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After the performance, the three headed to the alley of food vendors to fill their rumbling stomachs. From stir-frying vegetables to meat broth, the street was full of all kinds of delicious smells.
Among the various types of foods sold there, Leila bought bread fried in oil without hesitation.
“Here! Chloe, you have to try this. It’s so delicious!”
Leila said while pushing the bread towards Chloe’s mouth.
“No, Leila. Wait…!”
However, Chloe hesitated because she had never encountered street food before.
“Try it! Gerard also hesitated to eat it when he was a child, but after tasting it once, he begged to come here and eat it every day!”
Gerard and Chloe’s eyes met as he bit into the bread earnestly.
She naturally started imagining him begging to eat this when he was young. Chloe started laughing. But because her mouth was wide open, Leila shoved the bread into her mouth.
“What are you laughing about, young Lady Roem?”
He asked with a distasteful look. Gerard was embarrassed when Chloe held back her laughter, her shoulders shaking up and down.
“No, it’s… Haha!”
It was at that moment when Leila put the whole bread into Chloe’s mouth, which had been opened because she was laughing.
Chloe was embarrassed by the food that was suddenly shoved into her mouth. However, the more she chewed, the more her expression changed.
The savory fried bread and sweet sauce on the surface integrated to create a fantastic taste. It was such a waste that the bread in her mouth had to be swallowed.
“Wow… What’s this? It’s really good!”
Chloe chewed the bread carefully and asked with a bright expression.
“Right? It’s good, right? This isn’t the only thing that the feisty young master begged for!”
Gerard called Leila in a low voice when she made fun of him. Chloe laughed.
It was fun. She wanted this moment to last forever.
After that, they continued to enjoy the National Day Festival. They played quoits, bought flowers from a child, and watched a singing competition. At some point, however, the crowd began to move in one direction as if they all agreed beforehand. The fireworks show, which was said to be the best part of the National Day Festival, was scheduled to begin soon.
“Follow me! I know a good place to watch the fireworks!”
Leila led Chloe and Gerard.
They traveled through winding alleyways and climbed a low hill. However, Chloe was grinning despite the heavy panting coming out of her mouth. The unique experience was so much fun.
“Are we here?”
“Here… Can we go up here?”
The place Leila brought them to was a roof located beside a low hill. It was a unique building in which the hill and roof were connected because of the lay of the land.
“It’s fine, it’s fine! It’s an empty house anyway.”
Leila jumped lightly onto the roof. Then she beckoned the other two to jump as well.
Leila’s words seemed to be true. The roof looked untouched by human’s hands for a long time. Grass and moss grew all over the place and there were large cracks.
“Hurry up! The fireworks show will begin soon.”
Upon Leila’s words, Gerard followed her to the roof. Chloe paced anxiously. There was a gap between the hill and the roof, and it looked quite big to her. She was sure to snap her ankle if she jumped the wrong way. Also, if her feet touched the roof, she felt as though she would slip because of the moss. Chloe grasped her skirt in fear, unable to do anything.
“Young Lady Roem, come and run. I’ll catch you.”
Then Gerard, who had crossed over earlier, spread his arms toward Chloe. He waited for Chloe to run to him with a genuine look on his face.
Chloe looked between the gap and Gerard’s face several times and clenched her eyes shut tightly. She kicked off the ground and leaped forward.
Chloe’s feet were supposed to step in the air at that moment.
A stray cat suddenly passed by very quickly.
Chloe opened her eyes, startled at the sudden sound. Her body shook.
Chloe’s unbalanced feet slipped, landing narrowly on the edge of the roof.
“Young Lady Roem!”
Gerard called Chloe in terror and grabbed her by the waist with firm arms. Chloe grasped Gerard’s body tightly. Her chest and his abdomen made contact with each other, as well as her forehead and his chin.
Chloe’s warm breath sank over his ears and shoulders. He felt goosebumps forming all over his nape.
Due to their closeness, she was even able to smell Gerard’s breath. It was a subtly cool smell mixed with soap and distinctive body odor.
“Oh, I… Sir. we’re too close.”
Chloe looked up at Gerard, unable to push him away with only her hands.
Gerard, who inadvertently met Chloe’s eyes, immediately pushed himself away from her.
Gerard apologized politely. Chloe felt strange for a moment, but his behavior was very composed.
“Chloe, are you okay? I’m glad Gerard caught you. That was close!”
Leila said while grabbing Chloe’s arms.
“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you, sir.”
Chloe thought it was a good thing it was night. If it were day, her blushed face would have been revealed to him.
“It’s no problem. It’s a relief after all.”
Gerard grinned and accepted her gratitude.
“Chloe, hold my hand so you don’t slip again.”
Leila held her friend’s hand tightly because she was afraid Chloe would slip again.
“Here we are! What do you think? Isn’t it nice?”
Leila asked while flopping herself down in a patch which was empty from moss.
Chloe hesitated again, contrary to Leila. She knew that a Lady shouldn’t sit with nothing underneath. And for some reason… She didn’t want to stain the cloth tied around her waist.
“Take a seat here, young Lady.”
Gerard realized why Chloe was hesitant, so he laid a handkerchief on the ground beside Leila.
“Thank you, Sir. I keep getting help from you.”
“It’s my pleasure to help you, young Lady.”
They sat together like that and looked up at the dark sky. She wondered if they were also tired from walking around all day. There was silence between them for a moment.
However, the silence was quickly filled by Leila.
“We had so much fun today!”
She stretched out whilst admiring the night sky.
“I wish every day was like today! The three of us can have a lot of fun together, right?”
Leila looked at Chloe and Gerard for their agreement. The two nodded. There was no disagreement on the fact that all of them had spent a great day together.
“Let’s decide on our name!”
“What do you mean?”
“When you read novels, a trio is usually given a name. Let’s make a name like that for us! I’ve always wanted to do something like that.”
Chloe and Gerard found Leila’s remarks quite childish.
“Oh, I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t we take it from our surnames? Bla, Ro, St, two letters from each…”
However, the two gave positive answers. They didn’t want to offend Leila because she looked quite excited.
“Uhm… All right, Blarost! We’re the Blarost trio now!”
Upon Leila’s words, fireworks embroidered the night sky.
However, the days of the Blarost trio did not last very long. Leila got closer to Frederick, which effectively reduced the number of gatherings they held.
Then, one Tuesday, it was their tea time. Leila urgently contacted Chloe that she would not be able to attend today.
“Leila… said she can’t attend today.”
“Yes, I’ve just been informed regarding that.”
Gerard nodded at Chloe’s words. An embarrassed look flashed across their faces and disappeared as soon as it appeared. If she heard the news more quickly, she could have canceled their tea time.
However, she was informed after Gerard had already arrived at Count Roem’s residence, the place where the tea time would be held today. Eventually Gerard and Chloe had to face each other awkwardly in the garden of Roem mansion.
From far away, the two seemed to be enjoying tea time.
However, they were soaking in dismay over Leila’s absence in their hearts. Normally, Leila led the conversation with her energetic personality, so they never experienced such awkwardness.
However, when it was just the two of them, it felt so awkward.
What kind of conversation did they usually share? They didn’t have a clue as to what topic to talk about, obscuring the sentiment that they had been communicating well all this time.
“Are the other young ladies of the Roem Family at home?”
Gerard brought up an easy topic.
“Only Catherine. Karina went to young Lady Godner’s tea party.”
“Then after this tea time, I should greet young Lady Catherine.”
“Oh, how should I explain this? Catherine just started working on a new piece recently. My sister doesn’t meet others when she’s working, so it’ll be hard to greet her today.”
“Well, there’s nothing I can do then.”
“Thank you for your understanding.”
The conversation didn’t continue after that. Gerard wondered why he didn’t know what to say. He was usually so confident that he did not miss out on social conversation anywhere else.
However, he didn’t know what to talk about with the third daughter of the Roem family. He wondered if it was because Chloe Roem was different from the other young ladies he met in society?
Gerard became friends with Chloe because of Leila. Therefore, when Leila disappeared, he was confused whether he should treat Chloe as a daughter of another family or as a friend.
In the silence that followed, Gerard lifted his cup. He was getting thirsty.
Did he ever say that it was a good thing that Chloe Roem drew a line between them and didn’t try to break the silence? Well, he wished it was different today. He wanted her to say something.
It was then.
“Sir, you said you were interested in Amone’s paintings last time, right?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Then, would you like to take a look at our gallery? There are several paintings by Amone.”
Chloe made an unexpected suggestion.
“The gallery of Count of Roem… It’s an honor for me.”
To be able to escape from this awkward atmosphere… It was an honor for him.
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