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“She was my classmate in university. This is Yumiyama Erika-san.”
Smiling besides Ichinokura-san, Yumiyama Erika-san was slender like a model. Actually not ‘like’. I had seen her in fashion magazines before. She was literally a model.
“What are you having, Erika?”
“I’ll just go with a salad. I have a photo shoot soon.”
Mao-chan and I had arrived earlier and already ordered, so sitting in front of us now were countless plates.
Mao-chan looked at her own orders, and then looked at Erika-san’s salad.
We couldn’t exactly waste food that we ordered either, so in front of Erika-san and her tiny salad, Mao-chan and I were forced to awkwardly eat our usual fill of calories.
“I’ve heard so much about you two from Haruto,” she smiled. “He’s always talking about how cute his niece and her friend are. And gosh was he right! You really are as cute as a doll~!”
She clapped her hands together in happiness.
“Didn’t I tell you? Mao and Reika-san are like adorable little sisters. Just going out to eat with them is enough to do away with all my stress.”
Ichinokura-san flashed a smile beside her.
“You’re such a gourmand, Haruto~” she replied. “Actually, I’ve known about Mao for quite a while now, but recently he began telling me about you as well, Reika-san, and I just had to meet you.”
I was startled.
“Umm, I apologise for always going out to eat with him. I had no idea he was taken, and did not mean anything by it… If I upset you in any way, I will make up for it.”
Uh oh. Don’t tell me she had to meet me to stop taking her boyfriend out to play?!
We weren’t playing though. We were eating.
Ah! Didn’t we go to Taiwan the other day!? Although to be honest it was a one-day trip so you couldn’t really call it going on vacation with somebody.
But still! Don’t tell me I was in the position of some housewrecker!? Aahh! Reika! Didn’t you learn anything after that time with Kasumi-sama!?
“No! I didn’t mean it like that! You didn’t do anything to upset me at all!” she exclaimed as she waved her hands in denial. “Actually, I’m really happy that he finally has somebody to eat with, you know?”
“You know how much Haruto loves food, don’t you? I’ve been trying to eat out with him as much as I can, but I just can’t. But then recently I heard that you and Mao were going places with him and I was just so relieved. Haruto always tells me how much he enjoys his meals with you two, you know?”
I put on a smile and nodded along.
“You’re just a small eater, Erika,” said Ichinokura-san, “You don’t have to force yourself to come with me. And Reika-san, when I first met you you wouldn’t even touch the food. I was really worried, you know? But thankfully when we met again at Mao’s birthday I found you happily eating away. Erika has never eaten much, and now her job needs it too, but you two are still growing so you need to eat. Oh, what should we get for dessert?”
With that, Ichinokura-san showed the dessert menu to the two of us, even after all of the food──
We talked about how they first met, or about Erika-san’s modelling job, and to be honest it was a nice enough lunch. And there had been no need for me to worry about Taiwan either, because Erika-san had said to me with a smile, “It must have been tiring going to Taiwan. I’m glad the xiaolongbao were good. I’ve been drinking the tea Haruto got me every day.”
“Now then, what shall we do? Erika wanted to go with you wherever you two wanted.”
“Yes. How about shopping? I could get you two clothes that would look good on you. Oh, or did you want to go eat something else?”
Mao-chan and I made eye contact.
“No, I am afraid I must be excusing myself. I would not want to disturb you on your date.”
“Me too! I’m full so I’m going to go home now!”
“Eh? You don’t have to worry about that,” said Ichinokura-san.
“Yeah! We only just met too, and you’re leaving already?” agreed Erika-san.
“I simply cannot accept disturbing you two further,” I said cheerfully.
“You’re right, Reika-oneesama. Haruto-niisama, you’re the one who shouldn’t be holding back. Go enjoy your date!” smiled Mao-chan.
The two of them gave slightly troubled smiles at our teasing.
“Then at least let us send you off,” he said.
“No need. My family will send a car. Please, go on.”
“Reika-oneesama, in that case could you drop me off too?”
“Of course, Mao-chan.”
“Hmm… Is this really okay?” he asked.
‘It is, it is’ the two of us cheerfully reassured him.
“We’ll definitely meet again right?” asked Erika-san, “Mao-chan, I’d be really happy if you called me ‘oneesan’ too.”
Mao smiled at her bashfully.
And so the two of us saw the couple off with a smile before silently walking in the other direction.
“…Mao-chan, shall we go somewhere?”
The two of us entered a nearby café and ordered something sweet to drink.
“What the heck was that! Haruto-niisama’s girlfriend was exactly skin and bones!” exploded Mao-chan.
“She was a model after all…”
“Unbelievable! He kept saying over and over that plump girls were better than skinny ones and then he chooses a skinny model!? What’s wrong with him!”
Mao-chan was clenching her fists in rage.
I thought it was unbelievable too. Erika-san’s legs were as skinny as my upper arm. Were her legs too skinny, or were my arms too thick…
“She truly ate nothing but salad, it seems.”
Even though Ichinokura-san had completely denounced diets to the two of us…
“Right!? We ate so much but she was the only one eating just a salad! It was like she was laughing at us for eating so much!”
“I was sure that the person Haruto-niisama chose would be a plump girl who loved food and was good at cooking. But instead she was a dieter who ate nothing but salad!”
Mao-chan’s cheeks were turning red from rage.
I silently drank my banana au lait.
Mao-chan was hanging her head when she muttered.
“…I’ve gotten fat.”
“You and Haruto-niisama said I wasn’t but I’ve been thinking about what Yuuri-kun said… I got on the scales and they said I was fatter. But Okaasama said I didn’t look fat at all, so I thought that maybe I was still okay…”
Are you actually me, Mao-chan?
“Yuuri-kun was right… Haruto-niisama is a big fat liar!”
Mao-chan looked bitter and frustrated.
“I see… I guess I got fat too…”
Mao-chan looked at me in shock.
“I have somewhat noticed it as well. That my weight has increased recently. But I turned away from reality.”
“No, Oneesama! You don’t look fat at all, Oneesama!”
“No. I look like a pear under this…”
Mao-chan and I held each others’ hands tightly.
Looking around, all of the girlfriends in the café had tiny cakes, and they used forks to make even tinier bites to eat from. Every one of them without exception was cute and skinny. Nobody ate more than two or three bites.
I was fooled by Alice’s owner’s sweet words, and before I knew it I had transformed into Humpty Dumpty…
When I got home, a happy tanuki came over.
“Reika! Otousama bought you your favourite cakes, so come eat with me!”
I glared at him and returned to my room.
Hate…! I hated all the men in this world…! Liars! Liars! Liars!
They spouted lies about men liking plumper girls but in the end they always chose the skinny ones! What they said and what they thought were complete opposites!
They said they liked girls who could eat a lot but in their hearts they were laughing at us! That was the truth!
I vented all of my hatred and frustration into my needle felt. Stab! Stab stab stab!
Elohim, Essaim! Elohim, Essaim!
My roar filled the Kisshouin house.
A pox on all the lying men in the world!