Chapter 29 – Avoid fame and mystery like plague
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After updating each other on what’s going on in our lives, we finally reach the main topic - the reason why the four of us gathered at Cecile’s - Janet’s wedding arrangements. Waiting is impossible for the possessive Duke Roderic Wolfram who wants Janet all to himself. He felt the urgent need to put a ring on her - engagement was not enough, it HAS to be a wedding.

“It’s better if you leave your dress to a professional tailor in the capital. This is too heavy a burden for a small time tailor like me.”

“But your dress last time was a huge hit! People been asking me who the tailor is. Do you know how many enemies I gained just because I didn’t sell you out? My social standing wasn’t even that strong to begin with…” She pouts. “Can’t you just do me a small favour even then?”

Who is this evil fiend of mine, did she take an online masterclass in guilt-tripping?

“Wait I just realised!!! The mermaid tailor thing in the news last week—” Ruby starts, her face expressing a look of sudden realisation - like she recently discovered doors can open. Before she could finish her sentence, she was immediately held back by Janet. 

Why do I have a bad feeling… 

“What mermaid tailor?” I arch a brow, trying to act casual. But my palms are already sweating.

Friskily pushing away Janet’s hand covering her mouth, she continues. “See there’s this legend about a mermaid who tailors beautiful dresses. Apparently, her dress made it to one of the noble’s engagement party - it’s a mesmerising white dress with the shape of a mermaid’s tail. The noble who wore the dress keeps avoiding the question on who the tailor is, so people came up with multiple theories. The most popular theory is that the noble made a deal with the mermaid who gave her the mermaid dress.” 

Ruby grins haughtily after a long explanation and smacks away Janet’s hand lethargically floating mid-air. She looks quite proud to accomplish her mission as an information-giving mob.

"….." I stare at Janet with dead eyes and she returns a guilty smile. It’s not her fault, so I can’t blame her. But where do I take out this frustration?

What, mermaid tailor?! Where’s my tail, idiots? If I had one, I’d face-slap every single one who utters such baseless rumours with my fishy-smelling fins!

How did I just casually gain an alternate identity? Who said I’d play a famous talent shrouded in mystery - that’s obviously screaming "I'M ACTUALLY A VERY IMPORTANT CHARACTER!".

I drown my tea and put the tea cup down with harder force than I’d like, the wobbly table shook a bit before regaining its balance.

“Since it’s like that, no one discovered your identity anyway.” Janet continues warily, reading my expression. “Just one more dress! I’ll make sure to carry your secret to my grave~”

Her face then shifts from a pleading to a guilt-tripping face I’m all too familiar with. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. I just want to wear something special made by my best friend…”

Where’s my blocking function? Hey, can I really not block this awful friend? Actually— can I get a refund for the friendship?

“… Just one more.” I give in, sighing. I might have very well raised a flag by saying that.

‘Ben' returns with more snacks in hand, missing the whole conversation about that mermaid nonsense while he went into the kitchen. After all is done, I call my trusty lackey to follow as I steadily descend the stairs and leave the store. 

What a headache.

“Why don’t you make more money that way?” my lackey asks. When he talks the little hamster on the mask starts twitching. It’s actually quite funny.

“Too much attention. I’ll be saying bye to my mob life if I pursue it.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask, but—” He suddenly stops walking and I turn around to see what’s wrong. His golden eyes bore into mine, a tinge of orange splashing in his irises as the sunset reflects in his cornea. Now if only you can stop your eyes drifting towards the twitching hamster whenever he talks…

“……” He takes off his mask with an annoyed look, now his straight nose and needlessly seductive lips out for the world to see. Strands of black hair escape the hood and falls on his forehead, slightly dancing with the jolly breeze.

“You say you’re pursuing the mob life to avoid fate from deciding your life.” His eyes drift to the sky, when he cranes his neck, it really accentuates his sharp jawline. “But how is this any different? You’re avoiding yourself from doing things just because you don’t want to get dragged into a story. Can you say you’re truly free from the story impacting your actions?”

“… You talk too much today. I should’ve let you stay a hamster.”

Of course I think about this often. Whenever I think about the many things I can innovate and make money from, but hold back just to avoid any attention, my stomach twists inside with a melancholic pain. It constantly screams - myyy moneeeyyyyy!!!

“But pursuing the main character life is not worth it, Jin.” I smile and walk towards him. When we stand a step away from each other, I reach to take the bolts of cloth into my hand from his arms. “Maybe some day I’ll change. When you witness the day it happens, let’s celebrate together with a bottle of wine.”

I totter towards the direction of my house, the bolts of cloth heavily weighing down every step. Ah fuck really, I wanted to play cool for once. Who knew they’re weigh this much when you see that guy carry it around like it’s paper?!

“Give it here. Minus 100 points. You don't look cool at all.” He retrieves them back from my hand and walks in front, his wide strides quickly leaving me behind. But a smile etches on his lips.

"Let's eat some stew today."

"Potato stew again?"

"Yeah let's buy some bread on our way home."

"I can already feel my ears hurting from that nagging old lady..."

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