A Secret Proposal Part 1

By: Alexia Praks

Then Jane thought of something rather interesting. There was something in Sakura Tanaka that reminded her of Haruka Suzuki. Perhaps it was in the way they walked, the way they talked, or even the way they did things. They were oddly similar. Then again, Jane thought that was of course stupid and brushed the very idea off her mind.

“You’re being nosy, aren’t you? Well, I don’t blame you. If you happened to meet her, remember to always refer to her as a her and call her Ms. Ruka. Got it?”

Sakura didn’t get it, but nodded anyway. She thought her biological mother sounded a bit weird, but then again, who was she to judge?

She decided to change the subject. “What’s the inside gossip?”

Jane took another sip of her coffee and sighed. “Mr. Tachibana is totally at a loss. He’s tearing his hair out trying to find eight perfect male models to cast for his new menswear collection.”

Sakura cocked her head to one side. “But there are plenty of hot male models out there. Surely, it wouldn’t be that hard, right?”

Jane laughed. “You don’t know Mr. Tachibana. He’s very specific. The title of his new collection is—get this—Young Men In The Business World.”

“Whoa, that sounds like something,” Sakura said.

“Yeah, if you ask me. He said those young, super-hot male models aren’t real enough for him. He wants real businessmen. He especially wants young businessmen who have already accomplished so much as to earn at least a couple million a year.”

Luke laughed. He simply couldn’t help himself. Once he’d gained his composure, he said, “Good luck with that.”

Jane frowned. “What about your boss and his brothers? They’re young, hot, and billionaires. And I heard from a very reliable source that Mr. Tachibana has been begging them to model for him.”

“Naturally, they refused, of course,” Luke put it mildly.

“Well,” Jane said, finally finishing her very delicious cup of coffee. “He better find those eight male models soon, because the date for the release of the catalogue is in a few weeks’ time. Not to mention the fact that some of those photos will be going into New Men’s Magazine and Vogue next month, too.”

“Sounds like a lot of hard work coming up,” Luke said, putting his cup down.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll get to have some fun in Hawaii,” Jane said dreamily. She turned to Sakura, her green eyes large and brilliant. “That’s where we’d be doing the photo shoots. Hot summer. Eveningwear. Office wear. Swimwear. Totally hot. Hot. Hot.”

Sakura chuckled. She could see it, Jane having heaps of fun in Hawaii after a long day of hard work. Then maybe she’d even throw her glasses away, unbound her lovely blond hair, and wear a bikini. She’d absolutely turn heads—that Sakura was sure of.

It was fifteen minutes later when the brother and sister left, and Sakura returned to her studio. She stood, staring at the painting she’d started last spring back on St. Joseph Island. After that incident, after she’d left the island to start anew, she hadn’t the heart to finish this particular painting. She’d left it sitting in the attic of the apartment for quite some time, almost a year in fact, letting it gather dust, until last week. She didn’t know why, but she just wanted to finish it now. Hence, here it was, sitting in her studio, ready for her to complete the finishing touches.

She sat and took a deep breath as she eyed the unfinished painting. Even in its incompleteness, it still looked beautiful, at least to her anyway.

The painting was of the cherry blossom tree on St. Joseph Island. It was the very same tree she’d taken the photo of that day when she first reunited with the Princeton brothers. It was the very same tree she’d slept under and then awakened to find Darcy there with her. It was the very same tree Darcy had kissed her under. It was also the very same tree where she’d lain and cried her heart out when she’d found out Darcy had been in a relationship with Kate.

Her heart suddenly ached at the thought of him. She gritted her teeth as she felt tears burning within her eyes. No, she mustn’t think about him. She mustn’t. She’d tried so hard to forget about him, about them, Darcy and Sebastian, the two men who had stolen her heart last spring.

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