Lloyd brings Tara up to speed on the situation and Andrei's theory, and Tara receives an unexpected gift.
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Episode 225. About 10 months (102)
I grabbed my chin and rolled my eyes upwards, pretending to think. My father leaned closer to me.
"Well, the brand name is..."
I paused for dramatic effect.
"Really? What do you think of the brand name?"
I clapped my hands.
"I think it's good. The drug's performance will be the same, but thanks to the name it will probably be Elias Pharmaceuticals’ best-selling drug. You won’t forget it after hearing it. It was named well. In addition, the catch phrase is good. I didn't know Aria had such a knack for this kind of thing!" I exclaimed.
As I admired the choices they’d made, my Father's face quickly brightened.
"You have a good eye as well. As expected, my bloodline has yielded great talents! By the way, Chloe's recognition and favorability has increased within the company. She's a consistently good worker, and now she's been recognized for her business sense. In addition, she will soon be appointed as a Second Aide in Princess Margaret's Palace."
I nodded in response.
"I heard Chloe pushed for it all by herself, but she definitely has a good drive and intuition."
I had to acknowledge that many of the women in this house were highly skilled. Including myself, of course.
My father nodded at my answer, then, after a moment he tilted his head. He just stared at my face silently.
"Why are you looking at me like that, Father?"
"It's just a little unexpected, isn't it?"
“Chloe is firmly establishing her position in the company, aren’t you worried about winning the headship?”
Oh! The headship contest. Shit, I forgot.
My competitor was doing well right now, but even though she was objectively skilled it was stupid to be commenting, 'Good. She's doing a good job!'
Wasn't my current stance very different from the initial one I’d made when I had been more desperate? So it was no wonder that my Father was looking at me strangely.
As soon as I realized it, my eyes suddenly widened and I waved my hands in front of me.
"Oh, no! Why should I be worried, Father? I'm already the Second Aide to His Highness, the Second Prince. Chloe is still only a Third Aide in Princess Margaret's palace. Of course, she's been nominated to become a Second Aide, but it’s unknown exactly when she will be appointed," I said in a rush.
I quickly downed my water to hide my awkward expression. I truly was my Father's daughter, because I also seemed to have no talent for acting.
"Hmm... What you say is all true, but–how do I put this? You seem a lot more relaxed than I expected..."
"That's understandable. But I'm also currently the closest to achieving your conditions, Father. So why should I be wary of Chloe's position in the company? Haha. I'm just focusing on my job right now, but don't you think that if I started working for the company in earnest, I'd show good results? I've already contributed to the heart medication, haven't I? Hahaha. And any leader who leads from the front doesn't necessarily need to get involved in everything."
I smiled and thumped my chest.
Hmm. Had I overdone it?
However, despite my unfounded concerns, my father nodded his head and smiled at me.
It turned out my acting skills were slightly better than my father's.
"Yes, indeed. You're the one who discovered the heart medicine, and by all appearances, you're the closest to 1st Aide, but don't let your guard down."
What? Was he indicating that I was the one he was pushing for the most?
As if he had read my expression, my father leaned back into his chair and advised me with a serious expression.
"I'm not saying I've chosen you! I meant that you should do your best. I would have given the same advice to Chloe, Logan, or Aria.”
Ah... It was the same advice he would give all his children...!
All of a sudden, I felt a rush of emotions come to the surface. Did he truly see me the same as he did the others now?
Although I was Ji Yeonwoo, I could still feel Tara Elias's emotions, and it felt like she craved the acknowledgement she had been deprived of in the past.
Was this why receiving recognition from my father felt so monumental?
"Yes, Father. Thank you for giving me such equitable advice."
My father's expression suddenly turned serious, and his mouth trembled.
Upon seeing his expression, I suddenly understood.
I had awakened my father's sense of guilt for neglecting me while I’d locked myself in my room for seven years.
After a while, my father slowly opened his mouth.
“In the past I only saw my pain and not yours. I was a bad father to you. I'm sorry that I’m late, sweetie."
The tip of my nose itched as if I had eaten a spicy pepper. But, I answered with a purposefully bright smile.
"Yes, Father. Thank you for telling me now."
My father pushed a plate with macarons and a slice of chocolate cake closer to me.
"You've gotten a lot thinner. Eat up."
Ah, suddenly the atmosphere was friendly.
I shouldn't get used to it!
"Hahaha." Feeling uncomfortable, I could only laugh awkwardly.
I thought it would be best to get up and leave sooner rather than later. However, just as I was preparing to stand up and excuse myself, my father raised his hand and pointed to my seat.
“I'm not done telling you everything. Hmm. Something happened while you were on the business trip.”
"Ah, yes. Go ahead, Father."
I sat up straighter with a serious expression.
"Master Andrei provided me with some information."
My father recounted the rumours circulating in the South and explained the decision that had been made at the family meeting not to help the Second Prince.
"There was a majority opinion to wait and see how the Second Prince manages this hurdle."
The decision made by the family was understandable enough that I didn't have anything to add.
“Does the Second Prince even know about the rumour?”
"Yes, Father. He knows."
"So? Has he come up with any countermeasures... Ah! No. I shouldn't trouble you by asking about your work matters."
I smiled and nodded at my father's words.
"Yes, Father. Please just watch from the side. However, if this incident seems likely to spark a fire with our family in the middle of it, I will discuss it with His Highness immediately."
"Yes, don't hesitate. Well then, you should hurry up and start preparing for your birthday... Oh, my!"
My father clapped his knee as I moved to stand up. I sat down again.
"What's wrong? Father?"
“Ah, well, Master Andrei said something odd.”
“Well, I was stunned. He said something nonsensical, that the Second Prince was interested in you romantically.”
Oh my God! Dammit Andrei! Why did he have to be so quick to catch on!
Crap! The men in this world were so damn tricky to deal with!
I held my breath for a moment. Fortunately, my father was still talking and banging on the table, so he didn't notice my panic.
“He said such nonsense so sincerely, I had to refute each of his claims one by one. To think that the leader of the Empire's best information network has such terrible intuition…!”
"Hahaha… Master Andrei has said a few weird things once or twice..."
While I spoke, my father lifted his head in realization and looked at me.
“No, it would be wrong to say that. He's the head of the Black Society for a reason, and the information he has provided so far has always been timely and correct. So I believe there must have been some basis for it. Do you think you are beside the Second Prince because he cares for you?"
"Oh, my God. So you're saying that you believe Master Andrei's theory?"
This wasn't the right time. It was clear as day that the minute my father found out about my relationship with him, my access to the Palace would be blocked immediately.
He accepted him (but not fully) as the Prince next in line to the throne, and backed the Second Prince publicly, but he was never going to accept the Second Prince in the private sense, as his daughter's partner.
Until now, Kyle had accumulated only one or two(?) merits in my Father's eyes.
If I ever wanted to tell him, even in private, I had to make sure he viewed Kyle more favourably first.
But would that be possible?
It was hard to imagine Kyle attempting to look good for my father.
Therefore, I definitely had to hide it for the time being.
So there was only one way to get out of this! And that was to play dumb.
"Really…? It sounds strange to you?"
"Yes! Until now, Master has collected practical information, checked the facts, and then only used the information after determining whether it was useful. That statement is purely his own speculation! What made him think something so odd? I'll have to ask him right after my birthday."
"That's okay. I already explained it thoroughly, and he accepted it and left."
"No, Father. This is something we definitely need to clear up! Clearly, Master has unrealistic expectations of my abilities. My God, what's wrong with him? …Hahaha."
"That's what I said! He thinks just because that guy isn't married yet that cold-hearted, and mean-spirited jerk is interested in you? When compared with someone as perfect as Viscount Theodore, it's obvious why that guy still isn't married at his age. Tsk tsk tsk."
Ha. And that was my second cue to make my exit...
Embarrassed, I tried to subtly defend Kyle. "Haha. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration... Ah! I should be going, I have to get ready for my birthday party. Hahaha. See you later, Father."
Then, I immediately left the office. Or, more accurately, I ran away.
I leaned against the office door and sighed deeply.
Well, that had gone well enough. Phew. Why did there have to be so many landmines to dodge?
I trudged up to my room. My head pounded at the thought of having to deal with Andrei later.
Phew... Andrei would never dismiss the idea like Father would. I was certain he would tenaciously try to dig into it... That left one option. Yes, there was no other way. Ugh.
When I returned to my room, I saw a box on the dressing table. It was Walter's birthday present…
Walter had told me not to come back to work until Monday, and gave me one day off work for doing the business trip and two days off for my birthday.
He had also congratulated me on my birthday and presented me with a nice leather whip with a good grip and an elegant silhouette.
My God, he had actually gotten me a leather whip for my birthday...
Before arriving at the Capital, he had asked to stop at a leatherworker's shop, and must've bought it then, and then hurriedly added a cute red ribbon.
Was this the kind of gift men typically bought for women in this world?
[What does this mean?]
[Not sure. Perhaps it's just a small wish of mine?]
I tilted my head.
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