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“But why does your expression look so terrible?”
“I’m a bit worn-out, so I’m going to take my leave.”
Chloe pulled the corners of her mouth up and controlled her expression.
Gerard Blanchett seemed to be lost in thought for a moment and came up with an unexpected offer.
“Let’s go together.”
“No, I’m fine to go on my own.”
Chloe refused immediately.
However, Gerard approached her and whispered in her ear.
“We have something to talk about as friends.”
As friends? She wondered what could be discussed between Sir Blanchett and her. Chloe was confused about their relationship.
Then Gerard stepped back again, bowed and held out his hand.
“Would you please give me the opportunity to escort you, young Lady?”
The attention of the people gathered in the exhibition hall was drawn to them. What was with him?
“Alright, we should go.”
Chloe took Gerard’s hand in a hurry, biting her lip out of anxiety.
Then, Gerard straightened his body and smiled seamlessly. It was a presumptuous smile as though he knew this would happen.
Chloe left the exhibition hall, escorted by Gerard. Gerard initially came to the exhibition hall to meet Chloe Roem, so he was perfectly satisfied that this happened.
Gerard and Chloe’s carriage set off slowly. Chloe, who was quietly staring out the window, spoke up out of reflex.
“I want to walk around for a bit.”
She didn’t want to go home right away, probably because she was upset.
“I know a nearby place where we can take a walk. Why don’t we go there?”
Gerard suggested softly. Something must have happened to Chloe.
The carriage, which previously headed to Roem residence, changed its direction.
The carriage stopped on a street lined with shops. It was unexpected.
Gerard, who dismounted the carriage, extended his hand to Chloe.
“Sir, where are we?”
“We’re at the shopping district of 2nd Street.”
Gerard replied politely.
“No, I don’t mean it like that… I thought we were going to a nearby lake because you said you knew somewhere to take a walk.”
“Oh, the young Lady seems a bit down today.”
It was a perfectly ridiculous answer. Chloe narrowed her eyes in bewilderment because she couldn’t figure out the reason. What did any of this have to do with being in a bad mood? Was this a new way of talking?
However, walking through the quiet shopping district was also quite peaceful in her opinion. Chloe followed Gerard’s lead.
Gerard walked silently without saying anything. It could have been considered rude in social etiquette, but Chloe thought it was more comfortable. Thanks to him, she was able to organize her thoughts.
‘What on earth was Catherine thinking?’
She was upset by the fact that she had been betrayed by the person she respected and loved the most.
-The perspective, contrast and shade are all messed up. Don’t draw something that doesn’t have any artistic value.
Her sister’s voice, which sounded cold as she criticized her painting, lingered in her ears. Did her sister know how hurt she was?
‘But… was she really inspired by my painting?’
Chloe sighed lowly at the rising anger inside.
At that time, Gerard, who was walking along the main street, almost entered an alley.
“Sir, this is…”
Chloe stopped, sensing the dark atmosphere of the alley.
“There’s a place I want to take you, young Lady, it’s one block from here if we cut through this alley.”
Gerard tapped Chloe’s hand, which was looped around his arm while saying so. His touch was so warm and tender that relief washed over her.
“Sure, then we should continue.”
A lightless alley. It was the kind of place she would never travel through on a daily basis. Especially after she almost got into trouble last time.
However, she was relieved because Gerard Blanchett was by her side. There was no safer place in the Empire than next to Sir Blanchett.
“Huh? Are we here?”
Chloe’s mouth opened slightly when they arrived at their destination. It was a small art supply store.
“When I was attending the academy, I took art classes. The professor recommended this art supply store. Even though it’s small, it’s worth looking around because there are a lot of things here.”
Gerard continued with a grin.
“When you’re feeling down, shouldn’t you see things that you like?”
Chloe felt strange as he continued to talk. She felt as if she had received an unexpected gift.
“Then, shall we go in, young Lady?”
Chloe exclaimed in awe as she examined the colorful pigments. Gerard was right. Though the store was small, it carried high quality products.
“These are really pretty.”
Originally pigments were sold in an unprocessed state, but the pigments in this art supply store were ground very finely.
“You have a good eye, my Lady! A well-known colorist ground the finest ingredients with the vantage.”
The owner of the art supply store replied when he heard Chloe talking to herself.
“I’m afraid you don’t know Peter, but he was the first colorist in the Hernia Empire. It’s hard to find a pigment with this quality, even in the Capital.”
The owner explained proudly. Chloe nodded along, fully convinced.
“This blue… is it lapis lazuli?”
“You’re correct! You don’t know how much effort I put in to get this one. These days, it’s more expensive than gold!”
Chloe and the owner of the art supply store got along well. They couldn’t take their eyes off the art supplies as they exchanged words about a lot of things.
Gerard learned a lot just by listening to their conversation. Moreover, he felt good seeing Chloe’s face become lively again.
“This pigment is also very vivid and pretty.”
Gerard said while touching the bright yellow pigment.
“Oops, you shouldn’t touch it! Your hands will smell.”
The owner of the art supply store was at a loss and narrowed his eyes.
“It’s… made of cow’s urine.”
Gerard’s face became stiff as he instinctively raised his hand and smelled it. It gave off an unpleasant ammonia smell.
“Oh Lord, I’ll get you something to clean your hand.”
Gerard stared at the owner’s back with a dumbfounded look on his face.
Chloe tried to hold back her laughter but failed completely. Sir Blanchett’s dejected expression was so funny to her.
Gerard turned his head and stared at Chloe. His eyes kept glinting as she laughed brightly. He was relieved that she became lively again, but now she acted impudent.
“Young Lady, please smell this!”
Gerard pushed his hand under Chloe’s nose.
“Oh my god! Why should I?”
Humans have always wanted to share pain rather than joy with each other.
“Friends are supposed to share both good and bad things, aren’t they?”
“How can you be so stubborn?”
Chloe responded and took two steps back from Gerard.
“It’s not even that bad. Come closer, young Lady.”
Gerard tried to deceive her without changing his expression.
“I politely refuse.”
“Then I refuse your refusal.”
The silly nonsense kept coaxing laughter out of their mouths.
From paper, which was imported from eastern countries to syringes, which were used to store paints, the sun had started to set as they looked at the amazing painting tools.
It was twilight.
“I had so much fun that I didn’t even realize how much time had passed. Thank you for bringing me to such an amazing place, Sir.”
Chloe said while looking at the sunset that smeared the sky above the shopping district.
“You’re welcome, but is this really enough?”
Gerard asked while lifting the yellow color. It was the exact pigment he had touched earlier.
“Are you not interested in paper which was brought from the East?”
“No, I’ve already got my hands on enough paper. You brought me to this art supply store today, and even bought me yellow pigment.”
“Do you feel uncomfortable with that?”
Gerard asked, taking his eyes away from Chloe.
“It’s just a bribe to impress the young Lady, so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable receiving it.”
“I want the young Lady to do a favor for me.”
Chloe’s face instantly stiffened after hearing Gerard’s words.
Come to think of it, Gerard Blanchett had no reason to spend a lot of time with her. She must have misunderstood because she had gotten too excited earlier.
Chloe’s mood soured.
“Is it… something to do with Leila?”
“Yes. It’s not like I can’t say it’s not.”
Gerard said, without looking at Chloe this time. For some reason, she felt a sense of detachment from his cold profile. Chloe was heartbroken.
There was no reason to be heartbroken because there was nothing other than friendship between Sir Blanchett and her. She wondered what happened to her. Chloe controlled her expression pushing down the pain in her heart.
“What do you want me to do?”
Chloe asked as she climbed onto the carriage, assisted by Gerard.
Gerard stared at Chloe as she settled on the carriage chair, grabbed her hand and pulled it toward him.
Chloe called Gerard in surprise.
Gerard’s lips landed on the back of Chloe’s hand. It was a respectful kiss for a young Lady.
“Will you be my partner at the upcoming banquet, young Lady Roem?”
The sunset dyed the sky behind him as he raised his head. The streets were stained a combination of orange and yellow. His blond hair blew gently in the wind.
In a way, they seemed to have similar colors, but upon further inspection, they were different shades. She felt as though he was colored by a feast of warm colors.
Chloe suddenly wanted to go home as fast as possible. She wanted to paint. Her hands were itching from the burst of inspiration.
“Won’t you, young Lady?”
Gerard lightly urged Chloe, who had been silent for a while.
Chloe’s hand flinched subtly. Perhaps, it was because she wanted to paint the scene she just witnessed, or it was because the place where Gerard Blanchett touched with his lips was burning. She couldn’t tell.
“Yes, I would like to.”
He was irresistible. Chloe hurriedly withdrew her hand from Gerard after expressing her affirmation.
“Thank you, young Lady.”
Gerard smiled brightly, unaware of what she felt inside.
It was the beginning of her unrequited love.
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