Spilled Lemonade

May I Propose To You?


——♦ ⋄· 🜲· ⋄ ♦——

Velia sought permission to leave first as she had to depart from the situation. She didn’t forget to apologise again for stepping on his foot and for her careless behaviour.

 

As Velia bid her farewell with a slight bow, the man looked at her with the same kind and gentle expression as before.

 

His neatly combed golden hair and warm green eyes were harmonious.

 

“I am Noah Carvan. Please remember me when we meet again, Miss Velia.”

 

It was a warm and courteous farewell, almost too gentle to turn away from.

 

“I will remember, so please, Sir Noah, forgive and forget my mistake today.”

 

Only after adding those words did Velia turn and leave.

 

Her chestnut hair, trailing down her back, occasionally swayed gently with her steps. Under the light, it seemed to shimmer like gold.

 

“Such a gentle lady to inherit the Carvan family name. My mother must have misunderstood something.”

 

The image of Velia disappeared into the crowd, leaving a lingering impression on Noah Carvan’s smiling face.

 

“They said the Duke made Baron Garren’s daughter cry today.”

 

“That’s what I said. I knew something like this would happen today.”

 

“But despite all the rumours, Duke Arzen’s reputation remains unchanged, which makes him quite remarkable.”

 

As she passed through a bustling area, Velia heard Duke Arzen’s name even among the ladies chattering.

 

To be exact, it’s been that way since last summer.

 

But to Velia, it was still just an uninteresting rumour from a world unrelated to her. She was preoccupied with finding Evan.

 

“Where did he go?”

 

With quick steps, Evan disappeared somewhere in an instant. Seeing how difficult it was to find him, she thought he might have hidden somewhere instead.

 

Velia tiptoed around the ballroom, inspecting every nook and cranny. All that filled her vision were fancy headdresses and varnished hats that awaited the cloakroom’s servants. Even after washing her eyes, she couldn’t see even the hem of Evan’s coat.

 

Velia, who was busy moving her eyes, eventually returned to where she last saw Evan. She was in the corner of the hall with the path leading to the hallway.

 

“Could he have gone this way?”

 

Far away from the lively ballroom, the corridor was shrouded in stillness and stretched on endlessly. After briefly glancing back at the central hall where the ball was being held, Velia hesitated momentarily before proceeding.

 

The cheerful music played by the band grew fainter as she walked deeper into the corridor.

 

“This is the trail of the Bretzen mansion, where the grey dusk has fallen. Yes. I am walking there now.”

 

As the window creaked in the gusty wind and the spiky branches of the yew tree turned into dark shadows, Velia straightened her back and murmured.

 

She was not afraid at all. She added that firmly.

 

“Evan, are you here?”

 

In the quiet space, footsteps approached from all directions.

 

Velia carefully examined the surroundings with her eyes, drawing poplar trees on the trail and stars embroidering the dark blue sky on a summer day that she loved in her head. She looked out over the window in the hallway, just in case, hoping to find Evan.

 

But Evan was nowhere to be seen. Only the bright lights from afar shone through the gaps.

 

As she turned around the corner and reached the end of the corridor, a large wall adorned with garland decorations obstructed her view.

 

Evan wasn’t here. It was when Velia, who had finally walked all the way here and realised that, turned around. Rustling, rustling clothes and trudging footsteps could be heard from beyond the door at the end of the hallway.

 

Velia, who hesitated, stood there and listened to her unknown voice.

 

‘Is it Evan?’

 

She knocked lightly, but there was no response.

 

“I’m sure I heard someone.”

 

Velia carefully turned the doorknob. As soon as the door opened, a warm light leaked through the cracks in the door.

 

Someone was standing in the middle of the room.

 

Velia slowly raised her head. The well-polished shoe toes were shiny, and the creases of the trousers stood like knives along the endlessly long legs.

 

And what she saw was the man’s bare upper body. It was the sturdy upper body that couldn’t possibly belong to Evan. Velia gasped and covered her mouth in disbelief.

 

Her gaze shifted from her broad shoulders to her well-muscled, solid back. Her cheeks burned hot at the unbelievable sight that unfolded before her eyes.

 

She had to apologise and politely back down, but she had to make some kind of excuse, but she couldn’t stop talking about what she was experiencing for the first time in her life.

 

Velia quickly tried to calm her racing heart and pressed her lips firmly together.

 

Calmly, quickly, and quietly – she closed the door and stepped back. For now, it was the best course of action. Velia believed so and wanted to believe it was the best, that this was the right decision.

 

In front of the half-naked man, Velia couldn’t muster the courage to open her eyes and apologise. At the same time, it wasn’t appropriate to close her eyes and apologise either at the incredible sight.

 

With stiffened hands, Velia gripped the doorknob again. Unfortunately, the man had already noticed her presence and turned around.

 

Against her red-looking face, his voice was surprisingly calm as he spoke.

 

“What are you doing? Come in.”

 

For a while, Velia blinked her eyes and unconsciously muttered.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I said, come in.”

 

Her plan to calmly, quickly and quietly close the door and leave was now on hold.

 

‘Then what should I do? Should I really go inside?’

 

Countless thoughts rushed through her mind. She couldn’t blame Christmas, but this night with Evan Arcus, who led her here, felt like she could blame him for something.

 

An awkward silence lingered for a few minutes. When Velia didn’t move, the man, puzzled by her strange behaviour, fully opened the door.

 

For a moment, her sight went pitch-black.

 

“What about the clothes?”

 

“I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to peek or anything. Absolutely not! Please believe me. I can swear on my dearest friend, Evan Arcus… Clothes?”

 

Velia suddenly realised the man’s odd request and hurriedly raised her lowered gaze.

 

And the moment she met his face, Velia forgot everything.

 

She had a lot to say, which she sure did, but couldn’t come up with anything. It was strange. For the first time, her head, which was always full of things, went white.

 

“A change of clothes. Didn’t you bring it?”

 

The man sensed something strange in Velia’s demeanour and looked her up and down. The silk dress was of a noble colour, but her appearance was far from that of a maid. Just looking at her fair hands, it was evident.

 

“Is this also at your mother’s request? But I find this quite offending.”

 

Velia found herself saying strange words, but despite that, she gazed at the man’s eyes, who smiled kindly in a way that didn’t match his words.

 

Her trembling heart didn’t settle down. No, rather, it fluttered even more.

 

This was really such a strange situation. Really…

 

“Surely, you don’t plan to stand there dumbfounded forever, do you?”

 

The man leaned against the doorframe, meeting Velia’s gaze with a slight tilt of his head.

 

What beautiful eyes he had. Just as she was thinking about it, a passage from a novel she read last night as she slept less suddenly popped into Velia’s dazed mind.

 

[Ever since the very moment I laid eyes on you in Natalie’s courtroom, I’ve known you deep within my soul. I fell head over heels for you at first glance, and I firmly believe that destiny will lead us to become lovers someday. There was no denying it; my heart couldn’t help but recognise the inevitable connection between us. When our gazes met, it was as if time stood still, and my breath was stolen away, unable to escape the mesmerising magic of our encounter.]

 

This wasn’t Natalie’s courtroom, and she wasn’t breathless, but Velia could soon guess what this emotion was.

 

It was love. Seeing her so jittery and overwhelmed, there was no mistake.

 

Velia saw the colour of her soul that perfectly matched his. Like the protagonist who knew her fate at a glance in Natalie’s courtroom, Velia could also recognise her own destiny at a glance.

 

But even if someone said she had fallen for his looks just now, it wouldn’t matter. That, too, was a very important fact.

 

“For true love, three coincidences are necessary.” Her absolute truth and grandiose beliefs, which she had held so far, were rendered useless. Her fateful meeting was, in fact, so futile and sudden. Without any notice.

 

“To find true love, one needs three encounters.” The absolute truth and grand belief she once held dear now seemed useless. Fateful encounters, in reality, happen so unexpectedly and abruptly, leaving one astounded. Without any forewarning.

 

Behind the man, beyond a large glass window, something enchanting and soft began to fall one by one. They were snowflakes, pure white and delicate.

 

In this surreal moment, everything seemed dazzling and beautiful.

 

Winter, Christmas, the ball, fateful encounters and snow. It was truly a dreamlike night. Her wish for the most romantic Christmas came true with the winter deity’s mercy and a single stroke of fate.

 

“Could you leave, please?”

 

As she heard the soft voice directed at her, Velia’s hazel eyes regained their sparkle and glimmer.

 

Though Evan Arcus might laugh at it later, Velia Devere fell for him at first sight, to a man whose name she didn’t even know.

 

She believed this emotion could be nothing but love. No other word could define her feelings now.

 

She looked up at the man still standing in his place, and Velia clenched her little fist.

 

“Excuse me, if it’s not impolite in this situation, I’d like to say something.”

 

“Anything might be considered impolite in a situation like this. You didn’t hear me ask you to leave…”

 

“May I propose to you?”

 

Velia’s eyes were more serious and clear than ever.

 

A serene silence filled the space between them, seemingly eternal. The cold branches rustled against the window, though it felt like the soft sound of snow gently falling. But that was purely Velia’s illusion.

 

The graceful, elegant smile above the man’s face vanished.

 

“What did you just say?”

——♦ ⋄· 🜲· ⋄ ♦——

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