Within the carriage, an endless silence floated.
The regular rattle of the wheels was almost likable.
In that silence, Emil’s eyes were fixed on something outside the glass-closed window without uttering a word.
“It seems useful.”
The first to break the silence was the Duke.
The Duke, who took off his glasses, wiped the lens with a soft cloth.
“If you stay close, it may be useful someday.”
“You don’t like it?”
Emil’s gaze, which didn’t dare to make eye contact with the Duke, fell and faded.
‘Did father like that child?’
Gradually his anxiety spread.
He wanted to get to know her.
But when his father told him to befriend her, he felt uneasy about the hidden intentions.
‘Should I say something to that child?’
It was the first time in his life that a child approached him first and held his hand.
He was always oppressed in the mansion and everyone neglected him, treating him with disdain.
However, as if she didn’t care about his birth, the child held out her warm hand as if it was nothing.
‘She said she liked me because I’m handsome… I’m handsome.’
She also said she liked him because he was good at studying.
Emil could never have imagined that his knowledge was something remarkable. As well as his face.
‘Will she like me more if I become more handsome and smarter?’
Because of people’s gossip, he only thought of himself as an evil villainess’s bastard.
No matter how much he craved affection and a warm touch, all he got was contempt and wariness because he was the son of a wicked woman.
The only person he could have something close to a conversation with was his father, Duke of Callixst.
But his father was a cold-hearted man who was never attentive or caring, and his apathetic demeanor made him feel suffocated.
‘I want to get to know her, but my father also said…’
He was afraid something bad would happen to her.
The duke stared at Emil as if he was staring at a mere object.
“Make Velsia Lankester fall for you.”
Emil didn’t fully understand what he had heard just now.
“I’m saying to gain her favor.”
“How can I…”
“Isn’t it simple?”
“She already seems to be interested in you, odd as it sounds.”
Emil couldn’t raise his head.
Then, he heard the Duke briefly chuckle. It was a sneer.
The girl’s gaze flashed through his eyes.
Pale-ivory-colored bobbed hair and dark red eyes like autumn leaves appeared and vanished in an instant.
‘That kid for sure doesn’t know.’
What kind of person the Duke was.
Emil slowly lifted his gaze.
It was still early to predict that she might have a hidden intention in approaching him.
Most people always shun him, and a small minority had other reasons for pretending kindness.
This girl seemed to be no different. However,
“…it doesn’t matter to me if she has another purpose.”
He didn’t want to lose the kindness that seemed to be only for him.
It felt very warm.
* * *
One week after my tenth birthday, I received a rather scary invitation.
It was from Duke Callixst.
“Dad, you don’t want me to go to the Duke’s residence?”
My mom easily agreed for me to go but my dad was still reluctant.
“I don’t hate it.”
“Are you sure?”
Dad turned to mom with a look that said “I don’t know how to explain it.” And she turned a blind eye to that cry for help.
I already knew the reason why dad didn’t like it.
“It’s because I hate Duke Callixst.”
My mother seemed to be having a lot of fun, watching her husband be troubled.
“He’s a treacherous man.”
In my mind, I agreed with my father.
He was a cunning man.
I also felt uncomfortable with Duke Callixst.
Now it was different, but in the past, he was blatantly displeased with me being close to Emil.
I didn’t know what changed and what he wanted with me, but it wasn’t a bad development.
“I’ll be back before sunset.”
Fortunately, mom was on my side.
“Jenoart, I said it before, didn’t I? That child continues to grow up neglected.”
Mom always remembered her promise to Robellin.
For my birthday banquet, she deliberately made a fuss to invite Emil, who didn’t go out often.
“I’m not in a position where I can personally go to the Duke’s mansion.”
Although my father was still worried about my safety, he agreed with my mother.
“Then let’s do this, when the sun goes down, I’ll go to pick you up from the Duke’s residence.”
“I’ll love it if you do!”
As soon as I got the permission, I went to my room and wrote back a reply.
I had just sealed the letter when I heard a knock on the door.
“Miss, I brought you a snack.”
As she entered the room, Isana was holding an apple pie made as small and pretty as a tart, and milk.
“Isana, I want to send a reply to this invitation.”
“Oh my, I’ll leave it to Elena. You’re replying to Duke Callixst, aren’t you?”
“Uhu. If possible, I’d like it to be delivered before lunch.”
“I’ll send it right away.”
I left the letter to her and asked for a slice of pie. I chewed the sweet cover.
‘As expected, eating sweet food relieves stress.’
The fragrant cinnamon flavor also calmed my mind.
Nevertheless, it only lasted for an instant.
Since the regression, I felt like I was walking alone on a risky tightrope, and I wondered if I could find comfort in these trivial things.
‘Ah, wait a minute.’
I was almost done with the pie.
‘I can’t go empty-handed.’
As soon as I thought of it, I immediately looked for the chef.
“In two days?”
“I’m going to look for it right after lunch.”
“Then that means you’ll eat here, and if you go, you’ll eat mostly deserts. I’ll make sure to prepare it.”
The chef raised his arms as if to reassure me it’ll be perfect.
And two days later, it was the day I was invited to the Duke’s residence.
It was a little past noon when I got on the carriage.
“I might not be one now but still, not for nothing Koreans are Koreans.”
I looked proudly at the several picnic boxes.
I used to live like a Korean, so I have to feed the people around me.
‘Especially if it’s a child who has a lot to grow up.’
* * *
Callixst Duchy was truly imposing.
My residence or Duke Lucretius’s mansion had a boost of splendor, both residences had a bright atmosphere that showed elegance and wealth.
But the Callixst mansion was the opposite.
The architecture gave a solemn atmosphere that felt overwhelming. I even felt wary of giggling carelessly.
“Let’s head inside.”
The head butler who received me opened the doors on both sides.
Emil came first and sat on a large sofa.
“Emil, it’s been a week since we last saw each other, right?”
Inside, the maid was waiting to serve.
The butler told me to ask the maid if I needed anything, and after asking for consent, he disappeared.
Just us two… no, we were three, counting the maid who quietly stood behind the sofa.
“What happened to what I brought?”
As I asked coyly, the maid replied delightedly.
“It was moved to the kitchen. Everyone seems to take great care since Miss Velsia worked hard preparing it.”
‘It’s just some desserts that you just need to place on a plate. Is there something to be concerned about?’
However, I didn’t say anything because I wanted to see a surprised reaction from Emil.
“It’s our pleasure. Today…”
Her gaze met Emil for a moment and then fell.
I laughed quietly since these were things that I experienced in my past life but this time it was too late to disregard them as mere illusion.
“The news that Miss Velsia was coming to the residence made a fuss among all the employees.”
Thank you, but I don’t like it.
I saw Emil jolting and froze.
It must have been a strange thing to see a servant being so kind. It was like that in the past.
“Well, I wouldn’t have been able to come if the Young Lord hadn’t invited me”
“Young Master…? I heard it was the Duke who….”
“I’m a little shy to say it, but I wanted to be close to Young Master, so I flirted a lot, right?”
Emile was flustered by the unexpected gaze on him.
A pure white shirt and well-groomed silvery hair.
I already knew that Emil’s appearance was just the Duke’s trick for pretenses.
Emil was a deficit for the Duke, he provided clean clothes and quality food, but that was all.
The servants treated Emil as if they had no choice but to deal with something unpleasant.
“You said I could come because I begged you. Isn’t that right, Emil?”
“Though the permission…”
“The Duke gave me permission, but I wouldn’t have come without you in the first place.”
I silently asked Emil to confirm my words.
After a while, he still couldn’t make eye contact, but he nodded.
The maid couldn’t hide her dismay.
She probably couldn’t understand why I was trying so hard to be friends with Emil.
And then, they will believe what they want. The daughter of a saint-like lady pitied the evil woman’s son, that’s what they’ll think.
By the time I leave this mansion, every servant will think so.
So, to break that supposition, I decided to take Emil with me today.
‘If he stays in a place like this he’ll end up developing a madness he didn’t have before.’
It was easy to pretend to be sympathetic with other people.
Like for me before the regression.
Just in time, I heard the sound of a tray being pushed in the hallway.
“Emile, do you like pie?”
“At this time of the year, I eat apple pie at least once a week.”
It was really delicious.
As I held my hands together and raised the anticipation, curiosity spread across Emil’s face.
The maid, who was glancing our way, opened the door.
Desserts that made you feel full just by looking at them were placed on the table.
Colorful macaroons and soft cookies lightly coated with sugar.
From a chocolate cake topped with apricot jam in between and even a pie with sweet pulp that was boiled down decorated on top.
“Give Emil some of this pie first.”
Naturally, the maid was going to give some to me first but hearing my order, she stuttered and shifted.
Emil, who was unfamiliar with all of this, picked up the fork.
Holding a slice of a crispy cinnamon-flavored apple, Emil carefully shoved it into his mouth.
I glanced at him, wetting my dry mouth with milk.
Putting on a business smile, I asked.
“Is it tasty?”
He just nodded.
His eyes twitched and were stuck on the pie.
I prepared this only because I liked apple pie, but it was a good choice.
I also picked up a cookie and bit into it.
“I had only seen this in pictures in a book.”
Emil’s words made the maid glance at me nervously.
But I had to pretend to be a 10-year-old child who didn’t know a thing and wasn’t suspicious of anything.
“Does the Duke not like dessert very much?”
When I asked, Emil realized what he had said and stopped for a moment.
“Uhu, do you think you liked it?”
Unlike my previous question, this time Emil didn’t hesitate to give a reply.
“I think I’m already fond of it.”
His low-pitched voice pierced my ears.
I felt a strange sense of relief. I was glad.
To be honest, the words that poured out of my lips on the spur of the moment should have been uttered later.
“So, would you like to come to my home?”
I tried to stay as composed as I could while saying so.
“How about living together? We have a lot of this in my home.”
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