Petit Bourgeois Volume 5: The Paris Macaron Mystery (Full Text)

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It was the middle of September, a little past the start of the second semester, a time when you would still feel sweaty in the afternoon, but the morning wind was somewhat cold, and you would sometimes see a mackerel sky1 indicative of Autumn. On such a day after school, I was traveling on a rattling train to Nagoya, my head filled with question marks.

From where I lived, Kira City, it wouldn’t even take twenty minutes to reach Nagoya if I took the high-speed train. It was well within my reach, but I actually hadn’t been to Nagoya for any reason besides taking the Shinkansen. As for why I was now heading for that aforementioned city while gazing at the afternoon streetscape, it was, of course, because Osanai-san had brought me along.

Since it was close to the end of the summer break in my first year of high school, I had returned home late for many days. When questioned about that, I’d made use of my arrangement with Osanai-san which stated that we could use each other as an excuse in dangerous situations, and explained that I was late because of cultural festival preparations. Now that I had been saved from a sticky situation, it was my turn to be of use to Osanai-san. I thought that I would be made to clean the windows or weed the garden, but she had something else in mind.

“Let’s go to Nagoya together next Friday,” she’d said.

The high-speed train from Kira City to Nagoya was fitted with two-person seats facing each other. It was still early for the evening rush, but the outbound train that we’d passed earlier was already jam-packed. On the other hand, there was hardly anyone on the inbound train we were on, and the two of us were taking up seats meant for four. Osanai-san had a magazine splayed on her thighs, and while she didn’t have a particular expression on his face, the fact that she was shaking her legs meant that she was enjoying herself. I’d come all the way here wondering if I should ask the question, but now that we would reach Nagoya in ten minutes according to the timetable, I definitely should have asked. What was she bringing me to Nagoya for?

“Say, Osanai-san.”

She abruptly stopped shaking her legs and raised her head.


“As gratitude for helping me out, I assure you that I’ll do as you want, but er, could I ask a question, if it’s alright with you?”

Osanai-san tilted her head, a confused look on her face.

“About what?”

She asked. For her to have such a brazen attitude, she could have already given me enough information to deduce our goal. If that was so, then it would be too early to ask for the answer. I should first sort out the clues.

I’d started thinking about it, when Osanai-san muttered “Ah” and nodded in understanding.

“Oh right, I haven’t told you what we’re doing yet.”

“Ah, so you are going to tell me.”

“We’ll be going to a newly opened store called ‘Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko’ to try their new macarons.”

I’d expected that, but there was still one remaining question.

“Why are you bringing me along?”

“There are four autumn-exclusive flavors, according to this magazine.”

She slapped the magazine on her thighs, then gave me a frighteningly serious look.

“You can only choose three types of macarons for the Tea & Macaron Set.”

Basically, I was to order the other flavor. I’d also expected that. Then, the last question would be…

“Can’t you get them to go?”

After I asked that question, a sorrow-filled smile appeared on Osanai-san’s face as she stared beyond the horizon from the train window.

“If I could do that… it wouldn’t be so difficult…”

Her side profile was just like that of a martyr enduring their fate.

“Now, I’ll give a lecture.”

Osanai-san said unexpectedly, seemingly having gotten excited.

The train had just departed from an interim station, meaning that the next stop would be Nagoya. Osanai-san corrected her sitting posture, straightened her back and cleared her throat.

“There is a patissier called Haruomi Kogi. He went to France immediately after graduating from middle school, and went through extensive training at a famous patisserie for ten years. Its name is in French, so I can’t read it. It would be good if they add a Katakana spelling. Anyway, after he came back to Japan, he worked for a hotel in Nagoya City, but when he was thirty years old, he left his family in Nagoya and opened his own store called ‘Patisserie Kogi’ in Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka2.”

“So he had a single posting?”

Osanai-san pouted at being interrupted.

“I don’t think you call self-employment a posting.”

Indeed, he wasn’t posted there by someone else.

“What do you call it, then?”

“Working away from home… I suppose?”

“That doesn’t sound entirely right.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

She snapped.

“According to an interview in the monthly magazine Macaronage, Kogi Haruomi said this about opening a store in Tokyo…”

While speaking, Osanai-san retrieved a clear file from her school bag which contained a bundle of magazine cutouts. She picked one of them out, brought it in front of her eyes and started reading.

“‘I wanted to test my strength in a bigger world. If I can jump over the tallest hurdle, I’ll stop being afraid of anything else.’”

“What a positive person.”

“By the way, he’s quite a handsome guy.”

She turned the cutout towards me. There was a color photograph of a man in a chef coat folding his arms and smiling cheerfully. At a quick glance, he gave off an uncouth impression, but he did have a well-proportioned face. He looked to be about thirty years old. His facial expression and pose showed that he was overflowing with self-confidence, but I felt that the silver necklace hanging down his neck didn’t really fit him. The fingers extending from his folded arms were slender and unadorned. His nails were also well trimmed, as expected.

Of course, I was deeply impressed not by Kogi Haruomi’s interview or picture, but by the fact that Osanai-san was carrying those around. I couldn’t imagine that she’d brought them just to show me, so it was probably for her to study. Even though she went around to dessert shops after school, the thought of her cutting out pages from a magazine and bringing them around had never crossed my mind.

Ignoring my countenance, which was a weird cross of admiration and astonishment, Osanai-san retrieved the next article from the file.

“Patisserie Kogi succeded with its focus of indoor dining, and achieved popularity. Kogi was invited to set up a temporary stall in one department store in Shinjuku and another in Nihonbashi for special events. Both of them were well-received, and three years after opening his first shop, he set up a second shop in Daikanyama3, called Patisserie Kogi Daikanyama. It also flourished, and by continually beating the other competitors in that fiercely competitive region, the name of Kogi Haruomi became firmly established. Around that time, he started growing a moustache. It makes him kind of look like an old man.”

As she spoke, she showed me the cutout. This time, it was a photograph of him looking at a piece of dough. The black mustache had a strong impact, and while I could understand why Osanai-san thought that he looked old, he seemed to exude the dignified aura of a successful person, which I wasn’t particularly averse to. The accessories on his body didn’t seem to have changed from the other interview, but perhaps because he had gained presence, it was impossible to spot the necklace. I took a glance at the article to see that Kogi was asked about what he did on rest days, to which he replied, “Most of the time, I go back to Nagoya to see my wife and daughter. It is because of the support from my family that I am able to focus on my work.” It sounded like quite a tough life, but probably made better by the fact that he could go to and fro with one train on the Shinkansen.

“And in January this year, it was finally announced that he would open another shop in Nagoya. That is the place we are going to today, Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko, and it is Kogi Haruomi’s triumphant return to his hometown. But of course, more importantly…”

Osanai-san spoke emphatically as she brought out another article.

“Since it’s in Nagoya, I can go there after school.”

The third article she handed me showed Kogi Haruomi with slightly sunken cheeks laughing a little audaciously. He was still wearing a chef coat, but perhaps his tastes had changed now that he was older, for he was no longer wearing the necklace. I took a quick look at the article and spotted an interesting quote: “With my new store in Nagoya, I am aiming for a different direction compared to the one in Tokyo. It is important that it contains the essence of what makes Patisserie Kogi what it is, but there is no progress if I keep doing the same thing. I want to create a shop that makes use of feminine sensibilities, and I have decided that it will be called Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko.”

“It’s written that he wants to create a shop that makes use of feminine sensibilities.”


“What kind of shop is that?”

Osanai-san put on a slightly bored look.

“Don’t know.”

“Does that mean it makes use of curves?”

“I would be surprised if there are any living things that don’t have curves… But I suppose it does feel a little like art nouveau4. Sorry that I can’t give you a proper answer. To me, the atmosphere in the shop is important, but it comes second at most.”

Macarons are number one, I presume.

Looking at the article, I tried to infer what Kogi Haruomi was trying to say.

“…Anwyay, so that’s why the shop name is Annex Ruriko. Basically, this Ruriko-san is not the name of a specific person, but a kind of image meant to evoke a feminine atmosphere.”

While I was admiring its style, Osanai-san gave me a pitying look.

“The store manager is called Tasaka Ruriko-san.”

“Ah, is that so.”

“As Kogi Haruomi became increasingly busy, the one who practically ran the Jiyugaoka store was Tasaka Ruriko-san, a powerhouse who has many achievements in domestic competitions, and is the ace of Patisserie Kogi… Sorry Kobato-kun, I didn’t bring any information about her. I never thought that you would be so interested.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“I can bring them on Monday, if you like.”

“I’m good.”

“Or tomorrow.”

“It’s fine, Osanai-san. Thanks, I appreciate the sentiment.”

The high-speed train slowed down. In a leisurely voice, the announcer declared that we had reached Nagoya Station.


Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko was constructed at a location about ten minutes’ walk south of Nagoya station. It was not as bustling as the area in front of the station, but it had a cluster of commercial buildings, and we entered one such building facing the intersection. The walls were made of bricks, or tiles that had a brick-like texture, and were covered in lush ivy. Signs were embedded into the sides of the white double doors. They were seemingly made out of brass and had some letters of the alphabet written on them, but I couldn’t make heads or tails about it as I had never encountered the words they formed. Well, it was probably the name of the shop.

Under the eaves was an easel which had a blackboard propped up on it, with the words, “Thank you for your patronage. We are still preparing for the takeout service. Takeout sales will begin on September 20.” So Osanai-san not being able to get the four types of macaron to go was not due to some serious reasons, but because the store was simply not ready for it.

While the shop was only a short distance away from the station, it was still a little far from the hustle and bustle, and was thus in not a very good location, but the interior was quite crowded at this time, which was about five o’clock. Sweet aromas wafted up into the high, spacious ceiling, and while the floor space seemed to be quite wide, a large L-shaped showcase took up a lot of space, so there weren’t a lot of tables. It seemed that they were conjoining two-seater tables as necessary. A waiter in a pocketless black apron approached us.

“Welcome. Table for how many?”

Osanai-san’s eyes were glued to the showcase, so I answered.


“Table for two.”

A nameplate was attached to the waiter’s chest, and on it was written his name, Saeki, and in red letters that he was still in training. Since the shop had just opened, it made sense that the waiters were lacking in experience.

The waiter indicated the only empty table with his hand.

“Please use that table by the window. You can make your order here.”

It seemed that we were supposed to order before going to our table. As we faced the showcase, the waiter placed on our table a token with the number 6 written on it, probably a mark to show that the table was taken.

Since Osanai-san was talking about macarons, I’d assumed this to be a macaron specialty store, but all sorts of cakes were on display in the showcase. Besides cakes I recognized like Fraisier5, Opera6, and Mont Blanc7, there were also many other cakes I knew by name but had only seen once or twice. Macarons took up a third of the showcase. There were some in pastel colors, others closer to the primary colors, and even a few with marbled patterns. With a quick glance, I noticed that Osanai-san was staring at the macarons, a relaxed grin from ear to ear.

Clearing her throat, she emphatically knitted her eyebrows.

“As I said earlier, we’ll order the Tea & Macaron Set. I want you to order the persimmon macaron, and you can choose whatever you like for the other two.”


After studying the macarons in the showcase, I gave my order to the attendant behind the counter, whose nameplate mentioned that they were also in training.

“A tea and macaron set, please. For the macarons, I would like the persimmon, banane8 and cacao.”

As I was told to wait at my seat, I headed for the table.

The table we were led to was by a window. The walls of the store facing the four-lane road had all been turned into windows. Across the road stood a building with a gigantic clock fitted on it, with its needles pointing to just before five o’clock. I slid back into the comfortable seat and took a short breath. I’d never thought that I would end up eating macarons in Nagoya on the way home from school. With Osanai-san, all sorts of things could happen.

With us entering the store, it became full. With my eyes, I counted twelve tables. From listening to Osanai-san’s lecture, I’d assumed that it was targeted more towards a young clientele, but the customer base was actually more diverse than I thought. There were many parties of two, but also a lively table of six, as well as a few single customers here and there. One woman broke into a beaming smile, all propriety forgotten as soon as a macaron entered her mouth, while another furiously demolished her Mont Blanc with a spoon using her right hand while fiddling with their mobile phones using their left. There were even a uniformed girl touching up her hair, with her compact open and her desserts neglected.

Also, the customers were almost all female. Including me, there were only two male customers. The other person was a bespectacled man in a suit, a thin laptop open on his table. He must have quite some guts to do work in a shop where sweet scents swirled freely around. But perhaps he was a die-hard fan of sweets who wanted to record what he had eaten on his laptop.

I calmly looked around the shop to find that compared to the somehow Märchen-esque9 exterior with its monotone base and lack of adornments, the interior gave off a chic feel. On the other side of the showcase was a glass wall, through which you could see the kitchen, where a man in a chef’s coat and hat was stretching dough. Perhaps he would be there for the entire day, continuously stretching dough for no reason other than to let the customers watch.

There were two white doors on the wall opposite the entrance. One of them led to the toilet, while the other had a sign with the English words “STAFF ONLY” written on it, so it probably led to some space exclusively for employees.

Osanai-san was still lingering in front of the showcase. Strange, hadn’t she already decided what she wanted to order? What was she agonizing about now? I was just about to get up and ask her if something had happened, but at that exact timing, she struck up a conversation with a waiter, and she seemed to be done.

Osanai-san was wearing a strangely serious face when she came over to the table. She looked dazed and was looking down, as if she was at a troubling crossroads of her life, and didn’t know what to do.

“What’s the matter?”

I reflexively asked, and was met with a weak smile.

“Give me a moment.”

She sat back down and turned her head, looking around the store as I’d done earlier, and her face clouded over. She must have noticed something, but I couldn’t find anything that would make her feel uneasy. Wondering if I’d missed something out, I looked around again.

Based on the height and angle of Osanai-san’s eyes, the thing that made her expression change was not part of the interior, but probably another customer. For example, surrounding the table closest to us were three elderly women laughing and chatting with each other. That group seemed to have macaron and black tea set, for each one had in front of them a teapot, teacup, teaspoon, a small pot that probably contained sugar, a milk pitcher, as well as a colorful macaron on a small plate. There was nothing out of place… or was there?

“There’s really none.”

Osanai-san’s muttering served as a hint. Right, that table of three was missing something it should have. As I felt a tinge of frustration for not getting it without the hint, I spoke.

“Indeed, there’s nothing to wipe your hands with.”

Osanai-san wordlessly nodded.

There was no sight of any wet towels, wet tissues, or napkins.

“I wonder if the staff here forgot.”

Upon hearing my words, she lightly shook her head.

“There are many shops like this. High-end shops and those that want to give off the impression of one don’t put out wet towels. That is too Japanese, so they don’t do it to create a more authentic atmosphere.”


“A more authentic atmosphere, huh…”

As I thought that it was unavoidable if that was the reason, Osanai-san clearly declared her thoughts on the matter.

“In that regard, I prefer Japanese-style.”

I could understand why she was concerned, as while cakes and drinks were fine, macarons are eaten by hand. Osanai-san abruptly stood up.

“I’ll go wash my hands.”

“Sure. I’ll want to wash my hands too, so let’s take it in turns. We can look after each other’s things.”


However, the washroom seemed to be already occupied, so Osanai-san stood completely motionless opposite the door. Her back was straightened, and it was probably meant to be an exquisite standing posture, but her short stature unfortunately made it seem like she was a small child standing at ceremony in a shop she was unfamiliar with.

A waiter-in-training came over to the table, tray in hand, and bowed.

“Thank you for waiting. Here is the Tea & Macaron Set.”

I thought that he should have understood that there were two of us since Osanai’s things were in her seat, but without hesitation, he arranged the tea set in front of me, then rotated the small plate containing macarons by a few degrees before setting it down on the table.

Of course, I had heard of macarons and seen photographs of them, but this was my first time seeing them in person. It was scary to imagine what Osanai-san would say if she knew about this, but the images I’d seen were close-ups which didn’t tell me anything about size, so I’d always held the impression that macarons looked like colorful hamburgers. The shape formed by two flat hemispherical baked sweets holding some paste in between did bear some resemblance to hamburgers, but having finally seen the real thing, the size was completely different. Three was impossible, but I could probably fit two macarons in each palm.

The orange-colored one with strong hints of red was likely the persimmon. Fresh yellow would be the banana, and dark brown would be the cacao. The macarons formed an upside-down triangle from where I was seated. The one closest to me was persimmon, while the banana and the cacao were lined up at the back. For the persimmon macaron, was persimmon used for the paste, or was it included in the outer cookies? Perhaps it was both.

I wanted to touch it, but hesitated, since I hadn’t washed my hands yet. First, let’s fill my cup with black tea. Thinking of pouring it high from the cup10, I raised my arm, when the waiter approached again.

“Thank you for waiting.”

This time, he brought over Osanai-san’s set, and once again rotated the small plate a little before setting it onto the table. For a person who adores sweets like Osanai-san, having sweets brought before her should make her heart flutter, but unfortunately she was away from her seat. I took a glimpse towards the direction of the washroom to see that there was now no one standing outside. Meanwhile, the waiter had retreated, and I could see him patrolling on the other side of the showcase.

I filled my cup with black tea. I wanted to add sugar, but not being able to determine how sweet a macaron was, I decided to make a judgment after one bite. I was not that partial to sweet things, but I felt an exalting feeling of expectation. If Osanai-san held Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko to such a high regard, just how would their macarons taste like?

At that moment, some music suddenly rang out.

It was the sound of some high-pitched brass instrument. This melody… it was Oh, The Meadows Are Green11. Wondering what was going on, I turned around to notice that on the wall of the building facing us from the opposite side of the road, some puppets decorating the giant clock were starting to move. The clock’s needles were pointing to five o’clock, and the gnome-like puppets sporting white beards were moving in a sluggish manner as dictated by their mechanism to bring an axe down onto firewood. While there was a window between the shop and the road, the music was surprisingly loud. After calming down a little and taking a look around, none of the other customers were perturbed, so it seemed to be just the usual time signal in this area.

With the understanding that nothing out of the ordinary was happening, I turned to face forward with a mix of relief and a tinge of embarrassment. The door to the washroom opened, and I could see Osanai-san emerge from within. Based on that timing, she probably hadn’t seen me being surprised by the clock.

As if unable to prevent her joy and anticipation from rising to the top, and perhaps because she was trying and failing to contain her smile, her lips were twitching. Thinking that I would switch with her and go wash my hands after she returned, I waited for her.

However, Osanai-san stopped moving when she was one step away from the table. She stared at the top of the table, looked at me, then eyed the table again.

“What’s this, Kobato-kun?”

Not knowing what she was referring to, I followed her gaze. Her side of the table had a Tea & Macaron Set just like mine, with a teapot, teacup, teaspoon, sugar jar, milk pitcher, small plate with macarons…


The macarons were different from mine. A green macaron, a brown macaron, a yellow macaron with white marbling, as well as a two-tone macaron, with peach and white as its colors. Of course, the flavors were different, but that was not the point.

“There’s four of them.”

“Yup, there’s four.”

“How many did you order?”


“But here, there’s…”


…Oh, my.


There is a song about hitting a pocket to make the biscuits within increase in number12. I had no recollection of hitting anything, but there was now one more macaron on Osanai-san’s plate.

However, she was not visibly pleased. No matter how expectantly she had been waiting to eat these macarons, she was hesitant to put one into her mouth when she didn’t know where it came from. It could have fallen on the ground and subsequently put onto her plate, for example.

“Did the waiter say anything?”


“And just to be sure, it wasn’t your doing, right, Kobato-kun?”

It was only natural for her to be suspicious. I was the one closest to the macarons, after all.

“Yup. In the first place, they don’t sell the macarons individually, so there is no way for me to buy just one.”


She murmured.

I used to enjoy solving mysteries. I liked it so much that it was quite a hindrance to my human relationships, so I made up my mind, and wished to never again speak as if I understood everything. But not counting that wish, I did not try to put any thought into Osanai-san’s additional macaron… because I couldn’t imagine the reason being anything other than a simple mistake on the waiters’ part.

“Shall I call a waiter?”

Without waiting for a reply, I raised my hand. But Osanai-san responded in a small, sharp voice.

“Wait! …Please wait. I don’t think it’s a mistake by the waiters.”

Indeed, it seems plausible for a simple mistake to cause the number of macarons to go from ten to eleven, but it is difficult to imagine that an employee at this store would not notice that three macarons had become four. Then again, many unexpected events happen in this world, which is why I thought it natural to first confirm with a shop attendant.

“Why shouldn’t I call a waiter?”

I asked in a straightforward manner, causing a slightly troubled look to appear on Osanai-san’s face. From that vague expression, I sensed irritation at me for not understanding something so simple, as well as frustration for not finding the words to explain it.

“Umm, of course I think that it is possible one of the waiters made a mistake, but I also think there is quite a low chance of that.”

I nodded to show my agreement.

“And if it wasn’t a waiter who made that mistake, someone else must have put it on the plate, right? That person was aiming for something when they did that.”

“I suppose.”

“If that’s the case, carelessly calling a waiter would arouse the suspicions of that person.”

I stifled a wry smile. That was just like Osanai-san.

Just as I wanted to correct my tendency to deduce, Osanai-san also wanted to rein in her personality. We swore to look out for and help each other, so that we could become petit bourgeois that wouldn’t cause trouble for others, little citizens who peacefully and harmlessly take the easy way out. Even if it meant going back on that promise, she was apparently unable to put up with being manipulated by someone else without knowing anything.

That pride was not related to the personality trait she’d promised to rein in. Thus, I did not tell her to stop being stubborn. I could easily imagine her state of mind after having her parade rained on, when the macarons she’d been waiting to eat were just in front of her, at the patisserie she’d rushed to after school. Even if her motivation was not wanting to fall into someone else’s weird schemes, I didn’t feel like scolding or stopping her.

“Fine, I understand. We’ll only call a waiter as the last resort.”

She responded with a light nod.

I studied the four macarons again. There was one green, one brown, one marbled and one two-tone. Osanai-san and I were facing each other, and from my position, the closest to me was the two-tone macaron, with the marbled and brown macarons arranged behind. The closest to Osanai-san was the green macaron. In other words, the four macarons formed a vertically long rhombus.

“So, which one was added?”

I calmly asked. Customers could choose three flavors in this shop. Rather than deciding what flavors she wanted beforehand, it would be more accurate to say that she’d come all the way to Nagoya just to try those flavors, so she should be able to instantly tell what she did and did not order.

However, she wordlessly stared at the macarons in front of her for a moment. She then slowly raised her hand and pointed at the green macaron.

“That’s pistachio. It’s exclusive for the autumn season starting in September, so they will probably sell it until November.”

She then moved her finger to the brown macaron.

“As you may know, this is marron13. It uses chestnuts from Nagano, and while I think it’s a little early for the season, it’s also an autumn exclusive.”

As for the marbled macaron, she had this to say.

“Coconut papaya. It’s for the summer season, but they still sell it in September. If the marron are running early, these are the remnants14.”

Finally, she pointed at the two-tone macaron.

“This is Kogi.”


“No, Kogi. It’s the special, eponymous flavor of Patisserie Kogi.”

I knew about the flavors, but I wanted to know which macaron was the extraneous one that Osanai-san hadn’t ordered. I opened my mouth to ask again, but I noticed that an aura of distress had wafted onto her eyebrows. Don’t tell me…

“You’ve forgotten what you ordered?”

A brief pause transpired.


“Really? Why?”

Osanai-san gave her answer while focusing a steely gaze on the macarons, as if that would allow her to see the truth of the matter.

“I wanted to try the pistachio, marron, coconut papaya and persimmon today. But I really wanted to eat the Kogi. I’m interested because it’s a macaron that led to the success of Haruomi Kogi, and is always talked about when Patisserie Kogi is mentioned. However, it uses some ingredients that are difficult to prepare, so it was not supposed to be available in Annex Ruriko yet. I thought I would try the seasonal flavors, then come here again when the Kogi starts being sold.”

Now I understood why Osanai-san had spent so much time in front of the showcase. Her plan was thrown in disarray when she found her main goal right in front of her, when it should not have been on sale yet.

“I was torn. If I were to exclude one of the three macarons I was supposed to order, it would be the coconut papaya. But it’s summer-exclusive, so it might not be available the next time I come here. Likewise, the pistachio and marron are both autumn-exclusive, while the Kogi will become a regular product when the ingredient preparations are done. I didn’t know what to choose among the Kogi, which I want to try now but will be easily available later on, and the three other types which I don’t mind passing on compared to the Kogi, but might not be sold again if I don’t eat them now.”

Osanai-san sandwiched her head between her hands.

“I was definitely the one who made the order. I was really looking forward to it! But right now, I can’t be sure of what I gave up on…”


You don’t have to sound so mournful…

In any case, it was now clear that we couldn’t check with a shop attendant, and Osanai-san couldn’t remember what she had ordered.

If someone had intentionally added a macaron onto her plate, she did not want to play into that person’s hands. Ultimately, I would have to clearly demonstrate why the macaron was placed there. That said, it would be reasonable to treat figuring out which of the four macarons had been added as the first step of the puzzle.

Now, how could I determine the unwanted fourth macaron?

In my view, the key to this would lie in observation.

“Did my plate originally have three macarons, and a fourth was added?”

Steadying her voice, Osanai-san asked.

“Or was is that my plate was switched with another plate with four macarons? I can’t imagine since I wasn’t there when it happened. Which do you think it is, Kobato-kun?”


The two of us were bound by a promise, a mutually beneficial arrangement in which we would check on each other for our bad habits, help each other so that we would not fall back into those bad habits, as well as use each other as an excuse to get away from trouble. In light of that, was it problematic for Osanai-san to pose such a question to me?

…Well, it should be fine. No one else was around, and on top of that, this couldn’t even be considered a deduction. I sank into thought for a brief moment.

“I don’t think it would be the latter. If that’s the case, three of the four macarons would have to coincidentally overlap with your order, and the chances for that are too low. Even if it’s not a coincidence, the person behind this would have to know what you ordered, and that can only be the waiter who took your order. They have no reason to give you a macaron on the house, and even if that were true, they would have said something to you.”

Osanai-san had apparently already thought up to that point.

“Exactly. So someone must have placed a macaron on my plate, right? Is there a chance for that to have happened?”

“Well, I wasn’t really paying attention to your macarons. I was more concerned that your things weren’t taken away…”

That said, Osanai-san’s seat was right in front of me, and under normal circumstances everything there should still be in my view. If someone tried to place a fifth macaron on her plate now, there was no way for me to miss that. Such a prank should be impossible if I didn’t get distracted for some reason.

As I went along that train of thought, one thing stuck out to me.

“When you were away at the washroom, my order was first set on the table. Yours came a short while later. I don’t remember how many macarons were on the table at that moment. But then the time signal suddenly rang out.”

“Time signal?”

“That clock over there.”

I pointed to the gigantic clock attached to the building on the other side of the road behind me.

“When it reached five o’clock, that clock started playing Oh, The Meadows Are Green at quite a loud volume. I was surprised by that, so I turned around and watched the small puppets chop firewood for a little while with their strangely detailed movements.”

I continued after a brief pause.

“If someone else did it, it must have been at that time.”

Osanai-san didn’t stir an inch, but suddenly tilted her head with a jerk.

“It somehow feels irregular.”


“It was a coincidence that I went to wash my hands, and a coincidence that you turned to look at the clock. That means the culprit happened to find that all the conditions had been met, and instinctively placed the macaron on my plate… It would have probably been fine if it were someone else’s plate.”

Since the time signal was so loud, it should be possible to predict with high probability that I would turn around as a result. However, it was purely by coincidence that the macarons reached our table right before five, so Osanai-san’s comment was valid.

“But the fourth macaron was procured before that, so there is an element of planning. That’s why it feels irregular.”

Come to think of it, there was indeed some strange feeling of discord, a difference in temperature, or a sensation of inconsistency. Osanai-san closed her eyes and sank into deep thought, as if she was trying to see into the mental state of the person obsessed with putting macarons on others’ plate, whom we had not even seen yet. But that only lasted for a moment, after which she let out a short breath.

“But let’s leave that for later.”

She continued.

“First, we have to figure out which is the fourth macaron, or…”

“You’re right, that’s a good starting point.”

“I won’t be able to eat any of them.”

Ah, I suppose that’s a problem.

Osanai-san stared at the small plate again.

“If I were to place a macaron on the plate without you noticing, it would be furthest from you… right?”

She pointed at the pistachio macaron, but fully understanding that the statement was ill-founded, her words were lacking in confidence. I instantly disregarded it.

“We won’t get anywhere just by thinking. We need to observe.”


To be honest, I had already noticed an important clue to determine the fourth macaron. I could have explained it immediately, but I was waiting for the right time to show her the clue.

A waiter was approaching a table, carrying a tray that contained what look like a Tea & Macaron Set. I pointed with my index finger to bring Osanai-san’s attention to the waiter.

“Thank you for waiting.”

The customers were a couple of young women who seemed to be office workers, for they were both in similar suit skirts. With expectant eyes, they were gazing at the ordered items being placed on their table. The waiter put down the teapot, teacup, milk pitcher and sugar jar, then turned the small plate around slightly and placed it on the table as well. After watching the two customers break into smiles, Osanai-san turned to look at me.

“…Is it always like this?”

As expected, she instantly realized what I wanted to say.

“Yup, always.”

We were talking about the action of rotating the plate, which the waiter always did before placing it on the table.

They did it because there was a need to, or in other words, the plates had to be placed in a predetermined direction, probably to show off the macarons, making them appear more palatable to the customer.

Now we were unable to see the direction of those macarons from where we were seated, but we didn’t need to. If the direction had already been decided, the macarons on my plate should naturally be in the correct positions. At any rate, I was still waiting to wash my hands, so I had not laid a single finger on the macarons or the plate yet.

Without waiting for that to be explained to her, Osanai-san was already staring at my macarons. In front of my eyes, at the front of the plate was the persimmon, while the banane and cacao were lined up at the back, forming an upside-down triangle. If arranging the macarons in an upside-down triangle facing the customer was how this shop did things, finding the fourth macaron required no thinking at all.

“…It’s this one, isn’t it?”

Osanai-san extended her right hand towards the pink-white two-tone macaron, which was Kogi Haruomi’s eponymous macaron, the Kogi.

“Just as well that I already gave up on the Kogi. I’ll be able to try it in the future without any problems, so it was the obvious choice…”

I wanted to let out a sigh.

I’d sworn to become a petit bourgeois, and I did not intend to break that promise. However, it felt somewhat disappointing seeing Osanai-san fall into a troubling situation while being unable to help her with only my cogitations and deductions, as observation became the deciding factor in this case. While I wouldn’t claim that seeing the truth with observation was always easy, it seemed that at this rate, nothing beyond our imagination would occur this time!

Osanai-san picked up the Kogi.

Suddenly, sapience returned to her countenance. She stopped moving her fingers, then started slowly shaking the macaron.

“…What’s wrong?”

Was she inflicting some kind of ritualistic punishment against the Kogi, which had sullied the sacred plate of macarons? Even as I looked at her bemusedly, she continued shaking the Kogi around a few more times, before picking up the pistachio macaron and shaking it in the same manner, only to eventually mutter in stupefaction.

“It’s heavy. The center of gravity is weird.”

“The macaron’s center of gravity?”

She put down the pistachio macaron and put the Kogi in her palm. After an instance of what looked to be hesitation, she removed the top cookie of the two that made up the macaron, her face distorted with sorrow.

“What are you…”

I began, but involuntarily swallowed my words.

The contents of the fourth macaron was not just chocolate. There, a ring was catching the light, glittering in gold.


There was no end to the customers in Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko. Gentle laughter, quiet sounds of crockery coming into contact with one another, as well as the high-pitched clinks of a fork striking a plate reached my ears. I also felt that the sweet aroma I’d forgotten about had come back to life.

A ring within a macaron… that was certainly something beyond our imagination.

I needed a little time to grasp the situation, so Osanai-san was the first to come to her senses.

“…Sorry to check again, but this isn’t a stylish birthday present from you, right?”

“Of course not. I didn’t know we were going to eat macarons on the train, and I had to ask you about it. Neither did I know it’s your birthday today.”

Osanai-san shook her head.

“No, it’s not my birthday today.”

Well, I wasn’t the one who brought it up. Even so, she gave me a suspicious look.

“Then again, you’re not to be underestimated, Kobato-kun. There could have been a clue somewhere that allowed you to deduce it beforehand.”

“I’m glad that you think of me so highly, but I’m not that good.”

“That wasn’t meant to be a compliment…16

Oh, I see…

Putting that aside, I took another look at the ring within the macaron. It was gold in color, and was firmly ensconced in the chocolate. I couldn’t tell what kind of jewelry it was looking at it from the top. It was impossible for me to judge if it was a cheap toy or a genuine gold ring. However, the possibility that it could be expensive made our discussion a little more precarious.

“It’s good that you weren’t careless about it.”

I was met with a nod. To put it bluntly, the number of macarons increasing or decreasing was not a significant problem by itself… excluding Osanai-san’s personal feelings, of course. But when a gold ring is involved, it could possibly escalate to a criminal case, depending on the circumstances. Osanai-san’s disposition of not following someone else’s plans had salvaged the situation.

“What do we do with this?”

Osanai-san lifted up her index finger.

“Hand it over to the staff.”

Continuing on, she extended her middle finger.

“Hand it over to the police.”

She lifted her ring finger.

“Leave it alone without doing anything.”

Finally, she extended her little finger.

“Or we could just slip it into our pockets.”

“No! As petit bourgeois, we definitely cannot do that!”

“I was just listing the options.”

She said dispassionately, then looked away. Some light was reflecting onto her visage, but it did not hit her eyes, so she seemingly didn’t notice.

“…To decide what to do with the ring, I think we need to figure out why that ring macaron was on my plate, as least to some degree.”

“You’re right. First, I suppose we should find out where it came from.”


Up till now, we hadn’t discussed where the fourth macaron was made. That was because we’d found an additional macaron at a shop that sells macarons, so we’d assumed that it was one of the shop’s products. But the situation had changed.

“Is this a macaron produced by this store? Or did someone make it at home and bring it in?”

After I asked that question, Osanai-san lifted the cookie she’d peeled off the macaron earlier high in the air, then studied it with an eagle’s gaze.

“…The pied17 is clean, and even has a characteristic appearance. The sizes for both sides of the macaron match up, so it’s out of the question for an amateur, and I don’t think it was made by an external patissier.”


“That’s the part at the bottom formed when the bubbly meringue hardens. Amateurs generally don’t make it well, and each store has certain common features for their macarons’ pieds. This upward-facing pied is consistent with Pattiserie Kogi’s other macarons.”

She said as she traced out that part of the macaron.

It was a trifling detail, but I checked anyway.

“The part you’re holding is the skin of the macaron, or a part of the cookie, right?”

Osanai-san showed me the cookie with the same freakishly serious expression she’d displayed on the high-speed train earlier.

“This very thing is the macaron. The so-called macarons we’ve seen today are actually ‘sweets that use macarons’, to be precise, since they have some ganache-like filling sandwiched between two macarons. More commonly known as macaron parisien, the who invented its shape is none other than the famous…”

“It’s filled with ganache?”

“A ganache-like filling. To put it in words you would understand, it’s a chocolate-like paste.”

Thank you for the explanation.

To summarize our discussion…

“Basically, there’s no doubt that someone related to this shop made this macaron, right?”

“Yup, in the first place, Kogi is this shop’s specialty.”

Then there was a possibility we couldn’t ignore.

“I wonder if it was an accident? What if they were wearing a ring while making the macaron, and it dropped in the chocolate… ganache… filling?”

“It’s a bit annoying, so let’s just call it ganache for consistency.”

After that preamble, Osanai-san thought for a while.

“Patissiers who wear a ring while working do exist. I haven’t seen any such Japanese patissiers, but I think I’ve seen some patissiers from France or some other country do it… but I believe ganache is squeezed out from a pastry bag18. Even if a ring is dropped in the ganache, it would still get caught on the cap of the bag.”

“So the chance of it being an accident is low?”

She nodded in response.

If so, that would mean the ring was intentionally buried in the macaron. Was there some reason for doing that?

At the very least, one thing sprang to mind.

“What if someone had a reason to hide the ring… and there was only a half-finished macaron nearby?”

I imagined a thief hiding the ring in a macaron right before getting caught by the police, thus being able to undergo a body search with their head held high. But Osanai-san seemed to be thinking of something else, for she reached out for the pistachio macaron again without answering.

“Sorry, let me try…”

She muttered as she started to peel apart the macaron.

However, she was unable to do so. Eventually, a crack appeared on the cookie’s surface and a thin layer was removed from the top, but the spongy part was still stuck to the ganache.

Fixing a doleful look at the macaron that now looked like a total wreck, Osanai-san murmured.

“It’s as I thought. Macarons usually can’t be peeled apart.”

“Are they glued together?”

“No. After sandwiching the ganache between two macarons, the whole thing is left to sit in a refrigerator for an entire day, during which the ganache sticks to the macarons. Even if you bring it back down to room temperature before eating, you can’t separate the two sides. The macaron also doesn’t get peeled apart if you tip or roll it.”

So she sent one rolling before, huh. The shape of a macaron certainly makes it look rollable, so I can understand the feeling of wanting to do it.

“If you squeeze ganache onto the bottom macaron and let that sit before putting on the top macaron, it supposedly becomes easy to peel apart. In other words, this macaron was intentionally made in this way.”


It’s obvious!

The point was to make it easy to find and retrieve the ring. If a ring was inserted into a normally produced macaron, it would be impossible to remove the ring without taking apart the macaron. This means…

“I believe this macaron was specially made as a ring case.”

It was neither an accident nor a case of concealment, but the macaron was crafted so that a ring could be put inside.

But would someone really do that? Putting a metallic item in food seemed too abnormal for me. Reading my puzzled expression, Osanai-san contributed an explanation.

“It’s not rare. In France, they hide porcelain figurines in galette des rois19, while in England they put rings and thimbles in Christmas pudding20, and in America they insert fortunes in fortune cookies.”

“This isn’t France.”

“But we’re in a French dessert shop.”

It would certainly be weird to object that just because it’s a Western confectionery, it may not follow Western practices.

If Osanai-san’s statement was correct, it would mean that someone wanted to give someone else a ring, so they chose to place it in a macaron. It was eccentric, but was, in a way, romantic. The ring looked expensive, so I wanted to return it before any trouble occurred, but who was the original owner?

“It’s most likely custom-made. Some other customer ordered a macaron with a ring in it, and it somehow mistakenly got onto my plate…”

Osanai-san trailed off in the middle of her words. She’d probably just remembered the point that it was unlikely for the additional macaron to be an honest mistake by the waiters. Indeed, there was no doubt this ring macaron was intentionally placed by someone.

There was one possibility she hadn’t thought of.

“It may not necessarily be a customer’s order… it could be a private possession of someone in the shop.”

The shop might sell macarons, but not all macarons were necessarily the shop’s products. A patissier in the shop could have made a macaron for their own personal use, to house a ring.

With a nod, Osanai-san asked a question.

“I didn’t think of that. Which do you think it is? A custom-made product or a private possession?”

I folded my arms. I was leaning towards one of the two, but wasn’t sure if I could prove it. Reaching out for my black tea, I took a sip, only to find that it had gone a little cold.

“…There are three problems for the case that it was custom-made.”

“That many?”


I put down the teacup. A flash of light hit my eyes, but disappeared before I could wonder what caused it. Paying it no heed, I continued.

“First, they would have to leave the ring with the shop. I’m not sure if the shop would like taking care of something expensive like that, since they’re not a bank.”

Realization appeared on Osanai-san’s face.

“Yup, now that you mention it, a shop definitely wouldn’t want to be entrusted with something like that.”

“Second, there is the risk of accidental ingestion, so even if they receive such a request, would they really make it? Regarding the galette des… whatever you mentioned, I’ve seen a leaflet about it. However, I believe it was written that the porcelain figurines are separate from the cake.”

“You’re right, many shops in Japan do that.”

“It’s a practice that was not originally in Japan, so even if you write, ‘Figurine inside! Please don’t swallow!’ some people might still mistakenly swallow it and get injured or sick, and the shop would be held accountable. It’s no wonder that they have the figurine be separate from the cake, and I think you could say the same for the ring and the macaron.”

“In such cases, I don’t think it’s the fault of the shop, but…”

After that preamble, Osanai-san gave a small nod.

“I understand what you’re saying.”

“Third, and the most simple problem, is that this shop is still preparing for their takeout service. It might be a little unfair to accept custom orders in front of other customers.”

As if unable to wholeheartedly agree with that point, Osanai-san kept quiet.

I’d raised the three problems, but while talking about them, I felt that these problems could be solved.

“But I wonder… The first two problems could probably be cleared if the shop makes a macaron that can be easily dismantled, and lets the customer insert the ring on their own.”

“Ah, that’s not possible.”

She replied.

“The ring is quite deep in the ganache, and there are no cracks on both the macaron and ganache. The ring was inserted when the ganache was freshly made and still soft.”

I hadn’t noticed that. As I thought, the observation would become more thorough if we put our perspectives together.

“If so, we can say that the ring macaron is not a custom order, but a personal possession. Actually, I was stumped as to how it would have been brought here from the kitchen.”

That’s because the interior kitchen area in Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko could be seen from the dining space. There were some blind spots, but sneaking the custom order out of the kitchen and placing it on Osanai-san’s plate in a public environment was a virtually impossible task.

“If it’s a private possession, it becomes quite a lot simpler.”

“Uh huh.”

Osanai-san probably understood already, but I went on anyway so I could better organize the information.

“I can’t imagine that a personal ring macaron would be kept in the kitchen fridge. It would probably be kept in the fridge of the employees’ waiting room.”

A patissier working here was storing the ring macaron in the fridge of the employees’ waiting room, but someone pilfered it, then placed it on Osanai-san’s plate while I was distracted by the time signal coming from the large clock. There were still many parts that didn’t make sense, but this was a lot more organized compared to the chaotic situation at the beginning.

“Why do you think they brought a ring to the shop?”

I asked. Osanai-san’s reply showed that she was quick on the uptake.

“Because there’s someone they want to give it to in this shop. Depending on the distance, they could find it difficult to go home and retrieve the ring after work hours, then return to the shop to hand it to the person they’re interested in.”

“Exactly. I think so too.”

Of course, the employees’ waiting room is not locked, so leaving a ring in the fridge there would carry the risk of it getting stolen. It may have been careless, but the owner didn’t think that someone would realize that there was a ring hiding in a macaron.

Although Osanai-san had already washed her hands, she still had not made a move on her macarons. From experience, I could guess that she simply wanted to eat them while she could focus, instead of during a discussion like this. Instead, she picked up the teapot and slowly poured tea into her cup. After taking a mouthful of black tea and gulping it down, she frowned. She usually put plenty of sugar into her tea, but she must have forgotten. With a sigh, she spoke.

“With this, you should have figured out who made this macaron, right?”


I didn’t even know the number of patissiers in this shop or their names, so how could I figure out who the so-called suspect was? Trying to get the answer at this point was hasty, or rather, impossible. Ah, since Osanai-san is well-versed in these matters, I suppose she could have a list of patissiers working here. But on second thoughts, this was supposed to be her first time here, and in the first place I didn’t have anything at this point that allowed me to assert the existence of such a list.

Seeing me in confusion, Osanai-san tilted her head in astonishment.

“What’s wrong?”

“Well, umm… the person who made the macaron is someone I don’t know, right?”

“…Didn’t I give a lecture just now?”

With a hard-sounding clink, she placed the teacup back on its saucer.

“The ring was placed in the Kogi, which is representative of Patisserie Kogi’s founder, Kogi Haruomi. When giving something as meaningful as a ring, you wouldn’t choose a sweet that bears someone else’s brand name. Of course, the person who wanted to give the ring is Kogi Haruomi… Think about it, Kobato-kun. If someone else did that, they would be giving the ring in a macaron with the name of their boss. That’s absolutely impossible, don’t you think?”


“H-Hang on.”

I tried to argue, even though I knew it was futile.

“Isn’t Kogi Haruomi in Tokyo?”

“Kobato-kun, Kogi Haruomi’s workplace is certainly in Tokyo, but the Shinkansen exists. He can come to Nagoya whenever he needs to.”

My argument was easily kicked to the curb.

With the peeled Kogi still in her hand, Osanai-san stared at it fixedly.

“If Kogi Haruomi came over, it becomes plausible for the Kogi macarons to be sold here in this Nagoya shop, even though they have not prepared the materials for it. If they can’t be made in Nagoya, they must have been made in Tokyo. I think Kogi Haruomi brought the macarons to sell them in his new shop, even for just a while. He isn’t here right now due to something else, like negotiations to buy the ingredients for Kogi, or some other pressing matter, and he’ll probably be back by closing time to give the ring to the person he’s interested in.”

“So his main motive for coming to Nagoya is to give someone the ring?”

“He could have come here mainly to eat hitsumabushi21, though…”

She was basically saying that giving the ring was just one of the possible reason he could have for coming to Nagoya.

Osanai-san’s opinion that Kogi Haruomi is the only patissier who would give a ring using a macaron with Kogi in its name is a theory that my way of thinking can definitely never reach. Although I had complicated feelings about it, I had no choice but to agree with her. Now that things had come to this, the deduction we’d developed was approaching the main dish.

In other words…

“So, why was the ring put on your plate?”

That could also be easily seen to a certain extent if we strengthened the foothold we had on the information thus far.

“If you think about it normally…”

Osanai-san started.

“It was to prevent Kogi Haruomi from giving the ring, to thwart his love.”

“Love, huh…”

With that keyword in the picture, the involved parties would often act without reason, causing it to be difficult to make deductions and leading to disappointing results. This might be a little troublesome. That said, I would resent throwing it all away at this point, now that we had come so far, and we still had to deal with the ring. With a short breath, I raised a point.

“If someone wanted to thwart his love, they could have just stolen the ring. So why did they put it on your plate? By putting it on a customer’s plate, they could find themselves in a sticky situation.”

A wordless nod followed.

“It’s good that you noticed, but if you’d just swallowed it down, it would be a case of foreign object contamination. That’s a fatal blow to the reputation of a shop that just opened, and if it makes the news, the main store in Tokyo could be in danger as well. Would it be unthinkable that the culprit’s main motive was to destroy the shop, rather than to get in the way of Kogi Haruomi’s love?”

As expected, Osanai-san didn’t say anything, instead taking two spoonfuls of sugar from the sugar jar and putting it her teacup. As if stalling for time, she slowly stirred the contents of her cup, brought it to her mouth, then gently smiled, showing that the tea suited her taste this time.

“Certainly, there would be a big commotion if someone ate the ring macaron.”

She said, then put down her cup.

“But it’s a fact that I didn’t. In fact, I think that even if someone else had gotten the ring macaron, they wouldn’t have eaten it either. Hardly anyone would happily put a fourth macaron into their mouth when there were only supposed to be three.”

I’d thought that Osanai-san would, though… But now that I’d directly witnessed her choose not to, I was starting to feel a little guilty for holding such a prejudiced view of her.

“If the culprit wanted to make a customer eat a macaron with Kogi Haruomi’s ring in it and bring the shop down, they would have had to swap out a Kogi on someone else’s plate. If not, they should have at least switched one of the three macarons out. Yet all the culprit did was to add the ring macaron onto the plate as a fourth macaron.”


“That’s too easygoing of them.”

Her voice sounded somewhat gloomy as she uttered those words.

“So, should we think that the culprit’s goal lies solely in thwarting Kogi Haruomi’s love?”

But Osanai-san firmly shook her head.

“If they really wanted to interfere with that, they didn’t need to go out of their way to put the ring macaron on a customer’s plate. It’s a lot more efficient to simply remove the ring from the macaron and take it away. Better yet, ignoring it entirely could have gotten them a perfect result, but they chose not to. Putting the ring macaron on a customer’s plate could cause all sorts of trouble, but also allows for a higher possibility of the ring ending up back in Kogi Haruomi’s hands. It’s like they were leaving an out for settling things amicably.”

A ray of light reflecting from somewhere wandered on top of the table.

“The culprit chose a method that would deal damage to Kogi Haruomi and the shop, so I think they hold ill will towards both. However, that enmity doesn’t go so far that the culprit wants to utterly crush those targets and make them unable to stand up again. It’s ambiguous, lacking in resolve and childish, like that of an unreasonable child.”

Her analysis was close to the points I’d reached with my deductions.

“The culprit had little to no deniability. Since the waiting room is limited to employees, if some trouble does occur an investigation is conducted into who served the ring macaron to a customer, their handiwork would be eventually exposed. They either didn’t think it through and impulsively placed the macaron on a customer’s plate, or it was a self-destructive act, and they don’t care even if they get found out. I was thinking that it was more likely the former, but if it is the latter, that matches with your view of the culprit as an unreasonable child.”

After saying all that, I took a short breath and gave a gentle smile.

“By the way, the person Kogi Haruomi was trying to give the ring to is probably Ruriko-san. What was her full name again?”

“Tasaka Ruriko, the right-hand man of Kogi Haruomi. Yep, I think so too.”

That’s because the manager of this shop was none other than Tasaka Ruriko. Just as gifting the ring in a Kogi macaron was befitting of Kogi Haruomi, Tasaka Ruriko was the only person suitable of receiving such a Kogi. The culprit undoubtedly harbored ill-will towards the two of them.

Now, then.

With this, we’d deduced the answer to two questions: why the number of macarons on Osanai-san’s plate had increased, and why the ring macaron was among them. Thus, I was thinking that the best way to deal with the ring was to hand it back to the culprit while acting like we weren’t involved in it at all. We could also return the ring to Kogi Haruomi, but he didn’t know us, and it would be troublesome if he accused us of stealing it. Passing it to an employee might cause us to incur groundless suspicion, and more significantly, could lead to Kogi Haruomi and Tasaka Ruriko’s relationship being exposed. Considering that it could be a part of the culprit’s motives, we should refrain from doing that. Finally, leaving with the ring… simply does not suit petit bourgeois like Osanai-san and I.

I spoke out.

“The culprit is a person who can freely enter and exit the employees’ waiting room, but is not an employee at this shop. Or at the very least, they are not working today.”

Osanai-san nodded.

“You’re right, no matter how well they avoid being seen by you, it’s difficult to think that an employee would go out to the floor22 wearing a uniform and put a macaron on my plate. But is it impossible for a waiter already serving customers to have done it?”

The events at that time were etched in my memory.

“When the clock rang, the waiters were on the other side of the showcase. None of them would have made it to our table unless they ran over, and if they did, I would have noticed. Furthermore, there is no way they can hold onto the macaron for a long time while working. The aprons they wear have no pockets, after all.”

Seemingly satisfied, Osanai-san did not respond.

“The culprit knew that Kogi Haruomi would come to Nagoya today. Also, they knew that he was bringing the ring over, or at least suspected that he might.”

“What about the ring in the macaron?”

“They might have known from the start, but we can’t rule out the possibility that they found the ring in the macaron while looking for it. Actually, even if the culprit didn’t know about the ring within the Kogi, they seemed to know that Kogi Haruomi is a person who likes romantic acts like that.”

With what sounded like a groan, Osanai-san put a finger on her lip.

“They must be someone pretty close to him, right?”

“Exactly. Is there perhaps a female employee close to Kogi Haruomi besides Tasaka Ruriko?”


Osanai-san yelped.

“You have an idea of who it is?”

“No, not at all. I was just a little surprised since I was thinking in a different direction. Sorry, please continue.”

I was curious about the different direction she was talking about, but I continued as prompted.

“Alright. Erm, additionally, the culprit is either still on the floor, or is in a position that can see all of it. They want to watch how the situation progresses, and more importantly, if we go by your theory that the situation was designed such that the ring would eventually find its way back to Kogi Haruomi’s hands, the culprit has to keep a lookout to ensure that the ring does not actually get stolen.”


“The culprit is alone. If there were two culprits, they wouldn’t have resorted to a strategy as unreliable as the musical box time signal. They should have been able to draw my attention in a more certain manner.”

We were finally nearing the end.

I quickly looked around the shop. Only three customers were alone.

On of them was a slightly plump middle-aged woman wearing dark clothes and a necklace made of big pearls around her neck, and was digging into a Mont Blanc using a spoon with evident satisfaction.

There was also a female student, though I had difficulty telling if she was in middle or high school. She had her compact open and seemed to be absorbed in adjusting her bangs.

Lastly, there was a man who looked like a salaryman facing a notebook, with one hand on an iced coffee that was almost finished.

The three of them were all relatively close to our table. If I had to say, the middle-aged woman was a little further away, and the Mont Blanc seemed like it had just arrived, but I had no confidence to completely rule her out.

“We should think of some conditions for the process of elimination.”

I suggested, but Osanai-san looked straight at me and put on a slightly forced smile.

“Thank you, Kobato-kun. The information we’ve piled up thus far is enough. All that’s left is to give it a nudge.”

Pushing back her chair, she stood up and walked out to the crowded patisserie floor, the ring macaron in one hand.

The table she stopped at was the one with the female student. Even without needing to strain my ears, Osanai-san’s words were audible.

“You must be Kogi-san… I think pranks are no good.”


The girl who joined our table introduced herself as Kogi Cosmos. Her given name was apparently written with the same characters as that of the garden Cosmos23, and she was in the third year of middle school. She had frizzy hair that was dyed hazel, and her freckled eyes were big, but they were currently looking down at the ground weakly. Going just by appearances, Osanai-san would look like the younger one no matter how much favoritism you showed her. However, strangely enough, in this scene, I could only see Osanai-san as the high school student and Kogi-san as the middle school student.


Kogi-san started, then paused, seemingly tongue-tied. She took a deep breath before continuing.

“How did you know?”

“Because you were eavesdropping on us.”

Osanai-san sharply accused.

“From just now, some reflected light from a mirror has been wandering around on the table and on Kobato-kun’s face, and it was really distracting. Kobato-kun worked hard to deduce that the culprit who left the macaron would be peeping at us to see what we do with it, so I immediately figured out that they were looking at us with a mirror. On top of that… you gave a start when I stood up, didn’t you?”

Her instinct and initiative were certainly beyond my ability. Kogi-san looked like she was about to cry, and her shoulders were shaking.

“I’m sorry.”

“Why did you do this? It’s your father’s ring, isn’t it?”

As I heard Osanai-san’s words of admonishment, I realized what she’d meant by “thinking in a different direction” regarding the culprit. I’d thought that the person trying to interfere in Kogi Haruomi and Tasaka Ruriko’s relationship was someone working at Patisserie Kogi, envious of the trust and love between them. However, Osanai-san had been thinking about Kogi Haruomi’s family with those same conditions. Someone who knows his personality, has a grasp on his schedule, and perceived that he wanted to give the ring… It made sense for the possibility of that person being family to be high. Not seeing that was a failure on my part.


Kogi-san began with a weak mutter.

“…He always kept his wedding ring with him, even during work. He must really cherish Mother, I thought… but not half a year after she left, he opens this store and names it Kogi Ruriko, which is unbelievably terrible! He said he was going to Nagoya even though he wasn’t taking the day off, so I thought that he must have another reason… I had already greeted the staff here when this store opened, so I claimed to be collecting something that Father had left behind, and got into the waiting room.”

Her timidly wandering gaze would sometimes be drawn to the ring, but would leave soon after.

“I found a box in the fridge containing a macaron, and since it was a Kogi, I opened it thinking that it was a gift for that woman, only to see a ring inside… Mother suffered so much with her illness, but to think that he would date another woman right after she passed away… I, I thought that the shop should be destroyed, and Father should be humiliated…”

“So, why did you choose me?”

Osanai-san asked in an extremely gentle voice. Kogi-san raised a finger and pointed it at me.

“I haven’t seen that uniform before, so I thought the two of you are not students from a nearby school. And if you didn’t know about this area, you would be shocked and turn around during the time signal. Also… adults would probably just steal the ring.”

In other words, Osanai-san and I were singled out because we were customers who seemed like we wouldn’t run away with the ring. Does she have a discerning eye, or were we simply looked down upon?

Osanai-san sighed.

“…I see. So, you can make sweets too?”

The sudden question caused Kogi-san to blink.

“Eh, ah, yes. My father taught me on his days off…”

“Oh, you’ll have to let me try some next time, then. I’ll forget what happened today.”

Osanai-san retrieved a notebook page and ballpoint pen from her bag, wrote down her mobile phone number and passed it to Kogi-san. As she read the series of numbers with her eyes wide open as though she was looking at an undiscovered archaelogical find, Osanai-san handed her the Kogi containing the ring.

“I get your reason to be angry, but it’s no good to bring other people into it. You should first properly talk to your father. You understand?”

Kogi-san nodded multiple times.

“Yes… Um, thank you for stopping me.”

“It’s fine. Now go, it’s late for a middle school student.”

Protectively cradling the ring macaron, Kogi Cosmos left Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko, turning around and lowering her head every few steps. As I saw her back finally fade from view, I spoke.

“You were pretty kind back there.”

Although Kogi Cosmos had disrupted the macaron time she’d been looking forward so much to, Osanai-san did not lay a hand on her. I’d been thinking up all kinds of strategies to stop her if she tried starting something, too.

“I thought you would definitely tell her.”

“What about?”

She replied languorously.

“That Kogi Haruomi didn’t start dating Tasaka Ruriko when that girl’s mother passed away.”


The fact that she wasn’t surprised meant that she was also aware.

According to Cosmos, Kogi Haruomi always wore the ring on his body, even while he was working. However, Osanai-san mentioned that she had never seen a Japanese patissier wear a ring while working. Putting the two bits of information, as well as the lecture I’d received on the high-speed train, I could see one answer… Kogi Haruomi put his wedding ring on a necklace, and wore it around his neck.

But that necklace was not present in this January’s photograph of Kogi Haruomi, taken eight months before today, and in that interview he announced that the name of his new shop would be Patisserie Kogi Annex Ruriko. In the world of western sweets where many patissiers hone their skills at famous shops and subsequently strike out on their own, inserting Tasaka Ruriko’s name into a store name was, as Kogi Cosmos said, meaningful. For some reason, he seemed to be absolutely certain that Tasaka Ruriko would belong to Patisserie Kogi for a long time. It was probably at that time when he stopped wearing his old wedding ring and started preparing for a new one.

Not even half a year had passed since Kogi Cosmos’ mother passed away, so it meant that Kogi Haruomi was already thinking of his next wife two months prior to that. It would have been a painful inference for Kogi Cosmos.

With sluggish finger movements, she lackadaisically brought her black tea that should have gone cold already to her lips.

“I was aware of that, but…”

She let out a breath.

“That girl didn’t do anything bad to me… and anyway, I’m kind to my juniors.”

I let out a dry chuckle, and imitating Osanai-san, lifted up my teacup. Since I had been talking for quite a while, I poured some lukewarm tea down my parched throat.

Finally, there was a question I wanted to ask, though it might be a little mean-spirited.

“So, Osanai-san, are you disillusioned with Kogi Haruomi?”

Extending her thin fingers, she gradually picked up the green macaron.

“Of course not… you should know, right, Kobato-kun?”

As the awaited macaron touched her lips, Osanai-san broke into a graceful smile.

“Rather than someone else’s love life, I’m more interested in these macarons.”

Contents | Next Story

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  1. A term for clouds made up of rows of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds displaying a rippling pattern similar in appearance to fish scales.
  2. An elegant town that looks European, with Parisian-style streetscapes and a miniature version of Venice, with a canal and gondola. It is apparently a mecca for sweets lovers.
  3. A stylish, Brooklynlike quarter of brewpubs, coffee roasters, and gourmet delis in Tokyo.
  4. An international style of art, often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers.
  5. French strawberry cake that consists of two layers of sponge cake and whipped cream.
  6. A French cake made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee French buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze.
  7. A dessert of sweetened chestnut purée in the form of vermicelli, topped with whipped cream
  8. French for banana.
  9. Fairy-tale-like
  10. Apparently, pouring tea from high up can lower temperature and introduce oxygen to the liquid, which can change the taste of the tea.
  11. The Japanese version of a Slovakian folk song, Horela lipka, lipka.
  12. It’s a children’s song called The Magic Pocket. Here’s a video if you’re interested.
  13. As you should know, this means chestnut in French.
  14. Osanai uses the terms 走り and 名残 which in this context mean “early-in-season” and “late-in-season”. I translated them literally here because they are special terms, but I don’t know the culinary equivalent in English. If you do know, please write a comment or send an email.
  15. Wheat is 小麦 (Komugi) in Japanese.
  16. Saying that a person is “not to be underestimated” could also carry the connotation that they are treacherous.
  17. Also known as the macaron’s foot or crown.
  18. Also known as piping bag, it is a cone- or triangular-shaped bag that is squeezed by hand to pipe semi-solid foods by pressing them through a narrow opening at one end often fitted with a shaped nozzle.
  19. Also known as a King Cake, it contains a figurine said to represent the Christ Child hidden inside. After the cake is cut, whoever gets the figurine wins a prize.
  20. Usually coins are put in to bring good luck to the person who finds it, but a ring brings marriage to a single person while a thimble curses a single woman to stay single for the following year.
  21. Grilled eel on rice, but eaten in three different ways, the first plain, the second with condiments and the third with dashi broth or green tea.
  22. Not sure if this is a common term, but it refers to the designated dining space in a restaurant where customers are seated.
  23. Also known as the Mexican aster, it is written as 秋桜 in Japanese.

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