A Smile in Your Heart


sarNie Egg
Sorry for late respond. It's been busy dizzy time for me. Just wanna thank you for the new chapter. And please update soon.


sarNie Adult
:lol:  Sorry sorry everyone! It's a combination of being busy and running out of ideas. I even had to go on a date to get inspiration but alas.... nothing.  :teary: I drank a couple of beers tonight. let's see if i can get something. 

SARN!!! You can do it too Sarn! The Pervert Club needs you! 


sarNie Granny
040156 said:
:lol:  Sorry sorry everyone! It's a combination of being busy and running out of ideas. I even had to go on a date to get inspiration but alas.... nothing.  :teary: I drank a couple of beers tonight. let's see if i can get something. 

SARN!!! You can do it too Sarn! The Pervert Club needs you!
Drinking, go on date , busy at the shop & chasing boys down , sound like me on a daily basic HAHAHA no wonder you can't focus.


sarNie Adult
Note: There will be Dancing Scenes. For those scenes, I suggest this background music, entitled "Fascination"
[SIZE=10pt]Chapter 12 – The Founder’s Ball[/SIZE]
They were in a kingdom of dreams.
That was what Yaya thought the moment she stepped out of Fair’s car and saw the bright lights in the façade of The Golden Mansion, which was the former residence of one of the richest merchants in Bangkok back in the 1920’s. The mansion was refurbished by CCV and has since become the most posh and exclusive venue in the city. It was her first time to see the Golden Mansion at night and was pleasantly surprised. Bright lights hung from the well trimmed trees that lined the pathway towards the main entrance of the mansion. The smooth marble staircase seemed to shimmer as the steps reflected the lights that shone above. Yet in the middle of the staircase lay a lush red rug that led up to the mansion’s foyer. The ornate wooden doors were wide open and ladies and gentlemen entered the door, looking like royals in those Disney movies with princes and princesses she saw as a child.
She could barely breathe as she felt both nervous and excited yet Fair soon appeared before her with a calm and comforting smile.
“”Ready?” Fair asked as he extended his arm towards her so she could grasp it. Yaya wondered once if perhaps he’d feel how cold her hands were even through the layers of his suit. She smiled back at him and wrapped her arm around his as she let him lead the way.
Fair smiled inwardly as he felt Yaya’s tight grasp around his arm. Things will go well from here on, he thought. At first he was a bit apprehensive about how things were going to be that night, especially with James tagging along. He seemed hell bent on ruining his night, starting from the way he jumped into the front seat of his car when he opened it especially for Yaya.
“The lady should sit at the back,” the boy said and merrily sat beside him. Fair looked at Yaya at the rear view mirror of the car and wasn’t too surprised when she merely gave him a sweet smile. It was likewise a bit awkward to start a conversation in the car on the way to the Golden Mansion as James seemed to guard his every move. When they finally arrived at the venue, James innocently stood beside Yaya and left him to deal with the valets. It was HIS car after all.
Patience was a virtue and Fair was glad it was his.
Fair was likewise glad that Yaya seemed oblivious to the tension between the two men and was now fascinated with the view.
“Mr. Chesney likes to improve some things in the Golden Mansion like landscaping or updating the designs of the lights. Every year, the mansion just seems to look better and better,” Fair said as he continued to observe Yaya’s bright eyes as she looked around.
“It’s really beautiful,” Yaya said, “Although I like how the original design of the mansion was still maintained.”
“Yes, that’s what makes this place almost magical… it sure can bring you back to those good old days…”
There they go again, in their own little world, James grumbled to himself, as the two walked ahead of him. The bright lights gave him a headache and even though the contact lenses he wore were supposed to give him 20-20 vision, he was not used to them and he still felt a bit odd without his glasses on. He wondered once if perhaps P’Noey gave him the wrong grade of contacts, or if his eyes were simply refusing them. Perhaps it was also because his eyes were always narrowed down on his targets that his head started to throb from it.
Yet soon they were in the midst of a crowd and he found himself to be surrounded by strangers in suits and gowns. This wasn’t the first time he was in this kind of party. His parents dragged him to so many events that he almost forgot how scared he was of these public occasions. As a child, he was often showed off to one group or another as he was the heir of AIS Group and old strangers often praised him to the moon and back though barely a handful of them even knew his name. He was always expected to act maturely, to be prim and proper – to look exceptional but not to call attention to himself. He loathed these parties and the memories he had made his headache worse.
But now it was different. He went to this party on his own accord. Besides, his parents were not even there. He recalled his father saying that he didn’t like the parties held in the Golden Mansion as the venue was too small and too old, unlike the grand ballrooms of their hotels – that meant that there would be a smaller crowd and that meant that he’d be surrounded by less people. That thought gave James some comfort, though it did not stop him from acting mechanically, relying on his procedural memory, in the crowd. Back straight, stomach in, poker face, eyes straight ahead – that was what his etiquette tutor drilled on his mind as a child. He could almost feel the books atop his head while he took measured steps. His body instinctively remembered the pain from the wooden stick that hit him whenever his gait missed the beat of his teacher’s metronome.
He steeled himself as he looked ahead and sought comfort at seeing Yaya’s back. She walked gracefully as though she was used to wearing gowns and high heels all her life. She had that same aura that she had whenever she competed (and won) in those taekwondo tournaments. But instead of showing her wrath, she was now being admired for her poise. He heard the crowd gasp and saw them gape at awe as she walked by, surely entranced by her beauty. Fair smiled and introduced her to whoever came near them and politely she obliged them and charmed the crowd.
“Who’s that?” Sylvia asked her officemate as the three came into view. She was at the middle of the room, sipping champagne beside the other ladies from the marketing department.
“Who?” her officemate replied as she likewise looked her way.
“Tall man in a black tuxedo, over there,” Syliva hissed as she moved her head in such a way that they didn’t look like she was gossiping with the lady beside her.
James didn’t know that he drew just as much attention as his best friend did.
Of course the crowd quickly looked their way when they saw the dashing man, Fair, who was practically a celebrity among the CCV crowd. His smile was brighter than the lights at the Golden Mansion’s entrance and he looked almost like he were the host of the party. He was charming, as expected, and he was doubly noteworthy since he had such a beautiful date this year at the ball. Yaya looked shy yet had a smile that was just as warm as Fair’s. She looked so tall and her skin was so clear and fair some people mistook her for a celebrity. Thus more people ended up looking their way as they walked in and mingled with the crowd. And yet once the people were aware of Fair and his beautiful date’s presence, they then took notice of the man that walked not too far behind them. He looked aloof, almost arrogant as he walked straight, looking like he had no intentions of minding the crowd. He remained focused on what was ahead and he seemed to have a mysterious air about him. While they noticed that he wasn’t as friendly and amiable as the dashing Fair and the beautiful Yaya, they nevertheless saw James as an aristocratic man whose bearing exuded his affluent upbringing.
“If only he didn’t look so young… he’d be a rival to Fair, that’s for sure,” the lady grinned as she continued to eye the three. “I wonder who he is.”
“Young or not, I don’t care. I’ll teach that low-class intern a thing or two about flirting. Perhaps even make Fair jealous and regret his decision of bringing that girl to the ball instead of me,” Sylvia grumbled as she took a few more sips of champagne.
Sylvia adjusted her gown by the bust subtly and then handed the glass to her officemate. She then sauntered towards Fair and Yaya.
Yaya’s grip tightened around Fair’s arm upon seeing Sylvia and Fair quickly excused himself from the man he was talking to and looked towards Yaya’s line of sight to see what was wrong.
“Sylvia! Good evening. You look wonderful, as always,” Fair said with a grin, “How are the other ladies? I’m sure the whole marketing team is going to steal hearts tonight,” he added with a wink.
Sylvia smiled a fake smile, feeling nothing from Fair’s polite compliment. He was just trying to look cute for his sly little date, she thought and tried to console herself.
“Oh Fair, surely I cannot be as beautiful as your date. Oh Yaya Sperbund, you look like a doll!”
Yaya half grimaced and half smiled, already knowing how insincere her comments were.
“How are we to have the chance to catch a prince now, when all their eyes are on you? It’s a Cinderella story, isn’t it?” Sylvia added dramatically as she forced a laugh. “Fair, you better keep her beside you all night all right? Have pity on the rest of the ladies here.”
Fair merely shook her head and chuckled, “Oh Sylvia, you’re such a tease.”
“Well well, let’s see if my teasing could be put to good use then,” Sylvia said as she smiled coyly. She moved to the side then stood right in front of James when he finally caught up with the two. “Why hello there, Sir. I feel that I’ve met you somewhere before, but I can’t quite place it. Surely you’re not from CCV, but since you’re here…”
James was caught off guard when a lady in a tacky red gown started talking to him. Her perfume made his headache worse and looking at her fake eyelashes just made him feel like he was having double vision.
“I have an invitation, right here…” James muttered as he got the envelope from inside his dinner coat yet when he was just about to pull it out, the tacky lady placed her hand on his chest and stopped him.
“Oh no Sir, I didn’t mean it that way. What I meant was…”
James looked down at her just when she was so near and looking up to his face. She gasped as she saw the condescending look in his eyes and realized she probably bit more than she could chew.
The young master of the AIS group suddenly realized who the tacky lady once and semi-consciously, he unleashed the disdainful expression he only lately knew he had (thanks to P… I mean, Lady Noey.)  This made Sylvia quickly withdraw her hands and she took a careful step back.
“Sylvia, you’ve met him before. It’s James Jirayu, remember, the leader of the team from my school for the Tools Innovation Program.”
Sylvia was still reeling from the look in James’s eyes that it took a while for Fair’s words to register. James moved his hands for a wai nonetheless and she quickly recovered.
The crowd saw the elegance that James had when he moved his hands in front of his chest that suddenly more eyes were on him.
It was only then that Yaya saw the attention that her best friend drew and somehow she too was mesmerized by it. This was a man she knew all her life and yet this was the first time she saw him in that light. Back then it was always her in the limelight, with all the competitions that she joined and won, and he was always there quietly supporting her even as he got pushed around in the background. Yet now … he seemed to be in his element. He did not look out of place at all. She now confirmed that the man in the painting she saw at James’s house was really him – he was here, right there, in front of her – that serious and imposing James was really that same James she knew so well. It was hard to believe but her James who was always so soft and warm likewise had a cool indifferent side after all.
Just then James looked her way and caught Yaya’s eyes and for a while they stared at each other without any words being exchanged between them. He just stared at her calmly, and she stared right back and suddenly she had an odd feeling in her chest.
“Who would have thought that...? Oh! It’s the glasses!” Sylvia gasped as she drew James’s attention back to her. “No wonder I did not recognize you. Yes, James, how wonderful to see you here.”
He looked at her with a blank expression that she had to cease grinning to stop looking like a fool. Vaguely Sylvia wondered what was wrong with him and completely shunned the realization that perhaps he simply hated her guts. Yet one thing she did realize was that she had to back away and regroup before she completely lost her poise. “Well, I just wanted to welcome all of you. I’ll see you around later, ta-ta!”
“That Sylvia,” Fair shook his head again and then looked at James’s way. “She just might take a liking to you, you know,” He joked as he lightly slapped James’s arm playfully with the back of his hand.
James didn’t take the joke too lightly as he narrowed his eyes towards Fair.
“Oy….” Fair gasped, half amused and half intimidated for eliciting such a reaction from James.
Fair didn’t realize that his date likewise took offense at his joke. Sylvia with James – the thought was appalling. Actually, any thought of James with a girl….she cannot… No… Yaya shook her head, It’s Sylvia. Just Sylvia with James. That’s what I find appalling. That’s right. It can be any lady… just not Sylvia… just not… any lady… Yaya continued to convince herself.
Fair nudged Yaya and she snapped out of her recent thought. “Would you like to have a snack first?” Fair asked as he motioned towards the buffet table.
Yaya smiled sweetly and nodded. Fair then led the way and faintly Yaya resisted the urge to look back where she was sure James was walking close behind.
Fair excused himself as the big bosses at CCV called for him to greet some of their VIP clients. That left James and Yaya at the corner of the ballroom where they stood by the long buffet table, away from the crowd.
“You look scary you know?”
James knotted his eyebrows slightly as he looked at Yaya. He threw a confused smile at her and replied, “Huh? What are you talking about?”
“I’ve never seen you look so… formal. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that you’re channeling one of those arrogant pra’eks in those period lakorns that Grandma loves to watch,” she muttered.
He moved closer to her and leaned down slightly so that he could whisper his reply to her ear. “Is it that bad?”
She turned her head so she could meet his gaze. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw his round almond eyes like she had never seen them before. He no longer had the glasses and bangs to obstruct her view of his eyes. She thought she already knew her best friend’s eyes so well and yet she decided that it was that small change made her see him so differently. What was happening to him?
Then again, even before his makeover, he already had that unusual look as he told her how beautiful she was when she wore that dress. He also had the same expression in his eyes that time when she got caught in his arms, and also at that moment they leaned so close to each other with their faces almost touching … and now his eyes likewise had that unfamiliar sparkle as she told him how different he looked – so different, he was actually handsome, he …. Wait James? Handsome? There were many positive adjectives she could associate with her best friend but handsome had never been one of them… Of course he had never been ugly in her eyes…it’s just that now… he was…
“Oy Yaya,” He nudged her slightly and she started breathing again. What was she thinking? James was James, plain and simple. She was the one who was complicating things, she rationalized.
She grinned and turned away briefly, only to look back at him with a bright smile in her face. “Guess I’m just not used to it, but I’ll be used to it. You better keep up that look James, you look really handsome, you know,” she teased him slightly as she bumped his chest playfully with her shoulders. “But go a little easy on the pra’ek vibe, I don’t think I’m prepared to fend off and protect you from wannabe nang’eks and crazy nang’rais.”
“Silly!” James grunted a laugh as he brought down his hand once upon Yaya’s head to give her a light tap. “Who’s the chaperone here, you or me?”
“Eeeh,” Yaya whined softly as she playfully swatted James’s hand away from her head. “I’ve seen some of the girls eye you, like they were sending you signals for you to please notice them.”
He gave her one look before he shook his head and grinned once more. “Nice try, but I wouldn’t dare shirk on my duty. I can’t afford to get distracted, or else Uncle Kitti will have my head.”
It was Yaya’s turn to shake her head. “You know P’Fair is a nice guy. You needn’t be paranoid.”
“It’s not just him you know. I’ve seen the guys eye you, like they you to notice them,” he said, using her own words back at her.
She bit her lip at his words as she looked at the middle of the room where the dance floor was. The men and women crowded around the sides as they waited for their turn to dance. She was then harshly reminded of her predicament. She realized that she had no choice, again, but to ask her best friend for help.
James was caught off guard when Yaya suddenly grabbed the small plate from his hand and placed it back on the buffet table. She then clutched his arm and dragged him towards one of the open glass doors that led to the patio.
Once they were alone, Yaya looked at him squarely again and for once he saw apprehension in her eyes. “Must there really be dancing?”
Not quite understanding her question, he knotted his eyebrows and replied, “Well, it is a ball you know. It wouldn’t be a ball without dancing.”
She pressed her hands together idly by her chest as she continued to frown. “Do you think P’Fair would ask me to dance?”
“He should,” he replied, though quite frankly, every fiber in James’s being didn’t want Fair to do so.
Yaya bit her lip and cast her doe-eyed gaze upon her best friend. “What do I do?…I don’t know how to dance.”
James half frowned and half grinned at her words. The two of them practically grew up together, went to the same schools together, and so he was well aware of what she did and did not know. He was about to say that they survived the high school prom together, but then he remembered that she had been training for a taekwondo tournament when they were having basic dance practice in their P.E. classes. The two of them went together, albeit informally, for their high school prom, but they didn’t really dance to the same tune that was being played by the quartet now. Heck, the two of them didn’t even dance back then, but they sneaked out at the earliest opportunity to go back home and play videogames instead.
“James…. Do you know how?” she looked at him shyly as she continued to press her fingers together.
As a matter of fact, he did.  James was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. For once the private tutoring in etiquette and social graces which his parents forced upon him finally bore fruit.
“It isn’t very hard, you know,” he said with a smile as he idly ran a hand by the side of his head, trying to feel if his ear truly burned as he felt it. Gathering his wits, he extended his hand towards her direction and then he gave her one encouraging nod.
She looked at his hand dumbly and then looked back up to his face. She saw him smile once more before he bent down elegantly for a slight bow. Realizing his intent, she tentatively placed one hand in his while her other hand remained by her chest.
He grasped her hand gently and pulled her closer. With his gaze fully locked on hers, he lifted her hand and pressed it against his shoulder. He then moved his hand to place it firmly on her back. He then bent down his head and looked to his side where he lifted his other hand and again extended it towards her direction. When she didn’t move, he tilted his head slightly so he could look at her face once more.
All she could do was stare at him as they stood so close to each other that their faces were almost touching, and felt her heart beating madly in her chest. This is James… this is James? She knew him all her life and yet why was it that…?
She snapped out of her silly thoughts when he caught her other hand by her chest and pulled it to the side to lift it slightly.
“This is the basic position,” James murmured, and his voice brought Yaya back to her senses. She smiled tentatively and nodded at his words as she tried to be more comfortable in his arms. “Are you ready?”
James then moved his feet to the sound of the music that faintly played in the background. Yaya then abruptly looked down to see how she was to move her own feet. Just then she bumped her head against his chin and she hastily had to let go to apologize.
“I’m sorry!” she gasped as she placed one hand on her forehead while she placed her other hand on James’s chin.
He merely grinned as he touched her hand on his jaw. “This isn’t a taekwondo match you know. And even if it were, that move is illegal!”
“I’m sorry!” She repeated with a nervous laugh.
James continued to smile as he moved his feet to show her how to move. “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3,” to which she nodded idly as she found the rhythm.
He extended his hand to her once more and with less hesitation, she lifted her arms and moved back into position he just taught her. She grasped his shoulders tightly as she struggled move with the rhythm while trying to avoid stepping on his feet. When he saw her struggling, he moved back and allowed her hand to slip down his arm so he could grasp both her hands in his so that her feet would be able to move more freely. He then nudged her as he started humming the tune that was being played by the orchestra, placing emphasis on the beats when they had to change the steps.
When she realized that she was already getting the hang of the steps, she lifted her head to look at him once more. This time, it was James who looked down as he observed the way her feet moved. He continued to grasp her hand tightly as he guided her gently.
They had always been this way, Yaya thought, he had always been her support and she never faltered because he was by her side - James, dependable James who was always so stable and forthright. What would she do without him?
It was then that Fair stepped into the scene and saw the tender look in Yaya’s eyes.
He felt something stir inside of him then – was it panic, was it jealously, was it sadness? He wasn’t sure. All this time he was sure that if at all there was something between Yaya and James, it must have been unrequited on James’s part. Yet now that he saw the way she looked at him, without James even knowing it, he wasn’t too sure.
James almost missed a step as he heard the sound of someone approaching. Yaya soon caught on thereafter and gasped when she saw Fair watching them.
“P’Fair… I…” Yaya started as the blush in her cheeks deepened.
“You guys are practicing, I see,” Fair smiled as he stopped right in front of them.
Embarrassed that her date caught her eagerly cramming how to dance, Yaya merely grinned, not knowing what to say.
James likewise stood quietly as he maintained a pleasant expression while he eyed his adversary. Fair took the hint and opted to show that his feathers remained unruffled. Fair looked away from James and focused fully on Yaya.
“Mind if I cut in?” Fair addressed James, even as he maintained his gaze on Yaya. At this she gasped slightly as she looked away coyly.
“As you please,” James said monotonously, as he too looked at Yaya and noticed the deep blush in her cheeks, “but do be careful of your feet,” he added, earning a half-indignant look from her. His words worked to rid some of Yaya’s nervousness nonetheless, and so she was able to move once more.
“May I have this dance?” Fair asked gallantly as he extended his hand towards her direction in the same manner as James earlier. This time she knew what was going on and so she easily placed her hand in his. Slowly, gently, Fair placed her hand on his arm as he led her back inside and ushered her to the dance floor.  She looked back once to see James and she felt relieved at seeing him tailing them silently.
James took measured steps once more with his hands at his back and his eyes focused on his charge. It pained him to let her go yet what was he to do? It was their night, Yaya’s and Fair’s. At that point he was still unsure if he would be successful in claiming her heart. Up to now he was uncertain if she would ever see him more than her best friend. There was nothing more he could do but watch her from afar and stand there helplessly as she danced with her prince.
“James, Mr. James Jirayu?” A female voice caught his attention and he had to look away from Yaya briefly, only to realize that it was Sylvia who called him. “James, Mr. Chesney wants to meet you.”
He turned briefly and saw a group of old men suddenly surrounding him. The alarms switched back on in his head and he remembered his childhood when he caught the attention of random strangers and he had to act all polite and well-mannered so they would look favorably upon his parents. He started by moving his hands for a courteous wai, and then introduced himself in a calm yet clear voice.
“James, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” an imposing old man suddenly laughed as he patted his arm as though they were good friends. “I am Robert Chesney.” 
“The pleasure is all mine, sir.” James replied automatically as he gave him a wai, which the old man then returned. “I thank you for the invitation to your wonderful ball.”
“Oh I am glad that you made it. I’m sorry for having to ask Arch. Gundon to extend to you my personal invitation. I had not known how to give it to you myself.”
“Sir, that fact that you thought of inviting me personally already gives me great honor. Thank you.” He replied and what appeared to be well thought of responses made the other men nod their heads approvingly, seemingly amazed at his courteousness. What they didn’t know was that he already had the script in mind as he had heard all sorts of flattery in those lavish parties his parents forced him to attend as a child.
“Seeing you now with my own eyes, Mr. Jirayu, makes me admire you even more. Arch. Gundon told me of your plans for the Tools Innovation Program,” Mr. Chesney moved to James’s side and motioned to introduce him to the other old men. “It is such a rarity to find a brilliant young man who is well-bred too.”
“We expect nothing less from a Jirayu,” another man piped up as he raised his glass towards his direction. “I am Chad, from IVL Corporation. I worked for your grandfather back in the day.”
James was taken aback when he realized that the old men recognized who he was. Not a lot of people knew at first glance about his family background – of course the fact that tonight, he did not look like a dweeb, as Noey called him, might have been a factor. Very few people knew about his family since he often seemed like an orphan anyway, but he liked to be low key about it nonetheless. In fact he preferred to be known as the nerd who some didn’t even know had a name, than the James who just happened to be related to the Jirayus of the great AIS Corporation.
In any event, he just nodded politely as the other men introduced themselves. Some of them actually seemed familiar as he realized they were CEOs or heads of companies that worked with the AIS group. One of them purportedly went to the same Ivy League school where his dad took Masters, while another one of them was the husband of his mother’s colleague or something or another.
“It’s a pleasure to see the heir of AIS Holdings; you were still so very small when I last saw you.”
Growing up, he was called many things, some, if not most of them were made to spite him. But there was no title he loathed more than the heir of AIS Holdings. It reminded him of something that he was by birth, but had nothing been but a burden. He had to be proper because it would look bad on his parents if he wasn’t. He had to be careful because his life was worth millions of Baht, literally. He had to act like a prince when really he was just an introverted guy who wanted to be left alone so he could do his own thing. He had to grow up, spend birthdays and other special occasions, or even take sick breaks without his parents because they had more important things to do. He did his all to break away from being known solely as an heir of AIS Holdings. Spending most of his time with Yaya and her family made him so happy as he achieved a sense of normalcy. At her house, in her eyes, he was just James, plain and simple. To her he might have been lacking in so many things, but at least she saw his real worth.
“The future seems so very bright, don’t you think? With a young man such as James next in line. Well, if I could be given a wish, it would be for me to be young again, to be with this new generation,” Mr. Chesney said wistfully as he continued to touch James’s shoulder. “If I could only show you CCV in its growing years – if only I had young, brilliant people like you to help me build this institution together.”
“Oh but it can still grow and evolve, Mr. Chesney,” one of his lackeys said, “with new blood and new partnerships, surely it could happen.”
“That’s right, and with young and brilliant Mr. Jirayu here with us, then that possibility might just be a reality in the near future.”
Most probably these men did not even know what his major in college was. They likely didn’t even know that he didn’t know much about architecture. But he was already branded as “brilliant” as he was a “Jirayu” – that was all that mattered to them, James thought; he had seen many men like them – men who only saw him as an investment and not as a person, with skills, ideas and talents.
“Hold your horses men, James here just barely knows us. He has yet to form an opinion about CCV, isn’t that right James?”
Not knowing what to say, he merely chuckled and gave a polite smile. He instinctively knew what was happening, and he wasn’t too sure about how he could get himself out of this situation.
“Come James, let me show you around,” Mr. Chesney said as he ushered him away from the dance floor.
“Oh but Mr. Chesney, I’m afraid Ms. Sperbund…”
Mr. Chesney then looked at Yaya and Fair dancing in the middle of the ballroom and smiled, “Look at them, they will be fine. I cannot let such a dapper young man as you stand here idly while your friend is having a ball at the ball, get it?” the old men laughed at his joke even though James didn’t see the humor in the whole situation. “The ball was just to distract the women you know,” Mr. Chesney whispered to him conspiratorially “the real party is in the billiards room! Come I’ll show you where the men are supposed to be.”
James nodded politely as he raked his mind for an escape route for himself even before they got to where they were going.
“Don’t be nervous,” Fair told her softly as he led her in the waltz, “it’s just me.”
It is because it IS you. Yaya thought as she grinned timidly and looked up tentatively to meet his gaze. She didn’t feel the same butterflies in her stomach as she danced with James. Yet she can’t say she did not enjoy that moment. It was really happening! She was dancing with her prince! Never in her wildest dreams did she think that a tomboyish girl like her would have this moment.
“Ow!” Fair whispered as he missed a step when Yaya’s foot fell upon his and she quickly moved to apologize. Instead, Fair held on her tightly to prevent her from moving as he grinned himself, “It’s okay, no one noticed,” he whispered to her conspiratorially.
It worked to ease some of the tension in Yaya’s shoulders and she let out a small laugh, as he likewise laughed himself.
“I’m sorry. I spent more time executing drills on mats than in the dance floor,” she murmured as she continued to smile shyly. “Maybe my feet had been wired to kick people after all.”
Suddenly Fair was reminded of that time they met for the first time. He realized that she really meant to kick him back then. The fire in her eyes made her look so menacing and yet so beautiful back then. She was so beautiful now as well, this time as she looked like a budding blossom, so sweet and so gentle.
“Sometimes I cannot make up my mind which I like more, the vibrant orchid or the mild jasmine,” he said wistfully as he looked at her with his eyes almost sparkling, and his lips bearing a kind smile. She almost failed to understand his meaning as she got mesmerized by his gaze. When he saw the slight confusion in her eyes, he chuckled before he nudged her for a spin.
She twirled around suddenly and before she even realized it, she was back, safe in Fair’s arms. Her face brightened up in an instant as she managed the feat without tripping.
Fair’s breath got caught in his chest as he saw her bloom even more before his eyes. There really was something special about her; in the way her eyes reflected sincere delight and the way her beauty just continues to shine.
He had seen many beauties in his life, and he had been enchanted by many of them. Of course there were those that stood out from the lot and touched his heart profoundly. It was strange how having such a beautiful creature in his arms reminded him of another – yet they were so different it was funny to even compare. If she were a flower, she would likely be a deep red rose with all its thorns.
 “P’Fair,” Yaya whispered as she squeezed his hand. “The song just ended.”
Fair was suddenly brought back to his senses and he realized that the people around them started clapping. Embarrassed himself, he grinned as he slowly let go of his date and bowed. He gave Yaya another warm smile as he led her to the side of the dance floor with her hand securely placed by the nook of his arm.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Fair said when they were finally within the crowd once more. “You never cease to amaze me, Ms. Sperbund.” She smiled in reply, not knowing what else to say to his compliment. “If I had known that a day like this would come, I should have exerted more effort to learn dancing.”
“But how? You said you were too shy to join the dancing club back in college,” Yaya teased, softening her words with a smile.
“It would have been quite a racket, for a football varsity player to have twinkle-toes.”
“Well, now you have a taekwondo player trying to pass off as a Cinderella.”
Fair smiled inwardly at the thought that perhaps Ms. Sperbund thought of him as a Prince Charming. “I think you’re not a Cinderella, Ms. Sperbund. But you are a princess.”
At this she blushed and avoided his admiring gaze.
“If anything, I think the story of the night is more like… say… Aladdin – a street rat pretending to be a prince so he can be with the princess.”
Yaya faced him squarely once more with her eyes wide. “What are you talking about?”
Fair grinned and shook his head. He then leaned down to whisper, “before I picked you up from your house today, I had to watch an American movie just to figure out how to dance.” He moved away and chuckled, “how was it? Did I move well like Richard Gere?”
She lifted her hand to cover her laughter. She was then reminded that her prince was a simple man, from humble origins – those were his very words to describe himself, weren’t they? He was a scholar back in college, who even had to part-time as a waiter to be closer to the girl of his dreams, an uptown girl. Now he was a prince, a true Prince Charming, as the Original Heartthrob had been stealing hearts from years back. She understood it now. It was not because he acted like a Khun Chai that made him so attractive, but because he was naturally warm and amiable to all those around him. She saw his charisma back then when he volunteered for Architectural Week prepping in their University. He was always ready and eager to lend a helping hand, and even teach her and her classmates a thing or two. She could just imagine how inspiring he would have been as the team captain of the football varsity back when he still played. Even in CCV, he was well liked and popular among the Architects, engineers, and even those from other departments.  Everyone seemed to want to know his opinion or idea on something, and he readily obliged them, with a smile. They all practically flocked to him that night when he arrived, and he greeted them all courteously, while still taking care that she was introduced properly to them, not just as his date for the night, but also as a young architect. It was clear she was not just for show. It was as if he was introducing her to new contacts for her professional life later on. Although she was only an intern at CCV, he introduced her respectfully and in turn, his colleagues treated her like one of their own – and many were saying that they were looking forward to working with her in the near future, after she graduates.
“Well then, we better step away, or else we’ll get caught up once the band starts playing once more.” Fair grinned and added, “I only know one dance. I didn’t get to watch the second movie as I was running out of time.”
“Silly,” Yaya chuckled as she let him lead her away.
“That reminds me, you know, there is something I would like to show you here in the Golden Mansion that not a lot of people know about.”
She tilted her head slightly; unsure of what he was talking about.
He smiled and walked back towards the glass doors to the patio where he earlier found her. He let her go briefly and crossed the water fountain so he could open yet another glass door. He motioned for her to come before he faded into the darkness.
More curious than nervous, she followed him inside and saw that he was drawing open the draperies in the glass doors by pulling a string at the side. Light suddenly entered the room and she wondered how that happened without actual lights getting switched on.
Fair smiled once more and said, “Look behind you.”
Sure enough she saw a mosaic glass wall from which the light of the moon bounced back, creating different sparkling colors and shapes. She gasped as she saw the beautiful sight and wondered how it was made possible.
“I chose to work with imported granite and other materials not typically used in this country. Of course it’s not just the light of the moon that gets reflected by it. If you notice, light from the ceiling bulbs from outside likewise enhanced the glow. I figured the installation of paneling right at this corner would sufficiently filter in the porch light with a 70 degree angle. Of course the reflection differs depending on the time and how high the moon is. But the glow is brightest when there is a full moon-” He stopped his explanation when he noticed Yaya staring at him silently. Suddenly conscious, he cleared his throat then added, “I told you didn’t I? The moon light is romantic.”
She blinked and shook her head, as though in an effort to clear her thoughts.
Fair thought she was laughing at him when he realized talking about panels and light bulbs wasn’t exactly the most dramatic opening for an otherwise romantic place.
“There was something missing when I finished the details last night,” Fair murmured as he walked closer to her. “I was standing here for about an hour, trying to figure out how to make it right. I felt that the mood was right and the glow was perfect, but there was something missing.”
She frowned a bit as she examined the mosaic once before looking at him again. “What is it?”
He then got her hand solemnly as he looked deep into her eyes and said, “You.”
She breathed in deeply at his words, not quite sure if she heard him correctly. Her heart started beating madly in her chest and she felt like melting in his gaze.
“Architects can only do so much,” he grinned as he looked away and looked up the moon when he noticed the nervousness in her eyes. “All we can do is set the mood. But what is romance without a man and a woman.”
Soon the music from the string quartet echoed through the halls and reached them and instead of further setting the mood, Yaya instinctively looked back and realized that someone was missing.
James, she thought and suddenly felt nervousness when she did not see him anywhere.
Seeing the surprise in her eyes, Fair realized that she probably felt intimidated by the way he seemed to have trapped her, alone, in the dark, without her chaperone while holding her hand. It appears that he managed to break all four out of the five rules in one instant.
“I’m sorry,” he said solemnly as he let go and moved his hands for a wai. She was surprised by his actions that she was suddenly taken aback.
“No, no, P’Fair. There’s nothing to be sorry about,” Yaya said as she laughed nervously.
“No, it was my mistake. I was too hasty. I’m sorry Ms. Sperbund,” He offered his arm to her as he walked towards the side of the door. “I wouldn’t want to break your elder’s trust in any way.”
Yaya grinned and shook her head, amused at the triviality of the situation. Yet Fair nevertheless replied, “Someday, I would want to have the chance to ask you as my date, without the five rules, and only your trust.”
She was touched by his solemn words as she placed her hand back at the nook of his arm.
They walked back to the ballroom in silence, though whenever they looked at each other, they both instinctively smiled.
“Where is James?” Fair asked as he searched the crowd. “Don’t tell me he went home… perhaps he was caught by the ladies in the marketing department.”
Yaya gasped at his words and Fair was surprised to get that reaction from her. “I hope not!”
“Well, he is your chaperone and not the other way around, right?” he teased her slightly, hoping to see what action it would elicit from her. When she mock pouted, he wondered if that meant something he should be wary about.
Just then he found a colleague of his approaching them.
“Hey Fair, another VIP arrived, you’ll never guess who,” Yaya heard the man say as he approached them. “You’ll probably need to greet them real quick. Boss is preoccupied with the other guests.”
Fair looked at Yaya once and smiled then proceeded to walk when she suddenly stopped him. “It’s okay P’Fair, you go greet the clients. I’ll stay here and look for James. He’s probably by the buffet table.”
Fair frowned slightly and asked, “Are you sure you’ll be okay?”
Yaya nodded and smiled, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll ask Ms. Mary over there, perhaps she saw him.”
He looked ahead and saw his matronly secretary talking to the other kind old ladies of CCV. He figured that Yaya would probably be safe with them. “All right. I’ll be right back.”
Yaya nodded with a sweet smile in her face as she sent him off.
Just when she was about to reach Ms. Mary, the person she least wanted to see intercepted her.
“Finally she shows up,” Sylvia drawled as her posse of overly accessorized women surrounded her. They looked like they were trying hard to be part of a pageant with their heavy makeup and loud colored dresses.
Yaya merely smiled, hoping they’ll be done with her quickly so she could start looking for James.
“What to do, the date is not here, so is the friend.” One of Sylvia’s underlings drawled out. “Perhaps she’ll try to snag another guy?”
“Hah, puh-leaze,” Sylvia said, “Well your friend’s not better off than you. He seems to be having a party of his own while you’re busy flirting with your superior.”
Yaya knotted her eyebrows at her words. She took offense at what Sylvia was implying but now with James… “What do you mean? Where is James?”
Sylvia quickly noted the genuine concern in Yaya’s voice and an idea popped into her head. “Some kind of friend you are. Don’t worry; I’m sure he’s enjoying himself. Though I’m not sure he’ll be accountable for his actions later. I heard they’re down to their third bottle of scotch by now.”
Sylvia gleefully looked at the blood drain away from Yaya’s face. “Yes, quite a courageous fellow, that nerd. I never thought he had it in him. Of course who could resist a drink when it was Mr. Chesney who offered it to him? He’s probably piss drunk by now… just one glass and he’s like…kaput!” the sly woman laughed gaily with all her fake looking friends.
James didn’t drink. He never drank before. The alarms started to ring off in Yaya’s mind, especially after she heard a loud crash and loud sounds of men laughing afterwards. What was she to do? Where was James?
“Don’t be such a kill joy. He’s a grown man… with very low alcohol tolerance! I’m sure they’re having a marvelous time now at the second floor guest room.
Was he getting forced to drink as Sylvia implied? What was she to do? This was all her fault. He wouldn’t have been in place like this, if not for her. He wouldn’t be alone in the crowd if she didn’t let him… oh no… what was she to do…
“Excuse me,” Yaya grumbled as she moved away from Sylvia and her friends.
“It’s useless, come back here and hang out with us!” She called but laughed wickedly instead when Yaya nearly ran towards the staircase.
“What was that Sylvia?” one of her posse asked when Yaya was out of hearing range. “Wasn’t James Jirayu with Mr. Chesney at the billiards room?”
“Oh really?” Sylvia mock gasped as she pretended to be surprised by the news. She then overdramatically placed her hands at her chest as she asked, “Then pray tell, who is at the second floor guest room?”
 “Mr. Chesney’s investor friends from abroad…. Those lecherous men getting a different kind of welcome treatment from our special guest relations personnel.
“Oh? Is that so?” Sylvia laughed once more, “Who knows they might even get to invite poor little Miss Sperbund to their after party.
“Oh Sylvia! You are a wicked woman!” one of her friends laughed as she got a glass of champagne from one of the waiters passing by. “Cheers!”
“Cheers!” Sylvia laughed, excited about what was about to unfold.
Author's Notes:
Hello! It's been a while since i last updated. I hope those who were waiting for this chapter, if any, have seen this. Sorry it took a while, work was hectic, then we went on vacation and now i'm here again.  :lol: . 
I was pleasantly surprised that when I came back to this section again, there were many fanfics that were uploaded. I've been meaning to read them all slowly but surely. I hope you guys do too! I realized that I have to work harder. I mean, 12 chapters later and Yaya and James are still not together! I'm sorry! I only realized how hard it is when I was reading fics myself, and I was thinking WRITER! COME ON! BRING US THE ROMANCE!! WHEN WILL THEY BE TOGETHER!? - only to realize I'm the worst of the lot because i'm taking too long for things to develop.  :facepalm:
Oh by the way, I know that James's surname is Tangsrisuk, but it's too long and I'm afraid of misspelling it so I stuck with his first name, Jirayu. 
Right now I'm a bit sleepy, I need a nap! But I hope you stay tuned to the next chapter! (actually i hope i'm able to pull off what I have in mind.  :scratchchin:  :phew: ) thanks again!! Hope you have a nice week ahead!


sarNie Granny
Oh! Wonderful chapter ! Sweet/Cute and I love ur detail, I was waiting for ur update so long too! And girl, the song put me to sleep HAHAHA I have to turn it off.


It was worth the wait P. Currently calmly waiting for your next update. I love this chapter so much. Hope Yaya is okay, but I know she'll be okay for James or perhaps Fair, but mostly James will be there to save her. LOL :)


sarNie Adult
sarN said:
I'm sorry SarN! I tried to finish it last weekend but I've been crazy busy. I'll try this week though. Haha sorry that the music put you to sleep, I guess I really am an old skool kind of person. 
Meanwhile, I would like to leave you guys with these pictures, to let you imagine how these two would look like as best buddies!
photo cr: nana_p_k_j_y

Photo cr: AuthentiC-room and a_daru


sarNie Adult
[SIZE=10pt]Chapter 13 – Prince Charming[/SIZE]
The quartet finished playing two full sets and yet Mr. Chesney and his lackeys were still not done talking about investments and whatnot. He wasn’t sure if it was because he was probably too young for that kind of conversation, or perhaps he really did not have even an ounce of interest for the topic that he felt that the old men just went on and on forever. Whenever he moved to excuse himself, the old men managed to introduce him to another executive or acquaintance of his parents, or grandparents, etc. etc. So James decided to wait patiently for the grand opportunity for escape to present itself.
That was until he saw a flash of apricot pass right outside the thick doors of the billiards room.
Unable to help himself, he leaned back slightly and looked up, hoping to see if she really were there or if it was merely a figment of his imagination. Sure enough, he saw Yaya quickly moving up the stairs, alone. He felt a rumble in his chest while the hairs at the back of his neck stood up from alertness for what was to come ahead.
Where was she going? Why was she in such a hurry?
Noticing his tense frown, Mr. Chesney suddenly placed a hand on his arm as he asked, “Is anything the matter Mr. Jirayu?”
Not knowing what faster way to get himself out of that room to be by Yaya’s side, he blurted out, “I’m afraid I need to use the bathroom.”
“Oh good timing, young chap. I’m about to go there myself,” Chad chuckled as he put down his brandy glass and motioned for him to follow.
James pursed his lips, not quite believing what was happening. They meant to follow him even until the bathroom? It was downright strange, if not appalling to have himself in that situation. It was almost as if they want to detain him. No matter, James walked out of the room and took a clearer view of the second floor. He could no longer see traces of Yaya so he figured she must have gotten in one of the rooms.
“Where are you going?” Chad asked as James moved to go upstairs.
“Oh? I thought I saw the sign that says the bathroom is over there,” James said innocently, hoping Chad would not see through his ruse.
“The second floor? No, son. There’s a bathroom right here,” Chad replied as he chuckled once more. “You wouldn’t want to be on the second floor. Trust me. It’s wild up there.”
Wild? All the more, he felt the mad beating of his heart. “Why is that?” he asked, almost afraid of the answer that he will get.
Chad smirked once and then patted him on the shoulder. “I guess a young one like you would all the more be curious if I didn’t tell. Your family is in the hospitality business, so I guess you would understand. Upstairs, they are hosting a special welcome party for the foreign guests.” The old man no longer bothered to elaborate when he saw the color drain from James’s face. Perhaps there really were innocents his age after all.
James quickly pursed his lips and struggled to control himself. His hands were balled into fists as he stopped his feet from quickly running to where Yaya was. No…she wouldn’t possibly get herself into trouble… she was not that naïve… she would be safe… she would…
Yet knowing how impulsive she could get, and how rash she can sometimes be, James felt the panic in his nerves. The possibilities entered his mind all at once and it nearly drove him insane.
“You okay, Mr. Jirayu?” Chad asked as they entered the bathroom.
Not really knowing what else to do, James smiled tentatively and entered one of the cubicles in order to formulate his plan of action.
Yet instead of planning, all he could think of is more questions. Where was Fair? Why was she all alone? Where did she disappear into? What is happening to her now?
“Mr. Jirayu?”
James was suddenly brought back to the present as he heard the older man’s voice. “Are you all right in there?” Chad asked once more once the sound of the flush ended.
Not knowing what else to do, James idly hit the side of the cubicle and muttered, “Oysters Rockefeller and Green Curry. Never again.” When he heard no response from the older man, James added an annoyed low groan.
Chad visibly sweat dropped at hearing James’s words and said, “I guess I’ll go ahead then, Mr. Jirayu?”
“Stay away from the oysters, sir.” James grumbled as he let out another groan.
He listened carefully to the sound of his footsteps. When he figured that Chad was gone, James quickly moved out of the cubicle to go to Yaya’s rescue, thinking he had no choice other than to plan on his feet.
“Thank you Ambassador, I hope you enjoy the festivities tonight.”
Fair moved with an easy air of confidence about him as he ushered the guests inside the Golden Mansion. Even though there were much higher ranking architects in the firm who were present in the Founder’s Ball, he was still the go-to man insofar as greeting the important guests is concerned.  Everyone in the firm knew that his amiable character and his ready warm smile made him the most suitable person to represent CCV in welcoming the guests. Of course the fact that he looked so dapper while doing so helped a lot too.
Fair smiled at his officemates, encouraging them to do the same. They say that he had talent for what he was doing, but as far as he was concerned, he was just acting like himself and talking normally with people – it’s not like it’s an extraordinary task, in fact it was no big deal really…. And yet…
All of a sudden he felt his tongue roll back down his throat when she came into view.
She looked like an illusion, nay, an apparition, as she ascended the stairs as though she floated through it. He did not know why but although she wore the simplest gown that flowed as freely as her long hair, she still had the appearance of a queen. The deep crimson gown was a stark contrast to her white skin that seemed to sparkle with the simple one layer diamond set that she wore. He was well aware that she was underdressed under the circumstances – for he had seen her dolled up and more fashionable in other events – and yet she did not look any less regal that night.
He was right after all. She was indeed a deep red rose, in all its glory…
… and still complete with thorns, slowly piercing him from within.
How long has it been since that fateful day she planted that seed in the garden of his heart? He thought that his cherished rose had long withered and yet he realized it was still in full bloom and pricked him at every heartbeat.
He stared at her, dumbfounded, perhaps in the same way as he did many years ago, when he was young and naïve – perhaps he hasn’t aged a day since then for his heart still fluttered as he saw her approach, and yet it ached when his mind brought forth the memories of what they had – or rather, what they did not have, and perhaps would never have.
Ever so subtly, she turned her eyes to look at him… to look him over with her penetrating gaze. She had artiste’s eyes, although she was coy enough to hide the slightest bit of interest, if at all she found him worthy of it.
Gathering his wits, he forced a smile, the warmest smile he could muster, even as his blood ran cold. He had to smile, he knew he should. He did not want to grant her that satisfaction; he must let her know that he is no longer the same Fair that he was years ago –
- that Fair who was crazy enough to dare to capture the heart of the Snow Queen.
He was taller than she remembered him to be. It was ironic how he actually looked more formidable now as he wore a well tailored suit than when he wore that jersey that showed hints of his well sculpted athlete’s physique. His unruly hair had now been tamed, and his actions were measured and laced with restraint. Yet some things never change despite the passage of time. His eyes still had that sparkle she never saw anywhere else. And his smile… his warm summery smile still brought her images of the seaside at dawn.
Unbeknownst to him, she had been observing him from afar, as he greeted the guests from all over Thailand. Professors, dignitaries, businessmen – he welcomed them all in the same warm courteous way as she had remembered. This was the reason why he was so famous back then, back in their college days. All the girls loved him, all the boys idolized him. And yet he took the time to catch her attention – she who was more infamous than renowned. At first she thought that he viewed her as a prize, yet soon she learned about his heart.
Would he treat her the same way as he did back then? Would he still show her his warmth? Or is there nothing left between them but disdain?
He cast her a glance before he looked away briefly to greet the gentleman who was in front of her. Yet finally when it was her turn to be in front of him, she waited with bated breath on how he would react.
“Good evening,” he whispered gently, but curtly. Instead of doing a customary wai, he instead leaned his head slightly for a courteous bow.
She leaned her head in kind, although she eyed him from the corner of her eyes when she raised her head. Unable to help herself, she placed her long fingers against her hip and asked, “Well?”
He forced a smile and added, “It’s quite an honor to be graced with your presence this evening; I am well aware of your many engagements.”
She grinned slightly and took one step closer to him so she could whisper, “It’s the least I can do to meet an old friend.” She looked up and stared at his eyes until she could see her own reflection in them.
Again he smiled, but this time, she saw something else in his eyes. The warmth had but faded, instead she saw a smoldering fire.  “That is a nice way of putting it.” Instead of looking away however, he stared, no; he looked down at her, giving her measure for measure, clearly showing that he refused to back down.
“Lady Noey!” One of the Senior Associates of the firm approached them, suddenly breaking the spell, “It’s good to see you here!”
Noey smiled sweetly as she leaned over for a cheek to cheek. “What a splendid ball you have here. Finally I made it this year.”
Fair smiled politely as he slowly excused himself and yet his superior merely caught his arm, “My, why don’t you show Lady Noey around, Fair? You used to go to college together didn’t you? Weren’t you on the same batch?”
Fair grinned and nodded as he looked at Noey. Noey likewise smiled as she unconsciously leaned closer to Fair. “I guess we have some catching up to do.”
“Well then, I’ll leave you guys be. Go on Fair; perhaps Lady Noey would like some refreshments. I’ll take it from here.”
“Thank you,” Fair nodded courteously, as he walked back inside the venue. He realized that Noey was right behind him and so he stopped and looked back. For a split second he found an unfamiliar expression in her eyes – was it sadness? Regret? He shook his head, thinking he was merely deluding himself for having such silly thoughts. Once more he forced a smile and offered her his arm.
She looked up and met his eyes and Fair felt his heart throbbing almost painfully in his chest. Why was it that she still had an effect on him, after all these years, after all that happened?
“Shall we?” Fair asked in that deep gentle voice of his that she had longed to hear. She carefully placed one arm around his and felt the familiar feeling deep in her heart – deep in her heart which she just recently discovered still remained beating despite being frozen for so long.
Yaya stalled as she reached the top of the stairs with her nervousness briefly put on hold. She could hear the sounds not only of men being merry but also…. Women?
Her fists were balled by her sides as she approached, her fear for James temporarily forgotten, instead, she felt appalled… nay, furious that her best friend might have been having fun in such a place. With her game face on, she went to the doors where two muscular men in suits guarded the entry way, looking like sentinels. She gave them one look and the two guards looked at each other and shrugged.
“I’m here to fetch someone,” she said with her hands by her sides and the two men grinned at her.
“I’m sorry miss, I don’t think anyone who is in there would want to be fetched,” one of the guards said with a wink.
“Yeah… can’t you hear them having fun in there?” the other guard laughed as he tapped his friend.
“Are you letting me in or not?” Yaya grumbled as she lifted her hand as though she intended to push the doors herself. The men did not take her seriously and instead stood beside each other to block her path. Just when Yaya was about to force her way, the door from the other side suddenly opened and a person emerged out of it.
She wore a low hanging dress that barely covered the right places while her face was heavily made up. The lady… if you could even call her that, swayed as she walked as though she had one too many drinks.
“Is she here yet…? Oh THERE! There you are! You’re late!” the woman gasped as she saw Yaya and quickly grabbed her hands.
“Wait! What is…? Hey!” Yaya gasped as she tried to break free of the drunken woman’s strong hold.
“Well miss, you did say you wanted to go in right?” the guards laughed as she got dragged away.
“B… bu..but!” Yaya sputtered as she steeled her hands to no avail. The woman was surprisingly strong and Yaya’s shoes made her slip slightly on the floor.
Before she knew it, Yaya was inside another room which was smoky and tackily decorated. If she didn’t know any better, she would have thought that she was no longer in the Golden Mansion. There were silk curtains hanging from the ceiling and weird contraptions lying about the place. Low sounds of strange music played in the background while faintly she could hear sounds of men and women laughing from another room.
More women suddenly surrounded her and she was suddenly frozen in shock.
“Oh what nice skin she has…”
“Is she from Madame Klum’s brothel? She looks farang.”
“What a young beauty; that’s the rage these days, sophisticated yet virginal.”
Yaya was shocked and suddenly unaware of what she had gotten into. She just wanted to save her best friend and yet now… now… where was she exactly?
“Mr. Trousseau and Mr. Brahn should be satisfied with this. I guess we wouldn’t be punished tonight.”
Who were these men? What… What was happening? “Wait! I think you have the wrong idea. I’m not … whoever you think you are! I … I need to get out of here!” Yaya gasped as she struggled to move away, yet the women just pinned her down.
“Maybe she needs a little more lipstick… or perhaps a shot of that tequila to give her more gumption?” one of the women with ultra thick eyelashes said as she bent down close to Yaya’s face that she had to close her eyes as she grimaced. She could smell alcohol from her breath and the way her eyes looked made her think she likewise took in something else.
“Tequila, girl… That’s so 90’s. Give her a pill.”
What? What? Yaya moved her legs and braced herself to be on attack mode. Yet the five women held her limbs and she remained pinned on the floor.
“What the… Stay still you damn girl,” the leader of the group slapped her on the face then to make her cease her movements. Her cheek throbbed, so did her head… what did she get herself into? What was she to do now?
Calm. Calm. Calm. James often scolded her for being too impulsive, and now this is where her impulsiveness brought her. What was she thinking!? Was she even thinking at all!? Why did she listen to that damn woman, Sylvia. And why did she even think for a second that her best friend who she had known all her life would be partying with lecherous men and inebriated whores. She let her emotions get the better of her again. Her father told her to listen to her heart. Listen. Hear… hear with her mind, not just act as she pleased.
Now she had no clue on what to do. She knew she cannot fight, not with fear clouding her judgment, not with nervousness running through her veins.
“See these marks girl? These foreigners, oh boy, they’re something else!” another woman bent down and moved her dress to the side so she can see the long scar that marred her back. “Just stay obedient and you’ll be fine. Come I’ll give you something to calm you down.”
“But I’m not…” Yaya tried once more, until one of the women placed a hand on her throat. She pursed her lips shut as she closed her eyes briefly to calm herself. “I… I won’t be needing those. I’m … I’m a professional see.”
“Professional cuckoo, I’d say,” one of the women said, “Acting all crazy, what the hell was that about?”
When the women finally let her go, she stood up carefully and tried to find the nearest exit.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I… Uh…. Just need to freshen up! Before the big show, I mean,” Yaya said tentatively as she forced a chuckle.
The woman dragged her back in and forced her down a low couch. “Sit down! Stay put or I swear you won’t get paid for tonight.”
It was difficult to reason with these women… if they were even women, Yaya realized as she noticed the red marks in her skin. They were all so drunk or high, she wasn’t even certain anymore. What did she get herself into?
Dad… help me… help me. She prayed, her eyes suddenly brimming with tears.
James… James where are you James? I’m sorry… I’m sorry for even thinking bad about you… James… I need you…James help me!
Unlike his best friend, James took careful steps towards the second floor and tried to assess the situation. The two bouncers stood beside each other in the hallway although they seemed to be laughing at something. He tried to move closer, hoping to get a clue as to where Yaya was but the hallway was clear and there was no place for him to hide.
One of the men turned his way and he was left with no choice but to reveal himself.
“What’s this? Another lost soul?” one of the men chuckled as he crossed his muscular arms in his equally muscular chest.
Another? James wondered how long ago they had encountered Yaya.
He was about to say something nice when he remembered that he dressed and looked different that night. Trying his luck, he raised his head snootily and narrowed his gaze. He was glad to find that upon approaching the two men, he was the same height as they were though clearly he was not of the same built. He stared at the men squarely and cleared his throat.
“Where’s the woman?” he asked in a deep voice, hoping he sounded intimidating enough.
The two guards looked at each other and shrugged, a bit unsure of how to deal with this new encounter. “What are you talking about, Khun,” one of the guards said as the other one puffed up his chest and pushed against James.
James lifted his cold hand against his own chest protectively and tried to push the other man away. “My woman, where is she?” he grumbled as he gave the two another menacing glare. “I’m sure you know something,” he said in a low voice, though his composure cracked ever so slightly as she felt cold sweat dripping down his neck.
“Woman? Ha! You still have cowlick boy!” the other guard said when he noticed the tension in James’s stance. “Go back down son, you don’t belong here.”
Before the men could push him away, he lifted his other hand as he struggled to keep them from shaking. “Don’t you know who I am?” James bit out, in a last attempt to keep his charade going. These guys were no different from the football varsity, he told himself as he tried to push his fear back. Insult them, insult them with all you’ve got! Noey’s voice resonated in his head though his logic told him these guys won’t mind beating him to a pulp if he crossed them.
“Sure, let me introduce you… to my fist.” One of the bouncers said and James had to quickly jump back to avoid his punch. This was getting serious. He backed up as the men seemed intent on grabbing him and throwing him downstairs.
Faintly James wondered if it was time to get reinforcements.
All he had to do was send the distress signal… if only he could….
Finally his back was on the wall and the guys were fast approaching. He had no choice but to grab the sliding door, and when it opened unexpectedly, he took his chance and went inside, then slid it back closed. The two brutes knocked from outside the door but James was glad that he was able to lock the door on time. He grabbed his chest and breathed a sigh of relief, only to realize that his trouble was just beginning.
What the…
He locked himself out on the terrace. The two brutes remained outside the terrace while he remained virtually trapped with no other passageways around him. When they realized his predicament, the two of them laughed from outside as James looked down behind him and immediately felt sick upon seeing that he was on the 2nd floor. If he went out, the two of them will grab him. If he didn’t move, he won’t be able to get to where Yaya was. He breathed out one shaky breath as he grasped the marble railing of the terrace. What was he to do now?
He looked to his side and saw some activity going on three rooms from where he was. Men were laughing and drinking while some women shouted sporadically.
“Yaya…” James grumbled as he felt his heart beating madly in his chest. He knew what he had to do. It was clear in his mind and in his heart.
He had to rescue her at all costs.
She was forcefully brought to the adjoining room where the foreign guests stayed. Even in the dim lights, she saw that both men looked old enough to be her father, with beer bellies and tousled auburn hair. They laughed gaily, hinting they’ve been besotted one way or another yet they were still so loud, she wondered why they could not hear them from the first floor.
The women flocked around them like birds pecking on pieces of bread as they joined in the fun. She took this chance to step back and move out when suddenly she was forced by one of the women who apparently stood guard to move forward.
“Mr. Trousseau and Mr. Brahn, this our best girl!” the woman said with broken English, “very nice, very beauty girl!”
The two men blinked, apparently not drunk enough as they still saw her beauty. Yaya tensed as the men focused their leering gazes at her.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” One of the men said as he pushed the women who were hanging all over him away. “I’m done with the rest of you. Get out. Get out! We’ll be having fun with this one girl right here.”
Suddenly panicked, Yaya backed away as all the other girls left the room swiftly as ordered.
This is it. Yaya thought. Her years of training for a black belt had come to this. She moved into position with her arms right in front of her as she kicked her leg back to see figure out how to maneuver with her skirt.
“What is she doing? Is she gonna dance for us?” One of the foreigners asked the other as they laughed and drunkenly made their way to her, doing a clumsy little dance of their own. She was revolted to say the least, but cleared her mind as she planned her attack.
Once the man was close enough, she unleashed her kick and hit the man on the side of his head. Her skirt hampered her movement however so she was not able to recoil as fast when the other man grabbed her leg. She fell down with a thump and she groaned as she felt the sharp pain in her hip as she fell on the ground.
“What the… The crazy bitch! What the hell are you…”
Yaya quickly moved her hand to grab something, anything and she managed to hit the other man with a bottle of whiskey. The thick glass didn’t break but was effective enough to keep him dizzy as she swung her legs again to hit his feet to throw him off balance.
When the fat man fell on his feet, the other man stumbled over his friend and the two of them remained lying on the floor in a heap. Yaya took the chance to run for the door only to find it locked from outside. Panicked, she ran back and struggled to open the door to the adjoining room where the other women were. Just then she heard a sound by her side and she again froze, thinking that her adversaries were back on their feet.
She pressed herself against the wall, hoping to hide in the darkness as she tried to grab another weapon…
… until a man fell inside from the window and sank down on the floor as though he were drained of strength. He heaved and tried to catch his breath, looking oblivious to his surroundings. Finally, with wobbly knees he pushed himself against the wall though his hand remained on his chest.
“JAMES!” Yaya gasped as she dropped her weapon and she threw her arms around his neck.
He was still feeling a bit disoriented until he felt Yaya’s death grip around his neck as she clung for dear life.
“Yaya!” James gasped against her hair as he buried his head against hers as he breathed a sigh of relief. She was safe… She was safe… He felt his knees buckle once more as he held her tight.
They fell back against the wall right beside the window and Yaya was able to peer out to see where he had come from.
“You… made it through the ledge?” Yaya gasped as she looked out from over James’s shoulder and found that it was a big drop from where they were. She was well aware of James’s fear of heights, and she knew, it was likewise her fault why he developed such a fear while they were still children in the first place. Yet that notwithstanding, he still braved the odds for her, once again.
“I was going to rescue you…” he replied breathlessly, as he peered over Yaya’s shoulder and saw two unconscious men who looked even bigger than the two bouncers he dealt with earlier. “But it seems you don’t need rescuing after all.” For the life of him, James wasn’t entirely sure he had the means to take the two men on had they been conscious in the first place, now that the adrenaline was dying down and he was able to think more logically.
“What are you saying?! I was so scared,” Yaya whimpered as she continued her tight hold around her best friend and closed her eyes, blinking away the tears. He made it; he was her hero yet again. She knew it. James never let her down; she knew he never would.
“Shh… It’s okay… I’m here now.” He rubbed her back. “We have to go before they wake up.”
She let go of him and nodded. The look in James’s eyes had a calming effect on her and for a moment, she felt warm all over. The anxiety was slowly leaving her nerves and yet another strange feeling seemed to creep up and consumed her heart.
He didn’t fail to notice the doe-eyed look in Yaya’s eyes and he suddenly felt the urgent need to protect her, to protect his woman. He grabbed her nape with one hand as his other arm circled her briefly once more. He then pressed his lips upon her forehead as he sealed his promise to protect her at all cost.
She closed her eyes as she felt his kiss and she realized that she had not imagined the strange feeling in her chest. Her worries seemed to melt away with James’s single action and suddenly she saw her best friend in an entirely new light. James… he was not only her best friend, he was… he was…
Listen with your heart
Her father told her that many years ago. But how was she to listen when her heart was shouting, bouncing with all sorts of emotions at that moment. Panic, fear and anxiety made her jumpy yet these feelings were fading now. She still felt tense but it was out of something else. She kept her hand in her chest as she tried to calm her speeding heart while she looked at her best friend as he knelt down by the door and fiddled with the lock with his skilled hands. Even in the darkness she saw the concentration in his gaze and the firmness of his broad shoulders – and his composure as he worked did nothing to ease her heart.
Everything moved so slowly while her heart remained to beat fast. She could no longer understand her surroundings as she could only feel how cold his hands were as he held hers tight while they made another run for it. His grip was firm and steady and she knew he would not let go as they ran across the grassy field.
Her heart remained to beat so fast, but not out of fear, she knew, as she watched James’s back while he ran ahead of her. She was safe with him. She had nothing to fear when with him. At that moment she didn’t want him to let go… she didn’t want to be away from him ever again.
When at last they were away from the Golden Mansion, James bent down, placed one of his hands in his knees as he caught his breath, not used to the exertion. He looked at Yaya and frowned when he noticed that she too looked out of breath. Her hand remained on her chest, as though it ached, and with worry filling his heart, he straightened up once more and placed his hands upon her shoulders.
“Yaya, are you okay?”
He was so close to her when she looked up to meet his gaze and she was unable to speak. Her heart still beat so fast, especially when she saw the worried look in his eyes. She wanted to tell him that it was not because of running… it was because… it was because…
When he saw no response from her, James helplessly removed his coat and placed it upon Yaya’s shoulders. He frowned when he noticed that she was still in a daze as he tightened the coat over her chest. He placed his hand on her cheek, noting the redness in them, as he tried his best to read her expression.
“Yaya, come on, talk to me, please.”
Not knowing what else to do, he bent down and looked her over. Her dress was crumpled, and her make-up was slightly smudged from her tears earlier. Thankfully there were no scratches in her arms though it appeared to be slightly red. She remained unmoving through his ministrations, so he was able to bend down and examine her feet. There was a red mark in her calf, which he thought would form a bruise while the straps of her sandals bore into her feet. He whimpered sympathetically as he gingerly rubbed her ankle in an effort to soothe her somehow. He looked up once more and still saw the incomprehensible and strange look in her eyes.
Was she about to cry? Was she still traumatized from what happened? James felt helpless as he continued to see her this way. If only he stayed with her… if only he could change the events of that night… if only he could…
Listen with your heart.
Her father’s words continued to echo in her mind, while her heart pointed to one thing. It was a feeling she never felt before but somehow she had an inkling as to what it was. It was such a strange feeling what she felt now – that no matter how many times James asked her, no matter how much she wanted to answer him; she could not make a sound. It was funny how for a single moment everything changed – it was funny how life worked, how an unexpected event led her to realize what she had known all along.
“Hang on; I’ll bring you to a hospital okay?” James whispered as he embraced her once more. She pressed her head against his shoulder as she finally moved and held on to him tightly. The strange feeling was bursting from her chest. She could not explain it, she could not express it; she did not know how.
“James,” she gasped, even saying his name now felt different for her. He tightened his embrace and Yaya felt her heart swell from the act. “I’m fine… you don’t have to bring me to a hospital.”
He briefly let go as he looked at her face again, hoping to get a clue as to what was going on. Yaya was strangely docile, and he was worried that she was probably feeling sick. He placed his hand over her forehead and felt some warmth, but it was not warm enough to be a fever. He cupped her cheek once more and looked at her face closely and to his surprise, Yaya averted her gaze when he looked at her eyes as though she were…. Embarrassed? It was really strange, he thought. Perhaps something might have happened in there that she still cannot tell him. Yet, oddly enough, she didn’t look angry, or tired, or even sad. In fact, she even looked ….happy? He shook his head, thinking he was probably as shocked as she was that’s why he was seeing things. They both needed a break.
“Let’s get you something warm to drink then, all right?” He bent down suddenly with his back to her. “Come on, hop on my back.”
“Huh?” She asked, her voice starting to sound like it normally was. James looked back and smiled at her.
“Your feet are blistered. I can’t have you walking around with those shoes on. And I can’t have you walking around with your bare feet either.” He said in his usual calm and logical manner. “Come on.”
Shyly, Yaya placed her arm around James’s neck and was surprised when he stood up and adjusted his hold on her.
“Yaya, are you sure you’re okay?” James asked as he began his trek. “I think I still ought to bring you to the hospital.”
She tightened her hold around his neck and placed her head by his shoulder so that she can press her cheek against his neck and she mumbled, “I’m fine.”
James realized how close she truly was that he gulped and stared ahead.
Yaya continued to feel the fondness in her heart as she remained close to him. She didn’t know where this urge to hold him tight came from, but she had known all along that she didn’t ever want to let go of him ever since she held his hand years ago.
“Oy! Come on, kiss, date, hug, marry! There I said it!” She heard Dao’s words in her mind once more, “You wouldn’t want to do those things with James, would you?”
How briefly she had answered back then, yet in her heart she now knew the real answer.
It was funny how she had to be in real danger before she realized it – when over and over James had done great feats for her. Not only did he save her countless of times, he was always there on her time of need. But she wanted him close not only because of what he had done for her. In times of happiness, she couldn’t think of anyone else she wanted to be with either. Everywhere, anytime, she just wanted him to be there with her. She was lost without him by her side. Without him, her life would not be complete.
More than a friend, more than a brother…
She was in love with her best friend.
The way his eyes looked when they were close, the way he stared at her as though he could see her very soul …. She realized now that it was not he who changed, but she. Slowly, carefully, she had opened her heart to the idea of love and now it finally blossomed. The affection she had held all along for James had blossomed into love. She loved him, with all her heart.
“James… I…”
“Hmmm?” He asked, still having no clue as to what just went on her head as he walked in silence.
“Nothing,” Yaya grinned as she hid her head in his neck once more, not knowing if hiding the smile in her face could likewise hide the smile in her heart. 
Suddenly she realized she was in love with him! 

Honestly, I was also surprised with this development myself! I mean, I was planning to have Yaya realize she was in love with him like.... 5 more chapters ahead. But while writing it, it seemed to make sense to do it already at this chapter. I think i pretty much messed up the ending that I had originally planned as the build up that I had planned won't happen anymore, but I'll figure something out, hopefully. Hahahaha. What do you guys think? 


Awe!!! I loved it the way it is now. Love how you described and compared Noey to a rose in Fair's heart and how you described Yaya's feelings to James. Loved when JAmes said "My woman". Can't wait to read what happens next. :)


sarNie Adult
[SIZE=10pt]Chapter 14 – La Vie en Rose[/SIZE]
“Time out!”
The Captain of the Football Varsity immediately ordered a halt when he saw the ball get kicked over the sidelines.
Fair ran as fast as he could to the benches where he saw pieces of paper flying around. The ball must have hit someone pretty bad, and already the nervousness further fueled the adrenaline in his system.
“Are you all right?” he asked the moment he reached the lone figure lying by the concrete ground. She looked so dainty and fragile, with her long brown hair framing her shoulders. She smelled really nice too, he realized when he bent down beside her to offer some help.
Yet he was caught off guard when she suddenly turned her head to face him, with her piercing eyes like icicles in the coldest of winter. He had never seen snow before – but he felt that the look she gave him was probably as frigid as the air in the North Pole.
Gathering his wits, he managed to mumble, “Uh… Miss, I’m sorry! I take full responsibility. The team has been practicing hard but it seems that … uh…” He realized that he was still holding her arm even when she was already back in her feet that’s why he abruptly dropped his hands to his sides. Looking for something else to do, he briefly stooped down to pick up the pieces of paper lying around the ground. He unconsciously glanced at one of the papers he picked up and realized it was a sketch of…
“You’re an artist?” he asked, unable to stop himself from uttering the words, yet still he received nothing but cold treatment from her. Before he could speak some more, she snatched the paper from his hands and quickly gathered her things. “Miss, I’m sorry!”
She gave him one more look until she stomped off and left him there. He raised his hands in defeat, thinking he had done his best to make amends. He looked down and checked the area where she just fell and saw that she left behind a broken graphite pencil. He picked it up in wonder as he stared ahead. She looked radiant as she walked under the light of the setting sun; even as he saw the stiffness in her shoulders as though she were still furious because of what happened. Yet her poise and bearing as she walked away made him continue to stare at her as she slowly faded from his sight.
“Whoa bro! You just crossed Her Highness!”
“Her Highness?” Fair looked at his teammate oddly, not quite understanding his words.
Her Highness, Chotika Wongwilas, the princess of the Fine Arts department. Dude, you don’t know who she is?” When his teammate saw him shrug, he continued, “Her father is the minister of foreign affairs and her mother is somehow related to the Royal Family. Their ancestors practically established this University and they say she has the chancellor around her little finger.”
Fair gulped, not quite believing what an important person he just managed to come across. “Oh man… I hope she doesn’t hold a grudge,” he grumbled as he clutched the pencil tighter in his hands. Oh one hand he hoped she would completely forget about the incident, but somehow a part of him wanted her to remember, because surely, she was someone he could not easily forget.
Days passed and true enough memories of her were still fresh in his memory. He knew he should erase her from his mind since she was a person way beyond his reach. He was just a poor provincial schoolteacher’s son who managed to snag a scholarship in a top university in the city, while she has had a silver spoon in her mouth all her life. He was in no position to think about her – all he should think about was his studies, and how he would maintain his grades and not let his parents down.
And yet fate seemed to jest.
He was just on his way to the football field for the day’s practice game when he saw her hanging precariously by a tree. Half amused and half disbelieving his eyes, he ran to her, thinking she might need his help. Sure enough, he was just in time…
… to catch her in his arms.
They looked at each other with their faces almost touching as she placed a hand upon his chest. This time, he saw that her wide surprised eyes sparkled with what he imagined to be snow dust.
“Ah…I … uh…. Well…” Fair mumbled, uncharacteristically incoherent with her being so close to him. She recovered much faster than he did and she immediately hit his arm with one hand as she pointed back to the tree. It was only then that he realized that she held something with her other hand.
“Hurry! You must place it back up there!” she said urgently as she showed him the little chick. “It fell from the nest it seems. We have to put it back up there.”
Fair stared at her dumbly, not quite understanding her meaning until she pushed the chick closer to his face and he was able to hear it make a soft yet audible sound.
“I hate to say this but… I’m not tall enough even for that,” he grinned, but stopped when he saw her eyes turning into icicles once more. He pursed his lips and went closer to the tree where he bent down and cast a sideward glance at her. “I have a strong back however, that I can assure you.”
It was her turn to be confused. “Hop on my back so you can get a leverage,” he explained as he tapped his shoulder. “Come on.”
She held herself back and gasped, looking outraged at the idea, yet Fair just stared back at her and then glanced at the chick before he looked at her once more with challenge in his eyes. She met his gaze, measure for measure and he heard her sigh indignantly before she went closer to him and sat at his back.
Holding true to his promise, he moved slightly to lift her higher to enable her to do as she pleased. Soon the chick was back in its nest and he gingerly brought her back down to the ground.
He stretched out and was about to speak when he saw yet another look in her eyes. She had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen as she looked up as though to listen to the sound of the chicks chirping their gratitude for having been reunited. She seemed almost ethereal, like an earth goddess as she stood there with a soft smile in her lips as the sunlight peeked through the leaves to kiss her gently.
He wanted to kiss her too, at that moment, until he remembered who she was.
He averted his gaze, hoping to forget what he just saw and noticed the sketchpad lying in the corner. Without thinking, he picked up the sketchpad and focused his attention on it. He noted the detail she placed in drawing the trees and the shade of the leaves as it got touched by the sun’s rays. The drawing seemed to come alive and he could almost hear the wind rustling through her soft strokes.
“… Beautiful,” he mumbled as he looked from the drawing to its artist. She looked surprised to find him touching her things once more and he remembered himself. He fumbled a bit as he moved to return the sketchpad to her when he suddenly heard a soft crack as he moved his feet.

Sure enough he found a broken pencil under the sole of his shoe.
“I… I’m sorry!” he mumbled as he realized he had broken two of her pencils already.
She grumbled as she grabbed the sketchpad away from his grasp and gathered her things then walked off once more – leaving him to stare, and admire her again from behind.
Weeks passed and still he could not forget her, especially that look she had in her eyes that was brought about by sheer joy when she listened to the sound of young birds chirping. His classmates told him that she was a haughty prima donna with a heart made of steel yet he refused to believe them after seeing her so alive before his eyes. She can be so fierce and yet so gentle and the same irony may be found in her work.
He had looked all over the library, the school catalogue, or even the internet for any way for him to see her sketches without her getting angry at him. In his mind, he wanted to see the artwork, but in his heart, he was sure he just wanted to see the artist. When finally, while he was browsing online, he saw the finished product of the sketch which he had glimpsed in those times they were together, he grabbed the opportunity to find out where her exhibition was.
The posh art gallery was patronized by no less than Thailand’s elite circle. It was only under the guise of being an art student that he was able to enter the gallery in the first place. As he stood before her artwork beside men in pinstripe suits and women in diamonds that he confirmed that indeed she was out of his league; she belonged to a world that was so different from his own. Yet her art appealed to him in such a personal level… it gave him the illusion that she was not out of reach. 
Perhaps he and she would always be a bundle of ironies. He was an architect and so his discipline had been to adhere to lines and curves with perfect measurements and accurate angles – and yet he was so fascinated with the seemingly haphazard brushstrokes and uneven smudges of her paintings. She seemed to have the power to capture a fleeting moment in time with her realistic paintings, showing the movement of grass while blown with the wind or the blossoming of flowers under the sunlight.  He looked at her paintings just as often as he looked at her, from afar, whenever the opportunity presented itself. He noticed that she often sketched in the area right across the football field, possibly to capture the sight of the trees and the other buildings under the bright sunlight. He was well aware that the area was the best spot, even architecturally speaking, as it was in the smack center of the University and the open area did not obstruct the light and view. Yet in his own imagination, he had hoped that she was there because she watched him as he played. He figured there was no harm in pretending, in fact, soon enough she became his muse without her even knowing it. He wondered if he could ever have the chance to tell her that each goal he made was dedicated to her.
He knew he was smitten with her, and he also knew that his admiration would never amount to anything … until one fine summer day.
He was back home in the province for the holidays. The hours passed as slowly as just as he remembered when he was a child. There was nothing to do in the farm because harvest season just ended so he was stuck at home. His mother, rather than have him sleep his vacation away, encouraged him to walk around town to see what had changed while he was in college.
Nothing changed, as he had expected.
Except maybe for….the BMW parked right beside their local rice paddies? It was quite a spectacle to see his neighbors, a small group of farmers, had gathered around and gave their inputs as to why the engine broke down and how it can possibly be fixed. Their discussion had been coming along nicely until his father’s drinking buddy noticed Fair and suggested that he probably knew what to do as he was their pride and joy, their very own homeboy from the village who was granted a scholarship at the top university in the big city. He half smiled and half grimaced, not knowing how to tell his elders that he knew nothing about motors as he majored in architecture. Slightly embarrassed, he moved forward to suggest that they call the mechanics from the next town when suddenly ….
She was there.
She was dressed as she normally was, perhaps even more extravagantly as though she were in an excursion. An expensive silk scarf bound her hair while her sunglasses were perched atop her head like a crown. Her floral summer dress looked hundreds of times better than the ones displayed in mannequins in their local boutique and he honestly believed that his elders saw her as a celebrity. Yet instead of being distant, as he had expected, she suddenly looked so warm – so warm and thankful that he almost could not believe his eyes. When she smiled at him, he couldn’t help but pinch himself just to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming.
He figured that she was probably so happy to see a common face among a throng of strangers, although he didn’t look any different from his neighbors at that moment. He was dressed in his hand-me-down fisherman trousers, a loose white shirt and rubber slippers. Immediately he wondered when he last combed his hair that he unconsciously ran a hand across his unruly locks.
He turned to his neighbors and was surprised to see them smiling knowingly at him. Heck, even Noey’s chauffer couldn’t hide his amusement. Clearly they likewise saw her smile, and at least it gave him comfort to know that indeed he had not been imagining things. Not knowing what else to say, he coughed semi-consciously as he briefly faced the other village men. “Uncle Somboon,” he started in their local dialect, “She’s a classmate of mine back in the University. It seems that she needs help with the car. Perhaps you could ask Nong Krit to get the mechanic downtown?” he looked at her briefly when he continued, “She seems a bit parched. Might have to bring her indoors so she can have a quick rest.”
“Yes yes, son, go do that, that’s right,” Uncle Somboon replied, “We’ll ask someone to get you when we’re done.” When the old man saw that she barely understood what they were talking about, he mischievously added, “Or maybe we’ll just leave the car here and have it repaired tomorrow? Your Ma’s been telling me that she’s hoping you’ll get hitched real soon. She wants to see them grandkids running around your Grandpa’s old house since you younguns have all left the nest.”
Fair tried hard to maintain a poker face at Uncle Somboon’s words, yet their neighbors made it all the more awkward as they collectively laughed. He looked at her and grinned, saying that “They said we ought to make you feel more welcome here in our small town. It seems we started out on the wrong foot.” When her eyes widened, he hastily added, “With your car breaking down in the middle of the road, on this hot day, I mean.”
“Ah…” she said as she nodded tentatively. She looked at the elders and gave them a graceful wai. “Thank you very much for all your help and thank you for welcoming me,” she said courteously, and was slightly taken aback when they smiled collectively as though a joke just passed even as they respectfully returned her wai.
The joke was on him, Fair thought bitterly, as he led her away before his elders thought of putting him in an even more awkward situation.
“Khun … uh….”
“Noey, please call me Noey,” she said when they were finally alone together. “Do you think they’ll be able to fix the car within the day?”
“I don’t know for certain,” Fair replied, “the mechanic is two towns away from the village. But if you like, you could use the phone at our house so could call whoever it is that you need to call, I know the cellular service is quite bad in this area.” When Noey shook her head, he hastily added, “Or if you could wait a few minutes, I could borrow my father’s truck and drive you-”
“-It doesn’t matter. I didn’t want to travel any further anyway.”
There was something about her words, or perhaps in the manner that she said it that intrigued Fair. Seeing her now, so resigned and crestfallen, far from her usual proud and imposing self, he realized that she was human after all. Perhaps she wasn’t as unapproachable as he thought. Perhaps she may somehow need company too… perhaps she may need someone like him.
“I guess… there is no point in asking what you are doing around this area in the first place,” he said as he gave her a sideward glance, “But if you don’t mind my company, I can show you around town while we wait for your car to be repaired.”
She gave no outward reaction at first, and he prayed once that he didn’t mangle his chance with his careless words. When she let out a soft chuckle, he was able to breathe again. “First you help me with my car, and now you’re volunteering to be my tour guide. Taken with all those times we met in the past, surely you think of me now as a damsel in distress.”
“No, not at all,” he replied, tickled with the idea that she did remember those moments he kept on replaying on his mind. Perhaps he had a shot after all. “It’s the least I could do for all those pencils of yours that I broke.” And for inspiring me to make goals, and for moving me with your art, he added to himself.
She looked up to meet his gaze, with a rare smile in her eyes. “If that’s the case then…”
He was elated when she took him up on his offer, only for him to feel distressed when he realized there wasn’t much to see in his small town.
Yet she surprised him once again when she went with him willingly, not once uttering a word of complaint. He felt … nay, he knew that she descended down her high horse as she freely walked beside him.
He didn’t know what got into him when he decided to bring her to the small local school where his father used to teach. It was likewise the same school where he first learned how to read and write. Perhaps it was because the place had so many fond memories that he decided to share it with her.
“Come,” he encouraged her as he offered his hand so she could cross over the small fence.
“But it’s closed,” she said confusedly as she noticed that the school was deserted because of the summer break.
He grinned as he leaned down slightly as though telling her a secret, “My dad used to teach here. I grew up thinking I owned the place,” he said. “Come on, I’ll show you around.”
She gave him a wry look before she gave in and placed her hand in his as they sneaked inside the small school.
Noey looked around, seemingly fascinated with the surroundings. He figured that she had probably never seen such a humble school since she had seen nothing but grandeur all her life. He gave her a small tour, giving her anecdotes from his childhood as he did so. She didn’t laugh but she maintained that calm pleasant expression so he figured that she hasn’t totally lost her patience with him yet. Finally, when they were nearing the curb of the small elementary school building, he remembered a trick he used to have as a child.
He looked at her once and smiled, his dimple bearing smile, before he pressed his hands against the wall. A few seconds later, they heard a soft “click” and sure enough, a small window opened. From there, he grabbed two chalkboards and a piece of yellow chalk and then grinned at her. He rounded the curb and led her towards a small swing. He grabbed the edges of his trousers to wipe one swing and then he sat down on the adjacent swing. He motioned for her to sit and she did so, tentatively.
He handed her a chalkboard right after he wiped it with his arm and then he proceeded to break the chalk into half. He gave her the longer cut and then grinned once more.
“I used to stay here to sketch whenever I waited for my father to finish with his work. I drew buildings, houses, bridges, everything I could think of as I imagined them getting built on this playground.”
She smiled at his words as she swept her hand across the old chalkboard.
“You like drawing too don’t you?” Fair asked her innocently, only to laugh at himself as he continued, “Well, that is quite an understatement huh? You must’ve been told a million times already but you’re… you’re a really good artist, you know?”
She looked at him and smiled a bigger smile at his words and suddenly he felt his heart skip several beats at the sight. Gone was his snow queen, and instead, he saw her as a woman, plain and simple, with no trappings and no embellishments. And yet she was no less wonderful to him, for she was still beyond compare. He had never seen someone more beautiful and graceful as she was, and now that she smiled at him, now that she looked at him without disdain in her eyes, he felt her touch his heart so intensely like no woman has ever done before.
He opened his mouth to speak but found no words to say. Seeing him tongue tied, she merely chuckled as she looked down and proceeded to draw something in her chalkboard.
Not knowing what else to do, he proceeded to draw in his own chalkboard as well. They remained silent as they each drew, not showing their drawing to the other as they did so. They looked like two competitors in a game only children played as they stayed there in the empty playground in the old schoolhouse.
Soon he was done and he lifted the chalkboard to his chest, careful not to let the drawing get smudged in his shirt. He looked at Noey and pursed his lips, trying hard to hold back a smile as he waited for her to finish. He stopped and stared as he realized how beautiful she was as she worked. He had seen her work for several weeks from afar, and it was the first time for him to see her close. There was a gentle expression in her eyes and a hint of a smile in her lips. Her long fingers worked gracefully as she worked. He couldn’t help but think that she was another person – so different from the feisty woman who gave him threatening glares when they first met.
She probably felt him looking at her so she briefly raised her head and met his gaze. She blinked once, twice and then she raised her eyebrows questioningly.  
He must have looked like an idiot as he continued to stare at her, unable to speak until he realized what he was doing and laughed awkwardly. She looked away and shook her head and all he could do was look up as he tugged on his shirt in embarrassment.
“I’m done,” she said as she flipped her chalkboard to show her work.
It was a rose garden. He could almost see the red hues of the petals although they were drawn on a black and white chalkboard.
“Well?” she asked as she motioned for him to show her his drawing. He then flipped over his chalkboard and revealed his drawing of a house with a wide porch and country windows. “You’re not so bad yourself,” Noey said as she placed a dainty finger by her lips before she smiled again. “That looks like a lovely house.”
Fair looked at her tentatively before he reached out to get the chalkboard from Noey’s hands. She looked at him confusedly until he held his chalkboard with one hand while he held Noey’s chalkboard in the other.
“Hm… I always forget about the garden,” Fair mumbled as he looked at their work side by side.
“Oh…they do suit…” Noey stopped midsentence when their eyes met and suddenly she gasped, seemingly embarrassed as she looked away.
They do suit, her words echoed in Fair’s mind, we do too, you know, he added silently to himself.
It was at that moment that he decided to take his chance.
He shall do everything to capture her heart.
They walked silently, side by side, as they entered the grand ballroom of the Golden Mansion. Again the people were at awe upon seeing Fair with yet another fine lady. The difference however with Yaya was that the new lady was more elegant, perhaps to the point of being snobbish – but rightfully so. It was easy to tell that she was a lady of high importance with the way she walked and the way she smiled ever so subtly. Even Fair seemed to keep his distance as he ushered her but mindful that he does not touch her in any way. It was so unlike the way he earlier escorted Yaya who was so charming and pleasant. Yet just the same, there was a different kind of aura with Fair and his new lady as they walked together.
They called Noey the Lady in Red in the short time that she was in their midst, and Fair was well aware that she was still a commanding presence, perhaps even more so now than when they were in college. He wondered why he ever thought that they could be together, side by side like this when it was obvious that he was warm as she was cold. He was fire and she was ice. Yet it did not matter…. Everything was in the past; everything had been forgiven – he had forgotten… He had forgotten? He repeated the words in his head, as he tried to convince himself.
Fair stopped and turned slightly to face Noey, to address her without directly looking at her. “Mr. Chesney is probably with the other dignitaries in the billiards room. If you would excuse me, I could find out where their wives are hanging out then maybe you could stay with the honorable guests.”
“I’ve no purpose to speak with him,” Noey replied as she looked up and tried to draw in Fair’s gaze. Instead, he kept his eyes distant, as though he were searching for other guests.
“Then your friends would be coming in a while?”
“I don’t know. I did not come for them,” she replied, as she finally lifted her hand to place it lightly on his arm. “Are you getting rid of me?”
“No,” he replied instinctively upon hearing a tinge of distress in her voice. He had vowed never to hurt her. He closed his eyes briefly after he saw her gaze upon him and remembered himself – remembered how she was and how she had mercilessly shown him the truth about the two of them. His vow was meant to be broken – especially when it was she who hurt him first. “I was merely hoping to lead you to be with your circle as I would not want you to be out of place.
She bit her lip at his callous words and finally saw the anger that remained hidden deep within him. He was still mad at her, she realized, and rightfully so, as she remembered all those things she told him in the past. They did not part well and she was stupid to think that everything would be fine once their paths crossed again over time.
“There was a time… once, when we could freely talk to each other,” she said softly, “Do you remember? Back then we were at ease with each other.”
Fair remembered everything – the chalkboards, the swing, the idylls that followed after that fateful summer. There was a time when they were good friends, at least to his mind. Now she was surprising him by hinting that she remembered those times just as clearly as he did – even when it was she who caused him to forget, who forced him to forget those times in the first place.  
“What do you want Noey? Do you want me to be at ease with you now?” He muttered under his breath as he cast her a sharp glance, “Then let me ask you and please answer me honestly, what do you want from me now?”
“Is there really no way for me to have a place here?” She asked softly, almost in a whisper as she looked down and avoided his eyes. Shall I never have the chance to be beside you again?
Fair sighed loudly as he raked his hand through his hair when he realized that he let his emotion get the better of him. Earlier he tried to steel himself, to keep her from knowing that she still had the power to affect him. Didn’t he vow to make her feel that he had forgotten everything - that he had already moved on with his life – that she was no longer important to him?
It was a flat out lie, he realized, all it took was one glimpse of her and suddenly the pain was fresh in his mind once more.
“Why are you deluding yourself? You are not part of my world. We can never be together this way. Don’t you understand?” those were her very words that night, Fair thought as he closed his eyes once more to forget, yet the memory just boomeranged and nagged him back. “Why must you persevere? There are some things in life which you can never have, Fair. It’s useless to even try. No matter how good you are, no matter how perfect you are - some things are simply unattainable.”
If those words were not meant to shun him, he didn’t know what her purpose was when she said them in the first place. What is her game now? Why is she reaching out when she made it perfectly clear that he can never have her? That no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he changed himself, they still cannot be together.
He did change the past few years. In the beginning it was because he wanted to prove to her that she was wrong. He knew he can be a man who deserved her, even when he had no riches, even when his family background was so different from hers. He wanted to prove to her that through his own skill and talent he can make a name for himself and he can continue to hold his head up high and walk beside her without anyone ever telling them that they do not suit.
Yet over time he realized that what she said was right. He was not part of her world, and he never would be. He could change the way he dressed and he could have thicker pockets. Yet he can never be like the men in her circle of friends. He can never have the arrogance or the power those men like Noey’s father had. He can never find the same thrill in their extravagant living. She was right; he cannot be part of her world.
And he realized he did not want to be part of her world in the first place. He did not want to change in that way – he did not want to become like one of them.
Yet now … now she’s talking about her place here, here in his world.
“Do you even know what you are talking about?” Fair asked her flatly in a monotonous voice. It was hard to imagine that Noey who had always been so proud, who met his affection with coldness and sarcasm, who thought so highly of herself – now wanted to step down from her pedestal to descend upon him, a mere mortal. She said so herself, perhaps he was merely deluding himself.
Noey bit her lip at Fair’s harsh words, suddenly realizing how stupid it was for her to show up there in the first place. Perhaps things can never be righted between the two of them. There was so much hurt that passed… so much hurt that it seems that all the happy memories they shared had all faded in the background. It had mostly been her fault, and she didn’t know what to do to make amends. When she decided to see him again, she thought perhaps the truth would be enough – that once he knows the full story of why she did what she did, all will be forgiven. But then she realized now as she looked at him while his eyes were smoky with a smoldering fire even while his stance remained tense but poised that she had hurt him too much.
It was just too bad… perhaps she’ll never ever get to tell him how she really felt.
Perhaps she’ll never get to tell him that she adored him – she loved his smile, his bright eyes, and his liveliness. She’ll never get to tell him that she had always wanted to reciprocate his feelings but she was too insecure and had a constant need to protect her own heart. She had been raised differently as she had been praised all her life. She was made to believe that she was a cut above the rest and she cannot simply mingle with just anyone. She had no choice but to cast a barrier around herself to avoid getting hurt, as each time she tried to reach out, she was avoided and kept at a distance – in a place that was so high that she was all alone. She’ll never get to thank him for his perseverance and for never shirking away. Fair did not treat her differently from how he treated the rest. He had enough faith in her to know that she did not live in a bubble – that she would understand even those concepts that everyone thought was foreign to her. He dared to open her horizons and to explain and make her understand simple things in life like farming, the latest lakorn, or the joke he heard from the school janitor. He was neither intimidated by her, nor was he awed by her family background. He was courteous with her as he was a gentleman, but he was never cold and indifferent. She knew that Fair was a guy who everybody loved and he could have anyone, yet still, he chose to spend time with her, even when she was cold and indifferent.
But now things have changed. In protecting herself, in protecting him from her unyielding world, he had shunned her away. Perhaps she’ll never be able to explain that she rejected him for his sake – that she said those heartless words for what she thought was right at that time. This was the path she chose… and there was no turning back.
Seeing him now, so honorable and dignified with his successful career she thought perhaps her efforts were not in vain.
Yet she was not a completely generous person. At this point she wanted to be selfish too. She did not want to give up, not just yet.   Not without a fight. If that geek Harry Pouter was taking a chance at love then she should go for it too. 
“I know what I am talking about. I know it with certainty,” Noey lifted her head and looked at him squarely. “Now I ask you again, Fair, is there really no way for me to have a place here? Must you really send me away?”
Fair clenched his fists in frustration, his confusion taking him over. “Do what you want, I don’t care.” He mumbled softly as he looked away.
“Good,” Noey replied, taking his challenge as her chance to win him back. 
notes: The title of this chapter is a French song which had been translated to English as well. I especially like the cover done by Daniela Andrade which may be found here:
(SarN, you just might fall asleep with this one. haha, fair warning!) 
Sorry for not having Yaya and James in this chapter, but I thought these guys have to catch up on their side of the story.  (Well, that and I've been afflicted with the Jiranee fever again and it's interfering with Jirassaya. I'm really sorry about that) Thanks again for reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! 


I'm so in love with this chapter! I don't mind that there's no Jirassaya in here. I enjoyed Fair and Noey to the fullest. I love howw Noey didn't give up. Fair is so in love with her. :)


sarNie Granny
Oh , girl, when are u going update. I read the latest CH twice thinking it an update loll , I love the detail & characters , cute & funny , I see rainbow & sunshine when ever I imagine this fiction , crazy hahaha


sarNie Adult
Hello SarN, i'm sorry, Jirassaya is gone because of Jiranee. Hahahaha i'll try my best this weekend!


sarNie Adult
Chapter 15 – What is Love?

“Why are you being so difficult Chotika?” the Madame of the house spoke with an air of authority about her. Noey and Pai’s mother was always thought to be royal blooded, and rightfully so, because her looks and bearing were nothing short of majestic. Now that she walked around Noey’s spacious and tastefully designed room, she appeared to come right out of a regency novel.

“I am not being difficult mother, it’s just that I don’t see the point of this whole dinner party,” Noey said exasperatedly as she too shifted in her spacious bed and faced her mother squarely, “I have told you and father that I have no interest in being Khun Chai’s wife or even his… play thing. I would much rather live life a spinster than be a dolled up trophy wife to be shelved with another one of his petty prized mistresses.”

“My word!” Noey’s mother stomped back to Noey’s bed and actually had the urge to slap her daughter then and there, “since when had you entertained such preposterous thoughts in that head of yours? That is no way a lady should speak!”

“But it is the truth mother, isn’t it? We’ve known their family for generations and it is no secret that … that man is just as lecherous as his father. Why do you insist on associating with the likes of them-”

“-You know the reason why. Do not be stupid. You know how important it is to keep the reputation of the family don’t you?” Her mother sat down, visibly frustrated and nearly out of breath due to her anger, “You’ve never been difficult with these things, why are you acting up now?”

“I want a life that is mine, mother. In this day and age, why must we sell our happiness for that reputation of yours? Why must I be betrothed to a stranger? Aren’t we good people? Aren’t we good enough mother?”

The loud slap echoed through the spacious room, and it quickly silenced Noey.

“All this time I have raised you to let you freely do as you will and to speak your own mind – I now regret that decision of mine. I never knew you’ll end up this prideful,” the Madame stood and wrung her hands stiffly, “Your father and I have given you everything – but this time, you must do as we wish. Please don’t let me see you as an ingrate and do as I will. This is the only time I have ordered you to do something and you must not disobey. Do you understand?”

Noey touched her cheek with one hand as she nodded her head with her eyes downcast. She bit her lip to stop the tears, her pride refused to let her mother see her weeping. With that her mother silently left the room and it was as if nothing happened.

Numbly, Noey walked to her dresser to start combing her hair. She had to keep up appearances and she knew she must never look disheveled or distressed – she had no right to do so. She dressed up in the finest of clothes, as she picked her most expensive summer dress bought from Europe. She quickly packed her bag and rode their luxury car and went off like Cinderella, off to meet her prince in the ball.

All her life, she was made to believe that they were no ordinary people – that they were a cut above the rest. Their family name was so pristine and so divine that being born into it was already a privilege. She was sent to the best schools, given the best clothes, even the best toys. She may only associate with the best people, those whose stature in life were the same as theirs, those who spoke the same language as their ancestors.

It made her critical and spiteful as she was always placed in a class of her own. Those who surrounded her adhered to strict standards not even she could uphold. Sometimes it drove her insane, especially when the very people who maintained that they were part of her elite circle acted so distastefully and so vulgarly that she felt dismayed. They were supposed to be perfect people weren’t they? Because they had the best cars, the best bags, the best clothes, they were supposed to be perfect.

And yet they weren’t.

Perfection was a word she hated because it was a mere farce that was never really attained.

She was often told she was perfect, as she was rich, beautiful and well educated – and yet she knew she was not, she was far from it. In fact, if there was someone who was perfect, it would definitely not be her but….


How many times had she watched him from afar, the poor schoolmaster’s son from the province? He wore the drabbest of clothes and often he wore mere plain white shirts and jeans – it was either that or his complimentary sports uniform as he was a member of the football varsity. Yet his broad shoulders and his physique made him stand out in the crowd. He grew up in a small town, she heard from the principal, and yet he was not only the ace captain of the football club but also the guy who got the highest scores in class. It was strange how he never grew up with the best tutors, the best school, the best environment but still he came out to be the most excellent student there is. More than that, he was always pleasant and amiable. Everyone looked up to him; everyone loved him – so much so that she found herself hating him at some point.

And yet despite that, he was kind, always with a ready smile, always with a warm gaze even when she was being mean to him. He appreciated her works of art even when she called him a barbarian who knew nothing but play football.

She hated him, so much she wanted to see him just to see how he would fail – she knew he had to fail at some point and yet even as she waited and waited, she found herself falling … and falling some more…

She learned later on that he was easily rattled and he couldn’t speak straight during an emergency. He was likewise clumsy and he broke her things so easily. He even admitted that he was too short to reach a mere branch of a tree – and yet why was it that all these flaws just made him even more endearing, made him even more precious in her heart?

The vehicle stopped moving in the middle of nowhere and she barely noticed it as she spaced out, thinking about him. How was she to reach the venue in time now? How was she to explain her tardiness to the elders? They were all snooty people. She could already imagine their fake pleasantries and their disdainful expressions, all hidden in their designer clothes and nonsensical talks about business and whatnot and …

“Well I reckon our college boy Fair would oughta know how them machines work and all dat!” one of the farmers drawled out with his thick accent as he motioned someone to get closer to where they were.

His clothes look nothing short of worn out as his shirt was no longer white but off white and the fisherman pants seemed to have been a hand-me-down. His hair was ruffled as though blown by the wind as he walked all day. He easily talked in the same dialect as the other farmer folk and he looked like he fit right in.

She could not believe that he could be even more perfect in her eyes.

He had his usual kind eyes, his ready warm smile and able hands that have experienced toil and hardship. He was no Khun Chai, but to her he was nothing short of a gentleman, in the truest sense of the word.

He gladly and eagerly welcomed her to his world and she had no second thoughts in plunging right in. They talked about the most mundane things and yet there was never a dull moment. They did not talk about the latest fashions in Europe, or the highest rising stocks in the market. They did not talk of riches and prestige – instead they talked about roses, about the weather, the small province that he grew up in and the house he wished to build someday. They talked about their dreams, their childhood games, and their happiest memories. They talked about life… they talked about each other, and for once she felt like a human being talking to another human being, who lived and breathed the same air as she did.

They looked at the stars together. They viewed the twilight together. They watched the sun rise together. Pretty soon she realized she can never be apart from him again.

Indeed the simple man that was Fair Gundon was perfect, even though her perfect world said otherwise.


“It was impressive what you did to the mural at the CCV Building,” Noey started as she leaned on the balcony and faced him squarely, “I never did get to praise you for that. Good work.”

She never really did praise him for anything, Fair thought bitterly as he placed a hand in his pocket and stared off, stared at anything so as not to see her face. “So you’ve seen the lighting at the upper mezzanine,” he started, “I made it so to remind me of my place. The sun rises and sets in the same place in the same angles. Just like how people in this world are supposed to be.”

“Still being sarcastic with me, I see,” Noey muttered yet not backing down.

“It’s a skill I’ve learned from you, no doubt,” Fair retorted as he finally went to her side and placed his hand on the railings of the balcony as he stared towards the field.

“About that night…” She started as she cast him a longing glance which he nevertheless failed to see as he stubbornly stared ahead at the empty field. “I’m really…”

“Hmm… this is classic,” Fair grunted as he shook his head, “Please Noey. I want to preserve that image of you in my head. Please don’t ruin it for me. It’s all right. You are a princess, I know. Always was, always will be. You don’t have to say anything.”

“But I really….” She then placed her hand by his arm and she was successful in finally catching his attention, enough to make him look at her. “Fair … I am…”

He looked at her deeply, with pain in his eyes and what seemed to be a flicker of hope.

But soon she realized that the flicker of hope that she saw was nothing but her own reflection mirrored in his gaze. “I shouldn’t have… I regret those words… I … I am sorry.”

Her eyes were downcast so she failed to see his expression as she said the words. It took him years to get over the hurt – the hurt which still pained him now, at that moment. In the beginning, he thought that he would forgive her if she apologized, if she took her words back, he loved her enough to forgive her anything– and yet it hurt so much as he tried to move on each passing day and he had grown to think that nothing she could ever say would change things. They cannot come back to the way they used to be. She destroyed what they had it can never be the same…it can never be the same…. Can it?

He clenched his fists at her words, not really knowing what to do, not really sure of what he was feeling. He had it all figured out. He had forgotten all about her. She was now just a memory. He already set his sights on someone else didn’t he?

Ms. Sperbund was so much kinder, nicer. She understood him more than Noey ever would. She was not haughty nor arrogant, she was not from her perfect world … she was…

She was running across the field with another man.

Fair clutched the railings as he saw his date running for dear life while clutching the hand of her best friend.

Great, just what I need. More drama in my life, he grumbled to himself as the events made him even more confused than he already was.

Noey’s attention was quickly averted when she noticed that Fair was gazing at something far away. Vaguely, she saw a woman in an apricot dress and a familiar looking man….


“I have to go,” Fair said only to feel Noey’s cold hands on his.


He stopped as she had asked, instinctively following her despite vowing never to do so, ever again. Again he focused his gaze on her as he tried to calm his heart, as he willed his blood to stop pumping in his ears so he can hear what she has to say.

“Won’t you at least let me explain?” Noey said, almost pleading. “I owe it to you…. I owe it to both of us.”

He wanted to shake off her hand in his yet he was powerless to do so. All he could do was to remain still and to continue letting her hold his hand. “Please Fair? Can’t you listen to me, just this time?”

“All right… I’ll listen. If that’s all that you are asking me to do. I’ll listen.”


“Yaya,” James started as he adjusted his hold on her while he continued to carry her in his back. “I can’t see it well, but is that a convenience store by the end of the road?”

“Hmm?” Yaya asked, seemingly disoriented as she lifted her head from his shoulder. “Over there?”

At least she sounded better, James thought as he heard her voice, glad there was no hint of distress even though he had been walking down the road off the Golden Mansion in silence for the past few minutes. A part of him still worried enough to bring her to the hospital although he figured it would probably needlessly agitate her.

“What would you like to drink?” he asked as he turned his head slightly to have a glimpse of her.

“I’m ok,” she sighed as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders once more and leaned her head down, almost as if she were sleepy. “I don’t need anything.”

James had to look forward as he tried to calm down his speeding heart. Perhaps Yaya would never know how much her actions affected him. Considering what had happened earlier that night, he was sure she needed him to think and act like a best friend than a man who was desperately in love with her at that moment. She was still uncharacteristically quiet and he worried that she was still not over her trauma from that incident.

“Well… I do. I need water… and perhaps a sandwich,” James grumbled as he focused on the road. “I’ve expended a lot of energy you know. I had forgotten…. how heavy you are.”

Yaya chuckled as she loosened her hold on his neck and slapped his shoulder playfully. “Then put me down silly!”

“No,” he replied with a grin as he hoisted her up higher in his back. “I want to remember this back breaking feeling … probably like carrying a sack of rice…”

She gasped indignantly as she hugged him tightly again, but this time, as though for a choke hold.

“Ow! Ya!” he laughed, glad he was able to elicit something from her and made him fully aware that she felt better. Soon they reached the small and quiet convenience store and he bent down to let her back on her feet. Theatrically, he stretched out his back as though he nearly broke it, only to earn another indignant grunt form Yaya.

“Here I was thinking you’re finally having a chivalrous spirit,” she said.

“Any chivalrous spirit is no match for Yaya’s legendary back breaking big bones,” he said, earning him another playful slap in his arm. “Sit down first here all right, I don’t want you hurting your feet further. Wait for me ok? I’ll just go buy some stuff inside.”

Yaya nodded and did as ordered. She moved in the small bench outside the brightly lit convenience store and waited for James. She realized she got used to feeling James’s warm back by her chest that she suddenly felt cold now that she was alone in the bench. She drew her feet in and hid it beneath the long layers of her gown and she pulled his coat tighter around herself. The scent of him made her feel warm all over once more. She looked up to see the stars, suddenly remembering a night not too long ago when they had been together, talking about love and the future.

She confessed to him then that she had never been in love – and it was something she was sure he must have known since they were best friends for as long as she can remember. And yet now that she realized that she loved him all along, she wondered if he knew that too?

She wondered…. By any chance… did he love her too?

He observed her from the window of the store as he lined up before the counter for his purchase. Tonight should have been her most magical night and yet it ended up a disaster. He had never seen her so beautiful and so radiant, especially when she walked with her first love around the Golden Mansion like they were its golden couple. He had never seen her as happy as when she was led away from him to dance shyly with the prince of the ball. No matter how much he loathed Fair for succeeding in being his Yaya’s first love, he cannot deny the joy and sparkle the older man brought into her eyes – and he would give anything just to see that same joy and sparkle in her eyes, every time, ever day, over even a single second of seeing the fear and panic he earlier saw in her eyes when she was in danger. It was a sight he vowed he never wanted to see ever again in her eyes. And yet that night, at that moment as she sat quietly outside the small convenience store, she had an unreadable expression in her eyes as she quietly looked at the stars.

He felt something jab at his heart when he saw her shoulders lift up in surprise as he placed his purchase by her side in the bench. Yaya had never been the jumpy type and he wondered how long the effects of that night would linger. Slowly, so that she would not be startled even further, he moved forward and knelt by the ground in front of her so she could see him fully.

She gazed at him with her wide eyes and was surprised to see him kneeling before her. Her heart melted at the concern in his almond eyes as he searched her face, as he searched her soul. She wondered if he would be able to see just how much she loved him at that moment. She felt warmth in her cheeks as she briefly looked away only to look back at him once more when she felt his hands by her feet.

She read it once in a book when she was younger… when the prince placed a glass slipper on Cinderella’s foot and confirmed that she was his princess and they will live happily ever after. Sure James was not slipping her feet into a glass shoe, but on a pair of cheap rubber flip-flops which he found in the convenience store, but the moment was magical enough for her to feel as though she were in a fairy tale. She bent down to try to stop him from touching her feet as she felt embarrassed, only for her to feel even more embarrassed from touching his hand. She held his hands for so long and never felt any shyness from it, and yet now she berated herself for having these weird thoughts.

“Yaya, are you ok?” James caught her hand in his just as she withdrew it and he sat on the bench by her side. He couldn’t read the expression in her eyes yet he was surprised when he saw her hesitation. “Oy, Yaya,” he murmured as he rubbed her hand, trying to see if it was cold or warm to his touch.

He felt relief when she finally looked at him, smiled and clutched his hand tightly as she usually did. She shook her head and finally said, “Don’t worry about me James. I’m just being silly I guess. I’m fine. Really, I am.”

Still she did not let go of his hand and he had no plans letting go either. They just sat beside each other, both in amiable silence as they held hands. A lot of passersby saw them and eyed them strangely, probably thinking they were having a rendezvous of some sort. Yet they remained quiet as they just held hands and sat quietly in the bench by the brightly lit convenience store.

Soon Yaya laughed once and shook her head, “They must be thinking we are having a weird date. Look at us in our clothes while we’re sitting here doing nothing.”

“Hah, well, I’m glad enough for them to think that at least we’re on a date. I was thinking more like they think we escaped from an asylum,” James replied as he leaned closer to Yaya.

“You really ruin the mood you know,” she joked as she finally looked at him, but was surprised to see him close to her. Yet instead of recoiling as she did earlier, she merely smiled brightly at him and squeezed his hand.

He got lost in her eyes and the worry briefly left his chest. She was so beautiful and so precious to him that it almost hurt to be so close to her, even with the knowledge that it wasn’t really he who was her date for this night.

“Well… just so you won’t say I’m a kill joy, I think…. No. I want to ask you to be my date, now.”

It was the worst way to say it, but he couldn’t believe he managed to blurt it out in the first place. He wondered if Tor would be able to find out what happened that night, and what the MLD boys would have to say about the situation. He shook his head and realized that the MLD boys should be the least of his worries and he had to come up with something before Yaya starts to think that he’s strange and that he-

“-Yes, I would love that very much,” she replied as she gave his hand another squeeze. James’s heart went on an overdrive then and he had to focus ahead to calm himself down.

Did she already know?

Did his careless words make her finally realize the effect that she had on him? He closed his eyes briefly and remembered the smile she had for Fair and he glanced at her and saw her smile and realized they weren’t so different after all. Perhaps this was what he could do for her. He was no Fair Gundon but he had to make this night magical for her again.

He reached across her and grabbed the plastic bag containing the stuff he bought from the convenience store and rummaged over it. He grabbed the strawberry pudding he bought on a whim and opened it with one hand and gave it to her.

“How nostalgic… we ate about a dozen boxes of these when we were younger,” she grinned as she held the cup gingerly in her hands and grabbed a spoon in the bag to eat it.

“Yeah… that’s what made you so heavy in the first place,” he teased, earning another playful slap from her. He then grabbed the sandwich he bought and also proceeded to eat it, after offering it to her as well.

James devoured the sandwich quickly and when Yaya figured he was still hungry, she scooped a spoonful of the strawberry pudding and offered it to him. He opened his mouth without any ado and just ate it, just like how they did so when they were younger. They often ate this way, when they shared a cup of pudding ever since they were children.

The passersby continued to eye them, but this time they have smiles in their faces.

“They probably think we are childhood sweethearts going on a date,” Yaya murmured as she focused on the pudding with the blush deepening in her cheeks.

James nearly choked while he drank water from a bottle when Yaya said the words. She grinned at him and reached up to wipe his lips with tissue paper … only for them to end up looking intently at each other once more.

Did he already know?

Did she finally figure it out?

“Jeez, Go get a room!”

The random comment from one of the passersby woke them from their stupor and they ended up facing the opposite sides in embarrassment.

Shyly, Yaya pulled James’s coat tighter around herself as she thought hard of what to tell him to break the ice. James did the same as he idly loosened the bowtie in his neck.

“James, I want to-”

“-Yaya, I”

They looked at each other, startled, and burst out grinning as they spoke at the same time.

“What is happening to us? It’s so weird, really,” James muttered as he shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck with one of his hands.

“Yeah, it’s silly, what are we doing?”

When their laughter finally died down, James pursed his lips and had an uncharacteristically mischievous glint in his eyes as he stood up. “I think now is a good time for a Banana song.”

Yaya laughed once more and managed to blurt out, “Are you sure? Right now? Here?” She then pressed her lips into a smile and issued him a challenge with her eyes.

“Try me,” James grinned, uncharacteristically cocky, as he suddenly stood in attention and had his back face Yaya. She couldn’t help but break into hysterics again once James started moving his hips awkwardly and moving with the steps only he knew how to do.

“Ba-na-na…Banana-Banana! Bananananana!” James started waving his hands with abandon and fell into the rhythm only he and Yaya heard in their heads. Yaya held her stomach in laughter as she tried to clap her hands with his rhythm until finally, the usually shy and introverted James finally went to full speed and said “Everybody! BANANA!”

Yaya then stood up and joined in his game, and like monkeys they twirled around the empty parking lot of the brightly lit convenience store and had their weird dance. Soon the store keep saw their antics and came out to reprimand them, thinking they were probably drunk kids playing around and making a ruckus.

“Uh…. I’m sorry P! Just having some fun,” James blurted out, trying to keep a straight face. “Uhhh… P! It’s our first date you see. Do you mind if you could…. Well. Play something nice to set up the mood and all?”

The store keep shook his head and waved his hand, effectively dismissing the two of them. He hurriedly shut down the door and went back to his business. Just then, James and Yaya looked at each other like two children who were just punished and made to stand in the corner. They looked at each other and tried their best not to laugh.

“I like your spirit man, here, I’ll play the greatest hits for ya!” A guy behind a motorcycle suddenly blurted out from behind them as he parked his bike. “Watch out for my bike will ya, gotta take a leak.”

“Sure thing P!” James said as he gave him an awkward salute. As promised, the biker turned on the sounds of his small stereo and played a popular novelty dance song.

“May I have this dance?” James asked Yaya as he held out his hand, laughter still in his voice.

“My pleasure!” Yaya replied, completely different from the formal and awkward way she reacted earlier. Soon the two of them continued dancing around like fools – just like how they were when they were much much younger. They tried their best to keep their laughter down as they twirled around in the empty lot with the awkward movements of their arms. They were just getting into the rhythm when suddenly Yaya stepped on her gown with her flat rubber slippers…

… and fell straight into James’s arms.

James instinctively locked his arms around Yaya’s waist and arms when he saw that she was about to fall into the ground, and yet he felt frozen as he stared at her wide eyed gaze as she looked at him with her lips slightly parted in surprise. She too felt the world stop moving all around her as everything faded except James and she.

He felt powerless as he continued to hold the woman he had loved since he was five years old. She was the woman he grew up with, and the person he was sure he wanted to get old with. She made him promise to be by her side forever and he wanted nothing more than to keep that promise, if she would only let him.

She stared at his eyes, as though for the first time, although she had seen his eyes all her life. She saw his pain, his anger, his happiness in those eyes of his. But it was only then that she realized just how beautiful and how magical his myopic eyes were. Although they could barely see without any glasses on, she realized they were always clear and bright whenever she looked at them. She started to think if indeed she had really looked upon his eyes before? She wondered… is he possibly seeing her eyes the way that she saw his? Isn’t she the nearsighted one?

The spell was broken once they heard the sound of car approach. Awkwardly, James helped Yaya find her balance as she stood while they looked at the car that was parked right ahead of them. Soon, Fair stepped out of the driver’s seat, getting a full view of James and Yaya, with his hands still placed protectively behind her.

He had a blank expression in his face and the two were not sure how things would play out for the three of them.

Fair stepped forward and James quickly felt Yaya step back, as her expression broke into an uncertain one and right away he felt her tense up. Possibly noting her distress, Fair took another tentative step towards them, with his eyes filled with concern.

James’s hands were balled into a fist as he realized what he must do although in his heart he felt nails digging a hole through it. “Arch. Gundon… I… Yaya is…”

“What happened?” Fair asked concernedly, as he noted the apprehension in Yaya’s eyes.

“We had a run-in at the second floor and Yaya was…” James continued as he pushed Yaya forward, unable to see the look she threw at him. Realization dawned on Fair and he figured that something bad must have happened to his date.

Fair then bent down and reached for Yaya’s hands and James couldn’t help but walk ahead and stay in front of Fair to give the two some privacy. Yaya stared into Fair’s concerned eyes until he bent down slightly to give her a comforting hug. It was then that she looked ahead of his shoulder and stared at James as he kept his back to the two of them, as though refusing to see what was going on.

Soon the night had to come to an end. James gave Fair a very brief account of what happened as he drove the two of them back to Yaya’s house. Their princess, in turn, remained silent as she stared at the two men who sat across each other, in front of her. She had never seen them in a way that she saw her now, first was her crush, and the other was her love. It had never been this clear up to that moment. It had never been that confusing up until that moment.

James idly stared at the rear view mirror, noting the way Yaya looked at Fair and he wondered if anything changed from that night at all. He vowed to keep her his and win her heart from Fair and yet he questioned himself…. Was he too late?

Fair continued to drive ahead, feeling guilt in his heart after hearing what happened. Yet just the same he remembered feelings he had thought he lost. What was he to do with this eventful night? What was he to do to face the coming morning? He was not even sure anymore.

And thus the three of them continued their trip in silence.
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sarNie Adult
WAAAH! It's been so long since I last updated! I also didn't know that there is now a new word count rule in the forums! Hahaha I guess I'll have to talk less.

Anyway, about the lack of updates, I'm sorry everybody, Jiranee got in the way. I fangirled over Padiwarada so much, I really can't go back to Jirassaya. But anyway, today marks the day of NNS's 1 year anniversary and it helped that a lot of people were celebrating the Jirassaya love today. So now I give you Chapter 15. Hmmmmm I'm going to have to write more about Fair x Noey, but I hope you won't get bored with it! Now that Yaya loves James, I suppose we'd have more sweet scenes now right? I personally don't know myself! Let's just wait and see! But for now, I give you Neung and Poom so we could all remember how cute they are together!



sarNie Granny
There is ? I'll check it out & increase it. I miss reading too been caught up w/ chasing boys & stuff lolll . Will go back & read