Karaoke with the Three of Us!
So, Toru started picking songs with the karaoke remote.
Not knowing how to operate it, he asked Chika, who happily said, “This is how you do it…”
But their proximity was hard to ignore. Chika’s long, beautiful hair brushed against Toru’s shoulder.
“Chika, do you often come to karaoke?”
“Well, yes. With my classmates and all. But I’ve never come with a guy just the two of us, just so you know.”
“I understand. You’ve changed a lot, Chika.”
“Well, I’m still a high school girl! I’m not the same as the Chika who used to be with you all the time.”
Three years had passed since the kidnapping incident. The frail girl who was always by Toru’s side, relying on him for protection, was no longer there.
She was now a student council member, the ace of the girls’ basketball team, the top student in their grade, and the heir to the Konoe family.
Chika was undeniably an exceptional girl in everyone’s eyes.
Chika looked at Toru with upturned eyes.
“But… I sometimes wish we could go back to those days.”
“Back then, you were always by my side, so I never felt lonely.”
“Now, you have lots of people around you.”
“But the most important person isn’t there.”
Chika blushed as she said that, then quickly chose a song, almost as if to hide her embarrassment.
(Even now… I’m still the most important person to Chika.)
This realization unsettled Toru. If Chika was the most important person to him as well…
Even if it was difficult, Toru might have tried to go back to being a …… good childhood friend to Chika and her fiancée.
However, to Toru’s right, there was his fiancée, a Nordic beauty.
Aino looked at Toru and Chika with envy and a hint of unease.
Toru gently placed his hand on Aino’s knee, causing her to gasp softly and then smile.
Aino whispered softly, and Toru smiled too.
As of now, Toru was Aino’s fiancé, so he shouldn’t do anything to make Aino anxious. On the other hand, Chika was his dear childhood friend, and they now lived together.
And Aino and Chika were love rivals competing for Toru’s affection. Toru had to figure out how to handle this love triangle.
However, Aino and Chika seemed to be enjoying their time together as a trio.
Chika chose a popular song by an artist who was currently all the rage. It also happened to be the theme song of a late-night anime beloved by both men and women.
“Konoe-san, you’re so good!”
Aino cheerfully commented from the side, and Chika smiled shyly.
They seemed just like friends.
After finishing the song, Chika was in high spirits.
Aino gazed at Chika with interest.
“By the way, Konoe-san, you sing songs like that too. Isn’t that from an anime?”
“W-Well, is that a problem!?”
Chika blushed, and Aino chuckled, shaking her head.
“No, not at all. It’s just a little surprising. But I love that anime too.”
“Yes. I’ve been reading the manga from before it got an anime adaptation.”
For some reason, Aino said it with pride. Toru found that a bit unexpected.
But Aino seemed to like reading novels, and it wouldn’t be strange for her to read manga too.
“Chika, you used to like manga and anime back in the day, right?”
“I still do. I don’t talk about it much with everyone, though.”
When she was frail, Chika couldn’t go outside much. She found solace in manga and anime that could be enjoyed indoors.
“We used to watch anime together, didn’t we?”
Chika spoke nostalgically. When she was at the Konoe estate, she clung to Toru and tried to do everything he did.
That meant manga and anime might have been influenced by Toru as well.
(I don’t remember it clearly, though…)
“But from now on, I’m the one who gets to read books, watch movies, and anime with you.”
“I-I want to watch anime with Toru too!”
Chika declared without hiding her true feelings.
Aino looked at Chika with an amused look.
“I feel like I could get along well with Konoe-san.”
“Yeah. But I won’t give up Toru-kun, you know?”
“I know that. I won’t hand Toru over to Luthi-san either.”
Sparks flew between Aino and Chika.
Then, Aino suddenly clapped her hands.
“By the way, the clerk mentioned something. They said it might be interesting to have a duet battle. Want to try it?”
Aino seemed to take that suggestion seriously.
Chika mumbled in a flustered tone, “S-Singing a duet with you… That’s so embarrassing.”
Aino tilted her head.
“If Toru-kun is okay with it, I might want to try a duet too.”
“I-Is it okay…? I may not be that good at singing though.”
“Yeah. If it’s with Toru-kun, I’d like to try anything. It’s my first time, so if we’re not very good, we can both learn together.”
Aino emphasized the “first time” aspect, making it sound a little suggestive.
“If Konoe-san doesn’t want to, you don’t have to… But I’ll have Toru-kun all to myself.”
“I-I’ll do it! We’re doing it, for sure!”
And so, the singing showdown between Aino and Chika began…