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On that day, however, Chloe personally experienced how hopeless her unrequited love was.
All eyes were on Chloe as she entered the banquet hall escorted by Gerard. Everyone wondered why it was Chloe Roem, not Leila Stein, who stood beside Gerard Blanchett.
“Are you all right, young Lady?”
Gerard asked after he took Chloe to the corner of the banquet hall to escape the public eye. He felt guilty that young Lady Roem seemed to be the center of gossip because of him.
“I’m all right.”
Chloe tried to answer Gerard calmly.
Of course, it was a lie to say that people’s attention was not burdensome for her. However, there was something she was more conscious about than people’s attention. The gaze of one person, Gerard, was laced with worry as he looked at her. It was so sweet that she couldn’t care less about the others.
It was dangerous for one specific person to mean more than others, though Chloe didn’t realize it.
“Now entering: Archduke Frederick de Anata and Lady Leila Stein.”
Gerard’s manners only lasted until then. Right before Leila appeared.
Gerard’s body stiffened at the voice of the royal servant announcing Frederick and Leila’s arrival. From that moment on, he couldn’t take his eyes off the pair.
“Long time no see, young Lord.”
It was no use pretending to introduce Gerard to the person beside them. Chloe sent the other person off with a silent apology.
Then, his body seemed to tremble slightly.
Chloe, who was wondering what absorbed all of his attention, naturally looked at where his gaze remained. There, the Archduke and Leila were smiling brightly.
Was it that shocking? Gerard’s forearm, which Chloe had been resting her hand on, stiffened.
“Excuse me, Sir…”
What was she supposed to say in this situation? What kind of words would comfort this man?
‘I wonder if he will look at me when I try talking to him.’
She had spent all of her time dressing her best, but it wasn’t enough to catch Gerard’s attention. All the hard work she had put in felt wasted.
Beside Gerard, who had stiffened like a rock, Chloe once again had to admit that her unrequited love was hopeless. His gaze made her feel as miserable as it thrilled her.
Soon after, the Emperor, his wife, the Crown Prince, and Princess, who was the main character of the banquet, entered. However, Gerard Blanchett’s eyes didn’t waver the entire time. His eyes stayed on Leila even during the Emperor’s congratulatory speech.
Nothing changed even when he danced with Chloe. Gerard’s eyes shone only when he captured the sight of Leila over Chloe’s shoulder.
On the other hand, Chloe was so conscious of Gerard’s hand on her waist that she didn’t know how to react. She was so nervous that she almost forgot how to breathe.
Eventually, she stepped on Gerard’s foot.
“I apologize, Sir.”
Chloe was embarrassed by her mistake and apologized in a hurry. This was the first mistake she made since her debutante.
“…It’s all right.”
Gerard grinned generously. He didn’t care about the mistake she made. He just looked at her soullessly, his eyes forming a half moon shape.
Chloe realized that she was dancing with Gerard’s shell. It was sorrowful. The feelings that hadn’t even been nurtured didn’t have the chance to bloom.
It was a good thing. It would be less hurt to give up before her feelings grew deeper.
“Sir, please have one of these.”
Chloe handed a drink to Gerard, who still hadn’t come out of his trance after the dance was over.
“No, thank you.”
Gerard glanced at Chloe and immediately refused. Chloe was embarrassed and tightened her grasp on the glass, only to put it down again.
“You’re not fine. You must have been thirsty since earlier.”
Chloe opposed his words. It was a high socialite’s expression for saying that he needed to keep an eye on his expression because it was currently a mess.
Gerard wiped his face after Chloe said so.
“Is it obvious?”
“Yes. I don’t know what you’re going to say, but I’m a little scared.”
Chloe came closer to Gerard and whispered.
“You can’t do anything at the moment, can you? Or are you going to drag Leila forcefully with you?”
“I know, don’t bother about it too much because you can’t do anything about it now.”
As she said, there was nothing he could do now.
He thought it was a good thing he asked the youngest Lady of Roem to be his partner. There was no one who could give him advice like this.
Gerard reluctantly pulled the corners of his lips up after taking the drink from Chloe. After trying to pretend to be fine, his impatiently pounding heart seemed to gradually subside.
However, he found out within a few minutes that it was all a ruse.
When Leila and Frederick disappeared from his sight, the relaxed feeling in his chest disappeared in an instant like a morning fog. Gerard and Chloe’s eyes met as they hurriedly scanned the banquet hall.
Gerard immediately wanted to set off to find them. However, he felt guilty leaving his partner by herself, so he couldn’t open his lips to speak.
For Chloe, the conflict he was experiencing was clearly visible in his face. Therefore…
“Go ahead, my Lord. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Chloe sent Gerard off willingly.
“I thought so. The young Marquis of Blanchett… must have left the young Lady of Roem for the young Lady of Stein…”
“If the young Lady of Roem had common sense, she wouldn’t have become the partner of Sir Blanchett.”
“She must have feelings for him.”
“It’s been weird since the three of them started to hang out, but her ulterior motives have been revealed today. Do you think she was able to fit in with Sir Blanchett?”
“Hey, you don’t have to be so mean, she’s going to end up like those other young ladies anyway.”
“Those other young ladies?”
“Yes, yes. You know what happens when you try to get in between them.”
The place where Gerard left to look for Leila was filled with the whispers of young nobles. Their voices grew louder as if telling Chloe to listen to them.
However, Chloe’s expression didn’t waver at all.
That was what they wanted. They wanted to see her run out of the banquet hall with a tearful look.
She didn’t have the slightest intention of doing what they had been wishing for the entire time.
Actually, she didn’t consider it as such a huge offense. They just needed something to watch at the boring banquet.
Chloe smiled toward the crowd, who was talking about her. The young ladies and masters hurriedly turned away when their eyes met hers.
Contrary to her gallant smile, she was falling apart inwardly. Obviously, it was all thanks to the man who ran away to find Leila that made Chloe become more miserable than anyone else in this banquet hall.
She shouldn’t have let Gerard leave. Belated regret washed over her.
Karina stared at Chloe from afar. She felt as though her sister had heard what people had been whispering about.
‘That Blanchett, where is he? Is he out of his mind? Leaving her to look for Leila Stein? I’m not going to let it go!’
That was exactly what her expression said. Chloe deliberately pretended not to have noticed her sister’s gaze. However, Karina was not going to let it slide.
Karina approached Chloe. It might’ve been an elegant walk to others, but Chloe noticed her sister’s walk was laced with a hint of rage. Karina pulled up her skirt with one hand and strode toward her.
“Karina, wait a minute. Gerard must be going through some sort of situation.”
After that, Crown Prince Owen ran after her and stopped the pissed-off looking Karina.
“Where did he go? He must have gone to talk about business with other young masters, right?”
Karina asked as she looked around the banquet hall. Although she didn’t mention his name directly, it was obvious who she was talking about. Gerard Blanchett.
“Karina, you’re too worked up.”
Owen intervened at just the right time.
“It’s a pleasure to greet the Crown Prince, the young sun of the Hernia Empire.”
Chloe greeted Owen to avoid Karina’s questions.
“Oh, right. We haven’t seen each other in a long time, sister-in-law.”
Owen accepted Chloe’s greeting kindly.
“…Why is Chloe your sister-in-law now?”
Karina, who was listening to them, asked in a bewildered manner.
“There’s just no other way to address you, is there? My Karina is the young Lady of Roem, and so is her sister.”
Owen shrugged and grinned.
“And I’m going to address her that way soon anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to practice ahead of time.”
“Ha, you dream big, Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
Karina prudishly put Owen in his place, but on the other hand, she seemed content.
“Then, I have a big dream despite being the future Emperor of this country. What can I do?”
Owen put his arm around Karina’s waist while nodding his head.
She couldn’t believe that she had to witness the love between her sister and her fiancée right before her eyes. Chloe’s eyes gradually lost their energy.
In a way, they were a couple who looked better than any other. She admired the Crown Prince, who gently rebuffed Karina’s sharp remarks with ease.
“So, where did he go, your partner?”
Karina asked again, grasping Chloe’s shoulders.
“He said… he had something to talk about with someone.”
Chloe said while sweeping her eyes to the ceiling.
“Don’t try to deceive me. When you lie, you look at the ceiling.”
Chloe didn’t say anything more because she had nothing more to say.
Karina sighed. She was upset seeing that Chloe couldn’t say anything. To be honest, she was concerned over what her sister was thinking about. She was stuck between Blanchett and Stein for no reason!
Karina glared at Owen this time.
“Why are you glaring at me?”
“This is all because of your friend. How could he leave his partner alone?”
“No, I mean… he’s not that kind of person.”
Owen explained, scratching his chin in embarrassment.
“I’ll talk to him about it when I see him. Cut my sister-in-law some slack, will you?”
“What can I do if you don’t cut me some slack?”
Chloe nodded. After all, cutting some slack was the only form of forbearance the strong could give to the weak.
However, Chloe Roem was not a strong person compared to Gerard Blanchett. She was weak.
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