Noon the next day, I heard the sound of a car stopping in front of my house. It was most likely Lady Sara and Lord Souju!
The front door loudly rattled as I excitedly opened it.
“Sara, Sou, welcome! Oh, Mr. Takaoka, too! Thank you very much for yesterday.”
I was surprised to see Mr. Takaoka as well, but the three were more surprised than me. I wonder why. Was the door rattling too grandiose?
“Although it’s small, please come inside and make yourself at home.”
When I prompted them, they finally moved.
“Can Takaoka, I mean, Kaname, come in too?”
On my small tea table, I started with the rice balls, followed by tempura angelica tree shoots and mugwort that I freshly picked this morning, carrots, chicken stew with bamboo shoots, pickled vegetables, etc. I already felt sorry for the excess amount, but I also brought out yesterday’s marinated small horse mackerels. Tea was brown rice tea.
“Please, enjoy your meal.”
Lady Sara and Lord Souju said their thanks and grinned as they began to eat. Mr. Takaoka only watched them. He didn’t pick up his chopsticks. I wonder if he couldn’t handle poor people’s food. Could it be that Mr. Takaoka was once poor?
“Ah, it’s delicious!”
“The rice balls are good. Is the dried plum inside also handmade?”
As the two excitedly continued eating, Mr. Takaoka finally began to eat. And, he beamed.
“Your cooking is very impressive.”
It appeared that Mr. Takaoka also enjoyed my poor people’s dishes. Thank goodness.
“By the way, Rei, what’s with those tacky clothes? When I saw you at the entrance, I was shocked and speechless.”
“Souju, sugarcoat your words a bit more.”
These were my gym clothes from my middle school—a long-sleeved, brick red jersey with two lines running down them.
“Um, these are my plain clothes. When Lady Mary was still alive, I always wore my uniform even at home.”
“Could it be that you don’t have any other clothes?”
“I also have T-shirts and sleepwear.”
The three fell silent.
Was this fact that shocking?
“Your hairstyle is very elaborate. You’re a neat, young lady. But, today, there’s no ribbon. Plus, you’re in a jersey. And, it’s a middle school jersey. That’s too much for your beauty, Rei.”
“Jerseys are functional. I have no problem since I rarely meet with other people. With Lady Mary gone, I’ve finally been able to freely choose the clothes I want! As for my hairstyle, it’ll be an uneven mess if I were to cut it myself, so I just couldn’t let it down.”
I need to quickly go to that barbershop near the station that advertised 1000 yen cuts. Right, I also have to cancel my commuter pass. Should I bring the cancellation refund to the school’s secretary?
“Rei, do you have any plans today after this?”
Lady Sara asked as she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief.
“Not particularly. I was thinking about watching videos on the smartphone later.”
“Right, in that case, can you please accompany me? I have plans to go shopping. But, it’ll be boring by myself.”
“If that’s the case, it’ll be my pleasure.”
I wonder if I’ll be a conversation partner there. I put away the tableware from the tea table and brought out the cake Lady Sara had brought with her. It was a shame that I had no black tea. As if he knew what I was thinking, Lord Souju took out a case of black tea leaves.
“I brought some black tea. Kaname, brew it.”
“Souju, you. The punishment game already ended.”
“I’ll brew it! Please wait a minute.”
I took out the Spode tea set from the cupboard. Ms. Fuki probably also bought this. Lady Mary was picky about the taste of her tea. I hardly ever drank black tea, but I at least learned how to brew it. I wanted to drink it even if it was washed out, but Ms. Fuki told me that I shouldn’t act so lowborn. I thought that was a shame, but it was a part of Ms. Fuki’s educational plan. I believe she was raising me to be something aristocratic and high-class like Lady Mary. How terrifying. Well, I was too poor that I adjusted completely to being penniless.
Lady Mary never let me drink black tea. In the first place, she thought my existence was gloomy. That was very like Lady Mary. Nevertheless, she educated me as the successor to the Kujouin family, and Ms. Fuki followed suit. However, Ms. Fuki also simultaneously taught me how to live independently. She probably had ambivalent feelings about the matter. Thus, I learned high-class manners as well as the chores of servants. In the end, the chores were what was useful.
“Ah, what a wonderful aroma! What kind of tea is this?”
“It’s a secret since I want to be the only one to give it to you.”
“Souju! I won’t allow you to get a head start!”
These twins were truly close. If I also had siblings…was what I thought, but my father was trash. I might have some half-siblings somewhere. It was possible.
“By the way, can you please tell me about Mr. Takaoka already?”
To expel my father from my mind, I asked Lady Sara and Lord Souju about Mr. Takaoka.
“Brother Kaname is our cousin. His mother is our father’s older sister.”
“So, if you’re wondering why he’s acting as our driver, it’s because I beat him in a match.”
Mr. Takaoka was Lady Sara’s and Lord Souju’s cousin.
Lost a match and became a driver?
“Kaname manages a cloud computing company called Kaname Cloud.”
“Ah, I know that company! I often saw it in the newspaper… So, the founder of one of the world’s leading IT companies is Mr. Takaoka?”
“Yeah, that’s Kaname. He started his business while he was still studying at Stanford University.”
What an unbelievably amazing person. Why was such a person a driver?
“Ah, I hate to admit it. I had a bet against Souju. I boasted that Kaname Cloud had impenetrable defenses; it was impossible to infiltrate. However, Souju was bored during spring recess. He launched a zero-day attack, errr, he attacked the server which immediately tried to protect itself, but he immediately launched another attack without giving it that opportunity. Thus, he infiltrated the server, and I lost. As a result, a whole week of my precious vacation was taken, and I had to become his personal driver.”
“Sou, are you a white hat hacker of justice?”
Lord Souju looked puzzled.
“That’s not it. I just wanted to win against Kaname.”
“Wow, that’s amazing. You’re a super hacker, right, Sou? So cool!”
I had only used Windows Me at the library, so I wasn’t very bright in this field. However, I understood that Lord Souju was amazing. And, I think that “super hacker” sounds cool. Super hacker. Yeah, super hacker!
“Ah, the person from Sakurada Online was surprised yesterday when he saw Lord Takaoka’s business card.”
“Hm, I don’t think he was surprised by my title. You know about the customer information leak at Sakurada Online two years ago, right?”
Yesterday, I made the connection between Sakurada Online and Online Shop GO!, but I guess I could say that I knew.
“Afterward, they fell in the red and attempted to recover. They failed their acquisition of an American company to start their cloud service, and that’s when my company reached out to them.”
“Oh, my. That was what happened.”
“My company currently owns roughly 54% of Sakurada Online’s stocks. That’s why I can vote normally as a shareholder in stockholder meetings, errr, in summary, I can fire the president.”
By the time I noticed it, Lord Takaoka’s formal speech crumbled way. This was most likely his natural self.
“So, such an amazing person was turned into a driver because of a punishment game?”
“Yeah. Yesterday was Kaname’s last day as a driver. He was to be my driver for a week. Since we are who we are, I had the rule that we call Kaname only as Takaoka. If one of us called him Kaname, they would be punished. And, yesterday, Sara called him Brother Kaname.”
“Jeez, you’re so scheming, Souju!”
Lady Sara was truly angry. I wonder what was her punishment.
“Here, it was this.”
Displayed on the smartphone was Lady Sara’s face horribly stretched.
“I covered Sara’s face with a stocking and pulled it.”
Lord Souju gleefully snickered while Lady Sara looked extremely mortified. This was terrible.
“Sou, that’s overdoing it! She’s a girl. Just because Sara is cute, you’ll be hated if you bully her.”
Lord Souju looked like he was shocked by my reaction while Lady Sara looked at him with scornful eyes.
“Sara, rather than alone, it might be possible to reduce the embarrassment between two people. I’ll also wear a stocking. Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if I do the same thing as you? We’re friends, after all!”
“Rei, you don’t have to do such a thing! Souju will be depressed. That is enough to satisfy me.”
“Wearing a stocking is nothing. Sara, please pull it. Mr. Takaoka, can you take the picture?”
That was when I noticed. I didn’t have any stockings. Maybe some of Lady Mary’s items remained.
“Please excuse me for a bit.”
“Rei, you don’t have to bring a stocking! I-I’m reflecting on my actions, so please don’t do it.”
“Sou, can you promise me that you will no longer bully Sara like that anymore?”
Lord Souju bobbed his head up and down. But, I still felt bad that Lady Sara had to make such a face.
“Sara, if you have any stockings on you, can I please borrow them?”
“Jeez! I said that the sentiment was enough!”
Lady Sara said, reddened, and looked away. Her cute side came out. How adorable.
But, I was still going to wear the stocking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were a matching pair?
“Rei, you’re still thinking of wearing the stocking, right?”
“Sou, you really are a satori!?”
Lord Souju sighed and looked over at Mr. Takaoka who was enjoying the scene. Mr. Takaoka really was an amazing person.
“Mr. Takaoka, no, I mean, Lord Takaoka, you’re of the 86th generation?”
I showcased the hip lingo I learned yesterday. Fufufu.
“Hahaha, no. I’m a different generation. I’m still only 28 years old. This was originally a part of a hobby for me. I was only providing an OS through open source.”
Oh hoh. I didn’t understand what he was saying, but I was sure it was something amazing. I reflexively directed a gaze of respect to him.
“Brother Kaname is amazing, right? I’m so proud of my cousin!”
“Even though I’m more amazing. Jeez!”
The mood was harmonious, but I haven’t forgotten about Sakurada Online.
“Then, are the people of Sakurada Online having a hard time right now?”
“They reap what they sowed. The Sakurada family is a distant branch family of the Katsuragi family. That’s why Ryuuji Sakurada doesn’t know about the Kujouin family. If he had known, he wouldn’t have apologized like that.”
“Because I’m a scholarship student, he concluded that I was poor. That’s a shame.”
A shame that the rich can look down on the poor.
A shame that age-old, upper echelons of society can look down on the nouveau riche.
Both were terrible. I felt sorry for Lady Sara, but I wanted them to apologize whether I was a Kujouin or just a normal person.
I felt horrible for some reason. Yes, I think I really will search for stockings and wear them now! If everyone laughs, this feeling will also be blown away.
Therefore, I said that I would be changing from my jersey to my uniform to go out and went into Lady Mary’s room. Then, I put Lady Mary’s stocking on my head.
I was ready.
I opened the sliding door.
“Sara, we’re matching! Now, pull it! Lord Takaoka, picture!”
Ah, this was so much fun!