Chapter 2 Part 7 – A Changed Honeymoon
It was another hour or so before Ruby woke up.
“Get ready to go,” Eli said.
“What should I wear?” Ruby asked.
“Clothes for the party.”
Though Eli also despised the idea of going to a party, it was an appointment with the emperor, so there was no way around it. He thought he might as well make the best of it now that he had secured a long vacation.
“I’ll wear what I have,” Ruby replied.
“Buy a new one if you like.”
After finishing their meal, Ruby quickly prepared and descended to the lobby. Eli, who had already finished getting ready, was waiting for her.
“Are you going out too?” Ruby asked.
“I thought we were going to get new clothes.”
He held out his hand to Ruby at the top of the stairs
“You don’t have to go get your clothes measured because they’re always the same size.” Ruby inquired.
“…I’m going to have new clothes tailored. My body has changed.”
Eli’s words made Ruby nod slightly in understanding. After all, if it was an important event like an Imperial Order, he might as well dress nicely to suit the occasion.
“Oh my, it’s been a while,” Bella greeted Eli and Ruby warmly. “It’s been a long time since you both came together.”
After the wedding, it indeed was the first time they had seen Bella. While Eli was talking to the designer to choose his outfit, Ruby leisurely browsed through the latest trends and selected something she liked before heading to the dressing room.
When Ruby came out of the dressing room to look in the mirror, Bella approached her.
“Do you like it?”
Fashion seemed to feature off-the-shoulder styles lately. It felt unusual for Ruby, who had always dressed according to Dowager Marchioness of Grit’s taste, especially at this time of year.
“It’s pretty. It suits you well because of your lovely collarbone,” Bella said, adjusting the fabric to fit Ruby.
“Is that so?” Ruby was unsure but felt encouraged by Bella’s praise.
Considering that they would be attending the party with Eli, Ruby thought she might as well challenge herself, knowing that her marriage to Lord Grit was now an open secret.
“Aren’t there any new lace designs this season?”
Eli’s unexpected voice and his reflection in the mirror surprised Ruby.
“You haven’t left yet?”
Ruby’s response made Eli frown slightly. She decided to keep her mouth shut, thinking she might have been talking too much.
“How can leave if you are not done yet?”
His voice was low but clearly audible. Eli gazed at Ruby in the mirror.
“I’ll bring the lace.”
Bella hurriedly disappeared.
Though it was said in a soft voice, Ruby heard it clearly. She was taken aback by Eli’s words and closed her mouth. Then Bella returned with the lace.
“Here you go.”
Bella placed the lace on Ruby’s collarbone and shoulders.
“It looks great on you.”
Ruby felt grateful. Bella’s presence helped her feel at ease in this unfamiliar situation.
“As for accessories, I think Ruby would look great in this, what do you think?” It was rubies just like the ones she wore in their wedding day.
Eli murmured as he softly touched Ruby’s hair.
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, until her eyes met Bella’s, who was smiling at her in the mirror. Her smile seemed meaningful.
Ruby’s face turned bright red in an instant.
“Oh, I’ll change my outfit and come back.”
As Ruby left her spot, Bella replied, “I’ll make sure to attach the lace.”
Eli’s orders seemed familiar to Bella as she responded. “I heard you ordered your clothes from somewhere else. I was worried that there might have been some issues. But it looks like everything is fine now.”
“Ordered the clothes?”
“I don’t know. Rumors have been spreading. People have been asking me if I quit as Lord Grit’s exclusive designer, and how much they tormented me.”
Bella looked slightly irritated, but Eli had already stopped paying attention.
“Well, I’m glad to hear you haven’t switched, does it mean I’m still your exclusive designer”
After a day or two of silence, he just shrugged his shoulders and said what he needed to say.
“It depends on how you would make my wife’s dress.”
In the meantime, Ruby had changed back into the outfit she originally had on.
“My attire should match Ruby’s.”
Eli smoothly took Ruby’s hand and spoke. Bella nodded, not taking her eyes off the two of them as they held hands. Their relationship seems to have changed a lot, she thought to herself.
“Oh, I understand,” she responded to Eli’s request, “I’ll try to finish it as soon as possible.”
Before leaving, Eli said something that made Bella scrunch up her face.
Upon Eli’s request, Bella pouted as she headed back to the workshop. “People have no idea how hard we work, they just assume having a personal designer is wonderful.”
Unfortunately, her lamentations didn’t reach beyond the closed door. With a resigned expression, Bella began working on the outfit.
“If you ever find a dress you like, feel free to come to Bella’s for fitting. I’ll make sure to keep it ready,”
Eli mentioned in the carriage on their way back.
“Why bother? This party will be the last one anyway,” Ruby replied.
“We’ll see about that.”
Neither was willing to back down, and it seemed their conversation was heading towards an impasse.
“The party will be the last, mark my words,” Ruby declared.
Eli nodded as if he understood, and Ruby looked out of the window.
“Aren’t you going to work?”
“It’s my vacation.”
“You, on vacation?”
Ruby found it surprising that someone who had been so busy until the day they filed for divorce would take a break, but she also considered that he might have taken similar short vacations during his time in the capital. It was hard to endure the schedule otherwise.
Ruby, who had no knowledge of that period of his life.
The more she learned about the things she didn’t know about him. She had lived without knowing anything and just endured.
“At least until the end of the party, right? How about we go somewhere? I can prepare your favorite dessert.”
Ruby thought for a moment but didn’t answer.
“Or perhaps an opera? I realized we’ve never been to the opera together.”
Still, she remained silent.
“You don’t like that either? Then how about…”
“Don’t force yourself. You don’t like crowds.”
Eli stared at Ruby for a moment and then asked, “What about you?”
Ruby tried to remember. Before, she had gone to an opera with Lynn on occasion. If she were to answer whether she liked it or not, she couldn’t give a definite answer.
“I don’t really know”
During her time in the capital before their marriage, she hadn’t felt any strong desire to see performances. But on the other hand, she had spent entire nights talking with Lynn about the opera and had enjoyed it.
Eli persisted, “How about we go when you feel like it?”
Ruby, still contemplating, finally responded with a smile. “Sure.”
A few days later, it was the day of the party. Ruby dressed up in the dress Bella had sent her. The light crimson dress was adorned with beige lace and sparkling gems that shimmered in the light.
After tying up her brown hair into a bun and adding a pink corsage in the shape of a flower with hairpins, Ruby was ready.
“Shall we go to the party?” Eli asked as soon as she came downstairs.
“Do I really have to go?” Ruby questioned.
Even though she had spent a lot of time preparing, she didn’t mind skipping the party.
“No, but I’ve started to feel like I want to go,” Eli replied.
He let out a deep sigh and put on a pensive expression. Ruby felt a bit sorry for him; he must have attended parties with such a heavy heart.
It seemed like he disliked it even more than she thought.
“Then let’s go and get it over with,” Ruby reassured him, patting Eli’s arm with her hand as if to console him.
“Okay. Let’s get this over with,” Eli responded, taking Ruby’s hand and gently kissing her fingertips.
Although he still seemed unfamiliar, she was not as surprised as before. During the few days when he didn’t go to the Imperial Palace, he had gradually become more comfortable with expressing himself openly, making Ruby somewhat accustomed to it.
“Alright, let’s go,” Ruby said.
After meeting his gaze, Ruby understood that Eli’s reluctance to go to the party might have a different meaning, but she pretended not to notice. However, his blushing ears gave away the unspoken truth, which she herself remained unaware of.
After getting married, this was the first time Eli officially attended a party in the capital with her wife. While he occasionally appeared in Shuban in his hometown, it was quite infrequent. Today, Eli seemed determined to stick close to Ruby no matter where she went. When Ruby put down her glass for a moment, he discreetly placed his hand on her waist, ready to respond to her needs.
“Why?” Ruby looked up, and Eli, who had been listening to the conversation of other nobles, seemed to sense her gaze and met her eyes.
“It’s nothing,” she replied softly, shaking her head.
“If you need anything, just tell me,” Eli offered.
Ruby nodded and then watched as Eli turned his head back to the conversation that had grabbed his attention. However, a while later, he glanced back at her.
“Oh, long time no see, Lady Grit”
As much as Eli tried to stick with Ruby, he couldn’t be by her side all the time. Regrettably, as he was attending the party on the Emperor’s order, he had to engage with a specific person. He had watched Ruby from a distance, and his expression showed his concern for leaving Ruby alone.
As soon as he was gone, the ladies who had been watching from afar approached.
“It’s been a while.”
Ruby, feeling somewhat nervous about attending a capital party after a long time, greeted the lady with a tone that concealed her tension.
“I’ve seen Lord Grit a few times in the capital, but I wonder why Lady Grit hasn’t come with him. I almost forgot your face.”
She chuckled as she spoke.
“Since I’ve been staying in Schuban, attending capital parties hasn’t been easy. I’m glad we finally had the opportunity to meet.”
Having a few years of experience in hosting parties, Ruby handled the situation quite naturally.
“I suppose that’s why the Marquis brings Lady Miles with him every time. How’s life in the estate?”
“It’s just, quite similar.”
There was not much to describe, given the relatively monotonous lifestyle she had been living.
“The air is fresh, but it gets a bit boring, doesn’t it?”
“That’s right. I’ve been there for a few months, and I thought I was going to die.”
Ruby carefully laughed in response to the exaggerated story.
“But men use work as an excuse to travel around and even bring along women for some fun, don’t they?”
She asked, suggesting that she had witnessed such behavior.
All of a sudden, the conversation took an unexpected turn, and Ruby stared at the lady in bewilderment.
“To be honest, it’s not like only men can have fun. Don’t you agree?”
Even her companion was chiming in, both of them asking Ruby as if they had ulterior motives.
“I’m not sure…”
Ruby tried to avoid giving a direct answer and feigned a faint smile.
“Oh, you don’t have to pretend you don’t know I saw it all in the article,” she said, covering her mouth with her fan.
Ruby still had a blank look on her face. She hadn’t seen the newspaper yet, so she had no idea what they were talking about.
“Didn’t you see it? Or maybe you didn’t?”
As the inquisitive lady spoke, her eyes narrowed, hinting that she knew something Ruby might not like to hear. Her manner resembled a cunning snake hunting its prey, and it was clear that she was intentionally asking a question she knew could cause trouble.
“It’s not even confirmed.”
Although the lady next to her pretended to restrain her, in truth, they were both subtly mocking Ruby.
“I need to excuse myself for a moment.”
Ruby said she would only be a moment before leaving the room. As she left, she noticed Eli was still engrossed in conversation.
Before making her way to the drawing room, Ruby had decided to find out what the “newspaper” that the ladies were talking about actually contained.
“Ruby, I mean.. Lady Grit.”
As it was still early in the party, the voice calling her reverberated around the quiet drawing room.
Ruby turned around to see Sorvan.
“Um… it’s been a while?”
He hesitated for a long time before finally saying something.
“Um, about ruining the party… I’m really sorry. You worked hard to prepare…”
“It’s alright. If not for Ruby… I mean, Lady Grit, the party would have been impossible. Thanks to that, we’ve been invited by the nobility.”
“If it helped a little, so I’m glad.”
The heavy feeling of guilt seemed to lighten slightly.
“Is your husband okay?”
“Oh, yeah. That day, my husband had some urgent business…”
“No, no. It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t feel this way.”
Sorvan, who added that it was his fault, seemed more concerned about Ruby than the sudden return of the title.
“I was surprised because of that article. It made it sound like we had an inappropriate relationship and your kindness was misunderstood.”
“Wait a moment.”
Ruby, who couldn’t stop Sorvan from apologizing, interrupted.
“So you mean the article suggested an inappropriate relationship between you and me?”
Even though they were keeping their distance, his apologies seemed heartfelt.
Realizing that the article the ladies had mentioned in the hallway was about her relationship with Sorban, Ruby wanted to understand more.
It was hard to stay mad at him because of his continuous apologies.
After hesitating for a moment, Ruby asked.
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Of course, I’ll do anything I can.”
“Get that newspaper article, please.”