For now, we’re done preparing.
It’s faster than usual today.
Well, it’s Saturday, the amount we made is less than weekdays.
「 It’s all okay now. Then, I’ll go back home 」
Katsuko-nee takes off her white coat after she finished checking my work.
After the fourth hour is over, I leave the sales to Megu and Nei.
I do the clean-up, tallying sales, and writing on the ledger.
Once Megu’s done with her practice, the pickup car will come, and I’ll close the bakery and go home.
That’s roughly the same every day.
「 Here’s the yesterday sales, then here’s the money for change 」
It’s at this time when Katsuko-nee collects the proceeds from the day before.
She drops by the bank on the way back to the mansion and deposits it.
She also leaves change money at that time.
Also, Katsuko-nee has a lot of work to do during the daytime, such as ordering raw materials, preparing bags, and so on.
「 Then, take care of the rest, Dear 」
Katsuko-nee tells me, then she looked at Yukino.
「 Yukino-san, what’s your plan? If you want, I can send you over 」
Megu’s coming here once the fourth lesson ends to sell bread.
Katsuko-nee thought that Yukino doesn’t want to meet her.
「 No thanks. Someone from Kouzuki SS will come to pick me up like usual 」
Yukino smiles wryly.
「 Well, I’m under surveillance. I don’t have the intention of committing suicide this late though 」
Yukino feels that the bodyguards from Kouzuki SS following her aren’t for security but for surveillance.
「 I feel like I’m free when I’m in school. Although this is the school, so I know you’re watching me 」
「 Once the chime for the end of fourth-hour rings, I’ll go somewhere else before Megumi could come. So, leave me alone 」
「 I see. If that’s the case I don’t mind, but 」
Katsuko-nee says bluntly.
「 No, Yukino, stay here until the people from Kouzuki SS comes 」
「 What? No way 」
「 I said it earlier, Endou might be planning something 」
「 Kenji? I’ll be fine. That guy can’t do anything alone 」
Well, that’s true, but.
「 But, what if he’s not alone? 」
I have to think of that possibility.
「 That guy can’t get help from anyone this late. Kenji got no backing from anyone anymore 」
Endou’s uncle lost his position as a city councilor. His father’s company went bankrupt, and they ran away.
Endou has no power backing him up.
「 Even if his backing disappears, some other people may try to use him, right? 」
「 Like Iwakura-san? 」
Yukino glares at me.
「 She’s your underling, right? 」
Yukino’s deceived by Iwakura-san too.
She was made to swallow marble chocolate, tricking her that it was a contraceptive.
「 Not really, she’s Minaho-neesan’s loose pet 」
I can only say it like that.
「 Iwakura-san being behind Enodu is just my intuition, only one of the possibilities. It’s possible that there are other elements involved. Anyway, someone might be using Endou’s hatred of me to attack Kuromori 」
「 That has nothing to do with me, right? 」
Yukino looks at me with a displeased face.
「 Yeah, you may not be, but, you don’t want to get caught in between, right? 」
「 Why me? 」
「 That child in your stomach is mine. If anything happens to your body, I’d feel sad 」
Yukino thinks for a moment.
「 Right, don’t want that to happen 」
「 Right? So stay with us until Kouzuki SS picks you up 」
「 If the enemy takes some action, I think they’ll come when there are still a lot of students in the school 」
Like taking us down while the crowd is watching.
They can hold a lot of hostages.
That would restrict our movements.
「 Tomorrow is Sunday so if they’re about to move, it would be after-school. 」
I feel like they’ll start before the defense system is turned on.
「 If that’s the case, why can’t they just do it while in the middle of classes, while all of the students are in school? 」
It’s Sunday, so once the fourth class is over, the students without club activities will go home in haste.
「 Well, that’s true, but if the enemy were Iwakura-san, she’d wait until after-shool 」
「 Why? 」
「 Well, you see, Iwakura-san’s the student council president 」
「 What about it? 」
「 The student council president herself won’t do anything like interfering with the class 」
「 Is that so? She picked me up while in class back then 」
「 Back then, it was under Minaho-neesan’s order. But if Iwakura-san crushes down the classes with her own ideas and she kept it a secret to Minaho-neesan, Minaho-neesan will get angry that it’ll be harsh for her later 」
「 Either way, once exposed, Yuzuki will get angry at her, right? 」
「 Well yeah, but Iwakura-san’s the type who wants Minaho-neesan to look after her so she won’t do anything that would make Minaho-neesan abandon her. She only wants to do something that would get Minaho-neesan angry. She won’t do anything beyond that line 」
That’s what I think.
「 In the first place, it was Minaho-neesan who made Iwakura-san the student council president. Therefore, she won’t do anything that would cause inconvenience to the students, I think 」
The target is only me, or my family alone.
Iwakura-san will wait for after-school.
「 I mean, I think she’ll refrain from attacking until I’m done with my bread project, which was spearheaded by Minaho-neesan. In short, something’s coming up once we’re done selling bread 」
I think that’s a strong possibility.
「 In that case, shouldn’t I get away from you? 」
「 I’d rather not be with someone I know will get attacked 」
「 If you’re confident that you can protect yourself alone, sure 」
「 I have Edie with me. Nei is a tactics advisor too. Also, Nikita will be with us for a while
Our defense is enough.
「 Hah! You seem to be good at coaxing, must be Yuzuki’s influence 」
Yukino looks at me.
「 Got it. If you’re going that far to say that, then I’ll stay here even if I don’t want to! 」
Yukino sits back on the chair.
「 I really don’t want to, okay?! 」
For now, it helps that Yukino’s somewhere I could reach.
If she gets away from us and gets kidnapped by the enemy, it would be a serious matter.
We kidnapped Shirasaka Sousuke and used him as hostage towards Shirasaka house effectively, we know how fearful that is.
「 It really as Yukino-san says. You’ve become strong 」
Katsuko-nee looks at me and said.
「 Yeah. I’ll leave this case to you. I’ll be going by now 」
Saying that she holds her bag and stands up.
「 Hey wait, are you just leaving? 」
Yukino tells Katsuko-nee.
「 Stay over here too 」
「 I leave everything to him when it comes to school. I only give him support, but I don’t help out. That’s what I decided on 」
「 Hmm, that’s an excuse, you’re an idiot 」
Yukino and Katsuko-nee glare at each other.
「 Well, Yukino-san’s an outsider so you wouldn’t know 」
「 Yes, I don’t know, I don’t care either, but I just want to make it a bit fair for him 」
「 I know how dirty of a woman you are ever since May. You’re quite cunning. Aren’t you feeling quite better just because he’s an idiot? 」
「 What do you want to say? 」
Katsuko-nee glares at Yukino.
「 Look, I was listening to you two while you were making bread earlier. Aren’t you just substituting a lot of misplaced logic? 」
「 No, that’s not true, Yukino 」
I get in between the two.
「 You really are an idiot. Getting fooled from just that 」
「 I don’t have that intention however 」
「 So what? Could it be that you’re waiting for him to see through the contradiction? 」
「 If that’s the case then you’re expecting too much from him. You’re a much more harsh woman than I thought. This guy’s stupidity is endless. When you have some thoughts, he won’t understand it unless you tell him clearly. His brain is smaller than a cricket’s! 」
Yukino, what did you notice?
Is there something I didn’t realize here?
「 Leave us alone. It’s our problem 」
Katsuko-nee said calmly.
「 I can’t allow that, his existence is my lifeline here 」
「 Yuzuki only allows me to live for his sake, right? I know that 」
Yukino looks at me.
「 After the show was over last night, I felt thankful to Yuzuki for the first time. I announced that I was pregnant last night. Yuzuki told me to do that 」
She ordered Yukino to announce it.
「 Well, I thought that it’s the usual orders to hurt me, but when I did it, I was wrong. When I announced on television that I was pregnant with the child of the man who raped me, and I can no longer abort, that the only path for me was to give birth, the people’s view of me has surely changed 」
「 I was no longer the insensitive daughter of a sex criminal, the world now sees me as a victim of sex crime. The attitude of the staff has changed completely. They’re all kind to me now 」
「 I thought that I would be humiliated in front of the television, but Yuzuki’s shown me a way to survive. I’ve resolved myself and will work hard. I don’t think that Yuzuki or Kouzuki SS will continue their protection all the time 」
It won’t continue all the time, huh?
「 Once that old man from Kouzuki house dies, their regime will change, I can’t tell whether you people would let me live for long while fooling all the people 」
Right, Jii-chan’s old.
Kouzuki house will not always protect us.
If Jii-chan, the center of Kouzuki dies before Misuzu becomes an adult.
Shiba-san, the new head of Kouzuki group may rebel against Misuzu.
No, it’s possible that Shiba-san is overthrown by a coup from the branch family.
If some strange guy gains control of Kouzuki group.
Misuzu, Ruriko, and Yoshiko-san may be forced to get married.
Kouzuki SS may turn to our enemies.
Chief Yazawa, Shou-neechan, and Rei-chan might be suddenly dismissed.
「 I know that I’m given a chance until next year when I give birth. Until then, all I can do is do my best as a TV personality, so the public recognizes me 」
「 Right now, the only way for me to live is just an imaginary work 」
The public knows Yukino.
Her father’s crime, Yukino’s experience, her abuse.
「 Seriously, after yesterday’s broadcast was over, I finally understood. Yuzuki didn’t have me show up on TV because she hates me. She’s been thinking on her own way on how I could continue to survive. Therefore, this 」
Yukino looks down.
「 Of course. Minaho-neesan is Yukino’s homeroom teacher. She’s worried about Yukino’s future 」
「 Well, I thank her. A bit. She’s being considerate of me 」
Then, Yukino looks at me.
「 So, do you get it? 」
「 What is Yuzuki considering for you? 」
「 No, but, Minaho-neesan made this bakery for me, even made the “bread-making course” 」
「 That’s not what I’m talking about 」
「 It’s almost a month since you started making bread here and selling it to the students, right? It’s about time you should notice it 」
「 See? He’s really an idiot. What you said earlier didn’t make any sense for him. You need to be clear with him! 」
Yukino looks at Katsuko-nee.
「 He’s doing well. He’s working hard 」
「 I know that already! But that’s not enough you know?! Seriously 」
Yukino shows a displeased face.
「 Sorry, I really don’t get what you’re talking about Yukino. Could you please tell me? 」
Yukino sighs loudly.
「 Sure. Do you mind? 」
She asks Katsuko-nee.
「 Wait, give him a bit more time 」
「 Nothing will happen if I do, he’s a genuine idiot, you know 」
Yukino glares a time.
「 Okay, for now, you’ve been making bread and selling it for almost a month, right? 」
「 Huh? Yeah, what about it? 」
「 So, do you think it’s still okay? 」
「 Yes, of course 」
「 Why? 」
Yukino’s displeased eyes look at me.
「 Well, Katsuko-nee’s much more familiar in making bread than me, she also has experience in doing it for so long 」
「 That’s obvious. There’s no one as stupid as you in this world so don’t use your low-IQ self as the basis 」
Yukino, what do you want to say?
「 This woman only knows how to bake bread for so many years in that mansion. Although I can say, they taste good. I did eat the bread this woman made before 」
「 But, that and selling bread are two different things, aren’t they? 」
「 This woman has never experienced selling her bread, hasn’t she? I mean, she doesn’t have any experience in the business itself, right? 」
「 Yes. I was a prostitute, but I let Ojou-sama take care of all the business side 」
I see. Even when she sells her body, it’s Minaho-neesan who makes contracts on who’s sold to who.
「 Last night, after my show ended, I went to Karaoke with Francie. That homosexual talent plays an active role, right? He told me this. “An interesting performance is similar to a selling performance, but they’re not equal. No matter how interesting one is, entertainers won’t be able to survive if they can’t sell” 」
「 It’s the same with baking bread, right?1 A delicious bread isn’t equal to a selling bread, right? 」
「 No matter how many delicious breads you make, this woman has no experience of actually selling bread that is for sale 」
Katsuko-nee speaks up.
「 Yes, that’s right 」
「 Sorry, Dear. I’ve been trying to teach you like I’m all great 」
「 No. This man depends on you too much that he thinks you know everything about making bread, isn’t why this happened? 」
That’s right, it’s me.
I was thinking that I won’t make a mistake as long as I do it as Katsuko-nee says.
I thought of learning skills from Katsuko-nee as a study period, I was naive.
「 Sorry, Katsuko-nee. Yukino’s right 」
「 It’s also Katsuko-nee’s first time selling bread to customers, right 」
I didn’t notice that.
「 Katsuko-nee’s also feeling uneasy 」
「 And yet, I keep on depending on Katsuko-nee, so Katsuko-nee’s been keeping her front to not let me feel uneasy 」
「 Sorry, Dear 」
Katsuko-nee apologizes to me.
「 No. I’m the one at fault here. I didn’t understand Katsuko-nee’s feelings at all 」
I’m such a fool.
「 Earlier, this woman told you this, something about “starting one month, then three months.” This woman was talking to herself 」
「 Showing up on TV, that’s what I thought. I understood the atmosphere during the first month. I followed the flow on the third month. But, I don’t understand it all. I can’t survive on my own without people with experience, like Francie and Snatch 」
She’s fighting alone in the TV world.
Katsuko-nee’s fighting in business for the first time.
Seeing which bread will sell, which bread to make.
I wasn’t fighting at all.
All I do was hiding under Katsuko-nee’s umbrella.
I just do what I’m told, bake the bread I’m told to cook.
I didn’t notice Katsuko-nee’s thoughts.
This bakery and “bread-making course.”
This curriculum of learning business by the time I graduate.
It’s not for me
Minaho-neesan told Katsuko-nee as well to learn about business with the bakery in our school.
「 Katsuko-nee, I’ll also think about the management from now on 」
What can I do?
「 I’ll help you think on which bread we can sell 」
「 Hah! Are you an idiot? You? Thinking? You can never come up with good ideas 」
「 But I still will 」
「 That’s a waste of time, you should listen to the opinions of your customers instead 」
「 Why are you still in the class? 」
「 If you’re planning to become a baker, then you can quit school, right? Yet, why is Yuzuki still letting you have classes? 」
「 If you’re selling bread to high school students, then research high school students. 」 If you’re a classmate, they’ll tell you anything, there’s no hard talk, right? 」
「 Takana told me this earlier 」
「 What? 」
Katsuko-nee asks me.
「 He’s asking to get our class at least 50 yen discount 」
「 Tanaka thinks that the bread we’re selling is priced 50 yen higher 」
They’re my classmates, so they give out their honest opinions.
「 But, the bread you make is delicious. I confirm the taste every day 」
「 That’s not it Katsuko-nee, it’s not about the price fitting the taste 」
That’s not it.
「 Compared to the bread sold to the school cafeteria, if they want to buy lunch bread, ours are a bit more pricy. That’s why 」
We need to know what the customers are looking for.
Don’t just pursue the taste.
We need to know what are the products of those in the same market.
That’s what it means to do business.
「 Katsuko-nee. Please join Megu and Nei as they sell today 」
「 But, I’m not a student of this school 」
Oh, I see.
Katsuko-nee has a trauma from her first year in high school that she can’t come in.
Therefore, she’s only guiding me.
She comes home before the students come to buy bread.
She lets Megu, Nei, and I take care of the store.
I didn’t notice even that.
「 That doesn’t matter. 」
「 This is Katsuko-nee’s shop, Katsuko-nee needs to feel the atmosphere of the customers 」
「 No, this is yours. 」 I’m only helping you out 」
I hold Katsuko-nee’s hand.
「 Then it’s our shop 」2
「 Dear 」
Katsuko-nee looks at me.
「 Therefore, let’s sell them together. Study together. Let’s try out things together, fail together 」
「 Let’s overcome those walls together 」
We’re not alone.
「 You’re right, got it 」
「 Really, you all look like idiots. Seriously 」
Yukino mutters in an amazed tone.