“Let me escort you.”
The sound of a teacup hitting the teacup holder sounded in the quiet air of the meeting room of the second Princess’s palace.
Only two teacups are left on a table with a single purple bergamot.
Poor treatment, which did even serve simple refreshments, was a kind of notice telling him not to sit for a long time and to wake up after doing his errands.
However, Mariette didn’t stop at that and expressed her displeasure in her facial expressions, voice, and gestures.
Even though the other party is a guest who visited with due process and courtesy.
“I think we should have agreed to end the meeting that my father personally arranged. Is my memory wrong?”
“It’s not like that.”
“Then tell me. Why is the Marquis of Ajas volunteering to be an escort, something I never asked for?”
His gaze, which had been fixed on the small flower floating on the tea water like a lotus leaf, turned to Mariette that night.
Unlike Mariette’s eyes, which didn’t hide her displeasure, Leonhard’s eyes looking at her were just insensitive. As if he had deliberately erased any emotion, or as if he had no feelings for her.
“You should already know without me having to explain.”
“How do I know what the Marquis didn’t explain?”
“Should I even go so far as to reveal the scandal spread by the princess with her mouth?”
Because he had enough courtesy, the scolding in his voice could be felt more clearly.
However, there was no change in the expression on Mariette’s face as he scolded her. Rather, it was the same with her questioning voice.
“A scandal…Would Lady Howard really think so? I think a little differently.”
“What do you mean?”
“Didn’t she hang out in front of the hotel with her subordinates, targeting you? I know the tricks of those ladies very well.”
Mariette looked at Leonhard and smiled gracefully.
“It’s the kind of lady I hate very much. She seeks to rise in status by seducing her opponent that overflows with her body.”
“Lady Howard is not that kind of person.”
“You do well to resist, you have met her a few times. I guess you’ve already had a deep relationship with her.
At that time, even Leonhard’s blue eyes, which were showing respect in front of the imperial family, were also fierce.
“Don’t insult her.”
“Are you mad at me with just a few words like this? You’d better not escort me because of that, Marquis.”
A tension was drawn between the two eyes that were looking directly at each other.
Outside, countless people were predicting this unmarried man and woman had the possibility of an engagement, but there was nothing like sweetness or affection in the atmosphere surrounding the two.
At that time, only the maids behind Mariette swallowed dry saliva and watched, as they felt like they would die if it took another month like this.
“Well, good. I accept the Marquis’ request. I did need someone to escort me.”
Until last year, it was the second prince who escorted her to a large ball. But now that he was married, she could not ask him to escort her now.
“You will get a list of dresses and accessories that I will wear to the ball from the maid so that the dress codes don’t match. Hopefully, others will not misunderstand between you and me.”
“Is that so?”
After his words, Leonhard drank the cooled tea all at once. Then he rose from his seat and put his fist on his chest, saying goodbye.
“Then I’ll leave now.”
The moment he turned around, he had just enough courtesy. Mariette, who had been sitting in the chair without thinking of seeing off the guest, impulsively opened her mouth.
“I’ll ask you one thing.”
Leonhard’s feet, which were about to go outside, stopped abruptly.
Mariette asked in a small voice as if talking to herself, only slightly turning her head and not paying attention to him who was looking back.
“Is there an Ajas’s pattern on an adopted child who is not an illegitimate child, but is said you have already made him the successor?”
Only then did ridicule and contempt pass over Mariette’s pink eyes as she looked back at Leonhard.
Looking at those cold, frozen eyes, Leonhard helplessly recalled Raenel’s eyes. Even in this cold winter, those eyes were filled with fresh and gentle warmth enough to remind him of a warm spring.
“See you at the ball.”
Still sitting in the chair, Mariette said goodbye. Seeing him at the ball meant don’t come again before then.
There was no disagreement because the purpose was achieved.
Leonhard, who bowed his head, turned around and came out from the palace of the second princess.
The list the maid had provided went into Robert’s hands.
The list that the maid took care of went into Robert’s hands. Walking after Leonhard to the carriage stand, checking the list, he uttered a short exclamation.
“Necklaces, earrings, bracelets. I know all about this. Shoes are covered by the hem of the dress, so we can’t even see them well, and she even wrote down the pearl color in the list…It seems that the second princess really doesn’t want to get involved with the captain, even by coincidence.”
“That’s a good thing. Thanks to that, I can avoid it.”
At his faint voice, Robert glanced up and checked Leonhard’s face.
After clearing his throat, Robert looked around and asked Leonhard in a low voice.
“Captain…It seems the second princess doesn’t like you.”
“She is too noble for someone like me to serve.”
‘Seeing his sarcastic remarks, the second princess must have been firmly in the previous meeting. I’m so glad I wasn’t there.’
Robert let out a short sigh.
“By the way, avoiding the things written here and not matching the dress code would be a job. Besides, the second princess doesn’t wear a tiara and decorates her hair with white lilies…You don’t even need to bring Boutonniere, right?”
When you are married, engaged, or in a relationship. When a woman adorned her hair with a flower, a man would put the same flower in his boutonniere to show off his affection.
This was not a custom, but a long-standing trend in the social world, so there was no need to keep it. It wasn’t even a relationship.
“Since the princess’s dress is white, the captain can prepare a black formal dress. It’s a New Year’s celebration ball, so you need to match new clothes….Captain?”
Robert, who had been walking for a long time with his eyes on the list, looked back in surprise when he saw that no one was walking ahead of him.
Leonhard stood tall with his gaze in the distance. Robert, who approached him with a puzzled face, looked at the place he was looking at, wondering what Leonhard was looking at.
There was an arch covered with pure white rose vines at what was supposed to be the entrance to the garden.
“I would like a white rose.”
“White roses. Just one.”
Suddenly, Leonhard recalled the memory of the first day he met Raenel.
[‘I had enough of this, so refuse all the other flowers.’]
‘What did I do with the rose that I took out of her hair and put in my handkerchief’s pocket?’
He didn’t remember. He wished he had cherished it more.
Leonhard felt heavy-hearted, as he seemed to blame the reality that he could not send a letter as he wished, even if he wanted to ask.
‘She will recognize me… If it’s her.’
Leonhard knows that he shouldn’t dare to do that at a time when Raenel has been involved in a dirty scandal with him. However, he still wanted to ask.
‘Can we meet again?’ will Raenel respond positively or not?’
Leonhard, who attended the ball thinking only of that. He doesn’t know. At a ball, a white rose is used for what purpose.
* * *
“Where do you look like that? Is there anything delicious there?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, That tart looks delicious.”
“You are very tough too. Can you breathe? Aren’t your corsets stuffy?”
Even though he said so, the younger brother brought a plate of strawberry tart to me.
I’m really full now. I dipped one of her mustard-eating, glistening, syrupy strawberries with a fork into my mouth.
[‘It means to meet secretly. Avoiding other people’s eyes.’]
‘I was going to ask Benjamin in more detail.’
So if we exchange white roses, when, where, and how do we secretly meet?
‘There are so many people!’
I couldn’t even see where Leonhard was. The same goes for the second princess.
‘Did he go back already? He asked me to meet you secretly, right?’
“What are you thinking? Is there anything else you want to eat?”
“uh? Oh no… Hey, is he really Duke Daphnen?”
“That guy? That’s right. why?”
“Just, I want to know how he knows our brother Liv. Did they know each other?”
My sister Lily and Benjamin went off to meet people they needed to get acquainted with on business, and the eldest brother, who was with us, was away to talk with Duke Daphnen.
“By the way, the duke, I think he saw me briefly before he left.”
“Well…Judging from His reaction earlier, it seems like it’s the first time seeing you, too.”
“But our brother moved to his seat because he had something to say. Oh, no way!”
‘I have a hunch…!’
“Is he going to be the matchmaker?”
Seeing my little brother looking at me in awe, I tilted my head, wondering if I had said something so mean.
“It’s time for Liv to get engaged, too. No, what is an engagement? He should get married soon.”
“Ahhh…him. He’s going to talk about you.”
“You worry about everything. just worry about yourself, because our eldest brother will take care of it.”
“I Will do it on my own.”
‘Mmm, so where is Leonhard! I can’t see him.’
“Brother, I’ll go to the restroom for a second.”
Putting down the plate, I skipped the detailed explanation and smiled. As if he had noticed what I meant, the little brother clicked his tongue once and spoke to me.
“You ate a lot.…go quickly, Call someone if you feel lost.”
“Yes. I’ll be back soon!”
Can I come back soon?
People around me seemed to notice, so I went to the restroom as I told my little brother.
I was thinking of sneaking if I saw Leonhard on the way, but he was nowhere to be found. He is such a conspicuous person that he is easy to spot wherever he is.
‘Did he really leave first?’
I couldn’t even find Leonhard, but at the end of the hallway, there was already a restroom.
In that case, I took out a magic bag from the dress seam pocket to fix my makeup.
‘Well, since the door is closed, it looks like there’s someone inside.’
Shall I just go in with a steel plate on my face and fix my makeup or should I look for another empty room?
But without Lily, I didn’t have the confidence to handle other people by myself. I also tried to turn my body around, thinking I better find a place where no one is.
“How is Count Howard? He’s still single, too.”
‘Count Howard? My eldest brother?’
It’s very, very bad to listen to it secretly, but aren’t they first talking about my brother in here?!
‘Is my brother insulted too?’
But this was the first time I caught the person.
* * *