Chapter 54: Introducing My Girlfriend (6)

As Lily watched Elza blush while accepting the meat Starchis had sliced for her, she couldn’t hold back her remarks any longer.

“Elza, you’re such a baby. Hehe, how cute.”

A slightly cold voice snapped Rose out of her daze, where she couldn’t even taste the food because her heart was pounding.

“If it’s hard for you to eat alone, shall I cut it for you?”

It was a loaded question, implying that Elza couldn’t do anything by herself. Ask for water, get the meat cut and fed... Lily couldn’t fathom where such a woman came from.

Lily knew they were just being affectionate and it wasn’t that Elza couldn’t do things on her own, but it was getting to be too much.

‘Where did she learn table manners like that?’

Lily stabbed the meat in front of her with a bit of irritation, expressing her frustration silently. Her chest felt tight.

Rose felt embarrassed again by Lily’s teasing. She was indeed treated like nobility.

For someone who wanted to enjoy freedom and escape from constraints, she needed to be able to do many things on her own...

Everyone else in this space was contributing and living their own lives. Even though she managed the finances for the Nisti family, it was only possible because of the family’s foundation.

Even if the earlier incidents weren’t because she needed help, those words hit a sore spot for her.

“I-I’m fine, unnie.”

Rose blushed and took a sip of wine.

But Lily’s frustration hadn’t subsided. She felt a surge of emotion she couldn’t suppress.

She wished Elza would stop flirting with her crush in front of her, at least.

“You’re overflowing with affection. But there’s plenty of time to flirt later, let’s eat first.”

Rose smiled bashfully at Lily’s advice.

But Lily didn’t meet her eyes. Her expression was stern, and she looked upset.


Rose felt a strange sensation again.

She felt like she did when talking to other nobles, hiding their true feelings behind their words. It felt like she needed to uncover the true meaning.

Starchis awkwardly laughed and asked,

“Haha... Sorry, Noona. Were we too much?”

“It’s just that your flirting makes me cringe. I’m so jealous.”

Lily then gave Elza a cold stare. Rose looked at Lily, and their eyes met. There was a strange feeling only they could understand.

“If you’re jealous, why don’t you get a boyfriend too, Noona?”

“...You need to like someone to date them.”

Rose kept observing Lily closely.

At Starchis’ words, Lily’s eyes flickered towards him briefly before returning to her plate.


Rose made a dumb sound as she realized something.


Starchis turned to Rose at the sound of her voice. Every time she acted like this, it made his heart pound, wondering if he’d done something wrong.

“Is something wrong?”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing.”

Rose glanced at Luss and Lily, who had puzzled her. She thought she must have misunderstood.

She’d already heard plenty of stories from Starchis, and those women didn’t like him.

To avoid any awkwardness, Rose smoothly changed the subject, addressing Starchis.

“Starchis, try some of the garnish. It’s delicious.”

She pointed to the mashed potatoes beside the steak.

“Um, really?”

Starchis forced a bright response to hide his unease. In truth, he didn’t like potatoes.

When he was starving and left on the streets, he had to eat various types of potatoes to survive, including rotten ones, discarded ones, raw ones that were hard as rocks, and once even a sprouted potato, which made him very sick.

Since then, not only did his body reject potatoes, but eating them also brought back those bleak memories, making him reluctant.

“Starchis doesn’t like potatoes,” Vienna suddenly interjected.

“Oh? Really?”

Rose turned to Starchis at Vienna’s comment.

“Actually... yes. I got really sick from eating them when I was young.”

“Oh, I see. Shall I eat them for you instead?”

“Are you a pig?” Vienna grumbled.

Starchis abruptly changed the tone and asked coldly.

“...Vienna, were you joking?”

His voice startled Vienna, making her flinch. Rose found it amusing and laughed, thinking she looked like a small animal caught off guard.

It wasn’t a particularly hurtful remark. Moreover, she appreciated Starchis standing up for her, which made her feel no negative emotions.

Even with Starchis looking stern…


Rose swallowed again as she looked up at him.

Visibly flustered, Vienna stammered,

“O-Of course, it was a joke..! Why are you getting mad..”

Starchis smirked.

“It was a joke, right? Hey, Vienna. Make sure you’re closer with someone before you make those kinds of jokes.”

“It’s okay, Starchis. And Vienna, I was taught not to waste food.”

Taking Starchis’s cue, Vienna quietly replied,


and then continued eating.

Watching Rose, Starchis was surprised once more. The Nisti family was wealthy, yet she was taught not to waste food. It showed how much Hian Nisti had intended to raise her properly.

“Really? That’s admirable.”

Starchis genuinely praised her.

Rose shrugged.

“But it’s not always a good thing. Sometimes I was too full and had to force myself to eat, and if I really couldn’t finish, I’d have to keep eating the leftovers the next day.”

Then, as Rose realized something, she waved her hands dismissively.

“Oh, oh! It wasn’t because we always had plenty to eat at home. When I was younger, I often didn’t get enough to eat.”

‘She must have had quite strict upbringing,’ Starchis thought.

“Still, it was that strict upbringing that made Elza who she is now, right?”

“Thank you for saying that... Hehe. Should I take the potatoes then?”

“Yes, that would be great.”

“But Starchis, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you end up getting sick from potatoes?”

“It’s just... I ate one off the street once without realizing it had sprouted.”

“Off the street?”

“There wasn’t much to eat back then. It wasn’t really indigestion; it was food poisoning... Ever since, my body doesn’t react well to potatoes. I can eat them, but...”

Starchis had a slightly troubled expression.


“But eating them brings back painful memories of being hungry. Even though I can laugh it off now because I can eat whatever I want, those childhood memories are hard to shake. The feelings resurface vividly whenever I eat potatoes.”

“Is that so?”

Rose looked at him with a sympathetic expression.

“Yeah. If it weren’t for my brother, I might not be here today.”

“Thank you for sharing that.”

“It’s nothing to thank me for.”

“I feel embarrassed now... I used to complain and struggle when I couldn’t finish my food because there was so much.”

“No, don’t be. Being hungry is tough, but so is forcing yourself to eat when you’re full. See, even I would struggle if someone forced me to eat potatoes.”

Their conversation dominated the dining table. The three women, having heard the story before, found no space to interject. They felt somewhat out of place.

In terms of numbers, it was two against three, with the speakers outnumbering the listeners. However, Starchis and Elza, who were conversing separately, didn’t seem to be the ones out of place.

When such dining situations occurred, Starchis’ attention usually shifted between people, but today, Elza had his undivided attention. It didn’t seem like his interest would shift anytime soon.

“Thank you for saying that, Starchis.”

“But it’s true. Everyone has their own struggles—”



Starchis felt someone touch his leg. It was always Vienna who did such things. When she had something to say or a complaint she couldn’t voice, she would kick him under the table.

“—struggles to deal with.”

As he finished speaking, he discreetly glanced at Vienna. Perhaps she wanted to tell him something she couldn’t say in front of Elza. He wanted to resolve it if it would help the meal go smoothly.

However, Vienna wasn’t looking at him. She was picking at her food, her head turned slightly to the side.

She didn’t actually have anything to tell him. She just resented that his attention was entirely on Elza and was trying to attract it back to herself.

“I’ll take the mashed potatoes then?”

Rose reached out with her fork and knife to take the garnish from Starchis’s plate. He moved his plate slightly to make it easier for her.

With a single gesture, Rose easily transferred the mashed potatoes from his plate.

“Oh, you did that so neatly—”


Another signal from Vienna came.

“—neatly, didn’t you?”

“Hehe... I’m only good at things like this.”

While Rose was momentarily distracted by her plate, Starchis took the opportunity to look back at Vienna.

This time, she met his gaze.

Starchis raised his eyebrows, silently asking with his eyes.

- ‘Why, Vienna?’

Vienna briefly met his gaze before quickly looking away. Even these fleeting moments of attention seemed to soothe her irritation.


Starchis, on the other hand, was becoming more confused.

He glanced around, trying to figure out if something was bothering her. There was nothing out of the ordinary.

Rose noticed his puzzled expression and wondered,

‘What’s going on with him?’

But she figured he had his reasons. If he needed something, he would say so.

Starchis once again looked at Vienna, silently asking,

‘What’s wrong, Vienna?’

Rose, now curious, subtly watched Vienna too. Vienna was feigning disinterest.

Starchis finally gave up and picked up his wine glass for a sip.

Rose hurriedly followed his lead and lifted her glass as well.

The other three women also wanted to raise their glasses, but,


Luss sighed, realizing her glass was already empty. Lily and Vienna were in the same situation.

They had drunk their wine too quickly due to their nerves.

“Oh. Everyone’s glasses are empty. Let’s finish this and have another round.”


Rose clinked glasses with Starchis, just the two of them, like a couple.

- Thud.


This time, it was Rose who felt Vienna’s touch.


By accident, she had kicked Elza’s leg instead of Starchis’.

The moment Rose felt the touch, Vienna let out a gasp.

The spot where Rose’s leg had landed was too far to be a simple mistake. Someone would have to stretch their leg deliberately to reach that far.

As if to prove it, the area that felt the touch was near her knee.

Rose put down her glass and glanced under the table.

She saw Vienna’s leg hurriedly retreating to its original position.


“Ahem! Ahem!”

Vienna acted like someone caught doing something naughty. She wasn’t the only one flustered.

Starchis, mid-sip, choked on his wine and coughed.

Watching both of them, Rose suddenly understood Starchis’s earlier actions. Vienna had been kicking him and accidentally kicked her this time.

Once again, she felt that strange emotion.

‘All three?’

Rose scrutinized the three women with a stern expression, though she was still only in the suspicion stage.

Maybe it’s just their personalities.

Maybe they were wary of her for taking the spot next to their old friend.

She needed something more definite.

‘How can I... Ah.’

Rose looked up at Starchis seductively. Everyone focused on her sudden shift from calling Vienna to staring at Starchis.

After formulating her plan, Rose took a sip of wine and leaned on Starchis’ shoulder for a moment.

“Ah, today is just perfect.”

“...Really? I’m glad.”

Unlike the calm Starchis and Rose, the three women visibly reacted.

‘As I thought.’

Rose’s heart grew heavy. She had thought they were good people, but now she wasn’t so sure. Maybe they were good people, just not to her.

Rose looked up at Starchis.

“Why, Elza?”

Her heart pounded. Even though she knew it was an act, she couldn’t help but feel nervous.

For reasons unknown, she recalled that when Starchis talked about them, he said they didn’t like him.

They had drawn a line.

Yet now, with these subtle feelings and the conversational skills she’d honed in dealings with nobles, it was clear they had some interest in him.

She pondered for a moment.

Starchis felt the need for a fake girlfriend so much that he had asked her, a near stranger, to play the role.

What if... she disappeared?

Without her as an obstacle, Starchis, who needed a girlfriend, and these beautiful women who liked him, could naturally become couples.

They were more beautiful than her.

They had known him longer.

‘...Do I stand a chance?’


Her heart felt crushed. She hated it.

Even though she was a fake girlfriend, she had no right to interfere with whoever he met.


She looked up at Starchis and whispered in his ear.

“...Starchis, after I finish talking, laugh as if you find it funny and then go to the restroom. Just for a moment.”


Starchis found her request strange but couldn’t refuse. Rose was on his team.

“Elza, stop flirting here—”

Lily, having already told her off once, grew more annoyed seeing Elza ignore her and flirt again.

She was about to stop her again when—


Starchis’ laughter interrupted her.

“Oh, that’s hilarious. Excuse me for a moment, I need to use the restroom.”

Awkwardly, he left the table.

As he left, silence descended. No one spoke, and the atmosphere grew tense.

Rose slowly looked at Luss, Vienna, and Lily. She had faced tense conversations many times, but this one felt different.

These women, more beautiful than anyone, standing alone, seemed poised to take Starchis away from her. The fear gripped her inexplicably.

She swallowed.

“Ladies, I have one question.”

Cold stares pierced her. The gazes were entirely different from when Starchis was around. Her suspicions solidified into certainty.

“Do you like Starchis—or rather, my boyfriend?”

Rose gathered her thoughts.

She knew she had no right to say this.

She was just a fake girlfriend.

She was the obstacle.

But she had to say it. Her growing desire for him compelled her.

“If you do, please give up.”

She spoke firmly.

“It’s a nuisance.”

[ Author’s Note: This episode was inspired by the movie “Perfect Strangers.”

The movie’s tension, even though it was just at a dining table, was chilling.  I realized you don’t need a big event or death to create suspense. ]

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