Happy Birthday to my mom! 04/24/2013
(no, I will not say how old she is today)
A week hence, and here I return with another chapter. This one was roughed out inside a day, but has since been tightened and twisted, iterated upon and adjusted. I want to thank Hoitash and neio for checking on repeated alterations, and pointing out a few worthwhile changes.
Enough stalling! On with the... show?
Chapter 33 – Misconceptions
The city looks different through the passenger window of a street car, versus a bus or a train. It's a strange difference, and probably has to do with the height off the ground, but the buildings loom higher, street signs seem to yell their warnings, and even the people look bigger, like they're larger than life; it's somewhat frightening. When I was little it didn't really bother me because I was in the car with Dad, or Mom, or both, and they'd never let anything happen to me. Now that I'm eighteen, though, and the imposing city around me isn't completely walled off by my protective parents, I feel smaller somehow.
I've really missed my mom...
She and Amaya haven't shut up since we left the car park, but I don't really mind. They only have a few days to catch up, while I'll have the whole summer to chew Mom's ear. Their discussion has already run the gamut from talking about Tadao, to her academic exploits, and now they're apparently discussing real estate. My interest level shot through the floor when Amaya started talking about land claims in her home province, but Mom continues humoring her desire to chatter about whatever nonsense comes to mind, nodding and shrugging, but saying little in return. Being on the outside of the conversation for once, I imagine people must think Amaya and I are insufferable sometimes.
Meanwhile, Midori continues talking Yoko's ear off, though they did switch back to Japanese after a while. Their conversation has followed a less-heady trail as Midori continues asking about Kenta, and ends up revealing that she has a crush on some boy back at her school in Italy. When that bit of information pops up, I turn a questioning look at Mom, but she apparently already knows the details. It's completely innocent, and hasn't progressed beyond girlish giggling and casual horseplay, but I can't help comparing it to my experience, or lack thereof.
At Midori's age, I was something of a reclusive, unapproachable harpy, and I avoided people—my classmates especially—as much as I possibly could. With her being so gregarious and pleasant, if a little bit overzealous and overtly inquisitive, I shouldn't be surprised her eyes have already started drifting toward boys, but it really only serves as another reminder that she's growing up beyond my control—and at seemingly greater speed. To think, I used to hide her dolls and make fun of her overbite, and now she'll probably have a boyfriend before that word was even part of my regular vocabulary. It both makes me proud, and leaves me feeling jealous.
I really regret being socially retarded...
Usually when we're headed for the Soliloquy, Amaya and I take the bus, then follow along the sidewalks and crosswalks, so I've never had to try finding a parking space near the shop. Our chatter halts as Mom slowly makes her way through a causeway, headed up toward the third floor of a car garage. The sound of engine noise echoes off the claustrophobic cement walls, and I find myself white-knuckling the armrest because Mom isn't exactly the safest driver in the world; I thought sideswiping parked cars was normal when I was ten. Though she's a stickler for car safety, I never really noticed until recently that her actual driving skill leaves something to be desired.
I think the two might be related...
Luckily, nothing awful happens, and she finds an empty space before I suffer a panic attack. As we're disembarking, she starts directing us toward the elevators and cheerfully remarks, “Everybody remember where we parked~!”
During the elevator ride, she tries to explain it was a movie reference, but none of us have a clue what she's talking about. After quieting her need to try and explain by assuring her it's because we don't watch much science fiction—which is admittedly only to placate her—Amaya and I take up the lead, and soon we're standing outside the Soliloquy Dress-Shop. Noticing some broken chunks of plaster on the ground outside the storefront, and a new window on the opposite side of the door, I imagine Mister Miyoto has done some renovations since our last visit, but the scene inside is much more captivating.
With careful steps, Amaya and I walk through the door with our eyes glued to the two figures standing in the middle of the store, locked in a passionate embrace. One of them is Mister Miyoto himself, dressed in a purple suit-coat with black slacks and a red, black-buttoned shirt. However, much to our surprise, wrapped in his arms is a tall woman in a black and white, harlequin-patterned blouse, a long, flowing, black skirt, black high-heeled shoes, and holding a white, wide-brimmed sun hat around behind his back. Their display is both completely adorable and utterly confusing, at least for Amaya and myself.
I guess this is what happens when you assume...
“Ooh, well that's a sight to see~!” Mom coos as she steps in behind us, and her comment causes their kiss to break.
Leaning away from his paramour, Miyoto calls toward each of us melodically, “Ah~! Miss Kurai, Miss Yamamoto~!”
There's a brief moment while he's looking my way when I probably look somewhat overwhelmed, but I quickly stifle my shocked expression and attempt to relax my shoulders. Although neither of us ever actually asked about his behavior, Amaya and I were both near-certain Mister Miyoto—or Satoru, rather—was of the homosexual persuasion. Clearly we were wrong, and I feel embarrassed for ever making such an assumption based solely on quirky behavior, but I should try to focus on letting the new information settle.
Try to look casual...!
Looking back into the lovely woman's eyes, he chirps, “My dear, I believe we'll have to cut our interlude short—I seem to have customers.”
“Of course, Lemon-Drop,” she replies in a throaty, rich tone.
“Ever-savvy to the wiles of my clientèle... you understand,” he says, placing a kiss on her nose, to which she nods, laughs airily, and turns her gaze to look us over.
Any assumptions I've ever made about Satoru's sexuality have just been completely shattered, but now I'm grinning like an idiot because I have to admit: he has good taste. The statuesque, blond, ponytailed woman who calls him “Lemon-Drop” looks no older than twenty-five, with creamy skin, big, crystal-blue, almond-shaped eyes, and supple, red-stained lips. Tall, and clearly foreign, perhaps Icelandic, her narrow figure is highlighted by exaggerated hips, and her softly smiling face is accented by high cheekbones, a narrow nose, and a strong, angular jawline. There's a worldly confidence in her smile, and a sophisticated, inquisitive look to her expression, like she's analyzing the situation without judging what she sees.
I like her already.
“This is my darling wife; Lydia Loxen-Miyoto,” Satoru introduces her, grinning broadly.
“Charmed,” Mom replies, walking around us to shake her hand.
“Are you a model!?” Midori blurts, drawing a light chuckle from the strikingly beautiful woman.
I honestly understand why she's asking...
“Photographer, actually; I've been known to take pictures of models, but I'm not one myself,” she replies, offering a slight bow to my sister, “Thank you for the compliment, though.”
Wrapping his arm around her waist, Satoru explains, “Lydia does all my store fliers and graphics; ever since we met while she was still attending university,” turning toward her, he places a kiss below her ear and cheerily adds, “I really only married her so she'd give me a discount~!”
“A benefit he probably won't access,” Lydia replies jokingly, turning to scan her eyes over him lustily, “at least not... directly.”
“My dear, these are sweet, innocent school-girls. You mustn't tarnish their developing minds with such suggestive humor,” Satoru chides, punctuating his statement with a light slap on her behind.
I'd find this embarrassing if it weren't comical...
“Later, dear...” she coos throatily, grasping his hand firmly. “Do try to control yourself in front of guests,” she adds, turning toward Mom, “I didn't catch your name?”
“Ina Kurai,” she replies quickly, apparently happy with the subject change, then turns to point at my sister, “and your admirer over there is my little one, Midori.” My awe-struck sister throws up a tiny wave, and that leads Lydia to start chuckling heartily.
“They grow up so fast,” she says with a sigh, “at least that's what Mother keeps telling me...” Pausing, she glances toward our silent partner, whom I think has a look of recognition in her green eyes, and inquires, “And who is this lovely, crimson-locked vixen?”
I might be observing a younger version of my mother...
Despite the description, Yoko looks and sounds surprisingly confident as she replies, “Yoko Guidot, Miss Loxen. I think I've seen your photos online.”
“Misses Miyoto, or Lydia, please!” she corrects, smiling at Satoru, “Though I don't think my nuptials are well-known quite yet—it was only two weeks ago.”
“Well, congratulations~!” Mom announces, and I can see her fighting the urge to wrap the newlywed woman, who is basically a total stranger, in a hug. It reminds me of how much she loves weddings, newlyweds, and everything associated with lovers and romanticism. Now that I think of it, that could explain her support where Hisao is concerned; me falling in love probably sounds like wedding bells to her, which might be a possibility, but it's ridiculously premature.
One step at a time, Mom... seriously...
“Thank you~!” Satoru chirps, turning to nod at Lydia, “We've had a bit of a stormy romance over the past two months... or a renewed one, rather.”
“Indeed, Lemon-Drop, four years or more,” she chirps back, and again turns her inquisitive gaze toward Yoko. “You must be quite interested in fashion to have stumbled across my modest portfolio.”
“Well... it's a hobby is all,” Yoko replies, her humble shyness resurfacing.
“At your age, hobbies are potential careers—keep that in mind,” the fashionable woman advises. Nodding, Yoko goes silent, and that turns Lydia's attention toward Amaya and myself.
“Lovely eyes, dear,” she says absently, apparently referencing mine, “I'd love to get you in my studio some afternoon—heterochromia is fascinating to capture photographically, and there's such clarity in your eyes' distinction...” As she trails off, I see her squinting to stare at my eyes, which is a little unsettling, almost clinical, but doesn't feel invasive.
I feel like a painting...
“She's the one I mentioned,” Satoru says, making me tense my shoulders and turn a confused stare at him. Noticing my reaction, he starts to say, “Sorry, I didn't mean to-”
“No, it's okay,” I interject, trying to shake away the nerves, “I'm just used to most people thinking it's strange, rather than fascinating.”
Lydia grins and remarks, “Well, take it from me—not that I'm any kind of authority—but it makes you unique, not strange... and that's a fair bit better than most of us ladies can claim.” The sincerity in her tone, and the fact that she's echoing something Hisao once told me, results in my responding with a big, toothy grin.
I definitely like her.
“And this then must be the gregarious Amaya, if I recall Satoru's description correctly, that is...” she remarks, turning to inspect my strangely-silent friend. “Though I must say I expected something a bit more... animated?” she adds, turning a confused grin toward her husband.
Her comment causes everyone to glance at Amaya, and I smirk at finding her standing there with her eyes set, still completely dumbfounded. It's a little unnerving that she isn't even noticing, much less protesting the curious looks, but she's the one who first suggested Satoru's eccentricities meant he might be gay, and it's probably taking her longer to sort things out. Honestly, if not for my seemingly more frequent bouts of embarrassment, then I likely would still be standing here gawking because I was no less convinced by our misguided assumptions.
I'll never assume anything like that again...
“I think she may be in shock,” Satoru remarks, shrugging as he turns a broad smile at his new bride, “too stunned by your beauty to speak...! I suffered that same unwavering stare at our first meeting, if you recall...”
Chuckling lightly, Lydia jokes, “Always finding a way to turn anything into a compliment—you're incorrigible!” Turning back toward us, she assumes a mock-serious expression and advises, “You girls best behave in school, or you may end up in a torrid romance with your tutor... Though I'd recommend it if he's as adorable as my Satoru.”
“Oh, they're all taken already,” Mom says cheerily, with a nauseatingly bright smile as she turns toward Satoru, “That's why we're here, actually. They need evening-wear for a belated birthday dinner.”
“Ah~! And who's the birthday girl~?” Satoru chirps, clasping his hands together and clicking his heels.
“My lovely daughter, Aiko,” Mom replies, holding a hand out toward me.
“It was last week; I turned eighteen,” I say, preempting his questions.
Shaking her head, Mom laments,“Makes me feel old.”
“Trust me, Madame: if I were bad at math, I would assume you're no older than my captivating, young bride,” Satoru compliments, drawing a hearty laugh from Mom, and a quick sigh from his wife.
“I think I'll take my leave before he starts showering you ladies with any more compliments; If only to shield you lovelies from my jealousy,” Lydia remarks cheerfully, turning to plant a kiss on Satoru's cheek. “Be good, Lemon-Drop, I have errands to run.”
Bowing deeply, he replies, “I'll count the minutes until your return, my love!”
Lydia starts toward the door, but stops and turns to face Yoko, then reaches into the little white purse hanging high under her shoulder. Producing a business card, she hands it to my shy friend. “If he doesn't behave, give me a call—jealousy makes me a better lover,” she remarks demurely, adding a laugh when Yoko's eyes bug out, but I can't quite tell if she's really joking. “Otherwise, if you're interested in a tour, give me a call and I'll show you around my studio—talk your friend into letting me take some photos of her lovely eyes, and I'll consider it fair trade.”
That might be interesting...
“Um... thank you, Misses Miyoto,” Yoko replies, taking the card.
“Call me Lydia... I don't feel old enough to be a Misses yet.”
Yoko sucks in a breath, but doesn't voice her reply, instead nodding with a shy smile.
“Make them beautiful, my love~!” Lydia chirps as she heads for the door.
As I'm watching her leave, I admire the practiced sway in her step, and the deft way she lifts the hat to rest on her head. It's the same kind of grace Mom maintains, and that I've always envied. A quick look over her shoulder draws my attention to Satoru, whose eyes are practically glued to her behind, utterly captivated. It's a look I've seen in Hisao before, except directed at me, and seeing it in the peculiar dressmaker's eyes removes any remaining doubts about their involvement.
He's completely infatuated with her...
When she disappears out of view, his eyes continue following for a few moments, as though he can still see her walking. With the moment passed, he starts blinking, and I turn away so he doesn't see me staring. The motion turns me to look at Amaya, and I notice she's still standing there with her mouth held agape, gawking at Satoru. It's a worrisome look, and I know its source, but I'm surprised it's taking so long for her to settle down, and I wonder if it might indicate something more dire than embarrassment; I've seen her like this just prior to a seizure.
Best to check...
"Amaya?” I prompt, reaching up to wave my hand in front of her face, “You still there, sweetie?”
She blinks and her shoulders relax, then she slowly turns her blank expression at me and tilts her head. “How are- what did- sorry... I'm just-”
“Dear, you're not making sense,” Mom chides.
Satoru starts to explain, “It's alright... As I said, I'm thinking it's just a bit of shock, but has nothing to do with my dear wife.” Shaking his head, he turns a sidelong look at Mom and continues, “You see... despite the fact that I'm a hot-blooded, straight man, most of my clients are under the impression that I either walk the line, or fall completely into the category of a stereotypically gay man—it's a delusion I usually don't fight because it just makes my job easier.”
“Sorry! I didn't mean to assume!” Amaya blurts, finally rejoining reality.
“Oh, don't apologize!” he balks, turning a regretful smile toward her, “My behavior is unorthodox by any standard—the result of my teachers' influence, I think—and I simply didn't correct you... I feel I should apologize, actually,” he pauses and settles into a solemn expression with a hand over his heart, “I may have let you believe your misconceptions to make you feel less uncomfortable with my delicate work... but it was still wrong.”
It makes a lot of sense, actually...
With her world-view still a little shattered, Amaya regains her senses enough to reiterate her apology, which Satoru accepts with one stipulation: that she forgive his unintentional deception. She does so happily, and with that awkward moment out of the way, he leads us into the renovated fitting room. Along the way, Mom turns a disappointed look toward me, and nods toward Satoru, which I'm going to take as an indication that I should echo Amaya's apology. My careful nod quiets her, but the newlywed tailor seems excited to give us a renewed tour, so I'll have to wait for another opportunity.
Now twice the size, and flanked with big, inviting couches rather than benches, the bright, white-walled fitting room feels like a posh, comfortable lounge. The renovations took place while he took Lydia on a Parisian honeymoon, and he reopened a few days ago, much to our delight. The shop has started to gain renown locally, and Satoru is even considering hiring someone to run the front of the store so he can concentrate on tailoring for his clients. Whatever the case, evidently business is good, and his new wife has been urging him to expand since long before their recent coupling. That probably means our secret shop may not stay hidden for long, but I'm happy for him.
While we're searching through racks of dresses, Midori goes to sit on one of the plush, white couches, and gets really quiet. After a short while we figure out why: she fell asleep. Despite her excitement at seeing me again, and the incessant chatter during the car ride, the jet-lag has apparently caught up with her, so she lies there, curled in a ball against one of the arms, softly snoring. Mom apologizes, but Satoru is apparently prepared for that kind of contingency, and remarks that the couches are basically there for that very thing. From a side closet, he withdraws a blanket and pillow, and Mom uses them to help make my precocious little doppelganger more comfortable.
As Amaya predicted, Yoko has an eye for fashion, and a knack for finding appropriate attire. Like with her mastery of English, Yoko approaches every suggestion humbly, but Satoru finds them helpful, rather then offensive, and I notice a confidence growing in her voice at his praise. She ends up finding a dark blue ensemble for Amaya that not only fits her—and highlights her slender figure—but also enhances her tiny bust. The find makes them instant friends, if they weren't already. Amaya gushes over it and wraps an exuberant hug around our freckled fashion finder, who responds with a big, bright smile.
“It's perfect, Freckles~!” Amaya beams, still holding onto Yoko's shoulders.
The reaction makes my shy friend giggle and try to back away, which is about the same thing I'd be doing if I were her. “It's just a dress,” she says calmly, trying to reason with Amaya's elation, “You should thank it instead.”
“You found it, though, dear~!” Mom interjects, watching the display from her seat on the couch by Midori.
“Right~!” Amaya adds, stepping back and twirling around.
The garment consists of a thin-strapped, dark blue bodice with a padded underwire, and an attached, moderately puffy, ruffled skirt in a slightly lighter color. As she spins, the skirt catches the air, and when she stops it drifts down just below her knobby knees, hiding them tastefully—which is another point in Yoko's favor. It isn't a flawless fit, as the section through the abdomen doesn't quite cling to Amaya's lean figure, but Satoru is nodding and smiling gleefully.
“You're a veritable devil in a blue dress, Miss Yamamoto~!” he cheers, clapping his hands together.
“You better believe it!” she responds in a throaty tone, turning back to Yoko and grinning devilishly. The face makes the tense girl break out laughing, and start nodding in agreement.
“Glad I could help,” she says softly, once the laugh subsides.
Satoru steps over and takes a closer look, analyzing the flaws, but quickly sighs and starts nodding. “I'll have to pull in the waist, and perhaps shorten the straps—your shoulders are so dainty—but that's all child's-play,” he rambles, mostly talking to himself.
“Go change, dear,” Mom says to Amaya, then steps off the couch and walks toward Yoko, “I found a perfect dress for your new best friend, but I may need help convincing her.”
The sentiment makes me turn an apologetic look at Yoko, though I'm definitely curious. While Amaya heads back into the changing room, Mom steps through the curtain into the main store, and I shrug at the red-haired girl, who looks intrigued despite my warning look. A few moments later, Mom returns with a dark red dress draped across her arms, which looks like a perfect color to match Yoko's skin and hair, but the cut is probably what will be the problem.
All the material is in the lower half...
Holding it up, Mom grins proudly, and Satoru starts nodding in agreement, but the look on Yoko's face is harder to read. It's somewhere between curiosity and horror, as though she's interested in how it might look on her, but terrified of exposing that much skin. While she holds the dress up in front of Yoko, I walk over to Mom's shoulder so I can get a closer look, and start nodding along with the dressmaker. It's definitely a racy dress, but I can see why Mom looks so determined—it would be a knock-out on her dancer's body.
“A girl should always look her best,” Mom says convincingly, and I continue my supportive nod.
I mostly just want to see how that dress fits her...
As Amaya emerges and heads toward the couch, she gets a good, long look at the dress and starts nodding with a big grin. “It's just us here, Freckles,” she says confidently, “don't be nervous—we've already seen-”
“Amaya!” I yell, trying to prevent her from making things worse.
Smirking at me, she continues anyway, “I was gonna say we've seen you in a bathing suit—can't get much more exposed than that.”
Although I don't think that's where she was going originally, Yoko is shrugging instead of shying away, so I take that as a cue to add some gentle encouragement. “Just try it,” I suggest, pointing toward the changing room, “Worst thing that happens is you end up hating it, but I think Mom is right, and it'll look great on you... and you can wear it for Kenta when he gets back.”
Using that last suggestion is probably a little underhanded, but it's effective. With a determined nod, Yoko takes the dress from Mom's hands and heads for the changing room.
“Go for it, Freckles~!” Amaya cheers.
Once Yoko is out of sight, Amaya hands her dress off to Satoru, then joins me on the couch. Turning a smile at her, I nudge her shoulder and mention, “She might be too good for Kenta.”
“I know, right?” she replies.
“Shush, you two!” Mom scolds in a whispering tone, “Kenta's a good boy, and she's infatuated with him—don't make her feel uncomfortable for it.”
That shuts us both up, and we sit in silence waiting for Yoko to reemerge. She takes a while longer than Amaya did, though that's probably because her denim dress is somewhat difficult to remove. While we're waiting, I turn a glance at Satoru, already over by his work bench, making adjustments to Amaya's evening gown, and decide I'll take the opportunity to apologize. Standing quietly, I step over to the opposite end of the bench and lean against it to catch his attention. He turns a quick look at me and goes right back to his work, but I take it as an opening to begin.
“I wanted to apologize as well... for before...” I say, trailing off as I watch his practiced hands.
It's mesmerizing watching him work, and there's an indelible smile plastered on his face throughout the process, even when he's clearly being annoyed by the delicate threading. Although I feel like he's ignoring me a little bit, I don't actually mind. There's a calming quality to seeing the hands of a master craftsman working, and as I'm watching, I notice his gold wedding band for the first time. If what Lydia said is true and their ceremony was only a couple weeks ago, he must have been caught in a whirl of preparations around the time of our last visit.
I wonder what his wedding was like...
When he reaches a temporarily happy result, he holds the dress up toward me and smiles. “This is what I've always wanted to do,” he explains, smiling wistfully, “ever since I was a little boy helping around my mother's bakery.”
“Help make women look beautiful,” he clarifies, and leans forward to whisper, “beyond their normal standing.” Turning the dress around in his hands, he continues, “Highlight their feminine grace, and help them see how truly wonderful they are... it's not a world-changing goal, but I think it's a valid one.”
The earnest tone and even expression tell me he's completely serious, and the sentiment makes me smile. “You love your work, we both knew that... and thank you for helping with my confidence,” I remark, taking in a breath while my gratitude makes him grin, “but we had no right assuming it meant anything... else.”
“Like I told Miss Yamamoto—Amaya-” he stops and glances toward her, “It's really my fault. My field is dominated by a certain kind of character, and there's a certain expectation among my clients,” he turns back and sighs, “but... after your last visit, I considered you girls friends... I should have been more forthcoming.”
“Don't worry about it. And congratulations, by the way; Lydia is a lovely woman—she reminds me of my mom,” I say, turning a look to where she's pacing excitedly outside the changing room, “back when I was barely taller than her knees.”
“Thank you! And if Lydia looks half as good as your mother by her age, thank you again~!” Pausing to enjoy my nodding smile, he quickly adds, “Your future husband has a lot to look forward to, too~!”
His comment makes my smile brighten for a moment, but then darken, and I end up with a somewhat despondent look that makes him furrow his brow. “Boyfriend trouble?” he asks, trying to determine the cause of my melancholy, “That seems unlikely, though... that fellow you brought by last time had that longing look in his eyes... and it was only for you.”
“Hisao is great,” I say, shaking my head at his assumption, “it's just-”
“Come dear, the world is waiting to be struck dumb by your radiance~!” Mom croons, apparently talking to Yoko through the curtain. Her proclamation draws everyone's attention to the changing room, but Satoru holds back for a moment.
Leaning toward me and offering an even expression, he advises, “Whatever it is causing you to make that face, don't let it rule you. You're eighteen, you're gorgeous, and you're almost ready to conquer the world. Don't let fear or a little self-doubt stop you.”
Yoko complains, “I feel stupid,” and I see her shifting on her bare feet under the curtain. Hearing that, Satoru offers me a little bow and spins on his heel.
Satoru Miyoto: genius tailor, bold eccentric, mild psychic, and intuitive therapist...
“It's too small!” she adds, sounding frustrated, “It's silly...”
“That's why I'm here~!” Satoru chirps, marching right up in front of the changing room and clapping his hands sharply. “Your discomfort will be temporary, I assure you~!”
“It's supposed to be a little small, dear~! That's how you know it's working!” Mom says confidently, smiling at Satoru's support. “Like Aiko said; if you hate it, you don't have to get it, but let's have a look first?”
The confidence in her voice probably helps more than the words, and I hear Yoko let out a breathy sigh. “Okay, I'm coming out—don't laugh!” she warns. While she continues fidgeting, I start making my way over to sit beside Amaya so we can whisper comments on the reveal.
After a short while, the curtain slowly slides away and she steps out nervously, quickly folding her arms across her chest. The dress does look a little tight, but Satoru is quick to chirp, “Oh, now that's a flattering look on you~!”
“Move your arms, dear—you're hiding the best part!” Mom adds, stepping over with her hands clasped together.
With a nervous look in her eyes, Yoko slowly sets her arms down at her sides, but continues slouching her bare shoulders, which looks unnatural in her case. The bodice clings tightly around her waist, holds her sizable bust together like a corset, and the strapless cups lift her breasts upward, giving them a look almost like she's lying down. The dark red, ruffled material highlights her narrow waist and wide hips, then becomes a sheer, flowing skirt that hangs in airy folds around her shapely legs, and drapes lightly around her calves. It never really occurred to me before, but somewhere under the shy glances and conservative attire, Yoko is hiding a poised, toned, voluptuous body, and the dress merely serves to highlight her feminine strengths.
She looks positively stunning...
“Stand straight and proud like you usually do~!” Mom commands, still grinning brightly, “Don't you want to stop traffic?”
Shyly, Yoko gives up the slouch and manages a smile as she straightens. The shift in posture presses her bust even harder against the material, and I worry she might pop out of the top, but I imagine that's part of the point of the dress. It will need some tailoring to fit properly, but Satoru is quick to notice that, and I can already see his eyes focusing while his sharp mind formulates solutions to the minor issues.
“Don't pop the stitching~!” he says airily, and she shrinks back down, “You look positively ravishing in that dress, but it will need some adjustments to meet my standards for perfection... and your shapely figure.”
“I think I'm gonna call her Scarlet
from now on,” Amaya muses in a whisper.
“I was thinking Jessica Rabbit
,” I suggest.
“Too long; Scarlet
pops,” she retorts, raising her voice to ask, “Right, Scarlet?”
“You're sure it looks okay?” Yoko asks of Satoru with a furrowed brow, ignoring Amaya's question.
I think it's best not to overwhelm her further...
“Miss Guidot, once I make the adjustments so you don't pop out of it, you'll draw every man's attention in a ten kilometer radius... who will all think you're about to,” Satoru remarks, taking a step back and motioning for her to turn around.
She complies, continuing to look over her shoulder as she slowly steps around. The grace of her slow reveal is somewhat captivating, and makes me regret never having dance lessons. As she turns, I notice the back of the dress leaves her nearly bare, all the way down to the dimples above her heart-shaped behind. It puts her poised stance on display, draws attention to the rain of freckles dotted across her shoulders, and creates a valley where her long locks of hair sweep against her cream-colored skin.
“This is embarrassing,” Yoko says with an airy giggle, clearly enjoying the attention despite her protests.
While she's making another turn, Amaya leans against me, nudges my side, and whispers flatly, “Jessica Rabbit
it is, then.”
“Keep it under your hat for now,” I reply, wanting to save Yoko some embarrassment for later.
I definitely want to see Kenta's reaction...
“Were I a younger man, and not married...” Satoru starts to say, but trails off before he incriminates himself.
“Okay, go change back so he can make adjustments—you do want to get it, right?” Mom says, ushering her back toward the changing room.
“I don't know if my parents would approve,” Yoko protests as Mom pulls the curtain closed.
“I'll pay for it, so they'll never know.”
“Ah! Tut-tut!” Mom interjects, “You're my daughter's friend, and you're coming to dinner tomorrow night, right?”
There's a brief pause, followed by an airy reply, “Yes... if she'll have me along.”
“Wouldn't go without you,” I call out, standing up to take a few steps closer. “Just don't you try stealing Hisao!” I add jokingly, but all I get in response is a shy giggle. Listening to it makes me recall Lydia's statement about jealousy making her a better lover, and I'm now certain she wasn't joking.
I want to ensure Hisao never considers pursuing another woman...
“Does that mean you want to get it?” Mom inquires hopefully.
Amaya adds her two cents, “Free clothes? Why refuse?”
After shaking away the jealous thoughts, I affirm, “Good point.”
“Fine!” Yoko groans in frustration, “But I insist on paying you back!”
“Your presence is all I request,” Mom replies.
There's something weird in her tone that tells me Mom is plotting something, but I can't quite figure out what. It's not unlike her to spend money on seemingly frivolous things in an attempt to cheer someone up—she used to buy me ice cream when I came home from school crying—but there's something else going on here. This belated birthday dinner of hers feels like some kind of ruse, like she has an ulterior motive, but I really don't know enough yet to make any judgments.
I don't trust her being this magnanimous...