—It was the day before, which was a Sunday.
Holmes-san had finally returned to Kura after one month away, so the store, which had for some reason been aflutter with activity before, settled down.
While Holmes-san was the shop owner’s grandson and just a student, I once again realized that he was an indispensable existence for Kura. With a sense of calm, I did some work as usual in a laid-back manner.
“Aoi-san, are you free next weekend?”
Holmes-san looked up from the account book and asked, as if having just remembered about it.
“Next weekend?” …I should be working here next weekend, as always.
I took a glance at the calendar on top of the table, and remembered that Kura was taking a rare break next weekend.
“Come to think of it, the shop will be closed next week, right?”
“Yes, it is.”
This shop didn’t have any regular holidays.
There usually weren’t that many customers coming in, and it didn’t seem to depend on sales, but since “a feeling of loneliness would drift into the arcade if the shop closes”, Kura was fundamentally always open.
It was therefore rare for Kura to be closed for two straight days next weekend.
(Incidentally, that’s the first time since I started working here.)
I wonder why he’s asking me about my plans?
My heart was thumping for some reason, but I still managed to reply, “I don’t have any plans.”
“Would you like to come over to my house? Ah, I mean my grandfather’s house.”
That would be the residence near Ginkaku-ji.
“Eh?” Jubilation triumphed over my shock, causing my cheeks to relax.
I was in fact curious about what the Yagashira house was like.
“And could you be so kind as to invite your friend Kaori as well?”
“Kaori-san?” I asked in response to Holmes-san’s request, perplexed.
Why did he ask me to invite Kaori?
Was he interested in Kaori, and wanted to use me as a pretext to invite her to his home?
…It might be selfish of me, but I definitely wouldn’t be satisfied with being treated as just a pretext.
While I brooded over that possibility, Holmes-san took a short breath.
“Yes, it would be a much more joyous occasion with as many people as possible. Especially since that person loves having women around, whether they’re old or young.”
“Oh, sorry. Actually, my grandfather’s having a birthday party at his place next week. It’ll be a celebration of his kiju.”
Kiju is the celebration of the 77th birthday, I believe. Come to think of it, I remember my grandfather inviting all his relatives for his Kiju celebration as he neared his 77th birthday.
So Owner will be 77 years of age. He’s really healthy, or rather, powerful.
“Thank you. In counted age1, he’s 77 years old, but under the modern age system, he’s only 76. To celebrate the joyous occasion, he said that he would throw a party at his house, and invited a lot of his friends and acquaintances.
“We’d also like you to attend, but since I’ll probably be busy running around on that day, I thought that if you had a friend around, you wouldn’t feel so uneasy.”
With those words, Holmes-san explained his intentions behind wanting to invite Kaori as well.
I see, so it’ll be a party with a lot of guests.
With Holmes-san busy with a bunch of things, there was a chance that I would be left alone.
He thought that I would feel less lonely with a friend around. As usual, he was being really sensitive and considerate.
“Y-Yes, that would be great. I’ll invite Kaori, then.”
“Great. The party will start in the afternoon, so I hope you’ll be there.”
“Saturday, huh… But why is the shop also closed on Sunday?”
“Because it’s possible that the party will go on until the next day.”
Holmes-san shrugged, while I laughed and replied, “I see.”
“Since it’s a party from the afternoon, you’ll have your hands full with preparation, right?”
There’ll be lots of people coming to the party, so the preparation would probably be quite a chore.
Like cooking, for example. Could Holmes-san be doing all the cooking?
“Yes. However, we left the cooking to a traditional Japanese restaurant we’re acquainted with, so all I’ll be doing is the setting.”
So the food is being catered. It’ll be quite a lavish spread, I presume.
In that case, Holmes-san should be able to prepare for it on his own…
“Umm, if you’d like, I can come in the morning to help out. Although I probably won’t be of much help…”
I suggested, causing Holmes-san to blink and go, “Eh?”
“Ah, as I thought, I’d just be in the way, right?”
“No, not at all. But are you really fine with that?”
“Yes, of course.”
“…Thank you very much. I’ll be counting on you on Saturday, then.”
“Yup!” I nodded energetically.
“I’m really grateful. You’re so kind, Aoi-san.”
With those unexpected words of praise, my cheeks grew hot instantly.
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