With her hands resting on the balcony railing, the girl gazed up at the night sky with a blank expression on her face.
The image that kept coming back to her mind was that of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed young man who had sadly parted ways with her on the day of their engagement announcement a month ago.
His wounded face.
A sense of desperation drifted through the air.
Eyes like jewels, gazing sadly at the broken glasswork.
She wanted to turn them toward herself.
She wanted them to reflect only herself.
Unintentionally, she had stepped out.
She threw a tantrum like a spoiled child as she stomped the glasswork to pieces.
‘Look at me, look at me alone, I’m here’, she cried out.
But now she knew. How foolish she was back then.
She knew that doing something like that would only drive him away.
But she just liked him.
She could be blamed for having such feelings while having a fiancé, but she was still attracted to him.
She was happy to know that he would pick up and drop her off every day and escort her when she went out. It was just happiness.
“... I miss you... Sakuya-san.”
“This voice is...”
“Shh. Please be quiet. We don’t want the others to find out.”
She looked down into the garden and saw a golden light that looked like a condensed version of the moonlight she had been looking up at earlier.
As her eyes adjusted, she saw that he was wearing the same black suit as always.
‘On your way home from work?’ She asked in a whisper, and he shook his head with a troubled look on his face.
“... I’ve been fired from my job.”
“I couldn’t even concentrate on guarding others. Who would hire an escort whose attention is always somewhere else?”
“But you were so serious and hardworking when you were guarding me... Why? What’s troubling you?”
After she had said that, she realized.
Maybe he had always been worried about that glass work that she had broken.
If that was the case, what had she done?
A large tear fell on the back of her hand as she grabbed the railing.
“I’m....Hgh...I’m sorry...I, to you, did a terrible thing...”
“......Don’t cry. Please do not cry. It’s true that the strap is a token of my promise to my friend... But then I realized what you said to me. I wonder why I couldn’t take care of the people who are beside me instead of thinking about the people who are not beside me now.”
“Ever since that time, I can’t stop thinking about your crying face. Wherever I am, with whomever I am with, I can’t help but wonder if you are crying or hurting right then. Even now that I’ve come to see you miserable, I want to wipe away those tears, but I can’t. I want you to smile, but I don’t know what to do. Tell me, how can I make you smile?
He reached out his hand, and she looked down at him.
Like the meeting of Romeo and Juliet, they were at a distance where they could never touch each other.
Still, she could almost hear her heart beating fast... She faked a cheerful tone, forcing a smile.
“Please tell me how you feel...about me. Like I said that time, I’ve been thinking about you. That, I like you. What about you?”
‘It’s a good thing I’m standing in the shadows’, she said, cupping her burning cheeks in her hands as she gazed at her beloved.
He was looking straight up at the balcony, his face clearly visible in the moonlight.
... And cheeks tinged with vermilion, something she’d never seen before. Along with eyes that moistened with heat. It was as if she was speaking for him.
“I... I’ve lived my life with very few people. That’s why... I don’t know what to call this tight feeling in my chest when I think of you.”
‘But’, he added hesitantly.
“I know this much. I want to be there for you. I want to protect that smile by your side. I don’t want you to be sad.”
“...Sakuya-san, I as well...”
“Please, call me Sakuya. And hopefully I can call you by your name as well?”
(And, and, and, he called her Natsumi-san in that gentle tone of voice! Kya~!!)
‘Sakuya is too much!’ said the girl who was alone on the balcony, writhing in agony.
Ever since the day of the engagement, she had been going out on the balcony like this every day to reminisce about the scene to prepare for the coming day.
It was to prepare for Sakuya’s confession event.
Sakuya Kiryuu is a hidden rival character that appeared in the Dangerous Romance Scenario of Takayuki Tachibana’s route.
In the romance scenarios of the other love interests, there were no rivals, and the characters were involved in some kind of accident that put them in danger, but in the end, they could find happiness.
However, in the main hero Takayuki’s scenario, a love triangle occured with a beautiful young man who was assigned as an escort after the conditions for the true ending were met by condemning his fiancée, Hiiragi Saya.
Yes, he appeared as the rival of Takayuki, the main target.
The ending was also typical of Takayuki’s scenario, with a true ending in which she overcame Sakuya’s temptation and ended up with her fiancée, and a sad ending in which she couldn’t choose between the two and had to say goodbye to both of them.
And if you kept choosing the option that was closer to Sakuya’s, you would end up with a plundered end.
In this one, Sakuya, who was actually the heir to the Kiryuu family, a family with a higher status than the Tachibana family, quitted his job as an escort and officially called himself the head of the Kiryuu family to come and steal Natsumi away.
Natsumi was a potential bride for the Tachibana family, no matter how high her family status was. Because he was forced to take her away, Kiryuu’s family was looked down upon even among the famous families.
This scenario was so popular that it was called the true end of Sakuya’s route by those who were fans of the game in a previous life.
Natsumi was one of the fans who got hooked on this scenario, and that was why she couldn’t help but enter Takayuki’s route to generate this scenario.
The Sakuya route, where she cuddled up to Takayuki, listened to his worries, kicked Saya to the curb, and finally brought him to become her fiancé.
One of the most important scenes was the meeting on the balcony and the confession.
“My lady! You’re wearing light clothes here again... It’s fine to go outside, but I’ve asked you many times to put on a gown.”
The servant who was waiting outside came running up to her with a gown in her hand, as if to say, ‘Look what I found’.
She grabbed her gently by the shoulders and almost pulled her back, telling her to go inside. Natsumi shook her head no and brushed the hand away.
“You know, that gown is so heavy, it’s not cool. I’m okay. Just a little while longer. I’ll be back in my room before I catch a cold, okay?”
“... You said so, and you caught a brilliant cold the other day, didn’t you?”
“Ugh... That was... I was a little distracted...”
“If you are exposed to the wind outside every day after taking a bath, you will catch a cold. All you have to do is rest, so what does it matter if you look good or bad?”
Natsumi reluctantly turned back into the room, saying, ‘All right’, before the servant’s seemingly unwillingness to back down turned into a lecture.
(Sakuya didn’t show up today either... I’ve been waiting for you every day since then.)
The scenario moved dramatically when one month had passed since the day of the engagement announcement.
But considering how many minor differences there had been so far, maybe it was time to move on... With that in mind, she went out on the balcony every day before she went to bed.
Yet, the only people who would stop her were the servants in her room, the middle-aged guard guarding the garden, or her in-laws.
She’d already confirmed that she’d entered his scenario by having Sakuya as her escort, and she was sure that the choices she’d made so far hadn’t been wrong.
In fact, the event occurred when he broke the glassware that he had been wearing on his phone.
It was given to him by his only friend when he was studying abroad, who had died in an accident before he could make up with them after a quarrel over a trivial matter. In the scenario, he said that it was full of memories.
After he confessed he realized the protagonist was more important than those precious memories, the episode where he called her by her name finally happened and the rivalry flag between Takayuki and Sakuya was finally raised, and we got to see the fan-favorite scene where the two of them fought each other over Natsumi.
“Oh, by the way, my lady, Tachibana-sama has contacted me. She said that my lady would be free tomorrow and would send a car to pick us up at eight o’clock.
“... So please get ready earlier than usual tomorrow morning.”
The servant, ignoring the unladylike surprise in her voice, bowed and left the room.
“Uwah, I hate that... That old lady is so nasty when I’m late.”
Diving face first into the soft bed, Natsumi complained in a muffled voice about the grim and demonic mother-in-law.
At first, the parents of Natsumi’s fiancé, Takayuki Tachibana, were very sad about their son’s change of heart and appearance, but as they watched Takayuki bring Natsumi home frequently, they realized they couldn’t just keep mourning.
In particular, Mitsuko Tachibana, Takayuki’s mother and the wife of the head of the family, recovered quickly.
Mitsuko had been treating Natsumi as a guest until the engagement party, but as announced at the party, the next day she began treating Natsumi as Takayuki’s fiancée.
Specifically, when Natsumi came to visit her at home, she called her into a separate room, showed her the genealogy of the Tachibana family, warned her about her eating habits, or unexpectedly invited her to the garden and made her answer the names of the flowers and plants in the garden.
Naturally, Natsumi’s feet gradually drifted away from the Tachibana house.
But Mitsuko would not let her education stop there.
She succeeded in arousing Natsumi’s jealousy and rivalry by implying that Saya was superior to her, saying, ‘The young lady before you lived up to my expectations’.
She got a positive answer out of Natsumi, ‘I’ll do my best’, and made her promise to visit not only on her days off but also every day after school.
Natsumi regretted her decision, but it was too late.
Every day she spent time at the Tachibana house, being checked on how she ate until dinner time, and on her days off, she was called in according to Mitsuko’s schedule and was educated for almost the entire day, returning home exhausted.
In this repetitive process, she was unable to go out to relax or even take time to see Takayuki.
Her only salvation now was to keep waiting, believing that there would be a confession scenario from Sakuya.
“Please, come quickly... Sakuya.”
He had to get her out of here.
All she had was the pot-pourri he had given her that picked up the muffled sobs buried in the pillow.