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Chloe and Gerard entered the Roem Gallery, and thankfully, the awkward atmosphere lessened from when they sat across from each other.
“This must be young Lady Catherine’s unpublished work.”
Gerard stopped in front of a painting. It was a painting of three little girls playing on the grass near a lake.
It was a sunny afternoon, creating a sparkling lake, with a fresh green lawn all around it. Children were frolicking on it.
It was the kind of work that made the viewer feel warm. Each girl’s expression was diverse and vivid, as expected from Catherine, who could paint excellent details.
“Is this you, young Lady?”
Gerard asked whilst pointing to the child wearing a flower crown. The children in Catherine’s painting must have been the three sisters of the Roem family. Chloe Roem was the youngest among them. In the painting, her cheeks were incredibly chubby.
“Yes, it’s me.”
Chloe was embarrassed for no reason and answered in a small voice.
“But, why wasn’t this painting published?”
Gerard asked honestly. Frankly, it was the most impressive painting of Catherine’s he had ever seen.
Almost-perfect perspective, ideal representation of the human body, and accuracy. Catherine’s paintings were famous for being more realistic than reality itself. Perhaps, that was the reason her paintings overwhelmed viewers.
However, it was unbelievable that she drew it with so little strength. It was a shock to him.
“My sister is more strict than anyone else when it comes to her work.”
As Chloe said, Catherine was usually kind and calm, but she was strict when it came to painting. The painting Gerard was looking at was unpublished because it didn’t pass Catherine’s standards.
Gerard was able to understand the situation through Chloe’s brief explanation.
Rather, her work looked better when she painted it relaxedly, or was that just his opinion? Too bad.
Surprisingly, Chloe felt embarrassed when Gerard didn’t budge from Catherine’s unpublished work. If it was another painting, she would have let him appreciate it comfortably, but it was a painting she was in. Why was she on edge over a mere painting?
“Sir, what about this painting? It’s my favorite among Amone’s works.”
Therefore, Chloe tried to avert Gerard’s attention to another painting.
“As expected, it’s Amone. It’s intense.”
Fortunately, Gerard’s attention naturally averted to the next painting.
The short and strong touch of brush felt vivid, which was characteristic of Amone’s work. This also made the painting look incomplete. That was the reason why the established art world didn’t acknowledge Amone.
Certainly, placed beside Catherine’s work made it feel like it was being compared. A painting that seemed to come to life because everything was painted to perfection, and a painting that captured moments and animated natural things. They were completely different.
However, that couldn’t fairly distinguish which one was superior.
“When I look at Amone’s paintings, I realize again that there are so many different colors in the world.”
Chloe stared at Amone’s painting with a dreamy look on her face.
His paintings were not common, but when she looked at them, she could feel his deep passion. The passion of a man who had completed his own world. There was nothing that made Chloe excited than that.
This time, Chloe was enamored with a painting. Gerard didn’t want to interrupt her moment of appreciation, so he quietly turned to the painting beside it.
There was an overwhelming number of paintings done by Catherine in the Roem’s gallery, and quite a few of them by some well-known artists. However, there were only one or two paintings of Amone.
From the fact that it was displayed in one corner, it seemed that Amone was not recognized that well by the Roem family. Perhaps, Chloe Roem was the only one who took a liking to Amone’s paintings.
Meanwhile, Gerard’s eyes zeroed in on one painting. The painting was neither displayed nor neglected. It was the only one put on the floor.
However, beside the location of the painting, the painting itself was also distinctive. It was a painting of a woman, but it was not a mere portrait.
It was painted in very limited colors. A variety of red, occasionally mixed with orange or black. It expressed the passionate inner side of a woman.
It also described things perfectly despite its limited color. Baby hair behind the ears, wrinkles that appeared because of facial expression, and natural body proportions. Was this… painted by Chloe Roem?
“Oh! You can’t look at that!”
At that moment, Chloe rushed towards Gerard. She hindered his view by slipping between Gerard and the painting.
‘Why is this here? I told them to take it to the warehouse… Was there a mistake?’
Chloe quickly turned the picture over. It was embarrassing to show her self-portrait to others.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to show you this.”
Chloe said, flustered, which was very unlike her.
“No, it’s the most impressive work I’ve ever seen.”
Gerard dragged up the corners of his lips.
“You painted things with colors that were felt rather than the natural colors of things. It’s even more shocking than Amone.”
Chloe’s eyes widened. She was amazed and embarrassed because he accurately pointed out what she wanted to express through the painting.
“Thank you for showing me a great painting, young Lady.”
This man just realized that she painted this picture, right? So, she thought it was probably a gesture of appreciation.
But maybe… he was serious about it?
Chloe felt her stomach churn at Gerard’s tender smile.
Leila didn’t attend tea time again today.
However, it might be because this situation had been repeated for quite some time, but now, the conversation went on smoothly even if it was just them.
Meanwhile, Gerard was starting to get impatient with Leila, who kept drifting away from him. Furthermore, Leila didn’t tell him anything about Frederick anymore after her relationship with him caused conflict.
Frustrated, he thought about young Lady Roem, who had been spending a lot of time with him lately. Leila didn’t say anything to him, but it seemed that she consulted with Chloe.
“Young Lady Roem, I would like to treat you to dinner at Blanchett Mansion today.”
Therefore, Gerard stopped Chloe from returning after having tea time.
“Does it suit your taste?”
During the meal, Gerard asked while wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“Yes, it’s delicious. Thank you for inviting me to dinner.”
Chloe replied while smiling gracefully.
She was a very noble lady. Throughout the meal, Chloe Roem used perfect noble manners. At this point, he was curious about what kind of education the Roem family provided for their children.
“I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. You are a precious guest of mine, so I am treating you with utmost effort.”
Gerard spoke kindly and signaled the servant waiting behind him. He felt that he needed something more to lighten up the mood before they started speaking about his intended topic.
The servant, who had already been instructed, placed a wine that looked luxurious in front of Gerard.
“On that note, we prepared a wine the Blanchett family is proud of, what do you think?”
Gerard lifted the bottle of wine with an angelic face.
In fact, the wine in the Blanchett territory was famous for its excellent quality. The Blanchett estate, located in the southern part of the Empire, received a lot of sunlight, so the sugar content in grapes was high.
“Oh, no thanks…”
It was when Chloe was about to refuse his offer.
“We prepared a 50-year-old wine particularly for you, young Lady Roem.”
Gerard cut her off, pretending not to hear her protest.
“But don’t tell me that you’re not a heavy drinker…?”
He asked anxiously while furrowing his eyebrows. It was a provocation disguised as concern.
“I’m not that weak. I can drink a glass or two.”
And Chloe, who was too innocent and young, fell for it.
She said she wasn’t weak? Gerard had no idea whether to laugh or cry at the situation he had brought upon himself.
Chloe Roem drank just fine at first. He couldn’t even start the conversation because she didn’t lose her manners even when drinking.
However, on her third glass, Chloe suddenly became intoxicated. She put her elbows on the table and rested her head on them. She seemed to have a hard time managing herself.
He thought she would be fine because her face didn’t change at all, but that was not the case. Gerard, who didn’t expect she would become this drunk, was bewildered.
However, he had to ask something. Gerard cautiously asked her regarding Leila.
“By any chance, can you tell me what Leila said about Archduke Anata?”
Chloe raised her head at Gerard’s question. Chloe’s languid gaze met Gerard’s complicated one.
“Sheesh, did you invite me to dinner because you wanted to ask this?”
She was being overly honest.
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