Chapter 01 – A
“You listen to me, little lady. Once you step out of that door, we’re over! You get it!? If you get out of that door, then don’t you dare show your face around me ever again, you hear me!?”
“Yeah. I heard you. I don’t need you. I’m not a weak woman like you are. I’ll prove to you that live my own life without having to rely on a man!”
A loud cheery voice screamed right next to my ears, snapping me out of my daydream.
“H…Huh…? Oh? Michelle? What’s up?” I turn my head to the owner of the voice.
“Don’t you ‘What’s up’ me. Everyone is packing up and leaving the room!” The short haired brunette notified me then points to the group of students walking out of the class.
I hastily pick up my stationery and textbook from the wooden desk then put them into my bag.
“What’s wrong, Auria? Not feeling well?” Michelle asked.
“Sorry, Michelle, I’m just…,” I paused, thinking about how to explain what was on my mind to her, “…Uh…well, let’s just say I was thinking about stuffs.”
“Like what…?” she insists on knowing.
“…Well…Let’s see,” I quickly think up of something to kill her curiosity, “Lately…I would suddenly felt the skin above my left chest burning.”
…Of all the things I could have said…
“……What? Your left chest you say?”
“Yeah. You know those eclipses that were occurring recently? When eclipses like that happened, I would feel the skin on my left chest burning.”
“Left chest…Did Lynus broke your heart or something?” she asked and raised her eye brow.
As if triggering a button, my heart suddenly pounds faster upon hearing that young man’s name.
“N…No way! Geez! Why did you have to bring him up!?” I replied nervously.
“Then why is your face all red? I must have hit a jackpot. Right~~~?”
“I said that’s not it!!!” I cried as I covered my cheeks with both hands.
“Wow. Look at your face now. I think I can see a big red tomato,” Michelle teased some more.
“Ahhh! Stop teasing me!” I displaced my embarrassment by pounding her a few times. That should teach her a lesson.
“Ugh, hey, that hurts! Stop it, you barbaric nerd!”
Michelle makes her revenge by smacking her right index finger onto my forehead then immediately runs off the room before I could retaliate.
“Geez!” I pout as I walk out of the class to the other direction.
While I was indeed thinking about something else, the sunburn pain that occurred every time an eclipse happened was not a lie. When the darkness covered the skies, the skin on my left chest would start burning hot, as if someone pressed a hot stamp there. My head becomes dizzy and I felt like I could faint at any moment. But when the eclipse passed over, the pain would instantly vanish as if it was never there. Since I have many businesses to take care of during the day, I have not really thought about the cause. Now that it has been brought to my attention, it is a very weird sensation. As far as I remember, I have never experienced anything like this before.
While pondering about that weird phenomenon, I suddenly felt my hair band being yanked softly from behind my head.
“Still not awake yet, my princess?”
“Huh? Ah…Lynus,” I turned around to the perpetrator. The tall blonde young man with slightly messy hair greets me with his usual cheeky smile. He dresses in the university’s dress code: short sleeve white shirt with long black tube pants, and black leather shoes. His hand immediately reaches for my books and offers to carry it without saying a word. His sparkling azure eyes gazed into mine and my heart pounds faster once again.
“…Hey, what’s the matter? Why is your face all red? Did you catch a cold or something” he asked with concern and pasted his palm onto my forehead.
“I’m…I’m fine! J…I was just thinking about stuffs,” I replied, catching his hands before it reached my forehead.
“Oh? About what? And why does it make your face all red?”
“Ah! I said it’s nothing!!!”
…What in the world am I flustering for?
“…Was it something I said?” the young man scratched his cheek nervously.
“N…No! That’s not it! I’m just…thinking about something, that’s all. Don’t take it the wrong way!”
“What’s this~~? You guys having a fight?” a familiar voice teased us from behind.
“Oh, hey there, Orica,” Lynus waved for the girl standing behind me.
How long have she been standing there? Was I so distracted that I never noticed her sneaking up on me?
“What is it, Bro Lynus? Sis Auria is causing trouble for you again?” she teased.
“You’re the one to talk, Orica,” I glared at her.
“Oh come on, you don’t have to be so mad, sis,” the shoulder-length caramel haired girl giggled then clings onto Lynus’s left arm, “Bro Lynus. You know how fussy she is. If you’re tired of her, I’m always available, you know?”
The young man flustered and didn’t know what to reply, so he just gave her a nervous smile. Lynus might be popular among the girls, but he easily lost his cool when a girl flirts with him. And it doesn’t help that Orica just loves to do that.
“Orica! I thought I told you so many times not to trouble Lynus like that!”
“Ah, help me, Bro Lynus! Sis is gonna eat me!” the girl cried and hid behind him, clinging his arm.
“A…Ah…Well, you better be running then. I’ll hold her off,” the young man gave her a gentle smile as he reached for my right hand.
“Haha, thanks, Bro Lynus! You’re a savior!” Orica giggled then gave me a quick wink as she ran away to the other direction.
Really. That girl is so handful.
“Well, let’s be on our way now, shall we?” Lynus proposed.
“…Whose side are you on, really?” I glared at him.
“Wha…what are you talking about, sweetie? Of course I’m on your side!”
“I’m supposed to take that ‘I’ll hold her off’ as being on my side?” I pouted.
“Gah!? Haha. Well, don’t be so hard on her. You know she’s just playing around!” he laughed nervously.
“Hmph!” I shook his hands off and quickly walked away.
“H…Hey! What are you so mad for?! I’m just being nice to her!” Lynus quickly followed me.
He is so cute when he is all flustered. The best part is he just would not stop until I am no longer mad.
Ohhhh, he’s just so fun to tease.
Well…I guess I can’t blame Orica for having the urge to tease him.
“Hey~~~. Come on. You’re still mad at me?” the blue eyed young man sat right next to me in class, poking my left cheek.
“Who said I’m mad at you?” I tried my best keep frowning and avoid smiling.
“Awww. I’m sorry I bend onto Orica’s side. Forgive me please~~,” the young man pleaded with a face similar to a little puppy left inside a cardboard box in the middle of the rain.
Man. How can I stay upset at a face like that?
“Hmph. Whatever,” I finally lost my restrain and giggled.
“Finally! Your smile always brighten my day!” he laughed.
“Well well well, making Ms. Remil mad again, hm? Mr. Richter?” a kind-looking bald middle-aged man in black shirt teased Lynus as he entered the class. Since there is only about 150 students per year level, it is not unusual for the lecturer to be able to remember the names of the students, especially ones with outstanding academic results.
“Oh no, sire. We were just playing around like what normal couples would do,” Lynus replied with a straight face.
“Stop showing off!”
“Yeah, man, get a room or somethin’!”
The students sitting at the back of the class started yelling at Lynus, as well as teasing and whistling.
“…You mad, bros?”
Lynus smiled victoriously at the rest of the class as he wraps his right arm around my shoulders. Ever since I said ‘yes’, he has been showing off a lot. And I mean A LOT. He told me that he has the right to let everyone in Eternia University knows that he is dating the smartest girl in the campus. But then again, Lynus himself is not just another average student. He is also one of those top class students and he is very popular among the girls as well, not to mention being rich. With the ‘smartest girl’ going out with the most popular guy, both of us quickly become the ‘couple of the campus’.
“Okay okay, that’s enough. Don’t you see how both of them are blushing like a pair of tomatoes? Let’s start our class,” the lecturer stops the teasing and begins his lecture, “We continue from where we left off last time. Let’s start with some Bond Valuation exercises for today. Turn your book to page 146. I would like to show you the solution to problem number—–.”
“…Pss! Hey, Auria,” the young man sitting next to my right nudged me with his elbow, “Um…what the heck is Bond Valuation? I missed the class last time.”
“It is the process of deriving the intrinsic value of the Bonds as a financial instrument. We calculate its value from the Present Value of its Coupon Interest, plus the Present Value of its Face Value,” I replied to him while taking down the lecture notes.
“Aaah…I…see. Thanks…,” he nods then immediately turns back to the black board.
“He was sitting right behind you last class,” Lynus nudged me while his eyes are still on the black board.
“I know,” I whispered back to him, making sure that the other guy doesn’t hear me.
“And you still help him knowing that he’s just making an excuse to talk to you?”
“Yeah. What? Getting jealous?”
“No! No, I’m not!” Lynus pouted.
“You’re so cute when you are jealous,” I giggled as I continue writing down my notes.
Since this is the last period of the day, our lecturer dismisses the class early. Not only the students are already tired of listening to the lecture for the whole day, the lecturer himself is also probably tired of talking to classes with only half of the students listening. So all in all, dismissing the class early is a win-win situation for both the students and the lecturer.
Lynus and I went down from the building and waited for Orica at a bench by the Freshmen Building. Students pour out of the buildings, eager to return to their home or dorm and take a rest. However, there are others that go party somewhere else, since their energy is completely replenish right after the class is over.
“What is she doing?” I mumbled, looking at the watch on my wrist, “I have to quickly change, otherwise I won’t make it to my part-time job on time.”
“It’s 4:30, Auria. You know students pour out at this time. Maybe she is still stuck up there,” Lynus suggested.
A familiar voice was heard as the shoulder length caramel haired girl ran towards us.
“I’m sorry I’m late, sis,” the girl smiled in exhaustion, trying to catch her breath.
“What happened? The teacher dragged on?” I asked.
“Haha…uh…well…I…ah…I kinda chat with a friend for too long and forgot that you normally finish the class early today,” said Orica, giggling shamelessly.
“How irresponsible! I thought I told you not to loiter around today!”
“Hey hey hey, come now. Don’t get mad at her. She’s here now! Don’t worry. I’ll get you back to your apartment in a flash!” Lynus tried to calm me down.
“…What did I tell you about driving so fast?” I glared at him.
“Heyyyy. You know I haven’t been driving over 80 for ages now!” Lynus smiled nervously, “Come on! Let’s go! We’re wasting time if we keep on fighting here!”
Lynus took my hand then quickly walked off towards the parking lot before I could scold Orica some more. The girl just quietly followed us from behind to the car. Of course, as his girlfriend, I get to sit in the front. Lynus loves cars and he used to tell me about the car models that he wanted to own in the future. I tried memorizing a couple of them, but for some reason, the name of his car’s model always slipped my mind. At least, I will try to describe his car. It is a pitch-black glossy saloon car, about three meters in length and two meters wide. The back seat is comfortable for three people and the front seat has abundant space to move even when it is adjusted all the way to the back. The scent of lemon filled the car as soon as the air conditioner is turned on. Everything inside the car is well polished and new since he takes very good care of this car.
Before he asked me out, Lynus used to have a fetish for speed. He always has the urge to hit the accelerator above 160 for some weird sense of satisfaction. After I riding his car for the first time, I told him right away that I’ll break up with him if he ever drive above 120 again. Because of that, he changed his habit right away…well, at least when I’m sitting with him.
The environment in the Town of Eternia does not really help either. This town is considered to be in a rural area, and hence there aren’t many skyscrapers or complex roads around the place. Because of this, the road is normally free after the morning rush hours. Speed drivers like Lynus just love seeing free roads.
The Eternia University is considered a small university when compared to the ones in Galaxia or Grand Central. Three 5-stories buildings plus the 300 square meter parking lot make up our whole campus, which is located about two kilometers into an avenue. It is recommended that the students take the university’s shuttle bus at the avenue’s entrance to enter the campus. The university’s dorm is located a little deeper into the avenue, and there are loop vans running between the dorm and the campus every hour or so. Students who own a car can park in the university and this makes transportation a lot more convenient. There are not many cars in this town so there are always enough parking lots.
Anyway, the atmosphere in the car has been really quiet and gloomy. No one has said a word since we got on the car. I am still a little upset Orica showed up late since I’ve told her so many times that I need to work today.
“…Um…So…Is the owner of your apartment still bugging you girls for rent?” Lynus tried to lighten up the mood by sparking a conversation. Unfortunately, it is a question I am not looking forward to answer.
“Like always, bro Lynus. Every day in the evening it’s ‘Rent Rent RENT!!!!’,” Orica interrupted me before I could say anything.
“Orica…,” I called her.
“Seriously, isn’t he tired of—-.”
“ORICA!” I yelled.
Upon hearing my yell, the girl immediately hushed and remained quiet.
“…W…What’s the matter?” the young man asked with concern.
“I just…barely managed to pay off the rent of the two months ago. Still haven’t paid for last month,” I explained.
“…H…Hey? And the deadline for this month is approaching, isn’t it!? Why didn’t you tell me about it!?” Lynus asked with concern whilst keeping his eyes front.
And this is exactly why I did not want to tell him about it.
“…You know I don’t want to bother you with this.”
“What do you mean ‘bother’!? Aren’t you afraid of having no place to sleep!?”
“No! That’s not it!”
“Come on! I thought we already talked this over, Auria! You know that I’m the manager of the Innovation Division of Richter Electronics! Your rent and my gas money are trivial! I can take care of you!”
“I know you’re concern about me! But…,” I took a deep breath and tried to keep my voice down because the last thing I want is for this to turn into a fight, “How would your parents look at me if I constantly ask for your money like this? You’ve already done a lot by delivering us sisters to and from the university and treating me lunch almost every day. Please … At least let me do what I can before I ask for your help.”
Lynus kept quiet, looking front without saying another word.
“…Don’t worry. I promise I will never do things that are beyond my ability.”
He did not make any reply. An awkward silence quickly filled the car and the atmosphere becomes even gloomier than before.
The blonde young man parked in front of our apartment complex like usual.
“Bah bye,” Orica waved for Lynus as we get down from the car. I simply give him a smile without saying anything as he drives away, evidently showing some frustration.
Orica and I walked up stairs to our room without saying another word. The apartment we live in is a cheap apartment complex. There are only three floors, connected to one another only by stairs. Our room is on the second floor, third room from the stairs. It is rather small and shabby. The living room, the dinning room, and the kitchen are basically cramped up inside one room. There is a big couch in the main portion of the room. I usually sit down and review my lectures there during my rare day offs. A dinning table is settled right next to the couch. There are four chairs but only two are being used regularly. The kitchen comprises of a small counter bar with an electronic stove and very little space for ingredients preparation. There is a small refrigerator that came with the room. However, it was half broken down to the point that it can only be used to keep stuffs cool and prevent them from spoiling.
There is a small bedroom with two sets of mat, pillows, and blanket for us to lie down. A small desk, given to us with the courtesy of Lynus, is settled in the corner of the room. He bought it for me so I could have a place to properly sit down and read my lectures. However, I don’t really have much chance to actually sit on it due to works, so normally, Orica is the one who used it.
I know that this is definitely not a room anyone wants to live in, but it is good enough to give us sisters a place to rest.
“…Sis…?” Orica called me after we entered the room.
“What?” I toss my handbag onto the dinning table and turned around to her, pouting.
“I told you so many times that I have to work today. Why are you being so irresponsible!?” I scolded her, “And on top of that, you just have to tell him about the rent. How many more times do I need to tell you to keep stuffs about our rent shut!?”
“I…I didn’t mean to…,” the girl sobs, “I…I just…you’ve been working so hard. I want you…to take some time off for…your…self.”
The girl’s sob quickly turned into a cry and my frustration instantly disappeared. In fact, I could suddenly feel myself welling up as well.
“Oh now. Come here,” I brought her to the couch, “…I’m also tired and I hate having to do all this. But what I hate even more is relying on others before trying.”
“But you’ve already done enough! Bro Lynus really wants to help you, sis! You’re already very tired from having to maintain your grades and you still have to work part-time for the both of us.”
“Think about it, Orica. How would his family look at us if we keep on relying on his money? And you know my policy on freeloading a man,” I sighed.
“There there, come now. No more but’s. I’m not mad at you any more,” I pat her head, “Just promise me to study hard and don’t loiter around. That would help relieve my burden by a lot.”
“…Okay,” the girl nodded and wiped her tears.
“Good girl. Let’s just do our best, okay? I only have a year and a semester left. Once I got the degree, I’ll finally be able to work full time and we’ll get the hell out of this hole,” I said.
“Man. You really are awesome. You had to work so hard but you still scored the highest in university,” she complimented, “Not to mention being popular and having a really hot and rich boyfriend.”
“Okay okay. Enough teasing. It appears we got back home faster than we thought. Can you fix up something for me in the kitchen before I go out to work?”
“Sure sure! You go take a bath in the meanwhile then!” Orica smiled then hurried to the kitchen counter.
I got up then returned to my bedroom. As soon as I reach my bed, I threw myself down and closed my eyes. Studying for high grades and working for our rent at the same time are really taking toll on me. It’s tired. But I can still keep going.
I won’t stop like this. I am not a weak girl that always has to rely on a man.
A/N: So! Here is a fairly long first chapter for Auria. This one took me quite a while to work. In fact, I’m not joking when I said I took almost two weeks editing this chapter alone. Personally, I always found that first chapters are the hardest to work with since you have to introduce a couple of your main characters as well as the setting of the story.
Having a number of stuffs to cover definitely doesn’t help either. I don’t think I’ve worked this long on Viola’s first chapter.