< — Meeting People — > (2)
With the Duke of Taran as the center, the radius of people around him strangely fell silent like it was in a different world. Only the Duke who caused this situation was perfectly calm. Even his movement as he placed his empty glass on a passing servant’s tray and picked up a new glass was very natural. He was normally a brazen person. He didn’t know the meaning of shyness or embarrassment. The only time he cared about a person’s gaze and thoughts was when it came to his wife.
“…Your relationship with the Duchess seems good.”
Kwiz broke the silence. He couldn’t contain himself and opened his mouth. At first, it was intriguing but because he was just watching, they actually showed off their romance at his celebration party. It irritated his eyes.
“Newlyweds, aren’t they?” (Kwiz)
Everyone nodded their head then they felt a sense of incongruity. Hadn’t it been a year and a half since the ducal couple got married? It was a vague period to confidently call them newlyweds.
Kwiz then asked the question they all had in mind.
“How long is the newlywed period?”
“Until a baby is born.”
Oho, indeed. Those nodding their head realized one beat too late that the definition of ‘newly-wed period’ was not the important thing here. The problem was that even if he had married yesterday, the action they had just witnessed was done by none other than the Duke of Taran.
People’s gazes were already drawn to the ducal couple from when they began exchanging affectionate whispers. Even those that were debating grew silent and trained their eyes on them. Whatever the two of them were talking about, they were happy and didn’t seem to care who saw.
The warmth in the Duke’s eyes as he gazed at his wife was surprising, and his affectionate loving expression was simply jaw slacking.
“…Gong, you seem to have fallen in love.” (Kwiz)
As expected of His Majesty. Everyone inwardly clapped for Kwiz who boldly and bluntly said what they were unable to say.
Hugo looked at Kwiz expressionlessly. He had no intention of falling for the King’s eloquence and providing a clue for the rumors.
“I did not know Your Majesty knew that word.”
When the Duke of Taran changed the subject, the people around looked regretful. Especially the women. It was regrettable because they would have been able to make a topic that could be gossiped about for three days and nights. Although sometimes there were groundless rumors, there were no rumors that dropped from the cloud. There had to be at least one word of credibility for it to be ‘fleshed out’. All the rumors that hit the social circle were made that way.
“Hm? How does Gong see this King? This king is a romanticist.”
Many people broke out in merry laughter.
Hugo chuckled. The throne was a position gained by stepping on the blood and lives of many. The owner of that seat saying such a thing was a very humorous. Kwiz killed his brothers to keep his position. Even if they were his half-brothers, he had no hesitation in cutting down his flesh and blood. This decisiveness played a role in why Hugo chose to support Kwiz.
“Speaking of which, Gong. Consider telling us little of the inside story. I’m not the only one interested in Gong’s love story.”
It was a remark that could devalue the dignity of the King but that was Kwiz’s strange charm. Even when he moderately tossed authority to the side and joked around, he did not lose his dignity. He was good at walking on a tightrope without going over the edge. Which was likely why there were a lot of young nobles that supported Kwiz.
“No, thank you. One word will turn into a hundred words.” (Hugo)
“Gong doesn’t care about rumors, no?”
The memory of her asking if he liked busty beauties rose up in Hugo’s mind. All this while, he had been diligently collecting rumors in case a bad rumor rose up about her, or in case she heard a ridiculous rumor about him and misunderstood. But it would seem, that just that wasn’t enough. He didn’t care about trashy rumors, but he felt the need to crack down more aggressively.
* * *
Lucia fled to the break room. It hadn’t been long since the party started so there weren’t many people in the spacious break room.
“Bring me a glass of water.”
Lucia sent the attending maid by her side on an errand and took time to catch her breath. She covered her burning face with her hands.
‘I have to rest till the tipsiness subsides.’
She was not that drunk but without realizing it, her mood had gotten excited. And a mistake can happen when she was like this. But soon, Lucia’s expression darkened. Didn’t she already make a huge mistake? It was mistake in of itself to induce his mischievousness.
‘Even while knowing he doesn’t care about people’s gazes…’
She shouldn’t have given him a reason. No matter what she said, he didn’t change, so she should have been careful.
Lucia drank the water that the maid brought back and when she took off her shawl, cool air hit her shoulders and her back.
‘Don’t tell me…because of my back?’
Lucia toyed with the shawl and was lost in thought. She had been wondering why he suddenly gave her a shawl and didn’t want her to take it off but now, she felt like she knew the answer and couldn’t help but laugh.
‘Was he always such a conservative man?’
She had heard that there were men who didn’t like the exposure of their wife or lover, but she did not know that he was one of them. Seeing as he went through the trouble of getting a shawl, he seemed to really not like it. By the looks of it, Antoine would be incriminated.
‘Oh well. Since it’s come to this, I’ll use this chance to make a deal with Antoine.’
Antoine had sent a receipt with an enormous price after her first visit but the charge for this coronation dress was considerably cheaper. Lucia had gone through purchasing a dress at the time of the victory party so she knew that the price should have been several times higher than the current price. No matter how you looked at it, it was strange.
Lucia kept silent because a debut dress was absolutely necessary for her but she planned on finding out what was happening sooner or later.
“Duchess. I’m sorry to interrupt your rest. May I trouble you for a moment?”
The break room was an area that wasn’t restricted by decorum. Even if the Queen came in, the resting women did not have to rise and give their greetings. The goal was to allow quiet rest therefore even if one were to have a discussion, speaking loudly was rude.
Lucia was not tired so the disturbed rest didn’t really bother her. She looked at the woman who greeted her.
“Have a sit, Lady Alvin.”
“Ah, you remember me. I’m glad.”
Today, the Count of Alvin brought his unmarried younger sister as his partner instead of his wife, Sofia. Ever since that day, Sofia had secluded herself at home. Even if today was the coronation party, if Sofia had come out, Lucia would have taken it as a disregard of her warning. It was fortunate that Sofia wasn’t foolish to the extent of not understanding the meaning of her words.
“My brother wanted me to apologize to Duchess for my sister-in-law’s mistake. He sincerely requested for me to talk to you if he did not get the chance in person. She made a really big mistake. Please, I ask for your indulgence. I don’t dare to ask for your forgiveness. I only plead that you release your anger.”
“I have already forgotten about this matter. There is no need for Lady Alvin to apologize. I will accept Sir. Alvin’s apology.”
“Thank you very much for your generous words.”
Lady Alvin smiled bitterly. If the Duchess had really forgiven her, she would have said, ‘When you meet the Countess, tell her we should have a talk sometime’, in order to make a promise for the future and lift the order of confinement.
This forgiveness was perfunctory. It was a mistake to think that because the Duchess was young, if she was humored and gently appeased, she would quickly soften. Lady Alvin said her farewell and stood up.
Lucia indifferently watched as Lady Alvin went to a corner of the break room and began talking to some woman. She couldn’t hear what they were talking about so she lost interest and turned away. Lucia suddenly remembered something and turned to look at the woman again.
Dark brown hair, cat-like eyes, slightly upturned lips and a mole under the eye. The woman was matching the description that Norman gave her. She was similar to the noblewoman that went to find Norman in order to look into Lucia.
Lucia asked the maid to find out who the woman was. The maid came back soon with information gotten from the older handmaids. As usual, she(the maid) was a tactful child.
“She is called the Countess of Falcon.” (Maid)
Lucia had never seen Anita in her dream. She had heard rumors that the woman had unexpectedly married three times but the Countess of Falcon did not really show herself in the social circle. If she had not overheard his conversation with Sofia, she would not have known that the Countess of Falcon was his secret mistress.
‘Why did she investigate me secretly?’
It was not clear if the woman was aiming for her or was aiming to use her to get to him. It was possible that, like Sofia, it was done because of personal feelings but it was also possible that there was some underlying motive behind it.
If there was really a purpose, the woman would definitely approach her. If the woman approached her for whatsoever reason, Lucia planned on telling him.