ime, she took everything—Ilya and her character.
She wondered if Ilya would be the same as her.
Elliot was handsome, and any girl that laid eyes on him fell in love.
But Ilya was different.
She had a look of admiration rather than love when facing Elliot.
“Miss Titonsser, this is—“
Wells introduced Ilya to Elliot, and it was most likely not out of free will.
As Elliot stood beside Rose, it forced Wells to introduce him unwillingly.
I can see the sparks flying between the dukes.
“Duke Proud, are you not leaving? With only a month left in this year, you must be quite relaxed.”
With their brief introductions complete, Wells continued their thorny exchange.
Towards Wells' barbed retort, Elliot smiled cynically and laughed.
“No, the busiest person in this empire should be the Duke of Honeywell.
Are you not the one who should be reporting to His Majesty?”
Her brother's shoulders trembled as he suppressed his emotions.
When given a task by His Majesty, as one of his dukes, it was mandatory to report directly to the emperor as soon as they entered the capital.
Brother should have met with the Emperor yesterday but was held back by the bad weather.
Their emperor was not an idle man.
He was a man who lived his life on a schedule.
With the heavy rains, even if it was unintentional, the emperor's schedule was disrupted.
If Wells made his way to the Imperial Palace right now, it was uncertain if he would be granted a chance to meet the emperor.
Wells pressed his fingers against his temples.
“I have an appointment for it tomorrow, so it's no concern of yours.
Are you still wasting your time here? That's not like the great Elliot Proud.”
“Ah, yes, I am also a busy man.
Elliot, who pulled out a pocket watch, was surprised.
As if she had been lying in wait for the opportune moment, Rose had thrown his coat over his shoulder forcefully.
Leisurely, Elliot wore the coat and glanced at Rose.
“I'd have liked to enjoy lunch with you later today, but I do not have time.”
That's our answer in advance.”
Wells' refusal cut through the air like a well-honed blade.
Rose did not say her farewell to the Duke of Proud as he left.
If it were in the past, Rose would have rushed at the chance and would have followed him at his side until he climbed into his carriage and left.
But she was a changed woman now.
Unconcerned, she engrossed herself in a colorful painting on the wall.
She was certain Elliot would not care to speak further, as she had blatantly avoided eye contact.
When have I ever received a warm greeting from that man?
“Then go carefully.”
That sounded empty, brother.
Instead of waiting for Rose to respond, Wells sent him off as a courtesy.
Rose waited for Elliot to leave, but the man in question had other plans.
“My rose does not pay attention to me.”
I heard wrong.
The young lady peered at Duke Proud.
You didn't say a word, yes?
The Rose of Honeywell.
There were many who referred to her by that name.
Rose was aware that even her brother would sometimes teasingly call her his “rose” in that context rather than her first name.
Why would Elliot call me so affectionately?
She frowned at Elliot, clearly bewildered.
Before she died, he called her a rose.
“Innocent and foolish, my lovely rose.”
The memory of that night would never go away, especially that mocking tone, as it took away all she held precious.
His voice was different from that night.
To the ears of others, he was a playful fiancé, whispering sweet nothings to his bashful lover.
Rose and Wells knew differently.
Elliot always had and always would be neglectful when it came to Rose.
Truly, his tone is as sweet as honey; even my brother is shocked.
She struggled to keep her expression from twisting.
“That, what are you—“
A soft warmth lightly brushed Rose's cheek and fell away.
Knowing what happened was not the same as understanding it, and Rose was troubled with why she was kissed.
“Let's have a meal together.
I'm going to make time for my rose anyway.”
He sounded pleased.
“You're making time for what?! What the h*ll did you do to my dear rose?”
The anger in Wells burst out, making a sharp contrast to his usual gentle temperament.
Honeywell's young lady glanced around.
The attendants lingering about were astonished; some stood frozen with their mouths covered and faces red.
The same could be said of Ilya.
She stood, mouth agape, with a charming blush dusting her cheeks.
He kissed me.
She looked for the man who kissed her cheek, only to find he had already left the manor.
Her brother glared at the empty spot beside her, walked up to her, and wiped her cheek with a handkerchief.
“How dare you, Proud.
How dare you put your lips on our Rose's cheek?!”
Wells' touch was cautious and gentle.
Rose was uncertain if he was scrubbing her cheek or lightly sweeping it.
She smiled at her brother and softly pushed his hand away.
“Now, now, brother.
That's enough, it's clean.”
“Ha! Did that Proud get struck by lightning while I was stuck in the rain? He's not acting like the young Lord Elliot I know.”
Indeed, Elliot's behavior was out of character.
Why are you pretending to be kind to me? Did the impact of the breakup affect you more than I originally thought?
No, first I need to talk to my brother about breaking off the engagement.
Rose was about to ask her brother for a moment of his time before the butler drew closer and spoke.
In his hand was an envelope with a luxurious design, even at first glance.
“Your Grace, a letter has come from the Imperial Family.”
“Ah, I sent a request around the time I arrived in the capital.
It appears a reply has arrived quickly.”
After receiving the envelope, Wells opened it on the spot and unfolded its contents.
He read through it, sealed it, and met his beloved sister's eyes.
“My rose, I have to leave for the Imperial Palace.”
The emperor snatched her brother.
Rose had no choice but to send him to the Imperial Palace and wait for his return.
[TL/N: Kinda loving this older brother, rn.
I really hope Elliot's not reborn, too.]
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