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“Didn’t I say I was fine? Do you want to keep hearing the same thing from me?”
A sharp retort shot back at them. Caught off-guard by the suddenly cold atmosphere, the Lawrences hesitated, wondering if they’d misspoken.
“Julian, they’re just concerned.”
“I said I was fine too.”
“Is that how someone who’s ‘alright’ behaves?”
“His Highness, we are fine. We understand the princess might feel that way.”
Lady Lawrence quickly interjected, hoping to diffuse the situation. It wasn’t good to quarrel, and both of them refrained from saying anymore.
The heavy atmosphere caused everyone gathered at the table to fall silent.
“I’ll prepare the next course for you.”
Right on cue, the main course was served, somewhat easing the tension.
“It’s lamb, freshly slaughtered earlier.”
The sight of the meat, beautifully paired with its sauce, made Iva’s mouth water. She swiftly picked up her utensils to slice into the meat.
Julian motioned for the server to stop setting the plate.
“Lady Lawrence can’t eat lamb with such a strong aroma. Please change her course to…”
Speaking almost reflexively, she caught herself and abruptly stopped. But Iva had already seen her slip.
“Oh my! I had no idea you were aware of my dietary preferences, Princess. Did we share a meal before you went for treatment five years ago?”
Lady Lawrence asked in a fluster, wondering if she might’ve forgotten a meal she had with the royal family.
Julian’s face, upon hearing the question, unmistakably wavered, no longer able to hide her emotions.
It’s certain. She surely has memories from her past life too. But why is she so intent on hiding it?
Could it be connected to my death? Iva’s suspicions about Julian grew.
Instead of replying, Julian clutched her chest. Not this again. I won’t believe she is in pain anymore.
“Are you alright?”
However, to everyone except Iva, Julian’s act seemed genuine. Everyone looked at Julian with worried eyes.
Pretending to be unwell is rather convenient and effective. Some people can’t garner any attention even on their deathbeds.
“You seem to be still unwell, Julian. Let’s stop the meal here.”
“But will that be alright? The Lawrences and even Lady Iva are here, wouldn’t it be bad if I ruined it again?”
Her eyes were brimming with tears as if they might overflow any moment. It was hard to tell if she was a princess or a theatrical actress.
“We’ll excuse ourselves first so that Princess can rest comfortably. Madam, let’s stand.”
“Yes, I sincerely hope for Princess’s swift recovery.”
The couple stood up first, showing their consideration for Julian. At this, Julian shot a pointed glance at Iva.
In response to Julian’s ‘Why aren’t you leaving?’ gaze, Iva made it clear she had no intention of standing by gripping her fork and knife even tighter.
Iva held her ground until the Lawrences exited the garden. Once they were out of sight, Julian suddenly leaned her head on the shoulder of Ray, who was sitting next to her.
“Ray, I feel dizzy…”
Hey, I should go. It’s alright to leave. After all, I’ve confirmed that Julian remembers our past. It’s better for me to retreat now.
Witnessing such pretense, it would be a hundred, no, a thousand times better for me to return to the mansion for the sake of my own eyes.
“Your Highness, I too should… Oops.”
As Iva leaned back, she deliberately loosened her grip, dropping her knife. She planned to feign illness and exit gracefully.
She wasn’t expecting a reaction as strong as Julian’s but simply hoped to be dismissed quickly.
“Lady Iva, are you unwell?”
“Does Young Lady also feel dizzy?”
Both men rose abruptly and posed their questions simultaneously. Due to Ray’s sudden movement, Julian was even pushed to the opposite side.
“Yes, yes. Perhaps I’ve overexerted myself recently due to many concerns.”
Caught off guard by the unexpected reaction, Iva pretended to be dizzy, touching her temples with a feigned look of discomfort.
“It seems it’s best to conclude our meal here.”
Claude, with a conflicted expression, alternated his gaze between Ray and Iva before deciding to wrap up the meal.
“Ray, take Julian with you.”
“Julian might find it difficult to leave on her own. I believe you should assist her. I will escort the Young Lady.”
Just as Claude had deciphered Ray’s emotions from his subtle reactions. Now, Ray too could discern Claude’s feelings.
Claude seemed to be inquiring, ‘What exactly are your feelings towards Iva?’
Without averting his gaze from Claude’s blue eyes, Ray responded, “Is that an order?”
Ray had never refused or even questioned a directive from the royalty. But now, in Iva’s presence, he was clearly showing reluctance.
“Oh, I’m perfectly fine. I can go on my own.”
Amidst the brewing tension, all Iva wanted was to quickly escape the awkward situation.
‘Why are they making such a fuss when I haven’t even asked to be escorted?’
“Yes, Ray, escort me.”
In the midst of this, Julian nonchalantly grasped Ray’s hand, which was not paying her any heed, and gave it a gentle shake. She truly was something in this situation.
However, the two men merely exchanged icy glances, saying nothing.
“Ray Castello, this is a command. You are to escort Julian.”
Claude’s voice grew firmer, and in response, the emotion in Ray’s eyes deepened.
“I cannot comply with that command.”
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