To think this face could be so heartwarming.
“Wow, you came fast.”
Upon seeing Cordelia calmly exclaim, Linus squinted her eyes slightly.
“Do you know how surprised I was when I received your letter?!”
Linus, who had walked confidently, unabashedly pinched Cordelia’s cheek.
Her expression was as fierce as if she could kill someone.
“Ow, it hurts, ow!”
Though her voice trembled with emotion from the attack, Cordelia, if she were as mean as a certain elder, wouldn’t have flinched even if a puppy was right in front of her.
Only when she finally let go did her slapped cheek turn red.
Holding her face in both hands, Cordelia complained earnestly.
“What if I get a scar on this national treasure-level face?”
“How about a scar on a villain’s face? They’ll probably still shower you with awards.”
“Oh? So that’s why you were so merciless when it was Noah’s body?”
“Hmm, and why did your body change again?”
Whether it was borrowed or not, the room here was quite spacious compared to the lodgings they had stayed in before.
Being on the top floor, it should have had a good view, but the room was quite dark even during the day because the windows were tightly shut.
The four of them took seats on the sofa.
Cordelia’s eyes sparkled as if she were intrigued.
“This feels like we’re plotting a conspiracy.”
As Linus snapped her fingers, one of the closed windows swung open wide, letting sunlight flood the room.
“If you’re trying to set the mood…”
“I have bad eyesight.”
“Are you our mother?”
“I feel like I’ve suddenly acquired a child who’s not in the family.”
Linus casually dispelled Cordelia’s complaints and then surveyed the three people one by one.
“Now, can you explain a bit? Thanks to you, I volunteered to come purposely to this balcony and strained my brain, so please do enlighten us.”
If Daniel had known her personality well, he would have certainly found it suspicious, but fortunately, he was in the capital.
She was truly surprised upon receiving the letter from Jerania.
While she had planned out her schedule in advance and made her moves accordingly, there were always variables to consider.
Yet, when the envoy arrived with the orders for surveillance as soon as the expedition party had arrived, it felt as if they had been waiting for her, sending words to her.
Reading the letter triggered quite a few thoughts.
Even though she suspected that they might have been discovered, the realization that this issue could become even more tangled and complicated than she thought gave her a headache.
“It’s just that, there have been more body-swapping incidents and other things.”
After listening to the explanation, Linus let out a heavy sigh.
Her nonchalant brown eyes scrutinized Noah.
She had summarized her thoughts about this person in vague terms, and she guessed that’s why.
Knowing his true identity, it seemed like his exhaustion was even more pronounced.
“I had hoped that nothing major would happen within a month, but…”
“Well, even I don’t know what’s going on.”
“I know too.
Judging by your expression, Lord Epherman, it seems you’ve already suspected something.”
“Yes, it seems like the conditions I mentioned to you before, they match.”
When did the two have a conversation behind Cordelia’s back?
Feeling a strange sense of exclusion, Cordelia looked at Noah, who was sitting across from her.
“Just a moment, so you know why the body-swapping is happening?”
“Well… It’s probably more my issue than Cordelia’s.
“What’s the condition?”
As Noah hesitated and stumbled over his words, Linus, who couldn’t wait any longer, spoke up.
“He wished to see Cordelia again, that’s the condition he made.”
That wasn’t a lie.
Unable to even answer, Noah froze up, prompting Linus to open her mouth.
At Cordelia’s distant stare, as if she didn’t know what that meant, Noah stammered out the truth, fearing a misunderstanding.
“I mean, we’ve met once before, just, you know, so……..”
His tone was fairly composed, but Noah’s fingers twitched nervously, revealing his underlying emotions.
“What? You’re saying I met you before?!”
“Well, at a royal banquet… Don’t you remember?”
“No, how could I forget a face like this… Wait a minute.”
‘Wait, who’s that?’
Interrupting her words, an image floated up in her mind, causing Cordelia to pause.
Let’s see… Wasn’t it around the age of eighteen or nineteen?
It was a momentary escape from the banquet hall to catch a breath and get away from the persistent group of guys who kept picking on her.
The faint rustling sound that was carried by the wind caught her ear and drew her in.
Driven by curiosity, she approached the direction of the sound, and there, someone was sitting crouched in the bushes.
A boy with his knees propped up, his head buried in his arms, looked up at her with swollen eyes.
With a round, pale face adorned with a bit of baby fat on his cheeks, his eyes were surprisingly large despite the puffiness, and he had a high bridge of the nose and slightly reddish lips that pouted.
A few strands of golden hair that stuck out like antennae stood up as if sensing the currents.
He was handsome, quite considerably so.
‘Um, er, who…?’
His voice was scratched and high-pitched, it was somewhat off-putting to hear.
Is he going through puberty?
‘Just someone taking a stroll.
Why are you hiding here?’
‘I’m being chased.’
‘Playing tag or something? That’s fun, isn’t it.’
She recognized right away that it wasn’t true, but she acted as if she didn’t know and sat down next to him with a thud.
The grass would get damp from the dew, but oh well.
The piercing sound of Charlotte, her governess, screaming echoed in her ears, but she ignored it.
The boy didn’t utter a word of protest, despite her sudden intrusion.
Tears falling from his face as he blinked dazedly seemed like pearls.
As she continued to gaze at that face, the boy stammered.
‘Why, why are you looking at me like that?’
Why am I looking like that, you ask?
‘Because I like what I see.’
‘It means you’re handsome.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘It means you’re good-looking.’
He might look a bit young, but as he matures and his features become more defined, he’ll likely have the kind of face she prefers.
If he looks this good with swollen eyes, who knows how he’ll look when he’s in perfect condition?
Confidently speaking, the boy seemed bewildered yet a faint smile appeared at her words as he slightly raised the corners of his mouth.
‘So, why are you crying then?’
In a puzzled manner, she wiped away his tears with her thumb, brushing his eye corner where he seemed at a loss for words.
Perhaps startled by the sudden contact, the boy’s body trembled for a moment.
‘Is there something bothering you?’
The boy nodded his head.
‘Just… I feel pathetic.
In various ways.’
From up close, Cordelia could see that his clothes were rather extravagant.
It seemed he came from a well-to-do family just by appearance, but could it be a family issue?
Instead of delving deeper, she casually brought up the topic like bait.
‘I don’t know what worries you have but don’t think too deeply.
Sometimes it’s clearer to act simply rather than overthink.’
‘It would be nice if I could think simply.’
The sight of his tear-stained face gently curling his eyebrows as he smiled was quite poignant.
‘Just… there’s something I want to do, but what everyone expects from me is something else entirely.
And that doesn’t align with my nature… I’m at a loss about what to do.’
‘Wouldn’t it be better to say you can’t do it if you can’t?’
‘That’s not an option for me, as there are significant expectations placed on me.
I’m not sure if I’m afraid of disappointing them.’
‘That could be the case.’
Meeting his response with affirmation, she looked directly at the boy.
His eyes, close to shades of blue, held a hint of moisture and sparkled.
‘But how can you satisfy everyone?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Meeting the expectations of others is good, but if you make that your standard, there will inevitably be limits at some point.’
Instead of her usual bright smile, she offered advice with a serious expression.
If his concern was about his career path, she could offer reasonably sound advice, having gone through something similar.
‘It’s your life, and I can’t interfere by saying do this or do that, but still, think a little more about it! You only live once.
It’s a shame to waste time on something that doesn’t suit you.’
If Rick, who naturally assumes living for the family’s sake, were to hear this, he would be shocked.
Nonetheless, Cordelia didn’t want to deceive herself.
Whether it was something she wanted to do or something she desired to have, she didn’t want to give up on all of it.
Even if it was selfish, it was fine.
She wanted to show that there could be someone who had that choice.
‘The things you’re supposed to do, are they things that only you can do?’
‘Well, it’s not like there’s no one else who could… but…’
‘Then it’s fine.
Why worry so much?’
The boy didn’t say anything more and tightly sealed his lips.
It seemed like a sensitive matter.
Cordelia didn’t add anything and stood up from her seat.
She raised her arms wide, locking eyes with the boy looking up at her.
Her hair swayed lightly in the wind that had just picked up.
‘I’m going to live the way I want to.
No matter what anyone says!’
Being the youngest in a powerful family, a household known for harmony and having many siblings, was advantageous in that sense.
Even if she were to deviate entirely from the conventional path, it wouldn’t be overly conspicuous.
If she had ambitions, it might have been somewhat burdensome, but since her desires had no connection to power, she considered herself quite fortunate.
The boy, who had been silently keeping his mouth shut, stood up as if following her lead.
Suddenly, Cordelia widened her eyes at his face which had gotten noticeably taller.
Whoa, he’s bigger than she thought.
Standing side by side, Cordelia realized the other person’s jawline was barely at eye level.
Could they be around the same age? No, still, isn’t he way too tall?!
The boy looked around anxiously, then carefully plucked some wildflowers nearby and made them into a small bouquet.
After hesitating for a while, his shy face blushed like a ripe apple as he offered the flowers.
‘Thank you for listening to me! Would you… accept these?’
He smiled with a polite demeanor.
With his eyes swollen, it looked like only the corners of his lips were turned up.
It could have seemed comical, but strangely, he appeared quite adorable.
His flawless attitude seemed to suit the summer atmosphere perfectly.
When dealing with those who tried to cater to her preferences by offering flowers or gifts, she would always feel triumphant.
But now, she strangely felt a sense of satisfaction.
Accepting the flowers while pretending to be defeated, she felt her lips curling upward.
Well, whatever it was, it probably meant he had some favor toward her, right?
Cordelia’s heart raced a bit faster, and she suddenly realized this might be the prelude to love.
Come to think of it, they hadn’t exchanged names.
Clearing her throat, she opened her mouth.
Cordelia Weichen! And what’s your name?’
“We met before, didn’t we? Yeah, I thought you were handsome.”
She recalled when she said that, Liam burst into a fit of laughter.
What a mischievous guy.
That was also the moment when she reminded herself that a good-looking face wasn’t necessarily her type.
Clenching her fist in frustration, Cordelia turned to Noah.
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