They had to exercise some creativity given Keigo's personality. A normal date comprising dinner and the movies clearly would not pass muster.
"I don't mind. It's okay anywhere," Kaoru suggested over the phone while having breakfast at home before heading to work.
"Of course not," Keigo admonished. "This is our first date. I have standards."
Kaoru giggled. "You sound so serious!"
"Because it is a serious matter," Keigo returned evenly. "Honestly, you are not appreciating my efforts to impress you."
"You don't need to," Kaoru said truthfully. "I'm happy just to see you, that's all."
He was thankful that Keigo couldn't see his blush.
Before Keigo could respond, his doorbell rang.
"Oh, sorry. Can I call you back?"
Kaoru put the phone down and went to open the door.
He gaped at the deliveryman and the accompanying seven bouquet of flowers at his doorstep.
After signing the receipt for the delivery, Kaoru arranged and stared at the bouquets now filling up his small living room.
They were breathtakingly beautiful. He could make out different varieties of roses, lilies and camellias.
His phone rang and Kaoru picked it up immediately when he saw who the caller was.
"Did you receive the flowers?" Keigo asked.
"Yes but it's too much." Kaoru was still stunned.
"There are seven bouquets!"
"There are seven days in a week."
Kaoru gave a helpless laugh. "That does not make sense."
"Perhaps I just couldn't decide on which one," Keigo said lazily.
"It's so.." Kaoru couldn't find the right word.
"If you're going to say frivolous, I'm sending you seven more," Keigo threatened.
"You wouldn't!" Kaoru exclaimed.
"Is that a challenge?"
Kaoru could almost see the smirk on Keigo's face. Impossible. The man was utterly impossible.
A soft chuckle and Keigo purred, "Besides, I'm not good with colors, remember?"
Kaoru's heart flipped.
"I remember," he murmured.
"Do you like them?"
"Yes, they are beautiful. Thank you. I don't.." Kaoru struggled as his hand reached out to touch the petals of a rose.
"Just enjoy them," Keigo said gently.
Kaoru's heart flipped again. He promised, "I will."
"I'll think about our date," Keigo's voice dipped a little lower. "See you this Friday?"
"Yes, see you." Kaoru couldn't stop himself from smiling at the thought of meeting Keigo.
"I look forward to it."
Normal, everyday words. People said them so often that sometimes they didn't mean it at all.
Yet coming from Keigo, they meant everything to Kaoru.
Keigo stood up and ended the meeting as his managers began to filter out of the office.
"Ah, I met with Ushida's head of sales," one of them informed him. "He was asking about the golf session you've been delaying."
"Tell him not to worry," Keigo replied evenly. "I've spoken to Ushida personally."
A nod of relief appeared on the man's face. "Perhaps we can schedule a dinner?"
"Next week," Keigo agreed. "I'll leave it with you."
"Thank you, sir."
It was highly probable that Ushida senior would bring his son to the meeting. Keigo supposed that he couldn't avoid that bastard forever. He even felt sorry for Ushida's father, a talented businessman who had the misfortune of siring such a pathetic son.
Akino slipped in through the door and waited until everyone was out before walking over to Keigo.
"The approvals for this month, sir."
"You look different today," Akino commented while she waited for Keigo to scan the document.
"Do I?" Keigo uncapped his pen. "I must be extremely charming today for you to notice."
Her façade did not break but she admitted, "Perhaps."
Keigo smirked as he handed the paper back to her. "Finally falling for me?"
Akino leveled a severe look at him. "I am a happily married woman."
"For a moment there, I had hopes," Keigo shrugged.
She smiled a little. "I've worked here for many years. You've never been this happy. It is a good thing."
Keigo was taken aback by the blunt honesty. Akino rarely made any personal comments and did not invite any conversation about her private life.
He decided to try anyway.
"How long have you been married? I think it was when you first started working for my father."
"That is correct," she agreed amiably.
"How did he ask you out?" Keigo had trouble imaging his strict secretary falling for anyone.
She pursed her lips but humored him. "Actually, I asked him."
Keigo was impressed. "I shouldn't have expected anything less of you."
Akino merely tilted her head in response. "Will that be all?"
He resisted the temptation to tease her further. "Just one more thing. I won't need the car this Friday."
She nodded. "Understood."
Akino seemed to struggle for a bit before finally giving in. "May I suggest something?"
"Go ahead," Keigo told her wryly.
"The lights in the streets are lovely at this time of the year. Your…friend…may enjoy that."
Keigo managed not to laugh in surprise. "You are quite the romantic. Who would have thought?"
Akino sighed. "Young people. What do you know about romance?"
He mused, "I am learning."
Then he added, "Have a good and romantic weekend."
"You too, sir," she returned in a perfectly polite and calm manner. However, Keigo caught the sly smile as she exited the office.
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