「 But still, you’re weird. You haven’t opened your first shop and yet you say that you don’t want to expand already 」
Yukino told Ai.
「 Oh? Not really. Recently, most businesses think of expanding to chains from the beginning. It’s true if they have that much funds, but 」
Katsuko-nee replies with a smile.
「 When it comes to purchasing and such, the more you buy, the lower the price. Sometimes, it’s more efficient to run not just one store but two or three at a time 」
「 Oh, stores like that do exist 」
「 Nowadays, there are consultant companies that will teach you the know-how on expanding a chain from the beginning 」
「 Oh, so there are companies like that? 」
Mariko asks out of interest.
「 Yes. Nowadays, you can find a consultant company on about everything 」
「 Can you trust those companies though? 」
Megu speaks in a low tone.
「 After all, if the company has the know-how, why are they not teaching others and open up a business themselves? 」
「 Well, Megumi-chan is right. But look, some of them actually manage a store before becoming a consultant, they succeeded, and have the knowledge and experience 」
「 But, Katsuko-san, I’ve found mostly young consultants whom by all appearances have no experience nor knowledge in it 」
「 I think that it’s the bosses who actually has the know-how, right? Then they compile it to a manual, and let the young people read it 」
「 Eh? Can someone create a consulting shop from making a manual? 」
「 Mariko’s right. Most consultation companies make you think “what’s with them?” But, remember, companies are complicated. In case they can’t reform inside, then in most cases, they need someone from the outside to point it out 」
「 For example, the new company president took over, and the young man wanted to change the company to what he wants, but, the company directors from the previous generation outnumber the new president, and want to remain the same 」
The young president, and the old directors.
「 The president and the directors confront each other inside, and the unfriendly mood had a consultant from the outside come in, then the outsider points out what they see and tell them to stop the discord 」
「 Oh, disputes inside the company only reduces their strength 」
「 Still, bringing in consultants doesn’t mean that you have to follow their recommendations. It’s just a platform for the reformists and the conservatism to get their opinions together 」
「 Indeed. It’s worse for a company to listen to the opinions of a consultant who’s only seen the company from the outside and is willing to listen to anything they say 」
Kana-senpai smiles wryly.
「 Well yeah, a company that’s been doing economic activities in the business world for a long time should know the real nature of the consultants more than anyone. Still, it’s a chance to say your real intent that you couldn’t say even if you think “I want to change this,” or “It doesn’t fit the current age anymore,” right? You can say that the consultant pointed it out 」
Oh, using another person’s proposal to speak what they wanted to say.
「 Consultants speak their opinion and teach you the know-how, but it’s your responsibility on how to use it. You can’t say that “I’ve done everything as I was told but the performance deteriorated,” right? It’s your management decision 」
Katsuko-nee said and laughed.
「 It depends on the manager whether they believe the consultant or not. I mean, you don’t even know if you can trust the data and numbers the consultant gave you. You’d like to believe that he’s not an ‘enemy’ because you’re paying him a consultant’s fee, but he’s not an instructor, a military strategist, or a chief of staff. Consultants don’t have to worry about their client’s business going down 」
They’re no allies.
「 When it comes to management hints, you don’t need to hear only from the consultants, you can ask a variety of people. Sometimes, people in other industries have useful ideas from their experience. There’s no need to meet them directly, their interviews from magazines and news is a learning tool. But, what’s important is to think by yourself, to try by yourself 」
「 My father told the young company employees, “Don’t think about five years after two companies. Move your body before thinking” 」
「 That’s the salaryman’s, well, it’s not necessarily the just them but also the employers who hired them into the company, right? Many people make conclusions from what they see and say “That’s not good,” or “that’s wrong,” despite it not being within the scope of their job. No matter what your job is, it’ll take three months before you can sense the situation…understanding the flow of the work takes one year. For example, you have a busy season in the spring, summer, fall, and winter, and it’s going to take three years for you to settle. Even so, you’re no veteran. While you’re doing your work, trouble that comes once every five years, or special order that only happens once every ten years, will come. If you can deal with it, that’s when you become one 」
「 But, even without experience, managers need to make decisions. Naturally, they gain inspiration and make decisions in a moment, but if they have time to think, then they should examine the information and continue to ponder until they reach the time limit. An error of judgment means a loss of a person’s livelihood 」
「 Katsuko-san…uhm 」
「 Thank you…for letting…Yoshida-kun and Ai…to try out various ingredients…making a variety of pastries…selling…testing out a lot 」
「 What’s wrong, Ai? 」
「 Well, let’s say, for example, we go to the three bakeries we went to earlier today and train from them, the first bakery will only allow us to make bread according to what the superiors told us to do. The flour and yeast are up to the owner’s choice. They won’t even let us test out other baking methods 」
I mean, that shop’s manufacturing is completely matched against the owner.
「 As for the second bakery, we could become her pupils, and we can learn how to make amazing bread, but we can’t make ordinary ones anymore 」
Her craft is only specific to making a loaf of bread.
「 As for the third bakery, we can’t make anything but cheap ones, and we can’t make anything complicated because we have to make the products cheap. That will be the training they’ll give us 」
「 But…Ai and Yoshida-kun… can try out various methods…make varieties of pastries… 」
「 Furthermore, we can check how the students react in the cafeteria when we sell it 」
「 Oh right, sometimes, you do bring out a really bad-looking pastry on a non-cheaper variant 」
Yukino says while at the toasted bread.
「 Bread-making course is training after all. We could try out various things while we have the time. That becomes your experience 」
「 Once we opened up an actual shop, you’re not allowed to sell a single failure of pastry in your varieties 」
Right now, we’re in training, and so it’s forgiven.
The selling price of the bread isn’t making a profit either.
「 So it’s the ideal environment for Nobu and Ai’s learning 」
「 Uhm, Katsuko-san, why are you so well-informed with company management and employee training? 」
「 Well, that’s because there’s no woman in Japan who heard stories from various managers as much as Katsuko 」
Nagisa joins in with a smile.
「 They do have topics they can never tell the general audience in magazines and television but Katsuko hears even horror stories of failures in business and such, stories that can never be public 」
As a prostitute of the Black Forest.
Her clients were big-shots in the political and business world.
「 Well, aren’t you much more well-informed than me, Nagisa? 」
Nagisa was the number one of the Black Forest.
「 I do have meals and talk with my contacts even now. But, it’s already been years since my retirement 」
Then, Katsuko-nee protected the number one spot after Nagisa retired.
「 Well, everyone says “Since it’s Katsuko-kun, I’ll tell you.” And so they tell stories. I had to understand what they talk about, and not just agree with everything they say, and so I read a lot of economics books. I also look at the finance page of the newspapers and magazines 」
「 I don’t think there’s a need to read newspapers, right? 」
「 They love checking the same news, and saying “Newspaper A makes this article, but Newspaper B’s drift of their argument is like this.” They’re that kind of people. Therefore, you have to read all the newspapers and compare it 」
「 Oh right, you got to work hard to entertain the big-shot old men 」
Kana-senpai looked at Mariko.
「 With that said, Mariko, you should read newspapers too 」
「 But why do I have to? 」
「 I mean, isn’t your job to talk to the big-shot contacts? 」
「 Compared to me, I think that they will be happier if they find that a girl like Kana is interested in finance 」
「 It’s not happy, more like, “moe” “Finance Moe” 」
Oh right, this girl did meet big-shots at parties too.
「 As for me, I think that I’ll go with the plan by saying “Ojii-sama, I have no knowledge in finance, please teach me” 」
Kana-senpai said, but…
「 Only the perverted men with ulterior motives will get attracted to that line 」
Yukino speaks teasingly.
「 True. It’s better if you are aware than not. It lets you value the worth of the other party 」
「 People who talk about low-level economic theories that everyone knows while having that “I’ll teach you” attitude are hopeless 」
「 That said, they’ll keep distance if you know too much. The other side will feel the level of conversation you want to partake and talk while making sure it doesn’t become sarcastic 」
「 You must not show off your knowledge. After all, in the end, it’s all information gathering. Listen to the other party. People who rose to the top of the business and political circles will have some information that will be useful 」
「 I see. Listen, not talk 」
「 Once I return home, I’ll try it out with Father and Grandfather immediately 」
「 Right. Those two have never told Mariko-san but they should have some stories that are a turning point in their life 」
「 I’ll try it out too. I don’t think that my Papa has some big secrets, but still 」
「 Yes, please do. Men don’t talk about such with their coworkers and friends but they should have some episodes they want to tell others 」
「 Really? Kou, do you have some too? 」
Mariko looked at me.
「 Well, none 」
The girls already know everything about me.
I’ve got nothing new to tell them.
「 That’s because it still hasn’t approached its conclusion inside. Until it becomes a whole tale, then… 」
Nagisa told me.
「 Right. I think that after ten years, you’ll think of the “tale” you had for the past six months as something nostalgic 」
「 Well then, that’s the end of the pastry sampling meeting. We can call the other girls to try out the remaining slices 」
Everyone already ate some so there are just 5-6 pieces of toast, but…
「 By the way, did something happen, Nagisa? 」
Yeah, Nagisa went in suddenly.
「 About that, Misuzu-chan and the girls have come home. I came here to convey that 」
Oh? They’re back now?
「 Oh. They should’ve called when they left the training building 」
「 Well, they seem to be prohibited from doing so 」
「 I don’t know why but it seems that they’re told that they can’t call you during the operation 」
Oh, Kudou-papa’s instructions.
Kudou-papa’s the one doing the operation this time.
That’s because he doesn’t carry any connections to the Kouzuki house.
Though it’s dealing with the reckless actions of a portion of people, if the Kouzuki SS deals with the bureaucrats, the grudge will remain.
Therefore, Shou-neechan and the Kouzuki SS are in the old training building, guarding the young ladies who came to watch Edie and Yamada Umeko-san’s match.
The no-contact thing Kudou-papa said was to create an alibi.
On the other hand, we have been with Kudou-papa since the afternoon, and so…
And so, until Kudou-papa dealt with the reckless bureaucrats…
If Misuzu contacts me by phone, they could misunderstand that we’re passing through orders to Kudou-papa.
「 Once we’re done, you’re asked to come. They’re gathered in Ruriko-chan’s room 」
Oh, it’s to report about what happened in the training building.
「 Okay, I’ll go there 」
「 Oh, Kou. I’m going too. Haiji, come with us 」
Mariko calls her.
「 You want to hear the results of Edie-san’s fight, don’t you? 」
「 Ah, yes 」
「 What about Kana? 」
Kana-senpai looked at Ai and Megu.
「 I’ll stay here. I already had my fill listening to the young ladies 」
「 I won’t go either. I’m bad at dealing with those girls 」
「 I think the other side thinks the same way, right? Oh well, let’s go, Kou 」
「 Yeah 」
Mariko urged me so we left the dining room.
◇ ◇ ◇
「 I’m also bad at dealing with that girl, Yukino, and Megumi 」
Mariko says after we walked in the corridor for a moment.
「 The two of them are overly-familiar, or should I say that they’re too frank 」
「 Mariko-oneesama, that’s because everyone’s getting along 」
「 Well, I know that, but still 」
「 No, I think that Yukino and Megu feel the same way as Mariko 」
Misuzu and Ruriko are the young ladies of the Kouzuki house so it’s clear with them, but…
But with Mariko, they feel that she has a lower rank than Misuzu and the girls.
“She’s a new girl and yet her attitude is big,” that’s how they feel
「 Kana-senpai knew that so she remained 」
「 Kana? 」
「 Kana-senpai’s a year senior and so Megu can’t really complain. Yukino stays silent when Megu presses her down 」
Recently, Yukino and Megu are getting along.
Well, that’s a good thing.
「 Well, the one I fear is that Ai. That girl is a step ahead as Kou’s legal wife
「 Megumi, that girl seems to be attentive to details. It is the darkest under the lamppost, isn’t it? 」
I don’t get what she said.
「 If that girl’s established her place next to Kou with her pastry, then Kana and I will become business partners with Kou and establish ourselves nearby. Haiji, you’ll help out too 」
Mariko said. But…
「 Mariko-oneesama, do you believe that going all-out against Katsuko-oneesama to contest in status has chances of success? 」
「 Huh? 」
「 It’s not just Katsuko-nee. Nagisa too…Mariko, you’re helping out in Nagisa’s shop, right? 」
「 Y-Yes 」
「 What do you think of it? 」
「 I think that it’s reasonably managed. The workers are also zealous 」
「 You’ve got to play against people who already set up their business 」
「 Katsuko-nee and Nagisa are family, but, do you think that you can compete with them all-out, Mariko? 」
「 Me too 」
「 I’m also fighting for the legal wife status 」
「 Do you intend to fight me? 」
「 Naturally. Of course, everyone gets along, but I believe that conspiring together is not okay 」
And in business fights…
Minaho-neesan’s a monster in reserve.
Mariko hasn’t noticed that yet.
「 S-Sure! I won’t lose okay! 」
Mariko said confidently.
◇ ◇ ◇
「 Come in 」
Ruriko said. We entered the room.
Ruriko, Misuzu, Michi, Edie, and Mizushima Karen-san.
「 Where’s Yoshiko-san? 」
I can’t see her.
「 Yoshiko-oneesama remained in the Kouzuki mansion 」
「 Danna-sama, it’s been a while 」
In the end, it’s been one week since the party in the Kouzuki mansion.
Misuzu and Ruriko remained in the Kouzuki mansion to talk to Yoshiko-san.
Mizushima Karen-san went back and forth to get along with Agnes and the girls.
Michi escorted her.
Misuzu’s been absent so I haven’t taken Karen-san’s virginity yet.
「 So, how was it? 」
I was asking about the results of their conversation with Yoshiko-san.
「 It was my win, of course, 」
Edie said with a smile
「 A knockout victory in 1:30! 」
I see. She took flawless victory against Yamada Umeko-san.
「 It was a bit serious compared to the match before, and so it was good training for me 」
Edie’s going to join Margo-san in their martial arts contest.
「 As expected, if you don’t fight someone who goes at you seriously, you lose your touch 」
Yamada Umeko-san is the bodyguard in charge of Momoko-neechan.
She can’t lose in a fight as the young ladies are watching and yet…
「 So, I won, and so Darling, pop Umeko’s cherry, okay? 」
「 Before the match, Momoko-oneesama called me to a separate room and had Yamada Umeko-san promise. “If you were to lose, then you’ll lose your virginity too” 」
「 Why did it come to that? 」
「 I have no idea either 」
「 I didn’t understand it either. Anyway, Kaan-sama seems to be strangely aroused 」
Ruriko provided her testimony.
「 Oh, seems like it’s Momoko who wants to have sex with Darling. But, she can’t say that, so she had Umeko make the promise 」
Edie said laughing.
「 Maybe someone stirred Momoko up? 」
「 Danna-sama, do you happen to know? 」
Mariko raised her hands weakly.
「 I-It was me 」
「 Earlier, Momoko-oneesama made a call 」
Right, Mariko and Momoko-neechan had a call.
「 Then, I…I was having sex with Kou…and I told Momoko-oneesama 」
「 Did you say something while elated in success? 」
Edie presses a question.
「 I wasn’t elated in success, but I certainly have said something that could stir up Momoko-oneesama’s heart 」
So that flipped Momomoko-neechan?