Chapter 35:

The Otaku Can’t Catch A Break

Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!

We walked across the floorboards riddling the sand, following a tall man in his mid-20s. With a click, he unlocked the door of a wooden structure resembling a hut, and beckoned us in.

The final days of our summer exams raced past us, and before we knew it, the last of our summer finals were done.

My thoughts remained a mess, so the suggestion Mari made about getting away from town instantly caught my attention. She mentioned that her uncle managed an establishment near a beachside town, merely an hour's drive away from our own. And as you might have guessed, we were to work there, yet only for a week.

Naturally our workplace arranged our accommodation - two snug camping-style huts a short walk away from the hotel. One hut for the girls, and one for us. Inside, bunk beds laid on both sides, a compact kitchen by the entrance, and a bathroom at the other end.

“Phew…” Riku sighed, as he let down both his and Chihiro’s bags.

“He’s not your servant, dude.”

“Never said he was.” Chihiro pointed out, waltzing into the room after us, always with the usual swagger.

“Didn’t you say you’d buy me ice cream…?”

“Was that all it took…?” I sighed, while I laid down my own luggage and moved off by the window, pulling away the curtains.

The window revealed a clear view of the sea, and a subtle salty breeze played with the curtains. The ocean stretched out parallel from the coastline, a constant struggle to win ground, always destined to end in a draw.

As Chihiro and Riku set up their things, I casually leaned on the frame. The sea, the beach, the sky – everything exuded an oddly soothing feel. Despite being surrounded by my friends all day, I felt oddly alone. My mind grappled with a single thought;


We hadn’t talked much before or after the finals, and I only managed to catch her right after the last exams. I informed her of my seasonal work, and she too, said she’d be away for brief vacation.

There was an undeniable strangeness in the air between us.

The idea of not seeing Ichika for a week was both right and strange. With a sigh, I eased back against the bed's frame, gaze fixed on the waves in the distance. I just wished I could untangle those perplexing emotions before this trip came to a close.


After we got our rooms sorted out, and before our first ever morning shift was about to kick off, we all stood in line in front of the manager, who also happened to be Mari’s uncle.

A kind, burly man with a moustache. His name was Wataru, and he asked us to call him so.

Heartily, he gave us the rundown of our duties around the establishment.

“Okay, kids! As you might have guessed this is where you will all be working.”

The place where we stood was a wooden terrace stretching across the beach, lined with tables and seats. Across from the seating area, a wooden counter separated it from the kitchen, the beverage refrigerators as well as the cashier position.

An area between the terrace and the ocean was also lined with a few sunbeds, beach umbrellas and patio tables, for patrons wanting to enjoy the waves and sun a tad bit closer.

“Here we serve ice-cold drinks, and a variety of fresh meals. The sunbeds down below will be in your care too…” Wataru-san cleared his throat, eying us closely.



“You will be in charge of helping out back, with the supplies.”


“Mari, you…”

Mari regarded her uncle, who furrowed his brows, slightly uncertain.

“…will be in the cashier position.” He finally smiled, as he watched Mari’s triumphant grin. “Everybody needs a beautiful face behind the register, right?”


Yeah, sure. I call favoritism.

“Haruhi-kun, Chihiro-kun.” Wataru-san turned to us next. “You will be our lifeline, our waiters. The both of you will alternate between serving in the beach and the terrace.”

The both of us nodded.

“You both look very presentable, so…” He lowered his tone, whispering, “You might be lucky enough to snatch a few numbers here and there…”

Chihiro scoffed, flipping his hair. “Hah, that is a given, Wataru.”

Wataru? Honorifics, dude.


I felt Sumi eye me in a weird way, as I laughed it off.

“Sumi-chan, you will be in charge of the counter, and supply Haruhi and Chihiro with orders coming directly from the kitchen.”

Sumi shook away her glare, and nodded.

“I understand, Wataru-san.”

“Now as for Chiaki-chan…” Wataru-san’s voice trailed off, at the only member of the group missing from our line.

“Haaah…” Mari sighed, watching her friend making sand castles near the ocean.

“She can… re-stock the fridges, and help Riku-kun. No heavy lifting, though.”

That seemed like an easy enough job for someone as… free-spirited as Chiaki. And with a frame as small as hers, I doubt she could lift more than one can of coke at a time, let alone the crates Riku would be hurling.

“The kitchen is cared for by the chef and his assistant, so don’t worry about that and just focus on the customers. Any questions?”

Everything seemed fair, so instead of adding any comments, we accepted our roles and began to disperse towards our designated spots.

Wataru-san efficiently guided us through our roles before the influx of guests came trickling in.

Today was the first day the resort opened its doors for summer, and thankfully for them the 6 of us managed to fill in their job vacancies like a puzzle.

Sporting white sleeveless tees adorned with the establishment's pink palm tree logo, our crew commenced their shift.


In the early hours, we were getting the hang of things, only having to serve a few drinks in the reserved sunbed area. But as the sun beamed down, more and more customers headed our way. It's like the heat amplified their craving for the ocean and icy drinks.

“Here you go, ma’am.” Despite the speed in which I moved, I delivered an iced tea gently to a patron, a young woman in a bikini.

“Oh, please don’t call me ma’am….” She smiled, “You can call me, Ayano.”

“Hah…” I smiled, “Apologies, but you’re a customer, so—“

“Here.” She slipped me a strip of paper, as well as a bill to pay for her drink.

“Thank you.” I offered a cool smile and made my way back to the terrace, tray in hand.


Chihiro eyed me with scorn, as he served an elderly couple.

I couldn't resist a smile at his situation. The terrace was typically occupied by an older crowd at this time, and it seemed we had accidentally assigned me to the sunbed area without considering the usual clientele.

Poor Chihiro.

“Here, dude.” I shoved the strip of paper in his breast pocket, and made for the counter. “That girl said you should call her.”

“Hah! Sweet victory! Even while so far away my bril—“

It seemed his mood was lifted, so I leaned against the counter and tuned out his nonsensical rambling.

After mentally apologizing to the beautiful girl for rejecting her advances, I turned to a smiling Sumi.

“Any new orders, Sumi?”

“Oh, I have one for Chihiro-kun, but…”

“It’s okay, I was about to tell him to switch anyway.” I said, taking the tray with a few beers on it, and a plate full of karaage.

“You sure?” Sumi cocked her head, before pointing down the table at the far corner. “It’s for those 4 guys, table 8.”

“Thanks.” I smiled, and after nodding towards Chihiro to move down towards the beach, I went about delivering the order

“Hah! What a stupid chick!”

“She really said that! No joke!”

I could hear their loud talking from all the way across the terrace, but as I walked closer, their incoherent ramblings took shape.

One had propped a leg up a nearby chair, another was smoking, and the last two seemed to be play-fighting amongst themselves.

Bleached hair. Ear piercings.

Delinquents, I deduced.

“These punks…” I saw the usually cheerful Wataru-san weave past tables and cut off my route. “Here give it to me, Haruhi-kun.”

He asked for the tray, which I passed, his tone irritated.

Oh, boy…

I couldn’t help but smirk, as I made my way back to the counter.

“Watch.” I beckoned Sumi with a sly grin, who cocked her head quizzically.


“Hey, you four.” Wataru looked at them sternly. “Would it be too much to ask for you to keep it down as you to finish your meal? You’re disturbing the other patrons.”

He set down the tray, eyes burning.

“Huh?! What didja say old man?!”

One of them bit back.

"And please don't put your legs on the chairs. Other patrons will be using them after you."

Despite his kind demeanor, Wataru-san maintained a serious expression. His tall and slightly burly stature really seemed to exude an intimidating aura.


One of them clicked his tongue, and gulped down his beer.

“Piss off, who cares about this shit anyway?”

The other delinquents, to my surprise, followed suit, and threw a few bills on the table, that I questioned if they were enough to pay the tab.

Wataru-san smiled at them, as they left in the direction of the hotel up ahead.

“Wataru-san…” Sumi smiled slightly, while I nodded fervently.




I jumped back, as Wataru-san suddenly appeared before me, capable of putting a ninja to shame.

What was this old man really capable of?!

“The traffic here will die down a bit after lunch, so can you lend a hand in the hotel pool bar across the road?”

“The hotel?” I questioned, while the man smiled apologetically.

“Yeah, they’re short on staff, and since we’re in partnership I offered our help.” He bowed slightly to me, “It will just be for a while, so can I count on you? I’m sure Chihiro-kun can… manage.”

After eyeing Chihiro giggling over by the beach with a few bikini-clad girls, I smiled wryly.

“Heh.” I flashed a crooked smile, but agreed nonetheless. I couldn’t really refuse a pleading Wataru-san.

I was here to forget about Ichika and work after all.

Yeah, work and forget…


The sun blazed overhead as the midday heat intensified. After donning a fresh uniform provided by the hotel, I crossed the road to the neighboring establishment—the hotel's pool area. The atmosphere shifted from the laid-back beachside vibe to a more refined setting.

“So, did you get all of it?” the young man in his late 20s, who had given me a brief rundown, asked.

“Sure, no problem here.” I nodded reassuringly, while he tapped my shoulder with a smile.

“Cool, now take this down those girls over there.” He shoved me a tray of two iced coffees and an iced tea, and sent me on my way.

Following to where he pointed I made my way to the two girls lying on their back atop a pair of sunbeds, facing away from me.

Two iced coffees, and one iced tea…

Iced tea was Ichika’s go-to order everywhere. Except if there were parfaits on the menu. She did have quite the sweet tooth...

I smiled at that.

Wait, I needed to forget about Ichika!

I shook off those thoughts and went to serve the two girls.

One of them had strikingly green short hair, and a pair of purple sunglasses, while the other had a cap over her face, probably not too hot on the sun.

“Here’s your order, sorry for the delay.”

I apologized on behalf of my fellow colleagues, considering how crowded the pool area was.

“Ah don’t sweat it!” The girl with the sunglasses waved me off.

Hold on a second...

The other girl removed her cap and squinted at me.

And I, in turn, scrutinized both of them.

Short green hair. Yellow eyes. Bubbly.

Blonde hair tied in a ponytail. Green eyes. Scowl.

It was…

Kirara and Ichika?!



Mario Nakano 64
Skirmished Potato