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Aside from Akimi-san, everybody here was either a student or alumni of Zui’ran, so there wasn’t much introduction to be had.
Come to think of it, Ririna had followed Kaburagi like crazy when she entered Zui’ran. Then when Enjou told her off she started behaving herself.
She never did mention liking Kaburagi again, but I wondered if she had any feelings left.
I glanced over at her but… Nope, didn’t seem so. All I registered was wariness. Against whom though?
More Enjou than Kaburagi it looked like. Well, maybe when he chewed her out she realised what a troublesome person he was.
Enjou had enough sense for some polite flattery for the three of us, but all Kaburagi mentioned besides the scope of the party was:
“The food’s pretty good.”
That’s what he was praising!? Not that I wasn’t okay with that, because it was honestly what I was happiest to hear.
“Well Chairman Kisshouin is known as ‘the Gourmet President’, and the ‘Connoisseur Chairman’ after all.”
Eh!? Seriously!? I had no idea people thought of him that way! Hmph, pretty pretentious for a tanuki.
Kaburagi asked if we had eaten, but Ririna and I had only touched the drinks.
“Are you on some stupid weight loss scheme again?”
“No, that is not… I simply have not found the time to eat yet with all the guests to greet,” I explained.
“I’m the same…” echoed Ririna.
Kaburagi shot us a dubious gaze.
“Hmmmm… The chefs have invested so much skill and effort into these dishes and you’re alright wasting them for some diet? I hate people like that.”
The two of us flinched.
“Come on, Kisshouin-san isn’t that kind of girl, right?” Enjou stepped in, “She never leaves any of her lunch behind, and isn’t she always eating desserts at the salon?”
“Right, right,” followed Imari-sama, “To begin with, Takateru told me the reason these Kisshouin parties are known for their food is because of Reika-chan’s advice.”
“True…” Kaburagi nodded in acceptance.
Kaburagi turned his gaze to Akimi-san next.
“I-I think the temarizushi was really good,” she reported, a little frightened.
“Ahh, women do love that kind of thing. I’m more partial to something with a bit more meat, myself,” he chuckled.
I suppose praising the food was the right answer to him.
The two of them began chatting about which foods were good tonight.
You know, Kaburagi, I have to wonder what you mean by talking to a young woman about nothing but food. We’re at a high class party here, filled with girls in their youth. Don’t you have anything cooler to talk about?
As for Akimi-san, her eyes were swimming all over the place. it looked like she was hitting her limit. Do your best, Akimi-san~
“Oh yeah, by the way, Kisshouin. You’ve been “jogging”, yeah? Can’t say it seems to be working though.”
Working? What did he mean ‘working’? As in my stamina wasn’t any better? As in I was still slow? Or did he goddamn mean that the weight loss wasn’t working!?
I’ll kill him! I’ll definitely curse him to death! What do you mean “jogging”!? Jogging is jogging!
Despite being silent all this time, Ririna looked like she was ready to argue now and took a step forward.
“Goodness, excuse you! Reika-san might have been fat for a while, but right now her stomach is slim as anything!” she patted my tummy for emphasis.
Everybody stared at my stomach.
Ririna looked smug and triumphant, but I was feeling faint from the embarrassment.
What are you doing you idiot!! Don’t you know that that kind of help just deals the finishing blow!?
As for Akimi-san, she couldn’t stomach the looks of jealousy she was getting for being around these hot guys anymore.
“Please excuse me. I’m feeling a little tipsy so I think I’ll sit down for a while…”
Of course Imari-sama couldn’t just let that go either.
“Are you all right?” he asked, “Let me escort you over to the chairs,” he said as he gently held out a hand.
Stop ittt, Casanova Village Chief! You’re going to finish her off in another sense!
Red-faced and tottering, Akimi-san was escorted off by Imari-sama.
“I’ll go as well,” said Ririna before chasing after Akimi-san protectively.
I suppose that was fine though. As long as Ririna was there, none of his fans would get off lightly for bullying Akimi-san.
Wai-, huh? Didn’t this mean I was left with just these two? Wha-, wait up! I’ll come too!
But before I had a chance to leave, this time it was Enjou’s okaasama that appeared. Guwahh, my chance to get away!
“This is where you were, Shuusuke? Good evening, Reika-san. My son has been in your care.”
I wasn’t too familiar with her, and had only seen her a few times at graduation and the like. I had been using my age as an excuse to get out of these parties after all.
“No, no, it is always I who troubles him…” I said with an insincere smile.
Unlike Madam Kaburagi’s gallant impression, this woman seemed softer and reserved. Maybe Yuiko-san was a relative of hers.
Oh, come to think of it, if Enjou’s parents were here, and Enjou was here, did that mean…?
“Ummm… Is Yukino-kun at home by himself tonight?”
I hoped he wasn’t too lonely. He was too young to be staying at home alone. Back when I skipped out on the parties I still always had Oniisama around.
“Yes, but he has a minder. He should be just about done with his tutor right about now.”
“My, a home tutor…?”
That was harsh for a 1st grader.
“Yukino is always being hospitalised so he needs a way to catch up on his studies,” Enjou explained after noticing my concern.
So that was why. Oh, but come to think of it, didn’t I start cram school when I was in Year 1?
“Yukino’s gotten quite attached to Kisshouin-san.”
“Truly? He’s always so hard to please though.”
Hard to please? Was she talking about the gentle, angelic Yukino-kun?
“I personally think Yukino-kun is a very kind and well-behaved boy,” I said earnestly.
Mrs. Enjou smiled at me.
“Why thank you. Yukino has been ill since he was little, so sometimes he can be a little demanding but please get along with him, all right?”
“Of course. I love spending time with him.”
“That damned kid has been all about imitating Shuusuke’s latte art recently,” Kaburagi suddenly added, “The last time I went over to Shuusuke’s that kid had already managed a heart, you know. He said that he wanted to make one for you, so I told him ‘Kisshouin would be happier to get the Chinese Zodiac’.”
Kaburagi, the one spouting weird lies into Yukino-kun’s head was youuu!?
“Chinese Zodiac…? Speaking of which, recently my son has been practising an ox… That was thanks to you, Reika-san…?”
“The kid told me that he’d mastered the rat already. Isn’t that great, Kisshouin?”
Oh god, please just stop!
You’re giving his mum the wrong idea!
You’re wrong, Mrs. Enjou! I’m absolutely not some kind of Chinese Zodiac-obsessed weirdo! Please don’t think of me as some bad influence! I’m not some strange woman!
While all this was happening, Enjou was smiling without a care. Do something about your best friend already! And fix this misunderstanding with your mum!
That was when Mrs. Kaburagi came over. At some point this situation had turned into a total Away Game for me. I was surrounded by enemies in every direction. Imari-sama, Akimi-san, Ririna, comeee baaaack~!
But my telepathy failed to activate, and Mrs. Kaburagi ended up inviting me to some Christmas party.
“I already have some plans with friends…” I desperately turned her down.
Please don’t ask me what friends~! It was a total lie! Aah, my stomach… I’m done for…
In the end it was Oniisama who saved me. It was your sixth sense as a sibling wasn’t it, Oniisama! In the end the only one I could rely on was Oniisama wasn’t it!
The temarizushi was part of what we took home later.
With one hand I ate them, and with the other I stabbed the black panther doll I was making with Kaburagi in mind.
A pox, a pox, a pox, a pox, a pox…
An email came from Akimi-san.
‘A wallflower like me got to experience such a wonderful dream…’
It’s fine that you enjoyed it, but Imari-sama is the only person you can’t fall for, Akimi-san!