I wish I didn’t have to answer the phone.
I wanted to answer but at the same time I didn’t want to.
However, there is no point in moping around, so I responded.
“Riku-chan! Why don’t you come over to my house now It’s been a while since we had dinner together! Our mothers are waiting for you!”
Such an invitation, huh I had not been invited to Haruno’s house recently, but I used to have dinner at her house when I was in junior high school.
Probably out of consideration for me.
“Sorry, but I can’t make it today.”
A shadow fell over Haruno’s voice, a complete change from her earlier cheerful mood.
“I have errands to do.”
“You are really doubting that much, huh It’s true.”
“Because you’ve never turned down my invitations before…”
Of course I wouldn’t turn down an invitation from someone I like.
I give it priority above all else.
But it’s different now.
I like her, but I don’t want to see her exactly because of that.
“Haruno, I’m hanging up.”
“Wait! Are you still mad at me, aren’t you Hey, are you still angry”
Even I can get angry.”
“So you’re still mad at me…”
That’s because you’re persistent… I involuntarily sigh.
But it is understandable that Haruno is perplexed.
I’ve never once wanted to be mean to my childhood friend.
This is the first time I have turned down her invitation.
But if I tell her how I feel, the conversation will only get more complicated.
I’m conscious of my gentle tone of voice and carefully spin my words.
“I’m not mad.
I’m just away on an errand.”
Have I ever lied to you before”
You never even joked.”
“Right See you at school tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday.”
“Can’t I see you on your day off”
I’ll pick you up again on Monday.”
Haruno said sadly and hung up the call after a moment.
…I wonder, what is this feeling
A feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on swirls around in my chest.
Anyway, I feel like letting it all out and banging my head against the wall.
After walking along a mountain road without street lights for a while, I eventually arrived at a convenience store standing in the dark.
A few dozen minutes earlier, I had called Hoshimiya to pick me up on foot.
In my pants pocket was a duplicate key.
Of course, I got permission from Hoshimiya.
Rather, she was going to give it to me.
Isn’t this called cohabitation
As for the stalker, she said she feels his presence, especially during night time.
Hoshimiya’s part-time job basically ends at 10pm.
On the way back home, she rides her bicycle down a dark mountain road, and she says she sometimes feels eyes on her from behind.
“Shindo…I want a bike…”
I step onto the convenience store lot and exhale.
This amount is tough on my way home…
I walk through the automatic door and into the store.
The number of customers is still zero.
The one at the register was not Hoshimiya———But a muscular, strong old man.
But his lips are as full as a woman’s, and his stern face is covered with a sorry amount of makeup…..Monster….Or a gay man
“Welcomeee…Hmm You’re…The kid at the time of the robbery”
“Th, that’s right…”
The old man notices me and his eyes sparkle.
“You’ve got a pretty face, don’t you How about working for us”
“What are you, a night scout I’m here to pick up Hoshimiya.”
I heard that there is a suspicious person who has been following Ayana-chan recently.
I guess you’re her bodyguard.”
He has a habit of talking in a peculiar way.
He talks like a woman with an old man’s voice, which makes me feel very uncomfortable.
No, I don’t mean to denigrate gay men, but…
“Thank you for protecting Ayana-chan.”
“Well, it was kind of a coincidence.”
“As the owner, I want to thank you.
Thank you very much.”
The owner, huh That means you’re above the manager!
“Ayana-chan is in the back getting ready to leave.
I think she will be out soon.”
“I believe your name is…Riku Kuromine, right”
“It’s a lovely name.
It suits your pretty face.”
The owner’s mouth happily relaxes as he says this.
…Am I being targeted
“Would you like to work here”
“Even if you say that…”
“I am afraid of leaving Ayana-chan all by herself.
We even had a robbery the other day……”
“This place is an easy target.”
It’s secluded and doesn’t get many visitors.
That’s why I try to go in late at night, and I’ve been fighting robbers so far, but… They’ve finally targeted Ayana-chan when she was alone.”
“You say it like it’s normal, but it’s really bad.”
The way you put it earlier, this owner has fought robbers many times.
He really is a monster, huh.
“We don’t have many customers, that’s why I’m trying to cut down on staff as much as possible, but this is something I can’t change…For the lives of our valued clerks.
Everyone who works here is a woman.”
Come to think of it, the manager was a woman, too.
I’ve never seen the other clerks, but they seem to be women.
“What do you think”
“Isn’t it a dream come true to be able to work together with your girlfriend”
“No, she is not my girlfriend.”
“She’s not your girlfriend, and you’re supposed to protect her from robbers and stalkers”
And she’s my benefactor.
But the owner, who doesn’t know what is going on here, was impressed.
Dang! He slams the cash register, his eyes flutter open, and his voice wildly raises.
“Wonderful! That’s what Japanese boys are for! Sleeping samurai blood!”
“Oi, you’re not even a gay man anymore.”
He was a stiff, stern old man.
He looked like he was already wielding a big spear on the battlefield.
While I was stunned at the owner, I felt someone’s presence behind me.
You came to pick me up, didn’t you Thank you.”
“…Thank you for coming to my aid.”
Hoshimiya tilts her head.
No, being alone with the owner is an incredible mental burden in every sense of the word.
“Thank you for your hard work, Owner.”
“Thank you for your work, Ayana-chan.
Make sure your boyfriend protects you.”
“He, he, he, he is not my boyfriend!”
Hoshimiya’s face is reddening with a blush.
She was shaking her head as if her glasses were about to fly off.
It’s empty when you deny it that much.
Hoshimiya and I exit the convenience store and head for the parking lot.
Naturally, there is only one bicycle.
“That’s it, Kuromine-kun.
Let’s ride it together.”
I don’t want to walk anymore.”
“Come, get on.”
Hoshimiya, astride her bike gallantly, urges me to sit in the back.
“Um, Hoshimiya’s pedaling”
Leave it to me.”
Isn’t the man generally the one who pedals With that in mind, I get in the back.
Hoshimiya said, “Nn~!” when she wanted to pedal the bike, but she couldn’t keep up her balance well and put her feet on the ground.
“……Isn’t it unreasonable I’ll pedal it after all.”
“It’s fine! Because I am a good athlete!”
“That being said……”
She tries her best to pedal, and to keep her feet off the ground, but the bike is wobbly.
I was so scared that I quickly clung to Hoshimiya’s waist.
It was soft……
But I don’t want to go down the mountain road with such dangerous driving.
“Sorry Hoshimiya, but I don’t want to die on a bike.“
I didn’t want to bother you too much, Kuromine-kun……”
“This is not a bother at all.”
With Hoshimiya behind me, I cycled down the mountain road with ease.
It’s nice to do something like this, isn’t it
Riding down a mountain road at night with a girl.
If Hoshimiya were Haruno, I’d———
“I know this is out of the blue, but did something happen”
That was a very confident way to ask.
“I kept thinking about Kuromine-kun while I was working.”
…Eh, you couldn’t be talking about me———
“The harder the times, the more odd you act, right”
“You’re fooling yourself, aren’t you”
“If you lie to yourself about your feelings, you will end up with a flat tire.
My father, too, forced himself to laugh and joke around when times were tough.
I feel that Kuromine-kun is like that now.”
I do not reply, but continue to look at the darkness ahead while operating the steering wheel.
“Don’t be afraid to tell me when you’re having a hard time.
No, I want you to tell me.”
I feel thin arms around my stomach.
Then, a warm and soft touch pressed against my back.
Hoshimiya was gently hugging me.
I know it’s not possible right now, but…I’ll do my best.”
I’m fine with your pace, Kuromine-kun……”
Strangely enough, Hoshimiya’s words went right into my heart.
Perhaps it was because I felt her kindness behind my back.
Until now, I could have been happy with anything as long as Haruno was by my side, and I wanted to be a cool girl in front of her.
But now, I’m———
“Right, let’s go out tomorrow and have some fun.”
“Un! I’m going to let myself go and play as much as I can! What do you think”
Let’s go play.”
I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“Ehehe”, a cute, bouncy voice sounded faintly in my ear.
I am sure that Hoshimiya is smiling right now, a smile I can’t help but admire.
Perhaps it was because of this thought that I spoke out my true feelings.
“Hoshimiya is…a good woman, isn’t she”
“Eh, eeeeeeeh! What is this all of the sudden!”
“No, I was just saying what I thought.
I’m not joking or anything.”
Is there any other girl who is so close to another person’s heart
I feel that it fills my heart overwhelmingly more than being pressed by someone who just likes me.
“M, mou! Don’t say weird things! In the first place, Kuromine-kun is———”
“H, hey! Don’t move so much!”
I don’t know if it’s an embarrassing jitter, but Hoshimiya, sitting behind me, is shaking violently.
Th, this is bad!
It is truly a hell of a night cycling.
From now on, let’s not say anything too untactful…