Natsu – Chapter Eight

Title: Natsu
Author:
Kitty Neko
Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Humor
Series: Card Captor Sakura
Pairing: Sakura/Syaoran
Summary: Summer is a time for fun, laughter, and romance. Sakura has had fun and laughter, but now it’s time for romance. There’s only one problem; her best friend likes the same guy. Okay, so that’s not the ONLY problem… AU
Disclaimer: I do not own Card Captor Sakura. I am not making any money off of this story.


“Fourth of July party?” Sakura asked, her mouth full of spaghetti. Her mother gave her a disparaging look.

“Yes, I thought it might be nice,” Nadesico said and then followed with, “Pass the garlic bread.”

Touya passed his mother the basket full of bread, his eyebrows furrowed. “How big of a party are we talking about?” He had never been all that social, so parties were not his favorite.

“Nothing huge. Just the family and a few friends,” Nadesico explained and sent Sakura a sly look. “I thought Sakura could invite her new boyfriend so we could all meet him.”

“Mom.” Sakura sank a little in her seat, becoming increasingly uncomfortable with this conversation. “He’s not really my boyfriend. We’ve only gone on a few dates.”

“Whatever you say.”

“You’re inviting Yukito, right?” Sakura asked Touya in a desperate attempt at changing the subject.

“Of course,” Syaoran interrupted anything Touya might have been about to say. “You’re inviting YOUR boyfriend, why shouldn’t he?”

So much for making things less uncomfortable. It was obvious to everyone in the family that Syaoran had been in a funky mood lately and Sakura hoped she was the only one who noticed it coincided with her second successful date with Eriol. Apparently, he wasn’t exactly thrilled that things were going so well. That left everyone else to deal with the backlash of Syaoran’s temper.

Touya’s eyes narrowed dangerously. He didn’t appreciate the insinuation on his sexual preferences. “Oh? And who are you bringing? The last time I checked, you didn’t have any friends.”

Syaoran’s mouth puckered. “I don’t know what you mean. I’m plenty popular.”

“And I can fly.”

“HEY!” Sakura interjected loudly with all the subtly of a sledge hammer. Four sets of eyes turned towards her expectantly. It was a bit unnerving. “I, uh… does anyone else hear that?”

“Hear what?” Nadesico asked, setting down her fork and perking up as if she might actually hear something.

“I think I hear my phone vibrating in my room!” Sakura said and jumped to her feet. Touya, Nadesico, and Fujitaka collectively rolled their eyes but Syaoran kept his gaze on Sakura.

“Are you sure it’s your phone and not something ELSE vibrating?” He asked pointedly. Sakura tilted her head to the side slightly, not quite understanding what he was getting at.

“Ugh, I’m gonna be sick,” Touya said and pushed his plate away from him.

“Oh!” Sakura exclaimed, comprehension dawning. “No, no, it’s couldn’t be THAT! Buzz’s batteries went out last night so it’s impossible!”

At this point Fujitaka stopped eating as well and pushed his plate aside.

“Buzz?” Syaoran asked tentatively.

“Yes, I named it! Don’t you think it’s cute?” Sakura pushed her chair under the table. She was only kidding of course, but it was worth it to see the look on Syaoran’s face. Not that she wasn’t curious about that sort of thing… Anyways! Back to the subject at hand! “So whoever goes to the store next needs to pick me up some C batteries!”

Nadesico bust out laughing as Sakura walked away, much to the younger girl’s amusement. “That’s my girl!” she said.

Sakura retreated to the safety of her room and shut the door. Finally some peace and quiet! She collapsed on her bed with a contented sigh. Sometimes the best company was NO company. Sadly, that was becoming the case when it came to being with her family – mainly because of Syaoran. It was times like these that she really wished she had someone she could confide in.

Her eyes slid over to her little red phone of their own accord. Without even really thinking about it she sat up and snatched it off of her nightstand. She located the number of the person she wanted to talk to and hit the call button.

“Hello?” A girl’s voice answered after a few rings.

“Hey Tomoyo!”

“Sakura! I almost didn’t recognize the number on my phone.” There was a bit of shuffling over the line as Tomoyo got situated. “I see you are actually using your cell phone for a change.”

“Yea.” Sakura leaned back against the wall and pulled a pillow on her lap. “I figured it would be a bit awkward for Eriol to call my house, so I’m trying to get into the habit of using my cell.”

“That’s right! I forgot about that. How’s it going with him?” Tomoyo asked expectantly.

“Pretty good,” Sakura answered truthfully. “We’ve only been out a few times, but he’s a great guy and a lot of fun to be with.” It had actually been surprising for Sakura how well the dates went. The easy flowing conversations between them were blissfully absent of the usual bickering that occurred whenever Sakura and Syaoran conversed. Some people would call it banter – Sakura called it annoying.

There was a huge part of Sakura that longed to just get everything out in the open and tell her oldest and best friend the truth. Keeping something so important about her life an absolute secret was suffocating. She needed to talk to SOMEONE about it! Really, would Tomoyo care all that much?

Tomoyo sighed loudly. “Now that you have someone, I REALLY need a boyfriend… Hey!” Tomoyo’s voice perked up considerably. “That reminds me! When are you going to set me up with Syaoran?”

“Huh?” Sakura asked stupidly. She had just been gearing up to let loose all of her secrets so the swing in conversation threw her for a loop.

“Syaoran! You said you would help me out with him! Remember?”

“Oh yea, I…” Sakura took a breath of air to settle her nerves. “About him, there was something I wanted to tell you.”

“Oh no you don’t!” Tomoyo said sharply. “Sakura Kinomoto, you are not weaseling out of this. You promised!”

“I did?” Somehow, Sakura wasn’t so sure about that.

“Sakura… please?” Tomoyo asked, her voice a lot less sharp all of a sudden. She sounded so much like the old Tomoyo that Sakura could feel herself wavering.

“Well, I guess.” This actually could work to her advantage. If Syaoran was busy with Tomoyo, he wouldn’t have time to bother Sakura. He was probably going to be furious with her for what she was about to do, but that was just tough. It was time he moved on anyways. “My family is having a Fourth of July party so you could talk to him then.”

“Oh thank you, Sakura!” Tomoyo was about to say more, but was cut off by someone on her end of the line. She said something back and then started talking to Sakura again. “Hey, that was my mom. Dinner’s ready, so I got to go. I’ll talk to you tomorrow or something okay?”

“Okay. Bye!” Sakura answered and was a bit shocked to realize she was feeling relieved. Since when did saying goodbye to her best friend make her relieved?

“Bye!”

The line went dead and Sakura flipped her phone shut. It was a bit depressing how far apart they had grown. Only a couple years ago she wouldn’t have thought twice about spilling her deepest secrets like they were pleasantries. Sadly, she hadn’t even gotten around to telling Tomoyo about the problem with her grandfather and mother.

She still felt like talking. Unfortunately, the only other person she could call was Eriol. Not that it was a bad thing, but she was a bit nervous to call him. So far he had been the only one to initiate their get-togethers so it felt like a big step. She really just needed to grow some balls.

Before she had time to change her mind, she opened her phone and located his number. He answered after the second ring.

“Sakura! How are you?”

“I’m doing fine. You?”

“Great! So, what’s up?” Eriol sounded as chipper as ever. It was nice.

“I – I just felt like talking.” It was a bit hard for her to say something like that. In fact, it was almost painful.

“Hm, is that so?” He sounded contemplative. “Well, you know it’s always a pleasure. Is there something in particular on your mind?”

“Actually…” She really needed to get at least part of the weight off her chest. “I do, but it’s a bit depressing. I just don’t really know who else to talk to.”

Eriol chuckled slightly. “It’s alright. I don’t mind. Lay it on me.”

It felt strange for Sakura to be telling such a big family secret to someone she barely knew, but it was therapeutic at the same time. Eriol was someone who had an objective third party point of view and could tell her his unbiased opinion. The whole thing about her grandfather disowning them and her mother’s possible depression had been weighing heavily on her mind. She had thought about talking to Touya about it, but she wasn’t sure how much he knew about everything. It was nice to share the burden with someone else. And Eriol was a good listener, making small noises and asking questions to show that he was listening, but not interrupting her either.

The downside to it all was that she couldn’t tell him EVERYTHING – at least not the things pertaining to Syaoran. That could make things awkward. Unfortunately for Sakura, Syaoran was a big part of her problems. Still, it was better than nothing.

“Wow,” Eriol said when she finished the long part of it all. “Sounds like your mom is dealing with a lot right now.”

“Yea,” Sakura said sadly and stretched her feet out in front of her. She wiggled her toes and noticed that some of the polish was chipped. Hmm, she would need to redo them soon.

“But she got through things once, right?”

“Yes, thank goodness.”

“Well, that means she must be a strong person. And she has a great family to help her through it. Your grandfather really doesn’t know what he’s missing.”

Sakura stopped staring at her toes and smiled. He really was a nice guy. “Thanks Eriol.”

“You’re welcome. I’m always available to talk if you need me.”

She actually felt a little better now that she had talked about part of her problems. She was suddenly struck with courage. “Do you have any plans for tomorrow?”

“I’m supposed to play tennis with my doubles partner.” Sakura had just started deflating when he finished by saying. “But why don’t you join us?”

“Are you sure? Do you think your partner would mind? I don’t want to intrude.” Him just inviting her made her feel better, she was ashamed to admit.

“No, no, I’m sure Meiling won’t mind. She hates singles anyways.”

“Meiling?”

“Yea, she’s my mixed doubles partner for the school team. She used to play singles though. We like to play every now and then in the summer to stay in practice.”

“Oh, okay,” Sakura said. The name sounded a bit familiar – they had probably played against each other at some point. If only she could put a face to the name.

“But if we’re going to play doubles, we need a fourth player.” Eriol’s voice trailed off. “How about Syaoran?”

“Huh?” Sakura asked, dumfounded for a second time in less than an hour.

“You know, your cousin?”

“Yea, um.” Sakura was desperately scrambling for some sort of excuse. The last thing she wanted to do was spend more time with Syaoran. “Tennis isn’t really his thing. He’s a decent player, but I don’t know if he would be up to it.”

“You never know – he’s very competitive with me.”

“Okay.” Why did her brain fail her at times like this? Oh! “He’s not home right now so I’ll ask him when he-”

Sakura’s door suddenly swung open, making her practically jump out of her skin. “Sakura, your mom wanted me to tell you that if you want a piece of cake, you better get down there soon.” Syaoran said loudly. There was no way Eriol missed it.

Hadn’t he ever heard of knocking?

“And here he is! He must have just gotten home.” Syaoran raised his eyebrows at her, amused. “What good timing. Um, Syaoran?”

“Yeeees?” Syaoran asked, dragging the one syllable out. He leaned against her door frame and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Do you want to play tennis with me and Eriol tomorrow?” Sakura shook her head and glared at him the whole time she asked the question. That was her way of subtly hinting that he should decline.

But then again, since when did he ever listen to her?

“I would love to!” Syaoran answered just as loud as when he barged into her room. She really was going to kill him someday.

“Great.”

They made plans to meet at some nearby courts the following day and said their goodbyes. When Sakura set her phone down she got a good look at Syaoran’s smug face and was sorely tempted to chuck her pillow at it.

“I hate you,” she said.

“Keep telling yourself that.”


Sakura popped the top on her soda can and took a long gulp. Ah, there really was no replacement for a large dose of caffeine first thing in the morning! Especially since she hadn’t slept very well that night…

Usually she had no problem getting a good night’s rest but lately it seemed like her brain just refused to shut off. It was frustrating.

“Oh, you’re up.”

Sakura spun around at her mother’s voice and was a bit startled by Nadesico’s appearance. Nadesico had a distinctly disheveled look and her eyes were bleary and red. It kind of looked like she had been crying, but not quite.

“I’ma ’boutta go ta bed.”

“Okay.” Sakura furrowed her eyebrows together. Was her mother… slurring?

When Nadesico moved past Sakura to the fridge her walk was very slightly unsteady. She rummaged around in what was supposed to be the vegetable crisper and pulled out a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

“Night,” she said and shut the fridge door with a thud. Sakura got a whiff of her breath as she said it and recognized the unmistakable stench of alcohol.

For a second Sakura wasn’t sure she would be able to reply. She glanced at the clock and noticed it was only 8 o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t like her mother had just woken up, since she worked all night, but still…

“Goodnight,” Sakura forced out of her mouth, a bit strangled.

Sakura watched her mother as she walked away and felt her throat tighten. Nadesico disappeared from view and Sakura inhaled deeply to calm herself down. It didn’t really mean anything. She had seen her mother drunk before so it wasn’t entirely new. Of course, those times hadn’t been in the morning… no! It was probably just because her mother had a hard night at work. She couldn’t help the fact that her shift ended early in the morning. It didn’t mean anything.

Her nerves still a bit frazzled, Sakura went on with her morning rituals and forced her mind on other things.


“I don’t see why we couldn’t take my car,” Sakura grumbled and huffily rested her chin on her hand.

“Because I have let you drive me somewhere once and it will never happen again,” Syaoran replied, his eyes still on the road. Such a good boy.

“That’s what you think,” Sakura murmured so quietly it was barely audible.

“What was that?”

“Your truck stinks.”

Syaoran took a few tentative sniffs of the air. “No it doesn’t.”

“Oh?” Sakura smirked. “It must be you then.”

Syaoran rolled his eyes and changed the subject. “So who did you say we’re playing with besides Eriol?”

“Eriol’s mixed doubles partner from high school,” Sakura answered.

Syaoran tore his eyes away from his driving for the first time and looked at her, surprised. The moment was over almost as quickly as it started so Sakura didn’t have enough time to read his look well.

“Are you talking about Meiling?” he asked, his eyes back on the road.

“Yea,” Sakura said suspiciously. “Do you know her?”

“Not very well.” Syaoran’s eyes snuck a glance at her again. Now Sakura was positive he was hiding something.

“Syaoran Li,” Sakura said, narrowing her eyes. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Sakura shoved her index finger into Syaoran’s side viciously. “Yes you do.”

“Ow!” Syaoran yelled and jerked away from her, taking the wheel with him a bit. He quickly righted it. “Was that necessary?”

“Yes,” Sakura said bluntly. “So you better start talking before I do it again.”

“Sakura, I don’t – OW!” Syaoran glared at her and rubbed his side. “Fine, but I want you to know that what I’m about to say could be completely wrong. That’s why I didn’t want to even say it.”

“What do you mean?” Now her curiosity was peaked more than ever.

“It’s just… things I’ve heard about her.”

“Such as?”

“It’s just…” Syaoran sighed and gave in. “I heard that she’s had a THING for Eriol for several years now.”

“You mean-”

“Yea. Supposedly, she even confessed to him a couple years back and he rejected her. She’s dated other people since then but people think she didn’t really get over him.”

Sakura bit her bottom lip softly. “Do YOU think it’s true?”

“I dunno.” Syaoran looked distinctly uncomfortable now. “But I wouldn’t have even said anything if I didn’t think there might be some truth to it.”

Sakura started gnawing on her lip. If the whole thing was true, why were they partners now? Could Meiling still be holding onto some feelings for Eriol? She wasn’t really sure how she felt about that.

Syaoran gave Sakura a sideways look and opened his mouth to say something. It seemed he thought better of it because he closed his mouth but then he opened it again. “Does it really even matter if it’s the truth?”

Sakura looked at Syaoran, shocked. “Huh?” she said articulately.

“Well, if she does like him that way, Eriol is probably aware of that. They aren’t dating and I’m pretty sure they never have. So, does it matter?”

“No,” Sakura answered. “It doesn’t.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Sakura was surprised that he actually said something to make her feel better about it since he was against her dating Eriol. He really was a strange boy.

The irony of the situation didn’t escape her attention, but that didn’t stop her from squashing it unceremoniously. Meiling’s possible feelings for Eriol didn’t affect her like Tomoyo’s for Syaoran because Meiling wasn’t her best friend. And Tomoyo was.

There was only one other car in the parking lot when they got to the tennis courts and it belonged to Eriol. Eriol was already out and hitting a ball against the backboard but he stopped and waved when he noticed them.

Syaoran sighed as he opened the driver’s door and Sakura sent him a warning glare. “Be nice.”

“Yes, mom.”

“Hey!” Sakura said as she approached Eriol. He smiled at her and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with his index finger. Sakura didn’t miss the constipated looking smirk on Syaoran’s face as he did it either.

“Where’s Meiling?” Syaoran asked before Sakura could say anything to him.

“Not here,” Eriol answered, his genial smile never leaving his face. Sakura could practically see Syaoran’s feathers getting ruffled.

“Thank you, Dr. Bob,” Syaoran said sarcastically.

“You’re quite welcome.”

Before Syaoran could reach over and strangle the life out of the glasses clad boy, a loud thumping noise caught all of their attention.

“Ah, speak of the devil,” Eriol said as a white car pulled into the parking lot and moved towards the courts. The thudding got louder as it approached and Sakura realized that it was the bass to music. Hey! That was one of her favorite songs.

The car parked and the person inside started scrambling around to gather her stuff, hiding her face in the process. The door swung open and a long, muscled leg shot out to make sure it didn’t swing shut.

“I’m not late, am I?” The girl asked as she climbed out of her car. She was juggling her keys, a water bottle, a racket, and her cellphone so she used her butt to close the car door.

“No,” Eriol answered. “Would you care if you were?”

“For your sake?” The girl asked. “Not particularly. No. But I would feel bad if I made your friends wait.” Her eyes slid over to Syaoran.

“Hi, Meiling,” Syaoran said.

“I take that back. I would feel bad if I made your girlfriend wait.” She jerked her head towards Sakura. “Hi, I’m Meiling.”

She felt a little awkward at being referred to as Eriol’s girlfriend, but she answered just the same. “I’m Sakura.”

Sakura was fairly sure that she’d seen this girl before. Meiling was the kind of girl it was hard to forget, to put it frankly. She had long black hair that was tied back out of her face with a few loose hairs despite the bobby pins that were there to catch them. She was taller than Sakura and her legs seemed to go on forever. She had a nice figure and a striking face. In other words, she seemed like the whole package.

“We’ve met before, right?” Meiling asked.

“I think so. We must have played singles against each other at some point.”

“I thought so!” Meiling exclaimed. “I never forget a pretty face!” And just like that, Sakura was in love.


Sakura was having a hard time determining whether there were any grounds to the rumors about Meiling or not. So far, the only interaction Meiling and Eriol had been insults and bickering.

“This isn’t fair!” Sakura wailed. “My partner sucks!”

“Hey now!” Syaoran bit back. “Tennis is not my best sport, okay?”

“Obviously,” Sakura grouched. “I would be better off playing by myself.”

“They bicker a lot, don’t they?” Meiling asked Eriol and took a swig from her water bottle. Something about what she said struck a chord with Sakura. It was true, they did argue a lot. They same way Eriol and Meiling did. That made her a bit uneasy.

“It’s how we show our love for each other,” Syaoran said and put his arm around Sakura’s shoulders. Sakura snapped her teeth at him and Syaoran pulled away. “Bad dog!”

“I’ve got an idea,” Meiling said suddenly, ignoring their bickering. “Why don’t we switch up the partners? I’m getting tired of playing with Four-eyes anyways.” Eriol looked offended.

“Girls against boys!” Sakura chirped. She was tired of almost getting hit by Meiling anyways. That girl had a vicious backhand. Meiling smiled and moved so she was standing next to Sakura.

“Oh good. I’m ready to start winning,” Syaoran said, clearly trying to provoke them. It worked. The fixed grins that appeared on the two girls’ faces were scarily identical.

“Let’s mop the floor with them,” Meiling whispered.

“My thoughts exactly.”


“How do you like me now, bitch?” Meiling shouted and punched her fist in the air. “Suck on it!” A scowl seemed permanently etched on Eriol’s face as he got off the floor.

“You’re going to be picking ball fuzz out of your teeth for a week,” Syaoran commented. He had remained on the baseline, safely away from the net and Meiling’s attacks.

“Yea, he might find some TENNIS ball fuzz while he’s at it too,” Meiling commented and burst into hysterical laughter. Sakura couldn’t help it – her mouth twitched.

“Traitor,” Eriol grouched.

“Sakura’s serve,” Syaoran announced and tossed the ball to Sakura. It somehow managed to bounce off her racket and right into her face.

“Ow,” Sakura muttered, amidst Syaoran’s laughter. “Good thing my nose was there to protect my face.”

“Are you okay?” Eriol asked, showing genuine concern.

“I’m fine. Let’s just get this last game over with.” Getting hit in the face always tended to make her grouchy.

“Who says it’s the last game?” Syaoran asked.

“Yea,” Eriol added. “We could make a comeback.”

“Well, seeing as how you two have lost the last consecutive five games…” Sakura began.

“We’re not exactly shaking in our boots,” Meiling finished. The two girls grinned conspiratorially at each other.

“We’ll see.”


“Well, that’s that,” Meiling said, putting the tennis balls back in their can. The last game had been slightly more challenging than the previous five, but the girls still emerged victorious. “It’s a shame we didn’t put any money on it.”

“I know,” Sakura agreed. “I could always use the extra cash.”

“Oh, go take a long walk off a short pier,” Syaoran grumbled under his breath. Somebody was a sore loser.

“Ladies first,” Sakura replied, flashing him her teeth.

“That was fun,” Eriol said and tried to work the kinks out of his shoulders. “Why don’t we all go get something to eat now?”

Meiling sighed, truly pained. “Sorry. I would love to but I have to get ready for work.”

“Where do you work?” Sakura asked, curious.

“I’m a manager at Little Cheezers.” Meiling shuddered. “The pizza place from hell.”

“What’s wrong with it?” That was actually Sakura’s favorite pizza place. She sincerely hoped she wasn’t about to hear something that would forever turn her off to the place.

“I work with idiots,” Meiling answered bluntly. The way she said it implied ‘don’t even get me started’.

“Oh, I see…”

“But we should definitely all get together sometime besides for just tennis.” Meiling pushed some stray hairs out of her eyes.

“Absolutely!” Sakura agreed. “In fact, my family is having a Fourth of July party. Why don’t you come?”

Meiling seemed a bit taken aback by the invitation but recovered quickly. “Sure! I’ll come if I can get that day off. Let me give you my number.”

The girls exchanged phone numbers and then Meiling was on her way, her car thumping as she drove off.

Meiling certainly seemed like an interesting person. She came off as being nice, but there was really no telling. It’s not like they sat down together and had a heart to heart. Sakura was also unsure about Meling’s relationship with Eriol. They seemed fairly normal around each other, but Sakura was well aware that could be deceiving as well. Just look at her and Syaoran. As far as she knew, no one had any clue about what had gone on between them. And here they were, acting like perfectly normal cousins.

“So, are you two hungry?” Eriol asked.

“I am. What about you, Syaoran?” Sakura’s eyes slid over to Syaoran. She really wanted to spend some time alone with Eriol, but she seriously doubted Syaoran would allow that to happen. As she suspected, he met her stare with raised eyebrows. Neither of them wanted to break eye contact, turning it into a staring contest of sorts.

Syaoran finally looked away at length and sighed. “No. I have some things I need to take care of at home anyways, so why don’t you two go ahead without me?”

Sakura’s body relaxed as the tension left her. She really hadn’t thought he would let that happen.

“That’s too bad,” Eriol said, managing to sound like he meant it.

“Sure. Anyways, Sakura, why don’t you come with me and get your wallet out of my truck?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll just finish gathering the rest of the balls,” Eriol commented and did just that.

Sakura didn’t really want to get her wallet at this point. It meant she would be alone with Syaoran for a couple minutes and she had the sneaking suspicion that he had something he wanted to say to her.

That sneaking suspicion turned out to be correct.

“Look Sakura,” Syaoran began as he unlocked and opened the driver’s door. “I’m willing to let you be alone with him for one reason.”

“And just what is that exactly?” Sakura asked.

“It won’t last,” Syaoran said simply as he reached over the seats and grabbed Sakura’s wallet. Sakura remained silent. “What? No comment?”

“Syaoran, you know as well as I do that I definitely have a comment.”

“Oh? And what is that?” Syaoran straightened up and stared at her, the wallet in hand. Sakura reached for it, but he jerked it out of her reach. “No. Not until you answer me.”

“Fine.” Sakura said, nonplussed. “But remember, you asked.”

Syaoran yawned as if to indicate he was getting bored with this conversation and Sakura decided to tell him exactly what she thought.

“You’re scared.”

Syaoran actually laughed. “And how do you figure that one?” Sakura wasn’t affected.

“The fact that we’ve had this conversation before; many times in fact. It’s becoming the same song, second verse. You keep saying the same thing over and over as if that might actually make it true. But Syaoran…” At this point Sakura snatched her wallet out of his hands and turned to walk away. As she did, she said one more thing over her shoulder. “If you really thought it were true, you wouldn’t feel the need to keep verbalizing it.”


“Ah, belly full of cheeseburger.” Sakura sighed contentedly and rubbed her stomach. “You really know how to show a girl a good time.”

“I try.” Eriol glanced at her and then back at the street. “So, which one is your house?”

“The one on the end,” Sakura pointed, squinting. The sun was almost set and the light was trying to blind her. A simple lunch had turned into a long talk and then a movie, followed by a long talk over dinner. He had somehow managed to talk her into all of that despite the fact that they were both still in their tennis clothes. Really, Sakura felt so at ease when she was with him. It was nice.

“This will be the first time I drop you off at your house,” Eriol said suddenly. “Because you usually take your own car and meet me at our dates.”

“Yea,” Sakura chuckled slightly. “I thought I would save you the pain of meeting my brother.”

“Overprotective?” Eriol asked, seeming amused.

“Just a little bit.” That was an understatement.

“Well, if we’re going to keep seeing each other, it’s something that I’m going to have to face sooner or later, right?” Eriol pulled up to the curb and put the car in park.

“That’s true,” Sakura said, averting her eyes. She was really nervous all of a sudden. “But I guess you’ll meet him at the Fourth of July party.”

“Oh? So does that mean I’m invited?”

Sakura snapped around to look at him, surprised. “I thought I already invited you!”

“No.” Eriol put on a sad face. “You invited Meiling. I must admit, I was feeling a bit left out.”

“Oh! I’m sorry.” Sakura was mentally cursing her stupidity. “I meant to invite you too. I just… forgot.”

“Ouch.”

“I don’t mean it like that! Of course I really want you to be there!” Sakura was getting flustered. She really hated it when her brain failed her. It was about time to get a new one.

“That’s good then.” Eriol’s voice was deep and low, almost a whisper. It was then that Sakura noticed how close they were. Eriol seemed to have noticed as well. “Sakura?”

It took Sakura a second to realize that he was asking her permission. She had no idea what to say. It was so awkward! Thankfully, her body was still functioning when her brain wasn’t because her head inclined slightly. That seemed to be all the encouragement Eriol needed.

His hand reached forward, brushing over her cheek and snaking around her neck. He pulled her forward gently until their lips met. Sakura’s heart thudded almost painfully in her chest. Eriol’s kiss was sweet and slow, very different from the few kisses Sakura had shared with Syaoran. His lips weren’t as full as Syaoran’s either, so she could definitely tell a difference. That didn’t make it a bad kiss, by any means. She was enjoying it thoroughly and the thought exhilarated her. She really could feel that way for someone besides Syaoran.

Eriol pulled away and placed one more butterfly kiss on the corner of her mouth. “See you tomorrow?” he asked.

Sakura couldn’t contain the goofy grin that split across her face. “Absolutely.”


Sakura hummed a jaunty little tune despite the fact that she was battling with the lock to the front door. Keys had never been her strong suit so she was almost tempted to ring the doorbell, but then she would be forced to endure the taunting of whoever opened it for her.

She finally got the stupid thing unlocked and used her hip to help her open the door since it was prone to sticking. When she looked up, her humming abruptly stopped.

Syaoran stood in the entryway, an unreadable expression on his face. Sakura started to say something to break the awkward silence but thought better of it. His face wasn’t exactly unreadable, it was almost stony. He hadn’t looked at her like that in a long time.

Without a word, Syaoran turned his back to her and walked away.


To Be Continued.

Chapters

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