What a captivating phrase.
I bet I could eat three bowls of rice with just that. I could probably empty an entire rice cooker. That’s how much I wanted to try Haruka’s cooking.
But in that case, I would be the one who would be treated. This is not the attitude of a salesman who is about to sell a product.
If I were to receive such a reception, I would be inclined to comply with Haruka’s demands!
“And anyway, I will go to the store to buy my own…”
“That… I have a bento for Aoyama, too.”
“Well…! Then, I’ll get dessert for after lunch…”
“I have some fruit, but I also have a dessert for you…”
“Can I at least offer you something to drink…”
“Yes, hot tea.”
No, I couldn’t win.
I gave up and sat down on the bench.
There was no way that I could not eat Haruka’s homemade bento here.
Eating lunch from a store while ignoring the bento she has gone to the trouble of making for me is not a recipe for a loss of favorability. Instead of receiving points for “Love Studies”, the score might be reduced. It was frustrating, but she was still at the top of the class.
She’s a step or two ahead of my thinking…!
Next to me, who was frantically rethinking my future strategy, Haruka took out a bento box, smiling strangely.
“As I recall, Aoyama likes fried food, right?”
“Huh? Ah, yes, but …”
“I’m glad to know that. It’s all there.”
Holding out a bento wrapped in a handkerchief, she offered it to me.
The pink handkerchief had cherry blossom petals embroidered on the edges, which made me strongly aware that this was a girl’s handmade bento.
But more than that, Haruka’s comment earlier made me nervous.
(Why does she mention what I like…? No way, she remembered something from the past…)
I shook my head and chased away my wishful thinking.
(… Don’t be fooled, Natsumi Aoyama. Haruka likes someone else. Then, of course, this must be some kind of a plan. If she’s the top of the class, she should be able to find out what I like in such a short period of time…!!)
While devoting half of my thoughts to bargaining with Haruka, I open the lid of the bento box.
Inside awaited a home-cooked meal prepared just for me.
The standard fried chicken and rolled egg. Potato salad, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. On top of the rice, there are pickled plums and furikake.
“… It looks good.”
“Don’t get your hopes up, okay!? It’s my first experience with cooking!”
“No, it’s definitely good…”
I clasp my hands together and then bite into the fried chicken.
Even though it was cold, the juicy meat juice overflowed in my mouth, and my tongue was filled with a strong umami…
I thought for sure that the fact that the food was home-cooked by the girl I liked was causing me to compensate and my taste buds to go haywire…, but regardless of that, Haruka’s fried chicken was sweet.
(Is this …? Did she use the wrong seasoning? Is there sugar in it?)
If someone told me it was that particular type of food, I would be convinced, but for me, fried chicken is a food flavored with soy sauce, salt, and spices.
I don’t want to eat sweet fried food.
“How is it …? Is it good …?”
Haruka asked with an anxious look on her face.
… Honestly, not my favorite, but it’s the first time in my life I’ve had a home-cooked meal from a girl.
It was also the bento prepared by the “girl of my dreams”, whom I had been in love with for the past five years.
My response was already decided.
“Oh, it’s soooo delicious!”
“Haruka will make a great wife!”
“No, it’s not like that.”
“As expected, Aoyama is the type that delights in a girl’s bad home-cooked food, I’m so glad!”
With a grin and a wicked smile on her face, she takes out an additional bento wrapped in a light blue handkerchief.
Let’s see… Haruka’s is that one, right?
A bento wrapped in a yellow-green handkerchief that has already been taken out.
… That means. In other words.
“Is this another strategy to score points, Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”
“No, I had a hard time deciding. I was wondering whether I should give a properly made bento or a slightly failed bento. You see, boys have a craving to taste a bad bento that a girl has worked hard to make, don’t they?”
“What are you talking about!? I want to eat a good bento!!”
“Really? But it seems I’m getting good scores in “Love Studies”.”
“That’s because I’m feeling nervous in a different way!!”
Haruka was checking her “Student ID card”, and she was doing her best to make sure that she was satisfied with her score. Apparently, it was true that Haruka got a score.
However, there was absolutely no way that I would be excited by a beautiful girl with a beautiful mesmerizing smile, and it seems that I tmisinterpreted the … reactionary nervousness as a ‘romantic nervousness’ on its own.
The “Student ID” system is pretty lax…
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I made a normal one, so eat this one. I’m confident in my cooking skills, you know?”
“I see. That’s good to know.”
“…? Oh, hey. You can leave that one alone. I only made it as a little surprise.”
The first one is the one that was given to me, and I didn’t even listen to Haruka’s warning, and I proceeded with eating it. At first, I was surprised, but considering that’s how it was, it wasn’t inedible.
Basically, it’s probably just a small amount of sugar added in the cooking process. There is no hydrochloric acid instead of salt or salt water instead of drinking water, so it is harmless to the human body.
The girl has yet to know a true mess-meets-beautiful.
“It would be a shame to leave food behind. Besides, that much thought went into the preparation of this bento. It could be considered more heartfelt than an ordinary bento box.”
“Ahh~. Haruka’s cooking is delicious. Is it sweet because it’s filled with love~?”
“Stop it-!! What is this shameful play!? I have confidence in my cooking! Eat this one, this one!!”
“Sure, I’ll eat that one, too. After I eat this one.”
“Myahhh!” Next to Haruka, who was crying and whining like a cat, I was throwing the bad bento into my mouth piece after piece.
I also noticed that my “Student ID” has been ringing in my left hand for some time now.
Apparently, “a boy who eats your bad home-cooked food” is also a point of female interest.’
… Or it is also possible that the “Student ID” is misinterpreting the thrill of shame as the thrill of romance.
“Oh, that wasn’t good. Another one.”
“Ugh… I want to kill you already…”
I receive a bento wrapped in a light blue handkerchief from a teary-eyed Haruka.
The same contents inside, but there was no sugar added in this one.
Fried food is a lot of work to make from scratch, … but the one in Haruka’s bento was clearly not frozen food, and it was well seasoned.
I see. It seems that it is true that she is confident in her cooking.
To be honest, I thought two bento boxes would be too much, but if they are this delicious, I could afford it.
“It’s delicious. This time for real.”
“I’m happy, but … something is … wrong. This hole in my heart …”