14 – First Day of Work
Its morning, 3 people are walking through town.
Cashew was nervous.
「I havent come to this neighborhood before…」
It was the street that leads to the Demon King Castle.
When you go somewhere for the first time, you cant help but glance here and there, right? I get it.
But Cashew got lost doing that.
Milla and I walked a short distance and by the time I had noticed that she was no longer by my side, she was quite a distance behind nervously standing still. I was getting impatient.
Thats right. Sometimes children get distracted by something and break away from their parents side and stand still to see the scenery.
However, the child might run off the right path immediately after being asked nicely by the mother.
I have to be careful.
Even if I tell her to act her age, Cashew is still only a little girl.
After thinking it over, I go to call her to come back.
Her face was filled with relief for a brief moment when she found me, then she was apologizing as she approached me while crying large tears because she thought I was gonna be angry with her.
「Its alright, Its my fault as well. From now on, this is going to be our way to work, and youre looking at so many things and worrying about how youre going to remember the way to get there, right? Youre able to contemplate it, Im also contemplating it. Thats all. Im not angry, so dont worry about it.」
「Ill do my bwest! P-pwease dont fire meeeee!」
She says as she clutches onto me.
My pants get soaked with Cashews tears, but more important than that, I want to stop her tears.
Her cloudy expression is making me feel terrible.
Being only a child, she somehow thought what happened just now would be treated as a failure and now shes afraid that she might get fired before she even starts work.
I was a little lost at what to do, so I gently reached out my hand towards her head.
This is different from patting her head as a customer, Im her boss now! I kept arguing with myself on whether or not this was the right thing to do!
Her mother asked me to take good care of her, Im basically her guardian, it should be fine, right? But!
She might think its too intimate and says she hates it now! Or something, maybe.
Gently, between her ears, my hand touches her head.
Her ears twitch upright, all the tension leaves her body. But shes still not letting go.
I gently caress her fluffy hair.
Cashew gently lifted her head. She looks at me with her tear-stained face.
「Its alright, everybody makes mistakes. The important thing is to not regret and to not be afraid, instead think about how youre going to avoid those mistakes the next time.」
I pull out a handkerchief and wipe away her tears. I did think a little if it would be better if I just handed her the handkerchief, but she probably would have refused it.
「Im not fired?」
「Id be in trouble if you werent there, Cashew.」
「Very much so. Youre my secretary after all.」
Cashews eyes glittered and shined as the image of a capable woman dressed in a smart suit popped into her mind. Some children admire adults like that.
The way children can switch their emotions so fast really is their strong point, I thought.
「Uh, uhm, Lem?」
「What is it?」
「Im sorry I got lost.」
「And Im sorry that I lost sight of you.」
And with that, this little matter is over.
「A-Also…Lem. I thought about it.」
「Hm? Ah, about how to avoid making a mistake the next time?」
Cashew nods her head a few times.
Amazing. I wonder if this is the pliability of a childs reasoning. As soon as they understand what was said to them, they put it into practice.
No, its probably because Cashews a clever and good girl.
I wonder if shell say「Ill be careful!」without looking away. An answer like that would deserve a gold star.
But for some reason, shes wagging her tail and her face is bright red.
「Hm…?」I wonder, as I await her answer.
She takes my outstretched hand into hers.
…Ah, I see. That would certainly be a solution.
「Its OK, Cashew. You can tell me.」
「If, we, hold, hands…I, wont get, lost…I think」
Cashews face goes as red as a boiling kettle.
I bet that took a lot of courage to say.
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To an adult no less. Not that I consider myself an adult in any way.
I take her hand and grasp her soft fingers.
「Yes. With this, you definitely wont get lost. Truly an exceptionally effective solution, Cashew.」
Cashew smiled with her whole face.
Her cheeks, slacking loosely.
Cute. Incidentally, I entrusted all the fruits that I bought from Blitzs shop with him. Milla told a subordinate of hers to carry them. I should thank that person later.
In any case, thats why my hands are free.
「Why dont we take a stroll together when work is over or during our next break?」
「Can we really!?」
「Yeah, Im not used to this street either.」
「Such dedication. If it pleases you, would you like me to guide you around?」
………… No, its not that I forgot about you.
So please, please dont use that kind yet cold tone in your voice.
「Milla. I, uh, I found Cashew!」
I flashed a refreshing smile to her but it had an unnatural twitch to it. It didnt work.
「Yes. I was watching the whole time. I wondered when you would return while I waited. Despite being new, you already managed to hold hands with Lem, good for you, Cashew. Im jealous. Really. Jealous. 」
She softly narrows her now pale and empty eyes.
「On one hand, a promise made to have a date while holding hands on the way to work, On the other, inviting you to go to work together only to be left behind like some sick fetish act. Lem, why is life so cruel? Im on the verge of tears. If I start crying, would you lend me your handkerchief? Or would you leave me behind?」[2. TL Note: Milla actually says 放置プレイ, which is literally “Abandonment Play”, a kind of S&M sexual act]
What, should I say in this situation.
I dont think shes angry, but she isnt being sarcastic either.
You could say…shes sulking? Thats what it feels like.
Shes jealous of a child? Milla is? No, I dont actually know her well enough to be able to tell that much.
「It must be nice, Cashew. How is Lems right hand?」
「U…hm, its warm. And, it has this adult man feeling.」
Cashew answered honestly.
「I see, how wonderful. Will a gentleman ever lend his nice warm hand to me? Is anyones hand free? Right now, my heart is so cold. Even a left hand will do. 」
Milla starts crying crocodile tears.
Not without glancing my way a few times.
Which is it? Is she half-teasing or…does she really want to hold hands like Cashew?
I shouldnt think of unnecessary thoughts. Ill never be able to find the answer in my head.
In either case, I just have to reply.
「In that case, would you like to hold hands? At least until we reach the workplac–ss!」
Before I could even finish my sentence, she snatched my left hand.
I thought she ripped it off but she was connected to my arm. Connected as in, our arms were linked.
Not exactly holding hands, more like my arm and her body were entangled.
That is to say…uhm, my arm is sandwiched. Between something soft. As the Demon King described, two silky to the touch, with pudding-like elasticity, ample things.
I regulate my pounding heart with the sheer force of will.
「Its true. It truly is warm.」
She says as she giggles with utter satisfaction.
It feels like Cashew tightens her grip on my hand. Is it my imagination?
I was expecting to just go to my new place of work today, but now…
On my right, a young but sweet dog-eared little girl and on my left, a voluptuous and beautiful Vampire woman. It became quite a sight.
「Uh, uhm…it should be fine for Cashew, but is this OK, Milla?」
Anyway, I shouldnt get distracted. I touch on a subject.
「Whatever do you mean?」
「Well…this, is it alright if people in the workplace see you coming in linking arms with a man. Id feel sorry if rumors start to spread.」
「Lets let them spread instead. The unnecessary bugs will be a bother to you.」
「Thats right. Lem, please let me know about anyone you talked to at work. Hm? Of course, its a professional necessity. Anyone who talks to you possesses at least a small shred of interest in you. Conversely, it means that they have a reason to answer you if you were to call them. Although you are able to register 72 people, its best to select those who are compatible with you.」
Oh. Thats right.
Milla was only thinking on my behalf.
If there was a woman among the people I talked to, I dont know what Id do if they approached me simply because they are a Black Sorcerer fan. I ended up thinking of something rude.
「Im sorry, Milla. I understand. Ill record the names of anyone I talk to.」
「Yes. Especially the women…I might need to have a good, long chat with them.」
My question was ignored.
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「Ah, we have arrived. Have a look, Cashew. From today onwards, this will be your place of work, the Demon King Castle.」
The Demon King Castle has the shape of a proper castle, but beneath it lies the dungeon. There were underground floors designated for personnel use, free-to-roam areas, the front door area has a receptionist for clear parties, and rooms where the link devices for the Magic Body Avatars are placed.
「Wow, Its my first time seeing it!」
「You cant go wrong with local attractions. Particularly the back entrance here.」
The conversations between the two girls get lively when it becomes about me. In the end, we just went to work.
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