He spread his arms wide, like a guard guarding a vault, blocking Anita’s escape route. At this point, Anita realized that she wouldn’t easily get away from him.
She’d been humiliated by Rutger’s insults while confessing to him, and she knew he’d come for her at some point.
“He threatened you, didn’t he?”
“He’s trying to intimidate you to keep us apart.”
Even though there was no past bond between them, what was there to separate? Anita narrowed her eyes and looked him up and down. His slightly confident eyes, the victorious smirk on his lips, and his outstretched arms, all seemed tender in their own right.
It felt like he was looking at his past self.
When someone shows signs of being unwanted, one should quickly take a step back. Can I just win over someone because I like them? It’s impossible. People aren’t toys to buy with money. If hearts don’t match, one should acknowledge the loser and leave. Rather than continuing to insist on the truth.
Anita realized it too late. Believing that standing by someone, like a firm tree with deep roots, will eventually make him realize.
Would he understand?
Would he have to accept her?
She didn’t actually know the man’s name, but it felt like using that might make him angry.
“I have someone I really like. And about that day, I’ll apologize on his behalf. That friend has a somewhat impulsive and hotheaded.”
“Impulsive… Yeah, that seems right.”
He seemed to comprehend something and nodded. Anita just hoped he would calm down and leave. The people around, watching the man blocking the path with his outstretched arms, gave a disapproving glance. Anita wished she could disappear into thin air.
“He’s dangerous. I’m the only one who can help you.”
Remember when Rutger got angry and chased after him? Anita only swallowed that statement silently and looked at the man disdainfully.
“Well then. My love, you will accept me, won’t you?”
My love? A shiver ran down Anita’s spine. She didn’t know whether he loved or hated her, but hearing those words directly was different.
“No. As I said, I have someone I like, and you’re not my type. My feelings won’t change in a hundred years or two.”
Anita snapped, and before the man could reply, she ran off to the left. The bustling road filled with carriages and cars made noise. Stepping through the chaos, Anita ran ahead until she reached the opposite side.
She glanced across and saw the man standing there, looking dejected. Anita assumed he must have given up. She turned to go back to school, but the man blew her a kiss.
Anita couldn’t read others’ emotions, but she knew that this man hadn’t given up.
Anita had encountered many such men. There was Rutger’s friend, who had confessed his feelings and touched her hand without warning. Then there was the man who, after one act of kindness from her, planned to marry her.
Those kinds of men only cared about expressing their own feelings, no matter what others said.
As Anita stood still for a while, the man prepared to run. For the first time, Anita wished someone would get hurt. Anita had a somewhat inhumane thought—hoping that the man would get hit by a carriage.
If she got caught, it was over.
It wasn’t physically dangerous, but Anita had a terrible hypothesis—she felt that if that man grabbed her, she would be caught willingly. This wasn’t a lover’s playful catch but a race for survival.
Anita wasn’t particularly fast at running. She didn’t like exercising. However, today, she ran as if her breath was at its limit and managed to pass through the school gate.
She wiped the sweat off her face and gasped for air. When she looked up, a shadow was cast over her. Thinking she might have been caught already, she closed her eyes. But a handkerchief was offered to her.
“Wipe yourself. You don’t like running, why are you so….”
Anita didn’t want to believe reality and closed her eyes tightly, as if to escape reality that way.
“Why… why is it him again?”
Finally catching her breath, Anita was madly frustrated. She had tried so hard in the past to avoid him. Despite her efforts to distance herself, he was now getting closer again.
“Please leave me alone.”
Grabbing the handkerchief held out in front of her, Anita threw it to the ground. His usually composed face contorting in anger was a sight to behold.
“What, Is it not fun anymore, now that I’m doing what you do to me every day? You came to bother me just because I’m seeing Lilliana now? Back off.”
Anita’s voice was uneven due to her unsteady breathing, and her chest heaved up and down as if she were madly out of breath from their recent chase.
“Remember when you were with Allison and you kissed me, why, now you’re with Liliana and you’re hitting on me, leave it at that.”
“Do you remember kissing me while you were dating Allison? Why are you pursuing me even when you’re dating Lilliana? Leave it at that.”
Rutger looked at Anita with shaky eyes.
“Anita, calm down. You’re too worked up right now. Just calm down a bit…”
It felt as though there was a hole in her lung. Even when she inhaled, it seemed to escape. Rutger’s figure blurred more and more.
“Calm down… I, know….”
Rutger reached out to support Anita as she staggered and tried to regain her composure. Unconsciously, Anita reached for something to lean on, holding onto Rutger’s arm, but then Anita was startled by a voice from behind her.
“Anita, there you are!”
Anita quickly dropped Rutger’s arm and walked away. She didn’t want to be with Rutger.
All of a sudden, she looked incredibly pitiful. She might seem like an inexperienced fool who couldn’t even reject a single man who chased after her for running just a bit. Like a frail, feeble weakling who would pant and collapse from just a bit of running.
And what frightened Anita more than anything was the possibility of the man chasing her and her past self overlapping.
“Why did that guy come back again? Anita, you…”
Everything was annoying to her once again. She had come this far, fleeing for her life, yet she still had to observe Rutger’s whereabouts and run away. Herself, who couldn’t shake him off and looked like a spineless loser who couldn’t reject a man who chased after her, was annoying, too. The unknown man who clung persistently, and Rutger who persisted in his bad habits and pursued multiple women were all frustrating.
“I said, get lost!”
Having yelled, her breath, which had started to stabilize, became irregular again. Despite Anita’s outburst, both men remained steadfast in their positions.
“I told you to get lost!”