“Feel free to use the carriage.”
“You’re just going to send me to ……?”
Leonel looked up at me like he didn’t know what that meant.
“There’s no need to ask for my permission to hang out with friends.”
I was about to nod with a big smile, but suddenly, Lizzy popped out.
“We’re not friends!”
Is being called a friend by a scary boss so unpleasant that she would shout at her? I looked at her with a shocked face. But Leonel, on the other hand, seemed indifferent.
“Correct it as a follower.”
…Don’t think about what she’s thankful for. Roughly similar to friendship, let’s just consider it that way.
“Well, then, I’ll be going out. Leonel, don’t just work, make sure to eat too.”
Leonel nodded, but it wasn’t very reassuring.
I asked the butler to make sure Leonel didn’t skip dinner and left.
I met Mary and Sophie waiting for us in the garden and headed to Dames by carriage.
Even as we ate together and roamed around, the conversation strangely didn’t cease.
Especially Lizzy and I, being talkative, kept chatting, but at some point, Lizzy became quiet. And she occasionally looked back.
“Lizzy, what’s wrong? Is there something?”
“No, it’s just, it feels like someone is following us.”
Lizzy looked around nervously.
Mary’s face turned completely pale. Sophie directed Mary and me to walk inside, entering a crowded coffee house.
And after settling in the center, she asked Lizzy.
“Tell me in detail.”
“It might just be my imagination, but it feels like I keep sensing someone’s gaze…”
Lizzy said, turning her gaze in a certain direction. We all turned our heads following Lizzy’s gaze.
And there, standing in front of the coffee house, we found Arette.
‘This feels ominous. Did Leonel send him to watch us?’
These days, I’ve been sharp, so I might have developed paranoia. I squinted my eyes and looked at Arette.
Then, something flickered at the corner of my vision, and I turned my head. Lizzy was waving her hand with a bright smile.
I quickly pulled down the raised hand, but Arette was already coming towards us.
The only remaining seat was the flower-pink sofa adorned with lush lace between Lizzy and me.
Secretly, I hoped he would turn back. However, Arette paid no attention and sat down on the sofa, sprawling.
“How did you know?”
Arette asked Lizzy. It seemed that the ‘who’ in Lizzy’s statement about someone following us was Arette.
Because he was famous for being like a ghost, Mary and Sophie also looked at Lizzy with surprised faces.
But Lizzy, not understanding what was going on, just tilted her head. Arette suddenly reached out and started patting Lizzy’s shoulders and arms.
I was surprised and slapped Arette’s hand lightly.
“What are you doing?”
Mary hugged Lizzy and glared at Arette.
In an instant, the four of us had wary looks… Well, except for Lizzy.
Receiving guarded gazes from the other three except Lizzy, Arette remained unfazed. Instead, he began to caress Lizzy’s hand that hung down.
Trying to drive Arette away, I looked at Lizzy, who blushed and shyly lowered her head. Mary released Lizzy with a puzzled look.
She glanced at Sophie and me with her eyes, conveying,
‘The atmosphere seems a bit… unusual, right?’
We nodded. While pondering whether to vacate our seats, Arette, still holding Lizzy’s hand, spoke up.
“…What do you mean?”
What does that mean? Lizzy, why are you blushing?
Mary pulled Lizzy’s hand out of Arette’s grip and asked.
“But, Captain, what brings you here?”
I understood the meaning of that silence. I briefly wondered if he had come to see Lizzy, but it seems Leonel sent him after all.
“Did Leonel tell you to watch me, by any chance?”
Arette still didn’t answer. Instead, Sophie denied it.
“No way. Why would you watch Ms. Nelly?”
“We did it before. After Roman was exposed as a spy.”
“Really? No. We received orders to secretly escort her.”
So, is today’s order also to escort? Arette nodded when I looked at him.
What a misunderstanding! Feeling embarrassed, I coughed, and Sophie boldly suggested.
“Captain, let’s just stick together like this. It would be more convenient for escorting.”
After that, Arette accompanied us. He stayed mostly near Lizzy. While Lizzy was looking at items and about to break them, he skillfully rescued the items.
Thanks to him, we strolled comfortably and returned to the estate.
“Ms. Nelly, would you like to have a beer at the tavern?”
Nodding to Sophie’s question, I turned to Arette.
“Join us for a drink, Arette.”
…And there was no one. Staring blankly at the empty seats, Lizzy spoke.
“He just went toward the castle.”
Is there something urgent? I tilted my head briefly, then took a sip of the drink and headed back to the castle.
I wanted to tell Leonel how we spent our time. As a bonus, I wanted to let him know that we returned safely. So, I went to his room.
About to knock, I heard voices from inside. Thinking of waiting for a moment, I ended up knocking on the door.
The sounds from inside abruptly stopped. Soon, the door opened, and Arette came out.
Entering the room, I asked Leonel.
“What was the conversation about?”
“I got a report. There was something I ordered.”
When Leonel assigns a task, Arette usually reports as soon as it’s done. It seemed he came to report on the escort mission.
But something was off. Was it supposed to take this long? All I did was go out, engage in endless gossip, and explore good food until I returned to the castle.
I kept talking until I had a drink and returned to the castle.
Arette’s job was more than just escorting.
“Did you spy on me?”
That silence was an affirmation. It meant he was affirming it but not willing to disclose more.
If that’s how it is, I have ways too!
I felt an ominous laugh coming on, so I covered my mouth and lowered my head. When I raised my head after calming down for a moment, Leonel seemed to be coming towards me.
If he catches me here, we’ll have to be together all night. Then my plan would go up in smoke.
I jerked his hand away and stepped back. He froze in place, a shocked look on his face.
His rough voice softened and sank low. His eyes held both anxiety and guilt.
“I’m not angry! Something came up, and I wanted to check my room. Let’s meet tomorrow!”
Swiftly, I approached and lightly kissed his cheek before escaping the room before he could grab me.
As soon as I entered the room, I took out a paper from the desk.
I wrote a letter to Adelhardt, the person I most likely encountered the most when I was unwell in the palace.
[To Adelhardt: What happened when I was sick? Leonel seems strange, and I don’t know why.
P.S. Employer, give me Frer. I won’t get a drop of blood on my hands.]
Casually mentioning Frer made the letter-perfect.
Judging by Leonel’s condition, he might even open letters I send. And if it’s Frer, he probably knows how to secretly send a letter. After all, he was a capable spy!
I prepared a little bribe for the silent donkey and went to the stable. When I offered a radish, Guadang chewed it with a crunch and gave me its back.
“Guadang, let’s go to the pasture.”
Thud, thud. The sound of hooves tapping on the ground was surprisingly pleasant.
Feeling at ease, I yawned, and suddenly, Guadang pricked up its ears.
Before I could ask the reason, it started running.
Flattening my body, I hugged Guadang.
“Why are you suddenly like this, Guadang? You’re supposed to be a gentle donkey!”
Even if I shouted desperately, Guadang didn’t stop. Worried that someone might be following, I looked back. The surroundings were dark, and the wind was brisk, making it impossible to see anything.
As soon as we reached the pasture, I got off Guadang’s back.
Guadang, who had been leaping around like crazy, was now strolling casually as if nothing had happened.
“Guadang. Why are you acting like that all of a sudden?”
Regardless of whether I spoke or not, Guadang turned around and went to the fence where his friends were, just like that.
Silent donkey. Cold donkey.
I watched Guadang for a moment, then looked around and knocked on the cabin door.
When I opened the door, Frer was lying on the bed. I approached him and thrust the letter in front of his nose.
“What is this?”
Frer tilted his head and, after receiving the letter, immediately unfolded it.
“Why are you opening it!”
“Didn’t you give it to me? No.”
Whether he saw Adelhardt’s name or not, Frer answered his question and folded the letter.
“Can I send a letter without Leonel finding out?”
“You can change it with a code.”
“How do I change it?”
I was genuinely curious when I asked, but Frer’s vague eyes narrowed.
“Did the Duke send you to find out the code system?”
“He didn’t send me. No.”
Frer’s eyes became sharper.
Suspicious of a friend, yes. A man of the Altwood estate should have some suspicion.
He’s too much like family to send back to Adelhardt.
Satisfied, I nodded, and Frer raised an eyebrow. I patted his shoulder.
Frer shook his head and got up, preparing the paper.
“Can I read the contents?”
“Well, I guess there’s no choice. But, can you show me the reply?”
“I’ll take care of that.”
As I sat beside Frer, he began to transcribe, twisting the paper to shield it like a child bothered by someone nearby.
It seemed a bit excessive, but I had no choice since I was the one making the request. I stood up, intending to give him more space to write comfortably.
“I’ll leave it to you. I should go back before Leonel notices.”
“Weren’t you here together?”
Frer tilted his head and opened the door, but there was no one outside. He scratched his head, murmuring.
“Weird. I thought I heard footsteps.”
“What? That’s creepy!”
I sat back down, repositioning myself.
“After you finish the letter, can you take me back?”
Glancing at the door, Frer sat back in his chair.
“I think you should go back before it gets too late.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. It’s patrol time for the knights, so it should be safer.”
“Alright then. I’ll go. Let me know if the reply comes.”
Frer slumped in response, twisting his body again to shield the paper. Although he assured me it was fine, I couldn’t help but worry.
Keeping a vigilant eye, I stepped outside.
Clutching my fist tightly, even though it was powerless, I looked around from chest height to all directions. But there was nothing to be seen.
Feeling relatively safe as Frer had suggested, I relaxed and strolled comfortably.
I brought Guadang and returned to the castle.