“What a sweet brother.”
Isabelle marveled that Clive had stopped by the book store to buy a romance novel for his sister.
“Hopefully Eleanor knows that as well.”
Was it because of the aristocratic demeanor of the man’s body that made his every gesture seem so elegant? From the way he answered Isabelle to the way he picked up his wine glass and took a sip.
Or maybe it was just his aristocratic tinted glasses.
Claire shook her head as she watched the man’s throat move as he swallowed the wine.
She downed the glass in front of her, then the one in front of Isabelle.
As she fought off the drunkenness that threatened to swallow her whole if she let herself get distracted for a moment.
“May I call you Russell?”
May I call you Claire, too?”
Russell, however I think we should get up now.
It’s really late… Well, I have to go to work tomorrow, too.”
In reality, she was trying to run away, but she didn’t realize that she kept looking at Clive.
“Then shall we all get up together?”
Russell called the server.
No, she just wanted to leave first.
She swallowed what she couldn’t say.
The whole situation went against Claire’s will, and the four of them left the restaurant together and dared to ride in the Norton family’s carriage.
Claire, of course, insisted on walking because they weren’t that far from home, but Russell refused.
It was dangerous for two women to walk home at midnight.
He really was like Isabelle’s escort knight.
However, what kind of kindness was it to use someone else’s carriage?
Because of that, Claire downgraded Russell.
Subsequently, even the opinion that she would sit next to the coachman was ignored.
What if she caught a cold?
She thought it would be better to be in danger of catching a cold than to be in the presence of that man in the carriage, but she couldn’t protest too strongly because Clive’s countenance was visible.
She just quietly slashed Russell’s score.
However the man was quiet the whole way along, and only occasional conversations between Russell and Isabelle continued.
They talked about how beautiful Lake Rota in Rota Park was when they went last time, or something like that.
Eventually, when they reached 32 Hesperos Street, Claire prepared to leap out of the carriage.
However, it failed because Russell stepped out of the carriage first, and held his hand out to Isabelle as stepped down the high stairs.
What a gentle young man.
While she was raising Russell’s score again, Clive tapped the chair quietly.
His purple eyes were looking at Claire.
Naturally, she looked up, and asked what was going on.
“Stop looking at me.”
Clive shut up with a tired look on his face.
Outside the carriage, Isabelle called out to Claire.
She kept looking at him, was it bothering him?
Claire’s gaze flickered to and fro like a candle in the wind.
It had been raining since dawn.
Claire wasn’t awakened by the rain, but it wasn’t without its effects.
When she got off of work she would have to go to the police station to see Ed.
If she was unlucky enough, she would run into Clive.
She would have to keep her eyes down.
While thinking about that, she finally fell into a shallow sleep, but she woke up to the sound of rain tapping on the window.
She tried to put the blanket over her head to fall asleep again.
When the view was blocked, the sound of rain became clear.
Eventually, Claire gave up sleeping and sat up.
She opened the window and rainwater shot in, so she closed the window again.
Then she pulled her legs close to her and put her chin on her knees.
On rainy days, there were fewer customers.
On those days, Brenda would bake less bread than usual.
Because it was raining so much, she was afraid that there would be an accident on the wet road, so she was considering whether she should leave for work earlier than usual.
If it didn’t rain too much, she would stop by the police station, otherwise it would be better to return home and watch the house.
If the gutters were well-maintained, this shouldn’t be a problem.
However if they weren’t, water would seep into the home.
She hoped that didn’t happen.
After thinking about this and that, she sat down and fell asleep again.
Isabelle’s voice seemed to be faintly audible.
The voice became a little clearer.
“Wake up, Claire.”
Ah, it’s morning.
When Claire opened her eyes, her body, which was slouching while she was sitting, shouted at her.
“Did you fall asleep while sitting down?”
“I must’ve been woken up by the sound of rain and fell back to sleep while looking out the window.”
She could see out the window even when she was laying down, so why did she have to sit up?
Claire clicked her tongue at herself, and stretched her limbs.
This was an undesirable condition, as if she’d neither been awake nor asleep.
“Wheat bread and the raspberry jam that Aunt Sandra shared are okay, right?”
Sandra was their neighbor at 36 Hesperos Street, she had a big heart, and would often hand out food.
“It’s raining, so I’ll make tea.”
Claire made tea while Isabelle served a simple breakfast.
Claire preferred to drink tea as it was, but Isabelle preferred to drink it with milk and sugar.
Isabelle, who usually liked sweets, enjoyed the luxury of eating the raspberry jam today.
“Will you be okay with your hangover?”
Claire pondered for a moment at Isabelle’s question.
She had a mild headache, but it was hard to tell if it was because of a hangover or because she didn’t sleep properly.
“I just have a headache.”
“I didn’t do something wrong with Russell yesterday, did I?”
“Russell was a warm man to my sister until the very end.”
After he watched them enter the house, he said his goodbyes to them through the window, then left in the Norton’s carriage.
It was a scene like having a deep love of the century, considering that they’d only been on two dates.
Only Max was destined to be pitiful.
Even that would be the result of Max’s choice.
“Mister Clive is the problem.”
He got angry when he was called Chief Constable, but it was difficult to call him Sir Norton.
He has an older brother, Sir Connor Norton, which meant that there were two Sir Nortons.
Just calling him Clive, like she did for Ed, made her feel repulsed because it seemed too friendly.
So, she called him Chief Constable Clive.
However, she probably wouldn’t be able to use it herself.
It was just a little strange that she kept bumping into him over and over again.
Something Isabelle had said came to her mind.
“I thought he didn’t like being called Chief Constable because of what he said, but you called him Chief Constable, right?”
“Yes, but he wouldn’t be mad at the woman his friend is courting.”
Even though it was very hard to distinguish public and private matters.
“Let’s just call him Sir Norton.”
“But there are two Sir Nortons.”
“Chief Constable Clive is too long, and there’s only one Sir Norton who we would be talking about anyway.”
Oh, now she understood.
“What did you talk about in the carriage yesterday?”
Isabelle asked while she munched on her wheat bread.
Claire thought she was in a world of just the two of them, but she guessed it bothered her that Claire was alone with Clive.
“I was told to stop looking at him.”
“Were you staring at his eyes?”
Isabelle sipped her tea and swallowed the wheat bread smoothly.
Black tea with wheat bread smothered in raspberry jam.
Claire’s mouth felt sweet just by looking at it, and it felt like her throat was tingling.
“I’m afraid of that person.
It still gives me goosebumps at my lack of luck.”
It was unlucky to be discovered by the owner the day you wore the necklace.”
Watching Isabelle as she spread jam on bread while she talked casually made her feel something in her heart, but Isabelle wasn’t at fault.
Mistaking the jewel for colored glass, picking it up, wearing it, and being caught by the owner – the owner’s bereaved family, to be more exact – was all on herself.
“He gives off a slightly cold impression, but he wasn’t scary.”
“It was because my sister was drunk.”
“I did drink a little too much yesterday.
Oh, I’m going to be late.”
Claire and Isabelle stopped their prolonged conversation to clean up the tableware.
If a long skirt got wet with rainwater, it would be uncomfortable all day long.
So, she took out a relatively short dress that went down to her knees and wore a raincoat on top of it.
Her shoes would get wet no matter what, so she took out an old pair and put them on.
Even though she came out well prepared, the rain was so strong that Claire couldn’t see properly.
She hastily dove under a conspicuous awning.
A young man, who was standing underneath it first, stepped aside.
Claire took off the hood of her raincoat that was covering her head, and wiped the moisture from her hair.
She then checked the face of the person standing under the awning with her, then called out his name in delight.
“If it isn’t Claire.”
Even though he hadn’t seen Claire in a long time, the man was looking out at the rain calmly.
Finlay was a neighbor who lived at 36 Hesperos street.
In other words, he was the son of Sandra, their generous neighbor.
Finlay worked as a carpenter, so he usually took time off on bad days.
“Isn’t a rainy day a day off?”
“I decided to make a table.”
That would be possible indoors.
He could’ve rested.
That was sad.
Claire gave him a look, but Finlay didn’t seem to be feeling much regret.
Claire was awkward at making friends because she was shy, but she wasn’t without friends.
Her mother was close to Sandra, and they spent so much time together that it was more difficult not to get close to Finlay at Sandra’s house, while she held her mother’s hand and often followed her.
As a child, Finlay was thin despite being Sandra’s son, who was short and stout.
Compared to that, he had grown a lot now, and his physique improved while working as a carpenter.
Looking at Finlay’s well-formed arm muscles, Claire realized that it was her, and not her sister, who was looking at someone’s body.
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