Stanley attached himself closer to the frame of the lady in his arms.
“Let go! Let me go!”
Rose frantically twisted her body, but the more she struggled, the stronger the grip on her grew.
Lord Stanley spat out word after word, blatantly ignoring the writhing form desperately trying to escape.
“Rose, I should have noticed this during our conversations before.
I thought I was smart, but I'm sorry, Rose.
I've only realized this now.”
“…What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? Rose has misunderstood my relationship with Lady Ilya.
I see you've become jealous.”
The young lady froze; her confusion was so great that she'd forgotten to struggle.
She wondered if she'd heard him wrong.
One look at the confidence overflowing from Stanley's face, and Rose knew he acted with utter sincerity.
[TL/N: Stanley really believes what he says.]
“Why would I be jealous of Ilya? I am not interested in you.”
“Don't deny your heart, Lady Rose.
I was too close to Lady Ilya.
You had feelings for me, but I didn't know.”
“What are you—“
“It is well known that all nobles have concubines.
I don't care either.
I'll accept it even if Rose agrees to meet me behind the scenes after your engagement and marriage to Duke Proud.”
Even if the man before me looks normal, he's gone crazy!
“If you don't let go of me this instant, I'll call a knight to restrain you!”
Rose ferociously tugged on her arm, trying to once again shake off the man.
The crazed man did back down easily, and Rose caught a glimpse of a wide grin creeping across his face.
There was a deep obsession and madness for Rose lurking in that smile.
It terrified her.
“Rose! I love you! If you want, I will sever my relationship with Lady Ilya.”
He moved his arms and encircled Rose's slender waist.
With her free hand, Rose slammed her hand on his shoulder and used whatever strength she had to push him away.
Her fingers barely skimmed his face, and yet, with her fingernails well groomed, it was enough.
A swipe at his face resulted in his skin being marred.
A single drop of blood bloomed on Stanley's cheek, the shock of which caused Stanley's arm to loosen around Rose's waist.
The young lord ran his hand down his bloody cheek.
His face instantly turned grim when he found the small blood stain on his fingertips.
“What is this?!”
He viciously raised his hand to the sky, his palm angled for Rose's face, but he did not get to touch a single strand of her hair.
The knights of Honeywell Manor arrived and subdued Stanley before he could take action.
“Lady Rose! Are you alright?!”
Rose felt her legs tremble, and she crumbled to the ground without replying to the knight's question.
She watched them subdue Stanley.
At the entrance of the garden stood the butler, Anne, and the other knights, all of whom rushed to her side.
Running to her, they called out her name.
The butler and Anne helped Rose to her feet and checked over her condition while the knights dragged the young lord away.
“Let go! I'm Rose's lover! Do you think it is acceptable to treat Rose Honeywell's man so carelessly?”
Stanley shouted at the top of his lungs, but the knights remained unfazed.
Rose covered her ears with both hands.
With her arms wrapped around her mistress, Anne hugged and comforted her as the butler stood guard with his head lowered.
“I'm sorry, Lady Rose.
I received the news belatedly.
Had I known that you had left the garden with Lord Gardner, I would have sent notice to the Master immediately.
Lady Rose, the Master will hold Gardner's family accountable for what has transpired this day.”
Rose shook her head in disapproval.
“Do not speak of this.”
“But—Lord Stanley's behavior has gone too far! He has threatened the Young Lady!”
“I don't mean to hide this from my brother, just until the hunt is over.
After that, I will talk about this with my brother.”
Rose interrupted the butler.
“Please do not ever speak a word of this to Ilya.
I don't have the heart to tell her what the man she likes is truly like.
Instead, I want to let her naturally turn away from him.”
The butler gave no answer; however, by the lack of a headshake, it implied that he would follow Rose's wishes.
After obtaining Anne's support, Rose moved.
As they walked, her feet caught against something mid step.
The bouquet of red roses, given by Stanley, was discovered at her feet.
“Yes, Lady Rose?”
“Take these out and dispose of them immediately…
No, burn it.”
“Yes, Lady Rose.”
Not wanting to accidentally catch sight of the roses again, Rose shut her eyes tightly.
She was in a hurry to escape the garden.
The morning of the hunting festival began with bright sunshine.
As the festival took off in the afternoon, Wells, Rose, and Ilya had lunch together at the manor after a long time of eating separately.
Rose was eating while listening to the sounds of light chatting and cutlery when she glanced at Ilya.
Her expression looked the same as usual, and the butler had also shut down the knights, allowing not a word of the other day's incident to escape.
Stanley Gardner is such a strange person.
How do I go about telling Ilya about this? No, would she even believe my story about her lover?
Rose increased the strength with which she gripped the fork.
I don't know if Stanley Gardner will even come to the hunt.
Even if he attended the hunting festival, Illya should confess her love to him before handing him the handkerchief.
Rose began to organize the plan for how to make Ilya accept her story without being shocked.
Because of that, she didn't notice for a moment what kind of eyes Ilya was looking at her with.
The hunt began in the mountains behind the Imperial Palace.
On one side, there was a greenhouse for women.
It was a small greenhouse, but it was full of flowers that did not bloom in winter.
On the other side of the greenhouse were the barracks for men.
When the Honeywell siblings and Ilya arrived, many eyes fell on them.
Rose, who would normally have been intimidated by numerous eyes, didn't have time to pay attention to the stares as she was looking for Stanley's whereabouts.
Unfortunately or fortunately, Stanley was nowhere to be seen, as if he hadn't attended the hunting festival.
Wells approached Rose, who let out a small sigh of relief.
“Sister, women have to go that way.
After His Majesty's speech, we will have a short preparation time, and then we will disperse to the mountains and greenhouses.
At that time, follow the ladies to the greenhouse.”
“Huh? What about you?”
“I have to be on the side of the barracks.
If something happens, call the knights and find me right away.”
Rose briefly said goodbye to Wells, then headed to the place where the noble ladies and young ladies were gathered together with Ilya.
She was welcomed by the wife of a family that was familiar with the Honeywells.
Rose, along with Ilya, greeted the lady and welcomed Ilya when they heard a voice from afar announcing Russell's appearance.
Russell appeared on the podium prepared beforehand with the knight's loud cry.
His silver hair was still brilliant, and his eyes shone beautifully.
Rose stared at him blankly for a moment, then turned her head at the sound of a small exclamation heard around her.
Unmarried young ladies of Rose's age were looking at Russell on the podium with their faces reddening.
Judging from the fact that the already married women have the same expression, Russell's appearance is indistinguishable from his age and seems to mesmerize everyone.
Russell started by giving a speech on the safety and origins of hunting.
After his short and bold speech, the ladies and young ladies alike went to their partners.
Before the hunting festival started in earnest, during the preparation time, they handed over the handkerchiefs they made and prayed for safety.
Rose looked at Ilya, who was standing next to her, and carefully asked her thoughts.
Guess he's not attending today.”
Ilya smiled a little weakly.
“Yes, I can't see him.
Maybe I'm lucky.
Actually, I didn't bring that handkerchief.”
“Is that so? I made it hard on you.”
Ilya laughed without answering.
Soon after, the hunting festival began with the sound of a flute ringing out.
The men attending the hunting festival jumped onto their horses and rode out in an instant.
Then, shall we go to the greenhouse and get out of the cold?”
One of the ladies gave a suggestion once the men left.
Following her advice, everyone headed to the greenhouse, and Rose followed suit and looked around.
…I'll have to take a break with Ilya sometime later and confess.
Then, I can tell her about Stanley and what he did.
The greenhouse was smaller than the one in Alison's annex, but it was well decorated.
As the number of people was not small, there were several tables that could seat six people.
Rose sat at the same table with Ilya.
At the table Rose sat at, there were many young ladies her age.
As soon as they sat down, they started chatting with one another.
Their topic, of course, was about the partner who accepted their handkerchief.
“What embroidered handkerchief did Lady Roberts give?”
“I embroidered the pattern of our family.”
“They say they released a lot of ferocious beasts this time.”
“I can't wait to see who will win.”
The winner will dance with their partner for the first time at this year's coming-of-age banquet.”
Their mouths didn't rest.
Ilya naturally melted into their conversation, and Rose only answered the questions that were directed at her.
“By the way, has everyone seen this?”
While continuing the conversation, a young lady pulled out a small bottle the size of a finger.
While everyone was wondering about its contents, someone recognized it.
“Oh! Isn't that a pheromone drug to attract prey?”
“That's right, actually, I bought some in the hope that my lover will catch a lot of game.”
“They say it works great, but wouldn't it be a big deal if a savage beast took over?”
“Do not worry.
He said he hunts with others.”
“Come to think of it, those who hunt alone are amazing.
Isn't Duke Proud like that?”
But this time, will Duke Proud dedicate the hunt?”
“Who will it be? Honeywell's Young Lady is in attendance.”
This time, the topic of conversation turned to Rose and Elliot.
Rose, who was quietly listening to their story, made a surprised expression when her name was called out.
In an instant, the eyes of those at her table poured out.
“Lady Honeywell, did you give your handkerchief to Duke Proud?”
“Did you mention that Duke Proud should sacrifice his game to you?”
“Tell me about the duke, please!”
Rose lowered her gaze, feeling burdened by the gazes that burned into her.
How would everyone react if I said that I didn't give him the handkerchief?
And what if Elliot happens to not sacrifice his game?
Rose touched her fingertips on her lap, and she thought of a reply.
Let's make a small statement here and say that I will call off our engagement to Elliot.
Then, even when I really broke up with Elliot later, they might easily accept it, saying that everyone knew about it and he can't object.
When we're gathered like this, I'll say it in an insinuating way.
Then they will surely go back to their respective mansions and talk about what happened today.
Rose took a deep breath, exhaled, and looked up.
“I—I have something to say to everyone,” she said.”
“Yes? Please speak, Lady Rose.”
The eyes of the young ladies who wanted to hear about their relationship with Elliot shone.
Rose took a break and opened her mouth.
“Actually, Elliot and I—“
Elliot and I don't get along as well these days as we used to.
The beginning of her tale would start as such.
With that, Rose was going to imply to everyone that she would cut ties with Elliot.
But before she could finish her words, Rose was cut off by a small knock on the table.
The glances that had been directed at Rose turned to a different person.
It was Ilya who cut Rose off by hitting the table.
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