「Good morning. Everyone’s already here.」
There are 4 guys seated in the dining area.
They look like they’re all between 45 and 60 years old.
They’re older than I expected.
They look at me with surprise since they haven’t seen me before.
「Are you injured, Pistachio?」
「The Underground Sweets is a gathering of men who stay away from the public eye. We don’t use our real names. We use codenames related to sweets instead since it’s convenient.」
But why Pistachio?
That’s a really weird naming choice.
「I apologize. As you can see, I am indeed injured. As such, I would appreciate it if you could allow him to participate just this once.」
「In that case, it can’t be helped. We hope you will keep everything here a secret.」
「But of course. Please call him…… Pecan Nuts.」
That codename sounds really stupid.
I try to resist, but Mizuhara says it’s just for today.
「I see. Nice to meet you. I’m Microwave, and I’m the president.」
Microwave is 60 years old, at the sweet spot for a middle aged man.
He has a mature and respectable aura.
「And this is my management team. On the right is Ice Cream, followed by Cake, Sorbet, and Malt.」
[1. TL Note: Malt is Maruta-san.] They’re all names related to snacks, but they all sound cool.
And one of them sounds too close to home.
「I really don’t like it. Give me a different codename.」
「Like what, for example?」
「I can’t think of one right now…」
「I think it fits you perfectly though.」
「Here, here. Mizuhara-kun, Noda-kun, stop fighting.」
Maruta-san tries to mediate.
He just called our names out of habit. I don’t think there’s a need for codenames anymore.
「Now, let’s talk about what to publish for the press report while exchanging information about sweets, as usual.」
Everyone opens their laptops and sends information to one another.
It’s just like an important business meeting where everyone needs to be on the same page.
I open the snacks I brought here and arrange them as requested.
Among these snacks, there are also limited edition snacks I always wanted.
As if detecting my excitement, Microwave offers some to me.
I’m moved by his unexpected consideration, and eat the limited edition marron cake.
「Is this… the work of a god?」
The sweetness of the marron’s astringent coat and the refined taste of whipped cream are a wonderful combination.
It’s so light that I almost wonder if the sponge is made of clouds.
That fluffy feeling lasted only for an instant, but the deep impression on my tongue lasts forever.
「Enjoy this too.」
「Thank you very much.」
Ice Cream hands me a daifuku from a store I don’t know about.
[2. TL Note: a daifuku is a rice cake stuffed with sweetened bean paste.] I take a bite and almost get on my knees.
「This is to die for…」
There’s green tea cream beneath the skin of the puffy daifuku.
It’s stuffed with green tea cream instead of sweetened bean paste.
The taste is very rich, but it’s not too sweet so I can eat a few at once.
I groan over the tastiness at the next table so I don’t disturb the board of directors’ meeting.
「Would you like to try this too?」
「Thank you very much!」
This time it’s 2 different bottles of jam.
Cake hands me some crackers as well.
An image comes to my mind.
Fresh fruits harvested from an orchard are glistening on a platter, carrying the blessings of the earth with them.
They’re boiled in a pot and poured into bottles.
The bottles themselves are cute too, now that I take a closer look.
The exterior is marvelous, not to mention the inside as well.
I wonder if I’m the only one who’s at a loss for words in this situation.
「…Try this too.」
「Oh! Thank you very much.」
Sorbet passes a sweet potato to me while I’m still enjoying the lingering sensation of the jam.
I take a bite.
「I’m glad I was born.」
I think to myself deeply.
If I die now, I think my last memories will be of Dad and Mom, followed by this sweet potato.
The custard cream in the sweet potato matches too well with the potato itself.
I hold back from the overwhelming sensation, but I think I would jump for joy if I were at home.
「You’re being a distraction.」
「Huh? Me? …Sorry.」
For some reason, not only Mizuhara, but everyone else is also looking at me.
I thought I was hiding my expressions, but I might have let out some of it.
「It’s fine. Watching a young girl enjoy eating sweets is surprisingly fun too.」
Everyone nods in agreement with Microwave.
It was a mistake to try and fool people older than Dad.
It was useless trying to act and dress masculine too.
They don’t look angry over the fact, so I relax and enjoy the sweets in relief.
I help Mizuhara by performing menial tasks such as pouring black tea, cutting cakes, and gathering trash.
My only other task is eating snacks, so I’m happy.
I’m really satisfied from being accepted by the Underground Sweets Conservative Committee, and from receiving snacks such as the remaining bottled jam.
「You were enjoying yourself a lot.」
「Yup. It was fun and the snacks were delicious!」
I stuff Mizuhara into the taxi and head to the nearest train station.
It’s for a blind date that Chii-chan helped me set up.
I forgot that on top of the men’s clothes, I was also wearing real men’s makeup that I learned to put on in drama club.
Nothing good came from wearing those clothes and makeup to the blind date.