Right in front of me, Kurumizawa-san was looking at me with concern.
“Nakayama? Is your nose okay?”
A slender hand reached out to touch me.
I bent down in a slight panic and she tilted her head in a puzzled manner.
“Hmm? Why are you being so cautious? Even though I didn’t do anything…”
“No, it’s not like that, but…”
It wasn’t good. I didn’t know what to say.
There was no way I could know how to treat a girl who liked me.
Most of the girls were indifferent to me. Shiho was the only one who liked me… meaning I could return the favor to her. It was only natural for me to do so because Shiho was someone special to me.
But not Kurumizawa-san.
Despite the fact that we only met today and haven’t even had a proper conversation,… she clearly thinks of me in a very special way.
That was kinda unsettling.
Being fond of someone without any reason was a mystery to me.
Humans have a tendency to reciprocate the feelings we’re given… If someone… hates us, we’re more likely to hate them… and if they like us, we’re more likely to like them.
But I can’t like Kurumizawa-san.
Because I have Shiho. I can’t return her sentiment while I’m by her side.
And for that reason, I didn’t know how to treat her.
“Does that mean I can touch you? Then… feel free to touch me as well, okay? I’m not suggesting anything in particular, you know? It’s just kind of… anyway, let me hold your hand?”
Once again, she tried to touch me.
But I wasn’t that insensitive to Shiho’s feelings that I could let that happen.
(I’m sure Shiho would be upset if I laid my hands on another girl.)
I know that.
I can’t be like Ryoma Ryuzaki.
If I were that insensitive guy, I’m sure I could flirt with her without a problem in this situation.
However, I was not him.
Instead, I was a rather sensitive person.
So I still couldn’t accept her feelings…
Once more, I backed away.
Kurumizawa-san’s hand reached out to the empty air, missing me by a hair’s breadth.
“… Do you dislike it that much? If possible, could you tell me why?”
But Kurumizawa-san didn’t get angry.
I got the impression that she was more preoccupied than shocked at what was going on.
She was calmly trying to figure out why I wouldn’t like it. She wanted to know my feelings as much as she was interested in my current position.
It would have been way easier if she had been more emotional.
The way she calmly analyzed me showed how serious she was.
It didn’t matter how long the battle lasted, she just didn’t care.
No matter how much time it would take to reach my heart, she’d say it was worth it.
“Are you by any chance dating someone…? Meaning you can’t interact with other girls?”
She spoke up without hesitation.
I was put off by her courage.
The gravity of her feelings frightened me.
But there was no point in going with the flow here.
Rather than making Shiho sad… I made the decision that I was willing to hurt the girl in front of me.
So I answered honestly.
“I have someone I care about. If I interact with you, I’m sure she’ll be sad… I can’t respond to your feelings.”
If I said that it wasn’t heartbreaking, I’d be lying.
But there was someone I want to prioritize more than anyone else.
And I would do anything in my heart to avoid making that person sad.
I reject her clearly and unequivocally.
But she nodded firmly, as though she knew exactly what I was going to say.
“As I suspected.”
It seemed that she was prepared for this after our previous exchange.
After which, Kurumizawa-san, who was not dejected even in the slightest,… took one more step toward me.
Her eyes shone with a fierce fighting spirit.
“But that’s not the answer I wanted to hear. Tell me, are you dating someone? Is that person Nakayama’s girlfriend?”
“…She isn’t my girlfriend, but she’s as close as it gets.”
I couldn’t lie.
We were not dating yet.
Shiho was in no hurry to develop the relationship, so I’m going along with her.
But it seemed to have backfired against me.
“… Why? If you care about someone so much, it’s normal to go out with them, right? Nakayama cares for that girl so much that he can’t interact with other girls, so… why aren’t you dating her?”
She dug in even deeper, gnawing at me even more.
She picks at the slightest crack in my relationship with Shiho.
“You’ve got it all wrong, Kurumizawa-san,… it’s because I genuinely care about her that I want our relationship to gradually build up.”
And then, I told her why.
I had to.
I didn’t want her to misunderstand me… I explained that the feelings I have for Shiho were by no means light.
But it appeared that even that was only a tailwind for her.
She refused to believe it.
“If Nakayama cares so much for her and loves her so… much, why doesn’t she just accept it? Is it because the love between you two is too heavy and it could break you? Do you want to be loved even more? That’s just selfish, isn’t it? If that’s the case, then why isn’t she trying to fulfill your feelings for her?”
Shiho’s feelings were denied.
At that moment, I felt very disgusted.
You can say whatever you want about me.
But I can’t forgive her for that.
“Even she’s dead serious… about me, and she’s making sure she doesn’t screw up because she truly cares about me!”
My words became sharper.
Any normal girl would be scared of the rough attitude.
But Kurumizawa-san stubbornly looked at me straight in the eyes.
She faced me without fear, and without being intimidated.
“It’s exactly because Nakayama spoils her like that, she’s in the relationship she’s in now, isn’t it? Hey, don’t you really know that too…? She’s just taking advantage of your kindness. That’s just not right.”
Up until now, my relationship with Shiho had been unbreakable.
It was supposed to be a sacred realm, protected for all eternity.
“I can’t forgive that girl for refusing you, who you love so much. Because that’s simply… Isn’t that a stretch? “
But then she cuts in.
She confronted me head-on with the blade of righteousness.