Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
“I’m just worried that it might be difficult for Nelia to take care of Zenu. It’s not easy to take care of a kid.”
Duke Hart seemed to not have much doubt as she expected.
“I don’t do much. I left him in Ton’s care today……”
Nelia muttered while lowering his head slightly.
“It’s because I feel sorry for Ton who suddenly has to handle a kid.”
“Don’t worry about that. Ton likes kids, so he’ll never hate him.”
Man, who was similar to a robot, fond of kids?
‘Well…… Who knows.’
However, she wasn’t sure if kids would like Ton, who had a stoic face.
“Nelia, if you need anything for Zenu, don’t hesitate to tell me. I’ll help so you don’t have a hard time because of him.”
D*rn it, Duke Hart has everything she could possibly say.
He would be good at raising kids later, being such a husband.
Nelia, who looked at Duke Hart with a satisfied expression, and became embarrassed at that moment.
‘What am I thinking……’
Nelia felt strange about herself, who was unconsciously drawing the future with the duke.
The duke glanced at Nelia, and he only had a grin etched on his face.
During a brief break after lunch, Nelia thought about Zenu.
‘Is he doing well?’
She was worried that he might cause trouble for Ton.
Although he seemed to be doing a good job on his acting as a child, she didn’t expect it as he was a dragon with zero social skills that had been asleep for thousands of years.
After that, Duke Hart spoke to her.
“Nelia, I’m sorry, but could you bring this to Sir Howart downstairs? I have to deal with something right away.”
Nelia rose from her seat and took over the document that was handed by the duke.
Sir Howarth wasn’t that far, besides she already ran errands for him several times.
People seemed to be getting used to her existence.
Since she often showed up to manage stuff related to business, the gaze of people that stared dagger into her have almost disappeared.
People seemed to think that she was really helping the duke with his work, not in a personal relationship with him.
“Hmm…… He doesn’t seem to be in the office.”
Nelia arrived at Howart’s office and knocked on the door a couple of times, but there was no sign of movement inside.
Even so, she thought about waiting in front of the door for now.
Had she waited that long? Howarth’s aide returned first to announce her about his whereabouts.
“Mr Howarth’s in council meeting right now. He will be free as soon as the meeting is over, so you should go there and see him.”
Is that so? Nelia thanked the aide and trudded to the council room.
Whether the meeting was still ongoing, or the door was shut completely. Luckily however, the door opened soon after and people came out.
Nelia spotted Howarth in the crowd. She handed the document to Howarth, as the duke asked her to do.
Haworth said with a smile.
“Thank you for coming all the way here.”
After accomplishing the mission safely, Nelia was thinking of returning to the duke’s office when she heard a voice with the sound of footsteps from behind.
When Nelia turned around, there stood Carlos.
Regardless of the small palace, coincidences are quite too frequent.
But that wasn’t the only thing that caught Nelia off guard.
It was because it’s the first time he ever called her name.
Due to that, she answered with a stunned face.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came for an errand……. Your Highness yourself, what brings you here……?”
“Because I was the host of the meeting that ended just now.”
Nelia admitted that the question was strange. Nelia admitted that
“Right… since he’s the crown prince, it’s only natural to work at the palace.”
But Nelia asked this question because she thought his removal was completely over.
I saw you outside a few days ago, but it didn’t seem like an official schedule at the time.
Even so, considering that he met and easily blended in with a lot of people, it seemed that the medicine worked really well.
“Let’s have a talk for a minute.”
Nelia contemplated for a moment, but nodded along to his words.
Carlos took Nelia into an empty room.
Nelia was quite nervous seeing Carlos’ sunken eyes.
He slowly opened his mouth to talk.
“About the medicine Duke Hart gave me.”
Medicine from Griff……? Why does he suddenly decide to bring it up?
Carlos, who was staring at the table somewhere, slowly raised his eyes to look at her.
“It seemed to have a side effect.”
Nelia’s face stiffened almost immediately.
“…..What kind of side effects are you talking about?”
“It’s too leery for me to talk about it here.”
Carlos continued while glancing at the door.
“It could be a dangerous story for Duke Hart.”
Nelia swallowed through her dry mouth.
She was actually the one who requested for such medicine to be created, but since Duke Hart gave it to Carlos, he would be mistaken if something was wrong with the medicine.
He practically took the medicine on his own that day, even said and proved that there was nothing wrong with it.
“I’m not sure of the side effects yet, but I’ll tell you after I get the accurate diagnosis from the physician.”
“I would like you to come alone, not with Duke Hart.”
Nelia raised her head. Carlos’ expression was extremely frigid.
“You know it, but the duke attacked me once. I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again.”
Did he talk about the day they were invited for dinner?
While she was away that day, Carlos and Duke Hart fought against each other.
She had no idea about who lunged first, but……
But this time, regardless of the truth, she couldn’t turn down his offer. If there were any side effects, she should have listened to him for more details.
“I’m not going to do anything to Duke Hart with this medicine right now, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
How could she not worry after hearing that?
The gloom on Nelia’s face didn’t disappear.
Carlos came close to Nelia and whispered in a hushed voice.
“If I talk to you well that day……. I’ll probably change my mind.”
Nelia flinched reflexively.
Carlos had a mysterious smile spread across his mouth.
At first glance, his smile looked like the leisure predator who was watching the prey in front of him.
“Duke Hart must be waiting for his beloved maid. We better go.”
Even after returning to the office, Nelia couldn’t calm her pounding heart for a while.
The anxiety she felt doubled when facing Duke Hart. but first of all, Duke Hart had to not find out about this.
If he learned about what just happened, he might pick another fight with Carlos.
Therefore, she thought the priority was to contact Griff first and ask him regarding the side effects.
“Nelia, you took quite a while there.”
“Yes……. Mr. Haworth was in a meeting, so I had to wait.”
“Alright. Good job.”
Duke Hart said with a smile.
Nelia also tried to smile and reacted in not as awkwardly as possible, but somehow he stared at her without looking away.
Nelia asked first, tilting her head as if nothing had happened.
“Why are you staring at me like that, Duke?”
Nelia hoped that her speaking tone wasn’t that awkward. It probably wasn’t because the duke smiled again and shook his head.
That evening, Zenu came running at Nelia when he saw her return to the mansion.
Nelia gave Zenu a tight hug as he was in her arms.
‘How would he pretend to be so happy while greeting me?’
Facing the seemingly relaxed dragon, the anxiety she had for the entire day was relieved a little.
She could see Ton walking slowly behind Zenu.
Nelia pushed Zenu who wasn’t thinking of detaching from her, and spoke to Ton.
“Ton, thank you for working hard.”
“It wasn’t hard at all because Zenu listened to me well.”
Nelia looked at Zenu doubtfully.
“Zenu, did you listen to the butler?”
“Yes, Noona told me to listen to the adults here!”
Although she said so…… it was hard to believe that he was really docile.
“Noona, I did good, right?”
“Huh…….? Oh……. yes.”
Nelia ruffled Zenu’s hair awkwardly.
Nelia looked at him and pondered.
‘Even so, does he not feel ashamed to pretend to be a child, even though he’s Sigrid’s subordinate?’
It seemed that his face had thickened along with the years that had passed.
“You must be hungry, please attend the dinner.”
“Yes, thank you. Ton.”
Nelia had no appetite because of things with Carlos, but if she skipped dinner, the duke might notice and ask her about it.
Plopping down at the chair beside the table, Zenu’s eyes opened widely at the food served on the table.
The food today was particularly extravagant.
“Wow, it must be delicious!”
Duke Hart’s eyes turned to Zenu at the loud noise he made. Duke Hart said warmly.
“Enjoy your meal, Zenu.”
“Yes, you too, Your Grace!”
Zenu cried out excitedly.
‘Look at that excited look………’
It must absolutely not be an act.
Zenu was eating, nearly burying his face on the plate, not caring whether he has dignity as a dragon.
Even so, she thought luckily there was Zenu at that moment.
Thanks to him for stalling the time, she thought she could chew the food a little more comfortably.
But Duke Hart has paid attention to Nelia, he seemed to realize that she had no appetite.
“Nelia, why are you………”
“What did you do at the palace today?”
As soon as Duke Hart called out to Nelia, Zenu’s remark concurred with him so his remark was cut off before he managed to finish it.
Nelia also looked at Zenu, unaware that the duke had called her.
“What did you do at the palace today? The palace is such a huge and dazzling place.”
She wasn’t sure about the dazzling part, but…….
“Noona……. Worked there.”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“Helping His Grace with his work. Casual errands or filling documents, something like that.”
“Oh, I see………”
When the table got quiet again, Duke Hart tried to talk to Nelia again.
While Zenuit was busy eating, she raised her head.
Nelia, whose thought was somewhere else, was unaware that the duke’s remark overlapped with Zenuit this time, and her eyes were turned to Zenuit.
“What is it?”
Zenu squeezed the spoon excitedly.
“People came and did something in Noona’s room today. So, it got really warm.”
“Oh, the sun panel.”
“It’s a magic tool that gives off a warm energy like the sun. Now, it won’t be as cold as it used to be.”
Zenuit’s eyes twinkled.
“Then I’ll take a bath today. Please help me wash up.”
“Zenu……. You should be able to wash up by yourself.”
Zenu quickly became sullen upon Nelia’s words.
“My mom used to wash me all the time…….”
As he blinked his eyes pitifully, Nelia felt moved even though she knew it was a foolish remark from the dragon.