'Damn, how did it turn out this way?' Christina lifted her head and waited for the makeup artist to finish.
Rather than staring out a hotel room window she now faced a mirror in a bus. Her classmates were doing high school student things, and she was doing work. It didn't matter all that much. Missing out on Nara was the big deal, but the two day excursion to Osaka was something she could do without. Well, the high school student part would have been fun, but she had seen Osaka to death during her previous life. Anyone doing major business in Japan had.
So why did she sit here swearing? Because she put a lot of her classmates in a pickle, that's why. Her entire crew, including two very famous and very popular male models arrived just when the gang were about to leave a public toilet. She, being the moron she sometimes was, sent a Line message about the importance of the event. "Stuck at the toilet," her future Nobel prize winning entry read. A wonder of clarity which she shared over her phone just as she was forced to turn it off and get working.
'I'm the empress of idiots.' She sighed as she remembered the faces of her classmates when they understood that the price for the autographs they had gained was missing their bus for Nara. 'And then I just vanished from their sight. Gods I'm the queen of responsibility not taken.' That was worth another deep sigh.
"Ageruman-san, please don't move!"
'And now I'm making work difficult for makeup.' She bit her teeth together and did as told.
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The shoot took less time than she had feared but more than she hoped for. That was yet another day she had to spend without Ryu, and Christina started to understand there was more than one reason she spent most of her previous adult life without anything but temporary relationships.
'I'll redo this life in a better way,' she decided over a delicious meal with a staff colleague and two men in power who couldn't decide whether they wanted to bed or make money out of her. That Ryu would stay with her for the rest of her life was unlikely, but she didn't have to sabotage that remote possibility the way she had done with Ulf.
'Why did you want me to pursue this?' she wondered; a thought aimed at her ex. 'Ah, that's not it,' she realised. 'You wanted me to pursue whatever I saw as important for myself. Idiot man! You should have been more selfish, if not for yourself then for me.' Christina hid her smirk behind a fork and pretended to listen to whatever one of the men said.
If Ulf hadn't been able to, then she needed to treat Ryu better. There was a life's worth of experience between the two men she had fallen in love with here in Japan. 'We're supposed to be sharing field trip as high schoolers and here I am doing work.' She'd be doing work, more work and even more work. If she continued like this her life would vanish under an avalanche of work while she excused letting it slip through her fingers with the never ending demand for more work.
"Gentlemen, sensei, I have some sleeping to catch up with and a boyfriend to call," Christina said as soon as the dinner turned from main course to desserts.
Her superior sent her a sour glare. Letting one of the two men take her to his hotel room would have sold another contract, but Christina refused to let herself be used in that way. Clearly stating there was a boyfriend should put a stop to any attempts in that direction.
She put fork and knife on her table and made to rise.
"Ageruman-san, please accompany us some more," one of the men said, and Christina saw how he wanted her body more than the money she represented. Early in her previous life it would have made her feel sick, but now she knew what made men tick.
"I'm afraid that's not possible. The Wakayamas are a little old fashioned, and a late call would look bad," she said. Hinting at old fashioned usually carried the connotation of powerful in Japan, and she wanted to make certain something bad didn't happen to Ryu. The last year had seen too many bad things happening to people she cared for.
"Please leave her be. You're only young once," the other man said to his business partner. "Ageruman-san, it's been a pleasure having you part of our promotion. I hope to see more of you," he added, and Christina understood he chose the money over spending a night with her.
By her side her superior made a happier face. 'So I'm of the hook this time.' There would be other times, more dangerous times, but right now she had the evening for herself without any repercussions.
"Gentlemen, it's been my pleasure." She turned and bowed to the happily beaming staff member. "I'll be ready for tomorrow's morning shoot." That should work as a reminder that after lunch she was supposed to rejoin her class and once more become a high school student.
"Is he any good," the first man asked with a sullen voice tinged by just a little too much alcohol.
"He's the best," Christina said. "I've never been this much in love in my entire life," she added. That was a lie. She had, twice. Her first love and Ulf, but here and now she was supposed to be seventeen with an innocent lack of experience. For the first time in forever she forced her mind to, not Ulf but the awkward boy she had fallen in love with an eternity ago. Those memories brought a slight blush to her face, and she hoped it was enough to satisfy the three present at their table.
Christina left the table and went for her room. She really did have some catching up to do in the sleeping department, but first she planned to make good on her decision to spend some time listening to Ryu's voice.
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