“Without even seeing my resume, why would you hastily hire someone like me?”
Luka stood up and protested.
“Come to think of it, I didn’t even ask you your name, what’s your name?”
Unwittingly confessing his name to Katya, he quickly racked his brain and came up with another last name.
“Tranov? Do you happen to know Boris Tranov?”
Oh no. Of all the surnames he could have come up with, it had to be Boris’s.
Nikolai bit his tongue, trying to suppress his laughter.
One lie leads to another, and soon it will snowball.
‘Why did you complicate things by claiming to be a commoner.’
Luka glanced at the chuckling Nikolai and then spoke.
“Yes, that’s correct. The Tranov family is a noble lineage that has produced dignitaries for generations. That’s why I’m acquainted with the Grand Duke.”
He gestured politely toward the Grand Duke with both hands.
Upon reflection, it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. If he became the household tutor, he would be able to be closer to Bianca.
In any case, Nikolai’s expression momentarily froze at his words.
‘What’s this, are we going with the we-know-each-other setup?’
Caught up in the water ghost scheme1 term used metaphorically to describe situations where someone becomes unexpectedly and uncontrollably involved in a dangerous or chaotic event, similar to being swept away by a water spirit. and about to make some excuse, Luka was interrupted as Katya clapped her hands.
“Oh my, this works out well! Actually, I was planning to have you sign a confidentiality agreement in case you worked here and accidentally recognized the Grand Dule. But now that you know each other, it’s as good as having your identity verified.”
“That’s right. It’s truly fortunate.”
“Why didn’t you mention it from the beginning if he knew the Grand Duke?”
When the question’s arrow turned back to him, Nikolai let out a forced cough.
“Well, Tia, you see…”
“So, was that all an act earlier? The Grand Duke said you didn’t leave a good impression, but now it seems like you were just pretending?”
“I suppose the Grand Duke didn’t take a liking to me, after all. I’ll have to try harder. Haha…”
Luka laughed heartily and pretended to brush it off, but his eyes remained serious and he didn’t smile.
Nikolai leaned back on the chair’s backrest and pinched his chin.
“Well, why not? A monarch can be a bit cunning as well. So what? You think I’m going to hold a grudge? An eye for an eye, right?”
His expression seemed to say exactly that.
“But I applied for this position because I needed some urgent funds during my vacation, so I won’t be able to stay in the south for long.”
Originally, they had planned to return together when Nikolai concluded his visit to the south.
“How long do you expect to stay?”
“Probably another two or three months.”
“Well, since you’re a live-in tutor, we’re talking about 60 to 90 days, assuming you teach every day, so please plan your lessons accordingly.”
Luka asked as if in disbelief.
I thought I would only need to visit once a week at most.
It was a favorable condition that most applicants preferred as it would solve their lodging and save costs.
“Yes. When can you start working? If you let the butler know about your accommodation, we’ll send the movers there the day before you start.”
“No, thank you! I don’t have much luggage, so I can handle it myself. However, I have something to take care of, so is it okay if I start working from next week?”
“That’s fine. Go ahead.”
“Then I’ll go there first.”
As Luka lowered his head to leave, Katya called him over.
“Wait a moment. It seems like Bianca has something to show Mr. Tranov. Can you wait for a moment?”
“Me? She wants to show something to me?”
“Tia, I’ll take him with me. I’ll give him a brief tour of the house until your sister arrives.”
Nikolai, who had gotten up at about the same time as Luka, said to her.
“Huh? I’ll come with you then.”
“It’s been a while since we met, so I need to catch up. You can finish your snack.”
As she tried to stand up to follow him, he made her sit down and fed her a baked pastry between her reddened lips.
Katya, who was surprised by the sudden snack, nodded as if she understood.
“I’ll be right back. Just wait a little.”
Nikolai smiled back at Katya, then turned to Luka and whispered softly in ventriloquism.
Understanding his words, Luka threw her a stiff smile, greeted her, and then walked with him down the corridor.
In fact, it was accurate to say that he was dragged out by Nikolai.
As soon as they closed the door, Nikolai loosened his arms that were draped over his shoulders and approached him with a serious expression.
“What the heck are you doing here? Why did you show up for the interview?”
“The staff here brought me here, and I thought they were letting me meet you, so I followed them. I had no idea they’d mistake me for an applicant and let me in for an interview. Why did you choose to hire me?”
“There were some circumstances. Anyway, I can’t lie to Tia. So, even now, tell Tia and my sister-in-law the truth.”
“But you seemed to be doing just fine back there.”
“Do you want to die?”
“If Your Highness says that, I thought it was a sure thing. Didn’t you say you might as well confess and say, ‘This person is my friend, why can’t you speak up?'”
“I was considering that too, but under the current situation, you seem to be the safest one.”
“What do you mean?”
Nikolai took him downstairs to the first floor and then hid behind a wall, peering into the waiting room.
Through the greenhouse-like glass window, they could see Gregory and Olen anxiously waiting for the results with other applicants.
“Do you see those two men, one with a bald head and the other with disheveled hair?”
“Yes. Do you have some issue with them?”
“Both of them are suitors proposing to my sister-in-law. They are trying to manipulate the applicants by buying their way into this house as spies. So, I rejected all the applicants who received a recommendation, and those who have a possibility of being bought in the future, which means everyone else except you.”
“What? Are there really such guys?”
Luka shouted in anger.
Partly because he was interested in Bianca, but also because he resented the idea of using academia for impure purposes.
“That’s why I assigned the mission to someone I trust. I considered you safe. Am I right?”
His grip tightened on the shoulder of his most trusted friend.
Luka found himself nodding repeatedly without even realizing it.
He had pledged never to utter the words that he fell in love with Bianca at first sight and had been yearning for her ever since.
He had never even dreamed that she could be Nikolai’s sister-in-law before coming to this place.
Now there was one more reason to give up on Bianca.
Even though he wasn’t married with Katya yet, knowing that he had feelings for his sister-in-law, he would not spare him.
There was no way I was going to quit being a tutor now, not for those sneaky bastards.
‘Since I’ll be leaving for the north, it’s a connection I won’t be able to maintain anyway.’
When he found out that Bianca was the daughter of this house during the interview, he thought it was fate.
For a brief moment, he was pleased at the idea of being in the same social class, but Luka quickly came to his senses.
His father, Duke Oblonsky, disliked Duke Smirnov.
As the power centered around Oksana, the Grand Duchess, and the youngest son of the former Grand Duke, Mihail, expanded, there was no way the upstart Pavtiski Smirnov would look favorable in comparison.
Lost in his thoughts, Luka was interrupted as Nikolai spoke again.
“She’s like a younger sister to my wife. I’m telling you as a friend, but if you ever harbor ill intentions towards my sister-in-law… you know, if you play any tricks, I won’t let you off easily as a son-in-law of this house.”
“There’s no need to worry.”
Luka replied to the concerned Grand Duke.
It was an unattainable love anyway.
Being the home tutor was a chance to be by her side even for a short while.
He wanted to be a bit greedy.
Perhaps becoming the home tutor was a stroke of luck. Since ancient times, they said the relationship between priests and children was akin to that of parents and children.
If he set the boundaries of their relationship from the beginning, wouldn’t it be easier to let go if the time came?
‘When the contract period ends, I’ll let go of these feelings too.’
It wasn’t a lie.
Just then, Bianca, heading to the interview room from the second floor, spotted the two men below and waved her hand.
She came down to where they were like an arrow.
“Why are you here?”
“I was just showing him around the Duke’s mansion before he leaves. He’ll start working from next week. Mr. Tranov, thank you for today. You can leave now.”
Though earlier he claimed he couldn’t lie to his wife and sister-in-law, Nikolai smoothly told a lie.
“Oh, you passed the interview? That’s great! Can I see you off then? I have some questions to ask and stuff.”
Seemingly a bit hesitant about his sister-in-law’s request, he still stepped aside willingly.
Giving Luka a meaningful look, as if reminding him to remember his words, he left.
Only after the Grand Duke was gone did Luka meet Bianca’s gaze.
He had yearned for her so much that she appeared in his dreams every night, and now that they were meeting again, his heart began to flutter.
Meanwhile, the butler rushed into the interview room with a legal document in hand.
However, Katya didn’t seem particularly surprised by the sudden news.
“I had a feeling it would be this way. Ivan Petrozsky is so cowardly and despicable.”
“What should we do?”
The butler asked with a worried expression.
“For now, keep it a secret from my father. And send a letter to Ivan. Tell him to meet me tonight.”
“Do you want me to keep it from the Grand Duke?”
“For now, let’s meet with that brat first. I’ll tell my father afterward. I couldn’t stand seeing what the Grand Duke did to Ivan before. If he finds out he’s filed a lawsuit against me, he might slit his throat saying that he will kill him this time.”
Knowing that Nikolai still had the image of a ruthless tyrant, she didn’t want to do anything that could further damage his reputation because of her.
Now that she knew she was the Grand Duke’s fiancée, Ivan probably wouldn’t be able to imprison her this time.
But just in case, Katya was prepared to mobilize the knights of the duchy if needed.
“Don’t worry too much. I’ve thought of everything too.”
Katya said with a meaningful smile.
When the time comes, I’ll make sure you regret not being able to let go of your regrets and squirm to the end.
- 1term used metaphorically to describe situations where someone becomes unexpectedly and uncontrollably involved in a dangerous or chaotic event, similar to being swept away by a water spirit.