* * *
“Is the food to your liking?”
“Yes, the chef’s skills are amazing.”
I nodded my head to Bastian’s question and replied. Anne-Marie also agreed with me after tasting the food placed in front of her.
Some moments ago, the chef came out in person and went into detailed explanation about the main dish and how it was prepared and seasoned with special grade veal and although his face was bursting with pride, I honestly didn’t really understand what he saying.
‘If Lakis heard all that, he might understand it.’
As I was eating the expensive and delicious food alone, I suddenly thought of Lakis who was staying at home by himself.
It was unexpected but Lakis seemed to be interested in cooking so maybe he would have understood the chef’s lengthy explanation quite easily.
Then again, if you think about it, he was titled the King of Carnot, so he had definitely eaten a variety of expensive and delicious foods compared to me, no?
So there was really no need for me to worry about Lakis because I was eating something delicious by myself now.
I began to savor the meat in my mouth, feeling much more comfortable than before. However, I did feel a little regretful since the food would certainly taste more delicious if I was eating it at home while holding Lakis’ hand.
Of course, I didn’t mean that in a pink bubbly romantic sense where lovers go ‘all I need is you by my side!’ or something. It was just that when I held Lakis’ hand, my feeling returned, and my taste improved so the food was more delicious.
It was already so delicious despite my dull state, so I could only imagine how much more impressive it would get if Lakis’ hand-taste(?) was added to it.
‘That aside, the atmosphere is strange.’
While I ate my food with hidden regret, I glanced at Dominic and Kalian who were sitting opposite each other. Even if I put Dominic aside since he had always been like this since the first time I saw him, the feeling I was getting from Kalian was somewhat strange today.
To begin with, his expression looked more grim than usual. And with his face so stiff like that, he looked more like his father.
‘Did something bad happen?’
Still, for it to be so obvious, I felt this wasn’t like Kalian at all. Of course, it’s not like I knew him that well.
Nevertheless, since Bastian kept beaming happily as if he was full just by seeing us eat, the atmosphere was thankfully neutralized a little. If not, although I would be fine, Anne-Marie might get an upset stomach from the stuffiness of the situation.
In the first place, everyone sitting in this room was pretty much staying silent.
Indeed, Bastian talked to Anne-Marie and I from time to time but that was the only sound that arose in the dining room.
Dominic and Kalian ate quietly with their mouths sealed and their utensils didn’t even make a sound. Meanwhile, Bastian looked like he was familiar with such an atmosphere, so he didn’t think the two were acting strange. On top of that, I was a rather quiet person myself, so I didn’t speak.
Honestly, I felt like Anne-Marie was the only one suffering in this situation.
Perhaps the quiet atmosphere made her feel like there was a lump in her throat because she picked up the wine glass next to her in a cautious manner and took a sip to moisten her throat.
“Ah, this wine…!”
And then, Anne-Marie exclaimed without thinking. Of course, once the gazes of other people turned to her, she was immediately flustered and her face flushed red.
However, the wonder in her voice was definitely more than when she tasted the veal steak a while ago.
“You like the wine?”
Bastian said with a chuckle. At that, Anne-Marie smiled, looking embarrassed.
“It tastes like a wine I’ve tried once before so I unconsciously just…”
Right then, Dominic opened his mouth which had been clammed shut the entire time.
“I prepared this wine specially since Father said he was holding a welcome party, are you knowledgeable about wines?” 
“I’m not knowledgeable per se, I’m just a little interested because my father used to like it.”
“This is a 121 year old Bortein.”
“Ah, no wonder.”
Anne-Marie nodded, looking quite happy.
Hearing it was good wine, I took a sip too but honestly, I didn’t feel anything special. Maybe my taste buds were just that bland. Or maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with the taste of wine. Actually, I’ve had wine a few times so far and they all tasted the same in my mouth.
Of course, this wine was certainly very expensive, and I’ve never had anything like it before but…
I couldn’t really see any big difference in taste whether it was cheap or expensive, so I had nothing more to say on the subject.
‘Anne-Marie is amazing. She can immediately tell what kind of drink it is from a sip.’
For me, the non-alcoholic beverages that were served together were more delicious than the wine. I’m pretty sure I could copy something similar and sell it at the coffeehouse.
“That reminds me, I heard Ms. Anne-Marie Blanche was recommended here by Genos Sheldon.”
Right then, Dominic picked up the wine glass in front of him and opened his mouth again.
Hearing that familiar name from his mouth, I lifted my head. Anne-Marie was also surprised to hear that someone else had recommended her and she looked at Dominic with wide eyes.
“As expected, since it’s a recommendation from a reliable figure, Father’s health has improved a lot recently, so I am relieved.”
“Hmph, you’re good at superficial lip service.”
Bastian responded somewhat harshly to Dominic’s words. However, he didn’t look like he was completely displeased by his son’s words.
As Dominic tilted the wine glass, the red liquid inside sloshed slightly.
For the first time since I entered the dining room and sat down, Dominic’s gaze slid towards me. However, his following question was not directed at me.
“Perhaps, is the young Miss Yuri also due to Genos Sheldon’s recommendation?”
Surprisingly, the answer to that question came from Kalian.
Kalian looked at Dominic, his expression much harder than before, and said.
“Grandfather ran into Ms. Yuri by chance that day.”
“That’s right. I went to the clinic to see Anne-Marie then I bumped into her.”
Bastian also added to that.
“Is that so.”
Dominic nodded slightly as if he was just asking casually then he didn’t say anything more about that topic.
“In any case, when I look at her, it really seems like I’m seeing when Selena was alright. I can see why Father has taken a liking to this young lady.”
At that, Bastian’s brow raised slightly.
“You are very talkative today.”
As for me, I was a little interested in the conversation they were having right now.
‘I’ll say this in way that’s easy for you to understand. My father will soon come up with an offer that’s difficult for you to refuse from your position. But you will refuse.’
I wondered if the offer Dominic told me about in the carriage was going to come up here today.
“K-hm. They are both admirable children, yes.”
Right then, Bastian cleared his throat and tried to lighten the mood.
“It must have been difficult to be orphaned at such a young age, I can’t imagine how much you suffered in this tough world.”
“Not at all, Grandpa.”
When the atmosphere seemed to be flowing in a strange direction, Anne-Marie opened her mouth in confusion.
“What do you mean it’s not? Especially for young girls trying to find a job, the poor treatment must have been hard on you.”
However, Bastian kept on praising me and Anne-Marie. 
He looked like he was about to move on to the main point and I was curious if my prediction earlier was going to come true.
“And, I’d like to…”
But Bastian wasn’t able to finish his sentence. Because the sharp sound of glass breaking suddenly cut through the dining room.
Surprisingly, it was Kalian who apologized the next moment.
The servants who were on standby by the wall quickly approached to remove the glass pieces that fell at Kalian’s feet.
Bastian frowned and looked at Kalian.
“That surprised me. You’re not usually this careless, why are you making this kind of mistake?”
Kalian’s face remained unchanged as he replied.
“I think I lost focus, I’ve been quite busy with work lately.”
“You mean the explosion from last time?”
“Yes. There’s that too, and the case I took on prior to that is still in progress.”
“Why do you have so much to do? You’re not the only one who can work in the East.”
Bastian clicked his tongue unhappily. Somehow, the topic naturally moved to Kalian.
I looked at Kalian’s prim and proper figure with slightly narrowed eyes.
‘Why do I feel like he was blocking Bastian’s words…’
Perhaps Dominic sensed the same thing because he was watching Kalian with a strange look in his eyes.
“Come to think of it, I’m not sure if you’ve heard Grandfather but the council officially announced this morning that heretics were involved in this case.”
Instantly, I paused.
“What! Are you saying there are still heretics in the East?”
Bastian raised his voice in surprise.
Hearing Kalian’s words, my mind began to move quickly.
‘Did they find evidence of some other test subject involved in the shopping mall explosion?’
If that wasn’t the case…
‘Is it because of the spider web I used to stop the ceiling from collapsing?’
I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable after hearing what Kalian said.
“They intend to have an extensive search starting from today.”
Kalian said, glancing at Dominic who was next to him.
Dominic leaned against his chair and sipped his wine casually as if he had nothing to do with this situation.
“Um, what is a heretic?”
Right then, Anne-Marie who was quietly listening to the discussion, carefully opened her mouth.
“Is what happened at the shopping mall related to the people you call heretics?”
Anne-Marie asked curiously, not knowing that the person who Kalian called a ‘heretic’ and tried to stab not long ago was sitting right next to her.
 [Are you knowledgeable about wines?] This is such a weird sentence. He’s asking if she knows wines well but the wording seems off to me.
 Y’all, I don’t drink wine. I have no idea if this is made up or something so this name is probably wrong.
 Hmm, the ‘praise’ here is in a roundabout manner. He’s saying they’ve succeeding in such a tough world, overcome their difficulty, so they’re great and admirable, blah blah blah. Something like that.
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