Volume 8 Chapter 14 Hakuryuu Aiko, The Prince I had Imagine
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”No way, Euris…”
I froze as I read the message sent by Euris.
[I’m sorry! I have to go home now! Aiko, enjoy your date with Shiro-san!]
No, no, no, no! What do you mean, ‘I’m sorry’? There’s no way I can enjoy it now!
”Oh no, what should I do?”
Ever since that day when Aqua-kun, Euris, and I decided to have dinner together, my life had become incredibly hectic. I bought new clothes, got nail care and esthetic treatments I never usually do, even changed my shampoo to one with a nicer scent. It was all in vain, I knew, but just to be safe, I made an effort in the past few days to look my best.
”Am I okay? Am I weird?”
I checked my reflection in the mirror at the hotel’s lounge where we were supposed to meet. Today’s outfit was a shirt-type dress, simple high-heeled boots, and a mini shoulder bag. Yeah, I had it all picked out by the Fuji Department Store staff, so it should be fine. Speaking of that Fuji store clerk, she seemed to know that I was Hakuryuu Aiko and that I was going on a date with Aqua-kun next time. Could it be…?
I turned my gaze toward the voice, and there stood Aqua-kun in a slightly casual jacket style. Not too stiff, but not too casual either – he effortlessly pulled off a cool look. I had thought the same when he was Yuujin-sama, but was he really still only sixteen? Why did a high school student exude so much charm? And his scent was so much better than ours, female body odor was nothing compared to him. His real-life appearance even surpassed that of 2D boys. I couldn’t help but wonder about his mom, who brought him into this world.
”Sorry, did you wait long?”
”N-No, I just… arrived.”
Wait, is this okay? Is this the right response? I thought maybe it would be okay to arrive early, but did I make him feel uncomfortable? I was spinning these thoughts in my head. Ahhh! I’ve never been on a date before, so I don’t know!
”Haha, why are you using honorifics, Aiko-chan… I mean, Hakuryuu-sensei.”
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh! A-A-A-Aiko-chan!? I was momentarily flustered by Aqua-kun’s surprise attack.
”Uh, I-I mean, Aiko-chan…”
Wait a minute! Hakuryuu Aiko!! Do you even know what you’re saying? I need to cover this up! I can still recover from this!
”Uh, well… today is a celebration with Shiro-kun.”
Hey! That’s not it! Not that!
”I see… I got it! So today, it’s Aiko-chan!”
Ah, unfair! Aqua-kun might look mature, but he’s making me lose my composure. Actually, I’ve already lost it… it’s not even worth discussing anymore.
”Sorry about today. I thought meeting outside would attract too much attention, so I chose this place because it’s convenient for me. Anyway, it’s about time. Shall we go?”
Ugh, I should be the one leading, not the younger Aqua-kun! I’m such a mess… This is the image of a woman who has protected her maidenhood all these years. Ugh, saying it out loud makes me sad.
Aqua-kun and I got on the elevator at the hotel and headed to the upper floor.
What is it? Could it be that I smell bad? Elevators are enclosed spaces, and if there’s a weird smell… what should I do?
”Your hairstyle has changed, hasn’t it? It was great when we met before, but today’s hairstyle looks lovely too.”
Huh? Unexpected words caught me off guard, and I momentarily had a blank expression. Uh, um, I need to continue the conversation…
”Uh, um… Well, today we’re having dinner at the hotel, so I thought I’d change my clothes. H-How do I look?”
”Yeah, today’s outfit suits you very well. You went through the trouble of dressing according to the place we’re having dinner. Thank you. I’m starting to worry that standing next to you, Aiko-chan, makes me look too childish.”
Huh? Is he trying to flirt… Wait, wait, wait! Wait, Shirogane Ai, no, Hakuryuu Ai! Dangerous! What’s this about Shirogane Ai? I was skipping straight to marriage in my fantasies… Aqua-kun’s advances have been relentless ever since we were alone in the elevator. Real-life guys don’t compliment hairstyles and outfits like that, and they don’t say thank you, right? Is Shumi-san really enduring this every day? Unbelievable! Or maybe Aqua-kun is saying the same things to others like me, not just Shumi-san. Do the girls around Aqua-kun always put up with this? Well, if he ever tried anything, it would probably be impossible anyway. I sneak a glance at Aqua-kun.
”Hmm? Is something wrong?”
”N-No, it’s nothing.”
I casually brushed it off and then glanced at Aqua-kun again. Aqua-kun was taller than me, had muscles from his neck to his chest, and was fundamentally different from a girl in various ways. It felt like any girl who approached him would easily succumb to his presence, an instinctual response as a living being. And it was all thanks to that intoxicating scent that made me slightly unsteady on my feet… Ah, that’s why everyone just watches from a distance. I see, I see… it’s impossible. It really is. The perfect boy in my head was gone in an instant. And Aqua-kun in front of me keeps updating that image all by himself. No one can stop him now. Haha… While I was thinking about such silly things, the elevator arrived at our destination.
”Welcome. You must be Shirogane-sama. Allow me to show you to your table.”
Wow, it’s really high up… I’ve been taken to fancy places by the publishing house’s editor-in-chief before, but I don’t usually go to places like this on my own. Don’t worry; while I may not be sure, I trust Fuji’s staff’s choice of outfit. So, I believe in that!!
”Aqua-kun, are you used to places like this?”
Seated at the counter, I discreetly asked Aqua-kun.
”I haven’t been to places like this very often either. So I’m a little nervous. But today, Euris said she wanted to eat Wagyu beef, so since we’re at a hotel, I thought we should go to a nice place. It’s a shame Euris couldn’t make it…”
When I asked that, Aqua-kun smiled gently.
”In that case, let’s eat lots of delicious food together today. And afterward, we can brag to Euris.”
Wow, that’s cheating. His smile and everything. If I were still a teenager, I would have misunderstood a hundred times by now. By the way, do boys typically have dinner at a hotel with a girl? Isn’t this an invitation for something more in the room afterward? If Euris were here, she’d probably ask straightforwardly if we were going to have a thre*some.
”Here’s the Chestnut and Pumpkin Grated Soup.”
I have no idea about the taste… Well, it’s delicious, but I don’t have the luxury to savor it properly.
”It’s delicious, isn’t it?”
”Yeah, it is.”
Next came the Egg Tofu with Sea Urchin and Chicken Soboro on top, Grilled Eggplant and Shrimp with Akadashi Glaze, and Autumn Sea Bream with Kombu-Shime and Chrysanthemum Leaves with Salt Ponzu.
Of course, everything was delicious! Don’t expect me to be a food critic; I don’t usually eat such fancy dishes!
”Is this the Akadashi Glaze? It’s delicious. Who would have thought plain grilled eggplant could be so refined…”
”Uh, yeah, it’s true.”
Wait, have I been saying “uh” and “yeah” too much lately? Come on, as a writer, I should show more variation in my responses! Also, I wonder if Aqua-kun bringing up grilled eggplant is some sort of metaphor for something? Like, reserving a hotel room after this? No, it can’t be that, right? Please, someone explain… I’m a hopeless virgin who has never played this kind of romantic game in her life…
”Wrapped in the leftover sea bream, this dish features mushrooms seasoned with conger eel broth and topped with yuzu.”
I glance at Aqua-kun next to me, who is using chopsticks with great finesse. Wow… I’ve heard that many boys have terrible chopstick skills, but Aqua-kun handles them with such grace, like he’s a master of etiquette.
”Aqua-kun, you’re really skilled with chopsticks.”
”Oh… Aiko-chan, do you know the drama I appeared in on Monday nights?”
I nod my head. Well, everyone knows about that one. Even the female chef cooking in front of the counter and the staff in the hall were all nodding. Wait, is anyone listening to our conversation? Well, it can’t be helped; we’re in a fancy hotel. But as much as I am in this position, I’m curious about what Aqua-kun is saying.
”By the way, did you know that Kohina-san, who co-starred with me in that drama, once said, ‘Even if you’re suddenly asked to play a high-class character, if you show discomfort with details like how you use chopsticks, you’re considered third-rate. That’s why I’m taking you to nice places. It can also be helpful when you have roles as a chef or a waiter.’ That’s why she took me to these places quite a bit. I’ve been trying to be careful ever since. Kohina-san also said that eating fried chicken and potato fries at a banquet scene is a sign that the work is over. Haha…”
No way… Kohina Yukari-san, known as the biggest man-hater in the industry, known for being so difficult, is actually looking after Aqua-kun like a senior. That means, as an actor, Aqua-kun has been acknowledged by Kohina Yukari-san herself. Aqua-kun is amazing…
”By the way, the script for that Monday night drama is by Tsukasa-sensei, right? Have you met her?”
Aqua-kun shakes his head in response to my question.
”In fact, I’ve never met Sensei either. Aiko-chan, haven’t you met Sensei?”
”Yeah, but it seems Sensei doesn’t attend author gatherings or events. Besides, there’s a difference between a light novel author like me and a serious writer like her… Ahaha.”
Authors like me, who write light novels, have a different circle of acquaintances. Of course, most people are friendly regardless, but there are some who look down on us, so I usually keep my distance unless they approach me. It’s just safer that way. Oh… What should I do? I’m feeling a bit blue now, even though I’m having dinner with Aqua-kun.
”By the way, Sensei’s work hasn’t been adapted into live-action?”
”Is that about No-Rin?”
”No-Rin? Oh, it’s an abbreviation for ‘Nouka’ (agriculture) and ‘Uchuu ichi kakkoii otoko no ko ga rinjin deshita’ (The coolest boy in the universe was my neighbor) once he took over the farm.”
Oh nooooooo! My work’s name just came out of A-A-A-A-Aqua-kun’s mouth!
”Do you know it?”
”It’s a work I write…”
”Of course, I do, Aiko-chan, no, sensei…”
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! Ugh, what’s this uncomfortable feeling? It’s not like I’m ashamed of the work I write, but it’s embarrassing that Aqua-kun knew about it. Is everything okay? If he says something negative, I might never recover…
”Seeing the protagonist Hatoko struggling with her first attempt at farming, I can’t help but feel energized. There are relaxing stories, touching moments, exciting developments, and occasionally, the neighboring boy is great too. I’m looking forward to the next volume that will be released.”
Oh, I’m so happy… Simply happy… Aqua-kun, that Aqua-kun, is actually reading my work. It feels like all the hard work I’ve done so far has paid off. I definitely have to contact the editors when I get back and have a celebratory beer together.
”Aiko-chan, if it ever gets adapted into a drama, let me know. I’ll audition for the role of the neighboring boy.”
No, no, no! There’s no need for an audition; if Aqua-kun says he’ll do it, it’s already decided by unanimous consent! As the original author, I will strongly support it!! Wow, I’m already thinking that coming here today was worth it. I’m almost in tears!!
After discussing No-Rin, Aqua-kun and I enjoyed one more dish, savoring the tenderness of the finest Wagyu beef as our main course. The conversation continued, and we discussed topics like Nourin, CreamRAW Cup, Euris, and various other subjects.
”Ah, welcome back.”
Seeing Aqua-kun return from the restroom, I also start preparing to leave. Our enjoyable time has come to an end. If only I hadn’t been so nervous in the beginning and had initiated more conversation…
”Shall we head out?”
I take my wallet out of my bag. Even if it’s just this, I’ve got the money covered! I thought, all motivated. But for some reason, the bill hasn’t come to us yet… Huh? Why?
”The payment has already been taken care of by Shirogane-sama. So, there’s no need to worry, Hakuryuu-sensei.”
The staff’s sister kindly whispered to me as I looked puzzled. Huh? Wait a minute, has the payment already been made? Was the trip to the restroom earlier for that purpose? Or maybe, when I went to the restroom earlier, he had already paid? Wow… Aqua-kun is so cool that my jaw dropped wide open like Morikawa-san’s.
”Um, thank you. Actually, even though I’m older, I should be the one paying.”
”Don’t worry about it, Aiko-chan. I invited you, so let me show off a bit.”
No, you don’t have to show off any more… thinking that would be so uncool. From start to finish, Aqua-kun has been so cool, I don’t know what to do.
”The food was really delicious. Let’s brag to Euris later.”
In the elevator, Aqua-kun moves closer to me. Wait! Well, it’s not like I have to wait, but I need some mental preparation for this…
”Aiko-chan, let’s take a selfie and smile.”
Aqua-kun leans in close to my face and takes a selfie with his smartphone.
”Let’s send this picture to Euris. She’ll probably envy us for how tender the Wagyu was, right?”
”Come on, don’t be mean. Hehe.”
Seeing Aqua-kun’s mischievous side and his carefree smile, I couldn’t help but think he’s still quite young. That’s right; I’m more than a decade older… So, this dreamlike time is coming to an end. As we exit the elevator, we walk through a not-so-busy hallway on the hotel’s first floor.
”Next time, let’s come here with the three of us.”
I should say yes, but I freeze in place.
Aqua-kun realizes there’s no response and turns back to me. That’s when, for some reason, I move closer to Aqua-kun and gently place my hand on his chest.
”Would you mind… being alone with me?”
Taking one more step forward, I look up at Aqua-kun with a questioning gaze. Aqua-kun, looking slightly surprised, quickly averts his gaze from me, seemingly embarrassed.
”It’s not like I mind, but… I have a wife.”
”Because you have a wife?”
What does he mean by that? Is it because of Shumi-san? Is Aqua-kun being controlled by Shumi-san or something?
Certainly, in this world, there are people with multiple wives, and there are those who adhere to monogamy for various reasons. But Aqua-kun’s response somehow felt different from that.
”Wait, Aiko-chan, no, Hakuryuu-sensei! W-We’re too close! Too close!!”
Unconsciously, I had pressed my body so close to Aqua-kun that my chest was touching him. This is bad. It’s just like Chijou. It’s no different from a r*pist. I panicked and tried to move away, but my feet got caught in the high-heeled boots I’m not used to wearing. As a result, I unintentionally pressed my body even closer to Aqua-kun, and that’s when I noticed a certain change in a certain part of his body.
Aqua-kun quickly blushed as if he had noticed my realization. Hey, Aqua-kun, I’m more than a decade older than you, you know? Yet, you reacted like this when pressed against by an old lady like me? I can certainly tell what this stiffened thing touching my body is. So, I realized that Aqua-kun is consciously aware of me as a woman. Now that I’ve noticed, I couldn’t just give up. My feminine instincts awakened something in my dormant heart.
”Aqua-kun, do you not want any other wives?”
This reaction… Could it be that Aqua-kun doesn’t know about polygamy? Boys typically learn about this as part of s*x education during elementary or middle school, but did Aqua-kun skip that part? Or maybe he didn’t take those lessons seriously? It’s hard to imagine considering Aqua-kun’s personality, but that’s the only explanation I can think of. Boys tend to avoid s*x education classes in high school, and there might not even be such classes in the first place. Perhaps Aqua-kun was a hikikomori during his earlier school years? It’s still hard to imagine, but considering that Shirogane Aqua didn’t exist in the world until he turned 16, it could be possible.
”Aqua-kun, boys can have as many wives as they want, you know? It’s absolutely forbidden for girls to cheat, both in society and legally. But boys, they don’t even have a concept of cheating.”
That’s right, so…
”If Aqua-kun likes me even a little, then I…”
”Stop! Aiko-chan! Hakuryuu-sensei! Please wait!!”
Aqua-kun held my shoulders and separated my tightly pressed body from his.
”I’m sorry for reacting like that. But, please wait! I also hadn’t properly investigated this, and I want to discuss it with Kanon. And, um… I don’t want to do things like manipulating girls just for se*ual desire.”
Manipulate for se*ual desire…? I still felt something very unsettling about Aqua-kun’s response. Clearly, there was something fundamentally different between me and, well, everyone else in this world.
”Aqua-kun, maybe… No, it’s nothing. Alright, I understand. I’ll give up for today. But, well, this is how I feel. I may be an old lady like me saying such things might make you feel uncomfortable, but I like Aqua-kun as the opposite s*x…”
With any other man, I might have been laughed at or scorned, but Aqua-kun had listened to my story seriously until the end. Moreover, he had genuinely considered it.
”I understand. To be honest, when a beautiful and wonderful woman like Hakuryuu-sensei says something like that to me, it makes me happy. Sensei is such an attractive woman… But I want to cherish my time with Kanon right now… So, that’s why…”
That’s enough! I thought, and on impulse, I pressed my lips against Aqua-kun’s lips.
My first kiss ever. I never thought it would happen like this, and to be frank, kissing someone without their clear consent is a crime in itself. Nevertheless, I couldn’t think of any other way to silence Aqua-kun’s words.
For a few seconds, our moist membranes touched intimately, and then I slowly pulled my lips away from Aqua-kun’s.
”I can’t refuse now… Aqua-kun, I’m still okay, and I have the confidence to give birth to a healthy baby in 1 or 2 years. So, please. I want you to do my best. This is surely Hakuryuu Aiko’s… no, it’s Shirasaki Ai’s first and last love. So please, won’t you give me a chance? You might think it’s strange for me to kiss you like that without permission… but would you please consider it?”
Oh, how unfair it must be. I thought that way, but even so, I didn’t want to let go of the delicate thread that had connected me and Aqua-kun.
”…I understand, Hakuryuu-sensei. I will also think about it carefully.”
”Thank you, Aqua-kun.”
I wanted to cry tears of joy, but I held back. It might seem unfair to do such a thing now, but when Aqua-kun and I are together, I want it to be real, not out of pity. That’s why I did it.
”Hakuryuu-sensei… no, Aiko-chan. Thank you for today.”
”Yeah, I’m the one who should apologize. See you…”
As I got into the taxi, I looked at my reflection in the car’s window and gently touched my lips with my fingertips.
I kissed… and it was with the person I love.
The tips of my fingers that touched my lips still carried his warmth.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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