The clattering of tableware filled the space.
As the meal, which was neither long nor short, ended, a person came out of nowhere and poured tea into their cups.
Marie’s heart pounded as fast as the tea that was poured into her cup.
Thus far, she was the one who usually filled cups with tea.
She had never been treated well like this.
To eat gourmet food like this, to be treated like a VIP like this.
She glanced up, and her eyes met with the nobleman again.
As time went by, her weak expectations rose.
‘Why is he being so nice to me…’
All of a sudden, she recalled a fairy tale that she had read during her childhood.
It was the story of a poor girl meeting a high aristocrat and raising her status at once.
Marie’s cheeks flushed as the thought arose.
Blushing like that, in her mind, she had already become the main character of that fairy tale.
All the while not knowing that the man sitting across her was only hiding his cold gaze.
As though swallowing arsenic, the man watched Marie as she floundered about in her own fantasies.
Instead of revealing a cynical sneer, he had a relaxed smile on his lips as he spoke.
“So then, you were kicked out without a letter of recommendation That’s too much.”
The man asked as though he felt sorry for her, and at this, Marie nodded with tears in her eyes.
“Yes, that’s right.
Really too much…”
Due to the man being friendly all throughout the meal, Marie unknowingly complained about this and that.
What the Valentine family’s nanny did.
Just how terrible that woman’s end was.
How the servants of the lateral mansion had been locked up for a while and were later sent out of the ducal residence.
The man’s question just now was an extension to that conversation.
Marie couldn’t say that she had been kicked out for misdemeanor, so she had made excuses as though she’d been framed.
Her conscience wasn’t prickled at all, in that moment—
‘Well, it’s not a complete excuse yet…’
Then as soon as she thought of a plausible excuse for herself, tears flowed down from Marie’s eyes.
The man took out a handkerchief and handed it to Marie.
Marie stared at the handkerchief blankly as he held it out to her, but she quickly reached for it in a hurry.
“Th… Thank you.”
“No need for thanks.
More than that, you felt so wronged that it brought you to tears.
You must have had a hard time.”
The warm comfort tickled her heart.
She felt so much better about his kind solace that, even if she didn’t feel anguished, she made up and inflated the smallest emotion to the point that she wanted to be comforted for it.
“The Princess surely said that she would help me not get penalized for it, so I fastidiously made up my mind and became a whistleblower, but… I didn’t know that she would betray me.”
When the word ‘princess’ came out of Marie’s mouth, the man’s eyes flashed in the shadows.
However, he soon nodded and responded as if it never happened.
“What a wicked woman she is.
I know that there are two ducal princesses in House Valentine, but who is the one who did that to you”
“It’s… Ducal Princess Rosetta.
She wasn’t that vicious, but it’s like she suddenly became a different person…”
“A different person”
She turned scary out of the blue and even threatened me, then she lied to me, too…”
Marie grumbled sadly.
However, the man could no longer hear what she was saying.
The moment he got the information he wanted to hear, he filtered out Maries grumbling, which he was not interested in.
A quiet murmur escaped through the man’s lips.
As he recited that unfamiliar name, the man smacked his lips.
His red tongue slipped out and licked his dry lips.
Marie’s whining continued even as the man’s attention was now elsewhere.
There was no response, so her mouth continued yapping.
“I was so sure that she would save me.
But here, look at me now.
Milady fooled me.
I don’t know what on earth this is about.
It’s tragic, but I have to continue living.”
At the ensuing chatter, the man’s subdued gaze went back to the person in front of him.
And his fingertips headed towards his waist.
Reaching up the hem, he took out a palm-length dagger.
Marie continued speaking as she did not know.
The man’s hand gripped the handle of the dagger.
As he flicked off the sheathe with his fingertips, the sharp blade loomed out.
However, it ended at that.
“Ah, but Princess Alicia has also changed, as if she’s a different person.”
Within the noisy chatter, there were a few words that grabbed his attention.
“Princess Alicia also changed”
When he asked, the man pulled back the dagger that he was about to thrust forward.
Tak. With a small sound, the dagger with a jagged blade hid itself again at the hem of the man’s clothes.
Avoiding spilling blood, the man’s hand came up on the table.
Marie answered the man’s question with a nod.
There’s something she did which she never would do in her entire life, do you know She was about to jump out the win… No, in any case, they both changed as if they’ve become different people.”
Thanks to them, I’m the only one who’s been kicked out unjustly…
The frustrated murmur was added after.
Of course, it wasn’t to the man’s interest.
He clasped his hands and rested his chin atop them, thinking.
When he closed his eyes, darkness replaced his vision.
In that dark expanse, the names ‘Rosetta’ and ‘Alicia’ appeared.
So they’ve both become different people.
This What a pain…”
The man spoke to himself quietly.
His voice was so muted that, even if the words left his lips, he was the only one who should have heard it.
However, Marie didn’t miss this opportunity and began to kick up a fuss.
“Huuh You’re in pain Oh my goodness, what would you like me to do Please, let me feel your forehea…”
In her exaggerated concern, Marie reached out one hand.
She normally wouldn’t have dared to act like this before, but she was already far too immersed in her role as an imaginary heroine of a fairy tale.
The man’s eyes looked up as he sensed the approaching presence.
Beneath his long eyelashes, shadows fell.
And amidst those shadows, his eyes glinted heavily.
The man’s big hand snatched Marie’s wrist in the air.
Now in an uncomfortable position, Marie had to stop.
At the place where her wrist was caught, she could feel how freezing his body temperature was.
To the extent that her entire immersion into the role of a fairy tale heroine, thinking that it could be brought to reality, was frozen in an instant.
With a great look of embarrassment, Marie blinked.
“Ah, I… I apologize deeply.
I was so worried that I committed an impertinent act.”
And in response to that stuttering apology, the man’s eyes curved gently.
Marie sighed in relief as she saw the smile that was as sweet as honey.
The man had been so gentlemanly throughout the whole conversation with that inviting smile.
Obviously, again, he would say ‘It’s fine’ again this time…
“That’s right, you’ve been impertinent.”
Just like right now, impertinent, he sai… What
The voice was still saccharine, however the content was not the same.
Marie asked back stupidly, and the man smiled and pulled her arm.
Crash! As she was pulled over when her arm was hoisted, her body bumped against the table and some of the plates fell to the floor.
The broken plates spilled across the floor, and shards flew everywhere.
Marie looked around in bewilderment.
The abrupt change came down like a sudden rain shower.
Her shoulders trembled.
Her hands also quivered as she held the table to support her weight.
Even as this fear that’s lodged at her throat felt unfamiliar, there was a peculiar sense of déjà vu washing over her.
When Rosetta told Marie to attend to her during her bath, when she grabbed the maid’s shoulder and had a glint in her eyes—that day.
Right, it was the same feeling as that day.
“I’m… I’m sorr…”
As Marie tried to apologize again, the man slowly stood up from his seat.
The man’s empty hand touched the table.
Then, with one fluid motion, he flung the table to the side.
With a loud sound, the table flew into the wall.
In a flash, the space that used to exude elegance was now nothing but a wasteland.
Marie gulped dryly as her eyes were filled with fear.
The man strode across the space where the table had once been.
And in a split second, the faces of the man and the woman became utterly close together.
Marie’s heart was pounding violently.
The beating of her heart was a pleasant palpitation throughout the meal, but now, her heart seemed to be screaming wildly for help.
Over Marie’s black eyes, the man’s face was reflected.
That face with a wide smile.
The big hand that had flung away the table gently wrapped over the back of Marie’s head.
As he gently stroked her, the touch was friendly.
However, goosebumps shot up over her spine and alarm bells kept ringing in her ears.
You’re too loud.”
“Other than what’s mine, I don’t like noisy things.”
Hearing the strange phrasing, Marie’s eyelashes trembled.
The tears that had pooled in her eyes rolled down her cheeks.
While the man looked at the tearful woman and felt nothing, he then washed off the smile on his face.
The gaze that was so indifferent to the point that it was frightening contained the woman.
And soon, the man’s unsmiling lips began to move.
“To this poor soul, I bestow the blessing of divinity.”
The sound made by that tongue broke through the silence.