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“We meet again.”

The man said, his face nonchalant.

She must have looked too hard.

Claire quickly ducked her head to hide her screwed-up face.

“Hi, uh… um…”

She stammered, not sure how to address him, as she tried to jog her memory.

Ed called him something.
What did he call him? She couldn’t remember.

“Chief Constable.”

Right.
He was the chief of the guards in Shadehill, so it was only appropriate to call him Mr.
Chief Constable, right?

She looked up, and the man had a look of displeasure on his face.

Was she wrong? Should she have called him Lord Norton? She glanced up, and a fragment of memory flashed through her mind.

Mr.
Clive.
Ed had called the man Mr.
Clive.

But wouldn’t it be impolite for her to call him that? Should she call him Master?

…She should’ve looked into how to talk to a noble.

“I don’t think I’m your boss.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry.”

Claire ducked her head again, and realized the answer.

She didn’t have to call him at all!

“I’m running late because of something else, but my assistant Ed will contact you as a witness soon.”

Oh… the other business.
It wasn’t that this was being forgotten.
Claire felt her chest tighten.

“Yes… All right.”

Holding the book, Clive’s gaze swept over the crown of Claire’s head as she bowed.
With that, the man left the Rome Book Store.

Looking up, Claire and Isabelle’s eyes met.

Could that be Chief Constable Clive Norton, the second son of the Count of Norton?

She could see the astonishment in Isabelle’s eyes.
Claire just nodded, unmoved.

He had a good memory.
She thought he might not have recognized her.


“At least he didn’t treat you badly.
It’s just a witness check, so you don’t have to worry too much.”

Isabelle soothed.

***

Aside from an unexpected run-in with Clive at the Rome Book Store, the rest of the evening was fine.

The roast duck at the restaurant they reserved was succulent and juicy, and the sauce was just right.

Even the wine, which she was unfortunately only able to have one glass of due to her wallet, was perfect.

It didn’t hurt that the sip of wine made her feel relaxed and languid.

“It’s so nice to eat out after all these years.”

Claire murmured as she looked around the restaurant’s interior, lit by the yellow glow of gas lamps.

Families, couples, and friends were all smiling and enjoying themselves, and it felt good to be among them.

“Yeah, it was tasty.”

Isabelle took the last sip of her wine.
Alas, it was time to get up.

“Let’s come back another time.
The lamb pie here is also delicious.”

As Claire wiped her mouth with her napkin, the server approached.

He was about to pour a wine she’d never ordered, so Claire tried to stop it, but the server said with a friendly smile.

“The gentleman over there sent it.”

Claire and Isabelle simultaneously turned their heads in the direction the server pointed.

There sat a man who looked like a bandit, not a gentleman.

Claire jerked away at the sight of a man she’d never seen before.

“Do you know him?”

“Uhm.
His name is Russell, remember? I dated him a while back.”

Isabelle smiled shyly.

Claire remembered that one weekend, not too long ago, Isabelle had told her she was going to Rota Park for a date.
She even wore makeup, something she didn’t usually do.

When she said she was going on a date, Isabelle walked out with a shy smile on her face.

The server refilled their glasses and left, leaving the wine bottle behind.

Before they could leave, Isabelle put her hand to her mouth, leaned in, and whispered, as if telling a very important secret.


“It’s nice.”

“I like that the bottle is big, it’s very nice.”

Sending her a bottle of wine.
He must have some money.

With that thought, Claire raised her glass.
It was a sweet red wine.

She would’ve preferred something bitter and heavy, but a wine sent to them by a man who was courting Isabelle was exactly what she was looking for.

She should’ve asked the server what he’d ordered.

It was delicate.
Although he looked like a bandit, okay, he passed.

“That guy…”

“Russell.
Russell McDowell.”

Claire had heard that name before, but she’d forgotten it.

“You’re leaning toward Russell? What about Max?”

“Max is sociable, well-mannered, but nothing more.”

Claire’s lips curve into a wicked grin as she snuck another look at Russell.

“Sis, I didn’t realize you were looking at their bodies.”

Max, who taught literature at Waverly, was tall and a little skinny.

By comparison, Russell, whom she’d only seen sitting down, was muscular and broad-shouldered.
His chest was probably bigger than hers.

Claire’s eyes were filled with affection whenever she saw Isabelle, who has graceful curves, unlike her, who was just thin without any looks.

Her dear sister

To Claire, Isabelle was her only sister, friend, and parent.

“I love you, sister.”

She felt like she was about to cry.

“Are you drunk on two glasses of wine?”

“No.”

“You don’t think you sound drunk?”

“I’m not drunk.”

Claire’s words may have sounded slurred, but she wasn’t drunk.
Really.

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