“As you wish.”
In the middle of the room was a low table similar to the one in the parlor. I sat down on a cushion in front of it.
“Well then, excuse me.” Kinomoto retreated swiftly.
I felt as if I had been abandoned in a cage with a wild animal. My hands and feet were cold and my throat was dry.
“Saki Watanabe? Mizuho-chan’s daughter,” the grey-haired woman said.
Apart from the lines around her mouth, she had no other wrinkles and looked younger than I expected.
“Don’t be so nervous. I’m Tomiko Asahina. I hear you’re good friends with Satoru.”
She stood up gracefully and came over to sit with her back to the alcove. She wore a delicately patterned silver-grey outfit that matched her hair.
“Satoru…Satoru-san and I have been friends since we were little.”
“I see,” she smiled.
She appeared to be in her mid-sixties. With her large eyes and shapely features, she must have been very beautiful in her youth.
“Just as I thought. You have wonderful eyes. They’re full of light.”
People often complimented my eyes. Probably because there was nothing else to compliment. I also often heard them say that there’s light in them, but then again, people who have no light in their eyes are usually dead.
“I’ve always wanted to talk with you at least once.”
She didn’t seem to be saying this out of mere politeness. I was confused.
“Because you will someday succeed me.”
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t think of a response.
“Surprised? This isn’t a half-baked idea or a joke though.”
“But…there’s no way I’m fit for the role.”
“Hohoho. That’s what Mizuho-chan said too. Like mother like daughter.”