Updated: Sep 8
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Where Tara discovers the old Duchess's possible plans and Kyle's feelings start to act up…
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Episode 151. About 10 Months (28)
“You don't really think so. This is just an accidental encounter. Given the circumstances, do you think I planned this meeting by any chance?"
I shook my head slowly.
Our meeting in the Winter Garden didn’t finish on the highest of notes so, why would Theodore organize this meeting?
"It's not like that, but isn't it possible that this kind of plan was formed because you were in sympathy of it?"
Theodore folded his arms.
“It was the right thing to say, but I didn’t like it either. It was an inevitable choice.”
“This is an unwanted meeting for both of us, don’t you think this is a waste of time?”
Tilting his head, Theodore frowned heavily.
"Yeah. It's a waste of both time and energy."
“I felt it in the Winter Garden, but if you look closely, you don’t act like a young aristocrat. This is not a waste, but a kind of procedure to strengthen the relationship between noble families. This kind of meeting is indispensable. To think of it as a waste. It is surprising.”
Ugh, his fancy, noble play.
“… I have a lot to say, but I won't."
“Ha, oh my, that’s good. But please don’t pour out too much animosity. It's the first time I've ever seen a woman act like that, so I'm quite embarrassed. It's also my first time meeting a geek like you, as well. Which is also embarrassing.”
"Is that so? It's not that I hate the Viscount. I just hate this relationship."
“By the way, could you please explain the circumstances of this accidental meeting?"
He shrugged his shoulders once more.
"I just chose the muddy field to avoid the thorny path."
“Ah, that’s right. I'm glad. You're aware that this place is a muddy field. Then, why don't you dare follow me in this muddy field? …!"
I stopped talking. It was because his face kept getting closer to mine as I was talking, invading my personal space.
"Don't you think you’re too close, Viscount?"
He pulled back and asked.
“Are you unable to sleep?”
"You’ve got dark circles under your eyes look very tired. Maybe it's because of your meeting with me?"
“Well, it’s like the sentences written in the letters I get from young girls.”
I shouldn't have asked.
"You seem to have trouble sleeping because you think of me all night. I keep appearing in your dreams.”
I took a step back and looked him up and down slowly.
“Why do you look at me that way?”
"Are you serious?"
“I am not good at telling lies. I will not dishonour myself, especially in front of a woman.”
“Also, I have a lot to say, but I won’t.”
“I’m done. The story keeps taking a tangent. Ha.”
There was no room for arguing that he was a young 'old man' with serious narcissism issues as well.
I took a deep breath. I no longer had the energy to talk in 'battle mode'.
As he said, I was tired because I couldn't sleep, and my head was pounding from thinking too much, so I didn't want to argue any more.
“As you can see, I am a little tired, so I’ll go now."
I bowed lightly and, trying to avoid him, move towards the sitting area.
But he was quick to block my way. So, he’s agile as well. After all, he is supposed to possess a lot of qualities…
“Didn't I tell you that I came from a thorny field? I’ll escort you.”
“No need to… I can go alone. I’m not that tired."
Theodore shook his head in frustration.
"Over there. Can you see it?"
Where he indicated, my Father and the Duchess were staring at us, pretending not to.
"I see, why?"
“Perhaps, if the two of us split up and go in different directions now, whenever there is an opening, the two who are watching us will somehow re-create a different encounter, a thorny road that is harder than the one we escaped from.”
“My grandmother has a strong will and an amazing drive. Don't you know?"
“Oh. What kind of thorny road is it?"
“For example, after the banquet, they want us to go for a night walk together, or they want us to go to the Tandra Mansion’s library together because there is a precious book there they wish to show us. Perhaps, the two of us will be stuck in a maze of promenades or left in a locked study outside."
I furrowed my brow. If ever it was rumoured that the two of us had been together all night, I’d have to get married the very next day.
“It is more than just a thorny road. It is a disgusting one. As I said, the easiest is the banquet’s muddy ground.”
I glanced to the side with a sharp gaze, and Theodore's curious one was staring down at me.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Hmm. I do not know. It's kind of weird."
“What are you excited about?”
“This is the first time we’ve had a conversation like this.”
“Honestly, I never thought I would be able to have a conversation like this with a woman. How rare is it, a conversation that goes on without interruption?"
'What kind of bullshit is that?' I wanted to ask, but I held back.
Feeling strongly, I straightened my back and asked:
"Maybe quote: 'You've never met a woman like this in your life.'? End quote."
His brow frowned once more.
“Is it possible? I'm not a child, and I've had conversations with women before, of course, but not like this, it's different."
“How is it different?”
“There is no falsehood. To be more precise, there is no feeling of pretense.”
It seems like a compliment, but maybe also a subtle insult?
He continued, “I think it could be interpreted as saying that it lacks the dignity of the nobleman.”
"That's right. I think it's because I have different opinions from the ordinary noble girl. Haha. Anyway, I rejected the first two methods because they were too artificial. So, fortunately, you get to see the third this time. Let's just wait until dinner. I will be patient.”
It was a sensible thing to say. The method he mentioned earlier was the worst. The thought of being left alone with him was terrifying.
I continued, "Okay. So, let's make a selective alliance for today. So, at dinner, we don't have to talk about marriage and duty anymore."
I took on a serious expression before looking at him once more.
He smiled, showing his even teeth.
'Which part of my speech do you find amusing, boy?'
He was prettier because he smiled.
“The language is refreshing. Yes. Enemies turned allies against a common enemy is good. Let's not have such far-sighted conversations today."
The smile on his face was so refreshing that it almost seemed like Theo was laughing at the same time.
What? Don't laugh like that just because I want us to be allies.
Meanwhile, Second Prince Kyle was surrounded by a group of local nobles.
He was a Prince who had always been known only indirectly. All they knew was that he commanded the troops and watched him return from afar, or the Prince who was briefly mentioned in the newspapers by solving cases for the Ministry of Security.
Even during the Hunting Contest, Second Prince Kyle was always busy. He, who could not be reached easily, promised the establishment of a system for nurturing talents at the mid-term banquet and presented its draft.
The young local aristocrats, who had been thinking about how to get even a little bit of information, flocked to Kyle, thinking that he was handsome.
"I… Your Highness. May I ask questions about the draft for the Talent Training System?"
“… If you want.”
When the Prince, whom everybody had thought would say 'no' answered the questions, they began to pour in left and right.
It was not that Kyle didn't think about this outcome, but the topic was hotter in noble circles than he thought.
Older local nobles left a short remark while looking at the younger nobles who had gathered around the Second Prince.
'Talented people can't be discovered because they don’t have a place to demonstrate and enhance them. How good will this system be?'
Interestingly, the large banquet hall was divided into groups that seemed to have been divided by an invisible economic zone.
The Toulouse aristocrats gathered around the 1st and 3rd Princes, the Royalists gathered around the Emperor and some local aristocrats.
The high-ranking ladies gathered around the Empress. And the young local aristocrats gathered around the Second Prince.
There was a small group that couldn’t be classified into any other inclinations. Most of them were young children or old ladies.
A very small number of aristocratic men who were not interested in politics or careers also belonged to this category.
As he waited for the dinner to begin, Kyle listened to the free discussion of those around him.
They had a heated discussion about helping with the Talent Training System, and they wanted Kyle to listen.
He added appropriate comments and opinions and gave directions so as not to obscure the point.
He grabbed a glass of wine from a servant passing by and brought it to his lips.
And, with one shoulder against the wall, Kyle focused on their opinions.
A very passionate local nobleman had been verbosely talking for a few minutes.
Kyle gently lifted the glass he brought to his mouth and organized the lengthy opinions in his head.
Suddenly, he saw a profile he recognised in the distance, looking up at someone with her eyes wide open.
It was his assistant.
'… I thought she was leaving because she was going straight to the door… She didn't.'
Her profile, frowning as if she found something unsavoury, caught his attention for quite some time.
'She doesn’t hide her dissatisfaction at all… Her earring, I'll have to give it back.'
Without realizing it, he smiled and put his hand inside his jacket pocket.
Kyle started to take a step forward, then stopped and pondered for a moment.
It hadonly been a couple of days since he said he'd give her time to think. Besides, the complex and subtle gaze she threw at him earlier…
Kyle, who was angry at the thought, put her earring back in his pocket and leaned against the wall.
He thought he should give her little head, which was still hard to decipher, a little rest.
He decided to put up with it, respecting her small desires.
Anyway, she would come to him as soon as she made up her mind. It was just a question of time.
Feeling magnanimous, he smiled slowly and listened to the other young lords as they continued the discussion.
A silhouette came into view. A man, standing next to his Aide.
It was Theodore Stuart.
The two were acting naturally, as if they had been here together from the start.
His Aide looked up at Viscount Stuart, seemingly paying attention to his words.
Kyle crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall.
He was thankful for the cold wall against his back.
And he savoured the wine very slowly, watching them calmer and colder than ever before.