“I see.
So that’s what happened.”

“Yes… This morning, I pretended it was nothing, and I didn’t get to see much of Kuromine-kun’s face…”

During calm times after lunch.
In the back of the convenience store.
I was talking to the owner who was doing some office work.
I told them about how Kuromine-kun had hugged me on a recent holiday when he tried to protect me from a car, and how I couldn’t stop my heart from pounding.
And also, about the erotic book.

I kept it a secret that Kuromine-kun was a suicidal man.

“Ufufu, Riku-kun definitely has a thing for Ayana-chan.”

“E, eeeeeeeh!? No, but that’s… I can’t believe that Kuromine-kun likes me….!”

I put my cold hands on my face to cool my instantly hot cheeks.
Maybe this was not a good reaction.
The owner grinned mischievously and continued to follow up.

“A man will not hesitate to give his life for the sake of the woman he is in love with.
In other words, Riku-kun, who tried to become Ayana-chan’s shield, loves Ayana-chan!“

“Ku, kuromine-kun, i, i, i, is……”

“The best part is the erotic book.
Having an erotic book that looks like Ayana-chan means that’s how much he wants you!”

“He, he wants…..He wants me……!”

All kinds of imaginations, which I can’t even put into words, run through my head.
Perhaps it was because the erotic book was working as a pretence, but it made me even more aware of him.

“Ayana-chan, your face looks like a boiled octopus.
You’re really cute.
You’re like a pure-hearted maiden……From the looks of it, Ayana-chan likes Riku-kun too.”

“Eh, no…That’s… We’ve only known each other for a short amount of time……”

“Time is not a factor in love.
It’s your first love!”

“No, no! I don’t like Kuromine-kun…probably.
Besides, Kuromine-kun likes someone else?”

“Oh, is that so?”

“No, that’s…I think he got rejected…“

“Then now is your chance! Help him heal his broken heart.”

“That’s…To take advantage of his weakness…”

“That’s wrong.
I’m saying it once again, help heal his wounds.
I’m sure Riku-kun’s heart is in tatters.”

When he told me that, I remembered how Kuromine-kun behaved at school.

Kuromine-kun was pushing himself so as not to worry Haruka-san.
Even though she was the one that dumped him……That was hard to watch.

The reason for Kuromine-kun’s depression, for a lack of a better word, always seems to be Haruka-san’s involvement.
It was more like Haruka-san was everything to Kuromine-kun.

But that may be a given.

He lost his family in an accident, and he is now a single man in the whole world.
The only person he can truly open up to is his childhood friend Haruka-san.
When Haruka-san rejected him, it is understandable that he became desperate.

“If you are concerned about him, watch what he does.”

“Why?”

“A man wants to act manly in front of the woman he is interested in.
If Riku-kun is acting in a different manly way than usual, then that’s a hope.”

“That’s a hope….”

“Got it? If Riku-kun is acting in a manly way…In other words, showing off his manly appeal, praise him for it.
Give him praise to the point of overdoing it.
And then, get closer to him.”

“Pr-praise him….to shorten the distance……”

“The only one who can heal Riku-kun is you, Ayana-chan.”

“…Only me.”

Love has nothing to do with it.
If I am the only one who can heal Kuromine-kun now, I will try my best.
In the first place, I don’t know if my feelings for him are related to romance.

Anyway, I want Kuromine-kun to get well.
I was now overflowing with that thought.

 

 

“81…82…83…Gu, ughh…Is that my limit….!?”

I remained at Hoshimiya’s house and did push-ups.

Maybe there will be a direct confrontation between me and the stalker.

Of course, it would be ideal to take steps before that happens, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared in case it does.
I don’t think it would be very effective to start muscle training now…

That doesn’t mean I should do nothing.
I want to increase my chances of protecting Hoshimiya, even if it’s only by 1%.
Even if I’m being avoided by Hoshimiya.

“If I knew this was going to happen, I would have done karate.”

Wiping my forehead with the towel I had ready at hand, I picked up my phone.

I wonder if I can learn some kind of fighting techniques.

Instead of taking a break, I was researching on the internet and came across a passionate blog called, “A man’s got to be about fists!”.
It explained something about shadowboxing.

“Fists, huh….Let’s give it a try.”

Referring to the blog, I made a fist in each hand, and held it like that.

“”

It may not look like it, but it may be surprisingly similar.

Reading the blog in detail, I found that the right fist should be placed so that it protects the chin, and that the width of the shoulders and the use of the lower body are also explained.

After reading through the blog, I lightly threw a jab.
Next, a straight.

“Damn, this could be kinda fun.”

———Now here’s a genius boxer in the making.

……Just kidding.

Like a little boy excited by a new toy, I continued to swing my fist enthusiastically.

I was sweating a whole lot, and by the time I realised it, it was around noon.

My shirt absorbed the sweat dripping down, and stuck to my upper body.

“It’s hot.
It’s really hot…”

Let’s just take off my shirt.
I was half naked.

“I’m back.
I’m sorry I’m home so late.
I was talking with the owner——”

“Ah.”

Hoshimiya appeared in the room in sober mode.
She looks at my upper body and freezes.

Apparently, I was so engrossed in shadow boxing that I didn’t notice the sound of the front door opening.

“What are you doing, Kuromine-kun!? You’re half naked in a girl’s room….
and you’re sweating!”

Hoshimiya, her face reddening, angrily hid her face with both hands.

But there is a delicate gap between her fingers.
…You want to see?

”I was doing some strength training and shadow boxing earlier.”

“Why all of a sudden———Oh! Is this your man appeal~!?”

“Men appeal? That’s not my intention at all though.”

“Um, in a case like this…Th-that’s amazing Kuromine-kun! It’s great that you voluntarily do muscle training! I really admire you from the bottom of my heart~! You’re so manly and wonderful!”

“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you? You’re being excessive with your praise…!”

When I glared at her, Hoshimiya said “H, huh? Was that wrong?” What’s that…

I was embarrassed to be half naked in front of a girl, and grabbed my shirt from the floor.

“W, wait! You have to wipe the sweat off before you get dressed!”

“A, ahh.
That’s right.”

“I’ll wipe it off for you!”

“No, that’s——”

Without having time to stop her, Hoshimiya headed to the washroom, returning with a towel in her hand.

“Ku, Kuromine-kun! I’m wiping you now!”

“……”

You’re blushing with embarrassment, but you’ve wasted no time in looking determined……!

I was speechless at the sheer forcefulness (?) and accepted Hoshimiya while standing still.

“Then…Excuse me.”

“…Yes.”

Fearfully, Hoshimiya pressed the towel against my chest.
She began to rub it slowly up and down.
What should I do? I’m getting really nervous.

Why am I having Hoshimiya wipe my sweat?

I can feel my heart starting to race.
I’m sweating even more.

“Sweat keeps pouring out.
Kuromine-kun, are you sweaty?”

This is a different kind of sweat!

That said, I continue enduring it in silence.

“Fuu….Nn….Nn”

Leaking out a somewhat glamorous voice, Hoshimiya wipes me with a towel from my neck to my stomach.

What the heck is this situation……My head is starting to spin.

In an effort to regain some composure, I decided to broach a subject that had nothing to do with the occasion.

“Hey, Hoshimiya.
Where did you put that erotic book from last night?”

In fact, Monmon asked me to return it.
She said she wanted to use it as a reference.

“Ta, talking about erotic books, again!? …Ah, this is man appeal too! Very appealing!”

“Haa? Kado-san is——”

Right after I opened my mouth to explain the reason.

Hoshimiya, her face reddening to the utmost, looked down at my lower body.

“Yo, you’re so strong and healthy!”

“Reverse sexual harassment!? What are you talking about!?”

She was embarrassed to have said it herself.

Hoshimiya’s eyes were teary and her body was trembling.

“I, it’s alright! I don’t need you to wipe my sweat!”

“W, why!?”

“I don’t understand what’s going on with Hoshimiya right now.”

“———!”

Hoshimiya looks shocked, but from my point of view, it doesn’t make sense.

When she came back from her part-time job, she was wiping my sweat off and she gave me excessive praise.

It is natural to feel some kind of conspiracy.

“There are still some things I haven’t wiped off.”

“I’ll wipe it myself.”

“No, I’ll——”

Hoshimiya tries to get closer to me as I back away.

However, she fell on me with her legs entangled and let out a short scream.

I reflexively catch Hoshimiya, but it seems she is too heavy for my body, which is exhausted from the muscle training.

I was pushed down by Hoshimiya.
I hit the floor with a thump on my back.
Ouch.

“……”

“……”

The moment I saw Hoshimiya’s face filling my field of vision, the pain in my back blew away.

Hoshimiya’s sweet breath tickles the tip of my nose.
Her face is too close.

“……”

“……”

Time passes when we look into each other’s eyes and cannot make a slight movement.

The position of our bodies was really dangerous.

Hoshimiya puts her hands on my chest, and pushes me down with all her strength……

Her hot, moist eyes were peering into mine from a close distance.

“………”

What kind of time is this?

In this situation, where my heart was racing to the point of bursting, I could not take my gaze away from Hoshimiya’s eyes.

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