As the seething heat died down, signalling the end of the summer holidays, the new school semester started. Even so, the students were still unable to shake off the lackadaisical feeling of vacation.
For the second year students in high school, many of them seemed to have gone all out in their vacation, for I noticed a significant number of suntanned bodies. Perhaps they were having fun before their entrance examinations next year.
As such, the classroom was enveloped in a languid atmosphere once afternoon break arrived.
“Ohh, Aoi, so ya managed to settle things with ya ex-boyfriend?”
The surprised voice came from Miyashita Kaori, who had come in from the class next door hang on.
She’s a girl I became close with through the “Case of the Saiō Representative’s Threatening Letters”, and she was the only person out of my friends in school who knew about Holmes-san and my past.
Incidentally, we’d started calling each other without honorifics.
Since we hadn’t seen each other in a while, we were giving each other status reports by the window, which had great ventilation.
“Yup, although I might have dragged that relationship a little too long…”
After I told Kaori about the events of Gion Festival’s Yoi-yoi-yama, I closed my eyes.
—It was the summer of last year. Due to my family situation, we moved from Saitama to Kyoto.
During that time, I had a boyfriend whom I’d continued dating from middle school. Naturally, we were separated from each other, and he eventually said, “Let’s break up.”
At first, I’d thought that there was no helping it. We’d become so far away from each other, so our feelings would also drift apart.
However, the real reason for the breakup was because he’d started dating my best friend… I had a huge shock when I found out about it.
Wanting to return to Saitama immediately and check if that was really true, I visited Kura in an attempt to sell my deceased grandfather’s hanging scrolls for the transport fare. That was in March, when the weather was still chilly.
There, I met a mysterious young man, Kiyotaka Yagashira-san, or better known as Holmes.
“Aoi-san, would you like to work here? How about earning your train ticket by properly working here, instead of secretly selling your family’s treasure?”
With his frightening eye for observation, Holmes-san saw through me and invited me to take on a part-time job.
While I was by that mysterious man’s side, I came into contact with beautiful pieces of artwork, healing my emotional wounds bit by bit. I had put my ex-boyfriend and best friend behind me, and given up on returning to Saitama.
However, the two of them came to visit Kyoto on a school trip, so there was a confrontation between us on Yoi-yoi-yama, during the Gion Festival.
Of course, there was no way that it would be cleanly resolved.
My friends were on their side, and I was left alone on a bed of thorns.
The one who saved me there and then was Holmes-san.
He strongly held my hand and pulled me away from that place… I was really saved by him.
“Ya worked really hard, so it’s good to cry it all out.”
He said as he gently patted my back with his large hands.
Thinking about crying into Holmes-san’s wide chest under the light of the lanterns… warms my heart, even now.
“So, ya came to like him?”
As Kaori suddenly peered at my face, causing my heart to leap.
“He came to yer rescue when ya were in a pinch, right? Plus he’s such a handsome guy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if ya fell head over heels for him. Even my big sister’s a huge fan of him.”
“S-So what about you, Kaori?”
I asked hesitatingly, but she openly shook her head and frowned.
“Not me. He just gives me the strong impression of a strange, scary person, although my sister keeps saying that he’s really cool. I’m real afraid of how he saw through everything about me.”
Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be absurd for Kaori to develop a fear for Holmes-san after he perceived the true culprit in the Case of the Saiō Representative.
“So, Aoi, what about ya?”
“T-To tell you the truth, my heart was pounding then… but since my heart was hurting because of my ex-boyfriend, I’m not sure about my own feelings.”
“I see, but didn’t ya get even closer to Holmes-san during the summer holidays?”
“No, Holmes-san went overseas with Owner for the entire period, so I was just looking after the shop.”
“By Owner, you mean Yagashira Seiji, right?”
It seemed that Holmes-san’s grandfather, Yagashira Seiji, or also known as the National Appraiser, was quite well-known to people in the city.
“Yup. Owner has a lot of work overseas, so he always takes Holmes-san with him during the summer vacation.”
“Ah, I see. He’s training Holmes-san to be his successor,” Kaori said with a nod.
That was certainly true.
It seemed that Owner, the global authority in art appraisal, was sparing no effort to get his successor and grandson Holmes-san recognized among people involved in the business.
That effort didn’t start recently, but long ago, when Holmes-san was always dragged along overseas during long holidays, causing him to be unable to study. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t pass the entrance exams for Kyoto University in his last year of high school.
“As a result, I just tended the store with the manager in Kura over the summer vacation.”
“My goodness, so yer holiday was quite far removed from excitement, huh. Tending the store with that manager seems too plain, ain’t it?”
“But there was a really homely feeling, so I had a great time.”
Although he was quite taciturn, Manager was also really gentle, so I also enjoyed spending time with him.
“So that manager always had to watch the house and shop all by himself, huh… That seems rough… Oh yeah, what kinda house does Holmes-san live in?”
Kaori suddenly asked a crazy question, causing me to blink and repeat, “House?”
“Since he’s in the world of antique art, I imagine that he’d live in an old house in the middle of town.”
“Ah, I see. He’s a Kyoto guy through and through, so he certainly seems like he would live in that kind of house.”
I nodded in agreement, but Kaori looked at me with a quizzical look.
“Kyoto guy? Don’t ya mean ‘Kyoto man’?”
She reacted the same way as Holmes-san when I mentioned that phrase to him the other time.
She was apparently curious about my arrangement of a phrase that had existed in Kyoto from a long time ago.
“Well, as you know, Holmes-san is more of a ‘Kyoto guy’ than a ‘Kyoto man’. It kind of has a lighter feeling that ‘Kyoto man’, you know?”
“—Ah, now that you mention it, I think I can understand that nuance.”
She nodded in comprehension.
In fact, on top of understanding it, she also seemed to accept that arrangement.
“So, ya don’t know about Holmes-san’s house?”
As we returned to the original topic, I regained my senses and looked up.
“Yup. Haven’t been there, or seen it yet.”
“I see. So they don’t all stay together, huh.”
After hearing about the Yagashira family’s housing situation, Kaori folded her arms in fascination.
“And I’ve just been invited to Owner’s house.”
“Nice! Ya can tell me what kind of house it is.”
“He also wanted you to come along as well,” I replied, but Kaori went “What?” in a hysterical voice.
“Me? Why? I don’t really wanna meet Holmes-san.”
Kaori shook her head violently, as if her entire body was rejecting that notion.
“It’s really scary how he seems like he can perceive everything.”
Kaori answered seriously, causing me to laugh instinctively.
“He’ll probably be able to read your mind, but it’s alright.”
“So he can do that? That’s scary! But why are ya fine with it? Wouldn’t ya hate it if he does that?”
“M-Me? I was a little shocked at first, but I’ve recently gotten used to it. I’ve started thinking that it actually helps to speed up our conversations.”
“Yer way too used to this. But again, why me?”
It wasn’t unreasonable for Kaori to want to know why she was invited as well.
“It was something that happened… yesterday.”
As I slowly started talking, Kaori gulped.
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