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In which Tara tries to get away from John Hutt, Lloyd contemplates a few things, and Kyle and Angela have a 'pleasant' time at the banquet.
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Episode 214. About 10 months (91)
John Hutt. The reason he'd been so respectful to me at the start wasn't because he actually respected me, it was simply a ploy to seduce a woman he had just met.
I had mistaken him for a gentleman, but he was crazy.
This wasn't the Capital, where I had a lot people on my side. Where were the men like Bernard or Theodore when I needed them? I had misjudged his manners as being similar to Kyle's.
In reality, men like Jason were everywhere.
I glared at him with the calmest and coldest expression I could muster.
And he smirked.
I hastily turned around when he was about to approach me again and headed to the back door of the banquet hall as fast I could.
I quickened my pace, but as I passed through the back door, I saw him following me in the full-length mirror hanging on the wall, just three steps between us.
Son of a bitch...
He was running after me, rubbing his hands together with an arrogant smile on his face, as if he found it all very amusing.
Lloyd was sitting alone in the conference room of the Elias mansion. It was almost dinner time.
He lifted the final sample bottle of the heart medicine, sent by Elias Pharmaceuticals, to eye-level.
"Are we finally progressing?"
After inheriting the Elias name from his father, his predecessor, he had failed to maintain relations with the Imperial Family. However, House Elias' position as a merchanting group always remained the same. Sometimes, they would fall to sixth, seventh, or ninth place, but they had never risen above the fifth place.
"Losing the patent is regrettable, but the profit will be greater."
He pulled on a bell string and called Elias Pharmaceutical's general production and sales manager to the conference room.
"We'll start the production tomorrow and name the medicine this."
The branch manager, who took the memo Lloyd had handed him, stuttered in surprise when he saw the contents.
"You give p–permission, sir?"
"When Chloe first suggested it, I thought it was ridiculous, but as soon as she made a formal proposal, I readily agreed with it. I don't know if it's because it's in my blood, but my intuition is strong, don't you think?"
"Hahaha. Yes, sir. All the branch managers at the meeting said it wouldn't work, but she got it through on her own. To make it look so good takes great drive and determination. It's in the blood of Elias' merchanting groups too, sir."
The branch manager waved his hands at Lloyd, full of energy.
"Haha. Leave it at that... Don't flatter me."
Lloyd said that, but he didn't notice that the corners of his lips rose and fell.
"What do you mean, flattery? I was just telling you the truth, sir. Besides, I heard the phrase next to the label is the work of Lady Aria. It's such a catchy phrase. As expected from your family!"
Once again, Lloyd smiled broadly at the branch manager's exaggerated words.
"Hahaha. I didn't know our youngest member would be so talented. After all, our bloodline never fails to live up to the expectations, do they...?"
"Naturally! Your family doesn't fall short!"
"Well, you're not lying. Yes, all of it is true."
"Of course, sir, hahaha."
"... That's why I'm worried."
When the branch manager asked for clarification because he didn't understand what was going on, he waved his hands and said, "It's not a big deal."
Even after the branch manager left, Lloyd sat at the desk in the conference room for a long time, pondering.
One by one, the children he considered useless a year ago began to impress him.
"I'm sure the next head of the household will be remarkable..."
Not knowing who would succeed him was an issue, but it was also an issue he was aware he needed to solve.
'Hmm... What should I do?'
Lloyd's troubles continued for a while, until a servant came to announce dinner.
During Reese Castle's big event, numerous eyes rested on the 2nd Prince, darting back to him again and again.
It proved how extraordinary the Second Prince's presence was.
Angela believed that if it wasn't for the dim lights or his unapproachable aura, a large number of people would've come up to him and started a conversation to get to know him.
He had completely turned away from her, as if he thought he had fulfilled his escort duties by entering the banquet hall with her and pulling her chair out.
The Second Prince occasionally drank his whiskey, and barely answered the questions she found the courage to ask, or didn't answer at all.
So, their conversation was one-sided and cut off shortly after it began. It was questionable whether it could even be called a conversation at all.
But Angela didn't mind that.
It was the 2nd Prince, whom she dreamed of all this time.
She was thrilled to sit by his side and hear his responses to her personal questions, even though they were short.
She cautiously asked again, mustering the courage. "Do you have a favourite book?"
Without looking at her, he replied,
"The Military Code."
"As expected, you enjoy that sort of thing. I sometimes looked through the books in my father's study, but I never knew which one to start with. A lot of things were definitely too difficult for me to read."
Angela was talking more than usual.
She internally told herself to stop, but she kept talking to him because it was hard to control her feelings now that she had met him.
"Can you recommend a good book for beginners?"
"Let me see, are you asking for something you can read as a hobby?"
This was the first question he had directed back at her. She wanted to clap her hands and smile broadly, but she managed to hold it in out of fear that she might look too frivolous.
She looked up at him, trying to calm her pounding heart and excitement. His gaze, as he slowly glanced at her, was indifferent.
"There is no such thing."
Angela, confused by the Second Prince's flat response for a moment, hurriedly took a sip of water to hide her crestfallen expression.
"Oh... Right. My question was wrong. Please forgive me. The Military Code is definitely a book necessary for real life, but I took it too lightly."
There were no more questions or answers.
At some point, the Prince crossed his arms and stared at a spot in front of him.
The lighting at this side of the table was especially dim, so it was impossible to correctly identify the Prince's expression, but Angela inferred he wasn't in a very good mood because of the chilly energy he emitted.
'He's not here because he wants to be.'
Angela felt kind of sorry. She called a busy servant and made a separate order of finger food that would pair well with whiskey.
A variety of grilled dishes along with a variety of Southern fruits were placed on a plate in bite-size pieces and brought to Angela.
"The fruits in the Southern region have a high sugar content, so they taste very sweet and good when they melt in your mouth."
Angela carefully moved the plate towards the Second Prince.
The Prince glanced at Angela with a frown on his forehead and quickly turned his eyes back to the front.
Angela cringed for a moment, but then she pulled herself together again.
'I'm lucky just to be sitting next to him. Let's not expect too much at once.'
As soon as she made up her mind, she smiled again. Her heart, which had been pounding for a while at the reminder that he was next to her, accelerated a little.
Every time she glanced at him, the Prince's presence overwhelmed her, making her face heat up.
'Who has caught His Highness's eyes like this?'
She followed the Prince's line of sight, but it was difficult to tell who exactly his gaze was aimed at because there were so many people.
Angela thought he was just looking forward meaninglessly when the Prince’s Aide came into view.
'Oh my! So pretty...'
An idea popped into Angela's mind as soon as she saw her. When Tara was introduced to her as an Aide, the businesslike atmosphere had completely disappeared, and she had become a little flustered at the appearance of the pretty young lady, full of fresh charm.
'Hold on, flustered? Why am I flustered?'
Angela was puzzled by her feelings, but she didn't pay them much attention and dismissed them as useless.
She believed her emotional state could hardly be stable now that the Second Prince, whom she had been dreaming of all this time, was sitting next to her.
"I didn't know the Aide was so pretty."
"Is that so?"
She thought he wouldn't reply as usual, but he did. Not only that, he even turned his head and glanced at Angela, which she didn't expect him to do.
Delighted, Angela smiled shyly and began praising his Aide. She was sure that if she complimented the Prince's employee, he would be pleased.
"Yes. I think the dress is a little too much, but it still goes really well with her hair colour. On top of that, her silhouette is lovely and her skin looks soft. That snug necklace looks especially great around her pale neck."
"Damn it... That's true as well."
Since there was no response, Angela continued speaking, thinking she had misheard the words "damn it".
"And it seems like she's getting along well with those people she's just met, it's nice to see them eat together."
"She's eating well."
Laughter was mixed in his voice. She felt agitated for a moment, which was strange, but she didn't know exactly why she was suddenly feeling like this.
She stopped talking for a moment and it was silent again. Then she began to feel impatient, fearing that the conversation would end there.
"I think it's amazing what she's done as a woman. She passed those difficult exams, and while women are often assigned to the inner Palace, she...!"
The Prince suddenly rose from his seat. After placing the napkin on his lap on the table, he grasped the back of Angela's chair.
She was so startled that she tried to get up from her seat, but the Prince bent his upper body towards Angela.
He grabbed the back of her chair and the table respectively, then quickly whispered, so only she could hear.
They were just a short distance apart. The Prince, looked at her with cold eyes on his expressionless face, too close.
Angela's face instantly overheated.
"I'm only sitting next to you because Diane asked me to."
The Second Prince watched her with a dark expression.
"Well, I'm sorry I asked too much of you. I was just thinking about my feelings...!"
"Yes. You were only thinking about that. Those questions and emotions are yours . Stop it now!"
With that, he turned right around and left the banquet hall.
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