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“Marry the person set out for you, you say? Who is it?”
Chloe didn’t answer. However, Gerard could deduce it without having to hear it from his wife directly. When his wife was still a young Lady of the Roem Family, there was only one man she talked about getting married to. The man that kept appearing in his dreams every night, Herace Moore!
“…Isn’t it all an excuse for you to go to him?”
Gerard’s aggressive emotions were oppressing his rationality. He was no longer thinking before he spoke. He was expressing the emotions that had been hidden deep inside.
“If you really valued our eight years together… If you really believed me, you would’ve come to me as soon as you discovered it.”
Gerard was also upset at Chloe. Why didn’t his wife come straight to him after finding the letter? Did she not trust him that much? Or…?
“However, you didn’t do that, my Lady. You chose to come to the North with this letter instead of talking to me!”
In the end, Gerard’s jealousy burst out. Chloe took it as an insult.
“Hasn’t that letter pushed you to feel something different?! Maybe you feel guilty for him, the Knight Commander of Anata, who was said to be unable to forget you and didn’t get married at all!”
Gerard’s head snapped to the side upon the sharp slap.
“You… You! How much more miserable are you going to make me feel?”
Chloe, who couldn’t stand the insults, slapped Gerard’s face.
‘What is he even saying now?’
Gerard finally relaxed upon hearing the trembling voice of his wife. That was the reason he was being careful. He was afraid his wife would get hurt because of his lack of confidence. However, all his efforts went down the drain in an instant.
“I swear I didn’t do anything shameful for your sake and for Abel’s.”
Gerard glanced at Chloe’s hand. His wife’s hand seemed red, perhaps because she slapped him quite hard. It concerned him more than himself, who had been slapped.
“Then you regard me as Leila’s substitute, is that so? Why, if I’m a mere substitute, can’t you stand the sight of me going to the arms of another man?”
Chloe shot back at Gerard, who couldn’t say anything for a moment.
“Ha, you, Leila’s substitute?”
Gerard turned his head and replied.
“Why?! Am I not worthy of being a substitute?”
Gerard called Chloe’s name loudly. Why did he only call her name when they were in this kind of situation?
He wouldn’t have done that if he had known how much it hurt Chloe.
“Don’t put yourself down. I’ve never thought of you that way.”
“…You didn’t marry me because of Leila?”
“Then, why in the world did you propose to me? If you have even a hint of conscience, tell me honestly!”
That question should have been asked eight years ago when he asked for her hand in marriage. However, Chloe didn’t have the courage to ask, and Gerard didn’t know exactly what his feelings were at that time.
That concealed question drew them back to nine years ago.
Nine years ago, Chloe Roem and Gerard Blanchett met on a peaceful Tuesday afternoon.
“Hello, Gerard. I’ve talked about her a lot, haven’t I? This is young Lady Chloe, the third daughter of the Roem Family.”
After Leila saved Chloe in the alley, they became close in a short time. Leila finally invited Chloe for tea time with Gerard.
“Hello, I’m Chloe Roem. May peace always be with you in the arms of the Empire.”
“I am Gerard Blanchett. May the young Lady also have peace in the arms of the Empire.”
Both of them would’ve frowned if they were asked about their first impressions of each other.
Gerard spent his time enjoying tea time with Leila every Tuesday. There had never been a time when anyone interfered during it. Therefore, Chloe wasn’t welcomed by him, having broken the unwritten rule.
Recently, he had been extremely sensitive. From Frederick Anata to Chloe Roem. He didn’t like how strangers kept trying to stick by Leila’s side. It was ridiculous how he even felt slightly jealous of Chloe at that time.
“Please take a seat, young Lady.”
Gerard Blanchett bowed to Chloe after pulling out the chair for her like a gentleman, though his mind was full of vitriol.
‘Those blue eyes… makes me uncomfortable.’
The eyes of the Roem family’s third daughter were the same eyes his mother used to tell him about. To borrow his mother’s expression, they seemed to embrace the brilliant sea. Even though there were various kinds of blue eyes, those eyes were exactly the ones he once saw in the portrait of his uncle. Those awful blue eyes. Gerard Blanchett was obviously not stupid enough to express his innermost thoughts. The more disgusted he was, the harder he tried to smile.
“Thank you for your kindness.”
Chloe bowed slightly and sat on the chair Gerard had pulled out for her.
Her first impression of Gerard was very different from what she had expected. Gerard Blanchett, whom she saw and heard of from afar, was as perfect as a painting. In particular, he was impressive for never losing his composure under any circumstances.
However, when she looked at him closely, his smile somehow contained a sense of resentment. Should she say it was obvious that he didn’t like her? Chloe, who was sensitive to people’s emotions, vaguely guessed Gerard’s innermost thoughts.
‘Even so, what’s the point of revealing it?’
They obviously didn’t make a good first impression on each other.
Who would have guessed that Chloe and Gerard would start spending a lot of time together?
Leila liked Chloe, who didn’t judge her due to the rumors about her. When she chatted with Chloe about trivial things, she felt like an ordinary Lady. Leila wanted to spend more time with Chloe.
Thanks to Leila, Chloe was accepted easily into their world. At one point, Chloe had become an official member of their Tuesday Tea Time.
“Oh? My Lord, you like Amone’s paintings too?”
“Yes, I bought some of their works because I took a liking to them.”
Chloe and Gerard communicated quite well despite their bad first impressions.
“The artist’s painting style is so innovative that there are few people who like it, so it’s nice to meet one of them.”
“It’s quite innovative, indeed. It may seem incomplete at first glance. However, the idea of capturing the light of the moment is interesting.”
Through several tea times spent together, Gerard concluded that Chloe was not a threat. The Roem family’s third daughter didn’t try to forcefully interfere between Leila and him. She was simply participating in tea time and sharing trivial things. Things he couldn’t talk about with Leila could be easily shared with Chloe.
What he especially liked about her was that the way she looked at him contained no expectations or emotions. In fact, there were several young ladies who pretended to be close to Leila in order to approach him. He knew how hurt Leila was by people who pretended to want to know her. That was also part of the reason he was even more suspicious and wary of Chloe Roem.
However, she maintained her easy going personality. It was almost as if he started looking forward to tea time just to see her.
“Wait! There’s something I want to show you.”
Leila, who was the free-spirited type, suddenly left in the middle of their conversation.
Silence fell on them. As Leila disappeared, a serene silence fell between Gerard and Chloe. They were following noble etiquette so well that the clattering sound of teacup couldn’t even interrupt it.
This was what he liked. Gerard’s lips went up as he lifted his teacup.
Chloe Roem didn’t bother to fill the silence.
He really liked it. Moderate distance. Comfortable awkwardness. Graceful silence.
At some point, it became natural for them to hang out together. Leila as the leader of the group, and Gerard, the follower. And Chloe, who acted as a balance between the two.
It was the National Day Festival, and the whole Empire was in uproar. The three people who came to the night market were befuddled by the festive atmosphere.
“Chloe, there must be a street performance! Let’s go!”
Leila urged Chloe with brightly shining eyes.
“Oh! Slow down!”
Chloe’s face was also filled with visible joy. As she was dragged away by Leila, she looked back at the person left behind.
“You should come too, Sir Blanchett!”
She called Gerard, who was buying something from a street vendor.
“Yes, I’ll catch up to you in a minute, go ahead!”
He nodded to Chloe to signal her to go first. Then, he turned to the street vendor again.
“Yes, please give me the blue cloth.”
Gerard was rushing to pay for the goods and follow Chloe and Leila.
A few days ago, Leila suggested going to the National Day night market. Gerard and Chloe hesitated, but they eventually fell for Leila’s stubborn persuasion.
The problem lay in getting permission to go out. It was easy for Leila to get permission only because she was stronger than most adult men. However, Chloe, the ordinary third daughter of the Roem family, couldn’t speak, let alone be granted permission.
However, if they gave up there, it would not be like Leila at all. In the end, Chloe climbed the wall of Roem Mansion with the help of Leila and Gerard. In the process, Chloe’s skirt was torn up to her calves. She reassured them by putting on a petticoat.
However, Chloe unconsciously kept holding together the torn part of her skirt with one hand. Gerard noticed her awkward gesture. It bothered him. He naturally stopped when he found a cloth that could be tied around the waist at one of the vendors he passed by.
And that was how Gerard Blanchett lost his friends.
“Where did they go…”
After purchasing the cloth, he looked around for Leila and Chloe. He thought he would be able to find them in no time because he was going to follow them right away, but he didn’t see where they went.
He began to walk increasingly faster.
During the National Day Festival, when a lot of people gathered in one place, all sorts of things could happen. Among them, criminals targeted noble ladies who went out to watch the festival without being aware of the dangers that occurred every year. Although Leila was skilled in swordsmanship… he had to find them quickly.
“Leila! Lady Roe… Chloe!”
Gerard called out their names as he walked among the crowd of people who had gathered to watch the street performance. He inadvertently tried to call young Lady Chloe with her surname, but he was wary of the people around him and called her Chloe instead. However, there was no answer to his call.
How long had he looked for them? Gerard’s feet stopped while hurriedly running to find the two young ladies. He sighed softly, relief flooding his veins.
The lights of the street performance illuminated the face of young Lady Roem. Her cheeks were red. She seemed excited about the delightful thing she was about to see, and her eyes sparkled like those of a child.
‘So, she can make that kind of expression sometimes.’
Gerard felt a different emotion, having always seen Chloe’s serene smile. He strode toward Chloe and Leila, leaving behind his profound feeling.
Chloe seemed to sense his presence as she turned around and called Gerard’s name. In her voice was a sense of liveliness that had not yet vanished.
“Gerard? Where have you been?”
Leila, who was watching the performance, greeted Gerard and asked.
“I’ve just gone for a moment to buy something.”
“You must’ve gotten lost earlier, right? Anyway, I saved you a seat, so sit here.”
Leila tapped the spot by her side and said. Gerard nodded and handed Chloe the cloth in his arms.
“If you put this around your waist, the torn part will be covered up.”
“Oh… thank you.”
Chloe smiled shyly as she accepted the cloth in bewilderment. Gerard turned his head as if he had seen something he wasn’t supposed to see.
“Oh, you’ve got great manners.”
Leila praised Gerard playfully.
Gerard didn’t show much reaction because he felt embarrassed. He just acted as a gentleman, so he couldn’t understand why he suddenly felt that way.
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