Taking care of my younger sister's too naive of a beautiful yankee high schooler, then falling in love - Chapter 20
The number of years since I had a girlfriend is the same as my age, twenty years.
Because I didn’t have much luck with women, to save my own skin, I stopped looking for a girlfriend while I was still in school.
It's not that I gave up on it completely. I could make a serious effort on it once I became a working adult. It doesn't matter if I don't have a girlfriend now. I just need to meet the one woman I can love for the rest of my life.
So when I hear about the guys around me flirting with their girlfriends, I don't feel anything. Even when I see a cute girl, I don't develop romantic feelings for her.
I thought I had turned off the love switch completely.
However, you never know what is going to happen in this world.
There is no such thing as impossible.
That wonder of the world… I experienced it personally.
A specific day in April.
Early afternoon at the National S University.
The student cafeteria was crowded with hungry students looking for lunch. I was eating curry there to satisfy my appetite.
At the same table were Hoshino and Tokunaga, who were also in the same faculty of education as me, and they were eating curry just like me.
“—Hee, so all the students that Kamijō tutored have been admitted here?”
Tokunaga said to me.
“Yeah. I'm glad they all got into the department they wanted. It was a good experience for me. Thanks for introducing me to the part-time job.”
“No problem. Do your best this year too.”
I'm planning to increase the number of students I take this year. I was motivated to do this for my own studies and also to earn some money.
“Hey, forget something like that, are you coming to the mixer?”
Hoshino, who had been eating his curry in silence until a moment ago, suddenly said with a serious face.
I frowned when he called my important part-time job ’something like that’.
“What are you saying suddenly?”
“The three of us will form a team and work closely together, each of us fighting to bring down our target.”
“That's more like a sport than a mixer.”
I exasperatedly retorted.
“That’s right! Mixers are a sport! One for all! All for one! Getting a head start is unforgivable! FIght to win with your team!”
“What the heck happened to you recently…”
Hoshino seemed unusually enthusiastic about the mixer. As I was repulsed by his enthusiasm, Tokunaga explained to me.
“He was dumped by another girlfriend last month, and recently he’s had a three time losing streak at the mixers he went to. Since it’s unusual for him to not have a girlfriend, he’s being impatient. I told him to take a break since he’s started to get a bit greedy but…”
Hearing this, I said to Hoshino with a serious face.
“Hoshino… You should stop getting girlfriends just to fill your current loneliness, regardless of who they are. You may be satisfied with the fact that you have a girlfriend now, but she may be looking for someone to spend the rest of her life with. Wouldn't that kind of gap in the sense of values for the two of you, cause a rift in your relationship?"
“…You're on a relationship hiatus, but you sound like you know what you're talking about. What is it? What's going on?”
Hoshino stared at me, as if he had noticed my change.
I nonchalantly finished my curry and drank some water. I made sure that my tingling mouth was refreshed, and answered.
“Aah… I didn’t tell you this, but I’ve had a girlfriend since the summer of last year.”
Both Hoshino and Tokunaga said in unison, and stared at me astonishingly.
In the evening.
After classes, I went to a cake shop and bought five pudding a la mode.
They were for my dad, mom, Mana, me, and Erika.
Carefully carrying the bag so that the cups wouldn't tip, I headed home. On the way, I recalled everything that had happened since last summer.
In August, when Erika and I became lovers. Erika had been living at my house all summer, but in September, she went back to her mother's house.
It seems that her mother's lover is still living with her, but Erika is still resolutely fighting. I wish I could free Erika from that house right now, but I don't have the strength to do so yet.
I told her to call me immediately if anything happened, and to come running to my house if anything happened. Then I told her she could stay at my place on weekends.
Erika came to our house almost every day with Runa-chan and Arisa-chan, and returned home around eleven at night. Then, she came to stay with us on Friday nights and went home on Sunday nights.
This routine took us through the fall and winter.
During the winter and spring vacations, she came to stay at my house. So in the past six months, I think she’s spent more time at my home than her own.
When I come home, it has become natural for Erika to be there and tell me ‘Welcome back’. I began anticipating her saying that.
We're still lovers, and we haven't crossed the line yet, but I already feel like we're family.
——When I say ‘family’, I don't mean like a little sister. Of course, it’s my bond with her as my beloved partner.
I arrived home as usual and opened the front door as usual.
As usual, I called out as I headed into the house. When I do this, my cute blonde girlfriend usually comes running. Then she would say 'welcome back' and jump at me…
——I was expecting that, but today was different.
It didn't work that way today.
When I walked in the door, I froze in place.
I was captivated by the person who greeted me.
The first thing that caught my eye was her glamorous black hair.
I didn't realize how much a single hair color could change my impression. Since I had only had the impression of blond hair from the first time I met her, my brain was confused.
“Welcome back… Hey, what do you think?”
Big eyes staring at me. Her cheeks were red, as if she was embarrassed. Her lips were slightly pouting, as if she was getting impatient because I was frozen in place, unable to say anything.
“Eh? Eh? That, but, ehh!?”
I knew I had to say something quickly, but I couldn't get the words out. Because…
——Erika has become a neat and tidy JK!?
She said there was absolutely no way she was going to change her hair to black. I didn't think this would happen suddenly either.
As my mouth flapped open and shut at her transformation, Erika’s mouth twisted.
Did she get mad because I didn't say something decent?
No. Her eyes are smiling.
Erika seemed to be frantically trying to hold in her laughter… but before long, she reached her limit and erupted.
“Ahahahaha! I’m sorry! I didn’t think you’d be this surprised! It’s just a wig!”
“Eh? ………………A wig?”
Erika yanked the black hair off her own head without hesitating. Then, the blonde hair that I’d become used to seeing appeared from under the mass of black hair.
She untied her blonde hair, which she had tied up to hide it in her black wig and removed the hair clip with a click.
In a flash, it was back to normal. Erika appeared, her long blonde hair flowing in the air.
“Were you surprised?”
“I was! Your whole atmosphere changed, as if you weren’t Erika at all.”
“Hmm~? So? How was it? Which version of me do you like more?”
“That… I think Erika would look good in anything, and I like both Erikas. They're both cute..”
I was a little angry that she was teasing me, so I told her how I felt as straightforwardly as I could. As I expected, Erika turned red and clammed up.
Why do you get embarrassed despite being the one to instigate people? You’re just so cute. I really, really want to hug her.
——Aah, I really want to hug her right now.
I want to hug her and tell her how cute she is. I have a feeling that Erika would kick me when she reached her limit of embarrassment, but I still want to hug her.
I took off my shoes and went into the house, feeling conflicted inside.
“But what happened to you all of a sudden? Why did you get a wig?”
“I thought I'd at least make my hair black while working.”
“Hee~? I see, so that’s your way of having black hair without actually dyeing it back.”
“Yeah. They said I could have blond hair, but I didn't want to cause any trouble.”
“Eh? Um, that line makes it sound like you already have a part-time job though…?”
Erika nodded with a slightly bashful look on her face.
“I've been hired for a part-time job. It's a coffee shop in front of the station.”
“Eh!? That's great! When did you go to the interview?”
“I happened to find a job opening this morning, and I was kind of attracted to it, so I went directly to the store to ask for a job. I told them that I had tried to get a part-time job in the past, but it had never worked out… Then the owner and his wife answered me on the spot.”
“I’m glad! I guess the people at the store understood that Erika was really a hard worker!”
Listening to Erika, I couldn't help but feel happy too.
I couldn't hold back any longer.
I hugged Erika with all my might. Erika snuggled up to me as well.
“How did they know I'm a hard worker when we've only talked once?”
“People can tell. That's how it is.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. Well~… You did a great job by not giving up.”
“…Now that I’m in my third year of high school, I want to work hard for my future with Tsukasa.”
Erika let out one big breath and looked straight at me.
“For almost a year now, even before I started dating Tsukasa, I’ve been learning a lot from you. Now I can cook almost anything by looking at a cookbook, and I can clean and do laundry as well as anyone. It’s a far cry from the days when I didn't even know how to hold chopsticks. I can feel the change in myself.”
“Yeah. Erika really did her best. You had the strong desire of ‘wanting to know and learn’. It’s really admirable.”
“Thank you. But I was able to do my best, all because of Tsukasa. You taught me everything you could, and you were good at teaching. And also… you took me to the university festival, took me shopping, and you were good at making me relax as well.”
“I’m happy to hear you say that.”
I smiled, and Erika smiled happily too.
Erika has changed a lot in the past few months, but the biggest change I think is that she has become more mature. She doesn't make fun of other people as much, and has become calmer. I feel that her dignified beauty has been emphasized because of this.
Lately, when I see Erika smiling, my heart becomes restless.
“I'm definitely moving forward for the future that I want. And I've finally found something I can do. I used to be unable to do my job properly at my part-time jobs, but I feel like I can do it now. I'm sure I can be adaptive and do my best.”
“Oo… Erika’s saying four-character idioms…”[TLN: yojijukugo, aka four character idioms, lost in translation sadly, the one he is referring to would be ‘臨機応変’, which basically means to adapt to one’s surroundings as is required.]
“Hey! That’s not the point you should be moved about!”
“Ah, sorry sorry.”
We've been dating for almost eight months now, and every day I fall more and more in love with Erika. Watching her work so hard, it would be impossible for me to lose my feelings for her.
Erika's eyes looked a little moist as she stared at me, and my reasoning wavered…
——I’m beaten. Erika hasn’t graduated from high school yet. I need to have a wholesome relationship with her until then…
I hugged Erika again, fighting against my own decision. After feeling each other's warmth for a while, we pulled apart and our eyes met. And then, as our lips got closer and closer—