Anita took a step backward and felt something hard against her back.
“Is that a wall?”
She bent her arm and groped for the wall, but it felt strange. Something smooth and warm….
A whisper flew into Anita’s ear. Startled, Anita jumped, almost fainting. Then the wall moved.
“Ouch… There’s nothing to step on.”
“Who… who are you? Aren’t you supposed to tell me you’re behind me?”
Anita turned around, barely able to calm her still-fluttering heart. Anita went white as soon as she realized that what she thought was a wall was the bare chest of a man she’d never seen before.
“There was a freshman I didn’t recognize backing up, and I was trying to see how far I could get, but I forgot I was supposed to avoid him.”
“I just wanted to be nice and let you know that the thing you were stumbling into, thinking it was a wall, was named Edmund.”
He shook his head, wiping his forehead in disbelief. Anita shook off her confusion and came to her senses.
The man was tall enough to rival Rutger’s stature, so Anita had to crane her head to look up at him.
“Why the hell did you run all the way out here anyway, did you run off with the money?”
It was dark, so she couldn’t see the man’s features. All Anita could make out about him in the dark was that he was about a head taller than she was and that he was playful because of his teasing tone.
Did he rip me off…
“No. I don’t think so. Oh, and if you don’t mind me asking, do you know where the exit is from here?”
She didn’t plan on being stuck in here all day; Rutger would have given up looking for her by now.
“I don’t know.”
“Aren’t you a student?”
“What made you think that?”
“Well, a freshman doesn’t refer to another freshman as a freshman; besides, she speaks class.”
Edmund made a “hmmm” sound and then hesitantly opened his mouth.
“That’s true. I’m a third year. But your second reason is wrong, I’m naturally half-speaking because I’m a noble.”
“Don’t look at me like that. Even in this day and age, aristocracy still exists. Just because there’s more gentry and factories doesn’t mean they disappear with a bang, although they are a dying breed.”
Anita nodded silently.
She didn’t even know what to say at the moment. A few moments of silence passed, and Anita’s thoughts drifted to how the man could not possibly know that I nodded in the dark.
“But are you really not going to tell me why you were being chased? I’m the student council president, for crying out loud. I closed the suggestion box a while back because of all the student shenanigans. This is your last chance to tell me?”
The student council president? Anita cupped her ears, wondering if she hadn’t heard right. It’s not uncommon to run into the student body president on campus, but Anita was surprised for another reason.
Her first day at school. He was giving a speech to a group of freshmen, and he and this guy were the same person….
“You’re lying, aren’t you?”
“What? Why would I?”
A video flashed through Anita’s mind: the day of commencement, a sunny afternoon with a crisp breeze.
A blond man walks up to a podium with a crimson carpet. His hair is a bright lemon-colored blond that cascades around his shoulders, and the silver-rimmed glasses perched on his nose glint in the sun.
His crisp white suit and dark wine-colored handkerchief make him look like a prince of some distant kingdom.
A few of the girls standing next to Anita giggled and blushed.
I can’t believe it’s him….
It’s unreal to think that the handsome, princely man that Anita has spent half her life looking at, the man that most men don’t even look at, is the same man who looks like he’s missing a screw somewhere.
“Well, well. I guess I can understand how you feel. My grandfather is always screaming at me to keep my mouth shut.”
“Your speech was quite impressive.”
Anita replied gently, not wanting to be rude since this was her first time meeting Edmund.
“I didn’t write it, There’s a vice president named Lise, she wrote it, and I just read it off the top of my head. I couldn’t be bothered to memorize the speech, so I just went up there and she had it all written out on the podium.”
“Well, she’s good at her job,” said an excited voice next to her, and the image of the student council president that remained in Anita’s mind shattered and flew away.
“A few tips, though. Pretend to run your hand through your hair instead of bowing your head like that… Why were you being chased anyway?”
Anita, who had been half-listening to him in a state of half-enlightenment, answered without realizing it.
“Oh, I wasn’t being chased, just someone I didn’t want to run into… huh?”
Before Anita realized it, the conversation had changed. Realizing she’d been caught, Anita clamped her mouth shut like a conch, but Edmund said confidently, as if he’d already figured out the situation.
“Okay. In that case, I might be able to help. As long as it’s not about money because I’m a bitch right now.”
Anita’s mind spun from the constant stream of information she didn’t want to know.
“Just trust me.”
With one last soulless laugh from Anita, they stepped out of the darkened building and into the sunlight. As Anita struggled to see, squinting against the light suddenly entering her eyeballs, Edmund whispered to her.
“Do you mind if I borrow your shoulder?”
At that moment, an arm, presumably Edmund’s, was draped over Anita’s shoulder.
“Is that him?”
The sound of heavy footsteps began to echo in her ears. Anita was still blinking her stinging eyes, so she couldn’t see the face of the approaching person.
It was almost at the same time that Anita finally opened her eyes and stared straight ahead, and Edmund’s arms wrapped around her, pulling her into a hug.