Thank you for the kofi, Jonesa! (1/4) done.
The leopard-like gaze glided from the crown adorning my head down to the shoes that peeked under my dress.
Then, he quickly raised his gaze again and stared at me closely.
“I thought you weren’t the type of person to browse through women’s clothing, but you look unexpectedly satisfied. Is this the power of first love?
His low voice combined with a sarcastic smile and playful atmosphere were able to send a cold sensation down onto my spine.
His hands which enclosed my body couldn’t be anymore terrifying, but I managed to smile nonchalantly as usual.
I had to be careful, if he ever happened to discover even just a bit of my intention…….
“Not as much as you, brother.”
“Do you mean I look good?”
“Sometimes, like now for example. Who else would be worth comparing to you? I’ve been waiting for this day to come for so long already, how’s father doing? What about Enzo?”
“Father is busy hanging out with his new lover. Julia is currently pregnant.”
He grabbed my waist, lifted me up, and put me down easily while still in tune to the beat.
The beautiful chandelier was spinning above me.
“Enzo was beaten furiously by father because he got in trouble while joining the war in Rimini Camp.”
“Ah… That’s just like him.”
“He had been hiding in my mother’s house lately. Such a man is in charge of the Pope’s Army. I wonder when will father get himself together, hmph.”
Dark and bitter emotions flashed through his sapphire-colored eyes.
I recalled Cesare and Enzo’s mother, who was from Cortizan.
I’d only met her very occasionally because she rarely appeared in public meetings and stayed quietly in her private house, but I remember the time I wasn’t convinced of the fact that she was Cesare’s biological mother.
“Honestly, Brother is more qualified for such a position than anyone else. However, I don’t like it when you go to dangerous places.”
The man’s mouth loosened ever so slightly after putting on a smile, gaze sharp enough to cut through me.
“My beloved sister. Father’s temper has been unpredictable lately. Enzo is just being Enzo, but you also caused an accident.”
Yes, I knocked everything over really hard. Because I made the marriage invalidation became impossible.
When I was about to open my mouth to utter a response, the song came to an end.
Cesare added in a terrifying tone as he pulled me into his arms for the last time.
“The two of us will talk about that later, so let’s finish watching this pigpen for now.”
* * *
The feast of the gladiator match was held four days in total.
The first day was the day to welcome the special guests from the foreign countries as well as the players, and the match was held for two days.
The last day was the wrap up of the festival.
Because it was the first day of the banquet, it was a great place to gauge the skills and exchange interaction with high-ranking people of Romagna, delegations from the diplomatic countries, as well as talented people who became participants from different countries.
The same with young men and women who dreamed of having a sweet affair with the opposite gender.
As usual, the atmosphere on the first day was the most lively.
The thrill and excitement that would’ve subsided altogether after the festival came to an end, and all other desires shone in various ways, filling the splendid banquet hall.
But Izek was not interested in those kinds of things.
He stood and leaned against the golden pillar, smoking a leaf cigar while sipping from his glass, as he simply stared straight at the dance floor.
Several people had come near to strike up a close conversation with him, but the man quickly withdrew himself, exuding a menacing aura that didn’t allow them to approach him.
He looked like a fantastic sculpture. A beautiful sculpture. One that was best appreciated just from afar.
“Compared to his bad reputation, he seems to be a surprisingly energetic person.”
Ivan muttered with one arm draped around his shoulder after returning from a round of dance.
Izek answered without turning his head.
“I think so.”
“I still don’t know why you asked us to do that. Did anyone say anything weird to you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“…nevermind, why don’t you loosen up instead of sulking around like this? Everyone would think you’re the kind of guy to go after his wife, wouldn’t they? If you’re as mushy as always were, no matter how much you like him, you’ll still be pissed off. Such a foolish b**t*rd.”
Ivan seemed in a good mood today as he babbled continuously.
Perhaps it was because he had danced with Ellenia earlier.
Ignoring the uncommon thought, Izek focused his attention on the pair of siblings across the dance floor again.
Rudbeckia looked very happy as she twirled around while holding her brother’s hand.
It was unexpected like what Ivan said. Not only Cardinal Valentino, but also Rudbekia’s demeanor.
From the moment they reunited until now, they unexpectedly seemed to be genuinely delighted in each other.
The brother that sold her several times.
Of course, the will of the Pope was far more absolute than anyone else in her marriage.
Regardless of that, Izek could not see Cesare in a good light.
It was only because of Rudbeckia that he showed his courtesy thoroughly, unlike usual.
Because he didn’t want her to be nervous while looking at him.
He recalled what happened at the stable of the other day again when her head began to throb.
Was Cesare the one who made her that way, the bystander, or was he no different than her, nothing but a scapegoat of this complicated and unrevealed story?
He thought he could’ve known it after watching it with his own eyes, but then he thought to wait and observe it a little longer.
Until now, Cesare and Rudbeckia seemed just like a pair of affectionate siblings.
She did not show any fear or being disturbed in particular.
Izek would have noticed immediately if she had shown even just a little of those expressions.
So, should he feel relieved?
Shortly afterwards, the fact that Rudbeckia had been hiding her strange eating habit so well came to his mind.
The habit in which Ellenia said she would’ve never imagined if it wasn’t because of his mother’s doing.
He presumed that she wasn’t very good at hiding something.
In some ways, she looked really careless, but in some ways she was like a shard of enclosed puzzle in a veil.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have the urge to hold her and question everything closely.
He wanted to ask her who made her like this every time he saw her eyes which were as clear as the lake flickering. And whenever he soothed the scars engraved on her smooth body.
What kind of hell did she go through before she finally came to him?
But he couldn’t do so. Whenever he intended to ask about her past, she would immediately avert the topic, and her sorrowful eyes were tainted with a somber look.
There was nothing he could do about that.
He didn’t know what she was so anxious about nor what life she had been living in the past, but urging her to tell everything to him would be impossible as well.
Moreover, she probably would not have told him even if he asked about it.….
No, he was convinced that she would’ve never opened up to him.
There was a secret hidden closely behind her innocent smile, like a taboo box adorned so colorfully.
And if he even forcibly tried to open the box, he would’ve had no idea what was about to happen afterwards.
He had to figure out a different way.
Sipping from his glass, Izek turned his attention away.
He knew about the fact that there was Duke Vishelier of Rembrandt here.
And the fact that he had been looking at his surrounding like an adolescent boy full of curiosity since earlier.
But to think rationally, where was the husband who wanted to talk to the man his wife’s ex-fiance?
“Don’t they look like close siblings?”
“What are you drinking on your own like this? Is this alcohol?”
Was she trying to snatch and drink it again? Even though he had never given it to her.
Izek glanced sideways and looked at Freya without saying anything in response.
Her purple eyes gleamed playfully, along with a light smile formed on her mouth.
It was a face that he had known from a long time ago.
Since his sister was still a toddler, and before his mother passed away.
Maybe that was why.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to snatch it from you today. Why are you doing this sort of thing alone? There are so many people who want to dance with you. Don’t you feel bad for them?”
“……where is your younger brother?”
“Huh? Why do you ask about Lorenzo all of a sudden?”
“It’s irritating because I didn’t catch sight of him lately.”
“What are you talking about?”
There was a hint of confusion in her laughter, as if she was baffled.
Izek simply looked down at her without even changing his expression.
“If you suddenly want to meet my brother, you can greet him whenever you want. Anyway, I envy your wife so much, if only I had such a reliable brother. But they really don’t resemble each other.”
“Are you attracted to him?”
“Hmm, he’s handsome, but I don’t prefer that type of man. Besides, a person who’s close to his younger sister like that…….”
“Then, leave it.”
“I told you to leave it. Leave my wife’s matters.”
In a completely calm tone. A calm and quiet voice as if he was just talking about the weather.
A subtle ripple was seen on Freya’s face, which was as smooth as a porcelain.
“What are you talking about all of a sudden… Perhaps it was because of the tea party, wasn’t it? I was going to talk about it with you. I don’t know what your wife has said to you but.…..”
“There’s a lot of people who kept on mumbling insults. I don’t know why everyone can’t understand what I’m trying to say.”
His red eyes glistened along with a flash of a suspicious cold smile.
The situation was suffocating as his already cold features were stained with sarcasm.
Freya gently bit her open lips while barely able to conceal her fear.
“I seemed to know the thing you had misunderstood, but first, I’ll tell you that your wife…….”
“Did you learn from your parents to hustle and know when you can butt in and when you can’t?”
“What sort of authority do you think you have to be so concerned about my wife?”
“Even the authority to say whatever you want.”
A strange word that pierced sharply through her ear.
The feeling of humiliation which spread coldly from her nape also felt kind of strange to her.
Freya glared at Izek with a completely stiffened face.
He knew he had to be composed since the other person was out of control due to shock rather than fear.
“You’re talking too much. Why did you change so much? There’s no man who doesn’t fall for their wives’ private talk, is that right?”
It was a shallow provocation.
The side which had been blurting this out felt rather hurt instead.
“Then, did you think I was a woman all this time?”
She didn’t expect him to be like this.
Freya managed to calm herself down and pull the corners of her mouth at his reaction that felt more aggressive. He had gotten so insensitive to the point that she got fed up with it.