Chapter 1:

The Mystery of the Phantom Secret Admirer (part1)

The Whimsical Matchmaking Brigade

“February has officially begun!” Mai exclaimed, bursting into the clubroom and kicking open the door wide, drawing everyone’s attention with her sudden entry. The energy of the month spilled into the room as she plopped down into a chair, her gaze sweeping across the other two members gathered around her. Heart-shaped streamers adorned the walls, their vibrant colors swirling together, casting a festive glow. The air was filled with the sweet aroma of chocolate treats, tempting anyone who entered.

Outside the clubroom, the sky showcased a wintry scene. Snowflakes gently fell, blanketing the school grounds in a soft layer of white. The air carried a crisp chill, a reminder of the season’s grip on the world outside.

“The month of love!” Mai continued, her eyes gleaming playfully. “Or the month of feeling bad about yourself and indulging in comfort-eating with chocolate biscuits—I can never tell which it is.”

Mai’s words brought a sudden silence to the room, interrupting the serious discussion between Asano Ryota and Kurono Sato by the clubroom window. The two young men exchanged glances, their expressions shifting from seriousness to mild amusement, acknowledging the lightheartedness of Mai’s comment.

Among the club members, it was an unspoken agreement that there wasn’t much difference between January and February worth remarking upon. Despite being members of the Whimsical Matchmaking Brigade for months, their own love lives seemed to be at a standstill.

As the club president, Mai was typically the first to arrive each day, her infectious smile spreading warmth and excitement throughout the room. Today, however, her smile held a hint of intrigue, suggesting she had something other than romance on her mind.

“So, what have you been up to today?” she asked, turning her attention to the boy sitting opposite her, Asano Ryota. He had a slender frame, sharp features, and neatly cropped hair that framed his face sleekly, exuding an air of calm composure.

Ryota glanced out the window, noticing a group of small birds perched on a nearby tree. Despite the winter season, a few resilient birds still braved the cold, their colorful feathers contrasting against the backdrop of snow.

He tilted his head slightly, a small smile playing on his lips. “You know, the usual,” he replied, his deep, thoughtful eyes meeting Mai’s gaze.

Mai leaned in closer, a mischievous grin curling on her lips. “Well, Little Poirot, I may or may not have stumbled upon a little secret admirer of you.”

Ryota’s eyes widened with surprise, his curiosity piqued. “A secret admirer?” he repeated, his voice laced with intrigue. “Are you pulling my leg, prez?”

Mai leaned back, feigning innocence. “Oh, no, not at all,” she replied teasingly. “I received an anonymous letter earlier today, expressing admiration for your exceptional talents.”

Ryota kept his gaze fixed on Mai, his surprise slowly transforming into a mixture of curiosity and anticipation. Leaning forward, he eagerly prompted, “A secret admirer? Tell me more.”

Deep down, he knew very well that he didn’t possess any remarkable skills worth admiring. He had a knack for conserving his energy, always seeking the path of least resistance, even if he had no plans to use that preserved energy later. It was a trait that both intrigued and exasperated his friends within the club.

While Mai continued the playful banter, Ryota could not help but reflect on her earlier question about his day. When he had simply replied with “the usual,” he meant losing himself in the captivating world of an Agatha Christie novel. Within those pages, the young man found solace in the intricate mysteries and sheer brilliance of Christie’s storytelling. It was within those pages that he felt a spark of inspiration, even if it didn’t translate into tangible talents or actions.

Mai mused aloud, a sly glimmer in her eyes. “What skills did our efficiency enthusiast have in the first place? Well, he is the master of finding the most comfortable chair in the room and has an uncanny ability to choose the most efficient way to avoid unnecessary work.”

Ryota leaned back in his chair, a bemused smile dancing on his lips. “You know, president, I am not all that interested in finding out who this secret admirer is,” he admitted. The mystery surrounding the love confessions of others seemed to pale in comparison to what was going on in his mind, as he was still engrossed in the allure of the Agatha Christie novel he had been reading earlier.

Mai’s playful grin widened. “Oh, I see how it is,” she replied playfully. “You’re not interested, hmm? Well, lazy-kun, I might have to sweeten the deal a little.”

Ryota’s curiosity was piqued again, his gaze shifting to meet Mai’s. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Mai’s lips curled into a devilish smirk, her eyes sparkling with anticipation, and her voice dropped to a whisper as she leaned forward. “I will reveal the identity of your secret admirer, but only if you agree to go on a date with me,” she declared.

As the air in the room fell silent, Ryota’s heart skipped a beat. His cheeks flushed a deep shade of crimson, caught off guard by Mai’s unexpected proposition. He stammered briefly, his mind racing to comprehend the sudden turn of events.

Mai burst into laughter, her glee filling the room and causing the other club member, Sato, to turn his attention toward them. “Oh, lazy-kun, you’re too cute!” she exclaimed, her laughter contagious. “Your reaction is priceless!”

Embarrassed and flustered, Ryota attempted to regain his composure, his blush refusing to fade. “You cannot just spring something like that on me, prez!” he protested.

Mai’s laughter subsided, and she flashed him a warm, gentle smile.

“She’s only teasing you, you simp!”

Sato’s voice interrupted the laughter, bringing a weird vibe to the room. Ryota turned his attention to his friend, only to find a rather peculiar scene unfurling before him. Oblivious to the romantic intrigue surrounding him, Sato seemed to have stumbled into his own world of amusement.

With a roguish twinkle in his eye, he struck a pose, flexing his biceps and admiring his exaggerated muscles with an uproarious sense of self-admiration.

“Mate, what on earth are you doing?” Ryota asked, taken aback by the unexpected display.

“She’s only teasing you, you simp!” Sato repeated, ignoring Ryota’s question. “She’s always messing with us, and you fell right into her trap, my friend. But hey, if she wants a date, I’m more than willing to step in and take one for the team!” Sato exclaimed with a wink.

“And you are the ultimate team player,” Ryota replied, unable to hold his smile.

As the laughter subsided, the clubroom fell into a comfortable silence. A soft knock on the door interrupted the lingering echoes of amusement. Everyone turned their attention towards the entrance, curious about the unexpected visitor. The door creaked open, revealing a timid girl standing on the threshold, her eyes darting nervously around the room. She took a hesitant step forward, her voice barely above a whisper. “Um, excuse me,” she began, her tone trembling slightly. “I am sorry to intrude, but I have a problem, and I heard that the Whimsical Matchmaking Brigade might help.”