“I-I’m so sorry, Holmes-san!”
In a café-restaurant adjacent to the hotel lobby on the first floor, I clasped my hands and apologized. In response, Holmes-san showed a small grin.
“No no, I don’t mind at all, so don’t worry about it.”
He couldn’t be angry with a smile on his face, right?
“Yes, I have often been treated as an oddball by friends, so I’m used to it. So much so that I’m thinking of changing my middle name to ‘oddball’.”
Holmes-san nonchalantly said as he took a sip of coffee. However, instead of feeling relieved, my eyes widened.
“Y-You’re totally minding it, aren’t you! Um, I didn’t mean oddball in a bad way. I just meant that Holmes-san isn’t a typical person.”
I desperately explained away, but Holmes-san burst out laughing.
“I was joking, Aoi-san.”
As he laughed mischievously, I realized a flush creeping onto my cheeks.
I was tricked once again.
“You’re such a mean Kyoto guy.”
Pouting, I drunk some coffee.
“Aoi-san, it’s not ‘Kyoto guy’, but ‘Kyoto man’.”
Holmes-san spoke with a long index finger in the air, as if he was chiding me, but his lips wore a bright smile.
“Ah, I see… but for some reason ‘Kyoto guy’ seems to fit you more than ‘Kyoto man’.”
Yes, he gives off the feeling of an elegant, slightly mischievous Kyoto guy.
“…There’s no such phrase, but ‘Kyoto guy’ certainly sounds lighter than ‘Kyoto man’.”
Holmes-san said as his eyes narrowed into little arcs.
He was apparently happy with that description.
“So, did you hear anything from Yoshiko-san and Yuuko-san?”
“Yes, more than I thought.”
“More than you thought?”
“It was really surprising that they talked on and on.”
They’re words were so heartfelt that I felt some hesitation in relaying it to Holmes-san.
In fact, those girls were planning to get Holmes-san, and this would unfortunately interfere with those plans. That being said, this was an important investigation.
As such, I told him everything they said, without leaving out a single detail.
“—I see, they exposed their deep envy towards Saori-san. I’m certainly surprised.”
Holmes-san nodded with his arms folded, while I instinctively leaned forward.
“R-Right? You wouldn’t normally reveal so much to someone you’ve just met, right?”
“Exactly. In other words, they’ve gotten accustomed to habitually badmouthing Saori-san.”
“That’s too cruel, isn’t it?”
“This just goes to show how much of a Madonna-like lifestyle she led in school, now as well as in the past. She’s too dazzling, and I imagine that she doesn’t feel much guilt about it.”
Too dazzling, and without feelings of guilt?
“Umm, what do you mean?”
“It’s similar to the situation where normal people calmly badmouth idols, right? Those girls are indulged with the idea that ‘Saori is so beautiful and so popular to the opposite sex, so she’s already receiving a large amount of pleasant thoughts, so it will be find for us to badmouth her as much as we want.’”
So it’s the same psychology as that of normal people who calmly badmouth idols, huh. They were such close friends, and now they’ve come to this.
No, it’s because they were close that jealousy is multiplied.
“But even so, to say all that in public without hesitation…”
“Yes, that’s not good. They wouldn’t have minded if those words reached Saori-san. They might have even thought, ‘It’ll be good for her to receive some unpleasant sentiment.’”
“But that’s terrible! Poor Saori-san!”
“I feel the same way.”
“…Saori-san is certainly beautiful, but is she really the type to charm men so much that it stirs up jealousy?”
In fact, some people might be beautiful, but aren’t popular, I mused internally.
“Yes, she does,” Holmes-san nodded, then moved his cup of coffee to his lips.
“She possesses fragile beauty and helplessness, which arouses the desire to protect.”
The desire to protect. In other words, she had something that made men think, “I want to protect her.”
“Holmes-san, do you also like girls like Saori-san?” I asked.
“Who knows?” Holmes-san cocked his head to the side.
“What’s with that evasive response? You do actually think she’s beautiful, right?”
“Yes, perhaps, but I don’t praise a woman in front of other women on principle,” Holmes-san said as a smile appeared on his face. In response, I went, “Oh?” and my eyes widened.
He doesn’t praise a woman in front of other women… Does he mean me?
My cheeks heated up as I realized that.
“W-What are you talking about? You wouldn’t count me as a ‘woman’, would you?”
“Aoi-san, you’re not a woman? I apologize for not noticing earlier.”
“No! I mean, I’m a proper woman!”
I raised my voice, annoyed. In contrast, Holmes-san laughed, apparently enjoying himself.
Seriously, he’s really wicked. The mean Kyoto guy is going strong.
I puffed my cheeks, but Holmes-san was still chuckling.
At that moment, a woman’s voice came from behind, “Kiyotaka-san!” Surprised, I quietly turned around.
There was Miyashita-san’s mother, Saori-san and Kaori-san.
Kaori-san was in a dress, while the other two were dressed in traditional Japanese clothes.
The three of them had somewhat uneasy expressions on their faces.
In contrast to Holmes-san who quickly stood up, I slowly got up from my seat and faced the Miyashita family.
“Thank you for specially coming here today.”
The mother thanked, while Saori-san and Kaori-san also bowed.
“No, I count myself lucky to be able to come into contact with such fantastic works.”
Placing a hand on his chest, he put on an elegant smile. Refinement exuded from his whole body.
I really do respect this part of him.
And that is probably why I feel that his weird parts stand out.
“Well, that’s good… So, erm, did you find out anything?”
Miyashita-san’s mother lowered her voice. Holmes-san softly nodded and said, “Yes, about that.”
“I would like to slowly talk about this, so do you have time tomorrow? If possible, I would prefer meeting in the morning.”
“We have to go to Shimogamo-san1 early in the morning tomorrow.”
“What time is that?”
“Nine. And we also have to return to this exhibition in the afternoon.”
“If that’s the case, let us meet at the ‘Forest of Correction’. At that time, there should be no one else, which is perfect for us.”
In response to Holmes-san’s suggestion, the three of them hesitatingly nodded.
“So, erm, did you find out anything?”
“Yes, I have.”
Holmes-san casually affirmed. Surprised, the Miyashita family and I exclaimed “Eh?” in unison.
“Holmes-san, how much do you know?”
“Of course, I know about the sender of these letters.”
With a slight grin on his face, Holmes-san retrieved the stack of folded
threatening letters from his inner jacket pocket.
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