Zich tilted his head. He looked at the white flowers blooming on the roadside and stared at Lyla again. She avoided his gaze.
“Isn’t that such an obvious alias? Those flowers’ names are Lyla.”
“What’s the problem of having the same name as a flower?”
“That’s true,” Zich admitted coolly; he didn’t expect her to easily give him information.
“Fine, miss. Is there somewhere you want to go?”
“…” Lyla remained silent, but the way she kept looking at her surroundings made it seem like she had somewhere in mind.
“…I want to eat something first.”
“Are you hungry? Oh yeah, I saw you stare at that skewered meat for a long time. Do you not have any money?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Yes, that’s also true. I already said that I would pay for everything. Let’s eat something first.” Zich saw people standing in a long line in front of stalls next to the skewered meat shop. Above street signs, different types of food tempted pedestrians to try them. “What do you want to eat?”
Lyla stole furtive glances at Zich and hesitantly stepped forward. It was obvious that she wanted to eat. She went to a stall a bit far off the skewered meat shop and walked to a place where they sold juice made out of various fruits.
“Choose one,” Zich said while staring at a wooden sign written in crooked letters. She mused through the menu and pointed at one item.
“Vocamel? That’s good. It’s sweet and sour. Order two, including mine.” Zich began to take out money from his wallet. Lyla looked at the menu sign for a moment and approached it.
“Welcome!” The stall owner was a friendly, middle-aged woman.
“Could…” She raised her fingers while looking at the menu and spoke in a nervous voice. “P-Please give us two vocamel…”
“Here is the money.” Zich intervened and handed his coins over to the stall owner who happily received the exchange.
“Please wait a moment.” The shop owner diluted the extracted juice pulp with water with just the right concentration and offered them their drinks.
“You should drink it.” Zich gulped down the juice. The sour and sweet smell of the drink was extremely pleasant, and it seemed as if the vocamel was ripe. After seeing Zich drink, Lyla brought the cup to her mouth.
“…Oh?” She expressed pleasure mixed with surprise and gulped down the drink. It didn’t take long for her to empty her cup.
“What? Is this your first time drinking vocamel juice?”
Lyla nodded hesitantly.
“Vocamel is good, but there are plenty of other tasty foods. Let’s visit all the food stalls.”
Zich returned their cups to the stall owner and guided Lyla to their next destination.
* * *
The two finished their meals. They only ate a little bit of each type of food from the stalls to taste as many as they could, but the small portions soon piled up, and their stomachs became full.
“Do you want to eat more?”
“I’m fine.” As if she was quite satisfied, Lyla’s voice sounded more relaxed than before.
“Good. Then, should we move to a different location?”
“…Where are we going?” Lyla was on her guard again. She warily crouched her body like a small animal, and Zich couldn’t help but smirk.
“We are going to buy you some clothes.”
“Your clothes. Are you really going to keep wearing that while we are on a date?”
The robe that covered her from head to toe wasn’t even the problem; the clothes that peeked below her robe were the same things she wore when she first met Zich. They didn’t look very dirty or old, but some parts were ripped.
“I don’t care about clothes.”
“I care, so just follow me.” Zich led her to a commercial district where all the clothes shops were. As expected of a city that made great profits as a tourist city, there were many clothing shops in Violuwin, and Zich took Lyla to one of them. A young shopkeeper greeted them, and Zich went into the shop’s center and looked behind to see Lyla. She glimpsed at the different types of clothes.
“Is there something you want?”
She shook her head.
“Come on, choose something. Oh, and also…” Zich pointed at the robe she was wearing. “You should also take off that gloomy robe. Who wears something like that on a date?”
“Yeah, I know that you are ridiculously beautiful, but are you going to keep walking around like that?”
Next to them, the clerk smiled, thinking that they were simply a lovey-dovey couple. But as soon as Lyla took off her robe, the shopkeeper’s eyes widened in shock, and even Zich couldn’t help but admire her beauty again. Her robe had covered about half of her face, and now that she took it off and her face was in full display, the surroundings seemed to brighten up.
‘This will probably be a fun date.’
“You should pick one and give that to me.” Zich took Lyla’s robe. And although Lyla flinched slightly, she didn’t stop him, nor did she move to pick her clothes.
“What? Are you not going to buy anything?”
The shopkeeper regained her senses and suggested to Zich, “Shouldn’t the boyfriend choose something in this case?”
Zich admired the clerk’s professionalism and nodded. “That sounds good too.”
He went to an area where many clothes were hanging. It seemed as if the shop was devoted to having high-quality products. Then, Zich turned back to Lyla again.
As if she was nervous or wary, her face was stiff, so Zich said jokingly, “Since you refuse to choose your own clothes, you have to try on all the clothes I give you.”
This statement startled her.
* * *
“Hey. Don’t be angry.” Zich waved a fork in front of her. They were in a restaurant. The restaurant was extremely high-end, so only tourists who were of high status or possessed a lot of wealth could afford the prices here. However, Zich had more than enough money to eat in this type of restaurant more than once.
Lyla turned her head. Her clothes were completely different now. She wore a simple and refreshing dress, and a large wide-brimmed hat was placed next to her. She also wore simple but elegant high heels. It was the typical tourist outfit on a tourist site. But the difference between her present outfit and the dark robe she wore before was striking.
“If you'd chosen your own clothes when I told you to, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“…Is that your reason for playing around with me like a doll?”
“No, since you are pretty, you look good in anything. That’s why I got more excited than usual,” Zich laughed shamelessly. Lyla wriggled her hands on the table. She looked as if she wanted to grab the knife and pierce Zich at any moment.
“And it wasn’t only me. The shopkeeper also participated, and you didn’t say much.”
When Zich suggested various outfits for Lyla to wear, the shopkeeper stood still from a distance. But after Lyla changed into about five outfits, the shopkeeper slowly stepped in and outrightly began picking out clothes with Zich.
“I should have also kicked her before I went out.”
“Calm down. In exchange, I also acted like a doll for a while.”
In order to ease Lyla who looked extremely annoyed after changing into ten different outfits, Zich switched positions with her. From that time on, Lyla pushed all sorts of clothes for him to wear.
“But really, that shopkeeper was amazing. She didn’t rest at all and kept handing us more clothes.”
“Yeah, that shop will definitely do well.” Lyla was sure that the shopkeeper’s business smile slowly changed into a sincere one as they bought more clothes.
“But I was able to buy a lot of nice clothes, so it wasn’t a bad experience.” Zich was no longer wearing his slightly dark traveling clothes but a simple and fashionable outfit. It was one of the clothes Lyla picked out. Other than this outfit, they bought several more clothes. This was probably the reason why the shopkeeper had such a bright smile when they were leaving the shop.
They did not have to wait long for the food to come out. Zich and Lyla held their utensils. Surprisingly, they fit very well into the luxurious atmosphere of the restaurant since their looks and outfits were both splendid. Although their outfits were very simple, most of the people here wore clothes similar to theirs since this was a tourist spot. But most of all, they blended in with their surroundings as their table manners were perfect. Zich poured a glass of wine for Lyla.
“So, what’s your identity?”
“Surprisingly, you took your time to ask me.”
“That’s because I knew you wouldn’t have told me in the beginning. We were wary of each other.”
“But I’m still wary of you.”
“Yeah, but it’s definitely better than before.”
Lyla took a sip of her wine. Previously, she would have never even touched the wine glass Zich poured her.
“You drank it? Just so you know, I poisoned it.”
“Oh my. You have a great sense of taste. Poison usually deepens the flavor of a nice glass of wine.”
And this time, she almost gulped down half of the wine in her glass at once. “I’m just making sure, but you didn’t use some kind of cheap poison, right?”
“No way. Why would I do such a ridiculous thing when I’m on a date with a beauty like you? It’s expensive enough to meet your standards.” Zich laughed and began slicing his meat. “But you really don’t want to answer my question?”
“Well, I thought so as well.” Zich stuffed a big slice of meat into his mouth. The meat was well cooked and the sauce was delicious.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” While he was chewing the meat in his mouth, he saw that Lyla was staring at him.
“Are you really Zich?”
“I don’t recall changing my name.”
“You changed your last name, right?”
“To what? Moore?”
“…It could also be something else.”
They both stopped moving their utensils. Zich and Lyla met each other’s eyes. They looked as if they were both trying to figure out what the other person was thinking and what sort of past they were hiding.
“I don’t really want to give an answer to a woman full of secrets.”
“Miss, should I hand you a mirror?”
“A man full of secrets is not charming.”
“But I’m an exception. No matter what faults I have, I’m overflowing with charm.”
“A man full of absurd thoughts is also not charming.”
“Really, I’m such an amazing man for being able to overcome all those faults.”
Their eyes met again. It felt as if sparks were being fired on both sides of the table. Lyla let out a sigh and then began eating again.
“Your last name. If you want to change your last name, I think Brave is better than Moore.”
She gave him a last name out of the blue. Zich curiously stared at Lyla, but Lyla kept chewing her meat without saying anything.
“By any chance, is that your last name? Are you proposing to me? Do you want us to share the same last name so that you can be with me forever? Ah, but just so you know, I’m not such an easy man.”
Zich replied humorously, but Lyla did not reply and continued to eat her meal in silence.Previous Chapter Next Chapter