“Y-yours?” I tried to clarify.
“You’re my client, Daniel.” She licked her lips. “Not every person catches the interest of a particular auction specialist like me. We have to manage certain quotas and perform mandatory lip service, but as far as taking on personal clients, we can be extremely selective.”
“So, you, um… don’t have many personal clients?” I cleared my throat, feeling like her gaze was seeing everything about me.
“You’re actually my first.”
Cecelia’s voice declaring Lily was a virgin seemed to echo through my mind, but I immediately tried to ignore it.
She nodded. “You don’t need to think too much about it. This isn’t to say that I’m inexperienced. I’ve handled many men. However, it takes a special person to make me go all out. I’m telling you that I want to give you my everything. Whatever you desire from me, I will put you on top. You’re my number one priority.”
“O-over some bones? I thought you were only interested in rich me- ah!” I only realized what I was saying a moment too late.
Lily’s eyes flickered excitedly. My words didn’t seem to upset her. If anything, they only made her more interested.
“I’m interested in your potential.” She responded. “There was a time where I kept my standards so high, but the problem was that successful men had already been snatched up and I was left wanting. That’s why I wanted to find someone who has… yet to reach success so that I might give myself to them, and be theirs when they finally make it big. That’s why I’m a bit jealous that another woman has seemingly shown up. I believe you will become such a man, and I don’t intend to let any other woman have you..”
I frowned uncertainly. “We are talking about the auction house, right?”
“Of course.” Her smile grew, and then she reached into her cleavage, causing me to look away. “This is for you.”
“Huh?” I forced myself to look back to see that she was holding a gold-lettered card in her hand.
I snatched it and looked at it, to see that it had her name and information on it. I already had her information though, so I was a little confused. When I looked back at her, she started speaking again.
“That’s my personal information. What you had before was my business information. From now on, you can contact me for anything that you desire.”
“A-anything related to the auction house, right?”
Her eyes met mine and she rose an eyebrow. “No. I mean anything. I told you, Daniel. When I accept a client, I will do anything for him. Since I’ve chosen you, then please use me however you see fit.”
“For example, you’re planning on setting up a business, yes? However, you need venture capital, as well as someone with a business sense. This is why you’ve shown interest with that Mizuki girl, huh?”
“You’re informed,” I responded rightly. “I haven’t even had a chance to sit down with her and talk about it.”
A pleased look appeared on her face. “Good. Then, since you didn’t sign anything with her, I wouldn’t have to do something illegal to get you back.”
She let out a melodious laugh. “That was a joke, Daniel.”
“R-right… don’t you want to check the merchandise?” I asked, coughing awkwardly, grabbing the duffle bag and holding it up in nearly a defensive posture. “I have the bones here.”
“I trust you, but I suppose it is best if we get this out of the way so we can continue our other conversation.”
She casually poured herself a glass of wine, waiting on me. I activated my Perco and dumped the complete skeleton, wrapped up in protective gauze, along with the documents that Caleb had provided me. Then, with far more care than I had before, I very gently passed the bag over. Lily looked inside, nodded once, and then moved it to the side.
“I am sorry, but the amount you make may not be as much as I originally promised.” She sighed, pulling out the documents and glancing through them.
“Mm…” She nodded, pulling out a pair of small spectacles and putting them on her face as she read, giving her a slightly sophisticated look. “The policy requires that the bones must be tested at the owner’s expense.”
“Documents can be forged.” She shrugged. “The Chloe house usually doesn’t take on stuff like this, so they are going to be extra careful. As long as the bones are legitimate, you’ll only end up paying a small fee, a few thousand.”
“A few thousand!” I let my voice rise slightly and then immediately lowered it. “Isn’t that a bit excessive?”
“Considering the oddity of what you’re selling, I’d consider it about right. As for the price, if you were being deceitful, the Chloe House would take on the damages.”
I didn’t mean to get defensive, but the bones came from another world, so I had no clue how much they’d hold up to scrutiny. With her gazing at the counterfeit papers that I had only trusted that Caleb had done properly, my entire plan could come crashing down in an instant if there was a hiccup.
“Wait for a second…” Lily’s eyes narrowed, and I felt my heart climbing up my throat.
“Wh-what?” I spoke hoarsely.
“I forgot something!” She tossed the papers back into the duffle bag and then went rifling through her purse.
A moment later, she brought out some forms of her own and handed them to me. “This is paperwork to allow us to auction it off in your name.”
I took a long breath and then started signing papers. There were so many of them, and it wasn’t like I was going to sit there and read every word. By the time we were done, I was truly exhausted.
“Good, now that we have that out of the way…”
At that moment, an alarm went off on my phone. I pulled it out, and then nearly jumped up.
“It’s that late?”
“Hmm? You have somewhere you need to be?” Lily looked up at me with a tinge of regret in her eyes.
“Uh… yeah, I have another meeting. Is there anything else we need to do?”
“Need… no…” Her expression looked slightly pouty. “I thought maybe we could… well if you’re busy.”
“I am! I’m sorry.” I bowed my head. “Just give me a call if you need anything.”
She gave a slightly mysterious look as she picked up the bones and zipped them shut. “I will.”
I fled the restaurant like that, leaving her with the bill. My other location wasn’t too far away. I could walk there, but I hadn’t expected all of that paperwork to take that long. If I had told Lily who I was going to see, she assuredly would have been angry. That was because my next appointment was with Mizuki.
Yes, Lily had agreed to take all of that on, but I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted. Lily’s only interest was the potential she saw in me, whatever that meant. That felt too much like she was trying to use me for her professional gains. She was a bit older than me, and also very determined. I had a fear of being taken advantage of by her, and I couldn’t trust her to keep my secrets.
As much as I felt a bit violated by Mizuki’s various intrusions, she was close to my age, and since I was the source of her cancer treatment, she definitely wouldn’t betray me until I finally gave her that pill. Plus, I had a feeling that she genuinely was doing all of this because she wanted to, and there were no strings attached. It was for that reason mostly that I wanted to use her experience over Lily. Lily would be made if I said such a thing, so I had left my next meeting vague.
My alarm had been intended as a backup and wasn’t supposed to imply the time I left from the café where I met Lily. Thus, I hadn’t given myself enough time to get from one to the other. I ended up sprinting, and by the time I reached the fine restaurant where I was meeting with Mizuki, I was gasping for breath and sweating. I walked into the restaurant while wiping sweat from my brow.
Walking up to a bald man standing behind the counter in what appeared to be a suit, I recovered my breath before speaking. “Hey. I’m here to meet someone?”
The man looked me up and down scornfully. “I find that hard to believe.”
I blinked. “Um, it’s a girl. Her name is-”
“Sir… I don’t know if you haven’t noticed, but this place has a dress code.” The man looked down on me like I was something on his shoe.
“I didn’t know about a dress code,” I responded through clenched teeth. “What I’m saying is-”
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” He cut me off. “Take your friends and go, before I call the police.”
“My friends?” I blinked.
Was he even kicking Mizuki out? Just as I thought that I noticed movement out of the side of my eye. I ducked and rolled just in time to avoid a gun aimed at the back of my head. My hand went to my side, where I was sadly absent of any weapons.
Behind me was a group of three guys. They were tattooed, and they had hospital masks covering their faces. The guy who had tried to hit me was shocked for a second, but then he shook it off and pointed his pistol at the stuffy maître d’. He let out a squeak seeing the weapon and then raised his hands. Before he could even get off a word, another one of the men pulled out a shotgun and fired up into the ceiling with a resounding boom.
“Everyone! On the floor. We’re robbing this place, so don’t be heroes!”
I expected this kind of thing in the apocalypse, but I supposed these kinds of people existed in this world too!