|Author: Kaburagi Haruka||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2579 characters|
|Translator: Mui||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 952 words|
Our lunch got delayed quite a bit that day. But that couldn’t have been helped. We were out searching for a missing person in the morning, after all. Rather, it was lucky enough that we managed to resolve the incident in less than half a day.
Mikey’s mother, Jessica, politely apologized and thanked us after that, so we could have our lunch in a good mood. Thus, we slipped into a nearby restaurant and ordered whatever we liked.
This place was close to the capital, but it was also inside the forest. That is, their local specialties differed. While it was just a random restaurant, it still had many cuisines you couldn’t find anywhere but this town.
I ordered a bitter gourd pork stir fry. I smacked my lips from its peculiar flavour.
“So bitter, yet so good.”
“You know, kids usually dislike that bitter taste. It’s like you have no pickiness, Lady Nicole…”
“Now that you mention it, she liked the bean tea too. Didn’t matter whether it had milk and sugar or not.”
“It seems she likes things both sweet and bitter.”
I still had most of my child palate left, so I liked sweet food. I liked it even in my previous life. But I didn’t hate bitter food either. Its sensation that stings your tongue was good in its own way.
“Nicole, can let me have some of that?”
“Sure, but it’s bitter, okay?”
“I’ll be fiiine!”
Michelle was curious about my food, but as expected, it wasn’t fine at all.
She stabbed the fork in a piece of the bitter gourd, carried it to her mouth and chomped it down like a baby bird. But that spelled the end for her smiling expression. A moment later, her face paled and started twitching all over.
And then, she started sweating profusely… And stopped all movements.
She was disciplined to never spit something out once it was in her mouth. Even so, she wasn’t able to swallow the bitter substance that far exceeded the limits of what her palate could handle. Since she could do neither, she could only endure as it simply continued to violate her oral cavity.
“You can spit it out if it’s too much for you. Here.”
It hurt to watch her like that, so I opened a table napkin and pushed it towards her mouth. However, she shook her head and rejected the offer while trembling. It was a good thing that her parents’ teachings were firmly engraved in her, but they weren’t here now. We could overlook her breach of manners here.
“Uncle and Auntie aren’t here. Come on.”
Seeing the paper napkin, she hesitated for a few seconds, groaned… And finally spit the contents out with a defeated expression.
“Bleh, bleh… That was so bitterrr!”
“You should’ve spit it out sooner.”
“But you’ve been kind enough to share it, so it’s a rude thing to do..”
“I wouldn’t mind something like that.”
“Hah, you are still such a kid, Michelle! Asking for food you can’t even eat!”
Letina started laughing at her while puffing her chest. She was a noble, but still followed us to some run-down restaurant and was eating whatever was offered without complaints, so she was also another oddball in the group.
I kept forgetting about it, but she was the daughter of a Marquis. Still, I wouldn’t allow anyone to laugh at Michelle… Even her!
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I grabbed another bite of the bitter gourd and stuffed it in Letina’s mouth. It was done in a very precise way, so she ended up chewing down on it with the speech momentum.
Naturally, her palate was also childish still. The sudden bitterness had her pale up and she pressed a hand to her mouth. However, her lady pride didn’t allow her to spit it out.
“That’s what you get for laughing at a friend. Here.”
In the end, it was too pitiful to let her go on, so I extended a helping hand by offering her some water. She suddenly snatched it from my hand and gulped the contents down without savouring them.
“That was cruel!”
After taking a breather, she started bombarding me with objections, but those should’ve been my words.
“You are the cruel one for laughing at Michelle.”
“Mgh, well I apologise for that… But still, how can you eat something so bitter.”
“That’s because I’m an adult.”
I declared proudly as if to get back at her. Well, I really was an adult on the inside, so I guess it was kinda cheating.
Finia giggled at our silly exchange. Cortina smiled as well… But it lacked her usual energy. Did seeing Reid leave the lingering effects in her, after all?
While I was contemplating on the matter, Michelle noticed my expression and asked if everything was okay.
“What’s the matter?”
“Mmh. Cortina looks down.”
Getting her name called out all of a sudden, Cortina responded in surprise, but it seemed that even Finia realized that. She addressed her with a slightly worried expression.
“Lady Cortina, you do seem to be a little down… Are you perhaps tired?”
“Naah, nothing like that. If this much was enough to wear me out, adventures would be out of question for me.”
“It’s just been hectic since yesterday. I’m fine, really.”
She waved her hands in denial, but her voice lacked the usual vigour. When she wasn’t feeling energetic, it sort of transmitted to others and made them feel the lack of it.
Since it was like this, not only did I have to refrain from using Reid’s appearance, I even had to think of a way to support her.