Celia Densford, the heiress of the Densford Family, also the girl Ethan played the most since the elementary grade, currently settled on his left and glared at Mio, who was sitting on his right.
An intense, unreasonable rivalry took place in the open.
Andrew completely ignored the two and pointed at the television still discussing the new storm in the market. "Pal, what do you think about this new shit? It's so damn gorgeous, the world I mean."
Andrew always shirked away from Mio, so this was expected.
"It's like something from the future," said the brunette seated on Andrew's side, her eyes burning with real enthusiasm, unlike Andrew's past girlfriend. "The current VR tech can't possibly produce a game of this level."
"I would love to dive there for a grinding session." Ethan also joined his friend in treating the two like air.
"Yep." Andrew nodded in agreement. "By the way, she is my girlfriend, Maria. We just met today in the canteen and clicked together, so we decided to try some dating."
Ethan's eyes widened a little. "That was sudden."
Andrew was similar to Celia in a way since they both were future inheritors of rich families. He dated and dumped girls every other day. How long will this one last?
Andrew grinned. "Of course, a virgin like you wouldn't know the meaning of dating."
Ethan shook his head in exasperation. He wanted to date a girl and experience a budding romance. But Mio, his last family, took priority over everything else. She meant the world to him.
"That's rude," Celia growled and threw an annoyed glare at Mio beside Ethan. "He would have dated me if not for an overly clingy sister refusing to let go of her brother."
As expected of a young mistress, her self-confidence was sky-high even after a rejection. Ethan let his lips curl up. Maria's will was like tungsten metal. She was resistant when people pulled at her but a small blow from him could shatter her into pieces.
He ended his train of thoughts and turned to Mio looking up with a pleading gaze.
"Onii-sama, am I too clingy?"
Ethan opened his mouth to deny it but Andrew's shout interrupted him.
"Onii-sama. She just called him Onii-sama!"
Ethan's gaze went to Andrew, whose weeb persona was slipping through his frivolous guy facade.
Andrew coughed and crossed his legs. "Mio has a nice voice… yeah, this Dreaming Dragon Corps. appeared out of nowhere. Even my mother can't find its origin."
"Huh? You too? So I wasn't alone," Celia mumbled and crossed her arms on her chest. "It's too suspicious."
Her family has dabbled in the gaming industry for decades now, so her checking up on a new fish in the market was reasonable. She had gifted Ethan tons of consoles before, one of the reasons he got into gaming in the first place.
"Is this scheme of some rich psycho aiming to trap people inside a game?" Maria threw a serious accusation with bright eyes like an innocent child.
No wonder she gets along with Andrew.
Both of them seemed to have a craving for new, exciting things.
"Are we trying to uncover the mystery behind this organization?" Mio asked with a blank expression. "I will play this game, no matter what. Onii-sama will play together, right?"
She already firmed her stance on the game. Ethan could only nod his head. This was real life, not some fiction where psychos like a certain scientist had a goal to become God of his own created world.
Celia sneered at Mio. "Then I will accompany him like a good friend."
Andrew clapped his hands to distract the girls. "Guys, enough of this, let's start the thing we came here to do. Mio, is everything ready?"
The sudden appearance of the trio was really related to Mio.
"Mio, why are they here?"
Mio hurried out of the room and came back dragging a trolley with a giant strawberry cake on it.
Everyone stood and clapped.
"Happy eighteenth birthday, buddy," Andrew said.
Ethan stared at him, shock growing in his eyes. The calendar showed 3rd March, his birthday.
How did I forget it…?
More importantly, how did Mio invite the three? Celia and Mio hardly stayed in the same room. Did she endure it for him?
Mio was getting better in social skills.
Celia stood up, tossing back a stylish black jacket off her shoulder. She stretched her arms, accentuating her curves hidden in a snug black sleeveless dress.
She took Ethan's hand and yanked him to his feet.
"Congratulations on becoming an adult." She pulled him in for a hug and gave him heavy pats on his back. "Guess your gift?"
Ethan deadpanned. "It's you, right?"
"Ahaha." Celia let out an awkward laugh and released him. Looking up at him, she pouted her lips. "How?"
Ethan ignored her captivating fragrance with a straight face and flicked her forehead. "You gave the same gift last year."
"Did I? But you didn't accept it last time. Accept it now." Celia touched his lips with an alluring smile. "We can do anything you want. Anything."
Ethan's heartbeat rose as his imagination ran wild. He was still a teenager and in the face of a tempting offer, he found his resolve cracking.
He glanced at Mio pouting. Her past relapses flashed in his mind, bringing back his senses.
He pushed Celia away, who had a whole family to look after her unlike Mio, whose mentality was similar to a child, stuck up on some shiny candy.
Celia clicked her tongue and caressed his cheeks. "I will wait then. She can't marry you, but I can."
Ethan's lips arched in a wry smile. What the hell did he do to gain her undying affection? Just a bullet for her during a bank robbery.
Wait, that's a pretty big thing to do.
But Celia was one of the richest women in the entire nation of the USA, whose suitors will be enough to drown his humble home. Yet, she was hell-bent on having him as her boyfriend.
Ethan moved his gaze to Andrew, who snatched the knife from Mio and placed the giant cake on the table. "Get a room, you two. The payment is on the generous me."
Maria nudged Andrew. "Are we getting a room today?"
"We will. Gotta enjoy the youth, unlike a certain friend who can't refuse his sister."
Ethan ignored Andrew's obvious taunt and sat beside Mio. "Did you buy the cake?"
Mio snatched the knife back from Andrew. "I saved up some bucks from my pocket money."
She received pocket money from Ethan like a kid. Even though he had told her to buy anything from his card.
"Cut the cake already," Celia urged.
Mio sliced a piece of the cake and pushed it near Ethan's face. He barely took a bite out before Mio gobbled the whole thing up and giggled.
Andrew shot a blank stare at Mio. "You bro-con woman…"
Mio bared her fangs in response. Andrew flinched but kept a scowl on his face.
Maria pulled Andrew's ear. "We are the guests here."
"Hmm." Maria nodded, smiling at her control over Andrew.
Celia shook her head. "Such innocence. No wonder you can't make any progress in your relationship."
Mio's face went redder. "S-Shaddap!"
Ethan blinked his eyes in surprise. It was rare for Mio to act this flustered.
She is cute…
"Hah, where is the music? Can't be a party without some vibbin' music."
This guy will get along with the music witch living under him.
Celia fired up some rock music in Andrew's stead.
Trrring! The doorbell rang. Ethan looked at Mio, who shook her head.
Who could it be?
Ethan opened the door. Standing outside was redhead Valentina along with a young silver-haired woman wearing a blank expression on her face. The pair held hands, looking quite strange with a crate of beers dangling from Valentina's hand.
Valentina gave a cheeky grin. "You should have invited us to the party? Gina hadn't gone out for nearly a year now."
Regina nudged the redhead. "Stop using that idiotic nickname."
"But you love it when I use it."
Regina still had a bland expression, leaving Ethan wondering how she loved this nickname.
"Ah, not gonna invite us in?"
"You won't cause any troubles, right?"
Valentina blinked her eyes innocently. "We never cause trouble."
"Hello, Ethan. It's nice to meet you," Regina said in a stiff tone, beads of sweat rolling off her forehead. Her violet eyes escaped eye contact with him.
Is she sick?
Ethan shrugged his shoulder and let the uninvited guests inside.
It wasn't long before the beer was flying all over the place, Regina's odd choice of 80s music, Mio's baseless threats echoing around, Andrew kissing Maria, a drunken Celia trying to imitate the gesture with Ethan. Chaos was literally everywhere at Ethan's birthday party.
Reference for Celia's appearance.