* * *
It was incredibly noisy on the morning of the princess’ tea party.
Worried about not being able to greet Lacius properly lately, I went to his bedroom as soon as I was ready. I heard from Theobalt that he has the day off today, so I’m guessing he’s home.
I knocked on the door impatiently, but there was no response. Is he still sleeping?
“Lashin, are you still sleeping?”
I could definitely hear a rustling sound. But what the hell, he’s not answering.
I’m really not used to being ignored, and I didn’t intend to get used to it, so I strengthened my diaphragm and shouted,
“DAAAARLINGGGGGGG! I’m dying to see you!”
I’m ready to kill him, if he still doesn’t respond after this.
Then I immediately cleared my throat and readied myself to do aegyo* next. Of course in a loud voice, so Lacius won’t be able to stand against it.
*(Aegyo literally means behaving in a flirtatious, coquette-ish manner; Act cutely.)
“Honey-ang* Why you’re not—!”
*(In Korea it’s common to end sentences/words with ㅇ/ eung sound to sound cute. Annyeonghaseyo = Anyeong haseyong.)
Before I could finish speaking, the door opened. Lacius stood with his back to the sun, and for a moment a blinding light seemed to shine behind him. I unconsciously closed my eyes.
“Ah, so handsome… … !”
“… … What do you mean?”
“Nothing, I said you’re handsome. Where are you going? Why are you dressed like that?”
Today, he wore a robe that was not part of the Knights of Lentus’ uniform, nor was it casual wear.
It was made of a mixture of silver thread on a navy blue base, which brought to life his sleek and muscular body perfectly.
Lacius then answered softly while attaching cufflinks on his sleeve.
“I’m going to a tea party.”
“A tea party? Which tea party?”
I took one of the cufflinks on the table and approached him.
I’m going to a tea party too, but which tea party is Lacius going to? I simply thought so and began to button his sleeves for him.
Lacius, who had been waiting quietly, immediately looked out the window and murmured,
“The princess’s… It’s an open tea party.”
“… … Ehng? Why are you going there?”
I asked, genuinely shocked.
No, if you go there, you’ll die. You know that the princess has been waiting for a chance to bite you. Are you crazy?
“Only as an escort. If I take you to the tea party, it will make me look like a sweet lover.”
“… … It’s not good to risk your life just for that, Lacius.”
After putting all the cufflinks on, I grabbed his hand, trying to discourage him. I’d rather go with him to a ball with a lot of people but not to that tea party. It would literally be a battlefield for this man.
“I’m already ready, so let’s go.”
But Lacius seemed unwilling to listen to me. He quickly withdrew his hand and strode out the door.
I got a little stunned and didn’t know what else to say. Does he want to look sweet that much..?
“The carriage is ready.”
As I went downstairs, Maynard, who was waiting, bowed to us.
Maynard was also dressed quite spiffy today. The smell of bread that he always emanated was gone.
All three of them were properly dressed, considering they were going to the imperial palace.
“Um, if you really want to go, I won’t stop you anymore…”
Nothing was sure. I tapped on the amulets hidden under the fluttering sleeves of my dress near my elbow. Let’s hope this helps.
After a while, Lacius and I got into the carriage and sat facing each other.
I leaned my upper body at an angle on the soft cushion and looked at the ring glistening on my finger. Real rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Oh my, how pretty. I couldn’t help but grin at the thought that I already purchased a building just seeing the ring on my finger.
“What about your guests?”
Lacius, who had been silent, opened his mouth after the carriage had run for some time. I shrugged at his words.
“They fell asleep. They must have worked hard ironing my dress since dawn even though I already told them to just sleep.”
“Are you mad about me setting up a dress shop in the mansion? Don’t worry. I made them sign a contract. It includes not going near you and not saying anything about the things inside the mansion.”
In fact, I wondered if that was the reason he didn’t show his face at all these days. But who was it that told me to be vicious and that I can do whatever I want?
It didn’t seem like he was the type of person who could bring up his concerns out loud, but if he really didn’t like it, he deserves an apology.
I stared straight into Lacius’s blue-grey eyes, preparing myself to say sorry immediately if he said he was offended by any chance.
“No, I didn’t care about that at all.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“Yeah, I mean it.”
“Ah, what the heck? I really thought you were mad at me for a second.”
But Lacius shook his head, and I breathed a sigh of relief. No, then why didn’t he show up at all?
As I grunted, Lacius laughed.
“I was busy. There was something I’m looking into.”
“Is that so?”
“It has to do with you, but I’ll tell you when I’m more certain.”
I leisurely glanced at the jewelry and idled again. Every time I moved my head back and forth, the drop earrings in my ears swayed. Remembering that these were authentic few diamond carats, my heart raced.
“By the way, did anyone help you when you crossed the desert?”
… And with a single word from Lacius, the beating of my heart doubled. This time it was because of anxiety.
I asked calmly to conceal that my eyes were trembling*. Then, Lasius, who stared at me, gently raised one eyebrow.
*(동공지진- Pupils/eyes shake. In Korea when someone’s eyes shake this can mean they’re confused, surprised, embarrassed or guilty.
“Yes. The desert.”
I don’t know.
No, I really don’t know. The first appearance of villainess no. 4 was at the slave auction house. Before that, it was unknown which route she had taken when she crossed the desert.
Did anyone help her? Or was she alone?
“If you don’t want to say it, you don’t have to.”
Is it just my misunderstanding, but Lacius’s tone sounds a bit stiff. No, upset?
After thinking hard, I finally sighed. Then I spoke in a low tone,
“Um, I don’t really remember.”
“You don’t remember?”
“Yeah, I do remember some parts… but not completely. Something like that.”
It was a lie, but it’s hard to say that it’s completely a lie. Because, I really don’t know.
I scratched my cheek, but I didn’t avoid Lacius’ gaze. Turning my gaze away would only make me look suspicious. I just stared at him, giving strength to my eyes. Then Lacius looked at my face and then turned his head.
What. If you’re going to accept it so easily, why did you ask in the first place?
I ended up asking again, out of embarrassment.
“But why do you ask?”
AHA. So now he’s practicing his right to remain silent? But I had nothing else to say, so I had no choice but to plead the fifth too.
‘Oh, no. I actually had something to say.’
The painting of the maid was finally completed.
Her name was Juliet.
It was the first time I created a person, so I wanted to call it out off the canvas in front of everyone. However, since Lacius looked busy, I never had a chance to introduce her even after completing her.
“When we get back from the tea party today, there will be a maid.”
“Looks like the painting is complete.”
“Yeah, so don’t be shocked. She’s such a wonderful kid.”
As we were having such a conversation, I felt the carriage slow down.