Upon hearing the name of the person who sent the bouquet, I nearly spit out my water.
Who? Kirie? One of the sub-male leads from “Searching for a Husband”?
Unless there’s another archmage named Kirie in this world, it must be Kirie the sub-male lead from the story who sent the flowers.
‘Why would he? Unless…’
I wasn’t the only one harboring questions.
“Kirie sent Charlotte a bouquet? Why?”
“Could it be he harbors some affection for Lady Charlotte, perhaps of a romantic nature?”
“Is that so? Haha, Charlotte has taken after my wife in beauty, after all. Charlotte, what do you think?”
“Me? Well, I don’t know.”
“If you don’t dislike him, why not meet him? It wouldn’t hurt to be on good terms with such a distinguished magician and…”
The Marchioness’s eyes narrowed into angry slits.
“Isn’t Kirie known to be quite the flirt? I’ve heard rumors he’s been throwing his affections at several noble ladies.”
“Is that so?”
“It’s obvious he’s just trying his luck because Charlotte is pretty. How can you suggest our daughter meet such a rogue?”
The Marquis, finding himself in a pickle, scrambled to defend his position.
“I wasn’t aware of his reputation. Everyone just talks about his magical abilities.”
“Regardless, it’s out of the question. Charlotte! Don’t you even dream of meeting that man. He’s likely only interested in toying with women.”
“It might not be as everyone says. Sometimes rumors are just that—”
“Oh, you! I knew it when you had your eyes on that dreadful Archduke Hyclide. How can you be so blind when it comes to men?”
My attempt to defend the unfairly criticized Kirie only backfired, leaving me worse off.
‘At this point in the story, Kirie is indeed known as a playboy to the public.’
But it’s all a misunderstanding.
Kirye was mistakenly branded a playboy due to some misunderstanding, but later, thanks to the heroine Aila’s efforts, his name was cleared. That incident becomes the catalyst for the Archmage to fall head over heels for Aila.
To the Marchioness, who was yet unaware of the truth, Kirie was nothing more than a scoundrel.
“A man who bewitches women with strange magic and a pretty face is someone you must never associate with!”
“Like Charlotte said, it could just be a baseless rumor, couldn’t it?”
“Don’t tell me you’re planning to use Charlotte as bait to forge a connection with him?”
“Of course not! What do you take me for?”
Although I couldn’t be sure of the Marquis’s true intentions, it was undeniable that the Archmage was coveted by many families, all hoping to forge a bond with him by any means necessary.
The Marchioness sighed and looked at me.
“Why is it that only these strange men are attracted to you? Just yesterday, that barbarian Lord Mont caught your eye too.”
“Lord Mont simply helped me catch a pickpocket.”
“That’s how they approach you! What noble daughter in the Empire would marry a barbarian man with a terrible scar on his face?”
Oh, if only they knew that once Eugen starts showing his face without his helmet, ladies would be lining up for him.
“Don’t be too nice to him just because you think he’s your benefactor! What if he clings to you wanting marriage?”
Hehe, the mere thought is enough to send my mood soaring.
‘But she must be saying all this out of concern for her daughter.’
In such moments, it was clear that Marchioness Lindsay didn’t mean any harm. She loved her daughter, just not as much as her husband and younger son.
The Marquis Lindsay did have a certain affection for Charlotte, too. If not, he wouldn’t have kept a troublemaking, non-blood-related daughter in his care all this time.
‘…Honestly, I’m at a loss for how to react to all of this, and it’s unsettling.’
In my previous life, I was born the daughter of a single mother. I never knew my father, and my mother passed away not long after I was born due to deteriorating health.
I bounced from my grandparents’ house to various relatives’ homes until I came of age. They weren’t the villains you’d find in dramas or novels, but each one was struggling with their own lives too much to give me their full attention.
There were a few I kept in touch with, saw now and then, and our relationship was decent, but not once did I feel like they were ‘family’, not until the moment I died in a car accident.
Maybe that’s why, when the people of the Lindsay estate occasionally acted like a real ‘family’, I didn’t know how to respond.
‘I was more comfortable with the way things were before.’
Like we were just acquaintances with a reasonable level of closeness.
“Charlotte, are you listening?”
The Marchioness broke into my daydream.
“What about that bouquet the flirtatious Archmage sent you? Wouldn’t it be better to just throw it away?”
“But it feels wrong to throw away a gift.”
“Are you interested in him?”
She narrowed her eyes at me. I hurriedly waved my hands, fearing she’d start on about sending me to a monastery again.
“No, not at all! Absolutely not!”
“Well, you were all about Archduke Hyclide, even though I introduced you to plenty of other men.”
“That was in the past. I’ve truly given up on Achduke now.”
“Yes, really. I’ve been telling you that.”
“Well, you haven’t thrown a tantrum asking to see the Archduke for the past half year, so I’ll try to trust you this one time.”
“I won’t let you down.”
I really hate the idea of the monastery. If she threatens to send me there, I’m ready to run away with my emergency fund.
Perhaps my determination was palpable, for the Marchioness nodded and directed the butler.
“Take the bouquet sent by that playboy to Charlotte’s room.”
Eager to switch the topic away from the notorious Archmage, the Marquis gave me a tray that a servant had brought.
“Here are some invitations that have arrived for you. If there’s an event you wish to attend, don’t hesitate to choose.”
On the tray lay three envelopes, each adorned with lace or pressed flowers.
It wasn’t many for a Marquis’s daughter, but given Charlotte’s notorious reputation, it was unsurprising.
‘I don’t particularly fancy any, but it would be rude to douse their kindness with cold water.’
Besides, I had a problem to address. My thoughts drifted to the bouquet currently being transferred to my room, and I picked one of the three invitations.
“I’ll go with this one.”
“This is a tea party hosted by the daughter of Count Mosella. Are you acquainted with Lady Mosella?”
In truth, I didn’t even know her face. Having been confined to the house since my spirit took over this body, how many in the social circle could I actually know?
I was familiar only with those who were called Charlotte’s entourage in the novel, the followers of Charlotte I’d actually spoken to. They were villains who served under her and frequently picked fights with Aila.
‘Now that Charlotte’s status has plummeted, they, like bats, might try to torment me to curry favor with Aila.’
The very group that had splashed champagne on me at the Emperor’s birthday celebration belonged to them.
It was possible that someone from that group was also invited to Lady Mosella’s tea party. Nevertheless, I needed to meet her, despite the risks.
Evelyn Mosella, she was the one in the novel who persistently chased after Kirie. Surely, she would convey to Kirie that I would be attending her tea party.
‘Charlotte, a famous person who hasn’t appeared in the social scene for half a year, will be there. They wouldn’t pass up such a juicy piece of gossip.’
Alright, let’s face it head-on. If I can’t avoid the future where the sub-male leads come to me, this time, I’ll be the one to step forward and meet them.
Sending a bouquet? Considering Kirie’s reputation as a flirt, the family let it slide, but that was a close call—I almost got tangled in some weird misunderstanding.
All I want is a quiet life, and any scandal linking me to the Archmage is exactly the kind of mess I need to avoid at all costs.
I’ll put a stop to his foolish antics before he pulls another stunt!
While I casually browsed through the invitations I had set aside, the Marchioness exclaimed in surprise.
“This one requires bringing a partner. Do you have someone in mind to go with, Charlotte?”
“No? And you still want to go?”
The thought of meeting Kirie had preoccupied me; I hadn’t considered that detail.
“Can’t I just bring someone who’s conveniently available? It’s not like a partner has to be a lover or fiancé.”
“You’ve become so nonchalant about these things. Before, you wouldn’t even look at such an event unless it was with Archduke Hyclide.”
“…Haha, people change.”
“But it’s still a partner event; you can’t just bring anyone.”
“Maybe this is an opportunity to meet the Archmage and see for yourself what kind of person he is… No, never mind. Forget I said anything, my dear.”
The Marquis, still not over Kirie, started to add his own thoughts but then backed off.
We spent some time throwing around names as potential partners for me, but we couldn’t come to a decision.
Someone from the family would be ideal—matching our status and avoiding unnecessary misunderstandings. After all, aren’t eligible bachelors from among one’s relatives a common choice for unmarried noble ladies?
‘Unfortunately, all the distant relatives of the Lindsays had a dislike for Charlotte as she was a commoner and an outsider.’
And with my reputation at its worst, it’s clear that any respectable suitor would be wary of crossing Archduke Hyclide by associating with Charlotte.
Just then, Jayden, who was seated diagonally across from me, cleared his throat softly.
“If it really comes down to it, I could…”
His father, the Marquis, cut him off mid-sentence.
“How about Sir Rehman, my aide? He comes from a fine family, and since he already is acquainted with Charlotte, there should be no room for misunderstandings.”
“What about his work?”
“We can afford to give him a day off as a special leave, no big deal.”
The Marquis and Marchioness, engrossed in their conversation, seemed not to have heard Jayden’s attempt to speak.
I wondered if I should ask Jayden what he wanted to say, but then the Marquis asked me.
“What do you think, Charlotte? Weren’t you on good terms with Sir Rehman?”
The face of the man I had seen occasionally flashed through my mind. Honestly, I didn’t care anyway.
“Yes, if Sir Rehman agrees, then I am…”
Jayden slammed his palm down on the table with determination. All eyes turned to him in unison.
He declared resolutely,
“I’ll do it. I will be my sister’s partner.”