The noise was caused by a drunken man and woman. The man with long, dirty black hair that hadn’t been washed in a while, and a woman whose curly hair was burnt red like she’d used cheap hair dye.
The dark, dingy corridor, barely big enough for one person, was completely blocked by the two men and women staggering along, barely able to contain themselves.
They hadn’t even bothered to put their clothes back on, apparently continuing their caresses in bed, judging by the way they clumsily tangled together, oblivious to Amelie and Olivier.
“Shit, So fucking big!”
The man opened his eyes and chuckled. One hand cupped the woman’s breast, the other braced against the wall.
Laughing hysterically, even with her breasts on full display, she reached for the man’s hip.
Even though they clearly knew that there was a person a few steps ahead, the men and women who blocked the narrow street continued their messy hand games without hesitation.
“Can you give us a moment?”
Olivier looked down at the woman. Rolling her eyes and scanning Olivier’s attire, she bared her teeth and smiled.
“You are a nobleman. Honey, you are very handsome.”
The flirtatious gaze was horrifyingly blatant, and Amélie involuntarily turned her head away.
“Come here, Amelie.”
With an embarrassed look on his face, Olivier gently pulled Amélie’s shoulder towards him.
All the while, the woman giggled, unable to take her eyes off Olivier, even as she fondled the man’s manhood.
“Yeah, she’s pretty, too. She looks so innocent, I wonder if she’s a mistress?”
Olivier frowned and let out a light sigh. Amelie tensed, knowing he was barely holding back his rising anger.
“Get out of the way.”
Grabbing his cane, Olivier flicked his arm like he was shooing away a pesky fly, forcing the woman and man apart.
Amélie’s face went white as she watched. For some reason, she felt her stomach tighten whenever the Duke casually wielded such a symbol of authority and violence. It was an instinctive repulsion.
Meanwhile, both the man and a woman walked past them, straightening their clothes, apparently quite accustomed to the young nobleman’s cane baptism.
The half-drunk man was making a gesture of removing his hat, which he was not wearing, out of habit. And the less drunken woman made a blatant attempt to bump into Olivier as they passed.
“Have a good night, then, young master. Watch out for the fleas.”
A slimy hand skimmed across Olivier’s mantle and pulled away. The Duke’s elegant face crumpled into a grimace, and Amélie quickly tugged on Olivier’s sleeve, whispering low.
“Be patient, it might be a robber.”
Olivier’s irritated gaze flickered to Amélie for a moment, and then softened with a chill.
“…Yes. It’s okay, Amélie.”
Apparently, Amélie was quickly becoming more forgiving.Amelie’s face finally turned red when she pointed out the little duke’s subtle change.
“Let’s go. That’s the room at the end.”
A gentle hand gently touched her shoulder and then fell away. No longer feeling giddy, Amelie was slowly drawn to him.
The dingy corridor had a lingering scent of cheap perfume that made her nose tingle, but it was a strange feeling, like walking on clouds.
* * *
“It’s fine, really.”
Amelie waved her hand several times, saying that there was no need to check inside the room. She said she had to change her clothes anyway, so she quickly closed the door and disappeared.
Whether you should consider a plank of wood that looks like it’s going to break if you kick it, a door, she don’t know. She can’t be sure.
Indeed, it was a cramped room, with barely enough room for anyone to hide. Still, Olivier stood firmly at the door while Amélie changed.
He didn’t know Amélie Gagnier well enough yet, but he could tell she’d rather spend the night in a church’s courtyard than in a place like this.
Still, she’s got a surprisingly soft spot for that valet, considering she ended up in this place…
It’s something that bothered him.
Olivier recalled the look on Amelie’s face from earlier.
Her hand clutched his arm anxiously. The way her brown eyes blinked anxiously, looking slightly panicked. Her lips were parted, she looked like she was about to cry.
The truth is, he feel disgusted. What had happened a moment ago didn’t surprise Olivier. When it came to crass vulgarity, the aristocrats in the salons were just as filthy as the men and women in the corridors. Of course, the cheap perfume was truly agonizing.
Still, Amelie Garnier was at a loss. She fretted and fretted, like she were about to be eaten by Olivier.
You’re the one who looks like you’ll fly away if you blow. Olivier laughed softly.
It was quite flattering to know that Amélie Gagnier was conscious of him. She’d never made a bet, but somehow she felt like she’d won.
The last time they said goodbye, she spoke coldly, as if she were a person from whom not a drop of blood would come even if pricked…
So he panicked uncharacteristically.
Amélie Garnier tightly grasped the edge of her sleeve and said, “Hold on.” In that instant, the anger and irritation that had been welling up suddenly subsided.
The more he thought about it, the more he realised that it was that look of desperation on Amélie Gagnier’s face that had kept him from half-killing the valet.
If Henri, who always complained, “Please control your temper,” were to see it, he would be utterly astonished. It was quite unexpected that the Sunshine of Biché is supposed to heal the body and soul…
Olivier’s face broke into a satisfied smile. He hadn’t quite caught her off guard yet, but he was confident that things would work out.
The cat’s fierce behaviour when she is approached is actually based on a deep-seated fear. Amélie Gagnier is no different.
… If only that fear could be resolved.
Olivier thought hard.
He had come to apologise for his impromptu proposal, but in truth his future plans had been considerably revised. There would be no such thing as a tidy farewell to this worthy maid, not now, not ever.
The door opened and Amelie slipped out of the room without a sound. Olivier glanced down to watch her, and then held his breath.
Instead of the cheap woollen uniform she’d stripped down to her apron in her haste to escape, she was dressed in a gorgeous going-out dress, made of a floral-patterned fabric with lots of frills.
Looking at her, she looked fine. Her clothes are old and out of fashion, but they are probably the best street clothes she has.
Olivier smirked as he took in her neatly coiffed brown hair once more and the still-stiff white nape of her neck.
What a pity.
He was already blushing, but he didn’t know what to do, so he pretended not to. Glancing down at Amélie, Olivier whispered with a smile.
“Amelie, you look beautiful.”
Not missing a beat, he checked the tiny earlobe of the innocent maid, who blushed bright red at the mere mention of the words.
* * *
Amelie took a deep breath. It was the first time she’d been out of the dingy hotel and into the fresh night air.
All was quiet, the streets deserted in the depths of night. Every now and then a small group of drunks would pass by, talking loudly and making a ruckus.
Olivier smoked his cigar leisurely, like a man who wanted to stall for time somehow. Above the smoke of his cigar, the gas lamp hissed and spewed light.
It was Amelie who broke the silence.
“Is there anyone waiting for you? It’s getting late. I think you should get back. I’m grateful enough that you came with me to find my luggage, so now I’ll just…”
“No, no one.”
He took a long drag on his cigar, then blew out a slow stream of smoke, a faint smile playing on his lips.
“You’re not tired, are you?”
“Tired, but strangely clear-headed.”
Meanwhile, Amélie’s luggage remained firmly gripped in Olivier’s hand. One might have thought that if he were to let go, she would run away without hesitation. No matter how much she begged him to let her carry it, it didn’t work.
Eventually, after some arguing, Amélie gave up on getting her bag back or getting away from him and waited for Olivier a few feet away.
There was a strange tension between them as they stood side by side, some distance apart.
Amélie twiddled her fingers nervously. Was he really going to give her a room? Would it be okay?
They say the lights never go out in Ezon, but it was far too late for a man and woman who didn’t know each other to be walking around alone. For some reason, her mind was nagged by a premonition that something was going to happen at the end of the night.