She hesitated for an instant before getting herself back together.
Sakura spoke in a placid tone.
“I don’t understand what you’re getting at.”
If he hadn’t been the wiser, he might have not noticed her wavering, fooled by her excellent acting techniques.
But Taiyou was neither trying to trick her nor make conjectures.
He had conviction, evidence, and he did not hesitate to thrust it at her.
“ ‘Never thought I’d see the day when I start liking the same man as that girl.’ “
She was even more visibly shaken than earlier. There was no going back.
After she gaped at Taiyou for a bit, she finally spoke.
“Eavesdropping…no, that can’t be it.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“Of course it’s because I’m always cautious. I don’t even mutter out loud.”
Sakura lowered her long eyelashes.
“Yes, I did indeed take good care. I could swear I did. There was not a single instance in which I put it into words or even letters.”
She then opened her eyes, looking at Taiyou.
Why, then, had Taiyou known this?
Taiyou answered promptly.
Since he had already approached the issue like this, he couldn’t play dumb.
“It wouldn’t be easy to explain this in detail—-ah wait, you’ve experienced it before so I guess not. You’re familiar with how her power works, then?”
He didn’t bother to ask if she wanted further explanation.
Sakura had known Ruri longer than Taiyou had. Surely she must know more about Ruri’s power and what kind of person she was.
“Would you mind moving away? It isn’t very easy to have a leisurely conversation in this position.”
Taiyou backed off.
Sakura got up, putting her appearance back into order and straightening her posture.
As she did that, Taiyou stared at her. He, too, needed time to sort this out. In a sense, this was like the time when he had first met the triplets. He had been approached, and Ruri had been the one to expose the situation for what it was. It felt very similar.
So he regulated his feelings as he waited for Sakura to begin talking.
“I wonder where I should start from.”
“What I want to know most is when this began, because I honestly have no clue.”
“That makes sense, yes. I doubt you would know such a thing.”
Sakura chuckled. Taiyou felt slightly sullen, feeling like he was being called dull. That wasn’t the case, however.
“I don’t know either, actually.”
“What? You don’t?”
“Indeed, I do not. The only thing I do know is that it was after New Moon-sama.”
Sakura chuckled again. Her smile was the same as before, but this time he could tell it was one of self-derision.
“After all, from the very beginning, I was already astonished at the fact that I liked the same man that she did.”
“Okay, so this was after Youran came to my place.”
“Not quite. After all, New Moon-sama’s heart was already leaning toward you before you began your fierce onslaught.”
“Ah, that’s right. She was pretty stubborn after all.”
“Yes, that she was. Honestly, what kind of parents bring up a kid like that?”
“But it’s actually entertaining how convoluted you two are.”
“You could just be honest, you know.”
“No, I think I’ll leave that move up my sleeve in order to raise my chance of success.”
“In that case, I will wait to see what your move is.”
“But that would mean a zero percent chance of winning.”
“Then in exchange, I will let you know that I have lost from the beginning.”
The one who falls in love first loses…That was probably what she meant.
Kohaku’s wordplay skills that he had learned really came in handy here.
“So there’s no way I would know when this started happening.”
“I’ll change the question. When did you start trying to hide your feelings for me?”
“Now that one I can answer. It was when New Moon-sama first began to call you ‘Master’.”
“Really now…But why?”
“I do not know. But when I heard New Moon-sama calling you ‘Master’, I began to feel quite strongly about it.”
“Well, now that you know everything…What now?”
“What do you want to do?”
“I honestly do not know.”
Sakura smiled in a lonely manner.
“I did intend to keep it a secret my whole life, after all.”
“Your whole life?”
“I do have confidence in that area, I’ll have you know. Acting, self-control, it would have all worked out if that Tengai Ruri hadn’t seen through it with her overpowered ability. Therefore, I hadn’t really consider what would happen if someone were to uncover the truth.”
“Ever fantasized about it?”
“Just plain fantasizing. Not bracing yourself for anything.”
“Are the two things different from each other?”
“I don’t see why not—-yeah, they’re definitely different.”
Taiyou nodded, declaring it with confidence.
“For example, let’s say I have a fantasy of stripping down both Youran and Juurokuya at the same time, getting rough with them all night. That would be a fantasy, because I’d probably never do something like that.”
“Then what about bracing oneself?”
“That would be you being stubborn and not trying to accept your love for me, in which case I could forcibly strip you and at least get your body. That’s what bracing yourself means.”
“So you’re trying to say that it’s the difference between having a desire and acting on it?”
“I think so.”
“How awful. If I had planned on being stubborn, you would have raped me?”
Sakura giggled. She was enjoying this.
That was what he liked about her. She could have fun even with conversations like these, which had been the case even before she had liked him, when they had still been enemies. That was why he had been so disappointed when he had invaded the daimyo mansion; he had wanted to hear the joking he was so used to.
By the time he had realized it, he was fixing his eyes upon her.