Chapter 17

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As soon as her eyes met Enoch’s, Ines was shocked.

 

“Oh my gosh! Why didn’t you make a sound and come in!”

 

“….”

 

At the surprised voice, the overwhelming atmosphere that had enveloped the room completely disappeared. Enoch took a deep breath and answered.

 

“I’ve already knocked twice and asked for permission to come in.”

 

“Oh, did you?”

 

In response to that answer, Ines became sullen and apologized to Enoch.

 

“I’m sorry, I sometimes can’t hear any sounds around me while I’m drawing.” 

 

“It can happen if you focus. I understand.”

 

“Even the last time Mrs. Land called me five times and there was no answer, and she was so annoyed. Oh, and Mrs. Land is the name of the owner of the art store.”

 

Ines, who was rushing to make excuses, pointed to the paper bag Enoch was holding.

 

“By the way, what do you have in your hand?”

 

“Food.”

 

“Food?”

 

At the completely unexpected answer, Ines hardened.

 

 “I heard from Mrs. Land, and she said that you often skip meals when you paint.”

 

“Oh….”

 

“So I bought a few goodies.”

 

Enoch pulled the table, opened the paper bag, took out items one by one. Cheese, various fruits, meat pie, a bottle of juice, and Ines’ favorite baguette sandwich. He even brought tableware.

 

Ines, who was looking at the food being prepared in an instant, asked Enoch.

 

“So, are you afraid that I will skip meals?”

 

“Then would I buy this much food for no reason?”

 

Enoch shrugged and skillfully cut a piece of meat pie and set it on a plate. Then he pushed the plate in front of Ines.

 

 “Have some.”

 

‘Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone has ever taken such good care of me.’

 

For she had always been taking care of Ryan…Feeling overwhelmed, Ines bit her lip.

 

“…… thank you.”

 

Saying thanks, Ines raised the fork. When she cut the meat pie and put it in her mouth, she could taste the savory taste of the cooked meat and the crispy crust.

 

Meanwhile.

 

‘Huh?’

 

Ines felt the gaze staring at her.

 

When she looked up, she saw Enoch looking at her with a somewhat nervous expression on his face. And then he asked in a low voice.

 

“Does it suit your taste?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I bought it from a place with a good reputation, but if you don’t like it, please feel free to tell me.”

 

“…”

 

It felt like someone had hit her hard in the head. Ines, who was a little dazed, smiled at Enoch.

 

“It’s okay, it’s delicious.”

 

At the answer, Enoch looked closely at Ines’s face.

 

Then he narrowed his brows and said,

 

“Don’t lie.”

 

“What?”

 

“People don’t usually look like that when eating delicious food.”

 

“Ah….”

 

Confused, Ines blinked both eyes.

 

Reflexively, she raised her hand and touched her lips.

 

Even though she was smiling, her lips hardened with many emotions. 

 

“Really, it’s delicious. I just….”

 

Ines, who hesitated, spoke.

 

“It’s just a little strange.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Nobody in my life…… Even my husband, Ryan.”

 

It was as if someone had blocked her throat with a large stone.

 

Ines struggled to talk.

 

“No one ever took my taste into consideration, so that’s why.”

 

“Countess Brierton.”

 

“Except for my parents, the Duke was the first.” 

 

“…”

 

Ines’s smile grew a little deeper.

 

It was a sad smile.

 

‘The one who took my taste into consideration.’

 

Enoch, who looked at Ines with a complicated feeling, answered calmly. 

 

“In the future, I will pay more attention.” 

 

“Ha, I didn’t mean to burden you.”

 

“There is no pressure. It’s just that I want to care.”

 

In response, Enoch poured orange juice into a clear glass and gave it to Ines.

 

“Here, have some more.” 

 

“Your Excellency, don’t you eat? I don’t want to eat alone.”

 

At Ines’ mischievous push, Enoch also raised the tableware. Seeing that scene, Ines’ heart ached once again. 

 

‘What if it was Ryan?’ 

 

No, Ryan wouldn’t eat with her. It was lucky if he didn’t scold her.

 

Ines, who had been thinking about that, tried hard to brush off her thoughts about Ryan.

 

If she had a sullen face, Enoch would think it was strange.

 

In that way, she returned to her usual form.

 

“So, today Mrs. Land…”

 

The voice that chattered about the little things she had been through was cheerful. Enoch listened quietly to the story.

 

Occasionally, he nodded his head or clapped in sympathy. But in the meantime, Enoch….

 

‘Except for my parents, the Duke is the first.’

 

‘The person who took my taste into consideration.’

 

Ines’s weak voice did not fall from his ears. It was like a small thorn stuck under his fingernail.

 

***

 

It was about a week away from the art exhibition.

 

Finally the painting was finished.

 

“That’s great.”

 

Enoch looked at the paintings and was truly amazed.

 

At that praise, Ines made a relieved face.

 

“I’m glad you liked it.”

 

Each of the two paintings contained the scenery of the Hwabang street.

 

In the sense of a series, one was the morning landscape and the other was the evening landscape.

 

The splendid colors of the twilight that seemed to be on fire stood out exceptionally.

 

“It’s like a series.”

 

“I did it on purpose to give it that kind of feeling.”

 

Hearing Enoch’s murmur, Ines smiled mischievously.

 

 “So that other people can immediately wonder when they see it.”

 

“Well, if that was the intention, it was perfectly successful.”

 

“It is comforting to hear that the Duke, not anyone else, has said that.”

 

Ines shrugged and began to wrap a painting in wrapping paper. Enoch, who was watching the scene, tilted his head and asked.

 

“Is there any reason to even wrap it up? If you leave it to me, I’ll take it to the art exhibition on my own.”

 

 At that question, Ines paused and stopped her hands.

 

After such a long silence, Ines turned to Enoch with an awkward smile.

 

“Still….”

 

“Countess.”

 

“Ryan…… he might be wondering…”

 

The hand that gripped the wrapping paper slowly gained strength.

 

“…What kind of picture I painted.”

 

There was a glimmer of hope in that voice. Ines believed that at least her husband would be interested in her artistic achievements. She wanted to put her hopes on Ryan… 

 

“….”

 

The moment he noticed that small expectation, Enoch felt his mood sink.

 

‘Why do I feel so bad all of a sudden?’

 

It had been a very pleasant feeling until recently, but it was strange.

 

Enoch frowned involuntarily.

 

At the same time, Ines looked down at the wrapping paper she was holding in shock.

 

“Oh, this. The wrapping paper is all wrinkled. It’s a waste.”

 

The crumpled wrapping paper was like the love she had dedicated to Ryan.

 

Ines felt her heart ache.

 

It felt so bitter, Ines didn’t even notice.

 

The fact that Enoch was looking at her like that.

 

***

 

That evening.

 

Ines returned to the townhouse with the wrapped painting.

 

“I’m here.”

 

“Are you here, madam?”

 

The maid greeted Ines with a bright voice, but she did not have a happy face.

 

As soon as she saw that dark expression, Ines noticed it right away.

 

“Ryan hasn’t come home yet, right?”

 

“Oh, Madam. That … ”

 

The maid, who had licked her lips to answer something, bowed her head, not knowing what to do.

 

Ines stared at such a maid with a sad heart. Ryan, who seemed to be paying attention to Ines at first, had been going out for the past few days.

 

Still, she thought he’d be home early today.

 

Because she told him in advance that she would bring the painting to show him.

 

‘It’s stupid.’

 

Until earlier, the picture she was holding felt so light.

 

It was too heavy now.

 

‘What the hell did I expect?’

 

Ines laughed at herself.

 

‘Did I really think Ryan would be interested in my paintings?”

 

In fact, she herself knew.

 

Ryan was not interested in her art world, but only the fame that her paintings brought. Just at that moment, the maid, who found the package of paintings in Ines’ hand, hurriedly held out her hand.

 

“Madam, give me that package. I will take care of it.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

Ines shook her head and turned around.

 

“I’ll just go in and rest, take care of Ryan when he gets home.” 

 

“Yes, I will.”

 

Facing the back of Ines, who was moving away, the maid looked down and bowed her head.

 

“Poor lady…”

 

The eyes of the maid staring at Ines were full of sorrow.