Chapter 37:

(Bonus Story) - Manager's Blind Date Blues

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

...How DID things end up like this?Bookmark here

My manager, of all people, has managed to land himself a blind date at a fancy French restaurant.Bookmark here

And right now, I’m sitting at a nearby table in said restaurant, dining on French cuisine, accompanied by a vampire and a drag queen.Bookmark here

Well, I guess you’d have to go back to the conversation that happened after my manager dropped that bombshell yesterday, to make sense of all this.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“A blind date is, well... It’s when two people who don’t already know each other meet to discuss the possibility of a relationship together. If all goes well, it generally tends to lead to marriage.”Bookmark here

Ah, so it’s that kind of date. Less of a casual hook-up and more the possibility of an arranged marriage. Huh. I didn’t think people still went for that kind of thing.Bookmark here

Actually, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. And the vampire still isn’t entirely on the same page, either.Bookmark here

“...‘Marriage’? Oh, that ceremony where a pair of humans swear to obey each other for eternity.”Bookmark here

“Yeeeeah, I’m pretty sure you’ve missed something there.”Bookmark here

“You airhead! His going on a blind date means that some other woman might steal him away!”Bookmark here

“Well, that won’t do at all. We forbid you from going on this ‘blind date’.”Bookmark here

My manager glances away as the vampire tugs on his uniform, staring resolutely at the floor.Bookmark here

“I don’t particularly want to go... I’m not capable of looking a woman in the eye when I talk to her, after all. I explained as much to my mother, but she went ahead and arranged it all on her own.”Bookmark here

My manager mumbles in defeat.Bookmark here

“Oh, honey. Would it really be so bad if you just passed on the whole thing?”Bookmark here

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Kintaro puts a finger to her lips as she tilts her head to the side.Bookmark here

She’s just running through all the classic cutesy poses today, huh.Bookmark here

“I can’t, the dinner reservations have already been made. I suppose there’s nothing left to do but show up at the restaurant and hope for the best...”Bookmark here

“Wait, we have something classy enough for a first date in this neighborhood?”Bookmark here

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“It’s fairly new. They put in a French restaurant on the eighth floor of that building they just finished construction on. I’ve heard that it’s difficult to get a table, but my mother pulled a few strings. She said that it was important to ‘make a good first impression’.”Bookmark here

Hm? He’s not talking about THAT stupidly opulent new skyscraper, is he? I did hear that they had a super swanky French restaurant that was simply to die for. I mean, my sister was going on about it at dinner a couple of nights ago. She said that the place was booked solid for months. Wait, hang on a sec. Doesn’t that mean...Bookmark here

“Manager, are you like...loaded?”Bookmark here

“No, it’s my mother who has all the money. I’m as regular as they come.”Bookmark here

...Isn’t that basically the same thing?!Bookmark here

Come to think of it, didn’t he say that his dad had passed away? I guess it’s just him and his mom, then.Bookmark here

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“Anyways, Keigo will be taking over tomorrow night, since I’ll be out at dinner and you have the evening off. Which is fine, of course. It’s good to take regular breaks from work. Still, I...have my concerns about how well the date will go. I’ve written up some cue cards and practiced with my mother, but...”Bookmark here

I was wondering what was going to happen here with the two of us off-duty, but I’ve heard good things about Keigo — he’s basically vice-manager here — even if I haven’t spoken to him myself.Bookmark here

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“Well, then I’M going too!”Bookmark here

“As are we!”Bookmark here

“What? C’mon guys, you can’t just butt in on someone’s date like that!”Bookmark here

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“But, I wanna goooo!!”Bookmark here

“We also wish to attend!!”Bookmark here

Both the vampire and the drag queen burst out into matching fits.Bookmark here

“Hey! Quit throwing a tantrum, you babies! You look ridiculous!”Bookmark here

“Goodness, you two must really be in the mood for French cuisine. I suppose... I could ask my mother if she could call in another favor. At the very least, she ought to be able to get you a reservation that’s earlier than most...”Bookmark here

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“That would still be much too late! If we need to come barging into this ‘blind date,’ then so be it!”Bookmark here

“Girl, you’ve got it! Oooh, that temptress would make a big ol’ splat on the pavement — once we drop her from the eighth floor!”Bookmark here

Their stubborn selfishness has me burying my head in my hands.Bookmark here

“Did you say ‘splat’...?”Bookmark here

My manager’s not entirely sure what to say to these blatant threats, either.Bookmark here

Yeesh, what is their problem? If they’re so hell-bent on making him happy, they could at least try to let this go.Bookmark here

...Wait, hold on. How would I take that kind of news?Bookmark here

Okay, so. Let’s say that Ayame told me that she had to go out on a date with some random stranger, and nothing would get her out of it.Bookmark here

I... Huh. What would I do?Bookmark here

“Hey, Manager? I wouldn’t mind checking this place out myself, if it’s not too much trouble.”Bookmark here

“You too, Haru? ...I didn’t know that French cuisine was so popular. Well, I’ll call up my mother, but I doubt there’s much she could do at this late stage.”Bookmark here

“...Yeah, I’m not going to hold my breath.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

And yet, here we are.Bookmark here

Just what kind of woman IS his mom, anyways? I mean, she has friends in high enough places to completely overturn reservations at a popular restaurant.  Bookmark here

That said, I’ll be sharing a table with the other two self-invited guests.Bookmark here

My manager apologized for lumping us all together like that, but honestly — I’m just impressed (and grateful) that he managed to get seats for all three of us on such short notice.Bookmark here

The whole meal’s on the house, too.Bookmark here

My eyes widen in shock at that particular detail, as the super suave waiter explains.Bookmark here

“The gentleman insisted that you shouldn’t have to fret over the cost, as you are one of his valued acquaintances. Now then, please allow me to show you to your seat.”Bookmark here

Kintaro is wearing a skin-tight scarlet dress and even more makeup than usual, while the vampire is draped in another of her sexy black silk dresses. I’m not feeling too comfortable in the suit that my sisters stuffed me into, but I’m glad they made me dress up. To top it all off, by some miracle we’re about as close to the manager’s table as you can get in a restaurant this fancy.Bookmark here

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“Th-This place sure is something, huh...?”Bookmark here

No matter where you look, there’s nothing but rich people here. Brand-name handbags dangle from fingers weighed down by jewel-encrusted rings. No, seriously. Literally everyone else is extremely well off.Bookmark here

“...Man, I work part-time at a convenience store. I shouldn’t have even been let IN here. Seriously, I feel so out of place, I could cry.”Bookmark here

But while I’m shrinking in my chair, my companions have plenty to comment on.Bookmark here

“Hey, what’s this supposed to be? A salad? ...Is that ALL we’re getting? What’d the menu say this is? A vegetable ‘terrine’? And what the heck’s a ‘remoulade’? Is this even FOOD?!”Bookmark here

“Does this place not serve tomato juice? Is this truly sufficient for those present? And what of these tiny goblets? How are we to quench our thirst with so little to drink?”Bookmark here

Yep. These two really do have no shame.Bookmark here

By the way, this salad-appetizer-thing? It’s delicious. I didn’t think vegetables could ever taste this good. Anyways. No thanks to my tablemates’ running commentary, I’m finding it hard to eavesdrop on the blind date nearby.Bookmark here

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My manager is dressed to the nines in a crisp white suit paired with a red bowtie — but it doesn’t do much to hide his nerves.Bookmark here

That said, if appearances are anything to go by, his date for the evening looks like a genuinely nice person. She’s got shoulder-length brown hair, and a kind of calm, classic movie star sense of style.Bookmark here

“So, what do you like to do in your free time?”Bookmark here

“Cooking and gardening.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t have guessed! Those are some awfully adorable hobbies.”Bookmark here

Huh. It seems like things are going well over there.Bookmark here

...Oh my god, this white asparagus soup really IS to die for.Bookmark here

“I heard that you manage a convenience store. Is that as difficult as it sounds?”Bookmark here

“Yes, it’s a very demanding job. You have to put in your all, day in and day out.”Bookmark here

Oh, no. He’s so on edge that this is starting to sound more like an interview.Bookmark here

Manager, you’ve got to ask her some stuff too!Bookmark here

“The food here is delicious. While our chef does cook a number French dishes, it’s always nice to get out to a proper restaurant.”Bookmark here

“Yes, indeed.”Bookmark here

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“On that note, what would you say are your specialties?”Bookmark here

“Pot roast and beef stew.”Bookmark here

“That sounds lovely. I’m always so impressed when anyone says they can cook.”Bookmark here

“Thank you.”Bookmark here

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Manager, those replies are way too short! I know you can do better than that!!Bookmark here

“...I’m not boring you, am I?”Bookmark here

“No, not at all.”Bookmark here

“I find that hard to believe. You haven’t asked me any questions; you barely elaborate on the answers you do give — not to mention the complete lack of eye contact.”Bookmark here

“...Oh. Um...”Bookmark here

His nervous fidgeting gets even worse. C’mon, Manager! Pull yourself together!Bookmark here

“What, so just because your family is richer than mine, you feel like you can act like you’re better than I am? ...Or do you have someone you’re already in love with?”Bookmark here

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“Uh, I... That is... I’m sorry.”Bookmark here

“Oh, spare me the empty apologies. Why did you even bother showing up if you’re not the least bit invested in the outcome? After all, it was your own mother who told me that you’d taken quite an interest in me.”Bookmark here

“No, it’s that... Um...”Bookmark here

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As he flounders for the right thing to say, the two ladies at my table suddenly stand up without a word.Bookmark here

“H-Hey! Just where do you think you’re going?!”Bookmark here

Equally as silently, they stalk their way right up behind him.Bookmark here

“We’ll take it from here. You’ve already had MORE than your fair share of free time with my beloved manager, you homewrecker. And don’t even think I’m going to forgive you for making him feel so horrible!”Bookmark here

“Really, you owe us your eternal gratitude for allowing you to spend so much as one second in his presence, but you haven’t offered us a single word of thanks. Begone, you blight on humanity!”Bookmark here

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They position themselves possessively around my manager, glaring daggers at the other woman.Bookmark here

He tenses up at their touch, glancing at both of them before turning around to look back at me.Bookmark here

I watch as my manager takes a deep breath, relaxing slightly.Bookmark here

“...So, there IS someone else?”Bookmark here

My manager’s date looks between Kintaro and the vampire, her brows furrowing as she does. Yeah, I get that. Having to take ANY of this at face value would be really, really confusing.Bookmark here

“N-No, it’s all my fault. I’m already not any good at talking to women, and I have even less experience in such an intimate situation. I-I’m terribly sorry for making you doubt yourself. You were just so much more beautiful in person that I...froze up.”Bookmark here

He bows his head in sincere remorse.Bookmark here

...Holy crap, he finally did it. He’s holding an actual conversation with this woman.Bookmark here

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“...You are? Well, why didn’t you say that earlier? I wouldn’t have been so hard on you. And I, um, appreciate the compliment...”Bookmark here

The other woman’s cheeks flush bright red, but my manager doesn’t seem to notice.Bookmark here

“Agreeing to go on this blind date was foolish. I was bound to fail. I’m so sorry for wasting your time, miss. I’ll apologize properly on a later date.”Bookmark here

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“Hm? No, it’s fine, I don’t mind. We can keep going.”Bookmark here

“Go? That’s a great idea. Why don’t we head on back to the convenience store? This kind of stuck-up place is way too stuffy for us.”Bookmark here

“Hey! What gives you the right to cling to him like that? We won’t let you have him all to yourself! Come now, Manager, let us away. You may treat us to tomato juice, as well. Unless, of course, you might allow for a taste of that delectable blood of yours.”Bookmark here

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“L-Ladies, please... I can barely move with you wrapped around me like this...”Bookmark here

Trapped in their crushing embrace, my manager shoots me a very troubled look.Bookmark here

“Well, Manager, should we get going?”Bookmark here

With my meal finished, there’s nothing keeping me here either.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the woman at the table stares at our group in stunned silence.Bookmark here

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Needless to say, there wasn’t a second date.Bookmark here

I know I shouldn’t encourage his belief that it was doomed to fail from the start, but I’m kind of glad that it did. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.