I asked back, widening my eyes.
“Chika thinks Tokiwa kun is kind of nice, but don’t mess around with her.”
“W-wait, what are you talking about? I’m not lying to Miyama san, and what on earth do you mean by messing around with her?”
“……I’m sorry for the suddenness. However, judging from the way you looked, Tokiwa kun didn’t have any malicious intent either. If so, this is good enough.”
“No, no, aren’t you misunderstanding something? I really thought I was just having a normal and fun conversation with Miyama san.”
“Yeah, then that’s fine. But please don’t contact Chika anymore.”
I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask.
I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to be criticized so much?
What does lying mean in the first place?
Why does Miyama san avoid me even though she thinks I am nice, and why does Takaya san try to keep me away from her friend.
I wanted to say this and that, but looking at Takaya san’s serious expression and Kaneko’s awkward face, I didn’t want to say anything more and get into trouble.
“……Okay, I don’t know what it is, but I’m sorry. Can you tell Miyama san that I apologize?”
“U-um, Takaya san.”
“? What’s wrong?”
Even at a time like this, I was more worried about my friend than myself.
I felt bad for Kaneko if I was the reason things didn’t work out between the two of them, even though they seemed to be going well together.
“Kaneko is a good guy. Even if he is always with me, he’s not a bad guy.”
“Tokiwa kun…..yeah, I know. Besides, I also heard from Kaneko that Tokiwa-kun is not a bad person. But I didn’t want my best friend to get hurt. That’s it. Thanks for the tea.”
As Takaya san stands up, Kaneko leaves the table with her.
I then saw them off as they headed for the front door.
Takaya san bowed her head as she entered, and Kaneko looked as if he wanted to say something.
I stood alone in the quiet entrance hall.
The sense of fulfillment I felt yesterday was gone.
Instead, I felt empty, as if there was a gaping hole in my heart.
I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I went back to my room.
“Oh, Shion chan?”
“Good evening, Auntie. Are you on your way home from work?”
“Yeah. Oh, are you here for Sendai? Then let’s go home together.”
“Is that all right?”
“Of course. I’m always grateful to you for making dinner for him. Why doesn’t he introduce me to such a nice girl?”
“Toki…..Sendai kun is a bit shy, but today he gave me a stuffed animal as a gift. He loves me very much.”
“Hm, that’s nice. Shall we cook dinner together?”
“Yes, I’m looking forward to it. But please don’t ask him about me. He is shy and he doesn’t like that kind of thing.”
“Yes, I know. He is always like that. And it would be hard for me too if a nice girl like Shion chan ran away from him.”
“But, I think he’d be surprised if he found out that I actually became good friends with the girlfriend he secretly dated. Fufu, he doesn’t really talk about himself, so it’s good to do things like this once in a while. Shion chan too, please don’t worry about me and do your best.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
After getting ready, I was on my way to his house when I bumped into Tokiwa kun’s mother.
The last time I was visiting him home, I greeted the lady who came home first, and she immediately took a liking to me.
Since then, we have become friends who keep in touch.
She told me to take care of her son.
It was like being officially approved by his parents.
I got permission to move in with him when we both started college, and it was smooth sailing.
But I wonder if Tokiwa kun will be surprised when I come home with his mother.
Fufu, let me surprise you.
“I’m home. Sendai, are you home?”
When we arrived home, his shoes were at the door, but he didn’t answer.
“I’m sorry, he’s probably asleep in his room. Do you want me to go wake him up?”
“No, he might be tired, so please let him relax. I don’t mind at all.”
“You’re such a good girl. You’re too good for Sendai.”
“It’s nothing. He’s the one who does all the work for me.”
“Thank you for your continued support. Shall we start cooking?”
I went to the kitchen with my mother-in-law.
I told her I wanted to make hamburgers today, and I took the lead chopping onions and kneading ground meat.
Meanwhile, my mother-in-law was arranging the salad.
After shaping the hamburgers, I put them on the warmed frying pan.
A nice sizzling sound is heard and the smell of burning meat fills the room.
Then I hear footsteps from upstairs.
Tokiwa kun, are you awake?
“……Smells good. Mom, is she home?”
When I was rotting alone in my room, the smell of roasting meat from outside makes my stomach rumble.
I was so hungry.
I didn’t feel like cooking anything, but if my mother is home, I’ll jump on the bandwagon.
Besides, I have some questions I want to ask her.
Is it because something good happened at work, or is it because something bad happened at work and she’s trying to cover it up?
Maybe it’s nothing for me to worry about, or maybe it’s just a whim.
Well, if it’s a whim, I could at least thank her.
“Mom, what’s with today’s dinner……?”
I opened the kitchen door while talking to my mother.
There I could see my mother and another woman from behind.
She was a slender woman wearing a black T-shirt and jeans.
Is she with Mom?
No,……that back figure looks familiar.
“Oh, Sendai. I bumped into Shion chan earlier.”
“You must have been surprised to see me and Shion chan getting along so well.”
The woman next to her, whom my mother called Shion, turned around to look at me, and I recognized her face.
Or rather, I knew her.
“Sendai, Shion chan is making hamburgers today. Please enjoy them.”
“E-erm…..h-how did you know Senpai, Mom?”
“Oh, that’s up to me. Right, Shion chan.”
When my mother calls her by name, Senpai nods slightly while lowering the corners of her eyes.
It was the first time I saw Senpai’s smiling face…
“So, you can stay in your room until dinner is ready.”
“It’s okay to get excited when Shion chan is here, but it’s bad if you interfere with the cooking.”
“……I get it.”
As my mother told me, I left the kitchen and returned to my room.
I had no idea that my mother and Hyori senpai knew each other.
But what kind of connection is that?
Or did they know each other from the cooking class she used to attend?
Whatever the case, the world is a small place.
“I get to eat Senpai’s home-cooked food today.”
Thinking of that made my heart tingle.
I never thought that the day would come when I would be able to eat Hyori senpai’s cooking.
Even after returning to my room, my excitement did not subside.
I sat on my bed and took deep breaths to calm my fidgety feelings.
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