Jurina was starting to wonder if the odds were not truly against her. The sun was shining brightly over her head when she stepped out of her apartment, and it was now pouring hard as she was making her way to the office. Had she done something terribly bad in another life? Because she certainly didn’t remember doing anything wrong in this one that justified what she was currently going through. No, she was not going to be late – which was of course an undeniable relief – but she was unfortunately going to be completely drenched by the time she arrived at the office. The disturbing prospect didn’t appeal to her in the least.
“Why didn’t Alfred warn me about the rain?” Jurina muttered under her breath. She was desperately trying to dodge the drops, protecting her head as best as she could underneath her black, leather jacket. That’s because he was obsessed with my ‘dream’, it messed up his program,
Jurina mused in frustration as she finally saw in the distance a familiar 25-floor building. I absolutely need to do something about it when I go home tonight.
Jurina quickened her pace, more than relieved when the golden plate indicating Matsui corporation finally appeared. She exchanged a polite few words with the familiar guard, before hastily making her way in. Jurina removed her black jacket from over her head, wincing when she noted its terrible state. She loved that leather jacket more than anything. It would probably take all day long to dry.
Jurina ran her fingers through her hair, realizing her jacket ended up doing a better job than she expected as her hair was still mostly dry. That was a small but not insignificant consolation considering that – after taking a look at herself - the rest of her appearance was a total mess. Jurina moved forward in the hallway, hearing her watch emitting a sound. A quick glance at it told her she still had five minutes left.
The 24-year-old girl walked decisively towards the elevators, sending a smile to the two women at the reception on her way. Usually, she would go up to their desk and take a few minutes to chat a little with them, but she knew it was not an option this morning. However, even if she met their eyes very briefly, their amused reactions certainly didn’t go unnoticed. One thing for sure: her terrible appearance was entertaining them quite a lot.
Jurina pretended not to see anything to focus on her objective, and she entered in the first elevator that was just about to close, knowing she didn’t have the luxury to wait for another. She wasn’t late yet, but it didn’t mean her time wasn’t limited. Her eyes widened in surprise when she stepped in, and noticed that it was already occupied by one person. Someone she hadn’t stopped thinking about for the last nine hours.
“Rena-san… Hi,” A broad smile plastered her face at the unexpected view of her employer. The woman who was only two years older than her was wearing a black trench coat – the belt still carefully closed around her waist – along with a matching pair of long leather boots. It didn’t take long for Jurina to observe that her hair and clothes were perfectly dry, and she concluded she had been much more cautious than her when it came to the weather. Somehow, it didn’t really come as a surprise to her.
“Hello, Jurina-san,” The head of Matsui corporation returned the smile warmly, but Jurina didn’t miss her concern as she scanned her from head to toe. “You’re wet. Did you forget to take your umbrella?”
“Alfred didn’t warn me about the rain,” Jurina lamented, not liking one bit the terrible view she was offering, especially to her employer. When she noticed the latter’s puzzlement, she realized she was missing a crucial piece of information. That’s right. She had not mentioned him during their dinner last night. “Alfred is my humanoid robot.”
“Oh… I see,” Rena murmured. “I don’t have a robot.”
Jurina didn’t blink at the statement. She remembered indeed the older girl mentioning at some point during their dinner her certain dislike for excessive technology. It appeared the head of Matsui corporation was not particularly fond of what society had progressively become. A society that, according to her own words, was gradually losing its humanity. In fact, Matsui corporation was one of the last companies in the country that still had a large proportion of human employees.
Was it part of the reason why this time machine project was so important to her? Because, in a way, she was still more turned towards the past, and interested in what it still had to offer?
Jurina would lie if she said she didn’t share her view on more than a few matters. She herself remained sometimes a great nostalgic of the good old days. In fact, it had taken her quite some time before making the decision to acquire a personal humanoid robot. When it came to Alfred, it was a choice she never regretted. Not only was he a very advanced and intelligent robot, his company was greatly appreciated when she went back to her apartment after a long day of work. She couldn’t imagine her life anymore without the little robot that shared her life those last three years.
Jurina jolted out of her reverie when she noticed that the older girl was still giving her clothes her preoccupying look, and she sent her a reassuring smile when their eyes met. “Don’t worry, I have clean clothes at the office. I’ll change when I arrive.”
It was a precaution she had taken after the unfortunate incident that happened a little more than a month ago, a decision that she couldn’t possibly regret now that the past had unfortunately decided to repeat itself.
“Do you remember our first meeting?” Jurina asked, recalling every single detail of that morning in particular. Oh yes, the situation had definitely been very embarrassing to her when she crossed path with that women she had - at the time - no idea would become her future employer, but it was also somewhat a fond memory. Because it was the very time she stumbled upon that person who would end up becoming so important to her eyes.
“I do,” Rena confirmed, finally tearing her eyes away from her appearance to focus her attention on her. “You had also forgotten your umbrella that day and were a bit… wet.”
“You mean I was completely soaked from head to toe,” Jurina corrected, a bit amused the older girl was still trying to be polite by minimizing the facts. “You were so respectful and nice; despite the terrible view I was evidently offering.”
“It wasn’t… terrible,” Rena started, but knew her tone was far from convincing when her interlocutor arched an eyebrow in a mix of amusement and skepticism. “Alright,” she conceded with a light smile, “it was not the best way to make a first good impression for a job interview.”
“I looked terrible,” Jurina leaned her back against the wall behind her. A small sigh escaped her lips, and she watched distractively the numbers of the floors changing as the elevator was progressively leading them to floor 22. “I still don’t understand why you hired me,” Jurina admitted, still somewhat amazed by the positive outcome of that day. “In your shoes, I would have thought twice.”
“You had the best résumé amongst all candidates,” Rena stated. “Which reasons did I have to hesitate?”
Jurina glanced back at her. Oh no, it was certainly not the first time someone praised her impressive résumé. She had heard the compliment falling from many employers’ lips in the past. However, this time it was different. Different because it was this person in particular who was saying those words, and it moved her more than with anyone else.
“Thank you,” Jurina smiled sincerely. “Thank you for giving me a chance.”
Jurina didn’t look away a single time as she uttered those words, hoping deep down the other girl would understand the message she was really trying to convey. Of course, she was more than grateful to have been given the opportunity to work on this incredible project, but there was another hidden meaning behind her words.
“Rena-san,” she started, a certain question now threatening to fall from her lips. She had had such a good time the previous evening in her company, that she wished to reiterate the experience at all costs. However, for an unknown reason, the offer refused to come out. Yesterday, she managed to fight her nervousness effectively and ask her employer out. So why was she unable to do it again right now?
Oh yes, her employer was a very unique and special woman. In fact, she had never met anyone like her before in her entire life. Not only was she a very hard-working woman – Matsui corporation
was one of the leading companies in the country - she had a certain charisma surrounding her that made her seem almost unreachable. Rena Matsui was impressive. Why else did she wait so long to ask her out otherwise?
She was going to suggest a second date, Jurina had no doubt about that. However, the current look she was now giving her - both very attentive and expectant - was not really helping in calming her nerves. Her heart was now throbbing at the prospect of what she was about to ask and for a minute, she wished the older girl didn’t have such an impact on her. Never before in her life did she find herself such at a loss for words when it came to asking someone on a date.
“I had a very good time last night,” Rena was surprisingly the one to break the silence between them. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“I…” Jurina was momentarily caught off guard by what she just had uttered. Yes, she could tell the older girl had indeed enjoyed herself last evening – some emotions simply couldn’t be faked – but there was nothing so pleasant as getting the confirmation by hearing the words out loud. “I’m glad,” she continued with a smile, feeling a sudden regain of courage after Rena’s encouraging statement. “Would you like… to go out with me again some time?”
“Of course,” Rena nodded softly. “I would love to.”
Jurina didn’t know if it was because she was ecstatic at the positive reply, but her heart was now beating uncontrollably inside her chest. Maybe that explained why she didn’t think about what she was really saying when she made enthusiastically her next offer. “What about dinner tonight?”
Jurina froze instantly when she finally realized what she had blurted out. Tonight? What on earth was she thinking? It was obvious the older girl was going to refuse! She was going way too fast! Just because she had surprisingly agreed yesterday to a first date – and it had gone so well - didn’t mean she should jump the guns! She absolutely needed to right the wrong immediately.
“No, I didn’t…” Jurina tried desperately to come back on her words when she noticed the older girl’s speechless expression, but only ended up stuttering foolishly like a kid. She was so ashamed of what she had dared to stupidly suggest, that she couldn’t even look her in the eye anymore. “Of course, not tonight. I meant…”
“I don’t mind tonight,” Rena’s assured voice brought her attention back to her. “It’s just that I have a meeting until 8 PM. Isn’t it going to be too late?”
Jurina stared at her in incredulity. Did the older girl really agree to her invitation so fast and… easily? She studied her carefully as if to try and assess if she didn’t mishear, but the older girl didn’t look hesitant at all.
“I don’t mind waiting,” Jurina replied when she finally found her voice back. She was still having a hard time processing the fact her offer had received an unpredictable positive reply, but she was definitely not going to let this opportunity pass. “I’ll wait as long as it takes.”
It was almost 9 PM when Rena finally left the conference room at floor 11, and walked towards the elevator. Her thoughts went towards her young assistant as soon as she got in, and pressed hurriedly the number 22. When she went into her meeting at 7 PM, she strongly believed it wouldn’t take more than an hour. In the end, it had taken twice that time. Rena didn’t appreciate it when events took such an unexpected turn, and she immediately had sent her assistant a text when she realized her meeting was going to take longer than planned.
Much as she was looking forward to their second date, it was unconceivable to her to make her wait any further. It was already quite late, and she had no idea how long this meeting was still going to take, considering a few unexpected issues had suddenly been brought up halfway through. That’s why the first thing she did was to apologize in her text, before suggesting to postpone their dinner to another day.
A few seconds later, she received a short reply on her phone. That’s alright. I’ll wait.
The answer startled her a little, but she chose not to insist. Of course, it touched her immensely that the younger girl was so kindly willing to wait a little more for her, but unease progressively filled her chest when she saw time passing by, and the meeting showing no sign of ending anytime soon. Yes, she had the power to put an end to it anytime if she wished. After all, she was the CEO of this corporation. However, she couldn’t possibly cut short this meeting in particular. It was too important. And to top it all, her presence was absolutely required until the last minute.
When she stepped out of the elevator a few minutes later, she strongly hoped that – even if her assistant had not warned her about leaving – she had changed her mind and agreed to her suggestion. It was terribly late. Apart from the people participating at the meeting, everybody had already left the building ages ago.
What she saw as she walked in floor 22 confirmed her doubts. Her assistant was still very present, and the last occupant of the entire floor. It appeared her long day of work managed to get the best of her, as her head was now resting on top of her desk. Rena couldn’t help but feel guilty at the scene she was witnessing, knowing she was partly responsible for it. Of course, her assistant didn’t listen and waited. She was looking forward to their second date as much as she was.
Rena reduced the distance with her assistant’s desk, and murmured as she leaned over her sleeping form. “Jurina-san…”
Despite the calling of her name the younger girl didn’t bulge, her eyes remaining tightly shut. Rena took a seat in the chair next to her, her attention drawn to the screen facing the sleeping girl. Her assistant was still working on the plans of the time machine when she fell asleep.
Once again, Rena got the confirmation that Jurina was truly a committed person when it came to her work. How many times did she hear her wishing to stay a bit later at the office to work on the time machine? Rena could tell she enjoyed working on this project very much. Jurina thrived on challenges. Many believed Rena was trying to accomplish the impossible. Building a time machine? A foolish dream!
Not Jurina. In fact, she had never seen anyone display so much passion during a job interview. Never did Jurina believe this project was going to fail, despite all its unknown parameters. No, she was incapable of saying when the time machine would be operational, but she never doubted once in her capacities to succeed. And her unfailing motivation was a driving force for all the scientists and employees working on floor 22.
Dedication was a trait of personality Rena definitely appreciated when it came to her employees but when it came to her assistant, it went a little further than that. Jurina wasn’t just very competent and professional, she was also incredibly stubborn. And it appeared her stubbornness didn’t only apply to her work, but also to her personal life.
Rena’s eyes fell back on her assistant, and she swept over her sleeping form. Jurina could behave like a real tomboy when she started to flirt with the other women of the floor, which was actually amusing considering she was actually a very feminine girl in the first place. Her jet-black hair that fell just underneath her shoulders. Her long eyelashes. Her delicate features and flawless skin. The dimples that appeared at the corner of her mouth when she flashed one of her most beautiful smiles. Was it truly a surprise that many people – men and women included - felt attracted to her the very moment they laid eyes on her?
“Do you realize the effect you’re having on me?” Rena whispered as her contemplation seemed to reach no end. She had completely fallen under the charm of her assistant. This feeling was definitely strange to her, considering she had never meddled with matters of the heart before. As long as she remembered she had always been an introvert lonely girl, preferring focusing on her books and studies than on casual flings.
After her father’s sudden death, she got completely invested in the company. Yes, she got sometimes asked on a date, but she always politely declined. Not only wasn’t she interested in the prospect, she didn’t believe to have enough time for something serious anyway. When her best friend Akane unexpectedly got into a relationship with her new Human resources manager, she observed them interacting with a certain curiosity.
Akane and her were similar on so many aspects, whether it was their way of thinking, or personality wise. Never once did Akane mention her desire to get involved with someone. In fact, she never dated anyone during their years together at university. That’s why she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the improbable development of her relationship with the woman named Airi she had recently hired as her new Human resources manager.
They clicked immediately, and didn’t even try to make their romantic relationship a secret. Even if they had tried, their affection for each other would have been obvious to anyone. A simple look at them was enough to deduce that they were madly in love with each other. Rena didn’t always know how to react when her friend spoke about those strong feelings she harbored for Airi. At first, Rena even believed it was just a simple crush, and it would quickly go away. She couldn’t have been more far away from the truth.
Now, Rena was starting to catch a glimpse of what her best friend had described to her all these months. She and Jurina had only been on one date yet, but there was no denying it had gone extremely well. It had been so pleasant, that she didn’t see time passing by in her presence. Her assistant was very handsome - there was no doubt about that - but the attraction was not mere physical. There were so many aspects of her personality that she found appealing. Intelligence, wit and kindness were just a few of them. A smile unexpectedly grazed her lips at the fond memory of their first dinner together.
Rena extended her arm on the table to reach for Jurina’s hand, knowing she needed to wake her up. She didn’t truly have the heart to do so - especially when she looked so peaceful in her sleep – but she didn’t have much choice in the matter. Encircling her fingers gently she squeezed them lightly, waiting for a reaction.
This time, the action did have the desired effect as Jurina progressively stirred and her sleepy eyes fell on her. Rena found it a bit comical the way they first gazed at her in confusion, before widening in realization when her young assistant saw who was sitting next to her.
“Rena-san?” she spoke up in a groggy voice, straightening up in her seat. “Did I fall asleep? What time is it?”
“It’s already very late…” Rena retracted her hand, before shooting her a concerned look. “I told you to go home. Why didn’t you?”
“Because I told you I would wait,” Jurina answered matter-of-factly. “I always stick to my words.”
“I can see that,” Rena smiled warmly.
“We still have time to go to a restaurant if you wish,” Jurina suggested hesitantly after checking the time on her computer. “I’m afraid my reservation has been cancelled by now, but I’m sure we can find a few good places.”
She had made a reservation? Rena widened her eyes slightly at the revelation. On one hand, she couldn’t help feeling guiltier now about her tardiness but on the other, she was deeply moved by her assistant’s thoughtful attention. “Alright,” Rena agreed, smiling a little when Jurina’s eyes lit up immediately. “But this time, I’m inviting you.”
A frown fell upon her assistant’s face, and Rena guessed she was about to protest. However, she didn’t give her time to add a single word as she placed her index against her lips hastily. “I won’t change my mind on this subject, so don’t even try.”
The decisive words definitely took her assistant off guard, considering she stared back at her in utter surprise. For a minute, Rena wondered if she was going to insist. However, even though it appeared her assistant was having a hard time accepting her offer, she still nodded after a little while. Satisfied, she removed her finger, only to feel her assistant catching her hand and pulling onto her arm softy.
They had never been so close before, but the sudden unexpected proximity didn’t put her ill-at-ease. Rena didn’t know how long they looked into each other’s eyes. Jurina truly had a magnetic effect on her, and she could feel herself gradually getting lost in her alluring brown eyes. The thought of resisting never crossed her mind when her assistant leaned forward the moment after.
Rena relished the pleasant sensation of her assistant’s light breath caressing her skin, and she read easily her affection for her in those eyes that were not leaving hers. Her intention was easy to guess when she noticed her eyes falling briefly on her lips.
Even if her assistant had been bold enough to make so many first steps, she was hesitant to proceed with her next action. Rena wanted nothing more than to reassure her that she had nothing to fear. The desire was mutual; they both wanted the same thing. Even if she had never done anything like that in her entire life, there was no use denying what her heart truly yearned for.
The words left her lips naturally. “Kiss me, Jurina.”
Rena fluttered her eyes close when she felt fingers cupping her cheek tentatively, and her heart skipped a beat when a pair of lips captured hers in a tender kiss.
TO BE CONTINUED