Chapter 40

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Author: lipzoldyck

 

“…”

 

The silence hovered between the Duke and Liriette.

 

After a while, the Duke opened his mouth.

 

“Simon, what’s on the menu this morning?”

 

Simon, who was standing there with an interested face, answered.

 

“Salad with fresh lettuce and salmon, soup made with mushrooms and milk, savory rye bread, tender veal steak, grilled lamb ribs, crispy fried chicken, and pudding made with spring strawberries for dessert. ”

 

“I see. If there’s anything else you’d like to eat, just tell me.”

 

Liriette shook her head with an awkward expression.

 

“No. I think it will be delicious enough. Then see you in the dining room.”

 

Turning around, she bit her lip with a fresh red face.

 

‘Stupid Liriette. Why didn’t you say father!’

 

But also a moment of frustration. Liriette clenched both of her fists.

 

She didn’t make a light decision to give up after failing once.

 

 

After the meal, Liriette looked at the Duke.

 

Seeing him munching on the pink strawberry pudding for dessert, she gulped.

 

‘You can do it, Liriette!’

 

Liriette opened her mouth with a firm resolve.

 

“The pudding is really soft and delicious. F…”

 

However, the moment she met the Duke’s sapphire-like blue eyes, a different word came out.

 

“For that to be liked by even babies.”

 

“…It seems so. Of course, babies will get stronger if they eat meat rather than these lumps of sugar.”

 

At the Duke’s answer, Liriette laughed, haha, with a blushing face as if it was about to explode, and then lowered her head.

 

Olivia’s lips twitched as she sat in the seat next to her and watched everything about that.

 

 

After that, Liriette worked tirelessly to call her duke Father.

 

“The weather is really nice today, F…”

 

“…”

 

“Feels so good!”

 

“Should we go on a picnic outside the castle?”

 

Failure.

 

“Dance practice is so much fun, F…”

 

“…”

 

“Feels like I’m being a lady! A mature, shiny lady at a ball.”

 

“Right. Although you’re still too small to be called a lady…”

 

Another failure.

 

When the situation became like this, Liriette set up a deadly strategy.

 

‘It’s a problem that the word ‘father’ doesn’t come out when I make eye contact with the Duke. So this time, let’s call him father before our eyes meet.’

 

Liriette opened the door to the Duke’s office, she shouted.

 

“F-F-F-Father!”

 

She did it!

 

She stuttered like an idiot, but she finally did it!

 

Her thrilled face made her eyes shine for a while, and Liriette hardened like a stone.

 

The Duke wasn’t in the room.

 

Only Olivia and Simon were looking at Liriette with their eyes wide open.

 

Simon was the first to speak in the silence that came instantly.

 

“Miss Liriette’s father has business, so he’s been away for a while.”

 

Olivia said.

 

“Looks like you have something you want to say to your father quite urgently, Liriette.”

 

Olivia continued her words in an affectionate voice towards the stone-set Liriette.

 

“Your father will be back soon, so wait here.”

 

Simon nodded his head too.

 

“If your father sees Miss Liriette in the room, he will like it too.”

 

The two of them were never making fun of Liriette.

 

How could they do that when they saw a child who’s only 10 years old trying so hard to call someone ‘father’?

 

It was just so cute that the corners of their lips went up and their cheekbones popped out.

 

Seeing that, Liriette felt like she was being teased.

 

“No. I’m not in a hurry, so I’ll go back.”

 

Liriette ran out of the room as if to run away, her face red as a tomato.

 

 

Liriette, who came out to her garden, muttered in a low voice.

 

“Should I just give up?”

 

The Duke obviously said that too.

 

She doesn’t have to rush. It’s fine no matter what she calls him.

 

“…But I want to call the Duke father.”

 

It wasn’t simply because he wanted it.

 

Liriette knew that ‘father’ was a much more friendly and affectionate expression than ‘the Duke’.

 

It’s also proof that they’re a special family that’s closer than anyone else.

 

“But why can’t I easily call it, I wonder.”

 

No matter how much she thinks about it, I think the title father is too rigid.

 

It would have been more comfortable if it was a title like Pongpongpong or Lalala rather than father.

 

As she walked through the garden with all sorts of thoughts, she felt something strange and raised her head.

 

Liriette’s heart thumped.

 

A few steps away from her, a huge, black dog was staring at her.

 

Sparkling eyes. Gasping breath. Exposed teeth.

 

‘Why is there a dog in a place like this…’

 

No.

 

There is no dog that big in the world.

 

It must be a monster in the form of a dog!

 

When Liriette, feeling afraid, took a step back, the dog pounced.

 

The moment she saw the sharp teeth visible through its wide-open mouth, Liriette, feeling the fear of death, screamed involuntarily.

 

“Dad!”

 

The word that jumped out was neither the Duke nor father.

 

Dad.

 

A word that Liriette had never thought of in her past and present life.

 

And as if in response, the Duke appeared and blew the dog away with his fist.

 

“Grrrrr.”

 

The dog, which had been behaving like a fearless tiger until just now, collapsed to the floor with a growl.

 

The dog barely got up and, as soon as it met eyes with the Duke, lowered its tail and ran away.

 

The Duke didn’t bother to chase the dog.

 

Because there was something more important than that.

 

Turning his body around, the Duke bent his knees and began examining Liriette’s body.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

The moment Liriette saw the Duke worrying about her, her tears welled up.

 

I’m okay. There are no injuries, so don’t worry.

 

She wanted to answer that, yet something else came out.

 

“I-I was scared.”

 

Hearing the crying voice, the Duke looked at Liriette with indescribable eyes, then hugged her small body.

 

“It’s fine now.”

 

His large hand caressed the little back with the most affectionate care. Her heart, which had been pounding, calmed down in an instant.

 

Like a baby in its mother’s arms.

 

‘I want to stay like this.’

 

But that wasn’t the time.

 

Liriette raised her head and said.

 

“We have to let people know that monsters have entered!”

 

However, the Duke shook his head with a calm face.

 

“It’s fine. It’s not a monster, it’s a dog raised in the castle.”

 

“T-That’s a dog?”

 

Raised in the castle?

 

“Right. A dog raised to guard Windsor-Ice Castle. I’m sure you’ve never seen it because it’s being raised in a place where people don’t come in often.”

 

The dog was thoroughly managed by the trainer, but there were occasional cases where the dog’s leash was untied and it wandered around the castle.

 

But so far it has never been a problem.

 

“The dog is thoroughly trained to respond only to the trainer and my commands. It never bites people unless ordered.”

 

Even if it loses its temper and goes wild, all the workers in the castle—even Olivia—had the power to subdue a single dog with their bare hands.

 

But…

 

Remembering the image of the dog and Liriette standing facing each other, the Duke knew how complacent it was.

 

“I will have to pay more attention to dog management in the future.”

 

However, unlike his gentle words, the Duke’s eyes were cold.

 

It wouldn’t be strange if he found the dog right away and cut it down.

 

Liriette shouted with a bewildered expression.

 

“The dog also saw me for the first time. Maybe that’s why it thought I was an outsider and tried to attack me. Or maybe I was too small for the people in the castle, so it thought I was prey.”

 

“Are you defending the dog?”

 

Liriette answered while wriggling her fingers.

 

“I’ve only been in the castle for half a year, but the dog has been around since then. I’ve never had any issues with it. So I just thought that the dog might have a situation of its own.”

 

“…”

 

“It’s too pitiful to punish it without checking properly.”

 

The Duke stared at Liriette and said.

 

“Sometimes you say things that make me forget you’re only ten years old.”

 

That’s because I’ve lived a lifetime.

 

Liriette laughed awkwardly, saying to herself what she would never say so to the Duke.

 

He continued with an expressionless face.

 

“When you called me earlier, you seemed like a 10-year-old, but…”

 

“…!”

 

At that moment, Liriette’s face turned bright red like a midsummer tomato.

 

Now she came to realize.

 

The words she shouted the moment her fear reached its peak.

 

‘I called the Duke dad.’

 

Not father, not even patriarch, dad!

 

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Comments (3)

  1. 👏👏👏 I kinda guessed she was gonna call him “dad” at some point but never better than the present!

  2. Would love to see the Duke’s face when she calls him ‘Dad’ consciously for the first time 😍