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For the first time, the Marquis and his wife, along with Gerard, gathered for dinner in the dining room of the Blanchett residence.
Gerard was confused by the sudden family dinner. What kind of problem would they, who haven’t eaten together even once, have with him?
Gerard gazed at the seafood on the table in front of him. No affectionate words were exchanged among them. He didn’t like seafood, but he wondered if it would even manage to go down his throat in this suffocating atmosphere.
“…Your mother suggested something reasonable for the first time in a while, so I asked you to eat with us to talk about it.”
Wiping his mouth with a napkin, Daniel Blanchett explained.
That was how Daniel Blanchett called Helena Blanchett, even though Helena had never acted properly as Gerard’s mother.
“For the first time in a while?”
Helena responded sharply.
“What do you mean?”
Gerard tried to break the ice between them. He didn’t care whether his parents fought or not, but he didn’t want to watch it with his own eyes.
“Well, it’s about this. We think you should get engaged.”
Helena immediately changed her tone and spoke softly. She smiled, pushing a plate of red mullet to Gerard.
Gerard asked, looking into the eyes of the dead fish with distaste.
“Yes, you’re older now, and I think you should have a spouse to inherit the Marquis title.”
Helena had become more interested in Gerard’s business recently. Perhaps, she realized her love for her son belatedly. Or, more likely, she wanted to look good to her son, whom she would need in her old age.
The reason wasn’t clear, but Gerard didn’t mind it much. Nothing changed for him.
Gerard used his fork to peel back the fish’s scales and brought it to his mouth. The smell of fish was disgusting to him. His nose was more sensitive than others.
“So, your mother is picking between a few good young ladies. I’m also going to pick out some ladies from good families, so why don’t you meet them?”
Helena was too ignorant of Gerard. She didn’t know her son didn’t like seafood, nor whether he had someone he liked.
“You don’t have to.”
“I already have a woman in mind I want to marry.”
“What? Who? …No way.”
Even so, Helena frowned as if she was uncertain about the rumors she heard related to Gerard.
“Do you mean Leila?”
“Yes, I’m going to marry Leila Stein.”
“Of course, Leila is a very good choice, but her family and the fact that she’s good at swordsmanship…”
It was when Helena tried to persuade Gerard by pointing out Leila’s flaws.
“Ha, that’s only possible if you are able to win over Leila Stein.”
Daniel blatantly sneered at his son.
“Rumor has it that she’s dating Archduke Anata these days.”
“Tsk, you couldn’t even win a girl’s heart, so she will be taken away by another man soon.”
Daniel clicked his tongue. Of course, to Daniel, Leila was a woman who fell short of his standards. However, when a huge gold mine was discovered in Viscount Stein’s territory, he reconsidered.
That’s why he let Gerard hang out with Leila. But it turned out that his son didn’t do his job well and made a mistake.
“I’m… I’m going to marry whoever I want.”
“Stop saying ridiculous things. Just meet the young ladies your mother tells you to meet.”
Daniel was pushy. He knew his son didn’t like seafood, but he didn’t change the menu, and he knew his son was interested in Leila Stein, but he moved forward with marriage talks anyway.
“Or you can meet up with the third daughter of the Roem family, who comes over often these days. I think that child would be a much better partner than Leila Stein.”
“Oh, Roem? She’s not bad.”
“I’ll get going now.”
Gerard got up, deliberately putting down his silverware loudly. He didn’t want to stay there any longer.
“We’re not done talking. Sit down, Gerard Blanchett.”
“I told you to sit.”
Daniel’s voice had gone one pitch lower. However, Gerard approached the door of the dining room, pretending not to hear him.
When he opened the door of the dining room, a plate hit the wall beside him. Shards of plate stung Gerard’s ear, but he just smiled.
“Please enjoy your meal. Father, Mother.”
He would have to rethink whether there was anyone in that filthy dining room who could be called parents.
Gerard stared at Chloe, who was sitting across from him.
Was it since the day they had a counseling session? Chloe visited the Blanchett residence whenever she had time, for various reasons.
-Sir, have you read the new book titled ‘Moral Sentiments’? It was quite interesting.
-Have you seen the opera that has been performed in the Tiara Theater? If you haven’t, would you like to go watch it with me, Sir?
It might be because the topics she brought into their conversation were intriguing. Or, it was because the person who came up with those topics was interesting. He was unknowingly being carried away by Chloe Roem.
–Sir, I see you’re here too!
And when she met him at social gatherings, she was enamored with him. She acted like a baby bird chasing its mother. Gerard wondered why someone like her would suddenly do this.
What had gotten into Chloe Roem?
“What’s the matter bringing you here today?”
“Do you like chess, Sir?”
“Yes, I want to play chess, but I can’t think of doing it with anyone other than you.”
It was such a ridiculous excuse. Chloe was not a little girl and couldn’t have come over just to play chess.
Gerard contemplated for a moment before accepting Chloe’s offer.
“Make a bet with me in return, young Lady.”
“A bet? What bet?”
“What about the loser fulfilling the wish of the winner?”
Gerard decided to let himself be carried away only until today.
Just until today.
Chloe played chess well. However, not as well as Gerard.
Gerard’s knight caught Chloe’s queen and she let out a groan. Gerard glanced at Chloe and laughed nonchalantly.
It was funny when she stuck her tongue out while concentrating. It was a habit of hers.
He’d certainly been getting too close to the youngest Lady of Roem these days. To the extent where he knew her trivial habits. He wondered when they got this close.
At first, he just liked Chloe because he was at ease around her. Her eyes didn’t expect anything of him, and her attitude didn’t forcefully try to get close to him.
Then, at some point, he discovered that Chloe was wise and friendly. When talking to her, his dizzying thoughts cleared up.
Her unexpected actions occasionally confused him, but she was fun to be with. Her brightly smiling face during the National Day’s Festival still lingered in his mind.
However, things had changed.
“Sir, it’s a checkmate.”
Moving her rook, Chloe smiled brightly and looked at him.
Gerard took a moment to inhale. It was awkward.
At some point, different emotions began to flicker in Chloe’s eyes. It seemed to be love or some other sort of affectionate feeling.
Gerard could no longer feel comfortable around Chloe. He began to feel giddy and nervous when she looked at him with those serene eyes.
‘It’s not because I don’t like blue eyes, so why?’
Gerard was dumbfounded. If he kept thinking about something he couldn’t understand, he would only bring on a headache.
Gerard hurriedly moved his king. That was how he could avoid another checkmate from Chloe. Gerard Blanchett was good at chess, afterall.
And, after a few turns from each of them.
The victory went to Gerard Blanchett.
“Wow, you’re good at chess.”
Chloe couldn’t take her saddened eyes off the chessboard. She was unexpectedly competitive.
“Then, are you going to do as I wish now?”
“Yes, sure. Tell me your wish.”
Chloe asked, taking her eyes off the chessboard and leaning forward. At that moment, Chloe’s scent suddenly engulfed him.
‘She’s too close, it must be that.’
Gerard thought, pulling back out of reflex.
“…Stop looking for me, young Lady.”
“I think we’ve gotten too close. I think it would be better to keep our distance.”
It was time to push away Chloe Roem, who unexpectedly came to him. If her name hadn’t been mentioned during his family dinner a few days ago, he might have maintained their relationship for longer. However, it was a meaningless assumption.
Chloe controlled her expression and straightened her body.
“I understand, sir.”
In fact, she had fulfilled all her intentions, therefore there was nothing she could possibly want to do with him anymore. Over the past few days, Chloe had hidden several notes that informed him about the upcoming attack. Gerard would find out about it soon.
To avoid suspicion, she shouldn’t be by his side when he discovered it. Yes, therefore this was the time to make distance between them.
‘But why does my heart ache so much?’
Chloe smiled softly despite her heart aching, as if nothing had happened.
Gerard, the love of countless young ladies, quickly noticed when someone liked him. However, it took him a long time to be sure of Chloe Roem’s feelings. She thought she knew the reason now.
There were no expectations from her. Even though liking someone meant she had expectations from the other person.
She wondered if the other person would recognize her feelings. Perhaps, the other person felt the same way? Would she end up beside him in the future?
However, young Lady Roem showed no signs of that. Chloe remained composed even if she smiled kindly, listened to his stories, or when he asked her to be his partner.
Therefore, he must have not seen her as a woman at all.
“…I’m not a good person.”
Gerard said something out of the blue after they went silent for a moment. It was an indirect expression. He meant to say that he didn’t like her.
Chloe, who was quick-witted, understood what he was trying to say. Gerard must have realized her feelings.
She thought she had already given up, but the feeling of dismay made her stomach flip. She wanted to coolly ask if he was burdened by her feelings.
But she didn’t.
“Yes, I should do as you said, Sir.”
Her role was over. It was her turn to step out of their story.
There was nothing she could do if that was the first and last thing Gerard wanted from her.
“Thank you for your time.”
Chloe stood up at the end of her sentence, and turned down Gerard when he offered to see her off.
Gerard tasted a bitterness in his mouth as he watched Chloe walk away. Chloe Roem was still as elegant as ever. She was peaceful until the end. Rather, he started to feel sad.
In that way, Gerard Blanchett pushed Chloe Roem out of his life.
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