The butler only spoke after following Damon’s gaze and glancing at the person ahead of them. Bastian had changed caretakers quite often in the past and it wasn’t because of bad-temper or anything of the sort but there were already rumors of it among the nobility.
So even the Crawford family people didn’t really consider the existence of Bastian’s caretaker as something to be kept a secret.
Of course, if Bastian was still the head of the family, his illness would be considered a secret that must not leak out but Bastian had long retired from the frontlines.
Meanwhile, Damon gave a brief nod as if he had no particular interest in mind when he asked. However, he studied the back of the person walking ahead of him in a non-obvious manner.
Damon watched the woman’s lustrous flowing hair sway softly by her slender waist. Every step she took caused her dress to sway, revealing her wrists and ankles which looked so thin like they could easily break. The bright light glaring down on the woman from the window on the wall made her seem blurry like she could disappear from his sight at any time.
The woman’s name was Anne-Marie Blanche.
She was 20 years old.
She had no parents and one younger sister under her care.
She worked at the Blue Ferret Clinic for about half a year but quit recently.
And she was visiting the mansion about 4 times a week as a caretaker for Bastian Crawford.
The contents of the initial investigation into her flew through Damon’s mind. Since he was in a hurry, only a simple personal investigation was done so he didn’t know any other detailed information about the woman, but that was enough for now.
“I’ll get going now, Butler-nim.”
“Yes, take care.”
Anne-Marie was sent off by another butler and went out of the door first.
Due to their difference in stride, Damon quickly caught up to Anne-Marie who was walking away ahead. And before the servant could close the door after her, Damon followed suit and went out the door.
There were a few lowered stairs in front of door.
Anne-Marie didn’t seem to have noticed Damon walking behind her yet. A cool breeze was blowing outside the building.
Anne-Marie’s hair shone dazzlingly under the sun and fluttered in the wind.
Damon’s gaze fell on the swaying ribbon which bound the similarly swaying threads of silver hair. Just as Anne-Marie stepped on the last foot of the stair, Damon stretched his hand out to her. Then he grabbed the end of the ribbon fluttering before his eyes and pulled it lightly.
However, unlike what he expected, the string didn’t come undone that easily, instead Anne-Marie exclaimed with surprise and turned around immediately.
Damon’s plan to start a conversation naturally by pretending to catch a runaway ribbon crumpled into dust.
By the time Anne-Marie turned around completely, Damon was still standing awkwardly, holding onto the ribbon hanging from her head.
The moment their eyes met, Damon stuttered in embarrassment.
“This is, uh…”
At the same time, wariness and suspicion filed into Anne-Marie’s eyes.
“Are you pulling my hair right now?”
A voice full of suspicion flowed from Anne-Marie’s mouth.
“It’s a misunderstanding!”
Damon straightened up with a start like he was about to blame someone for what he did.
“How can I pull your hair; I’m not a child, why would I do that? I was just…the ribbon looked like it was about to fall off so I was just trying to catch it before it fell to the floor.”
His excuses poured out of his mouth like rapid-fire.
“Is that so…?”
Anne-Marie looked at Damon with a little doubt in her eyes. But maybe she believed half of it because some of the caution in her eyes receded.
“Ehm, Ehem. Yes, so please don’t have misunderstand me; that wouldn’t be fair.”
Damon firmly hammered the nail in one more time.
“I see. I almost misunderstood.”
Since Anne-Marie wasn’t the type to be suspicious of people, she obediently nodded her head after hearing what he said.
She reached up and pulled down the half-loosened ribbon herself. Then she combed her fingers through her slightly tangled hair. Her dazzling silver hair shone even brighter than before and scattered in the wind.
Somehow, Damon felt slightly uncomfortable looking at this sight and cleared his throat a few times for no reason.
Then he noticed that Anne-Marie was about to leave and quickly opened his mouth.
“Now that I think about it, you’re from that sphere. To think I’d see you again here, what a coincidence.”
At that, Anne-Marie blinked and looked at Damon.
“Sphere? Have we met somewhere before?”
For an instant, Damon’s eyes twitched. His brows furrowed and he looked into Anne-Marie’s face, wondering if she was deliberately pretending not to know him. However, Anne-Marie was truly bewildered.
‘What the, is my presence that little?’
Damon inwardly grumbled and opened his mouth.
“We met at the shopping mall last time, didn’t we?”
With that, Anne-Marie’s expression changed into one of realization.
“The guy that fell from the window…”
“Yes. You’re only remembering it now, I guess your memory’s not the best.”
“Back then, it was dusty because of the explosion so I couldn’t see your face properly…so I didn’t know.”
Even though Damon’s tone was like he was trying to pick a fight, Anne-Marie didn’t look offended at all and merely spoke in an apologetic manner.
Because of that, Damon felt oddly embarrassed of his sarcastic remark earlier and changed his tone.
“Well, the situation was quite hectic at the time.”
Besides, he didn’t call Anne-Marie just now to look for trouble. Actually, for his plan, it was better for him to win Anne-Marie’s favor but he didn’t even know how the story went in another direction.
Damon copied a more gentle and kinder tone then he spoke.
“Since we’re at it, let me formally introduce myself. I am Damon Salvatore.”
“I’m Anne-Marie Blanche.”
Anne-Marie wondered if there was really a need to introduce themselves to each other, but she reliably returned Damon’s greeting.
“I’m glad you weren’t hurt that day and you seem okay too.”
“You as well, I heard you’re the caretaker for the former head of the Crawfords.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Seeing Anne-Marie slowly nodding her head, Damon deliberately planted a friendly smile on his lips.
“Are you busy right now? If it’s okay with you, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about…”
“And what is that? Damon Salvatore?”
However, someone appeared in the middle, cutting off his words.
Damon frowned at the appearance of an uninvited guest then he turned his head in the direction of the voice. Anne-Marie also did the same.
“I wonder what you have to say to my grandfather’s caretaker alone.”
The person who had coincidentally appeared was none other than Kalian.
Anne-Marie greeted Kalian a little awkwardly. She was just seeing him for the first time today. Somehow, the atmosphere around Kalian was oddly sharp lately so it was a little difficult for her to treat him like before.
“Yes, hello, Miss Anne-Marie.”
Kalian faced Anne-Marie and greeted her calmly like usual. Damon’s eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at Kalian’s actions.
Since Kalian was here, it would be impossible for him to hold Anne-Marie here and talk a little more.
“I was just happy to meet someone who overcame a crisis with me, and it’s been a while, so I wanted to talk a little.”
In the end, Damon decided to step back here for today and changed the topic.
“By the way, I haven’t seen you in a while too. Have you made any progress in your ongoing case?”
At that, Kalian turned away from Anne-Marie and looked at Damon.
“I should be asking you; my father was wondering if the tracking of the alchemist was going well. Is that why you came today?”
Hearing that, Damon squeezed a sharp smile onto his lips.
“Indeed, but I wasn’t called in the end. Apparently, he’s too busy to meet me. As you can see, I’m on my way back after just wasting my time.”
“Is that so.”
At Damon’s words, Kalian frowned a little.
Damon glanced at Anne-Marie who was beside him. This was an unexpected chance to talk naturally so he felt it was a bit of a pity but it couldn’t be helped.
He decided to excuse himself at this point and said his goodbyes first.
“Anyways, I don’t have anything else scheduled so I’ll get going now. Well, Ms. Blanche, since we couldn’t talk today, we’ll leave it for another time.”
Like that, Damon left and only Kalian and Anne-Marie remained.
“Um, I’ll get going too then.”
Now that it was just the two of them, the earlier awkwardness seemed to return so Anne-Marie gave Kalian a clumsy smile and said her goodbye.
“Yes. Be careful on the way.”
Kalian saw Anne-Marie off with a somewhat dry tone.
Anne-Marie turned, walked a few steps forwards then she turned around again to look at Kalian.
“Uh, is the dog okay?”
When she hesitantly asked, Kalian paused.
“I heard it from Grandfather. He said the dog was actually sick.”
After a brief pause, Kalian spoke.
“…You don’t have to worry. It hasn’t completely recovered but it’s getting better.”
His voice was a tad more gentle than before. His expression had also softened slightly.
Anne-Marie looked at him and carefully opened her mouth again.
“If it’s okay, can I take a look at the dog? Maybe I can help.”
And at her following words, Kalian’s hand which was at his side flinched for an instant.
“This might sound weird to you but…actually, when I touch things, sometimes I feel like my patients’ wounds or illness get better really quickly. Sometimes, it’s really clear…”
But as Anne-Marie was speaking, her eyes met Kalian’s again and her cheeks soon reddened like she was embarrassed.
“Ah, of course, I could just be mistaken. No, actually, it’s probably just an illusion, right? I’m sorry, I’m saying something strange…”
“Have you ever told anyone else this before?”
Kalian asked, his expression a lot stiffer than before.
“Mm, no…I haven’t.”
“Then it would be better to continue like that.”
Kalian’s firm words made Anne-Marie sullenly shut her mouth. She knew what she said must have sounded like nonsense, so she felt sheepish and embarrassed.
However, Kalian’s reaction was for a different reason than what Anne-Marie thought.
As Anne-Marie said goodbye again and walked away, Kalian watched her leave with a stiff pair of eyes.
* * *
“So you better be early like I ordered…”
Lakis’ voice came to standstill in the middle of giving Odin orders. As soon as someone touched the front door, he noticed it.
This presence obviously belonged to Yuri.
However, she was coming back much earlier than said when she left this morning.
“Oh, it’s Arachne.”
Lakis’ ferocious gaze flew to Odin who was sitting there foolishly in front of him.
“Oi, what are you doing? Will you get out?”
Odin belatedly realized his mistake and quickly turned into a crow then he flew out the window opposite the front door.
—Hey, hey, there’s feathers on the floor!
Hearing the voice ringing in his head, Lakis lowered his head and ground his teeth when he saw the various traces left by Odin.
While that happened, Yuri opened the door and entered the house.
Lakis displayed an instance of quick reflexes as he shoved the feathers in an inconspicuous corner.
—There’s one more there!
But there was still one feather he hadn’t discovered beforehand. Because Odin had cleaned the house so well today, the black feather stood out even more clearly.
Before Yuri entered deeper into the house, Lakis hurried moved into action.
“Mr. Lakis, what are you doing?”
And so when Yuri found him, Lakis was squatting in front of the cherry tomato pot that she bought the other day.
“Oh, you’re back? I was just passing by and it looked like there was a fruit on this thing.”
He shoved the feather in his hand roughly into his pocket and turned to look at Yuri.
“Is that so?”
Yuri tilted her head and walked up to Lakis.
Then she squatted next to Lakis in the exact same way and looked into the flowerpot. As she tilted her head, her long hair flowed to the front.
At that moment, Lakis’ eyes trembled slightly.
“I can’t really see it, where’s the fruit?”
Yuri looked over the seedlings in the flowerpot then she asked Lakis while turning her head.
That very moment, Lakis grabbed Yuri’s arm. As he lowered his head forward, his finely threaded blonde hair scattered gently.
Yuri unconsciously stopped moving when his beautiful face drew much closer than before. Lakis’ gold-hued lashes were lowered, casting a soft shadow over his eyes.
After a while, Lakis lifted his eyelids again. His clear blue eyes looked directly at Yuri.
Lakis leaned towards her and his lips slowly parted.
“…It smells like a man’s perfume.”
 Runaway ribbon: his exact words were ‘a ribbon blown away by the wind’ but I thought runaway fit better
 The ‘Miss’ used here is a different from the other ‘Ms.’ The one used here is for someone younger(?) than you. The other one is usually for politeness.