Claire hid behind a tree as she heard the carriage drawing closer.
She didn’t know who was in the carriage, but she knew that whoever it was wouldn’t pay attention to her.
However, it was an act that came out unconsciously because it reminded her of Clive that day.
Should she go and ask Ed, Clive’s subordinate?
Claire felt like she would be in agony for the rest of her days if she just let it go, and hoped everyone would forget about it.
But she was also worried that she was going to stick her face in there, and get herself scratched.
Worrying about this, worrying about that.
In the end, time had passed without her doing anything.
The carriage was now in sight.
The unadorned carriage looked unassuming from the outside, but the size of it as it drew closer suggested it was anything but unassuming on the inside.
Claire pushed herself further behind the tree, and only peeked out her eyes.
The glimpse of the young lady through the rapidly passing window was, to say the least, an elegant beauty.
Pure white skin, a plunging neckline, a few strands of soft golden hair cascading over it.
She wore her hair up in an updo, and there were glittering jewelry pinned to it.
Eleanor Norton, the third child of Count Norton, had dark hair like Clive’s.
Photos of the count’s children were often seen in newspapers.
Even though she didn’t recognize the real-life Clive Norton.
Claire vaguely remembered seeing an article in the paper about Baron Walker’s brother and sister staying in Shadehill.
It must have been a couple of months ago, but she hadn’t seen any reports of them returning.
So, it could have been Daisy Walker, the youngest of the Walkers.
Not everything that happened made the papers, so it could be someone else.
Either way, she was glad it wasn’t Clive Norton.
Claire walked along the path, her mind felt lighter, even though the necklace issue hadn’t been resolved at all.
Her chestnut-colored hair, damp with sweat, was disheveled by the breeze that blew through the trees.
She liked that the tall birch trees allowed her to walk in the shade.
The best part was that Brenda didn’t make much to sell in the store because she was baking wheat bread for church and cookies for Countess Norton.
This meant that the store would be sold out while she was delivering to the Count’s estate, so she was able to leave work right away.
When she got home, covered in sweat, she washed up and changed into clean clothes.
She’d planned to stay in bed for the rest of the day, but as she sat up in bed, she changed her mind.
Looking out the still-bright window, Claire felt like she was wasting her time, so she got up and grabbed an outfit.
She slipped into a plain, comfortable gray dress with no patterns or embellishments.
She was thinking about surprising Isabelle at the bookstore where she worked.
On the way, she’d stop by that new restaurant that just opened and make a reservation for dinner.
She’d heard the roast duck was good, so she would make a reservation for two.
A glass of wine would be nice too, but it might cost too much money.
She roughly pulled her hair into a single braid and made a plan.
And it worked like a charm.
There was only one table left to reserve, and the roast duck wasn’t too expensive, so there was plenty of extra money for wine.
She thought, ‘I’ll order a glass of my sister’s favorite sweet white wine and a glass of my favorite tart red wine.’
Claire entered the Rome Book Store with light steps, unable to hide the corners of her mouth that naturally rose.
She easily found Isabelle through the dust rising under the sunlight shining through the window.
Isabelle was packing a customer’s book.
Claire said, her voice was low but just loud enough for Isabelle to hear.
Isabelle looked up from packing the book, and was surprised to see Claire.
Claire almost laughed out loud because it was exactly what she had imagined all the way over.
Isabelle was in the middle of serving a customer, so she covered her mouth with her hand.
She walked over and stood by Isabelle’s side, looking away nonchalantly.
Then she came face to face with Clive.
The customer Isabelle had been attending to, the man she’d been too busy to pay attention to, was Clive.
She didn’t recognize him at first, with his tall, glossy black hair.
It was too late to avoid eye contact.
She could only hope he didn’t recognize her.
“How did you get here at this hour?”
Thankfully, Isabelle spoke up, and Claire naturally looked away from Clive.
“I finished early, the bread is already sold out.”
Isabelle had finished packing up the book, which meant Clive would be leaving soon.
Fortunately, he didn’t recognize her or decided to just close the case with the return of the lost item.
He didn’t tell Claire either, probably because he had left everything to a man named Ed.
Whatever it was, it was a good thing.
Isabelle handed over the wrapped book, and the man’s rough hand accepted it.
His face and figure couldn’t have been any more aristocratic, but his hands looked like those of a laborer.
She stared at him, mesmerized by his strange duality, then their eyes met again.
Claire swallowed dryly.
“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.
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.
Ed had called the man Mr.
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.”
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?”
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.
“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.
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?”
“You don’t think you sound drunk?”
“I’m not drunk.”
Claire’s words may have sounded slurred, but she wasn’t drunk.
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