「 But, I 」
Megu’s hesitating to undress.
「 What, scared? 」
Kana-senpai grinned at Megu.
「 Oh, I guess you accept your defeat because I showed off my body first 」
「 I didn’t lose 」
She stands up looking offended.
「 I get it, I’ll take my clothes off and get to my underwear. That’s all I have to do, right? 」
Then, she starts taking off her uniform.
She unbuttons her blouse.
Then puts her hand on her skirt.
「 Darling, take a close look at it 」
Edie tells me.
「 Don’t just look at her body but understand the thought of her body 」
「 Okay, I took them off 」
Megu who took off her clothes methodically says while sitting on the chair.
「 So, say something?! Either way I know that Hoshizaki-san has a better proportion than me. Yoshi-kun, you dummy! 」
Megu throws her anger at me.
「 No, that’s not it 」
I compare Edie, Mana, and Kana-senpai’s bodies side y side.
Then, I looked at Megu’s body once again.
I now understand.
「 Get it? Darling 」
Edie whispers to me.
Yeah, I get it.
「 Megu’s body is beautiful too 」
Her body’s slender and tight.
Her legs are built for a fashion model from the start anyway.
It’s a clean look of beauty that’s very much like a 16-year-old girl.
「 You’re lying. I’m not beautiful 」
「 That’s not true. Megu’s beautiful, it’s just that 」
Oh, why did I not notice it until now?
「 What? 」
Megu looks at me worriedly.
「 How should I say it, compared to four months before 」
「 The balance in her body has gotten worse 」
Edie cuts in as I can’t explain it clearly.
「 Megumi, you’re taking the club activities half-heartedly compared to four months ago. Even in the housework in the mansion, you’re doing it half-heartedly. You’re also half-hearted when helping out Darling in the bakery. The balance in your body is breaking as you’re not committing on anything 」
Edie explains. Now I finally get it.
Megu four months ago has a body that you can tell that it’s trained from the track and field club at a glance.
But Megu now.
I don’t get it, her body seems hard to express in a single word, it doesn’t have a right balance.
「 I-I’m doing my best on everything! 」
「 We know. But, as a result, you’re taking everything half-heartedly. I know all of that Megumi 」
Edie tells her while smiling.
「 Just doing all your best isn’t enough. You only cause trouble for the people if you don’t produce a good result. Besides, if you’re talking about ‘doing one’s best’ then we all are too 」
「 That’s 」
「 Are you saying that I didn’t do my best in learning Japanese in just a few months? 」
「 Sorry. That was improper of me. But still! 」
「 Don’t say anything, Megumi’s body is what’s talking right now 」
「 Megumi right now thinks of everything is ‘something I must do.’ Your club activities, household chores, helping out Darling. ‘I must do it myself,’ you think. That’s why everything’s too heavy for you 」
「 Furthermore, Megumi’s an earnest girl, and so you do all that you can because ‘it’s something I must.’ That’s why the balance becoming worse, both in your body and in your mind 」
Is that so?
「 If it was Ruriko for example. She only finds the housework in the mansion as fun. She moves for the sake of everyone. She finds Katsuko’s teachings as impressive. Therefore, she’s not feeling the burden. She grows beautifully because she’s not being weighed down. Both her body and mind that is 」
Indeed, Ruriko has become more beautiful compared to last May.
Is that the balance?
「 Look at Mana here, she has a clear purpose. She doesn’t want Darling to hate her. Therefore, she does her best on making herself beautiful, but not out of obligation 」
Mana, who lost her place to go home to fears that I would abandon her.
No, that’s because she knows that Minaho-neesan would dispose of her…
If she gets carried away next time.
Therefore, Mana’s taking the initiative to help out in the housework, and she’s always moving discreetly.
She’s become like this before one’s aware.
「 The discipline and strictness to herself is what makes the excellent balance for Mana 」
「 However, what about you, Megumi? Since you got the title of Darling’s “fiance” from Minaho, you stopped caring. You became relieved. You thought that nobody can overthrow you from that position. That’s why your actions on your daily life have become crude 」
「 That’s not true. I 」
「 No, that’s true. You gained the fiance status so fast, and that’s why you think of everything you do in your daily life as an obligation 」
「 That’s wrong, I 」
「 Then, do you really understand each and everyone in the mansion, Megumi? Are you looking at them? 」
「 How many snacks does Agnes eat during tea-time? 」
「 Two 」
「 It’s always two snacks together with the tea. Agnes-chan eats it all and never have leftovers 」
「 It’s one 」
「 Since the last two Wednesdays, she only eats one. Agnes-chan’s copying Katsuko-oneechan’s diet, and so she’s holding back on eating another one. 」
「 Huh? 」
「 Megu-oneechan, you didn’t notice that? 」
Mana asked. Megu hangs her head.
「 I mean, there’s the house, school, and Yoshi-kun’s bakery 」
「 Katsuko’s in charge of the house. Mana and Ruriko’s present as well. And as for the bakery, well, Most of the work is Katsuko’s doing, Not Megumi 」
「 I 」
「 With your thinking “I must do this and that,” the balance got worse 」
「 Oh, so that’s how it is. I finally understand now. Uh-huh 」
Kana-senpai nods suddenly.
「 I guess that’s why I’m the one to take care of Nobu in the bakery as the vendor. Then, you can go to your club activities. The world will be at peace if you do that 」
「 I don’t want that! 」
Megu shouts loudly.
「 But you know, if you keep on going You’ll just get crushed by the thought “I must do this,” Oh well, I don’t care about whatever you do, but still, I feel sorry for Nobu who has to soothe you from hysteria 」
「 I’m not going hysteric! 」
「 Yes, sure. Go speak in a lower volume then 」
「 Calm down. Megumi 」
Megu fell silent.
「 Still, that’s amazing of you, Nobu. If you were an ordinary guy and this girlfriend of yours keep on screaming, you should’ve shouted back “shut up” by now. That composure of yours is quite impressive. As expected of my Nobu~ 」
「 That’s not it, I’m thinking for a bit 」
「 I thought that maybe I’m the same as Megu. I’m burdened by the thought that “I must do it” after all. I also keep on telling myself that “this is something I must do.” And now I’m wondering if I’m looking at things properly 」
If that’s the case, then I’m the worst.
「 Indeed, Darling and Megu are quite similar. The two of you are quite earnest, and you don’t complain even if you don’t like it and just continue to do your best 」
I knew it.
「 But, Darling and Megumi are different 」
「 Onii-chan, you knew that Agnes now only eats one snack each time, right? 」
「 I do 」
I asked Agnes what’s her reason during the first day.
「 Then that’s good enough 」
「 No, that’s not what I mean 」
「 For example, the bakery, managing it is Katsuko-nee’s dream, not mine. That’s why I keep on thinking inside that I must do the job in the bakery by all means out of my sense of mission, it feels like my head is filled with only that thought 」
Was I feeling the heavy responsibility as well?
「 Well, you’re half-right. Darling has been going a bit too far lately. You keep on reading on books about management for the bakery until your break time. To be honest, our classmates were drawing away from you. Your friends have definitely decreased Darling 」
I knew it.
「 But compared to that, Megumi’s different. Darling’s focused on craftsmanship after all 」
「 You’re having fun, don’t you? You bake bread every day and make dozens of kinds every day. The taste is getting better as well. You know that your skills are growing better, don’t you? 」
「 Well, yes 」
「 Furthermore, the bread you make every day is sold out. You receive an evaluation. Aren’t you having fun? 」
Hearing that from Edie,
I had a sudden realization.
「 Yeah. The work I’m doing has a response. You’re right, I’m not doing this unwillingly. I’m having fun while I do it 」
「 Naturally. That’s the reason why Minaho’s letting Darling make bread 」
「 Anything else would’ve done the same thing. It just happened to the bakery because that was Katsuko’s dream. Minaho doesn’t really need to have Darling become a baker 』
「 Then why did they make this bakery in the school? 」
I think about the bakery here right now.
This has all the latest equipment.
Even after graduating, I might take a course related to the bakery after the vocational course, but,
But Minaho-neesan paid a considerable sum for this.
「 Minaho doesn’t care how much she spends if it’s for Darling 」
「 Darling, if you’re asking to know the bad points, then it’s about you thinking that you’re useless, or that you don’t have talent. Minaho wanted to fix that part of you. That’s the reason why 」
That’s the reason why Minaho-neesan.
「 How was your experience making bread and selling it for a month? It’s all your creation. It sells well with the students. They all say that it’s delicious 」
「 That’s 」
「 Darling, you’re not someone who can’t do anything. That’s true in baking pastry at least. If you can understand that, you’ll renew your way of thinking. That’s Minaho’s aim 」
Is that really it?
「 Four months ago, Darling needed something to focus his hard work. Darling back then might’ve been crushed from just thinking about the family. Therefore, the bakery was made to solve that problem, and it produced good result 」
Back then, with the whole family stuff.
I suddenly made a lot of people like my family.
I obtained women.
I feel like my head is full of everything.
Therefore, back then,
I took refugee on studying on how to make bread.
When I’m learning the how-to from Katsuko-nee, the other women are backing off.
No, Minaho-neesan keeps them away so I could concentrate.
That’s how it is even now.
The time I make bread with Katsuko-nee is silent.
It’s a time where I concentrate on production and not about the girls.
It’s a precious time for me.
That’s for sure.
「 Now then, now that we’ve made progress, it’s about time we head to the main subject 」
「 Megumi, listen. That was a bit harsh from us, but it’s not like we’re going to kick Megumi out 」
「 I mean, sorry to tell you but we think about Darling first. We’re worried about him 」
Then, Edie looked at me.
「 Darling. It’s already a month since you started baking the pastry for the school, right? 」
Yeah. It started at the end of the summer vacation.
「 And what do you think about the current state of the bakery after trying it out for a month? 」
「 No, well, it’s going so-so. The products are sold out every day, although, that’s because we have low production sometimes. Even so, my classmates help out with the advertisement, they often to come to buy some. I don’t think there’s any problem for now 」
「 That’s not true, it’s filled with troubles 」
「 The products Darling are making currently are from Katsuko’s recipe, it’s delicious. If it’s in the town, it will sell for double the price. Actually, it would be strange if it doesn’t sell that hard. If it’s the quantity we have right now, it would be sold out in ten minutes as soon as the lunch break starts 」
Edie said, but,
「 This is the economic situation of high school students 」
Actually, Tanaka, my classmate told me;
「 Oh, about the 50 yen cheaper products? 」
「 That’s right. My products are too expensive for high school students to buy he said 」
「 That’s only a one-sided view 」
「 If you’re talking about 50 yen cheaper bread, then it won’t have to be just the price but also the taste, would it? 」
「 Oh, I get it. Nobu’s products are too delicious 」
「 I think everyone feels uncomfortable because it’s too delicious 」
Uncomfortable because too delicious?
「 Right. That’s why Darling’s products should sell more, but it doesn’t. The high school student customers are running away from it 」
「 Well, for a first-year high school student, and furthermore, someone who started baking right after the May holidays, ain’t his product too good? 」
Katsuko-nee mentioned that before.
「 That’s not all. We’re too much of an alien in our school 」
「 Darling, you only look at the students around you. Well, as for our classmates, you’re familiar with them, but still, we seem to be a floating existence to everyone else 」
「 Darling and Megumi are first years, and yet they’re engaged, the school and your parents have approved you to live together. That alone is too abnormal. Furthermore, Darling’s the only man taking this vocational course of bread making study. The other students think “what kind of black magic did he use?” and doubt you 」
Well, that’s true.
「 Our classmates are somewhat favorable of Darling, but that’s because you’ve been with them since the entrance ceremony, right? 」
「 I mean, Megu’s an honest girl. She has a lot of friends from the start. As for me, they consider me as someone weird since I entered school 」
Back then, I had no friends in class.
My head was going crazy after my father’s disappearance.
I only stare at Yukino and escape the reality using her.
「 If talking about weirdo, then Nei and I are here too. I look like a “mysterious American girl,” and Nei gives off an air of mystery with her too, right? 」
Nei’s feared by the students in the school as she’s the blonde delinquent on the roof.
They know her hoodlum hunting with Margo-san at night.
「 Darling’s bakery is a gathering of weirdos you see? Ordinary people would be scared to go here 」
「 But that’s what makes it interesting. I got drawn near to Nobu because of that 」
Speaking of which, she was around during Anya’s visit.
That was also abnormal.
Anya helped out selling on my bakery as well.
「 Oh, I see, there are those who find it interesting, so they go and buy some, but there are also students who feel uncomfortable and stay away 」
「 That’s right, Darling only sees the customers who come to the store, you forgot those who don’t come 」
「 This isn’t just about the bakery, from now on, this will be related to Darling’s high school life 」
If this goes on, my existence in this school will become a badly floating one.
Furthermore, I will only be able to communicate with the students interested in buying my products.
I can’t make contact with the students avoiding us.
「 I see. I failed then 」
I should think more about how to sell it better.
This bakery course suddenly started this September,
Furthermore, I’m the only student in this course.
Selling the pastry, I made in the cafeteria is just too unusual.
For example, if on the first half of September, I was trying to learn the basics of how to bake, then,
Then, if I start selling by next spring, the students won’t think that it’s strange even if the bread is delicious enough.
「 But, I thought of earning income as soon as possible 」
Not asking for Minaho-neesan’s financial assistance.
I thought of at least paying off the expenses for Megu, Mana, Agnes, and myself.
「 That kind of reflection isn’t necessary. You don’t know until you try, that’s how most of the things worked. Then, once you tried it out, you can just fix it next time. It’s a waste of time to reflect on it and feel depressed. Just be bold with your life, Darling! 」
Edie said with a smile.
「 Furthermore, this is just your first time, and the first month, it’s still at the point where you can correct it 」
Let’s think positively.
「 Then, there’s another one that needs fixing first 」
「 In short, fixing Darling’s relationship with Megumi 」
Megu starts to tremble.
「 To be clear, this isn’t my idea. Minaho, Nei, Misuzu, and Ruriko talked it out. First, they want you to understand it 」
「 Mana was there too 」
「 Oh right. Sorry about that, either way, 」
Edie looked at Megu.
「 Everyone accepted that Darling and Megumi’s engagement failed to become a camouflage at school 」
「 W-Wait! 」
「 Listen to the whole story first before complaining! I’m still talking here! 」
Edie holds back Megu.
「 Darling and Megumi have a similar personality. Therefore, the affinity wasn’t good 」
「 That’s not affinity! Yoshi-kun and I are…! 」
「 Wrong! That’s not what I’m talking about! I’m talking about Darling and Megumi as a couple and your compatibility with the other students 」
Megu and I, to the other students?
「 The two of you are too earnest, and having you two engaged even though you’re just in the first year is too heavy for the other students to digest. It’s too serious of a topic for them. The image that marriage is a graveyard is being ingrained in their thoughts
「 That’s right. That’s what I told you earlier. You stink 」
Kana-senpai tells Megu.
「 Nobu’s quite anarchic, he looks interesting and yet you’re an annoying engagement partner for him. It’s too dark that nobody can see the future 」
It goes that far?
「 Right. At first, it’s just Nobu and you taking care of the bakery, right? Back then, when you go to the school cafeteria, it smells like poor people, the thought corners you down. Furthermore, you don’t even smile. Your face looks like it’s saying “my future’s bleak if I can’t sell my products,” as if you’re the matchstick girl. That really repels people. That’s how it looked like on the first days. 」
「 It changed a lot since Nei-san joined in as the vendor. She’s quite flashy after all. I mean, she’s got this gorgeous atmosphere, right? That’s very unlike you. She’s not tensed. Her atmosphere says that she doesn’t have problems with money at all. Oh right. That’s when I got interested in Nei. I mean, the products looked totally different. Unlike you, Nei-san makes the bread look classy. Ah, I said that wrong. If you’re the one selling it, the products seem cheap. Even though the products Nobu made didn’t change 」
Megu’s tears accumulate in her eyes.
「 Megu-oneechan, if you start yelling, or crying at us here, then it would really be your loss. I won’t help you anymore if you do that 」
Mana tells her.
「 I know it. That’s the reason why I’m a failure as Yoshi-kun’s fiance. Everyone’s backing off from Yoshi-kun because of me 」
「 Nobody said that though 」
She tells Megu.
「 Darling and Megumi’s relationship is already made public. It’s too late to make a grand scale change 」
Then that means.
「 We only talked about making corrections, nobody said that we’re going to forget everything that happened for the sake of fixing things 」
「 What do you mean by that Edie? 」
「 Well, Nei said that “you must make them laugh” 」
“You must make them laugh?”
「 That’s right. Darling, the other students, never saw you smiling. Smiling leads to friendliness. But Megumi and Darling aren’t smiling at all. The two of you are too earnest, too heavy, that everyone thinks that you should be laughing. That’s what makes the students keep their distance from you 」
「 What should we do to make them laugh? 」
I’m not good at jokes.
That’s not my forte.
「 It’s easy. We just have to add another person in Darling and Megumi’s heavy relationship 」
Edie said and looked at Kana-senpai.
「 And that’s why Kana’s here. If it becomes a love triangle relationship, it would be funny 」
That’s Nei’s suggestion?!