What exactly did that mean?
Was he under the impression that I wasn’t present?
Or did he consider I wasn’t a woman?
In fact, it didn’t matter much either way, but I couldn’t help but change my expression narrowly.
Meanwhile, Lord Vessel walked outside and returned immediately, stating he would wear it properly, to the point where Caleb and I have no time to talk.
His attitude reminded me of a former friend who, after being dismissed from the military, complained about having to change in one minute and put on a gas mask in ten seconds.
Lord Vessel, of course, is a knight, not a soldier.
“I apologize for keeping you waiting.”
I shook my head to indicate that everything was okay.
I didn’t even think I had been waiting because he came back straight away.
“But, Commander, what brings you here?”
“The lights were turned on in the office, so I went up to look.”
“Well, the lights should be turned off at this point. I apologize for not informing you beforehand. The lights will most likely be turned on after work for a while.”
“And what is the reason?”
“That’s because Lady Oreu is going to teach me for an hour starting today.”
Lord Vessel completed his sentence by blurring the end of his words.
“As you know, I’m not useful at processing paperwork, right? I was ashamed, so I asked Lady Oreu to teach me so that I might learn properly and fix it this time.”
I was taken aback by Lord Vessel’s confession.
I expected him to keep it a secret from Caleb, but this came as a surprise.
“And you’ve decided to do it here?”
Caleb didn’t say anything else after that.
The silence made me uneasy for no apparent reason.
I didn’t expect it to be an issue, but when I found myself in this situation, I became a little uneasy.
Maybe that’s why. I began to ask about the cause with caution.
“Will it be an issue?”
“There’s nothing wrong with it.”
Despite the fact that it was an expected response, I was relieved by the remarks.
“Wouldn’t it be too dark when you came back?”
“I’m taking a carriage back anyhow. So it’s all right… ”
“Oh, Lady Oreu? What’s wrong with you?”
“Come to think of it, I forgot to inform the horseman that I would be late starting today.”
“He must have left by now. That’s alright, though. I may just walk or look for another carriage.”
I pretended to be okay when, in reality, I was not.
I was already exhausted by the thought of the humiliation I would inflict on my careless behaviour.
And I’m just already too lazy for that.
It wasn’t long ago that the carriage left me behind when I was apprehended by Herschel Themis, but I hadn’t thought about it until now.
“Then let’s go back with my family’s carriage.”
Lord Vessel chimed in.
“But since it’s because of me, I’ll take you home.”
I was tempted at the time since it was such a great offer.
I’m only going to ride it for one day. Wouldn’t that be fine?
I’ll be able to notify the horseman that I’ll be late and yet return as normal starting tomorrow.
It was about time my thoughts shifted toward the offer.
“Why don’t I take you home instead of Lord Vessel?”
“What? Lord Egon?”
Caleb’s suggestion startled me.
Because I had no idea he’d say that.
Unlike me, who was taken aback, he responded calmly.
“Since we’re in the same direction anyway, I thought I could stop by on the way.”
“But… In the meantime, you must wait.”
“I could complete the work I was meant to do tomorrow.” Yes, I believe it will be completed by the time You are done.”
So, he’s basically saying that he’s going to do what he can do tomorrow because of me, right?
I should just take Lord Vessel’s carriage.
I already owe him many times, so I couldn’t do that again.
When I think about the shoes whose laces were cut off with scissors because I couldn’t undo the knot a few days ago, my heart sinks.
I was about to say that I would like to take Lord Vessel’s carriage.
“And the residence of Marquis Vessel is located southwest of the Imperial Castle.”
My mansion is in the northeast, and whilst if it’s in the southwest, it’s on the opposite side.
That’s why he offered to take me home.
I’m afraid Lord Vessel will have a hard time.
What am I supposed to do?
“You don’t need to be concerned, Lady. It’s fine to turn around for a moment.”
“It’s completely the other way around. I don’t believe it’s just turning around… Wouldn’t you be exhausted if you drove me home first?”
“I’m not sure about the horseman, but I’m alright. Because I’m only riding in the carriage.”
Come to think of it, it’s probably going to be difficult for the horseman as well.
Even when I thought it would only bother Lord Vessel, I didn’t feel like it, but after knowing that the horseman would suffer, I couldn’t ask him.
But I don’t really want to ask Caleb.
“Wouldn’t Marchioness be concerned if you came home late?”
“Mother must be concerned, but… It’s all right. She will understand if I explain the situation to her.”
It sounds like it’s not okay at all, am I mistaken?
In addition, the Marchioness’s presence was on my thoughts.
Wasn’t it she who mistook me for his son’s lover and intended to get Vivian to check on me?
Of course, since his son actively denied it, but she might still misunderstand, just like Vivian.
Furthermore, he was late because of me.
If Lord Vessel explains the situation to her, she could get it wrong this time.
After that, a bizarre scene played out in my mind.
Naturally, these were all things that I didn’t want to go through.
I ultimately chose to take Caleb’s carriage.
* * * * *
After that, Caleb returned to the training grounds.
He left a message requesting me to come down when I finished teaching Lord Vessel.
Perhaps he was considerate so that I might comfortably teach Lord Vessel, but I couldn’t focus because of Caleb, who had been down there the entire time. As a result, I couldn’t fulfil the hour and put down the pen.
“Lord Vessel, may we stop here for the day? I keep worrying about Lord Egon.”
“I think that’s a good idea. Thank you for your hard work.”
“You too, Lord. Thank you for your hard work.”
When we went out, we exchanged greetings and parted.
Unlike me, who had to use the carriage boarding station at the back entrance, Lord Vessel used the carriage boarding station at the main gate.
The night cool air brushed across my skin after I parted ways with Lord Vessel.
‘It was cold in the morning, but it’s becoming colder now.’
I stepped toward the training ground to find Caleb with my arms wrapped around another to maintain my body temperature as much as possible.
The lights were virtually turned out and it was dark in the training ground where there were no people.
It didn’t seem out of the ordinary if a ghost appeared right away.
Of course, there would be no ghosts, but I couldn’t help but feel anxious.
As a result, my eyes got impatient as I searched for Caleb.
“Where is he… Oh, there he is!”
After looking around diligently, I could find Caleb not far away.
He was putting a lock on what appeared to be a small stable at first glance.
Caleb looked back as soon as I got closer.
Then he asked in a calm tone as if he knew it would be me.
“You came down.”
“I think you came down earlier than expected.”
“I’m having trouble concentrating since I know you’re waiting for me. I asked Lord Vessel for his understanding and finished early.”
“I think I’ve caused you trouble for no reason.”
“No, it was me who was bothering you. May I inquire as to what you do there?”
Caleb was locking the door, so I pointed to it.
“We’re raising letter birds.”
“Do you keep a letter bird here?”
“Yes. We are raising exactly 22 as a means of contacting the dispatched members. A while ago, one came back, so I put it in a cage, and locked the door.”
“Ah, I see.”
I had no idea the Knights raised their own letter birds.
I marvelled at the fact that I had learnt something new as I gazed at the door.
Meanwhile, Caleb secured the door, and we proceeded to the carriage boarding station.
‘But it’s really freezing.’
It was cold when I first came out, but because I had been outside for a long time, my body trembled more and more frequently.
Caleb’s voice sounded from behind me as I trembled and shivered.
“Do you feel cold?”
“Ah, it’s a bit chilly.”
I rubbed my arms while staring at the ground.
Oh, I wish we’ll be able to go to the carriage station soon.
I’m not sure if the carriage will be warm, but wouldn’t it be better to the chilly breeze outside?
Something hefty was placed on my shoulder at the moment.
Due to the scent of wool and an unusual body odour at the tip of my nose, I abruptly raised my head.
It didn’t take long for me to understand what was on my shoulders was Caleb’s uniform coat.
“Why are you giving me your coat…”
“Didn’t you say it was cold?”
“But, Lord, if you take off your coat, you’ll be cold.”
‘Just because you’re fine doesn’t mean you’re not cold…’
But I couldn’t bear the thought of returning Caleb’s coat.
I’m not sure whether I could have endured it without this coat, but once I tasted the warmth, I wasn’t confident I could take it off and endure it.
Furthermore, the coat was large enough to cover my calves and was quite warm.
What am I supposed to do?
But I can’t turn a blind eye to Caleb.
It was a moment when I clung to the coat and twitched my fingers for no apparent reason.
Isn’t our body temperature conserved while we stay close together?
It feels awkward to hug each other, but I suppose linking arms will be fine.
“Please pardon me, Lord. Can we then link our arms?”
“You must be cold as well, Lord, yet you refuse to cover yourself with your coat. So I figured if we put our bodies together, you’d get warm.”
Caleb didn’t say anything in response to what I said.
Crossing our arms, on the other hand, is a tough decision.
“You can comfortably say no if you’re embarrassed. I just said it because I was sorry.”
“I’m not embarrassed.”
The response came back as soon as I finished speaking. His speech seemed frantic in several ways.
“I’m simply afraid I’ll make you uncomfortable.”
What could possibly make me feel uncomfortable?
I tilted my head, but Caleb proceeded as if he understood what I was thinking.
“I changed my clothes and washed up, however, I was just training a few hours ago…”
I expected to comprehend his thoughts without having to hear the rest of the story.
He must have sweated because he trained, and he was afraid I would be offended by the smell.
Caleb’s concerns, on the other hand, were irrational.
He’d already washed and changed his clothing, so there’s no way he’d smell.
And even if he did smell, nothing would be wrong with it.
He is the type of guy who took off his coat and covered me with it out of care for me, so how can I be bothered by his sweat smells?
“If it doesn’t matter then, can I link my arms with yours?”
Caleb smacks his lips briefly.
“…Yes. You can do that. That’s all right.”
He responded a bit late.
I had nothing else to think about now that I had his consent, so I raised both my arms and crossed Caleb’s right arm.
His body flinched at that moment.
‘Did I grab it too suddenly? Should I have grabbed his arms after first informing him?’
But it’s strange to ask back or apologize now.
So let’s just pretend I don’t realize.
I’m just going to keep his arms until we get to the carriage boarding station.
So, till then, I feigned not to notice and kept moving.
The unfamiliar body scent combined with chilly air hung on the tip of my nose every time I moved.
The body warmth is distributed throughout a thick coat. When his skin came into contact with mine felt warmed up, it relieved some of my guilt.
Of course, Caleb will only be able to keep one arm warm, but it’s better than nothing.
We arrived at the carriage station as I was attempting to console myself.
I’d seen it previously, so its size didn’t startle me this time. We naturally went into the carriage and sat in front of each other.
I took off his uniform coat and handed it out to Caleb as soon as I sat down.
“Thank you very much, Lord. I’m much warmer now, thanks to you.”
“You can cover yourself a little longer.”
“It’s Fine considering the carriage is warmer on the inside than it is on the outside. I have to return it before I go home anyway.”
“…All right, then.”
Caleb kindly accepted his coat from me and put it on right away.
As I tried to look out the window, I heard Caleb’s voice.
As a result, I had no option but to face him again.
“Are you going to teach Lord Vessel again tomorrow?”
“I promised him I would.”
“How long do you plan on teaching him?”
“Until Lord Vessel says he no longer needs my help.”
“It sounds like you don’t have any specific time period, am I right?”
I smiled awkwardly. Even if we didn’t have a set time, I’d ultimately stop teaching him.
Because it is self-evident that I will no longer be teaching him when the contract period is over.
The time period the crown prince told me was until the New Year’s banquet, which was roughly four months away.
It will be accomplished before then.
“But I won’t owe you anything else like today. There will be nothing to bother you. I’m going to tell the horseman to wait for me from tomorrow on.”
“Then you must walk to the carriage station on your own. Aren’t you afraid?”
“It’s okay since I’m still inside the Castle.”
Initially, only individuals with definite identities were permitted to enter the Castle.
Furthermore, there were guards and knights on patrol, so nothing unpleasant could have happened.
So there’s no way I’d be afraid.
“But we can’t guarantee safety outside the Castle, can’t we?”
“That’s right, but I’m travelling inside a carriage all the time. And I believe I can run swiftly and enter as soon as I get off the carriage in front of the mansion.”
Of course, bad things can happen in a short time, but…
To be honest, I didn’t feel really threatened because I could defend myself to some extent.
And I don’t think anything will happen anyway.
“To be honest…”
I came to a halt and stared at Caleb as I heard the unexpected voice.
“It’s because I’m worried.”
His black eyes, which were more serious than ever, were fixed on me.
And his following words…
“So I’d like to keep you company if you allow me to.”
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