A Secret Proposal Part 1

By: Alexia Praks

Many times after her marriage, Haruka had doubted her decision. Perhaps she should have confronted her family and kept her daughter. She, however, had been too weak. Now her daughter was nowhere to be found. She hadn’t a clue where else to look, as the old Queen Mary Orphanage had burnt down seven years after that fateful spring day when she’d left Sakura on the doorstep. All records of the children had been destroyed in the flames and most of the children had been adopted. She knew Sakura had been one of them.

Her beloved daughter Sakura would be turning twenty-five years old today.

“Sakura, where are you?” she murmured under her breath as she watched the petals of cherry blossoms raining down around her. She reached out her hand to catch some, brought them lovingly to look closer, and gently stroked the petals, tears brewing in her eyes.

“Mono no aware,” a manly voice said softly.

Haruka turned to see the handsome billionaire Sebastian Princeton standing not too far away, his eyes on the cherry blossom tree in full bloom of pink clouds behind her. He had a faraway look in his azure-blue eyes, which she knew spoke of loss, of beautiful memories long gone. Now he was reminded of those unforgettable memories and it pained him, as it pained her. Had he lost his loved one, too, she wondered and felt saddened at the thought.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, closing his eyes and inhaling the sweet scent. Instantly, it reminded him of the woman he loved, the woman named Sakura, and his heart ached.

“Mono no aware,” Haruka said, nodding. “You understand its meaning.”

Sebastian opened his eyes. Before him, he saw his new tenant from Japan who, with her small family, had moved into this very luxurious private apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan three months ago. Haruka, Sebastian thought, was one very traditional Japanese woman all right, for he had never seen her dressed in anything except yukata. This one was very beautiful indeed, with purple and white flowers.

Sebastian liked to visit Haruka. He liked to talk to her because she was always so soft spoken and so philosophical. Then there was also the fact that Haruka reminded him so much of Sakura.

He came to sit beside her and said, “Someone told me.”

“A woman?” Haruka couldn’t help asking. There was a lovely ring of teasing in her voice that Sebastian didn’t miss.

Sebastian nodded without hesitation.

“Is she beautiful?”

Again, Sebastian nodded. “The most beautiful being I’ve ever seen.”

Haruka smiled. “You love her?”

Sebastian frowned and his face darkened.

Haruka noticed. “I apologize, Sebastian-san. I did not mean to ask you such a personal question.” She stood, her hands folded politely in front of her as she bowed her head apologetically. “Please, forgive me.”

Sebastian shook his head. “There’s nothing to forgive. I’ve come to see how you’re settling in the apartment. Please, if you needed anything, just inform the manager Mr. Smith. He’ll take care of everything.

Haruka chuckled. “Sebastian-san, I thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Might I thank you for the lovely design of the apartment as well? It is very much to my taste, especially my bedroom. How did you come up with such an idea? A mixture of Japanese and European décor.”

It was Sebastian’s turn to chuckle. “I stole the idea, so you shouldn’t thank me. After all, it was the decorators who did all the work. I just gave them my thoughts.” He didn’t tell her it had been Sakura’s bedroom back at Princeton Mansion on St. Joseph Island that had inspired him.

“But still,” Haruka argued. “It was very kind of you to think of us Japanese. Oh dear, I am being a very bad hostess indeed. Please, I invite you to have tea with me. It’s Japanese tea, if you don’t mind.”

Sebastian stood. “I don’t mind at all.”

Haruka nodded. They both left the exotically designed private courtyard filled with cherry trees in full bloom on the ground floor of the building and entered the enormous lobby nearer to the front. They took the lift to the third level. A few moments later, they entered Haruka’s enormous, luxurious apartment that was classically designed and decorated.

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