“Didn’t you say, ‘If I knew that you’d be uncomfortable, then I wouldn’t have come’? Then, since you know that you have made her uncomfortable, does that mean you’ll gladly leave?”
Paul’s voice remained to be very friendly and casual, but just listening to the words he spoke just now made it apparent that he was picking a fight.
After all, this was Paul’s specialty—to ask questions in an unassuming manner with no hint of maliciousness at all, but all the while putting the other person in a difficult spot.
“No? Then I guess you were just saying that.”
Lehman’s expression became stiff as he kept his mouth closed. Then, Paul tilted his head to the side, one corner of his lips tugging up as he asked yet another astute question.
“You’ve been talking nonstop until now. But why won’t you answer?”
Lehman’s hand trembled very minutely.
But that was all. He failed to elicit a significant response from the audience.
What’s surprising now was also this, that Jeremy and Douglas both also seemed to be tight-lipped at this moment.
Paul hummed, then asked the same question again.
“So, were you just saying it?”
Paul had only ever appeared to be the mischievous fool that he was in front of Reina, but right now, there was a somewhat eerie atmosphere surrounding him.
Perhaps because of this, but the air in the room naturally grew heavy.
Paul made a beckoning gesture with one hand, and one apple from the table flew into his hand. Crunch. After he took a bite out of the apple, he smirked.
“Why did you say that if you didn’t really mean it?”
The usual mischievous expression was back on Paul’s face once again, and he quickly rekindled the room’s atmosphere.
“And it’s not that Reina feels uncomfortable because you’re here.”
Hm? Yeah, that’s right.
“Reina always has that expression on her face, one that looks like she stepped on sh*t.”
“You wouldn’t believe it when you don’t know her well, but that’s the default.”
No, wait a second.
“So don’t go and imagine things by yourself for no reason.”
With eyes bent to show a bright expression, Paul issued a weird warning to Lehman.
It looked as though he was thoroughly embarrassed now, but Lehman continued to stand there with a stiff face. He staunchly remained silent.
However, Paul hummed for a moment, then he stared straight at Lehman.
“Someone’s asking you a question here. You have to answer.”
Paul was being way too different… This was the first time Reina was seeing him act like this.
“…I misunderstood. I’m sorry.”
You’d think that Paul’s threats would work here, but no.
“I think I was being too hasty. I’m sorry, I misunderstood.”
‘Wow… So are you saying that you’ve just been listening to my words through your nostrils?’
But what’s more surprising was this:
“Huh? There’s nothing you should apologize for towards me though.”
Paul did not back down! He’s continuing to push the ‘Devilishly Tantalizing Lehman’ even more!
‘I mean, I know that Paul had never been a sub male lead, but…’
With Lehman being called ‘Everyone’s Beloved’ at the academy, was there supposed to be any man out there who’d treat him in such a way?
“Rather than apologizing to me, you should apologize to Reina.”
Lehman stared pointedly at Paul, but Paul just received that gaze comfortably. Yet again, tensions rose inside the room.
But… In the end, the winner was still Paul.
“…I’m sorry, Reina.”
She honestly wasn’t expecting to receive an apology, so Reina nodded rather bewilderedly.
“N-No worries. Uh… Um… There’s just four days left, but let’s have fun together.”
To some extent, the situation had tided over already.
After watching the entire thing with bated breath, Fran jumped out of his seat.
“I’ll show you to your room! Let’s go, Lehman!”
Although apologies had already been exchanged, it seemed like it’s still not a good idea to keep Lehman and Paul in the same place, considering their argument-that’s-not-technically-an-argument.
Lehman then answered calmly as he followed behind Fran.
Douglas and Jeremy also stepped out of the room without a word.
With her expression going back to normal now, Reina watched as Fran ushered Lehman and his fan club’s member #1 and member #2 out the room.
Then, Reina immediately turned to Paul, who was just leisurely chewing on his apple.
“Whaaat?” he asked.
And as she saw him return to his original self just then, the faces of Jeremy and Douglas from earlier flashed before her eyes.
Both the fan club’s member #1 and member #2 seemed to find Paul difficult to deal with.
“You rascal, you….”
So you only act like an innocent, hungry spiraea shrub in front of me, huh. I didn’t know. I’m sorry I’ve been disregarding you, friend.
“What do you want to eat?”
“Seafood pancakes? Just tell me. I’ll make everything you want for you.”
“Ohh, seafood pancakes and hand-torn noodles! Ah, and seafood fried rice, roo! And sweet and sour fried chicken!”
You’re just telling me to do everything, our dear hungry spiraea…
* * *
The next day after the argument-but-not-really-argument between the devilishly tantalizing Lehman and Reina’s spiraea, they were greeted with a refreshing morning.
“Haaahm. Everyone’s up early, huh.”
Reina entered the dining hall with a yawn, and she was soon faced with the pleasantly strong smell of butter and baked bread.
‘This scent always hits the spot, yup yup.’
Paul naturally pulled out the seat next to him, then he grumbled.
“Reina, you sleep in too much these days.”
Roughly waving away his nagging, Reina walked over to the seat that he had prepared for her. Just as she was about to sit however, someone else’s clear voice called her.
“Yes, my rice cake. Did you sleep well?”
How was it possible for a person to be even more adorable in the morning? Perhaps because it’s still early in the day, but the pleasant scent of soap and grass that was wafting from him seemed much headier.
“Yes. What about you, Noona?”
“I also slept well.”
Reina smiled as she answered him, and Eli made eye contact with her with a shy smile.
‘Haa… Even if I think it over again, it seems like I’ve succeeded in this life.’
Ethan, Eli, Luke, Letis… Well, Paul over here didn’t look like he’d fall head over heels for her, so she decided to set him aside.
Anyway, there were four men stationed at her north, south, east and west, all possessing the kind of looks that would make anyone gasp at first sight. So, how could this not be satisfactory?
‘As expected, good looks are the best.’
“But I prepared your seat here, Noona…”
Reina cast her eyes at the seat next to Eli, and true enough, there was also already a meal set and ready in that place.
Apart from that, Reina’s favorite bread and choice of drink were pulling her in as though they were magnets. It’s become difficult for her to say no.
“Then, I’ll sit next to Eli today.”
She turned and walked over to Eli’s left side without an ounce of regret.
At this, Paul stared at Reina with a betrayed look.
¹ Hungry spiraea – Reina’s new nickname for Paul is actually a pun, and I’m not sure if I localized it quite properly lol. She’s calling him a ‘bridalwreath spiraea’, which is a type of spiraea that is a dense, deciduous shrub that blooms double white flowers.
But at the same time, the spelling in Korean was modified just one letter to make it a pun about food, so the nickname for Paul has the connotation of: ‘innocent-looking, but hungry white flower’. ↩
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