I’m Spying on the Heroine in an Otome Game World 5225 min read
Volume 4 | Chapter 11: November (Up) – Part 3
It was already dark by the time Mizusaki Homare returned home in the second car. Today he was chased by an unknown car on his way home and the car he rode ended up crashing through the door of a café.
Thankfully, no one was hurt. However, it still stands that he caused a car accident. For the time being, he will have a different person driving him. Homare was also given a stern warning from his father’s assistant. In any case, the Mizusaki Zaibatsu will cover all the cost for the damage done to the café and the case ends there.
“But what was that?” He muttered.
They weren’t able to capture that unknown car. They had no idea what the culprit’s aim was, making Homare feel unwell.
“Did that car have anything to do with those thieves at school……?”
During the Cultural Festival preparation period, an incident happened where Homare’s bag was rummaged through. Since then, he had bodyguards following him around at school too. Those said bodyguards went as far as following all the way to the entrance of the student council room. The vice-president Tanaka and some other members were visibly uncomfortable with their presence. Well, in Tanaka’s case, she wasn’t pitying Homare who was shadowed by these bodyguards but rather she was pitying the black suit bodyguards for having to guard Homare.
Really, that woman wasn’t thoughtful of her friends at all. That being said, Homare would make an unpleasant expression if someone asked if he thought of her as a friend.
Homare, as the son of the distinguished Mizusaki family, was exposed to danger on a daily basis. It won’t be the first or second time he has been involved in kidnapping incidents.
Incidentally, Homare also knew that while his father protects him, the reason is not because his father cherishes him.
“Homare, the chairman is calling you.”
He heard the door knock and Kaneshiro Atsushi’s voice from beyond.
Atsushi was Homare’s classmate and a best friend he could never replace… And Atsushi was also his number one aide. It might sound like a joke when spoken out loud in this modern day Japan, but it was true. To Homare, Atsushi was his foster brother and the only one he can trust fully.
“It’s still too early for dinner,” Homare said as he opened the door.
Atsushi smiled as he always did and replied, “It’s not about dinner. It seems he has something important to discuss with you about.”
“He’s not trying to set me up in a marriage meeting again, right? I will meet all my fiancee candidates at the end of the year — that’s what we agreed upon, didn’t we? Well, I did tell him to set up the meeting in December…… But I have school events to deal with right now.”
“No, I believe it’s a different matter. Still, I have to say, holding a dance party and asking all the candidates to join is rather… Are you trying to be Cinderella’s prince?” Atsushi asked.
“Give your complaints to the old man. Anyone would think it’s a pain to meet them one by one after getting that many candidates lined up in front of your face. Hmph. The old man doesn’t trust me, so he went as far as looking for a marriage partner for me. Even I’m not careless enough to bring a woman like Cinderella from who knows where and tell him I’m marrying her.”
“I dearly hope so too. ……Oh, but if a lady you wish to dress up appears, please say the word. Depending on who she is, I will play the role of a magician.”
“Say what you like. I’m sure you won’t agree to any kind of woman.”
‘It’s rare for a woman to win Atsushi’s favour,’ Homare thinks. However, at the same time, Homare was also picky.
The candidates his father suggested were all young women from rich families. Their family’s social standing and appearance were good. They were also educated, but they would easily agree to any fiance their parents introduced to them. In other words, many of them were obedient children. As such, Homare thought they weren’t very interesting.
Homare liked a more strong-willed woman. He wanted a woman who wouldn’t hold back in front of the Mizusaki name and would look at him properly.
He left his room along with Atsushi and headed to his father’s office. His bodyguards followed without fail, but he had them wait along with Atsushi in front of his father’s office.
Homare knocked on the door before entering in. He then realized the room was filled with a dense fragrance of flowers. The smell was too excessively floral for it to be a cologne for men.
‘If this is supposed to be some sort of cologne, then it’s poor taste,’ Homare thought as he looked for his father.
The room had a number of black suited bodyguards besides his father. It was then when he heard the voice of the person he was looking for.
“Did you not summon me? If it’s Atsushi, he is waiting outside the door,” Homare replied politely.
His father was near the bookshelf, taking out something like a photo album. Homare followed the sight of his father walking to his desk with the photo album before sighing inside his heart.
His father really liked Atsushi. If Atsushi wasn’t there, Homare is certain he would have long lost his right as the successor of the Mizusaki Zaibatsu.
“I’ve introduced you to a wealthy woman long ago, didn’t I? About her, it seems she will be passing away soon. I decided to add her granddaughter into your list of fiancee candidates,” his father said as he flipped through the album.
Probably inside that album is a picture of that wealthy woman. Homare wasn’t sure if the vital granddaughter was in the picture though. That being said, he didn’t feel one ounce of sympathy even if he’s shown a picture of the said old lady.
‘Again huh,’ Homare thought, fed up.
“All the candidates will be chosen at the end of the year. And I will be able to select one of them with my own choice from the list. Didn’t we agree on this?” Homare pointed out.
“I can’t make a risky choice of leaving it to you. …….That reminds me, I received a report earlier. You caused an accident?”
‘If anything, isn’t this the real topic you want to talk about?’ Homare frowned.
“We were chased by an unknown car on the way home. The cause of the accident was a steering wheel mistake made by the driver. No one was injured.”
“Hmph. You keep causing trouble. Also, you are not attending that school trip you asked about. Understand?”
“Ehhh!? The school trip has nothing to do with this incident! You made me enter a normal education curriculum yet I’m not allowed to join the school trip……!?”
“If you have time to waste on a school trip, then you have time to study kingcraft. You are currently the school president, but I’m sure you leave all the work to the other members to slack off and play, right? You will meet your fiancee candidates next month. Don’t make a pathetic show of yourself with an unpresentable dance when you meet them all.”
“I do work properly in my duties in the student council……”
“That’s all. You can leave,” his father said.
Homare bowed his head politely and moved to leave the room already. He wasn’t prepared for his father’s next sudden words.
“Oh, that’s right. I decided to collect the stone I left in Kaneshiro’s hands. Once you decide on a formal fiancee in the gathering, I will leave it with her. Cease your playing with women from now on.”
“W-What…!?” Homare quickly turned around and saw his father’s face head-on for the first time today.
His father’s eyes were dazed and unfocused. Homare had never seen his father like this before.
“Do you think Kaneshiro will refuse if I tell him you agreed?” His father said.
At the same time, Homare heard the sound of something outside the room.
At this time, Homare didn’t realize it was the sound of Atsushi being knocked out by their bodyguards with dazed eyes and falling onto the ground.
□ ■ □
The next day, a certain topic was on fire in class.
Apparently, Mizusaki-senpai won’t be joining the school trip.
When I heard this from Kyouko-jou, I exchanged looks with Yumi-chan.
“You know how Mizusaki-senpai’s bringing those black suited bodyguards around with him lately? His family said that they can’t not have the bodyguards follow him on the school trip. But if he goes on the school trip with those bodyguards, it’ll trouble the other students. So in the end Mizusaki-senpai isn’t going.”
Something caught me when I heard Kyouko-jou’s words. I feel like something similar happened before…
Oh, that’s right. It was back at the Sports Festival. Mizusaki-senpai’s fans made a lot of noise because they wanted to folk dance with Mizusaki-senpai. In the end, he abstained from the folk dance to calm the situation.
I recalled Mizusaki-senpai’s expression when he complained about the school trip back in the student council room. I can’t help but feel he is quite pitiful. This is the once-in-a-lifetime high school life. He isn’t able to enjoy all the events to the fullest.
“Huh? Then is Kaneshiro-senpai going?” Yumi-chan asked Kyouko-jou.
I also feel that Mizusaki-senpai and Kaneshiro-senpai are always together too. Yumi-chan might also group them together in a set in her mind too.
“I guess so? If Kaneshiro-senpai also skips then there might be girls who’ll skip the school trip next.”
“I’m not sure about that,” I commented with disbelief.
Kyouko-jou laughed. “In our three years of high school, this is the only time we can go on an overnight trip. I think it’s only natural girls will get a little heated up.” Kyouko-jou had a bit of sympathy in her expression before continuing, “Mizusaki-senpai will have to study hard after graduation to take over his family’s business. It must be really hard. I think it’s only now that he can still play around, yet he can’t even join the school trip… It’s all because of the decisions made by his family. I’m glad that my family isn’t like that. It’ll be painful if they’re against my dream of being a journalist or a newspaper reporter.”
Kyouko-jou is beautiful, so I think it’ll be better if she becomes a TV news reporter instead. I’m sure the viewers will be delighted. Well, this is just my selfish wish though.
“Oh, that’s amazing. So you are going to aim to be a newspaper reporter in the future?” Yumi-chan asked with wide eyes.
“I will be one,” Kyouko-jou nodded firmly.
“That’s so cool,” Yumi-chan mumbled. She then turned the topic to me. “How about you, Shiori-chan? Do you have a dream?”
To be honest, I don’t really have one. I feel like I did have a few when I was young, but I have my hands full with my everyday life right now. Ever since I became a high school student, I’ve been busy with Maria-jou related matters and work as a vice-class rep. I don’t have the leisure to think about the far future.
I do want to become an independent and dignified woman, so I do admire career women like lawyers.
“For the time being, I want to enter a university. One without math in their entrance exam,” I asked.
“I don’t think that’s considered a dream,” Yumi-chan replied a little tiredly.
□ ■ □
On Sunday, I went to the shopping mall with Yumi-chan to do some shopping together.
She wanted to visit the bookstore and CD shop, while I had my eyes on the clothing store. Anyways, we enjoyed ourselves and had fun.
At the moment, Yumi-chan was standing and reading in the bookstore. She spends quite a long time focused on reading, so I considered what I should do to kill time until she’s done.
At this moment, I received a rare message from my mother.
[Today’s your dad’s birthday, right? If you’re in the middle of shopping, go and buy some flowers while you are at it.]
Wait, wait, tell me this earlier. What do you plan to do if I used up all my money with my own shopping? I complained to my mother in my heart before I checked the message further.
My mother only instructed me to include a red rose in the bouquet. I sent a message saying I’ll do it before letting Yumi-chan know where I was going and left for the first floor. Once Yumi-chan starts reading, she won’t move for more than an hour. I’m sure she’ll be surprised when she sees me back with flowers in my hands.
The flower shop on the first floor of the shopping mall is a chain store with branches all over the country. I can’t help but feel the flowers there seem kind of expensive.
Still, the shop was pretty inside with persevered flowers and even a cute mini potted plant corner. Basically, the flower shop had an atmosphere that made girls want to come in subconsciously.
I quickly called the staff over and placed an order on a bouquet. I requested a red rose in it that my mother specified. I also mentioned how it was a gift for a man and to make the bouquet mature-looking.
My mother gives my father a bouquet on his birthday every year. My father did mention last year how he liked the green leafy plant decorating the rose more than the actual rose itself. I don’t remember the name of the said green leafy plant, but I think it should be those ones nearby…… I also requested the green leafy plant to be added in the bouquet.
The final result was a bouquet that my mother will probably like more than my father. Well, my mother’s idea of giving him a bouquet had more to do with her own self-satisfaction, so it should be fine like this.
I took out money from my wallet, handing it to the staff—
A certain person appeared at the shop’s entrance.
He was a boy with a beautiful posture and looked to be a high schooler. I feel like it’s rare for a male high schooler to buy flowers. Adding to that, the boy was good-looking for silky long black hair tied into a ponytail.
…Hey wait, isn’t this Kaneshiro-senpai?
I feel like this is the first time I’ve seen him in casual clothing. He was wearing simple but good quality clothing. I’m sure it was some brand name item from somewhere. To begin with, I can’t even imagine Kaneshiro-senpai wearing some cheap T-shirt brought from a bargain corner.
The flower shop’s staff’s eyes were on Kaneshiro-senpai who was looking at the flowers seriously. The staff looked spellbound and muttered under her breath questions on who the good-looking man was buying flowers for……
Hmm. Could you please stop stealing glances and remember to settle the bill, Miss~?
I’m waiting here with my wallet in my hand for my change. I would like to get this over with soon~?
Kaneshiro-senpai stared at the flowers before eventually sighing and called out to the nearby staff. He always had a smile on his face, so I noted how he’s been frowning this whole time.
“Could I please have a bouquet with a focus on lilies and a budget of 10,000 yen, please. This will be a gift to a lady, so please take this into consideration…… Ah, please make the bouquet suitable for an elegant lady,” Kaneshiro-senpai asked.
Kaneshiro-senpai took a step back and folded his arms. The staff who took the order started to select the flowers with a stiff, nervous face. When the staff picked a flower he didn’t like, he would point at another flower with the same colouring. The final result was a bouquet without a single opinion or reflection of the staff who gathered them up. It was, however, a gorgeous bouquet.
“Oh, it’s you, Niimi-san. What a coincidence.”
Really, it truly is. He finally noticed me when he was about to pay.
Incidentally, I stuck around after I got my change without thinking to watch the exchange between Kaneshiro-senpai and the staff.
He glanced at the bouquet in my hands and asked, “Is that a present for someone?”
“Yes, well, it’s my father’s birthday, you see,” I answered.
“Hmm…” Kaneshiro-senpai mumbled out. “Isn’t this a little bit passionate for a gift from his daughter?”
“I’m the errand girl. The true sender is my mother.”
“Yes, I see now,” Kaneshiro said before showing his first smile today. “Your parents must get along quite well.”
He has a point. I feel like it’s rare for someone to give a bouquet to a guy on his birthday. Or maybe it’s not?
“Kaneshiro-senpai, you’re… umm…” What does a bouquet to an elegant lady mean? This elegant lady would be something like his mother then?
While I was pondering, Kaneshiro-senpai quietly answered by question. “Her health isn’t very good, you see. So I will be visiting her at the hospital.”
“At the hospital?” I looked at his bouquet once more.
There were lilies in the centre with a gorgeous feel to it. I questioned if this was the right kind of bouquet to bring to someone at the hospital. If anything, I feel like his bouquet was more suited for a party or birthday present.
Actually, to start with, I don’t think lilies are suitable for someone ill at the hospital. The smell of lilies was too strong, and I’ve heard before that flowers that turn downward will bring bad fortune.
I’m sure I looked puzzled right now. Kaneshiro-senpai looked a little bit troubled before saying, “……Bringing lilies to someone at the hospital is dubious. I mean, they aren’t the seasonal flowers either. However, she likes this flower. Her name is also Yuriko-san and it’s said she loves this flower beyond everything.”
“Is that so. Umm……” Is it okay for me to ask further? I mean, it’ll be their private information. It was hard to come to a decision, so I went quiet.
Kaneshiro-senpai smiled softly. “She is hospitalized at the moment, so she is worried about the future of her one and only grandchild.”
Oh, so that’s how it is. I still question about bringing lilies to the hospital, but if that is what she wants then… I guess it’s fine?
Now then, I had a chance encounter with Kaneshiro-senpai, but I don’t have anything special to talk to him about. However, Yumi-chan is a fan of Kaneshiro-senpai. I want to call her somehow. I mean, I’m sure she’ll be overjoyed to see him in casual clothing.
“Umm, will you be leaving for the hospital now, Senpai?” I asked.
“No, there’s still some time before the visiting hours begin, so I was thinking of visiting the CD shop. There are new releases I would like to buy,” Kaneshiro-senpai replied.
This person listens to CDs, huh. I didn’t expect that.
But this works out great for me. The CD shop is beside the bookstore.
The two of us rode the escalator together before separating at the top floor.
When Yumi-chan is standing and reading, she doesn’t notice anything quite often even if you call out to her. Luckily, she was just about done reading a magazine, so she noticed me. Her eyes also widened when she heard ‘Kaneshiro-senpai’ from my mouth.
Afterwards, we secretly entered the CD shop to look at Kaneshiro-senpai from afar.
Yumi-chan was quite satisfied with him in casual clothing. She didn’t call out to him but instead quickly took out her cellphone to take a picture of him. Her smile of satisfaction was quite cute.
But… Wait, wait, wait, don’t take a picture of someone without permission. Everyone has portrait rights, I believe. That being said, am I also guilty for telling Yumi-chan about Kaneshiro-senpai? Hmmm, maybe I am.
We returned to the bookstore before eventually returning home.
On the train back, I coincidentally encountered Kaneshiro-senpai again.
We exchanged a bit of words before Kaneshiro-senpai got off the train, which I assumed was the station closest to the hospital. This said station was also near Kazu-nii’s apartment. In other words, this is the area with Maria-jou’s residence.
It bugged me for some reason. When I returned home, I received a message from Kazu-nii.
[I saw Kaneshiro and Aikawa in front of the hospital on my way home.]
I tilted my head in confusion.
Could it be that Kaneshiro-senpai was visiting Maria-jou’s grandmother? What kind of connection do those three have?
□ ■ □
Kaneshiro Atsushi’s steps towards the hospital were heavy.
It might be because of the out-of-place bouquet in his hands. It was a gorgeous bouquet with lilies in the centre. The strong smell of it wasn’t quite a proper gift to bring to the hospital.
However, the woman he was going to meet loved all kinds of lilies. Atsushi thought that she’ll be mad for sure if he treated her like a sick patient, so he purposely chose this.
He heard his name, so he turned around.
He was just about to step inside the grounds of the hospital. The girl in front of his eyes now was quite familiar. Recently, he encountered her often in the school grounds — this was his junior, Aikawa Maria.
“What’s wrong? Are you… visiting someone?”
Come to think of it, Atsushi recalled how Maria was interested in flowers. She probably knows that his bouquet was out of place. She sounded so confused, which made him smile in amusement.
“I am visiting someone. She quite enjoys bouquets such as these, you see,” he told her.
“Is that so,” Maria said, understanding now.
The two started to walk side-by-side naturally towards the hospital. Atsushi was surprised at how he didn’t dislike this.
“…Maria-san, are you close to your grandmother?”
“Ah, sorry that was rude of me. I have heard rumours that your grandmother has been hospitalized for a long time at school,” Atsushi explained.
Maria looked a little sad before she smiled her brightest to reply, “I think we are close. I have been raised by my grandmother.”
“Then I’m sure you are even more worried then. ……Plants and living creatures alike will wither one day… It’s saddening no matter how many times you witness it,” Atsushi said as he looked down at the bouquet in his arms.
The two of them separated at the hospital entrance and met again at the hospital room.
A thin and weak old woman laid on the bed as Maria sat on the chair nearby. Maria was surprised to see Atsushi and quickly got up from the chair, offering it to him. However, Atsushi smiled before declining to gaze at the old woman’s face.
Maria came to an understanding that Atsushi wanted to speak with her grandmother alone. “I will go borrow a flower vase,” she said, bowing her head, and left the room.
“It’s been a while, Yuriko-sama. I have come on behalf of Mizusaki… My name is Kaneshiro,” he introduced himself.
“Yes, it’s been a while. I suppose your appearance means that the old master of Mizusaki will pay heed to my wishes.”
“He will provide an opportunity. The relationship between men and women will not last long if they are not compatible with each other after all,” Atsushi said with a bit of sarcasm in his tone. Yet, his smile didn’t break down at all.
Long ago, her daughter refused a marriage proposed by her family and ran away, eloping with another man. Atsushi was flabbergasted that this old lady here would do the same thing to her granddaughter again despite not forgetting what happened with her daughter.
Luckily, Homare seems fond of Maria, so it likely won’t end up like Maria’s parents.
However, Atsushi hasn’t accepted Maria as Homare’s partner. He didn’t think she was strong enough or had the grit to cope and deal with the Mizusaki family’s state of affairs.
“I don’t have time left. I wonder if he understands that,” the old woman said.
“There are other candidates too, you see. Please understand our situation as well as we can’t treat them rudely. ……If Maria-san doesn’t become his finance, we will do our best to support her in her life from hereon now.”
“Yes, that does sound like his judgement. Especially where he doesn’t pledge any specific actions,” the old woman replied cynically. Yet, she didn’t say any further.
It seems it’s true that she’s worried about her granddaughter’s future. She was probably panicking, wanting to accomplish something while she’s still alive. She truly loved her granddaughter in her own way.
“…….Why did you bring lilies today?” The old woman asked.
The scent of the flowers floated gently in the air.
“I had heard before that you love lilies very much. I understand it is rude to bring lilies as a visiting gift but I believe these flowers suit you the best,” Atsushi replied.
“Because my name is Yuriko?”
“The flower meanings of lilies are ‘majesty’, ‘purity’, and ‘innocent’…… They say the name of a person will reveal their nature. Though I think a more simple flower will suit your granddaughter more.”
“Oh, are you being sarcastic?”
“No. …However, I think every flower suits their own different place.”
“……And I am suitable for lilies, huh,” the old woman commented. “I didn’t think there would be a man who would say such a thing to me now that I am so old. …The old master trains his subordinates well.” She smiled like she enjoyed Atsushi’s response a lot.
Maria was taking a while to come back, so Atsushi left the hospital room with the flowers. His eyes quickly caught the sight of Maria carrying a flower vase.
Atsushi disliked all women. He thought this junior of his was dislikable too but… He didn’t know when he started to let down his guard around this girl who approached him and Homare. He came to realize he held a different kind of emotion for her. It was something resembling friendship.
“Would you like my help?” Atsushi called out to her.
He took the flower vase from her and went to the office kitchenette. Atsushi then carefully removed the bouquet’s wrapping and transferred the flowers into the vase. He glanced at Maria who followed him in a panic before moving on a whim. He took a single lily and decorated it in her hair. Her features were distinctive with a gorgeous beauty that didn’t lose against the lily.
‘But it’s wrong,’ Atsushi thought. Maria was a simple girl in contrast to her showy appearance. If she wanted to approach Homare, she could have used her family’s connection to make it work better yet she didn’t. He felt she genuinely wanted to talk to Homare like those fan club girls who admired him.
“U-Um, Senpai?” Maria looked up at him with flushed cheeks.
Atsushi realized he approached her carelessly after seeing her expression. He didn’t have a choice but to smile profoundly to avoid explaining and scooped up part of her hair.
“What kind of flowers do you like?” He asked her.
Maria blinked her eyes before smiling like a flower in bloom. “I think I would like the flower you said would suit me last time, Senpai. You said you would tell me in the future, so will you tell me now?”
Come to think of it, something like this did happen.
At this time, he felt something thud and throb even though the stone wasn’t around his neck anymore.
Something was odd.
His stone was in Atsushi’s hands. Homare’s stone was in his hands. However, just the other day, the Chairman Mizusaki took Homare’s stone. Atsushi’s stone should have been given to the chairman at that time too.
Still, nothing will happen even if it was left somewhere far away. After all, that stone doesn’t have any power unless the owner hands it to the opposite gender himself.
“Senpai? Is something wrong?” His junior asked with worry.
Atsushi smiled vaguely back.
He walked quickly back to the hospital room and placed the flower vase down. Atsushi endured the feeling of discomfort. Maria also came into the room with confusion on her face, but Atsushi merely bowed his head down and bid farewell to her and her grandmother.
“Please excuse me. I must take my leave. Please take care of yourself.”
Atsushi left the hospital like he was fleeing. He didn’t notice the smell of flowers spreading in the area.
□ ■ □
TL note: Not scary Kaneshiro-senpai is weird…