She was meeting his father and brother, who never appeared in the original work, and was even in his Grace’s mansion she’d only heard about.
Back when Ray had proposed to her out of the blue, Iva had criticized him for not knowing enough about her.
But now, she felt guilty for pursuing him in her previous life without really knowing him either.
“You know how the youngest is always the baby, no matter how old they get. And the nickname suits you too, Your Grace.”
“‘Crybaby,’ you mean?”
“I don’t know about ‘crybaby,’ but ‘baby’ does seem to fit you.”
“Where would you find a giant baby like me?”
“Right in front of me.”
Ray, too, had been teased by Iva, but it made his heart race. It felt as if she had really become part of his family.
What would our daily life be like if we really got married? If that happens, I wouldn’t mind being teased for the rest of my life.
Ray looked at Iva with a subtle smile, his gaze naturally falling to her lips.
Had they been a second longer in the carriage alone, and had his brother opened the door just a bit later, their lips would have met. And Iva, although flustered, wouldn’t have refused.
He wanted to feel that moment of emotional connection with her just once more.
Unknowingly, tension entered Ray’s body, and he stared intently at her lips.
“Oops. Did I interrupt again? From a distance, you two looked so hot I thought something was on fire.”
Leo raised both of his hands and imitated a burnt hand as he approached.
Thanks to Chase’s constant pranks, Iva was immune to this level of tomfoolery and could laugh it off. Ray, however, slapped his forehead in embarrassment.
“Haha, our little crybaby. Crying again, are we?”
“I don’t cry anymore.”
“Really? I’ll make sure to make you cry in front of, Miss Iva.”
“I definitely won’t cry.”
Though pretending otherwise, Iva noticed Ray getting oddly wrapped around Leo’s antics. She felt that he was really helpless against his brother.
“Let’s eat dinner first. Miss Iva, the meal is ready, so shall we go?”
“Yes, thank you.”
The three of them headed to the dining room.
The dining room in the mansion was warm and cozy.
Knowing that their precious youngest, Ray, would be coming, the table was laden with dishes.
“Ray, eat up. Miss Iva, if you need anything, feel free to say so.”
“Thank you for the warm welcome, especially since I showed up so unexpectedly.”
“Any guest of Ray’s is a guest of ours. Feel free to visit anytime.”
For once, Leo’s words felt sincere.
Iva picked up her utensils and cut a small piece of the meat in front of her. It was juicy, tender, and delicious.
“By the way, what brings the Lady of Blanche to our home with Ray? Are you two really thinking of getting married?”
“Father, it’s not like that.”
Ray stepped in before Iva could feel burdened, cutting off the conversation. Theoz looked at Iva with a slightly disappointed expression.
“I came here because I’m looking for some information. Duke Ray said he would help me, so I took the liberty of coming here.”
“What kind of information are you looking for?”
“Information related to magic.”
Theoz and Leo exchanged surprised glances.
“What kind of magic are we talking about?”
A now-composed Leo asked Iva.
“It’s difficult for me to say.”
Because she had found herself in a book, inhabiting the body of a villainous character. Just like in the original story, she had fallen for Ray, tormented the heroine, and ended up executed—only to be sent back in time. And she suspected that magic had something to do with it.
How could she explain all this?
Even if she did voice these thoughts, they would probably not believe her absurd story. Plus, it would be too sad to just label this lively family as characters from a novel.
When Iva didn’t answer, Leo put down his utensils and locked eyes with her.
“If you don’t tell us, we can’t help you.”
His firm gaze was identical to Ray’s.
“People in Grace have a strong sense of unity. They don’t keep many secrets among themselves, which is why they’re not too fond of outsiders. They’re afraid their words might leak.”
“If you don’t provide a clear reason, it’ll be difficult to help.”
Iva understood perfectly and nodded her head.
Who would welcome an outsider coming out of nowhere, digging for information, and then leaving, especially in such a close-knit community?
Still, it was difficult for her to explain why she needed to find out about magic.
“This may not be our ancestral home, but it’s still a place where we live together, so I hope you understand if there are things we can’t casually discuss.”
“Of course, I completely understand. I’ve been presumptuous.”
Just as she was considering going to town on her own to find information about magic.
“However, I can help you get to know them better.”
Leo offered her a sly smile.
“Do you have any special plans for tomorrow in Grace?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Good, then. After breakfast, come to the garden with Ray. I’ll introduce you to some of my subordinates.”