantly shining moon, left her heart brimming with happiness. She knew this thoughtful date had been planned by her considerate boyfriend.
Their seating arrangements were quickly confirmed. The receptionist, Kyla, according to her nameplate, guided them to their designated table.
They placed their orders and settled in to wait. Kenzo and Senthie had chosen the same dish--steak.
Leaning on the table with her chin resting on her hands, Senthie inquired, "So, all in all, how was your work in Japan?"
Kenzo pressed his lips together, his gaze fixed on her as he emitted a thoughtful 'hmm' before answering, "Nothing unusual. It still seems they can't operate without my assistance," he stated, attempting to sound serious, but his humility shone through. His expression gave away his desire to retract his words.
Senthie played along, responding with a smile, "It's because you're super awesome! I wish I could be like you."
He rolled his eyes, taking a sip of the water the waiter had prepared earlier while they waited. "Come on, Sen. I know you know that you are more awesome," he quipped, a half-smile playing on his lips.
She chuckled softly. "Oh, come on! You're too kind."
Kenzo maintained his sincerity. "Just telling you the truth."
Senthie smiled warmly at him, reaching across the table to take his hand and give it a gentle squeeze. "Thank you, Ken."
She withdrew her hand as the waiter approached, skillfully placing their orders on the table. Expressing their gratitude, the waiter smiled and wished them an enjoyable meal.
As they savored their food, their conversation flowed freely, touching on various topics. However, when Kenzo noticed that most of their discussion revolved around him, he paused and gazed at her, concern in his eyes. "Why aren't you talking about yourself?" he inquired, his expression filled with worry.
Senthie narrowed her eyes playfully and offered a warm smile. "Well, there's not much to talk about me, you know. I don't venture out unless it's necessary. My life is pretty dull without you around."
Kenzo held her gaze for a moment, and she sensed his genuine concern piercing through her words. She mentally scolded herself for spouting nonsense.
"If you say so, then I won't ever leave your side again," he replied with sincerity, accompanied by an apologetic smile.
Senthie didn't realize she was holding her breath until she blurted out, "No!" Her voice was slightly louder than intended, and she hastily pressed her lips together, glancing around, hoping she hadn't disrupted the other diners' evening. Fortunately, her voice hadn't carried as far as she'd feared. When she turned her attention back to Kenzo, she found him looking utterly stunned.
Senthie berated herself internally. What had possessed her to say that? Kenzo was nothing but an exceptional boyfriend to her, and yet...
"Kenzo, babe, I'm sorry for startling you. I just meant... You don't have to do that for me," she reassured him with a smile that conveyed, 'Don't worry about me.'
Kenzo returned her smile and nodded in understanding.
"Actually, there's something I almost forgot to tell you," she added, injecting an air of intrigue into her tone. She then delicately placed the last slice of meat into her mouth.
He arched an eyebrow, curiosity piqued. "What is it?"
Senthie signaled for him to wait with a raised hand and took a sip of her wine. The wine was exquisite, with just a hint of alcohol, resembling pure grape juice--exactly what she had hoped for.
Kenzo nodded, deftly slicing his meat while keeping his gaze locked on her.
"I sent a lease application to GMC!" Senthie exclaimed with infectious excitement.
GMC, an acronym for Grand Mall Corporation, was renowned as the most prestigious mall in the Philippines, housing some of the world's most renowned brands.
His eyes widened, and a smile spread across his face. "Really? Wow, that's great!"
"Right?" Senthie beamed, although she had to muster the smile. "Do you think they'll approve it?"
Running her own business in GMC had always been Senthie's dream, even if it seemed nearly impossible. But, as the saying goes, it was free to dream, so she decided to dream big. Who knew? Perhaps one day, that seemingly unattainable dream could have become a reality. She just had to dare to dream and take action to make it possible. As long as she kept trying, there was always a chance--even if it was one small step at a time.
Before Kenzo could respond, she swiftly followed her initial pessimistic statement with a more positive one. "Of course! They will approve it. 'Cause if they don't? That would be their loss."
Senthie leaned back in her chair and casually flipped her hair with a confident air.
Kenzo chuckled. "Yeah, right. And you know why?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Because I'm awesome!" she declared.
"Because you're awesome!" he affirmed, and they both shared a hearty laugh, harmonizing in unison as they spoke their piece.
Kenzo parked the car in front of Senthie's house, and she turned to him with a sweet smile. "Thanks for the night, babe," she said, and he returned her smile.
"Thank you for your time, babe," he replied. His gaze lingered on her, and she sensed that he had something on his mind. "Sen, I have something to say."
She offered a nervous smile in response. "What is it?"
As Kenzo's brown eyes locked onto hers, Senthie could feel the weight of his words before he even spoke them. Don't say it. Please, don't say it, Kenzo.
She watched his adam's apple rise and fall as he swallowed. "Sen, I..." He hesitated for a moment, but then continued, "I love you, Senthie Salvador."
He observed Senthie's momentary freeze, waiting patiently for her response. "I... I..."
"I?" he prompted, his anticipation evident.
"I... uh... I..." She struggled to articulate it, beads of sweat forming on her forehead.
The anticipation in Kenzo's eyes shifted to concern. "Are you okay, babe? You're sweating a lot."
Senthie couldn't bring herself to meet his gaze and fell silent.
Suddenly, warm hands enveloped her, and she found herself in Kenzo's comforting embrace, his chin resting on her shoulder. "Relax, babe. It's okay. I understand," he reassured her, holding her tighter.
Hearing those words from him made her heart ache. She felt undeserving of his kindness.
He pulled away from the hug, forcing a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. He bid her goodnight and didn't wait for her response, quickly heading to his car.
Senthie was left standing there, frozen in place.
Senthie changed into her pajamas and perched at the edge of her bed. The earlier scene replayed in her mind, and she found herself consumed by her thoughts.
What was wrong with her? They had been together for nearly two years. She couldn't believe she still couldn't say those three words. Kenzo had been looking forward to it, and she couldn't help but think he must be deeply disappointed. He never made a fuss about it, but Senthie knew he was patiently waiting for her to reciprocate. Of course, she loved him, but not in the same way he loved her. Kenzo was the most understanding and kind-hearted person she had ever known, and she knew he didn't deserve this uncertainty. She had to address this issue once and for all.
Determined, she reached for her phone and sent a message to Kenzo.
"I'm sorry about earlier. I just didn't feel good, maybe because I didn't chew the steak well. But I'm fine now. Hahaha. By the way, can we meet tomorrow? I have something important to tell you."
-- Sent at 9:52 PM
Thank you for reading!
This chapter is awesome and quite relatable! Sen' s struggle to say the "three words" when she has been with her boyfriend for two years, is literally a real life struggle. I love that, your story started like that and I'm looking forward to see how she overcomes that and copes with it. Awesome story!
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