Summer Haikus (Happily Ever Asia)
by SJ Pajonas
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Multicultural Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: August 6, 2015
"When it comes to fight or flight, I always choose to run like hell.”
Isa planned the perfect summer:
Tokyo and the Summer Olympics — check.
Helping her best friend prepare for the marathon — check.
Forgetting she's in love with Masa — double check.
But when Isa's mother is hospitalized, she has to abandon her summer plans to run the family's Tokyo business. Masa’s offer to help makes it impossible for Isa to ignore him — and the firecracker kiss they shared half a world away. Everyone expects the world of her, but the pressure to please them all is as oppressive as the Tokyo summer heat. The simplest answer to all her problems? Run.
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I walk out onto the front lawn and take another deep breath. It’s a beautiful night in East Lansing. The sky is clear, stars twinkling, and an almost full moon hangs not far above the tree line. I took an Astronomy 101 class last fall, and I’ve been in love with the stars ever since. When I was still trying to decide on my major, I considered astronomy. I thought maybe I was destined to study the stars, what with Halley being named after a famous astronomer and my love of nighttime, but I don’t want to do that for a living, just like I don’t want to be an engineer either. I breathe deep one more time, and the fresh air sobers me a little, so I reach into my pocket for my phone and text Halley.
“Masa showed up and I had to run. Can’t do that. Heading home. Check on me in 30,” I type and wait for her reply while watching the masses of people walking the streets. This is the last chance to party before summer tears groups apart. I wonder if I can walk back to my dorm with someone else.
My phone buzzes in my hand. “Ok. Promise. Sorry about Masa.”
“Whatever,” I say at my phone.
“Isa! Wait up!” I freeze before slowly turning back to the house. Masa comes bounding out the front door, running up to me. “Let me walk you home. You’ve had too much to drink.”
“It’s okay.” I wave at him and turn to go. “I’m sure I can find someone to walk me who’s already going that way.”
“No, please,” he says, lunging forward and grabbing for me. “I want to make sure you make it home all right.” The heat of his hand on my arm stops my breathing. I would give anything to slip my hand into his and walk home with him by my side. I catch my breath in a gasp, and he lets go, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“Fine. Let’s go.” I walk in front of him for a bit, texting Halley again. “Couldn’t ditch Masa. He’s walking me home,” I type to her.
“Good,” she replies and adds in a kissing smiley face. There are days when I want to strangle her.
Masa eventually walks beside me and holds my waist when I trip over cracks in the pavement. I twist away from him and put a few inches between us to steady my beating heart.
He clears his throat. “So, have you heard any more about the apartment you’re staying in in Tokyo?”
“Yeah, it’s in Akasaka. Your dad’s apartment is there, right?”
“Yep. Akasaka is a business district and close to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, and the Imperial Palace. You’ll love it.”
A warm breeze blows my hair into my face, so I tuck it behind my ears. I went easy on my hair today, letting it be wavy instead of straightening it, but I took the time to put on makeup and even eyeliner. I’m getting better at the cat eye, thanks to the beauty vlogs I follow.
“I’ve mapped out ten running routes for when we get there. I want to make sure she’s acclimatized before the Games start. I have three routes with hills, three flat ones, and four combinations. I think it’s enough. I hope it’s enough. Maybe I should make more.”
“I’m sure it’s fine, Isa. It’s probably overkill already.”
“You’re right, of course. You’re always right.”
“I can’t believe you’re still watching Lost,” Masa says, laughing, as I weave around a group of people walking against us on the sidewalk.
“I never watched it the first time around, and we already watched Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad together this year.”
Masa tips his head and stares at the ground. “I miss those Friday nights already.”
These statements are the confusing part of my relationship with Masa. He seems to enjoy spending time with me, and we’ve even slept in the same bed with each other before, but he’s never once shown any romantic interest in me.
What if I told him how I feel? The timing is perfect, right before the summer. If he feels the same way, I can convince him to come to Tokyo with me. We’d figure things out together while exploring the city and attending the Olympics. I smile, imagining the two of us doing all the things I planned together instead of me doing them alone.
“What are you smiling about?” Masa asks, as we cross over Harrison and Michigan Ave. Only a few more minutes till home.
I wipe the stupid smile off my face and frown. “Nothing.” I lengthen my stride until I’m right outside my dorm. The parking lot is quiet, and it’s still early enough for me to use my swipe card at the far end door instead of entering through the lobby.
Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical.
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