The sound of a heartbeat slowly flowed through the skin where it made contact.
As she slightly raised her body with both arms on the ground, the strength released from Noah’s hand that had been wrapped around Cordelia’s back.
At first glance, it seemed as if Cordelia had pounced on Noah.
Her long and luscious golden hair cascaded down beside Noah’s face like a waterfall.
In that state, Cordelia gazed intently at Noah’s face.
Though she thought it was cute and charming, the hands that clung to her, the broad shoulders, and the strong-lined face were undoubtedly masculine.
Perhaps due to his profession, a faint smell of paint mingled with a subtle fragrance, as if a hint of paint was mixed in.
She wanted to express her gratitude and get up as it is, but her body didn’t move as if under a spell… Well, not entirely motionless.
Cordelia found herself lost in small thoughts while using the situation as an excuse to thoroughly admire Noah’s face.
Of course, she was very serious about it.
Is this the perfect atmosphere for a kiss?
Should she make a move here, or should she take it a bit slower? If things progress too quickly, it might come across as awkward.
Is it better to proceed with caution? But then again, aren’t all things opportunities?
Cordelia tensed up in an instant at the gentle voice calling her.
Wow, why does even his voice sound so appealing? Isn’t this kind of unfair?
Looking at him, she was nervous about putting him out anywhere.
No matter how she thought about it, it seemed like she should put her mark on him somehow.
No, but making contact like this without permission is a bit…
Amidst the conflict between conscience and reason, Noah opened his mouth with the same serious expression.
“Are you not hurt anywhere?”
Cordelia unintentionally let out a surprised sound.
His calmly inquiring face appeared as if it had never been startled.
“…I’m not hurt?”
Could you please step aside a bit then?”
His voice sounded fresh and held no hint of desire.
As Cordelia made a dumbfounded expression and moved aside, Noah swiftly picked up the tools that had fallen.
Casually, he also grabbed the canvas.
Seeing this, Cordelia couldn’t help but realize her mistake.
She should have checked!
“Are you like this?”
“I’ll show you later.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes, but Noah cleanly turned his back.
Even though he was sitting hunched over, he stared fixedly at the wide expanse of canvas like a vast plain.
His nonchalant demeanor seemed completely devoid of any ego, pushing Cordelia’s self-esteem to its limits.
If there’s no reaction like this, it makes her feel agitated!
If her sisters had seen this, they would have advised her to tone down her temper, but unfortunately, her helpful sisters weren’t present at the moment.
Noah, who had neatly organized the scattered items, stood up from his seat.
Simultaneously, his body tensed up as Cordelia’s hand rested against his waist.
As he turned around like a lightning bolt, he saw Cordelia holding onto him from behind.
“Could you stop drawing and go out to have some fun? The weather is so nice.”
Her slightly raised eyes and smiling face were as innocent as a blooming flower.
Cordelia was relatively tall among the kingdom’s women, but there was still a noticeable height difference between her and Noah.
His face, visible right in front of her, was impeccably smooth without a single blemish.
Staring blankly at her face, Noah met Cordelia’s eyes and she inwardly smiled with a sense of accomplishment.
Well, how about that!
“Shall we go out and have some fun?”
As if when did he become flustered, Noah gently smiled and politely removed Cordelia’s hand.
In front of Cordelia, who was taken aback, he casually scratched his cheek with an air of elegance.
“Since I’ve been drawing for almost four days straight, you might be getting bored.
The portrait is almost complete, so taking a short break should be okay.”
Usually, a single portrait wouldn’t take this long.
Part of it was due to not having a high daily output, and also because he wasn’t one to talk much while working.
However, adjusting to the demanding subject slowed down his progress.
Of course, it was his own decision as well.
Not that being the one drawing was any easier; sitting still wasn’t comfortable either.
Especially for someone like Cordelia, who was more accustomed to moving around than sitting in a chair.
Noah found himself reflecting inwardly, thinking he might have been too fixed in his ways.
“…You didn’t mean you’re going home, right? You meant going out with me?”
Oh, did I not realize? If you’re uncomfortable, I can leave now…”
“No! I’m fine with it.
Come on, let’s get ready.
You should change your clothes and gather your tools as well.
Leave them here, and you can pick them up tomorrow.”
Although Cordelia hastily responded as if she might stutter at any moment, upon reflection, something about the exchange felt off.
Cordelia blinked her eyes in contemplation.
Wait a moment.
No, of course, she wanted to go out and have fun, but was this it? Is this the only reaction he could muster for such a woman? And he calls himself a man even after this?!
All sorts of unreasonable grievances formed a tangled mess in Cordelia’s mind.
Suppressing the urge to grab him by the collar and shake some sense into him as she would usually do, Cordelia discreetly lowered her awkward hand.
“I had something in mind just… Uh?”
As if when did he forcefully pull his hand away, Cordelia was puzzled by the firmness of Noah’s grip on her hand.
Without further ado, Noah examined Cordelia’s palm with a serious expression.
“You have a wound.”
There was a small scratch on the back of her right hand, where a pattern was drawn.
The slightly stinging skin, now reddened by friction against the ground, made Cordelia reply lightly.
“It would be better to apply some ointment before going out.”
It’s nothing serious.”
“Earlier, you were almost in big trouble.
You need to be careful.”
Although he stopped urging her after assuring him that she was fine, Noah continued to scrutinize Cordelia for quite a while before gently releasing her hand, being cautious not to embarrass her.
“Then, I’ll go change my clothes and be right back.”
Giving a nod of acknowledgment, Noah turned around, opened the door, and walked into the hallway.
As she quietly listened to his fading footsteps, Cordelia remained sprawled on the sofa.
Her clothes might get a bit wrinkled, but who cares?
Turning her body and gazing at the ceiling, Cordelia stretched her arm out to look at her hand.
In the process, she couldn’t help but let out a chuckle.
Why was he so concerned over such a trivial scratch?
“Oh, it’s confusing.”
His kindness was kindness, but… she couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact emotion.
Was it that her beauty was so overwhelming that he was flustered? But then again, just because someone is pretty doesn’t mean things are necessarily bad, considering the circumstances.
As long as they arrive safely in the capital!
Jumping up, Cordelia looked at her disheveled hair that was already flattened.
She sighed as she sat up properly and reached for the bell to call for Rosa.
Cordelia’s expression as she rang the bell was a complex mix of emotions.
Contrary to Cordelia’s concerns, the situation wasn’t that different for Noah.
With that, Noah gathered his tools and headed for the spare room Cordelia had made available to him when he first arrived.
He paced his steps with a regular rhythm, neither too fast nor too slow, in tune with the beats of his heart.
Upon entering the room and closing the door behind him, he slumped down right there, leaning against something, and covered his face with his large hands.
The reddened skin peeked through the gaps between his fingers.
“It was dangerous…”
Muttering in a voice pleasant to hear, he lowered his head deeply.
It seemed he should leave after his face had calmed down.
The sound of his heartbeat was too loud; if he left like this, it was certain he would be found out.
“…What did I just say?”
Only now did the recent situations start to replay in Noah’s mind, breaking through his desperate attempts to appear calm.
Fumbling through his memories with haste, he let out a sigh of relief.
“Oh, what am I going to do?”
Noah, who had been clutching his head for quite some time, sprang up from his seat.
Amidst the chaos of his movements under the guise of preparations, he barely managed to pull himself together, almost stumbling to the ground before regaining his composure.
The two of them set off for the city center by carriage.
Cordelia wore a bright blue dress with a wide-brimmed hat and white gloves.
On the opposite side of Cordelia, Noah wore black gloves of the same material and nervously fiddled with his hands that he had placed on his knees.
“Where are we headed?”
“I’m planning to stop by the bookstore for a bit.”
“Are you going to buy books yourself?”
Normally, she wouldn’t ask the maid to do such tasks.
Cordelia nodded at Noah, who looked puzzled.
“There are things I want to see.
It’s not like I don’t have legs, and sometimes I need to move like this.”
“Most likely, the majority of the people there will be commoners.
Won’t your attire be too conspicuous?”
“That’s why I put this on.”
“Originally, it’s about exuding an aura of superiority no matter what you wear!”
What on earth does ‘exuding an aura of superiority’ have to do with simply going to a bookstore?
Swallowing the thought that Cordelia was indeed unique, Noah glanced at her discreetly.
Just a little bit, knowing that staring at someone for too long is impolite.
“Is it okay if I stare blatantly?”
Taken aback playfully by the remark, Noah jerked his head down in surprise.
Seeing his ears turn red, Cordelia covered her mouth and chuckled, then playfully covered the corner of her mouth and laughed, saying, “Ho ho ho.”
If Liam had heard that laugh, he would have undoubtedly warned her not to laugh like a witch.
Suddenly thinking of a friend who was more like an enemy, Cordelia pinched her nose.
Oh, by the way, it’s her sister’s birthday, right? That brat must have come up to the capital too.
She wonders if she’ll meet him at the party the day after tomorrow.
Although he had no social inclinations and was more likely to freeze to death than engage in small talk, Cordelia knew he would have to endure once again.
Thanks to his cold demeanor, people didn’t approach him easily.
Among the people Cordelia knew, he was the one who was the most reserved.
“How come you’re in such good shape, anyway? You just sit and draw all day.”
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