Ueda looked up from his newspaper in surprise. “You what?” He muttered almost reflexively, not meaning the words.
“I love you.” April insisted, her right arm flung out in sincerity, not even parody of the way she would fling apart on stage.
There was an ignition in her gaze, between her fine mascara and opulent dark pupils.
Immediately he recalled nights after nights of sipping whiskey beside this woman that was at once his best friend that he bared all to but concealed what was most important from. He remembered being at the very edge of blacking out and still resisting the confession, withholding it with every pulse of his heated temples.
“I’ve loved you for months now,” she spoke carefully, each word accentuated in her silken voice and held preciously on her tongue.
There was a pregnant silence that met her words until he moved a mouth that felt leaden. “I would be the absolute worst person for you.”
April laughed, “I know what serves me well. And I simply had to tell you, it’s been haunting me.”
She took her seat beside him at the breakfast table, pulling the newspaper easily from his grip.
“I knew you’d never admit it on your own.” April continued. “At first I couldn’t be sure of your feelings, but then last night when you stopped in the doorway…well.”
Ueda groaned, burying his head in his hands. It had been the tiniest slip, the smallest abnormality that foretold his doom. He had paused in that doorway, staring at her batted eyelashes, that crystalline smile, and a glamour that had entranced thousands but was an honest creation. And he had let his gaze, containing those pools of emotions, wander, loosening his guard for mere seconds.
It had been, now he knew, enough indication for her to act on.
He had known the two of them were bound to one another. He could not escape her and never had he wanted to.
But now his incompetence caught his eye, his over love of whiskey and lack of progress with his music. His petty addictions and character flaws, which were simply awful for any woman to tolerate, would be hell for her. And it would be a hell she would bear with perfect good manners, silently with a smile. He said nothing.
“Ueda, since you won’t speak, I’ll say the words for you. You love me back. More than you loved her or the woman before her. And you need me. Our bond is one that surpasses our petty significant others, our friends and family. It’s a clear cut love, that I’m sure you’ve noticed too,” April vocalized his feelings, in a calm tone that conveyed nothing but emphatic warmth.
He remained startled, taking in the vision of her dark dress, pale skin, those scarlet lips and bold black nails.
She looked…agitated, contrary to the vibe she might have been attempting to achieve. Which meant that despite how confident she was trying to sound, she really was uncertain about the depth of his feeling for her.
Ueda’s analysis took only the better half of a minute as he swept through the classifieds. He concluded that as much as she was trying to corner him into admitting his feelings, there were a few other alternatives that still remained open to him.
Almost as if springing into flight, his mind entered the scenario where he denied her. She would place distance between them, she would seize her acting projects and dive head long into them without speaking to him for weeks. If he asked her about them, she would be an impenetrable wall; she would look at him as to a stranger, regard him in her eyes like a speck of dust; warmly, considerately, devoid of attachment.
Conversely, he would roam downtown at night, drive his beat up car into the district for one sole purpose. He would bed strange women, with their hair just slightly the wrong shade, their lips too bright and their gaze too strong. Maybe one of them would strike up an interesting conversation if he were lucky and for a few brief moments each night he could hit an oblivion high that black out the ceiling and sent sparks down his shoulders and into his jowls. And the hole in his chest would rupture, harder yet, and he would worry alone, endlessly. He would lay, naked on the floor of his apartment, with the curtains drawn and the lights off. He would lay there and feel himself breathing still and be amazed.
Then, like on an alternative alley, with well-plucked roses and whistling cherubims, he considered admitting everything to her. His mind struck a black; his imagination simply fizzing away, shrinking at the multitude that could occur. There were simply too many possibilities and the question laid too open-ended.
Only an unnerving fear consumed him in the moment, wringing his innards and robbing his breath.
“Ueda,” April’s tone was plaintive,” Ueda, just admit it.”
His eyes met her gaze and he faltered. His brows rose and his chin trembled.
His words, whatever they would have said, were snuffed out by her mouth on his, she leaning over the counter to reach him, seizing his chin within her grasp.
Her tongue, wet and insisting on his mouth, distracted him from further doubts. He felt himself hardening.
“I can read you,” she said, by way of explanation. “So you don’t have to say it now if you’re not ready.”
He found it ironic that she, who was acutely aware of his entire sexual and romantic history, and knew just how many women he had had, could say something like that with a pure expression. He almost laughed.
“All experience you’ve had is negligible,” she said, in harmony with his thoughts, “because those experiences weren’t with me.”
She walked around the counter, closing the distance between the two of them.