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…I didn’t wanna go.
To begin with I didn’t want anything to do with that family. Going now would be even worse because that fasting course would definitely come up. It would be as good as announcing,
‘Hello everybody! I was fat enough to warrant fasting!’
…Yeah, no wayyy.
But thinking about it, a tea party probably meant that she wanted to get to know the kids in her son’s school year. With a lot of other people there it wouldn’t have been too bad. If it wasn’t for the fasting issue, that is.
Actually, I had been invited to something like this a few times before, but I got out of it by pretending to be shy. It’s a shame that something like that wasn’t possible at my age. How depressing…
The days continued to pass by. Dog Lover-kun continued to force his 『I ♡ Beatrice!』 photo collection on me. Okaasama got excited about the tea party and began dragging me to beauty salons and clothes shopping. Before long, the day of the tea party had arrived.
It was a casual thing so I just brought some flowers and chocolates with me. Well, I say ‘just’ but this chocolate was actually bought from the newly opened Japanese branch of a French chocolatier. A rising star of the chocolate world, they call him. I decided on this since I figured the sweet-toothed Kaburagi might appreciate it.
Anyhow, I arrived there for the first time feeling nervous. It didn’t take long for Madam Kaburagi to show me in, and I was brought to a large room overseeing the garden. Actually there were already a number of people there. Pretty much everybody was somebody from the Pivoine, so I let out a sigh of relief. Although naturally Kaburagi and Enjou were there too.
“Reika-san, might there be some people you haven’t met before? Allow me to introduce you,” said Mrs. Kaburagi before doing exactly that. Once she was done, she left to greet new guests.
I decided to just approach someone I knew. Nouzen Sarara-sama was here.
She was a Pivoine member, but spent most of her time reading quietly by herself. Sarara-sama had this tranquil and dignified air to her, and it felt like she lived in her own world, never taking part in the pointless conversations that the rest of us had. Any conversation I made might have seemed inane to her, so I’d always shied from talking to her. Thanks to that we weren’t really close.
I had to say though, I admired her constant composure. That was something I knew I had trouble with.
At any rate, it was surprising that somebody like Sarara-sama would even come to an event like this. I’d never seen her really talk to Kaburagi in the Pivoine salon, and neither he nor Enjou seemed to pay much attention to her.
Could it be that she was forced here by her parents like I was?
“Gokigen’yoh, Sarara-sama. I must admit I was not expecting you here.”
“Gokigen’yoh. Of all places, I wouldn’t have expected you here either, Reika-sama.”
“I must admit that this is my first time as a guest here. And you, Sarara-sama?”
“I do in fact visit here on occasion. The Kaburagi family are kind enough to allow me to peruse their book collection. Chairman Kaburagi is in fact a rare book collector.”
That dreamy Kaburagi-Papa’s hobby was books!? Gosh, why haven’t I been reading more books! I don’t know a thing about rare books! And what a refined hobby too!
In my mind, I pictured Kaburagi-Papa sitting in his study, dignified, reading from an old, leather-bound book…
It fits him so well! And what does my family’s Tanuki do for fun!? Collecting reading glasses for his eyesight!?
“Truly. In his spare time he tours Europe looking for rare books on his own, you know. This wondrous collection is the direct result of all that effort!”
“Is that so?”
“It is! Think about it! Early copies of Huysmans’ works! When I found out about it I couldn’t stop the trembling!”
It was the first time I’d ever seen the collected Sarara-sama talking so excitedly. I mean, I knew that she really liked her books, but I never thought she took them this seriously. I guess she had that same something that led people to getting dog paw earrings…
We chatted some more. Apparently she was particularly fond of French literature. Scouring my brains for my meagre knowledge on that field, I managed to squeeze out the names Cocteau and Wilde. Her eyes lit up, and she began to, even more excitedly, list title after title, and passionately discussed(?) their contents.
Um, that’s nice and all, Sarara-sama, but could you stop closing in on me like that?
At that moment, Mrs. Kaburagi came back with another girl. The girl had hair up to her shoulders, and the tips were lightly curled. Wow, what a casual.
“This is Maihama Ema-san from Yurinomiya. Everyone get along with her. Now that everybody is here, shall we begin the tea party!”
And that’s how it began. Maybe because his mother was right here, Kaburagi was even more silent than usual. He was literally giving only the bare minimum replies to Maihama-san who was desperately trying to start a conversation. Not that I couldn’t sympathise. A high-school boy being forced to attend a tea party with his mother? It was like some sort of strange punishment game, if you thought about it. Worse yet, there was no Yurie-sama here.
Apparently Yurie-sama and Aira-sama were in the UK right now, spending their break living with some host family.
I’ll bet anything that Kaburagi had wanted to go with.
Anyhow, Kaburagi, still morose, picked up a chocolate and put it into his mouth. His face betrayed faint surprise. Gotcha!
The chocolate that he ate just now was none other than the one I brought with me as a gift. How’s that, Kaburagi! It’s good, right!
Madam Kaburagi, sharp-eyed as usual, was quick to point out that it had been brought here by me.
“Hmm… Where’d you get this?”
“So they opened a store in Japan…” he muttered.
He really knew his stuff.
“You like chocolates, Kaburagi-sama?”
“Chocolat isn’t bad.”
Ooh, “shoh-koh-lah“. Sorry, for being a commoner, Mr. Frenchman.
“Reika-san, the other day you stayed at one of our hotels with your Okaasama, didn’t you? How was it?”
“Yes. Your exclusive amenities were excellent. It was almost a shame to use them. I also enjoyed your garden. The way it lit up at night was simply magical.”
“My! Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed it.”
“Kisshouin-san, you stayed at one of the Kaburagi Group’s hotels?” Enjou suddenly asked.
“Our hotel had some fasting course. To lose weight.”
I knew you knew! And you’ve revealed me here!?
What is wrong with you!? Haven’t you heard of tact!?
You don’t understand a girl’s heart at all!
“It’s one of the courses our hotel offers.”
“Wow. So Kisshouin-san was fasting…”
Enjou looked like he was struggling not to smile. Everyone else started talking about it as well. Wasn’t this like publicly acknowledging that I was a fatty!
“My, it might have been a fasting course but it wasn’t just for dieting,” began Madam Kaburagi. “It was a detox course. Reika-san is skinny, so she wouldn’t have needed to diet.”
Unfortunately I doubt anybody believed her.
“Reika-san came to accompany her mother. She’s very close with her parents. Chairman Kisshouin told me all about how she makes handmade chocolates for him every Valentine’s.”
Tanuki! You’ve been spreading trouble again!
“Gosh, I wish I had a daughter… Sons really aren’t cute at all.”
Kaburagi looked put out by his mother’s words.
Then Maihama-san cut in.
“I know that you have a rule against home-made chocolates, but I’m attending desert school so please try one of mine!”
Also she was looking at me like I was some kind of rival.
“Don’t want. If I’m going to be eating some rank amateur’s mistakes, why shouldn’t I eat a professional’s successes instead.”
Maihama-san, shot down.
Kaburagi, one of these days you should really learn the art of subtlety.
After that, people kept coming over and asking about my fasting, so I got offended and blurted out,
“Recently I went with a friend to clear my spirit with zazen meditation as well,”
when a senpai from the Pivoine replied with a shocked,
“Eh-, Reika-san, you’re one of them?”
Enjou was facing away from me, breathless with laughter. I wished I had a zen stick with me to teach him some manners.
Anyhow, as a result of me regaling my experiences, a number of people said that they were interested in trying the fasting course as well.
When it was time to leave, Madam Kaburagi commented,
“Today was really lively thanks to you. Come again, okay!”
It wasn’t fun for me at all though…
Also Maihama-san huffed, and turned away from me. What a funny person.
Returning home exhausted, I was ambushed by Okaasama who asked me all about the tea party, but when I mentioned that they found out we were fasting participants, she was crestfallen.
Half of that was her fault though.