“Hey, it’s quiet…”
“Of course, it’s a bookstore after all.”
After that, the woman and I became silent.
My name is Toudou Torako. I was named after the famous Toudou Takatora in hope that I would grow up to become a brave woman but contrary to my parents’ expectations, I became a first-year high school literature girl.
I would never miss my daily routine during the holiday, which is to tour the bookstore until today. However, today was an exception because I’m having a bookstore date with the woman in front of me—Saionji Nozomi-senpai.
I am fascinated by her who is silent and immersed in the world of the book.
Usually, I would be immersed in the book to the extent that I forgot the time but with Saionji-senpai next to me, the book in my hand just seems to be a bunch of words.
Saionji-senpai is the school prince.
Even though she has short black hair, the dignified and well-organized features overflowing with femininity easily surpasses any good-looking men.
And yet, her good family’s upbringing caused her to have well-behaved appearances such as her speech and conduct which is charming. This is shown by the fact that she still uses honorifics with me who is two years younger than her.
At our all-girls school, a person like Saionji-senpai wouldn’t be unpopular.
Especially when Saionji-senpai has a strong tendency to become popular. Naturally, there is the existence of a fan club. Saionji-senpai spends her time surrounded by the school’s students with high-pitched shouts every day.
Of course, it was a confession.
And of course, Saionji-senpai refused.
However, Saionji-senpai is an honest person so she decided on a rule within herself.
That is ‘only date once with the girls who confessed’.
It seems that she will try to go out with the one who made her heart tremble during the date. I can’t say for sure because none of those who went on the date had passed the point.
Of course, almost all students confessed to Saionji-senpai. Therefore, only those who were chosen by the fair lottery have the right to go on the date.
By the way, perhaps I was lucky. I was be able to get the right to go on a date with senpai just six months after enrolling to school.
Among them, there were people who graduated without being able to go on the date. Just thinking about it, it seems that I was really lucky.
After that, it depends on me to grasp this opportunity, I have to do my best……!
“Book. I’ve finished reading it…… Are you okay?”
“Ye, yes! Excuse me, Saionji-senpai!”
I apologized to Saionji-senpai and the people in the bookstore while tidying up the fallen chair. Of course, my voice gradually became smaller as it is forbidden to be noisy in such place.
“You, your reading speed is fast.”
“It’s because I know speed reading. So, which book should I read next?”
“Ye, yes. Next is uh…… How about this?”
Saionji-senpai took the book that I held out and sat in the chair with fluid movement while opening the book with delicate fingers.
The next moment she had already focused on reading the book. Then, she was turning the page. Her reading speed is truly fast.
A strange feeling of competitiveness sprouted inside me who didn’t want to lose as a book lover.
After that, I read the book in silence just like Saionji-senpai.
“Ha, it’s delicious. But is it okay? For you to treat me.”
“Yes. That’s the promise.”
“Sure, that’s right……”
The place had changed from the bookstore to the coffee shop connected to the bookstore.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry to senpai who was drinking black coffee nonchalantly.
One of the common rules for dates with Saionji-senpai was ‘All the expenses during the date will be paid by Saionji-senpai’. Therefore, those who had the right to go on a date with Saionji-senpai would think of the best date plan and come up with various idea to spend money.
Some of them went on trips abroad but I can’t imitate that action since I’m a timid person who feels guilty after being treated to a drink. It seems that those who thought of the plan for trip abroad had a thick face.
I felt that the latte which should be sweet was bitter than the black coffee Saionji-senpai was drinking and I began to talk.
“So, how was it? The book that I recommended.”
“It didn’t really leave much impression on me.”
The immediate reply without any hesitation made my flat chest hurt. One of the rules when on a date was ‘All thoughts are honest and not lies’ but even so it hurts. Both ears and chest.
“If, if it’s okay, can you tell me the reason?”
“It’s okay. Love, maybe it’s because I don’t really understand the thing called love.”
“You don’t understand love…… Is it?”
“Yes. I’ve never liked anyone until now.”
Saionji-senpai moved her hand and lifted the cup of black coffee to her mouth.
The facial expression that had never changed now seems to contain some bitterness
“You’ve never liked anyone…… Is it? Until now, not even once?”
“Yes. Not even once.”
“Saionji-senpai was confessed to every day and you went on a date many times. So, did something move your heart?”
“Nothing. It was fun, I felt something like that but……. How should I say it, it didn’t touch the surface of my heart, something like that.”
My intention was to hear about her thoughts on the book but before I knew it, I had learned something about Saionji-senpai.
However, in the first place, immersing yourself in the world of the book was because there’s something that you empathize with.
In order for Saionji-senpai to enjoy books during this date, I should first dig deeper.
“Saionji-senpai, for example, example, okay? What kind of people or situations made Saionji-senpai’s heart beat faster?”
“My heart would beat faster every time I touch various books. I like books because there is a world that I don’t know so I can’t help but feel excited and my heart would beat faster.”
“A world that I don’t know……”
“Yes. As I recommended during this date, I especially like romance novels. Someone encounters someone, they are attracted to each other and then they are together after going through various turns and twists. However, at the beginning, they didn’t know each other, what kind of person the other is, what kind of world is the other in, it started from the place that they didn’t know.”
Saionji-senpai listened to my words quietly. I spoke out my thoughts in a clumsy way earnestly.
“I didn’t understand what kind of world the other person had when I just started reading books. Even if I finished reading it once, I was sure I didn’t understand it properly. That’s why I read it again and again. I didn’t read it again because I like it, I read it again and again to deepen my liking…… Then, the liking would reach the center of my heart…… It felt like that.”
“Um, I’m sorry. You didn’t understand the meaning. Even if I talked like this…… Ahaha.”
The atmosphere became silent again and it was heavier than during the time we were reading books. I drank the latte which is the best for timewasting when I was talking enthusiastically.
I couldn’t read senpai’s feelings from her facial expression. Just like a blank page, I couldn’t understand it.
“Thank you very much.”
The moment came unexpectedly.
Saionji-senpai thanked me and showed a smile on her face.
“Eh? Wh, what happened?”
“Because you taught me about my stupidity. I didn’t have enough knowledge like you.”
I couldn’t catch up with what Saionji-senpai said.
Surely, she was thinking about various things inside her head, nope, inside her heart while it was silent. That’s why her facial expression was cold but just what does it mean by recognizing her stupidity?
Saionji-senpai answered my doubt with a smile.
“I’ve been receiving a lot of confessions until now and went on dates. The reason was whether my heart would be moved…… There was also that but there was another reason.”
“It was the reason for ‘Once you went on a date, you already knew enough about your partner.’ The people who liked me, those who wanted to go on a date, I couldn’t betray those feelings…… It came from that thought.”
“Is that so.”
“However, I changed my mind after hearing Toudou-san’s words. If I didn’t like it at the first time, if my heart didn’t move, that’s not the real love…… I had agreed on that. It was pathetic. I wouldn’t have noticed if you didn’t tell me.”
I’m sorry but Saionji-senpai seemed somewhat happy even though she talked like that.
It’s as if she had truly met a new world that she didn’t know.
After that call, something wrapped my hands.
Warm, slender and long fingers. Beautiful, delicate and smooth fingers. Saionji-senpai’s fingers were wrapping my hands.
“Please…… go out with me. Not only Toudou-san’s favorite books but also Toudou-san’s various favorite things and Toudou-san’s world…… Please tell me.”
And then—Saionji-senpai, with her voice that penetrates my heart, filled the blank page in my heart with vivid letters.