As I was about to reveal my choice, I was interrupted. A friendly-looking man was walking towards us.
“Heya, Ren Ren! What’s up?”
Huh? Who is this guy? He was a man that was about the same height as Ren but slightly shorter. His hair was a dark brown colour that was about the same length as Ren’s but was shorter and neatly combed. He was wearing a casual outfit of brown joggers and a blue short-sleeved button-up shirt. And despite his warm smile, he… um… how do I put it? He sorta intimidated me…
He talked casually without noticing me.
“So Ren, how are you doing?”
“Oh, I am good, thanks.”
“Ah, splendid! How have things been lately? Is everything good? How’s work?”
“Oh, and Bailey?
“Same as usual.”
“Really? Oh, and…”
We just met with this guy and he’s already bombarding Ren with questions? They’re not harmful or meaningful questions by any means, but there were still a number of them. He’s acting childlike, but isn’t he a bit too old to be doing so? Wait, the girl that ran off and got excited about the first interesting thing she saw shouldn’t be talking.
“Great! And how’s the boss? I’ve… never met him, but he’s great, right?”
“I see! And what about...”
He seems to be rather friendly with Ren, huh? Speaking of which, I don’t know much about his social life. The only thing I know about Ren is that he is smart and polite, works at a well-paying company called Comeffecient, and lives here in the city of Tronito. But I don’t know much about his extrapersonal life…
Maybe I should introduce myself. He sort of intimidates me, but he doesn’t seem harmful.
The man and Ren turned to look at me.
The man looked at me and tilted his head in question.
“Oh… Hello. Hm… Say, are you with Ren here?”
“Y-Yeah, that’s right.”
The man turned to face Ren and put on a playful smile.
“Yeah, of course you wouldn’t be carrying around a bag of women’s underwear for yourself!”
The man jokingly patted Ren’s left shoulder lightly.
“So Ren, who is this girl? Or should I assume you should be arrested?”
I think I can see why you’d assume that, but you shouldn’t!
“Right. This is Camryn, the girl I told you about three days ago.”
So I was a topic of conversation three days ago, huh?
“Ooh, how precise…”
The man turned to me.
“Ah, so you’re Camryn. Nice to meet you!”
“Y-Yeah, nice to meet you too…”
I couldn’t maintain eye contact with someone so bright.
“So, I heard about your situation… You know, you’re very lucky to have met Ren...”
“Y-Yeah. I’m very grateful…”
“Yeah, he’s a hopeless man that’ll stay a virgin for the rest of his life!”
I… see… I... don’t really know how to respond to that…
I chuckled, but it was obvious that it was fake. I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to respond…
I turned my head to Ren, expecting him to be annoyed. And he… wasn’t? Instead, he was showing the same expressionless face. I’m pretty sure this man’s comment was a diss. Maybe he was joking and Ren probably knows it.
“Oh, and you’re lucky that you found someone so… compassionate and caring as Ren. I mean, to take in a poor homeless girl?”
The man turned to Ren.
“Ah, the story is just so heartwarming! I mean, if people heard, they’d be chatting about it for years — a number one highest-grossing film idea!”
Calm down, sir!
Ren was… still showing the same emotionless expression.
After a small sarcastic chuckle, I asked a question aimed at either one of them.
“S-So… Who is this man?”
The man turned his head from me and looked at Ren.
“Wanna introduce me? I mean, you suck at introductions, but go ahead.”
“O-Oh… Sure. So Camryn, this is Connie Capperman. He is an old classmate from high school and university.”
Connie? Is that not a girl’s name?
The man turned again for what seemed like the hundredth time and extended his hand towards me.
“Allow me to add something — I’m an old friend from high school and university. In fact, I’m his best friend! It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Best friend? Um… Judging by Ren’s face, this fact seemed false — they did not seem congenial with each other. But oh well. Maybe it’s one of those relationships that seem one-sided on the surface but is actually not. Hm...
I extended my hand to shake his.
“Um… Y-Yeah, a pleasure to meet you too, Mr Capperman.”
“Oh? Mr Capperman? Nah, don’t you think that’s kinda long? My first name is fine.”
“O-Okay… M-Mr Connie...”
“Nah, the Mr isn’t necessary either. I mean, we don’t have a boss-employee or teacher-student relationship. Just Connie is fine.”
“I see… O-Okay… Connie.”
This man is really warm and inviting. He allowed me to call him by his first name after our first meeting. But… Deep inside, I was still wary of him. Regardless of his attitude, he was still a stranger to me.
Connie turned to Ren.
“So Ren, I take it you’re here for dinner.”
“I see, I see… Then let’s eat together — the three of us. I mean, I haven’t eaten yet either.”
“Sure. Camryn, are you okay with that?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, sure.”
We dove into the sea of tables. Since it was a weekend, it was pretty easy to find an open spot. We were at a table that sat four people, with me next to a seat that held our bags, Ren across from me, and Connie in the other seat.
“Okay! So, did everyone decide on what to eat?”
Connie suddenly asked.
“Y-Yeah. Well, I actually never had anything from here. B-But…”
I turned to point at a restaurant behind me.
“But the food at that restaurant looks good! I’ll try that.”
Finally, the long-awaited reveal of what I wanted.
“Ah, Chinese food? What a coincidence, I want that too! Anything specific?”
“O-Oh? I was thinking about the fried rice and chicken combo…”
“I see… I want the beef noodle soup.”
Wait, why are you telling us your order? Is Ren paying? Sorry, but I can’t pay…
“How about you, Ren?”
“O-Oh? Um… I was thinking of getting the same thing as you…”
Connie tilted his head in question.
“You sure, man?”
Ren seemed a bit hesitant. But isn’t that how he usually talks? I mean, he mostly talked that way to me during our shopping trip…
“Aye, sounds good. Well… have fun!”
“Oh, should I pay?”
“What? Of course not.”
Connie pulled something from his wallet in his pocket. It was a card.
“You heard our orders, right? Can you get them for us? I’ll pay; just tap the card.”
Ren got up and turned to me.
“This will take a few minutes.”
Ren left, leaving Connie and me alone together at this table…