When it wasn’t time to paint portraits, she rarely encountered artists, but just like Noah, they also sat people down for hours and painted.
If the profession involves sitting still and just drawing, isn’t getting stiff a normal thing?
Cordelia discreetly alternated her gaze between Noah’s sturdy arms and thighs.
She had given up on being coy halfway, but she couldn’t afford to mess up the impression here.
“Yes, it’s a physically demanding job.
That’s why I exercise… After I started sculpting, my stamina improved a lot.
I can’t even get a scratch with reasonable strength.”
“Ah, that plaster… Do you do sculpture too?”
Thinking of the torso-only plaster figure she had found in his house, Cordelia almost bit her tongue.
She nearly gave away that she had peeked into his studio.
Noah slowly nodded, turning the conversation around without drawing attention.
“It’s still more of a hobby.
I’m far from taking commissions.”
“Why did you start?”
Engaging in a conversation about creativity like this was a first for Cordelia, so she found herself asking more questions than usual.
In the art world, unless it was related to religion, there was often skepticism about nobility taking an interest, as the majority of practitioners were commoners.
Many would interpret questions from someone of her status as a form of condescension.
However, Noah seemed to take any question she posed as a genuine curiosity.
Whether it was his lack of ego or simply his straightforwardness, she didn’t feel burdened by asking various things.
“Just trying out whatever sparks my interest.
If I’m not good at it, it’s inevitable, but if I excel, it’s a bonus.”
His answer came effortlessly.
The gaze that accompanied his words wasn’t as light as his voice, but Cordelia pretended not to notice and moved on to the next question.
“Is that how you approach painting too?”
“Once I started getting paid for it, it did become a bit more burdensome than before.”
A faint dimple appeared on Noah’s cheek as he unusually offered the response in a joking tone.
A strand of doubt took root in Cordelia’s mind as she joined in the laughter.
“After getting paid… Does that mean you didn’t originally intend to make painting your profession? It sounded like painting came first and money came next.”
Cordelia couldn’t shake the impression that his candid attitude kept poking at her nerves.
He had certainly mentioned being a commoner when she inquired about his background.
But was it her own bias getting in the way? His appearance aside, his mannerisms and demeanor didn’t seem common at all.
His choice of words and intonation differed from her own, and despite his politeness, there was an air of self-assuredness and a measured way of speaking.
Simultaneously, she recalled the mansion where she had awakened.
It was undoubtedly an affluent household at first glance, and given the butler’s attitude, he must have grown up receiving exceptional treatment.
That might have shaped his demeanor.
Well, it’s probably just her bias at play after all.
Thinking that nobility inherently equated to being refined was a misconception, after all.
As her thoughts led her down that path, a headache formed, prompting her to stop her train of thought.
After all, thinking deeply wasn’t her forte; that was more of her sisters’ domain.
Especially when it came to deduction.
She had tried incorporating elements of deduction before, even devising tricks to include them.
However, after receiving a handful of opinions on improvements from her sister, who she sought advice from, she gave up the dream.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m not giving it my best.”
Noah’s quiet response pulled Cordelia out of her contemplation.
His expression was serious as if he had been lost in thought himself.
“For me, each moment of holding a brush feels like a miracle.
I’ve never really thought that I have to be good at it.
I’m just content if I can paint.”
Content if he can paint.
“Well, don’t you want to get even better?”
“If I could, I’d want to get better.
But when I have a lot on my mind while painting, my hands tend to freeze up.
Even if it’s forced, starting somehow leads to seeing it through.
I’m trying not to overthink things.”
Cordelia met Noah’s gaze steadily.
From his warm, bright eyes, she sensed a firm foundation rooted in his inner self.
“We’ve arrived, Miss!”
The cheerful voice of the coachman shattered the solemn atmosphere.
Quickly lowering her veil and adjusting her hat, Cordelia entered the bookstore alongside Noah.
As the two stepped into the bookstore, an immediate stillness washed over.
Familiar with this reaction, Cordelia nonchalantly ignored the whispering people, scanning her surroundings.
It’s a fairly large bookstore in the capital, so the building was packed with people.
It’s been around for a while, but it’s only been in the last few years that it’s gotten so many people.
Back when she was young, she never imagined that there would be so many people seeking out books like this.
It was a sight she wanted to show her sister, who had pushed hard for educational policies since becoming queen, and in a way, she had benefited from them.
Cordelia discreetly approached a display of serialized novels.
Although the prices had dropped considerably, they were still not exactly cheap.
Typically, readers would select a single book, read it on-site, and then approach the owner to request the title of the desired book for the transaction.
Looking at her book displayed at the front among the row of books, Cordelia felt a swell of pride.
As she glanced over, wondering if any new works by her favorite authors had been released, she noticed a new release from one of them.
Unlike herself, who wrote across various genres, this author had led a life as a courteous and affectionate pretty boy.
He wrote romantically in a poetic style, yet there was a touch of sharpness in his perspective.
From his writing, she pictured someone petite and cute, possibly even more so than herself.
It would be nice to meet him in person.
She chuckled to herself, acknowledging that it was a wish born out of curiosity, despite her position of keeping her identity hidden.
Gently picking up the book and flipping through its pages, she inclined her ear to listen when she heard hushed voices speaking nearby.
“Are you going to buy that novel?”
I like this author’s works.”
Glancing to her right, she saw two girls holding books with gray covers.
Their well-dressed appearance suggested they were from relatively well-off families.
As soon as she saw the cover, Cordelia recognized it.
It was “Gray Dorian’s Letter.”
“Isn’t your family strict? If they find out you’re reading stuff like this, they’ll freak out.”
“Well, I came here to buy it myself.
Lately, there have been stories about marriage too.
I saw the portraits, but they were all pretty disappointing.
My father seems to have someone he likes already, but…”
“Ugh, I hate that.
You’re supposed to be the one getting married.”
“To be honest, I’m a bit scared too.
I envy you.
You’re getting along well with your husband.”
“Well, I got lucky… Anyway, let’s buy this and head back.
Even just reading the beginning makes my heart race.”
That’s the content!
The two girls turned to the side as I gently grabbed their sleeves.
Turning to look, they saw an unexpectedly dazzling beauty, as if straight out of a novel.
They blinked in surprise.
Calmly observing the perplexed girls, Cordelia cleared her throat and spoke kindly.
“Are you planning to buy that?”
“Yes? Oh, yes.”
“I’m also a fan of this author and I’ve read this book in advance.
It’s quite different from their usual style.
I thought this book might not exactly align with your preferences, Miss.”
Not everything you read needs to be filled with dreams and hopes.
However! Given the imminent wedding and the anxiety that comes with it, the content might be a bit melancholic to read.
If she hadn’t known, she might have just brushed it off, but now that she was aware, it felt a bit off.
Even if she considered it an intrusion, there was nothing she could do.
“Suddenly appearing and saying…?”
The voice of the other person trembled as if they were wary of her.
As it was only natural, Cordelia began with an apology.
I somehow got carried away and started talking while picking out books.
Would you forgive my rudeness? Oh, not just that, but I’d like to recommend this book as well.
If it’s alright with you, would it be okay if I gave it to you as a gift?”
Facing Cordelia, who was beaming brightly, the two girls exchanged glances.
It seemed like they didn’t find the offer objectionable, as one of the girls holding the book nodded.
Not wanting to be too cautious, Cordelia didn’t inquire further and simply accompanied the girls to the checkout counter.
While calculating the total cost for the books she intended to purchase, one of the girls whispered very softly to Cordelia.
“Um… are you by any chance a lady from a noble household?”
“The bigger guy behind us keeps following…”
Only then did Cordelia turn around.
With his face partially hidden behind his bangs, Noah stood there looking somewhat imposing.
He might have appeared unremarkable in attire, but his tall stature and build made him quite formidable.
It’s a shame, girls.
Behind those curtains of hair lies heavenly handsomeness.
“Do you know him?”
Cordelia nodded to the slightly tense girl.
It seemed she was worried because he wasn’t part of their group but had followed them.
Understanding her concern, Cordelia assured her that it was probably alright.
“Um, may I ask for your name?”
Having finished her purchases, Cordelia was on her way out when the girls caught up with her.
The girl with freckles on her upturned nose and brown hair clutched the book to her chest tightly.
Whirling around towards the girls, Cordelia’s blue dress skirt billowed like waves around her feet.
She slightly lowered her head and whispered.
“In truth, I’m a fairy, so I can’t tell you my name.”
She raised her index finger to her lips, her smile widening.
Seeing Cordelia boldly spout nonsense, the girls initially exchanged puzzled looks before bursting into laughter.
“Come on! What kind of joke is that?”
“No! Think about it.
Have you ever seen someone as beautiful as me?”
She was even shameless about it.
Perhaps due to her audacious confidence, the girls’ pupils wavered in disbelief.
Witnessing this spectacle of her confidently deceiving innocent girls, Noah averted his gaze slightly.
Amidst this, something suddenly emerged from an alley near the bookstore.
Someone who had been running hastily dashed towards Cordelia’s direction.
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